AUTHOR: davidstewart

SIMON NOTT: Poor Bookies

I overheard a conversation at Cheltenham last weekend. Two well respected people were just having a general chat. My ears perked up when I heard one of them lamenting missing out on ‘easy money’ every year at Royal Ascot. He went on to explain that folklore has it a regular guest at the box he now attends at the meeting always knew the colour of the Queen’s hat.

Handily, way before the Royal Procession arrived. It was always the first thing other guests in the box wanted to know when he arrived. Information divulged, to a man and woman they’d seek out a bookmaker taking bets on the monarch’s millinery and duly helped themselves to a risk-free few quid. Sadly, guests now must guess like everyone else as the man in the know now longer comes. It’s not known if his indiscretion was discovered by the sovereign and his non-attendance punishment for aiding the tucking up of those poor bookmakers, it’s not really the done thing to ask.

The other person in the conversation had a story of a similar ilk. He related that he met a lady in hospitality who said she was riding in a charity race that day. She added that she was certain to win it. The guy said that he expressed some surprise at her confidence, her reply was that nobody knew the actual names of the horses as they were fictitious in the racecard for the purpose of the event. She went on to say that her horse was a very decent type rated over a hundred and trained to peak fitness and that she’d been riding it’s home work for weeks while the rest were ‘donkeys’ ridden by jockeys unfamiliar with their mounts and of dubious ability. I’ve changed the prices he quoted here in case anyone is bored enough to try and find out what the race was. His story was that everyone privy to that information made their way down to the bookies and availed themselves of 5/1 about something that was backed to long odds-on before winning a long way. When I chipped in and suggested that there might be some sympathy for those poor bookies, I was looked at as if mad.

It’s a similar story on course when there’s a balls up by a racecourse, objection by the clerk of the scales or a late disqualification. The racecourse bookies have all paid out, then they have to pay out the people who backed the promoted horse. Of course, hardly anyone ever brings back the money ‘won’ on the demoted beast. Heaven forbit you should you question them as to if they feel they ought to, you get a similar look to the one I described earlier.

A funny tale from a point-to-point years ago, a similar thing happened. Though as everyone knew each other it was more expected that the punters would do the decent thing. One chap had drawn a few quid and was conspicuous by his absence. My bookmaker boss collared him at the next meeting, the bloke swore blind that it hadn’t been him and must have been his twin brother. It was an absolute load of old cobblers but there wasn’t a lot my boss could do but they guy was shunned from there on in. That was until a long time later, we saw them together. We were stunned, they were twins but which one was which? Had one brother had it and blamed his identical twin or was it the twin all along? I honestly don’t know, but needless to say, neither ever brought their ‘winnings’ back.

Then there’s the anomaly of the ‘Rule 4’ rule, it always favours the punters. Strange but true, a lot of backers think that they are being hard done by when they get a rule four deduction. Some even get the right hump. It’s worth keeping them on-side though, if they can’t work that they are getting the best side of the deal they are certain to do their money over time. The Rule 4 is wildly out of proportion when they are two short ones in the race and one of them is withdrawn. There’s suspicion that’s sometimes an abused situation at the bookie’s cost. Is there any sympathy for those poor layers? Daft question.

I suppose it has to be expected that when major bookmakers restrict winning punters to pennies or close their accounts, there are no tears shed when someone gets one over on them. That even when the methods are not Barney Curley style coups but sleight of hand or downright cheating.

The trouble with that it, those very same on-line bookmakers don’t suffer from any of those situations illustrated above.

The ones that get clobbered every time are the racecourse bookmakers. The irony being that out of the whole of the industry they are the least likely to knock anyone back for a bet.

Poor bookies.


Views of authors do not necessarily represent views of Star Sports Bookmakers.

Simon Nott is author of: Skint Mob! Tales from the Betting Ring
available on Kindle