GRAND NATIONAL DAY SATURDAY: SIMON NOTT reports from the Star Sports pitch on day three of the Aintree Festival – otherwise known as Grand National Saturday. The big race at 5.15pm aside, there were six other races for backers and layers to navigate. How did fortunes swing and how the Grand National go from the ring’s perspective.
How about that, sunshine, we woke to a glorious day for Grand National day. Perfect racing and punting weather for the world’s greatest steeplechase. It was a good hour before racing when a punter came into and asked for £280,000 – £20,000 Anibale Fly in the National. Credit of course, nobody takes cash bets like that on course any more.
1:45 Gaskells Handicap Hurdle (Grade 3)
Betting on the opener was more modest. The firm laid a monkey each-way Poker Play at 13/2 but that was the biggest bet by far.
Aux Ptits Soins winning at 11/1 was a very good result especially with Poker Play out of the frame.
2:25 Betway Mersey Novices’ Hurdle (Grade 1)
Betting was far livelier for the next heat, lots of horses backed by punters having decent bets, by that I mean £50’s and £60’s. A punter came in for £5000-£800 One For Rosie, that’s with the fractions, did they read my blog on fractions?
The other bet of note on the race was a £7500- £300 each-way Reserve Tank. At the off it was that brace against the field.
There’s very little worse for a bookmaker than the cheers of bookmakers roaring home a result ringing in their ears when they’ve laid it. Reserve Tank romping home at 20/1 was a cracking result for the ring, but not Star Sports. Still, the idea of these blogs is to let people know where to come when they want a decent bet so there’s no complaining when they do and cop. Still gutting though.
The dead-heat for third with the smash getting a hammer did little to ease the frustration on the joint either.
3:00 Doom Bar Maghull Novices’ Chase (Grade 1)
Betting was steady in the next. One punter came in for a monkey on Us And Them at 10/3 and was gone. When the money was spun in his absence there was only a carpet there. He was on £1000-£300, the Betting Ring Manager was called and we just hoped to avoid a dispute and get it beaten.
Luck was on the book’s side on a couple of counts. The potential dispute bet finished second and the winning 3/1 joint favourite Ornua (under Star Sports brand ambassador Davy Russell) was a small cop in the book. Swings and roundabouts in this game.
3:40 Ryanair Stayers Hurdle (Registered As The Liverpool Hurdle) (Grade 1)
Apple’s Jade was one of the bankers of the meeting so getting in the hod, then beaten, would be pivotal to ending the meeting on the right side of the ledger.
It just didn’t happen, the punters didn’t come in to us. The big punters that like their bets to remain anonymous were on Sam Spinner and William Henry each-way. On course the jolly was winning nearly a grand in the book.
The favourite was beaten into third after a tremendous finish and three-way photo. 7/1 winner If The Cap Fits was a good result despite not getting our whack on Apple’s Jade. The office were delighted to get both each-way bogies out of the frame. Not a bad result after all.
4:20 Betway Handicap Chase (Grade 3)
Betting on the next was fairly light and uneventful, punters keeping their powder dry for the National maybe. To be fair on paper it was a hard heat to fathom so light betting was to be expected.
At the off the book had two losers Mister Malarky and Oldgrangewood. Kildisart was a welcome winner at 8/1 copping a few quid back before the feature. A feature that was 45 minutes away so plenty of time to try and bet up to the £280,000 – £20,000 Anibale Fly which was now a best-priced 10/1 shot around us on the rail. Several books around us saw the bet struck so were apparently paying heed.
5:15 Randox Health Grand National Handicap Chase (Grade 3)
The weather was kinder to soprano Laura Wright today than when singing on Thursday. Meanwhile on the pitch business was brisk but could have been brisker. At the off there was only one loser, Anibale Fly for untold bundles. The monster bet aside the bogie in the on-course book was Step Back having laid £10,000 – £500 each-way.
Well what can you say about Tiger Roll winning back to back Nationals? We got to cheer home a favourite making history and got the bogie beaten back in fifth. Given the price of the 4/1 it appeared a lot of punters abandoned the jolly for alternative each-way options. The smell of burning fingers wasn’t from the bookies but the amateur layers on the exchanges, at least if their Twitter bravado was to be believed. And Ben? The man whose firm stood Anibale Fly to lose fortunes, he legged it before the race to beat the traffic!
6:20 Pinsent Masons Handicap Hurdle
The hour gap between the Grand National and the last is just too much. Punters have time to drink just that one too many plus the temptation to ‘do a Ben’ and leg it rather than wait an hour was apparently too tempting for many. Business on the 11/2 heat was very poor.
At the off we just had Chief Justice a loser in a very modest book.
The bogie went in, the last race was a loser. But what a day, history being made with Tiger Roll and Davy Russel. Next stop Epsom.
Simon Nott is author of:
Skint Mob! Tales from the Betting Ring