AINTREE FESTIVAL THURSDAY: SIMON NOTT reports from the Star Sports pitch on day one of the Aintree Festival. After a mauling at the Cheltenham Festival how did day one fare – up north a bit and across west a bit?
It doesn’t seem a year since we were last at Aintree, but as my old boss Jack Lynn used to say, ‘Your life flies by in this game’. It wasn’t exactly the same as last year though, Ben was abstaining from Michelle’s ham and cheese rolls. ‘I’m getting too fat’ he protested tapping his belly. When we got on course his willpower was tested to the max when Diane of GW Sports presented him will all manner of calorie-packed temptations. Time would tell if he gave in.
1:45 Devenish Manifesto Novices’ Chase (Grade 1)
The weather was far from ideal as betting got underway for the opener. It was lucky Lofty was a non-runner for the firm today as he’d have been having a moan-up. Mind you, soprano Laura Wright should have stopped any cold bookie grumbles by belting out ‘Land Of Hope & Glory’ outside in the pouring rain dressed in a sleeveless dress. Betting itself was very light, the punters reluctant to leave the warm, dry bars.
The winner, 4/1 Kalashnikov was a good result for what we’d taken but the weather ensured the ring wouldn’t have got their whack.
2:20 Doom Bar Anniversary 4-Y-O Juvenile Hurdle (Grade 1)
The rain didn’t deter everyone from coming down for a bet but it certainly kept business light. Feature of the heat was the weakness of favourite Band Of Outlaws. The jolly cost the firm untold bundles when it won at Cheltenham but was friendless today. Punters who gave the jolly the swerve did right as it didn’t ever really look like winning. 11/4 winner Pentland Hills won after a photo and copped a round of drinks in the book.
2:50 Betway Bowl Chase (Grade 1)
Kemboy was another weak favourite, easing from 2/1 to 9/4. The market got that one wrong though, those firms that stuck it up the favourite must have watched the race through their fingers. It’s never nice for the bookie when the bogie wins as easy as Kemboy did.
3:25 Betway Aintree Hurdle (Grade 1)
Between races an eternal optimist piped up that the rain was ‘getting warmer’. I’m not convinced he was right but it was a nice thought. Without wishing to sound like a broken record, business was once again light, once again the favourite, this time Buveur D’Air, was weak, 8/11 out to 5/6. In an eventful race Supasundae beating the jolly was a very welcome result for the books. Was the rain getting warmer? Maybe it was after all.
4:05 Randox Health Foxhunters’ Open Hunters’ Chase (National Course)
Ben pulled the boss’ rank and legged it before the next. He always was a shrewdie. The weather did shine, well not shine but the rain ceased, on the foot-soldiers that remained during the Foxhunters for which business had been poor.
Burning Ambition looked to have the race won at the elbow, no good for the meagre book. Then things turned for the bookies when 14/1 Top Wood fought back to get back up to win on the run-in. That was another result for the books in addition to the rain relenting.
4:40 Close Brothers Red Rum Handicap Chase (Grade 3)
The rain had returned colder than ever as punters made the book in the penultimate handicap. Whatswrongwithyou popular 10/1 into 7/1.
As the race unfolded luck went our way as punters left us out Moon Over Germany which was a winner in the book despite returning 11/2.
5:15 Goffs UK Nickel Coin Mares’ Standard Open NH Flat Race (Grade 2)
The mood along the long lines of bookmakers huddled under their umbrellas taking bets on the concluding bumper with frozen fingers was that the sooner they were back in their cars with the heater on, the better.
It’s often when you least expect it, a punter came in with a grand for Misty Whisky at 8/1. Betting up to that would be challenge but it at least warmed the race a bit and would make standing in the prevailing conditions worth its while if the firm get it beaten.
Another punter came in with £400 The Glancing Queen at 5/1. It was good to see punters braving the weather to bet with the bookies. The majority of punters appeared to be betting online in their phones in the bar. As they were running and the prices were off the board we laid another grand The Glancing Queen to trade.
Sometimes luck just doesn’t go your way. The Glancing Queen winning at 5/1 ended a testing day in a very character building manner. We’ll be dried out, warmed up and back to get it back tomorrow.
Simon Nott is author of:
Skint Mob! Tales from the Betting Ring