CHELTENHAM FESTIVAL WEDNESDAY: SIMON NOTT reports from the Star Sports pitch on day two of the Cheltenham Festival. There were no problems with the weather but if the opening day was anything to go by, it would be another turbulent few hours in the ring. How did the day two fortunes swing?
Wind Armageddon didn’t materialise, racing was given the go-ahead before the milkman was up. The Met Office gave just a 10% chance of rain so the day, weather-wise at least looked promising.
1:30 Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle (Grade 1)
The opening heat wasn’t an easy one for the punters, which was probably why they were standing back to begin with. Then a cash bet of £9000-£2000 Battleoverdoyen early then we laid £15,000 Champ at 9/2 on course then the office called, Champ again £180,000 – £40,000 each-way closely followed by £25,000 each-way at the same price. The office called again, Brewin’upastorm £15,000 each-way at 8/1. City Island winning at 8/1 was a good result but Champ placing wasn’t, still it could have been much worse.
2:10 RSA Insurance Novices’ Chase (Grade 1)
Disaster partially averted, there were three market leaders to get stuck into in the next, Delta Work 9/4 from 5/2 early heading the market. We had a visitor on the pitch, Julie Williams, her first Festival since selling her pitch once occupied by her father Fearless Freddie. It’s always lovely to see Julie here with her friend John. If you missed their ‘Bookmakers Piece’ Video, check it out here.
Business on the pitch was steady but certainly not lumpy, pure weight of public money saw Delta Work’s price compound further into 2/1 but not before the office called to say they’d laid a £90,000 – £40,000. At the off the favourite was the only loser in the course book for the thick end of £14,000, much worse in the office.
4/1 Top Of The Game winning at least got the jolly beaten and was a modest winner but the way the book panned out the shorter priced 3/1 Santini would have been a better result. Not moaning or anything…
2:50 Coral Cup Handicap Hurdle (Grade 3)
The impossible handicap was something of a relief, for the staff at least, the punters not keen to bet heavily so a bit of respite. One did wade in with a £6500 – £1000 the jolly Uradel but who knows that might have been minimum stakes for him. Spotted in the ring was Steve Tilley of the HBF making sure punters were getting the value, which of course they were, but no on-course bookie in their right minds could match the sponsors 7 (seven) places terms.
Just when we were thinking about getting a coffee Ben laid a £160,000 – £10,000 Farclas – just the one to get beat.
William Henry was an excellent result for the ring, though just getting Farclas beaten was a result for us.
3:30 Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase (Grade 1)
If there was going to be a monster bet at this Festival it would probably be on Altior. It didn’t take long for a lump, the office called, they’d laid a bet of £40,000 – £100,000.
That was it, no money of note on the favourite so we had a lopsided book with Hell’s Kitchen the bogie at the off.
Coming to the last there looked a chance that Altior could get beaten and the £100k snared but it was not to be, the jolly proved its class and battled on up the hill like a true champion to get the money for the punters.
4:10 Glenfarclas Chase (Cross Country Chase)
On to the race where they always seem to go around and around until the favourite wins. Jolly here Grand National hero Tiger Roll. The Genius Of George Nympton Nick Williams saddled two with siblings Lizzie and Chester on board but Tea For Two at 20/1 and Aubusson at 100/1 the punters didn’t appear to expect the prize to go back to North Devon.
Punters instead seemed happy to bet the favourite, albeit modestly but did take a couple of grand cash bets at 6/4 and 11/8. The course book had just the jolly losing just under £10,000.
The round and around system continued, but how, what a performance, Tiger Roll the winner, the rest nowhere.
4:50 Boodles Juvenile Handicap Hurdle
The penultimate – another big handicap, saw plenty of money for Band Of Outlaws 9/2 into 7/2. The office laid an eye-watering lump each-way that sadly I’m not able to report. It bolting up was a devastating blow that knocked the day badly.
5:30 Weatherbys Champion Bumper
It’s hard to get back on the stool when you have done your orchestras. With two days still to go and the bumper usually a great betting heat there was nothing else for it.
It didn’t take long to get going, £10,500 to £3000 Envoi Allen and £2500 – £1000 Blue Sari got the ball rolling.
The money continued to pile in for the top two and it was the top two that fought out the finish, no chance against no chance topping off an absolute disaster of a day. Fish and chips and a light ale should ease the pain tonight. We’ll be back tomorrow on a recovery mission.
Simon Nott is author of:
Skint Mob! Tales from the Betting Ring