CHELTENHAM SATURDAY: SIMON NOTT reports from the Star Sports pitch in the betting ring at Cheltenham. Day two of the International Meeting. The rain stopped before racing started, the first result of the day, but how would the cold bitten ring fare once the equine action on the turf unfolded?
12:10 JCB Triumph Trial Juvenile Hurdle
Cheltenham was bathed in winter sunshine by the start of the first. As Flynn and I cowered in the car a couple of hours earlier, dodging the rain and fearing today might be a repeat of last year seemed quite founded.
As you’d expect business was a lot livelier in the ring than yesterday’s. Botox Has was sent off the 8/11 favourite for the Gary Moore yard. The gelding has been the subject of sustained support overnight and in the morning market. The opening 5/6 was soon snaffled up. Punters that lumped on expecting a bloodless victory might have had a few anxious moments approaching and after the last but the jolly ultimately did the business knocking the ring about a bit in the process.
12:45 Ryman Novices’ Chase
The second race on the card got going early when a cash punter invested a monkey (£500) on Beakstown at 4/1.
Try as he might Flynn was not quite able to bet up to the £2000 but had a good go. The feature of the betting on the race was the flip-flopping of the favourites. Mister Fisher went off the losing favourite with us along with worst in the book Beakstown against the field.
The race panned out much the same as the betting market. Good Boy Bobby made the best of his way home only to be overhauled by the 15/8 jolly Mister Fisher up the hill. Two market leaders, especially stick ons, in a row is never handy for the betting ring.
1:20 Cheltenham Club Handicap Chase
As the betting got underway for the next, the boss ‘Inlike’ Flynn sent me off to get coffees. I protested that I’d done my apprenticeship and wasn’t coffee boy. To no avail, off I was sent for a ‘Caramel Latte’, I know, and you lot thought mustard corduroys were embarrassing, trying ordering one of them. I should have got the message as far as the pecking order goes. When we got to our digs last night Flynn had booked us into a palatial flat, when I say us, just as I was congratulating him on a great choice I was shown ‘my’ quarters across the corridor, basically a kitchen with a bed in it. Servants quarters for yours truly, my chagrin exacerbated by the lack of any working heating. Oh well, it toughened next up for today’s ‘fresh’ conditions.
Anyway, no more moaning apart from to say that the third heat on the day was a non-event as far as fielding money goes. The worst field money of the two days so far, the biggest bet just £100 on Art of Payroll.
Sod’s law that it was the race where we got a cracking result. 12/1 winner Northern Beau attracted just one £3 bet. Still, the cop in the book was a very welcome one.
1:55 Caspian Caviar Gold Cup Handicap Chase
Next up the feature race of the day. Betting started slowly but gained momentum nearer the off. Talking of momentum Dave Clarke The Corbynista read yesterday’s blog and approached me with some additional material. Unknown to me at time of typing last night, he was on Fergal O’Brien’s Goodbye Dancer so won a few quid. He was pleased to let me know that contrary to my reporting, due to his good fortune he had in fact been able to purchase the red star badge for his cap from a mail order shop that sells such items. Great to know that the wheels of capitalism continue to turn.
Talking of which at the off the book had five losers, three of which were for over a grand. The book’s fate lay with the Gambling Gods.
They smiled on us. David Pipe’s rather unkindly named 7/1 Warthog got back up to win after being passed by 40/1 chance Spiritofthegames. You might think it strange that was a good thing for the book but punters had left us out of the winner which was almost as good a result in the book as the runner-up. With five losers in it Flynn would take that. We were fortunate as other firms, and I’m guessing in-running punters would have been ruing their luck.
2:30 Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle (Grade 2)
When you hear Flynn say ‘We need this beat’ you know you shouldn’t have taken your eye off the ball to go attempting to gather gossip from elsewhere in the ring, especially when there is none. In this case ‘this one’ translated to Mossy Fern which was a loser for a round of drinks in Wetherspoon shy of £3000, twice as much as the book held. Not clever but just the way the money accumulated.
Once again the firm struck lucky, happily this time so did the rest of the ring when Redford Road outbattled 5/2 jolly Champagne Well up to hill to reward his backers at odds of 14/1. Luckily there were few of them with us. The book had got away with it, just the two heats to go and in front on day.
3:05 Unibet International Hurdle (Grade 2)
It was steady as you go betting on the penultimate, that was until a punter came in for a carpet on Pentland Hills at 5/2 which made it stick out a four-figure lone loser in the book. That was until another punter waded in with a £100 at 14/1 Elixir De Nutz which brought them both up together and gives you an accurate insight to the level of business too.
Nobody tell Ben but Flynn was roaring home the jolly – luckily just out earshot of most of the other bookmakers. It did the trick, Call Me Lord won at 2/1 but the way the money had come it, copped a grand in the book. What it did for a cordial relationship with any bookie that heard him, I’m not so sure!
3:40 Park Mares’ Handicap Hurdle
The sun had gone down by the lucky last and it was degrees colder. A punter came to Michelle and asked for £1.55, all in shrapnel, to win on a horse. Fearing that it might be his bus fare home and for her frozen fingers she pointed to the £2.50 each-way minimum bet sign at which a crispy fiver to tender the bet was produced.
Betting did get a little lumpier but not much. At the off the bogie in the book was Indefatigable which looked like winning until she was done by the 2/1 jolly Dame De Compagnie on the run-in. The winner was a small cop in the book. Flynn didn’t cheer this time, he was too busy taking the kit down. Thank goodness for small mercies. A winning two days. Thanks for reading, wishing everyone a wonderful Christmas.
Simon Nott is author of:
Skint Mob! Tales from the Betting Ring