CHELTENHAM SATURDAY: SIMON NOTT reports from the Star Sports pitch from Cheltenham’s bumper card on Saturday. After a red light on Friday, it was green for go on Saturday with an eight race card. Would it be the punters or layers who ended the day all washed up?
It was lovely to be back at Cheltenham under a blueish Sky after the deluge of the week. It was anticipated that punters, deprived of their racing on Friday, would be in a punting frenzy, storming the ring in a clamour to get on.
12:05 Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle (Grade 2)
It wasn’t quite like that in the opener but business was steady despite the jolly Thyme Hill proving hard to lay drifting from 5/4 to 6/4 at the off.
The market knew little, Thyme Hill won, the book lost, but it was no where near as bad as it could have been. The winner returned 11/8 but you could have had 6/4 with us at the off. Come racing.
12:40 JCB Triumph Trial Juvenile Hurdle
Betting was strange on the next. The biggest bet laid on the pitch was £500 at 15/8 Mick Pastor. The office laid a total of £84,000 in notes bets the same horse. But it drifted and drifted, 11/4 at the off on course. The one they wanted to be on was Allmankind backed from 5/1 in places to 11/4 but only to shrapnel with us. The no hedging, despite the drift, policy paid off when ‘they’ proved right, the price move gamble landed but the firm copped nicely.
1:15 mallardjewellers.com Novices’ Chase
Once again on-course business was light enough for the day. ‘Inlike’ Flynn reported just bits and bobs for the favourite but nothing lumpy. It was a different story in the office, a single bet of £110,000 Wholestone was at 15/8. Barry ‘Pinno’ in the second row was disappointed with the business, as were Kalooki next to him. Just a guess up but £45 entrance for Members and £40 for Tattersalls could be part of the reason why the crowd in the latter seemed light. ‘Plus they can just walk through on the bottom rail’ pointed out a disconsolate Baz.
It’s quite a nasty feeling when one goes clear that you have stood for bundles. We all know the Cheltenham hill has claimed plenty of victims close home. Wholestone, despite commentator Ian Bartlett’s best efforts to make a race of it never really looked like joining them.
Matt Chapman stood in front of the joint to gleefully telling viewers at home the firm lost £200,000 on the last, Lofty down on the bottom rail was ‘busy’ tweeting he’d rather be somewhere else. Meanwhile, Ben the boss straightened his hat and got to work on the next.
1:50 BetVictor Smartcards Handicap Chase (Grade 3)
As far as price movements go it was West Approach they all wanted to be on. In reality and in readies business was very light again. There was a commission agent spotted near the joint but he appeared to come in peace, which was a shame with £200,000 to get back. There was always a chance the office would lay another thick one. They didn’t.
‘They’ knew again. Luckily for the book, money was so light there was only one loser in it, the 11/4 joint favourite Ramses De Teillee. The stick-on actually copped a round of drinks in a swanky bar but for a front row pitch money was still hard to take.
2:25 BetVictor Gold Cup Handicap Chase (Grade 3)
Next up they opened 11/2 the field. It was just a case of trying to fill the hod. Despite being the big race of the day betting started slowly.
But then a hedge bet off the floor £5000 – £1000 Slate House got the ball rolling. Matt Chapman was back for a look in the book, then the punters started to get involved.
Fittingly, as the feature, it was the biggest betting race of the day so far. Happy Diva winning at 14/1 for the Kerry Lee yard under Richard Patrick from a closing Brelan D’As was a welcome result for the book and enough to get Ben to summon his driver.
3:00 Spinal Injuries Association Big Buck’s Handicap Hurdle (Listed)
Betting returned to previous levels for the next. The one Flynn kept laying, Ben was AWOL by now, was Tobefair which was sticking out of all proportion to the rest of the book. Not clever but how it came in.
Golan Fortune winning almost got the lot, the wasn’t a lot but it was a good winning race.
Good enough for Stephanie to celebrate with something awful looking to eat, but she seemed to be enjoying it.
3:30 BetVictor Intermediate Handicap Hurdle
An office bet came through, £50,000 Jatiluwih at 11/4. The feature of the on-course market was the weakness of Remastered which was taking a long walk in the betting having opened at 9/2. The highlight for me was a gentleman who came over to the pitch and said ‘I look forward to reading your bollocks later, it’s all bollocks, but entertaining bollocks!’ Sir, I thank you but must stress every word I write is the truth.
There’s another phrase that includes the word bollocks in the racing game, ‘Doing them’ that’s what the office were after their bogie bolted up. The on-course book won a bottle. Small mercies with one race to go.
4:00 Karndean Designflooring Mares’ Standard Open NH Flat Race (Listed)
The lucky last took everyone by surprise, ‘It’s lively’ beamed Flynn.
The punters, bolstered by a favourable result appeared to have suddenly realised they were in the last chance punting cafe. Betting boots were on and in they steamed.
At the off, Midnight Callisto was a loser for £2230 and Cill Anna the thick end of a grand.
Commentator Ian Bartlett appears to go into raptures when a favourite looks to be beaten. That was music to our ears when he shrieked the jolly going backwards. If that was music 16/1 winner Urban Artist was a symphony, a terrific result for the ring topping off a winning day on course for us. Let’s hope the Mike Smale team got a few quid too. They were off out on Jack Chivers’ stag do tonight, the booze goes down better when you’ve won it!
Simon Nott is author of:
Skint Mob! Tales from the Betting Ring