CHELTENHAM SUNDAY: SIMON NOTT reports from Cheltenham where the crowd was well down on Saturday but the ratio to punters well up. All the firm needed were some results …..
I always like to say that half the fun of coming racing is having the chance to dress up in outlandish clobber. Blazers at Goodwood, Victorian fancy dress at Royal Ascot and of course tweed and brightly coloured corduroys at Cheltenham.
The trouble is, the fun is on you. ‘We can’t hear you over your strides’ was hired change giver and wine taster for the weekend Stef’ney King’s comment. Head of on-course ‘Inlike’ Flynn went one further and posted derogatory remarks on twitter. But hey, if you can’t wear them at Cheltenham where can you? The caveat is, if you need petrol on the way home you do stick out a bit.
12:45 Cheltenham Club Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle
Betting was what the firm were here for not fashion tips, even from someone as stylish as me! Ben was a non-runner so Flynn and Steph were taking bets on the first. Betting was steady in a tricky heat. The jolly Duc De Beauchene was hard to lay, opening at 9/4 and hitting 10/3 with us, there were still relatively few takers. That was quite handy as it turned out, the jolly won nicely for David Pipe under Jonjo O’Neil Jnr and copped £30 in the book. The 33/1 runner-up would have been a small loser which would have been a little annoying.
1:15 Glenfarclas Cross Country Handicap Chase
There was very little of interest in the Cross Country race. That is until Diesel D’Allier won at 13/2 and the book copped a monkey.
1:50 Racing Post Responsiblegambling Arkle Trophy Trial Novices’ Chase (Grade 2)
The next heat was a totally different beast. Flynn decided to ignore his flashing screen and lay the punters who spotted the value the 7/4 Al Dancer, in they came, including a cheeky monkey from another bookmaker. All were all on, even the fella that joined the queue after the price had gone on the board.
Not long after Al Dancer was a 6/4 shot, Flynn wasn’t looking nervous, was he?
No but the ladies behind were looking cold, and it was cold. Another flurry of business was needed to warm things up a bit. Then the jolly bounced, everyone was trying to lay 7/4 but Star Sports already had it in the bag. Flynn knew!
Put The Kettle on, the 6/1 outsider of four was an excellent result for the book.
2:25 Shloer Chase (Registered As The Cheltenham Chase) (Grade 2)
Next up was another four horse heat to get stuck into. Defi Du Seuil opened the 11/8 favourite. It wasn’t the jolly that the cash backer that wandered up to the joint wanted to be on. It was £1800 at 9/4 Politologue he was after, and got.
Then another punter with a £900 – £400 the same horse. The crowd was sparse today but the percentage of punters among it seemed to be far greater.
It was pretty parky down in the ring as the quartet set off. Up in the Sovereign Lounge and the Star Sports betting shop the temperature was positively balmy. Little wonder that there were plenty of people happy to watch their racing from the comfort of a chair in front of the TV. The crowd, wherever they viewed the race were treated to an excellent finish, it was a very good one for the firm too. Defi Du Seuil the 11/8 favourite winning wouldn’t have been music to most of the ring but got plenty in the Star Sports book with its punter-determined lean. It would be have churlish to give it the ‘Aye Aye’ so Tony on the joint just quietly suggested a coffee run as ‘there weren’t many payouts’ then, in a very 1950’s manner, sent Steph off to get them.
3:00 Unibet Greatwood Handicap Hurdle (Grade 3)
Next up looked tricky on paper so the small stakes weren’t unexpected. There were a few punters that were intrepid enough to have £100 bets on their fancies. That resulted in a book with several losers, two of them for over a grand. Of course there were plenty running for the firm too.
Harambe was one of them, the 16/1 winner was a cracking result for the book. Sadly the book was very modest but most of what was taken stayed in the hod. Flynn has the luxury of knowing that all those jumping the last were winners in the book. We could ‘Aye Aye’ that one – ‘Aye Aye’.
3:30 Sky Bet Supreme Trial Novices’ Hurdle
It had started to drizzle as betting commenced for the penultimate. Ecco is the one the punters wanted backed from 7/4 into 11/8 including a £700-£400 with us. The field money was comparable to yesterday, despite the seemingly much reduced crowd. Over on the rail Dave and Michelle were still tapping away and getting a few quid too. At the off the Tatts book had just Ecco losing.
Quite a long way out Flynn piped up ‘I wouldn’t want to be on Ecco’. That’s usually a dangerous statement to make about a jolly. He was right though, and how, Hang In There lived up to his name running up the hill to win copping the most of what was taken, with just three punters to pay.
4:00 High Sheriff Of Gloucestershire And Racing Remember Standard Open NH Flat Race (Listed)
The lucky last boasted an odds-on shot in the shape of Time Flies By. By the time betting started the drizzle had turned to rain and with it dampened any appetite there had been to get too involved.
One bookmaker that wasn’t prepared for the precipitation was our old mate Baz Pinnington. He saw me looking over and shouted, ‘It was supposed to be just a 2% chance of rain today, I rowed in with the 1/50 shot and left my mush in the car!’
There was very little of interest from the punters in the last, on-course that is. The office pinged through a message, they had laid a bet of £165,000 at 10/11 the jolly. Now the race would be interesting after all.
Sorry for the repetitive nature of this next bit.
The jolly was thwarted by David Pipe’s 16/1 winner Israel Champ. The office money stayed with the good guys, the on-course book copped a monkey and topped off an excellent Sunday’s business. See you back here in December.
Simon Nott is author of:
Skint Mob! Tales from the Betting Ring