EXETER THURSDAY: SIMON NOTT headed to Exeter on Thursday. The jumping season started today, at least the Westcountry’ started today as racing returned to Haldon Hill for Exeter’s first meeting of 2019/20. The faithful turned out in good numbers both human and equine.
The faithful turned out in their droves for the opening Exeter meeting of the season. It’s seemed a long wait to be back on top of Haldon Hill. The trainers supported the meeting too, plenty of runners.
2:20 Join Racing TV Now Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle
12 lined up for the opener. Dr Richard Newland’s Higgs was a very warm order opening around 6/5, quite a plummet from last night’s best priced 4/1. Sadly, for the punters that got the fancy prices or involved with the gamble on the jolly their fancy only managed third behind 12/1 chance Back On The Lash under a very determined Patrick Cowley. The winner is trained by Martin Keighley whose yard we visited for #BettingPeople, meet Martin and Belinda HERE if you missed it.
2:55 Watch On RacingTV Novices’ Hurdle
I saw a lad have £350 in cash on the 4/7 jolly Hang In There in early skirmishes for the Watch On RacingTV Novices’ Hurdle. As soon as he was laid, he got on his phone, Tall Boy Watson that took the bet commented ‘If he’s arbing that good luck to him, he’s not going to get fat on it’. Let’s hope for his sake he did arb it because bad luck was just around the corner, well at the first to be accurate. Hang In There was knocked on landing by The Wire Flyer, the imputes of which catapulted the jolly’s jockey Adam Wedge out of the saddle. The jockey did his level best to hold on to the aptly named favourite but was always fighting a losing battle. The race eventually went to Fergal O’Brien’s 5/1 chance Thegallantway. Jockey Paddy Brennan did well to win given that the gelding attempted to run out following a loose horse on the first circuit and jumped somewhat erratically over the last few hurdles.
We also interviewed Fergal, for that one please see HERE.
3:30 Bidfood Handicap Chase
The next heat on the card was a tricky looking race on paper but proved to be ultimately more challenging for the combatants. Only five of the ten that went to post completed the course with three horses falling two out including the jolly Keep Moving when looking to have every chance. Victory eventually went to Tim Vaughan’s charge the 6/1 chance Cap St Vincent under Alan Johns who kept the combination intact in what was a calamitous race with thankfully all fallers returning safely to stables.
News filtered through that popular racecourse bookie Peter Houghton was taken to hospital after reporting to the racecourse medical centre feeling under the weather. Here’s hoping it was good news when he got there and he makes a speedy return to his pitches.
4:00 Visit racingtv.com Novices’ Handicap Hurdle
The bookmakers’ mushes, that’s umbrellas in plain English, had been up for a while as is often prudent at Exeter. They were actually required by the start of betting to the next with drizzle precipitation prevailing. Dr Richard Newland’s Somethingaboutangela opened the 6/5 favourite, a price which the punters appeared happy to take, despite the gamble coming unstuck in the opener. ‘The bookie chaps have never known such results at Exeter’ chortled the Betting Ring Manager, who would rather just be known as #1, as Kevin Bishop’s Rosserk Abbey caused a minor shock winning at 14/1. The jolly was left labouring back in a poor fourth after being hampered badly on the home turn, the BRM might have been slightly exaggerating but the bookies weren’t complaining.
Down in the ring even ‘Tall Boy’ Watson was happy, until he saw me, he quipped, ‘Ere, anyone that reads your blog will think I’m a miserable git’. I’m not saying anything but with that his right-hand man Steve Copplestone burst out laughing. In the back row a punter was drawing over the winner from Joe Oliver explaining why Rosserk Abbey was a ‘good thing’ and should have won at Newton Abbot. Joe nodded in agreement with a grin on his face, he didn’t appear to have a queue so maybe his smile was a genuine one. Armaloft Alex on the Ladbrokes joint pointed out that none of the winning owners had been present today so it might be a system for the rest of the meeting – look for a lonely-looking jockey and trainer in the parade ring. It’s a thought, maybe owners should declare their presence.
4:35 Timeform Premium Ratings Available At racingtv.com Handicap Hurdle (Div 1)
Chance It trained by Johnny Farrelly and ridden by one of the top Wessex area point to point riders of last season Liam Harrison landed a bit of a gamble here. The winner was backed from 10/1 into 6/1. I dashed back down into the ring expecting to see a lot of faces with smiles wiped off them, but none of it. To a man they declared the winner a winner in their books. Oh, and of course, the owners were present, that’s that system out of the window Armalot. The drizzle was light but persistent enough to prompt Ricky Rixon working for West End Racing to get his best wet-weather clobber on.
5:05 Timeform Premium Ratings Available At racingtv.com Handicap Hurdle (Div 2)
Ricky had gotten it right, the weather was what could be described as ‘proper miserable’ by the time of the 5.05pm. Searching and Dan Gun opened at 9/4 each of two in early betting. It was the latter the punters latched on to, supporting it into 15/8 while the former drifted to 11/4. They got it wrong again though, Searching bolted up from Dan Gun. The bookies had little chance but still got the favourite beaten.
Oh, and for followers of Armaloft’s system giving it another chance, the happy owners WERE present.
5:35 RacingTV Extra Beginners’ Chase
Just four went to post for the finale. The bookies opened 11/10 Colin Tizzard’s Padleyourowncanoe, 5/2 each of two Monbeg Theatre and Rococo River and 20/1 Point N Shoot.
Some bookmakers, including ‘cheerful’ Tall Boy Watson decided to snap the elastic around the freshly won readies and leg it. Of course most stayed. A gaggle of punters stood in front of the number one pick Ivor Perry joint. One of them, apparently bolstered by a pint or two, light-heartedly asked ‘Ivor’, actually called Ray, if he’d like to spoof for what he was winning on the day. Ray declined with a smile. The long-since retired Ivor was no doubt watching on the TV from one of his Dorset farms. Back in his heyday he may well have taken them up on it, that would have made them jump.
The perils of jump racing were highlighted when Lizzie Kelly took a crashing fall on Rocco River at the 9th. The horse took off afterwards apparently uninjured, but Lizzie was still being attended to by the first aid teams as the remainder of the field fought out the finish. The jolly, backed into Evens, won for beleaguered favourite backers.
As I left the racecourse Lizzie was still being tended to, it’s a sobering game.
Simon Nott is author of:
Skint Mob! Tales from the Betting Ring