NEWTON ABBOT SATURDAY: SIMON NOTT Was back at his local Newton Abbot on Saturday for a good card of afternoon jumping where a large crowd, a mixture of locals and the last knockings of holidaymakers for this summer, enjoyed some excellent racing in the sunshine.
The last blog I wrote here at Newton Abbot was largely focused on the objection by the clerk of the scales incident where the 9/2 winner was thrown out and the favourite placed first. When I arrived on course today Managing Director Patrick Masterson pulled me to one side and asked me to point out that the racecourse is in no way at fault for the perceived late announcement of the objection, that responsibility lay with the BHA. In addition, on a happy note the punter who drew the £2000 did the right thing and paid it back plus his stake money.
1:55 William Hill Leading Racecourse Bookmaker Novices’ Hurdle
After not looking very promising with dark clouds and heavy showers on my way to the course by the time they sat off for the opener the course was bathed in sunshine. The one the punters all wanted to be on, albeit to very modest amounts, was Dan Skelton’s Illustrissime backed from 9/4 into 7/4. Another that attracted some monetary attention was the Emma Lavelle trained Highly Prized from 6/1 into 9/2. That money proved the most wisely invested winning from Guns Of Leros back in second with the jolly in third. The winner is probably one of the best-travelled horses to ever win at Newton Abbot having won five times on the flat in the USA at around a mile.
2:30 Pete’s Dragons Handicap Chase
It’s always worth asked a bookmaker if he’d like to lay you a bigger price than what he’s displaying. Only try if a refusal doesn’t offend though. One intrepid punter asked Andrew Williams for £20 about 5/1 the 9/2 chance Al Shahir. His reply of ‘You’re OK thank you but it was nice to talk’ appeared to confuse the punter before he the penny dropped, though at 9/2 not 5/1. Andrew missed out on a score there. Jonjo O’Neill’s As You Like won the race but didn’t appear to be carrying owner J P McManus’ money as when the do they rarely drift from 5/2 to 3/1 as this winner did.
3:05 Follow willhillracing On Twitter Handicap Hurdle
Just six went to post for the third and feature race of the day. The money came in for the Philip Hobbs trained Majestic Touch backed from 9/4 into 7/4 favourite, there were also nibbles for Colin Tizzard’s Sizing Granite 11/4 if you were fleet of foot into 9/4 in the ring. The bookmakers had no chance with those two fighting out the finish but the saving grace for them was it was the ‘wrong’ way around for the punters with Sizing Granite taking the spoils under Harry Cobden.
3:40 William Hill Betting TV Handicap Chase
The betting ring reported it to be quite busy, Q Comber clerking for Dick Oliver said ‘Business is good, we just need a result.’ Mike Smale, betting a few pitches up, agreed with a breezy ‘It’s alright!’
Next up another five-horse race but a competitive one on paper, David Pipe’s Teaser was the slightly uneasy favourite drifting from evens to 5/4 with the other four all having good chances. The race proved eventful, coming down to the last Jonjo O’Neills’ Tidal Watch looked sure to score when 8 lengths clear only to crumple, thankfully unhurt, dumping Richie McLernon at the last. This left Harry Whittington’s Salto Chisco in front when previously well-held, his jockey Paige Fuller did well to swerve the now loose horse as she jumped the fence. As the combo ran on to the line Tom Scudamore galvanised the favourite Teaser into action on the far rail, coming with a rare old rattle looking to some observers like getting up to win on the line. The photograph proved otherwise, Salto Chisco the winner by a short-head which at 6/1 pleased the bookies no end.
4:15 Happy Birthday Bill O’Dwyer Handicap Hurdle
The conspiracy theorists were silenced when all 16 went to post for the 16-runner handicap, bookies Jim Clarke, Dave Spice, Richard Watson and Ivor Perry all reported business good but smallish for the race, the biggest bet all day I heard about was £380.
Then there appeared to be a huge gamble unfolding on Christian Williams’ charge Joey Steel backed from 16/1 into 6/1. The on-course bookmakers told a different story, they’d hadn’t laid it but had of course followed the machine in. One they had laid was the 5/1 winner Can You Believe It, trained by Nicky Martin and ridden to victory by Matt Griffiths.
4:50 St Austell Brewery Novices’ Handicap Chase
With not many avoiding the last winner the betting ring got straight to work on the penultimate, another small but competitive field. Christian Williams’ Game Line was sent off the 5/2 favourite in a good little betting race. The action on the turf was just as lively, racegoers were treated to a right old tussle between David Pipe’s Midnight Magic and Emma Lavelle’s Manofthemountain. It was the latter that proved stronger after the last winning at 7/2 under Adam Wedge, providing both trainer and rider with a double at the meeting.
5:25 Leah Liz Trek For Hospice UK Handicap Hurdle
The final race of the day and the books thought they had a chance of getting a few quid in the 3/1 the field, 13-runner handicap, a race sponsored to promote a very good cause.
Early betting skirmishes saw Colin Tizzard’s Floral Queen open at 3/1 favourite with Fergal O’Brien’s Chilli Romance at 4/1 hoping to better run of four consecutive seconds. Chris Down’s Ladies Dancing took a tumble in the market backed from 16/1 into 10/1. Tiverton trainer Nigel Hawke’s Repetitio was also subject to some support from 7/1 into 6/1 and ran away with the race, a glimmer of his Derby winning breeding. Chilli Romance finished runner-up again at 4/1, it wouldn’t have been a great result for the bookies but at least they were bathed in sunshine.
If you enjoyed the blog, backed a winner or both how about dropping a couple of quid into the Leah Liz Trek For Hospice UK fund CLICK HERE FOR JUSTGIVING.COM. It’s a cause all of us hope we’’ never need ‘eh?
Simon Nott is author of:
Skint Mob! Tales from the Betting Ring