NEWTON ABBOT TUESDAY EVENING: SIMON NOTT It’s the last evening meeting of the summer at Newton Abbot, it would have been a crime to miss it given the sun had come out. A nice appetiser for the Westcountry jumping action to come. You never though when high drama might arrive……
It was a lovely night for the last evening meeting of Newton Abbot’s season, a nice neat card of six modest but competitive races.
5:35 Actuate Marketing Maiden Hurdle
Well, I said competitive, the first heat looked a bit of a shoe-in for the Olly Murphy trained, Richard Johnson ridded, Emerald Rocket which opened at 4/7. That – despite a string of placed attempts including four seconds in the last five outings but they appeared good enough on known evidence. The only one that looked to be able to give the jolly a race on paper was Evan Williams’ Caswell Bay. The bookies put that one in at a tentative 9/4 with some intrepid layers going ‘eyes’ 5/2. The intrepid few were the first to get trimmed then the rest followed all the way down to 6/4, plenty of steady of not lumpy money for the Welsh raider.
One punter, not put off by the money for the second-in sidled up under Paul Metcalfe of the Pickwick-Bevan firm’s shoulder. He cheekily asked for evens about the favourite currently priced at 8/13. To my surprise Paul replied that if he wanted his usual fiver and not four grand, he’d got a bet. The usual fiver was proffered, and Paul dropped it in hod. I was surprised enough to double-check the price of the favourite, it was still well odds-on, as I remembered. ‘He never backs a winner’ Paul offered in way of an explanation to my quizzical look. He still hasn’t backed a winner. The gamble was landed, the favourite did battle hard but was not match for lumped on gelding from Llancarfan.
6:05 newtonabbotracing.com Handicap Chase
Only four took part in the next, the money centred around the two market leaders, Colin Tizzard’s Bramble Brook bet from 6/4 into 6/5 and Jimmy Frost’s Triple Chief 13/8 into 6/4. That left the bookmakers with two running for them. Luckily for the layers it was Grace Harris’ Field Exhibition that sprang a 13/2 surprise winning easily under Ben Jones. The bookies were all smiles after what had been a busy if not heavy ‘up the front two for not a lot’ type of race, if people still bet like that. It appears some did given their demeanour. Tony Williams of the G&T Williams firm was happy, not looking bad for 84 either is he, it must be the fresh air and results like that.
It wasn’t a surprise to everyone though, I bumped into the two ‘farmers’ Derek and John. John had backed the winner, ‘It had to be the winner it was up against two losing machines’ he smiled. His oppo Derek was sporting new shoes. I mentioned to him that a man’s wealth is often judged by his footwear. He looked a bit taken back and spluttered defensively, ‘I’ve had a terrible summer’ then added ‘Though I’m not losing….’ and went off to back the favourite in the next.
6:35 William Hill Handicap Hurdle
His cockiness might have cost him dear as the 5/4 favourite Empreinte Reconce found 5/1 into 9/2 chance Definatelyanoscar (pictured) three quarters of a length too good at the line. The bookmakers got to work paying out then set about betting on the next race.
What seemed some time after the race had finished, there was an announcement that there was an ‘objection to the winner by the Clerk of the Scales’. The inevitable disqualification followed; the trouble was the bookmakers had already paid out over the winner. The biggest I heard of was £2000 paid out with no sign of the bloke that drew it bringing it back. I did a quick march down the line, there were one or two regular punters who had returned their winnings, but not many. Plenty in the ring were incensed, bookmaker David Phillips told me this.
Farmer Derek was spotted quietly grinning to himself, some people are just born lucky. Others honest, just as I was finding a spot to watch the fifth a punter walked up to Paul Metcalfe and returned the £600 he’d drawn over the ‘winner’. Paul was so grateful he returned the punter’s stake money too. That was an isolated incident. Of course, objections by Clerk’s of Scales are rare and when they do happen, unless someone has seen the weight cloth fall off, then there’s very little chance of predicting it. The bookmakers still get a clobbering when it or wrong results as given at Kempton earlier in the day happen.
The punters have little sympathy and think it’s fair game to keep their ‘winnings’ though fully expect racecourse bookies to still pay up over the original second and even entertain ‘lost ticket’ enquiries.
7:05 Remembering Dear Lauren Scott Memorial Handicap Hurdle
Betting on the next race was badly disrupted so 5/1 winner Glanvilles Guest under Daryl Jacob for Keiran Burke beating the 5/2 jolly Doctor Look Here did little to cheer the shell-shocked bookies who were still counting the cost between forlornly looking for a punter that might bring it back.
7:35 Watch Sky Sports Racing In HD Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Chase
The Betting Ring Manager was still the busiest man on the track during the betting for the penultimate. Punters still looking for discarded tickets. Some were even rummaging through bins though it’s a guess that they might be after other people’s discarded tickets too which exacerbated the problem for the ‘BRM’.
Dax Oliver, betting for the Dick Oliver firm, said he was still ‘shellshocked’ when I asked him if anything had been well-backed in the next and added that it didn’t really matter what happened now as they were going to lose on the night. Tim Vaughan’s Royale Django won by six lengths with the 7/2 favourite Orchestrated back in fourth. The winner had been backed from 12/1 into 8/1 so a quiet tickle appeared to have been landed.
8:05 Racing Partnership Mares’ Handicap Hurdle
The light was already starting to dim as they set off for the last, Tiverton trainer Nigel Hawkes Pola Chance was the one they wanted to be on backed in from 9/2 into 3/1 joint-favourite with Fergal O’Brien’s Chilli Romance. Colin Tizzard’s 10/1 chance Floral Queen won nicely under Harry Cobden from Chilli Romance. It would have been an OK result for the bookmakers on what had been an eventful evening but one that would be remembered for just the one event.
Meanwhile the book that paid the £2000 to the punter over the disqualified ‘winner’ were still stood in the ring as I left, like shipwrecked sailors on a desert island looking for something on the horizon that will probably never come.
Simon Nott is author of:
Skint Mob! Tales from the Betting Ring