ROYAL ASCOT THURSDAY: SIMON NOTT reports from the Star Sports pitch on the third day of Royal Ascot. Gold Cup/Ladies Day was always going to be a massive day for the firm. But no one could have written this script ….. not even Russian author Turgenev.
The biggest gamble of the day was landed before the first. A massive gamble, 50/1 into 8/13 the colour of the Queen’s hat being Silver/Grey today. The bookmakers were absolutely smashed to bits. The money came early too, so who knew? We’d never suggest the Monarch had it on but would she frown upon the loyal bookmakers who doff their hats being tucked up by those that knew?! Who knew? We’ll probably never know.
Day Three: Ben’s thoughts before racing started on Thursday.
2:30 Norfolk Stakes (Group 2)
Yesterday’s video of Ben watching the race that could have cost him near half a million quid was very popular. I’m guessing it would have been much more had it won. He was hoping there might be similar action in the opener but nothing of the like was forthcoming. The ladies of Ladies Day were getting involved queuing up to be on. The hod was weighed down with change and fivers but it all added up. 6/1 winner A’Ali was a winner for just £100 in a modest book, that’s the Frankie Dettori factor for you.
It was ‘Friends and Family’ day in the Star Box, Ben’s Mum and Dad guests of honour. They came down to the pitch early where this year’s secret weapon Steph King was helping set up resplendent in her new frock. Ben’s Dad was impressed and said ‘That’s a nice new take on a string vest!’
3:05 Hampton Court Stakes (Group 3)
Ben was back in the box entertaining his guests when betting got underway for the next. There were a lot of bets but nothing lumpy. At the off the book had five losers, four of them for under a grand, the worst Cape Of Good Hope.
The winner Sangarius was a small loser, another ridden by Frankie.
3:40 Ribblesdale Stakes (Fillies’ Group 2)
Fleeting opened a tentative 13/8 jolly in a race where a lump was possible. Once again business was brisk, betting and paying out. Steph and Chris were on the pitch while Flynn and Michelle tapped away behind. Frankie had already ridden a double, those of us that were here when he rode his seven winners started wondering how the market would react should he have ridden all five going into the last. The punters were already latching on, his mount in this, Star Catcher popular with the small backers at 9/2.
We spotted a commission agent lurking, it looked like he might come in for a lump, assuming the jolly. Then there were two of them.
One came in for a very late £30,000 – £16,000 Fleeting. The money stayed in the bag, it was all about Frankie Dettori, three from three when Star Catcher won, the book lost a grand in cash.
4:20 Gold Cup (Group 1)
There was a real buzz around the ring, if Frankie was to win on the hot favourite Stradivarius then the six-timer could be very real. Dettori being one of the few jockeys that would still attract a lot of multiple money in the morning. Hyperbole aside, he really could cost the industry a fortune. If ever we needed a short one beaten it was this one. As a true General, Ben appeared back on the joint to lead the troops.
Channel 10 of Australia interviewed Ben as he screamed 11/10. The biggest taker was a grand at the price.
Stradivarius won. We lost in the book and it was anyone’s guess what was going to happen next.
5:00 Britannia Stakes (Heritage Handicap) (Str)
The buzz around the ring was palpable now, would off course money pile in to it? Frankie’s mount Turgenev was a 4/1 shot in the ring but not much bigger on the machine. If the on-line layers started to take on the jolly and the books chased it out there could be the most exciting betting race in a decade.
Ben was keen that Flynn got as much as he could out of the favourite which had been double figures in the morning. At 9/2 the firm had an arb on the board, no takers.
Flynn went 5/1 briefly chasing out the machine but that soon collapsed. Then they were off, a heart-stopper, it looked as Frankie was about to do it again when Turgenev, by now 7/2 favourite, shot clear at around the furlong pole. Just as the the roar of the crowd and indeed commentator Ian Bartlett reached crescendo pitch 28/1 shot Biometric came with a late run to spoil the party. The dream was over, the ring exhaled. We won a nice few quid in the book, but don’t tell Ben, it would have been exciting to have seen Frankie go five up into the last.
5:35 King George V Stakes (Handicap)
I was about to just type the last race was a real anticlimax when one of the big commission agents came in and walloped us with £100,000 – £13000 Constantinople shortly followed by another £65,000 – £10,000 each way same horse.
And they were off. It looked for all the world as if we’d been dealt a hammer blow as Constantinople went to the front only to be chinned by its 22/1 stablemate South Pacific. It’s a strange world. What a day. Can tomorrow top it?
Simon Nott is author of:
Skint Mob! Tales from the Betting Ring