ROYAL ASCOT TUESDAY: SIMON NOTT reports from the Star Sports pitch on the first day of Royal Ascot. The weather was miserable but more importantly how were the fluctuations in the ring on the first day of of the Royal extravaganza?
The hideous rain that had been forecast hadn’t done a lot more than threaten prior to the Queen’s parade. Something else that was missing was Mike Vince’s dulcet tones describing the proceedings and Monarch’s companions. Where was Mike?
High hopes: Ben’s thoughts before racing started on Tuesday.
2:30 Queen Anne Stakes (Group 1) (Str)
As is usual prior to racing on the first day of a festival meeting the bookies were largely doom and gloom when talking about prospective business. Ben and the team on the Star Sport’s pitch got a very pleasant surprise as the punters piled in. The bets were decent-sized too. Betting 11/2 the field there were no monster bets, you wouldn’t expect them, the biggest £600 on Mustashry at 11/2. There was immediate incident, as they were off Accidental Agent planted itself in the stalls. No good for us as it was a good winner in the book. Luckily so was the eventual 14/1 winner Lord Glitters, the hod has been nicely filled and most of it stayed with the good guys, that’s the bookies.
3:05 Coventry Stakes (Group 2)
It didn’t take long for us to get the jolly in the book in the next. A punter came in with £2000 in readies for Arizona at 9/4 very early on.
What we really didn’t need was the rain to appear just when we thought the Met Office had backed a loser. A lot less people want to come down for a bet when they’ve got their best clobber on and it’s raining. The commission agents that were sticking on huge bets for big-hitters last year had been spotted but hadn’t been near the joint.
The fact they left us out did us a favour. Arizona won backed from 9/4 into 15/8 and pretty much put us back level after the first.
The punters don’t seem to mind getting wet so much when they are coming to draw their winnings. There were plenty of them to pay before the team could get stuck into the next.
3:40 King’s Stand Stakes (Group 1)
Business was fairly steady despite the rain, some late hedge money made Blue Point the worst in the book. There was still no sign of the really big backers which was once again just as well. The bogie went in and we were now losing.
4:20 St James’s Palace Stakes (Group 1)
It’s hard to get too enthusiastic when it’s tipping down and your finery is getting a soaking. It’s business though so the team cracked on with the next very stoically. The ironically named, given the weather, Too Darn Hot opened 2/1 just market leader from Phoenix Of Spain. Meanwhile Martyn Of Leicester betting on the front row goaded the racegoers sheltering under the stands with a gusty ‘Come on down you cowards!’
Despite Martyn’s best efforts, the rain had taken its toll on business. One punter did venture out into the rain, he had £900-£400 Too Darn Hot, then again plus some carpet and bottle bets and a couple more. Before Flynn knew it, (Ben had already legged it) the book showed Too Darn Hot the worst loser of the day so far.
Too Darn Hot drifted to 5/2 in places, a punter begged £480 at the price, and got it.
‘Aye Aye the good guys are back in front’ cheered Flynn as 10/1 Circus Maximus splashed home in front. Indeed the firm were back in front, but only just with two heats to go.
5:00 Ascot Stakes (Handicap)
And still it poured, the punters were even less inclined to get soaked to bet on a 13/2 field race.
A few hardy souls did venture to pitch to have it on. Between them they invested just over £2000. Of that there were several losers of which 12/1 winner The Grand Visir was not one of them. He copped half the win book but the firm still managed to lose on the places. Still it added to the very small cop on the day, vast expenses not included of course.
Going into the last and still the rain came down.
5:35 Wolferton Stakes (Listed)
The going was officially changed to ‘Soft’. It was about ten minutes before the off that the rain relented and potential punters had to chance to duck out from where they might have been hiding.
And they did, betting picked up nicely, plenty of bets, mostly each-way and two win book losers. Addeybb and Willie John the two bogies
Addeybb hosed in, the worst loser in the book. It not only wiped out all profit on the day but plunged us into the red on the day. A miserable end to a miserable day. Mind you, miserable days at the races aren’t all that bad. We’re off home to dry out our finery and bolster up for tomorrow.
Simon Nott is author of:
Skint Mob! Tales from the Betting Ring