SHERGAR CUP – ASCOT – SATURDAY: SIMON NOTT reports from the Star Sports pitch in the betting ring at Ascot on Shergar Cup Day. There’s always plenty of new racegoers at Ascot on Shergar Cup Day and that can’t be a bad thing, can it?
Shergar Cup Day at Ascot may be sniffed at by some in racing circles but it certainly attracts a crowd that probably wouldn’t usually spend their Saturday afternoons on the turf. Be it because of the music or the novelty of team racing either way there were queues of new punters betting with racecourse bookies. That’s a good thing.
1:05 Dubai Duty Free Shergar Cup Dash (Handicap)
Racegoers were treated to a cracking finish in the first race. Australian jockey Jamie Kah was denied a winner for the girls by just a nose in the last stride on Final Venture by Stone of Destiny ridden by Filip Minarik. Just a short head away back in third was the heavily punted, 11/4 into 13/8 jolly Danzeno. The book won but the biggest single bet being a score there were no fortunes copped. The commentary was almost inaudible over the chatter, Lofty piped up’ Listen to that row, it’s like a Bros concert’ realising that had just dated himself he corrected ‘Justin Beiber’
1:40 Dubai Duty Free Shergar Cup Stayers (Handicap)
Next up they queued up to be on again, steady streams of very small bets from a multitude of ladies. The hubbub was deafening as the race was being run, then at the business end the volume of the commentary kicked in with Mike Vince declaring ‘Hayley Turner knows her way home at Ascot’ she certainly did booting home 13/2 shot Eddystone Rock. ‘Second best in the book’ beamed Lofty.
Flynn, or ‘Inlike’ to his mates was getting a whole lot of attention resplendent in his Tommy Shelby clobber topped off with a gleaming smile. He suggested I made a compilation of all the cheeky comments he was getting off the punters, ‘I like your sexy dimples’ & ‘I’m going to beat you and you’ll enjoy it’ being two of his favourites, the ones from girls were much more suggestive!
2:15 Dubai Duty Free Shergar Cup Challenge (Handicap)
The betting ring Grinder/Tinder interplay may have been fun for some but it wasn’t going to pay the wages. There was betting to do. The third heat was 4/1 the field, Mandarin the jolly under a double seeking Filip Minarik.
There was some confusion in the ring when the commentator called Big Kitten the winner when it was in fact Indianapolis under Australian jockey Mark Zahra who we interviewed on Thursday. Given the name of the erroneously called ‘winner’ there were a lot of deflated ladies coming to collect over their fluffy fancy. ‘The wrong ‘winner’ was the absolute bogie’ Lofty informed us before adding, ‘the actual winner was the worst winner’, in other words, a small cop in the book.
2:50 Dubai Duty Free Shergar Cup Mile (Handicap)
Just as Lofty commented on it not raining, it started raining. It didn’t really affect the turnover, the punters were hardy and not too bothered about the rain, the medicinal effect of champagne not to be dismissed. Those punters wanted to be on 9/1 shot Nicholas T with Star Sports at least. The jolly was Power Of Darkness sent off at 11/4 and won under a masterful ride from Vincent Ho which propelled the Rest of the World team into a 7 point lead. ‘We won on it’ beamed a dripping Lofty, whose idea was it to bring the tiny square rails brolly and not the huge Tatts mush anyway?
3:25 Dubai Duty Free Shergar Cup Classic (Handicap)
During betting for the penultimate the rain stopped but news came through on Twitter that the after racing concert had been cancelled. The majority of racegoers appeared to be in blissful ignorance of their impending disappointment and punted on. The heat saw a bet of £50 each way and £60 win in a race mainly tendered in shrapnel.
Flynn was very patient between bets explaining the art of bookmaking to interested and polite but ‘refreshed’ racegoers. Even holding their pints!
At the off there were three losers in the book.
They finished first, second and third but luckily not in bogie order. Sapa Inca the 4/1f under Hayley Turner the second most popular with Star Sports resulting in the first losing race with just the one to go. The drinks had started to kick in, one punter adamant his ‘losing tickets placed at 2.50 were for the penultimate and had just come up the wrong names which must have been a computer glitch’ Lofty gently informed him there was only one ‘glitch’ and it wasn’t on his computer!
4:00 Dubai Duty Free Shergar Cup Sprint (Handicap)
A customer had £100 on Victory Day at 7/4 early in the last, that bet got the book rolling. Frustratingly for those interested in how the teams were getting on for much of the build up to the last heat they needed to be the lovechild of Sherlock Holmes and Mystic Meg to find out. When they did flash up it looked like the Rest Of The World were in a commanding lead.
At the off, the biggest betting race of the day saw a four-figure book with two losers. By far the worst was Hayley Turner’s mount Pass The Vino with the jolly under Jamie Spencer the ‘taker’. They finished first and second but this time Hayley had to settle for second behind the jolly. The Rest Of The World team were runaway winners with 86 points, Hayley won the Silver Saddle and Star Sports won the day. Aye Aye, I don’t care what the purists say, the Shergar Cup is an excellent one off day for racing. See you next year.
Simon Nott is author of:
Skint Mob! Tales from the Betting Ring