THE CURRAGH SUNDAY: SIMON NOTT was at the Star Sports pitch at The Curragh on Sunday for day two of Irish Champions Weekend. The card was as good as it gets with four Group 1 races and a host of former top jockeys contesting the Pat Smullen Champion’s Race in aid of Cancer Trials Ireland …..
We arrived at the Curragh after a superb breakfast at Searson’s in Dublin. The morning meal didn’t include the €250 shots of Irish Whiskey on offer but I imagine waking up to the memory of ordering a few has added to many a hangover. It’s a highly recommended pub to visit when in the vicinity, class in every respect (cheaper whiskey is available). ‘There’s a buzz about the place’ was a phrase being banded around the Curragh on our arrival, and indeed there was. A nine-race card including four group one races, a group two and the legend jockeys ‘Pat Smullen Champions Race For Cancer Trials Ireland’ charity race had drawn a good crowd to a course with attendances under scrutiny this season.
1:20 Irish Stallion Farms EBF ‘Bold Lad’ Sprint Handicap
The first race of a mega card was a real puzzle on paper. 5/1 the field and 24 runners. Maybe not surprisingly betting was small, maybe punters were keeping their powder dry for the fare that was to come. At the off the firm were up the front two with the jolly losing nearly twice as much as was in the bag. Not clever but the way it fell in the hod, with a no hedging policy there was nowhere to go.
Literally, the jolly won, the next two in the betting filling the places, the bookies had no chance in a race where you’d hope something from the 24 runners would come to save you, a nasty start indeed.
1:55 Moyglare ‘Jewels’ Blandford Stakes (Group 2)
Goddess opened the early 7/4 favourite in a race where it was hoped bet size volume would increase.
It did, one bet of €2000 at 15/8 the jolly bolstered the book, that was the top price done in the ring. That bet alone ensured the book was very lopsided but just needing the one horse beaten. No significant lumps in the office gave hope the Goddess could be toppled. She was, but by the 3/1 second-in Tarnawa who won a couple of shots in Searson’s in the book. There were some tense minutes as the stewards deliberated some interference by the winner to the third, but to the relief of Flynn and team the result stood.
2:25 Derrinstown Stud Flying Five Stakes (Group 1)
Things quickly came to life in the third when commission agent waded in with €100,000 – €14,000 each-way Houtzen, that’s 7/1 plus the fractions, come racing. If you don’t understand fractions READ ON
Houtzen was clipped in as the punters got stuck into the jolly Soffia backed from 5/2 into 13/8 including bets of a grand and multiple hundreds on the pitch.
Houtzen out of the frame was all that mattered to the book but Fairyland winning at 12/1 ensured a good cop on the race. It should be noted that the commission bets are ‘on the nod’ to be settled later and not in readies.
3:00 Moyglare Stud Stakes (Group 1)
Albigna opened at 7/4 for the second group one of the day.
But it was Daahyeh that the same commission agent wanted to be on, investing €82,500 – €30,000.
There were plenty of punters that wanted to be on the jolly too, a couple decent bets laid at 7/4.
Business was brisk with lots of horses laid but the serious money was all for the Daahyeh flip-flopping for favourite as they went behind. Love, winning under Ryan Moore at 6/1 was a tremendous result. Two credit bets in the metaphorical bag but with five races still to go it couldn’t be counted.
3:35 Goffs Vincent O’Brien National Stakes (Group 1)
Next up was the hotpot Pinatubo which went off at 1/3. There was very little of interest off the floor, usually a bad thing, but good because you can enjoy a stunning performance without what the book lost in the back of your mind. €150 including the each-way in this instance. For anyone that didn’t see the jolly win by 9 lengths it’s worth watching.
4:10 Comer Group International Irish St. Leger (Group 1)
Rain which had held off for most of the day tried to dampen proceedings as betting got underway for the feature race of the day, the Irish St Leger.
Then it really came down, most punters took refuge under the stands, the bookies their brollies. Blokes like me just got soaked not wishing to miss anything. Two intrepid punters waded out for monkey bets on the jolly Cross Counter so it wasn’t totally futile for the blog.
It was hard to take many bets with your punters in hiding, business was light with the jolly the bad loser.
It may have been search for a punter for most of the betting but Search For A Song was a terrific result, most of what went in the bag stayed in it.
4:50 Pat Smullen Champions Race For Cancer Trials Ireland
The rain stopped for the start of betting on the Pat Smullen Champion’s Race. All proceeds from the race from the Star Pitch promised to Cancer Trials Ireland.
There was a move, some shrewd faces, betting Tony McCoy’s Quizical around the ring at 5/1 and 9/2, Flynn spotted and ducked it.
All the way down to 11/4 favourite. AP McCoy was alway tenacious, he looked about to be swamped then kicked on again to win, obviously enjoying the moment. The book won €776 which will be going to Cancer Trials Ireland.
5:25 Tattersalls Ireland Super Auction Sale Stakes
The penultimate 26-runner was another soggy betting affair with Last Opportunity popular with the punters, €1750 – €1000 was laid early on with Milltown Star a springer in the market 16/1 into 10/1 in early skirmishes with the jolly a half-arm 6/4 chance before easing again near the off.
Racegoers were treated to a rare old finish with 12/1 Stone Circle just getting the nod, a fair winner in the book. On to race nine, something I don’t get to type that often.
6:00 Irish Stallion Farms EBF ‘Northfields’ Handicap
It looked a tricky heat with Numerian opening the 7/2 favourite.
There was no happier man than Mike Smale, Westcountry bookie more likely to be seen at Newton Abbot than The Curragh. He has a leg in runner-up of the last race Maystar, so near to a famous win but Mike was still delighted, one of the good guys.
Sadly it appeared that nine races was too many for the majority of punters. They appeared to be pouring out of the course rather than into the betting ring.
Then as often happens a punter came in with a lump €16,000 – €1000 each-way One Cool Poet.
Then €3500 – €500 Nickajack Cave and a few tidy bets Tudor City so excitement to the last.
Not the sort of excitement we really needed. One Cool Poet was slowly away, had a wall of horses in front of it, came with a rattle then won. £20,000 lost on one bet. What a way to end the day….. the unlucky 9th 🙂
Simon Nott is author of:
Skint Mob! Tales from the Betting Ring