How refreshing to hear Matt Chapman bringing up the subject of the ‘pathetic’ attitudes to ante-post betting on Sunday. In my humble he’s quite right. I described betting as a ‘brutal’ pastime in last week’s blog. That a given, at least in my book, then ante-post punting is akin to throwing a lamb into a river full of hungry piranhas, the novice punter having a lesser chance than the lamb.
Or at least that’s how it was. Even in my youth betting in the 1980’s the ante-post markets were big things. Bookmakers even used to publicise their biggest liabilities in the close season for the likes of the 1000 and 2000 Guineas and the Derby. Those books would probably have some massive liabilities. Most of those would be courtesy of owner’s dreams after their two-year old did a good gallop or won on debut destined to stay in the satchels. Even inspired money still had to see their fancies survive the rough and tumble of a racing campaign, many a Derby ‘winner’ never even made it to Epsom, sometimes even a racecourse.
— At The Races (@AtTheRaces) January 12, 2020
National Hunt ante-post betting was lively too, not just with the high-rollers either. Every betting shop had deluxe ante-post vouchers alongside those for Super-Trappers and Union Jacks. Every betting shop also had a legend about a punter. These guys did a quid or two double with a daily fancy coupled with his pick for the Gold Cup or similar target week in and week out, copped the lot and retired.
Everyone knew they’d done their money if their horse didn’t run, which was most of the time and all part of the game, taken on the chin if disaster struck.
With jump racing, you still had a chance, even if yours was a definite non-runner. I remember laying on my bunk in my barracks in Germany cursing that Cheltenham had managed to stage the delayed 1987 Gold Cup despite all the snow. The racing taking place and The Thinker’s famous victory (pictured) meant that the glimmer of hope I’d held for my Burrough Hill Lad ante-post voucher was finally extinguished in the Cheltenham snow.
Ante-post betting is now virtually finished, the betting public appear no longer hardy enough to bear a proper ante-post market. The piteous wave of anguished wailing from punters would be too disturbing indeed for a modern bookmaker should a favourite for a classic be withdrawn a week before the event.
Back in the day the bookies PR guy would probably issue a rub down of a statement saying that they now didn’t have a loser in their book, laugh, and then break open the bubbly. These days they’d be falling over themselves to issue justice payments to those poor backers so devastated they’d done their money. What a shame it’s not the way it was, now people all wait for earlier and earlier non-runner no bet offers which eliminates the risk and with any semblance of value.
Why not bring back the rough and tumble of a proper ante-post market with the proviso no whiners need enter the fray.
Views of authors do not necessarily represent views of Star Sports Bookmakers.
Simon Nott is author of:
Skint Mob! Tales from the Betting Ring