CHELTENHAM FRIDAY: Simon Nott reports from day one of the International Meeting at Cheltenham – direct from the Star Sports pitch. It was cold and unseasonably fast out on the track – how did the barometer swing in the ring throughout the afternoon?
With the sun shining down, Martyn of Leicester hollering ‘Money without work’ at the top of his lungs and the Pickwick-Bevan firm going all out to support Christmas Jumper Day, all was well in the betting ring as betting got underway in the opener.
12:10 British Stallion Studs EBF ‘National Hunt’ Novices’ Hurdle
Lofty described business in the opener as ‘better than I expected’ but expectations for the race evidently weren’t high. Field money was modest but had at least been ‘taken well’. Losers at the off were 11/8 second-in Jarveys Plate and 125/1 outsider Tricks And Trails. ‘Going for’ favourites is rarely big or clever but when it happens unintentionally and you cop over one you take it. Triumphant Elixir De Nutz the 6/5 jolly was a winner in the book for a decent lunch for two at The Oslo Court in a race where most other firms would have lost their money. A good start by default.
12:45 Neville Lumb Novices’ Chase
Next up was a four-runner heat, it looked competitive enough though. The World’s End opened 7/4 and was backed to 6/4 before bouncing back again. It was easy to lay all the horses, the book was looking nice and tidy until a cash punter came in with £2500 – £1000 Lil Rockerfeller. Given the modest level of business, there was no way we were going to bet up to it and at the off it was a loser for four-figures. Talk about London buses, two winning favourites in a row and a cop in the book, a decent one this time, both times.
1:20 Catesby Handicap Hurdle
At around 3/1 the field, the next heat was much more competitive, ‘very poor business too’ growled Lofty from behind the joint. There was a late move for Master Work, 12/1 into 8/1 but nobody had a lump on with us. At the off the book had three three-figure losers in it with the field money not nudging four-figures. That’s not clever bookmaking in anyone’s language.
3/1 favourite Al Dancer won the race and this time the firm did their money in the right and proper manner the same as everyone else. The books had a while to acclimatise to yet another loser as it just went further and further away after the last. The jolly first, the rest nowhere.
On the bright side, the side we always wish to look, being still well up after three winning favourites was not a bad place to be.
1:55 CF Roberts Electrical & Mechanical Services Mares’ Handicap Chase
They opened 11/2 the field the next, ultra competitive given it was just a 10-runner heat. As Lofty pointed out ‘the favourite for some Grand Nationals is shorter than this’. Quite what was going to be favourite was in doubt for most of the betting.
All eyes, or at least those that knew the connection were watching the Freddie Williams joint, Julie’s husband Kevin has a leg in Gordon Elliott’s Synopsis. The firm were a point or so lower throughout the betting, though Julie assured me it was out of loyalty rather than a strong fancy. At the off Skewiff was sent off favourite at 9/2.
As Synopsis powered home by 10 lengths at 13/2 readers could be excused for thinking that Julie had underplayed the chances of the winner. Not a bit of it, I was stood by the joint as both Kevin and Julie greeted the victory with a mixture of delight and surprise, the mare defying top weight.
I collared Kevin as he breathlessly got back to the joint and asked him the plans for Synopsis, he just gave me ‘the look’ and replied ‘I don’t know, I still need to get over this win!’
Synopsis co-owner Kevin McMunigal and Julie Williams all smiles after her victory.
2:30 CF Roberts 25 Years Of Sponsorship Handicap Chase
The next race saw money for Singlefarmpayment and Coo Star Sivola the latter despite stable ‘mole’ Armaloft Alex less than enthusiastic summing up of Lizzie Kelly’s mount’s chances. Alex was right and the money was wrong, Singlefarmpayment’s backers were nearer the mark but had to settle for runner-up spot. Racegoers were treated to a terrific three-way finish which saw Cogry get up close home to record a 9/1 win and a decent cop in the book.
3:05 Glenfarclas Cross Country Handicap Chase
Considering it was the cross country race the punters were keen to be on and backed several horses which was good. The bad thing was they backed the same several. At the off there were four losers in the book, Ballycasey by far the worst for four figures. Wounded Warrior was the next worse ‘They’ll probably finish hand in hand clear’ bemoaned a morose Lofty.
Luckily Lofty was wide of the mark. 6/1 winner Fact Of The Matter was an excellent winner in the book which was once again just luck the way they came in for them. Or was it? After the race youthful Head of On-Course Jamie flourished a betting slip on the winner, at 7/1 too. He wouldn’t have had a lean up his fancy would he? The jury is out, the bottom line was the firm copped again. I hate to say it though, the ticket ensured he’s marked down, he had a fair bet but didn’t ask for fractions. Always ask for fractions on course, if you are unaware of them, please read this and start betting like a pro! CLICK HERE
3:40 Citipost Handicap Hurdle
I bumped into Colin and Sue just before the off of the last. Colin is a legend of the betting ring while Sue regularly wins best turned out. Colin bagged 7/2 the jolly, Worthy Farm.
At the off the book had just two losers Clondaw Native and Worthy Farm.
Worthy Farm ran well for a long way but this time Colin’s money stayed in the hod as Aaron Lad’s victory ensured a winning day for the firm. We’re back tomorrow where they tell us we’ll be getting a soaking!
Simon Nott is author of:
Skint Mob! Tales from the Betting Ring