CHELTENHAM SATURDAY: Simon Nott reports from day two of the November Meeting at Cheltenham direct from the Star Sports pitch. It was 1-0 to the punters on Friday but the November meeting is a game of three halves !
12:40 JCB Triumph Trial Juvenile Hurdle (Grade 2)
What a difference a day makes. Saturday had the feel of a proper festival, if not quite THE Festival. It’s probably never going to be again either. Back when the ring was the ring and the only place to bet all the punting and excitement was condensed into one frenetic area. Now you can find a bookmaker around almost every corner, the feel of Tatts has been diluted terribly.
Business was steady in the first but there was little of the magic. That was particularly sad given the market was very lively. Jolly Never Adapt was a huge drifter from around 5/4 very early to 3/1, ominous given the connections. Jane Williams’ Montestrel was steadily backed while Cracker Factory plummeted from 7/1 into 3/1.
Quel Destin was also supported from 5/1 into 10/3. If the books did it right they had the best book in the world. Ben looked furrowed, ‘I’ve got the worst book in the world’. Quel Destin won the race, head of on course Jamie screamed it home having backed it at 5/1. In the age old manner the staff had a lean-up their fancy. ‘I’ve copped the most undeserved grand ever’ smiled Ben, magic or not it was game on and we were rolling.
1:15 mallardjewellers.com Novices’ Chase
Ben was loathe to go Evens about The World’s End despite being in front and the firms around him popping their heads over the parapet going ‘Levels you Devils’. He had to follow suit when the potential deluge on the Jolly didn’t materialise.
We didn’t have Paul and Ian on the Pickwick-Bevan joint behind, them having moved to pastures new, Michelle and I we’re missing the banter, especially during the lull, which was surely before the storm. It was, an even £5000 cash came in off the floor, just before 11/10 started popping up around us. At the off we had the jolly a loser for £5500.
It was a case of ‘come on all of you’ bar the jolly, it was nice to hear commentator Ian Bartlett gleefully informing racegoers that the favourite was struggling. Aye Aye Ibis Du Rheu winning at 11/2 was a tonic for the betting ring, AKA the good guys. With the winnings safely in the hod, a 15-runner handicap to follow Ben decided it was a great time to nip off to the box and entertain some clients.
1:50 BetVictor.com Handicap Chase (Grade 3)
It didn’t stop the punters coming in though. Jamie laid £7000 – £1000 Vicente to a cash punter, early in the betting when Singlefarmpayment was around 5/1 favourite.
The jolly started to drift touching 6/1 with us, a punter came in to us for a bet with the fractions and that was the end of that. Don’t know your fractions? CLICK HERE, learn them, come racing and snap up the value.
There were no more lumps but the punters would not be denied Vicente which lost just shy of £10,000 in the book with the jolly still a loser too but just the two to get beaten.
Without wishing to substantiate the common belief that bookies always moan. 9/1 winner Rock The Kasbah was the smallest cop in the book – though I doubt that will raise a lump in the throat of many readers. On we charged to the next huge handicap.
2:25 BetVictor Gold Cup Handicap Chase (Grade 3)
Punters were keen to get involved, My gloomy intro to this blog was starting to look a little premature despite the competitive nature of the race. Ben hopped back on the stool and battle recommenced. The call went up from the lower rails pitch, ‘send more till rolls’, that’s always a good sign. I scampered down there as quickly as I could, then took twice as long again gently elbowing through the punters pushing to get on.
The old boys and Lofty at the helm were too busy to munch branded Caramels favoured by men of a certain age today. It didn’t mean they were winning though. Lofty managed to tell me they lost a couple of grand in the last heat between bets being called rattatat machine gun like by Ricky and Tony. I left them to it unencumbered by till rolls making a hasty retreat back to Ben in Tattersalls.
The horses were going down by the time I got back to the pitch. There hadn’t been any lumps but the combined weight of money meant that the bogie was Mr Whitaker losing almost five-figures.
Swings and roundabouts again, winner Baron Alco was only an 8/1 chance but copped really well in the book getting more than our whack considering the price. There was no time or inclination to count it though, on to the next.
3:00 Regulatory Finance Solutions Handicap Hurdle (Listed)
The sun shone down, so much so that we dished out a few leftover Star Sports sunglasses but the punters held back.
The jolly First Assignment was backed from 9/4 into 6/4 but no lumps were forthcoming. We took the bets as they came, £2.50 each way thick and fast, ‘small fish are sweeter’ was one of the cleaner of my old boss Jack Lynn’s sayings. They might well be but the hod takes a lot of filling with them. At the off the book didn’t look too clever with Boyhood the worst in the book, the jolly runner up in those stakes.
Then right in the hole, at the bottom price 6/4 a punter came in with a lump to make the jolly one of the worst losers of the day. You know the rest, in it hosed, the most of the day’s winnings wiped out, gamble landed.
3:30 BetVictor Intermediate Handicap Hurdle
No time to get despondent, the penultimate was a competitive looking handicap with Speedo Boy opening 3/1 favourite in places.
Christmas in April and Lygon Rock were the two the punters wanted to be on, both losers at the off. Speedo Boy was a small drifter but still went off jolly at 4/1. The chants of ‘Speedo Speedo’ from a vocal gaggle of the sockless (yes I know, at Cheltenham in November) told the story, but not all of it, we copped nicely on the race. There wasn’t a staff lean-up but the punters just left us out. It made up slightly for the disaster in the previous race so into the last with renewed vigour.
4:00 Karndean Mares’ Standard Open NH Flat Race (Listed)
Royal Illusion opened at 5/4 so had the potential to totally ruin the day should a lumper punter decide to wade in and it oblige.
What we didn’t need was a punter coming in for a sizeable bet and legging it before the money was counted and found to be slightly light. Of course the Betting Ring Manager was called but you could do without the hassle. At the off the jolly and Mrs Hyde were both bad losers, The Glancing Queen’s 16/1 victory ensured a good winning day and no dispute to close the day. Aye Aye! We’re back tomorrow
Simon Nott is author of:
Skint Mob! Tales from the Betting Ring