CHELTENHAM SATURDAY: Simon Nott reports from day two of the Showcase Meeting at Cheltenham – direct from the Star Sports pitch. Day 1 went the way of the punters – but it’s a meeting of two halves so how would Saturday fare?
We got to the racecourse early today, bolstered by coffee, much needed in my case. I had to share a room with Ricky, in the end I decamped to the couch downstairs. A guy snoring with a cackle that every breath could be his last was not conducive to sleep. That task not made easier when awash with Coke Zero adhering to my self-imposed dry October.
On arrival it became apparent that Cheltenham’s climate had definitely taken a wintery turn overnight.
It was somewhat warmer in the Centaur where I went in search of Darren ‘Birdie’ Bird (https://birdieracinggifts.co.uk). He was setting up for a day cartooning racegoers. He’s passionate about his racing and happily agreed to a #BettingPeople interviewee in the near future. Watch this space.
2:00 ‘Matchbook Betting Exchange’ Handicap Chase
The opener wasn’t an easy heat for either bookie or punter, no big stakes or liabilities and five losers in the book.
Relentless Dreamer winning at 16/1 was just the tonic the betting ring needed after yesterday’s results, Saturday being busier would be the right day for a reversal in fortunes.
2:35 Masterson Holdings Hurdle
We had a surprise when a punter came up with £2000 bet, not for here at Cheltenham but on Imaging in the 3.05 at Leopardstown which we laid him at 13/8 and another punter with £5000 – £1000 Weekender in the 2.20 at Newbury.
No sooner was that laid a punter came in for £3000 – £2000 Gumball here. The day was warming up.
The good news from Newbury was that the Weekender cash stayed in the bag as the Gosden charge was the first one beaten. Too early to say it was shaping up to be a good day.
Apart from the fact it was cold and raining, proper jumping weather!
Biggest disappointment of the day so far was that Tony Calvin (pictured) blocked me on twitter for putting up a counter argument to his. Lighten up Tony, it’s a game of opinions!
Back to the racing, by off we’d laid another grand on Gumball but this time at its tumbled to price of evens. For the happy but damp mood to continue we needed it beaten.
Mike Cattermole commentating reported that Richard Johnson was ‘riding patiently’ on the jolly. In reality it had no response when asked, eventually finishing out of the frame behind 5/1 winner Pearl Of The West. That was an excellent result despite still having 11/2 on the board at the off. Come racing.
3:10 Randox Health Handicap Chase
Betting for the next was lively and competitive at around 10/3 the field in a seven-runner race. Over at Leopardstown the £2000 Imaging stayed in the can when a sharp drift late on and a chinning on the line went our way.
The glory didn’t last long, at the off back here at Cheltenham Modus was the worst in the book for nearly three grand. The bogie looked like winning over last then 20/1 right result Duke of Navan took it up by half a length on the run-in. ‘Aye Aye – he’s got him’ shouted Ricky from the joint. Bloody hell Ricky, how long have you been in the game? One of the cardinal sins, a premature Aye Aye, especially at Cheltenham. Yes we all know that Ricky’s impromptu celebration wasn’t to blame for Modus getting up and a £6000 turnaround, but someone has to take the flack, especially when it’s cold and wet. RICKY!
3:45 Pertemps Network Handicap Hurdle
The rain was tipping down which probably didn’t help the 11/2 the field event which was a pretty non-eventful betting heat. We had six losers at the off, none of which was 16/1 winner The Mighty Don that got home by a short head in a thrilling finish collaring 22/1 Sykes on the line. It was a small cop in the book but put us back in the game.
4:20 Randox Health Novices’ Hurdle
Next up Dinons which opened 5/6 but quickly collapsed into 8/11 then bounced to 10/11 before shortening to 4/6 at the off, having chased it out and followed the move in it was just a modest loser at the off. During the race a clerk from another rails firm came up to me and said that his team had 5/6 the jolly on the board when a punter came in with a monkey in cash and begged 4/5. I asked why they did and he just smiled.
The way Dinons won, doing metaphorical handstands any price would have been value.
4:55 Move Over To Matchbook Novices’ Chase
Just the four runners in the penultimate but tight betting with Monbeg Legend heading the market at 7/4 in early skirmishes.
Recent #BettingPeople interviewee Baz ‘Pinno’ was betting at the ‘wrong’ end of the rail. ‘The rain’s killed it’ he lamented but with bristly smile as is he way, before adding ‘I’m still just in front though’.
Business back at the Star Sports pitch was also modest but steady. At the off we just had the jolly losing, in the right and proper manner.
Ricky hadn’t learned his lesson, calling ‘He’s pissed in’ regarding Cubomania this time before he’d even jumped the last. Luckily, Sod didn’t evoke his law this time, Gordon Elliot’s charge went on to win at 10/3, more importantly the favourite was beaten and another cop was registered in the book. Ricky looked over in triumph expecting to be exonerated his previous misdemeanour, not a chance, you just got away with it this time.
5:30 Jockey Club Ownership Syndicate Standard Open NH Flat Race
The lucky last looked promising, a competitive bumper, betting around 3/1 the field and the rain had stopped.
There was an early flurry of money for Strong Glance into 5/2 though not to bundles, at least not with us. To be fair the majority of the ring, fingers numbing and toes tingling looked to be longing for the glow of their light boards to be that of an open fire. ‘It’s gone quiet’ reported Helen Barnes on the front row, and it had, seemingly one race too many for the punters, or maybe just too hard.
And so it was, lowest field of the day, at the off we had Robyndzone, Strong Glance and Northern Bound losers. The 5/2 jolly won and we did a monkey on the race, leaving us small winners on the day but losers on the two. Still it’s only a warm up for next month. See you all back here in November.
And finally, we’d all like to wish Geoff Banks congratulations and future happiness after his nuptials today.
Simon Nott is author of:
Skint Mob! Tales from the Betting Ring