It’s a very warm welcome back to our roving betting reporter SIMON NOTT who was monitoring the action from Ascot on Saturday – race by race:
Lofty wasn’t expecting fireworks at Ascot this afternoon as he and Star Sports stalwart Tony got set up for the afternoon’s action. The fact they were just two-handed on a Saturday hinted at past business. Having said that, it was more like summer this afternoon which would be unusual on a day where in years gone by the beer option would often appeal more than venturing out into rain.
Lofty also told me that plenty of books had taken the decision to bet at the beer festival end of the course. The beer festival has become an established tradition for this meeting, attracting a good crowd, though for many of whom the horseracing has been secondary to the supping in the past. No drunken thuggery though, real ale drinkers are a cut above the scrappers.
🇮🇪 As well as being represented at Ascot, Neil Casey was standing for the firm over at the Curragh. He was hoping to attract some of the bigger punters lurking around for the autumn of the flat season over in Ireland.
1:50 – Blue Eagle Rous Stakes (Listed) (Class 1) (3YO plus) 5f
At Ascot, with the exodus of bookmakers from where would normally be considered the lumpy end of the ring, Tony and Lofty bagged number 1 pitch in the third row. The bigger punters know who they are looking for, one found them and rewarded the team’s canny pitch picking with a bet of £2000 – £800 Emaraarty Ana early on in the betting. Similarly, Neil Casey laid a bet of €3500 – €1000 Brilliant back at the Curragh.
Neil kept his grand and commented that he’d enjoyed a ‘good old fashioned result’ after Content’s 20/1 win. Sadly, the punter at Ascot knew more than Lofty and Tony where it was a different story. Emaraarty Ana bolted up at Ascot (pictured below) which promoted a rather sardonic message from Lofty which read ‘Good loss, we did £1800 from a £1600 hold’ though did add that they’d laid a carpet a loser in the first at Newmarket to ease the blow.
⭐ The Office didn’t fare as badly as poor old Lofty and Tony, they told me, ‘The result doesn’t look nice on paper, so I’m very pleased to report a flat result on what was a quiet start to the meeting.’
2:25 – Jim Barry Cumberland Lodge Stakes (Group 3) (Class 1) (3YO plus) 1m 4f
The Ascot on-course team eased that blow a bit more with another unsuccessful bet laid on the aways at Newmarket, £250 dropped back into the hod by a punter whose fancy disappointed in the second at HQ.
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The second race of the day at Ascot went to 10/3 chance Al Qareem which beat 4/1 chance Israr into second. According to ITV Racing the latter was done at 1/50 in running. Nasty for the backers but not so shabby for the fleet of finger layer. The ‘tips against’ 11/10 jolly Al Aasy was unplaced. Given that build up you can be excused for expecting me to follow it with news that Lofty and Tony copped untold bundles. Sadly, that’s not how it went, they did win, £250 from a £1200 book but the runner-up would have been better for them. Still, it was a winning race.
⭐ Over in the Star Sports Hove Office they would have done with the runner-up winning too, they told me ‘We laid the fav including £12,000 at 11/10 but we also laid £5000 at 4/1 the winner. It was still a decent result, but if only the second had held on.’
3:00 – John Guest Racing Bengough Stakes (Group 3) (Class 1) (3YO plus) 6f
Next up, Lofty and Tony only took a grand at the business end of the betting ring. Then the ‘eyes’ 5/2 jolly Annaf won the race, gallingly for the bookmakers getting up on the line to be beat 11/2 chance Commanche Falls. I feared the worst but Lofty was upbeat telling me that he and Tony had ‘nicked’ £150 from their £1000 take. Time was running out to make it a winning day though, call them in Lofty, call them in.
⭐ Bullets were being dodged over at Hove too, they managed to not do their cobblers over the second winning favourite of the three races run at Ascot so far. They told me, ‘The fav gets up on the line, but a decent spread of business meant a level result for the book’.
3:35 – Howden Challenge Cup (Heritage Handicap) (Class 2) (3YO plus) 7f
On ITV Racing they were calling the next heat the big betting race of the day. Not on course it wasn’t. This will put things in perspective for people that knock racecourse bookmakers, Lofty and Tony took £900 on it.
Lofty had fancied Popmaster which he’d also tipped up to people and at the judge it looked as if he wouldn’t be buying a drink for some time to come, Lofty’s tip landed? Even Richard Hoiles thought he’d won as they passed the post. Another look showed that the nod had gone against him, Atrium (pictured below) had won nose on the bob for Charlie Fellowes at 25/1.
Lofty’s bet aside, it wasn’t all bad news the firm copped a monkey on the race, I imagine the 10/1 runner-up would have been a skinner for the whole £900 had it won. Still, a winning race for the good guys who were clawing it back heat by heat.
⭐ The Star Sports Hove office copped too, they messaged to say, ‘ Atrium was a decent winner in a busy betting heat, but like many of these big handicaps it’s the places that do the damage, including narrowly beaten Popmaster which attracted a bet of £22,000 – £2000 each-way.’
4:10 – McGee Group British EBF October Stakes (Fillies’ And Mares’ Listed) (Class 1) (3YO plus) 7f
The penultimate race of the day didn’t see an upturn in business for the dynamic duo of Lofty and Tony. They once again fielded £900 and copped another monkey when 12/1 Cell Sa Beela (pictured below) mugged 5/2 chance Breege close home. ‘Dull’ was Lofty’s summing up of a race where they copped £500. Mind you, Jack Lynn would have taken £900 a race and taken it well at a mid-week Newton Abbot back in 1990, this was disappointing turnover for Ascot on a Saturday so our man’s frustration could be understood. The plus side was the firm were now just in front on the day at Ascot thanks to the two away Newmarket bets that copped.
⭐ Sometimes the office can be men of few words, so they were after the penultimate at Ascot, but it was OK as the message was succinct and positive, reading ‘Light betting heat but great result for the firm’
4:45 – Abf The Soldiers’ Charity Handicap (Class 2) (3YO plus) 5f
The guys got a further ‘rouf’ £400 in front when a punter bet £3200 – £200 each-way La Dame Blanch in the 4.40 over at the Curragh which was unplaced. It might be one for the notebook though, the first one ‘beaten’ but then ran on quite well at the death.
🇮🇪 Neil Casey at the Curragh had been very quiet after the first race excitement. That was because, sadly it was very quiet there but he was still winning €1400 going into the last.
There’s no point trying to talk up the business in the last. There had been a decent crowd at Ascot, but for whatever reason they didn’t fancy Lofty and Tony, I know incredulous isn’t it. The money remained modest in the lucky last. The guys perseverance was rewarded when they got the treble up in winning monkeys, enough for a party in the days of PG Tips, when 17/2 chance Badri won the finale. Had Call Me Ginger or Brave Nation had won it would have been a different story, but thankfully they didn’t.
The guys had worked miracles really, after going £1800 behind in the first on a day they did well to take a grand on a race they ended up £950 up on the day. To be more accurate they ended up level on bets placed on racing at Ascot and copped the bunce on the three bets on the aways that punters left behind. Aye Aye.
⭐ The last word from the office was another upbeat one, they told me, ‘The meeting ends with another light betting heat, however all the interest was for Intrinsic Bond, so a nice race for Star Sports’.
🗓️ I think that’s what they call grinding out a winning day, it’s certainly not all glamour and lumpy bets. I’ll be back remotely reporting the business from Ascot on the 21st, then all being well will be back on the turf for Cheltenham on 27th. I cannot wait.
Views of authors do not necessarily represent views of Star Sports Bookmakers.
Simon Nott is author of: Skint Mob! Tales from the Betting Ring
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