Blimey, despite the remote nature of much of my work this year, where’s it gone? It’s Champions Day already, the culmination of the flat season for Star Sports. It’s flown by, but this meeting really is a terrific way to bring the season to a close before heading over to the jumps and the first Cheltenham preview night.
Head of on-course Steve Brewer had gathered the A Team of Lofty and Tony on the joint, to field bets and questions on who Frankie was riding. Pitch time for on-course bookmakers today was 10.15 so an early start for all. Tony was keen and at the track at 8.20 and looking forward to a promised breakfast.
Sadly, the rest of the team weren’t quite so punctual. Steve was held up on the M25 and Lofty, well, Lofty was still in the shower, as his alarm ‘didn’t go off’. Yes, he’d evidently forgotten to set, overslept it then delved into his old late for school excuses list for that one. It was a good hour before Tony was joined by his teammates. Let’s hope he wasn’t too hungry.
Possibly anticipating my opening paragraph Lofty tweeted a spoiler to his followers on twitter/X. Just in case you didn’t see it and thus didn’t get the blog spoiled, please follow Lofty @MartinChapman12 for future reference.
The beginning of Blog will report , instead of Ascot High Street breakfast due to the ridiculously early pitch time, you’ll hear Steve’s M25 woes and me texting from the shower as the alarm didn’t go off!
Luckily my route avoids M25! https://t.co/zSXcwkKYVL
— Martin Chapman (@MartinChapman12) October 21, 2023
🏆 1:15 – Qipco British Champions Long Distance Cup (Group 2) (British Champions Series) (Class 1) (3YO plus) 1m 7½f
Betting on the first race on course was lively, they fielded £9500 on the race including a couple of £2000 bets and a monkey on Kyprios and a £2500 – £1000 each-way Trueshan. You have to feel for those punters, at least if you have a heart. Firstly, according to ITV Kyprios traded at 1/50 in running when sweeping past Trawlerman, while the accountant that backed Trueshan each-way at 5/2 had to suffer the ignominy of watching his bet finish fourth.
The punters that were in clover were those Saturday backers that don’t need form they just back Frankie. He was at his absolute best when getting back up to collar 11/10 Kyprios in the shadow of the post under Trawlerman.
The winner returned 9/1 and set the day up nicely. The big bookmakers PR guys might well have already started regretting geeing up the public to back Frankie in ‘Magnificent 5’ multiples. The first one going in at the price and bigger than in the morning wasn’t really what they’d hoped for. Game on.
It was OK for the guys on the pitch though, those Frankie blind backers don’t lump on. After they’d all be paid out with a smile, yes even by Lofty, the book had copped £8000. The guys had to call to update me as the Wi-Fi network was swamped, it was Lofty, ‘I take it all back what I said about Frankie’ he smirked, ‘He’s done us a huge favour!’.
⭐ The office were happy too, they told me, ‘Good start – bottom of the book winning, Kyprios was the biggest bogie including £15,000 – £10,000’ but with the caveat, ‘However, the Frankie multis are off and running’.
🏆 1:50 – Qipco British Champions Sprint Stakes (Group 1) (British Champions Series) (Class 1) (3YO plus) 6f
⭐ I asked the office how many Frankie multiples they had taken, they replied ‘The most asked question, not enough in my view but that might change’ After 40/1 winner Art Power won the next getting back up to turn the tables on Frankie Dettori on 5/4 favourite Kinross I got another message from them, ‘Definitely not enough now!’. ITV reported that the runner-up traded at 1/100 in running blimey, they must be desperate to try and scoop it all up in running these days, it was only ever just in front. On course the field money had dropped the £3500 on the race, the biggest bet had been £1000 on Kinross at 5/4, they copped £2300.
⭐ Once they’d finished crowing, the office reported ‘For the second race running, the winner is passed only to get back up, and another strong result for the firm’.
★ One of the betting shops had laid a £1000 bet at 13/8 the runner-up last night so were no doubt extra chuffed with the result.
🏆 2:25 – Qipco British Champions Fillies & Mares Stakes (Group 1) (British Champions Series) (Class 1) (3YO plus) 1m 3½f
After Frankie Dettori giving the bookmakers the collywobbles in the first it was all coming up them once again in the third. Poptronic held off all challengers to win at 22/1 under Sam James for Karl Burke. Sadly, on course the bigger punters had retreated on course and allowed the £2.50 each-way punters to have a go. The biggest bet Steve, Tony and Lofty took on the race was a bottle £200 where they fielded a £2400. I know, that’s a sad story but it all ended well, not many people backed the winner so the good guys copped £1700 on the race.
⭐ Unsurprisingly, the office were happy with the result of the third too. They told me, ‘Very open betting heat, with good spread of money and another result for the home team.’
🏆 3:05 – Queen Elizabeth II Stakes (Sponsored By Qipco) (Group 1) (British Champions Mile) (Str) (Class 1) (3YO plus) 1m
Next up and a punter strolled up to the joint at Ascot and bet £7000 – £4000 Paddington, another had a monkey on Tahrya. Come racing and get on. Ideally not if you are going to bet £2100 – £300 each-way the eventual runaway winner Big Rock as one astute punter did though. That bet took the shine off what would have been another cracking result. To be fair the winner was the best backed overall horse in the race so was in his place as ‘worst winner’ winning £1400 in the book. ‘Take it though’ added Lofty, knowing not to look down his nose at another four-figure cop for the firm.
⭐ The office could hardly contain their joy, even offering plaudits over the winner, they told me, ‘The good news keeps coming, a fantastic front running performance by Big Rock, with our bogie Paddington being one of the first beat.’
★ The betting shop empire (SHOP LOCATOR) reported a £1000 bet on Paddington, happy days.
🏆 3:45 – Qipco Champion Stakes (Group 1) (British Champions Middle Distance) (Class 1) (3YO plus) 1m 2f
You know it’s going well when Ben calls and doesn’t give you a bollocking but instead raves about the results so far. You can really tell your benefactor to rein it in, celebrating quite so soon is akin to Armaloft Alex giving it the ‘Aye Aye’ a furlong from home, but so far, so good. Fate doesn’t like being tempted.
King Of Steel the 3/1 favourite won the next under Frankie Dettori to roars from the crowd. His last winner in the UK from his last ever ride in the UK. The crowd sang ‘Oh Frankie Dettori’ to the ‘Jermey Corbyn’ tune which would have cheered the bookmakers no end as they paid out lengthy queues of punters. Not least Star Sports, they took £3500 and lost more than they took, £4000. Nasty. The pain was eased slightly, a punter had backed Wen Moon at Catterick to the tune of £2000 – £600 which stayed in the hod.
⭐ Hold on though, maybe Ben’s call wasn’t the hex, the office were more upbeat, telling me ‘Some decent late bets on Bay Bridge means that despite a fantastic winning ride for the popular King of Steel, we can report a level result.’
🏆 4:25 – Balmoral Handicap (Sponsored By Qipco) (Str) (Class 2) (3YO plus) 1m
No, Ben’s call wasn’t a hex at all, it was a mere blip to give the punters false hope that they could still win today. The Gatekeeper winning at 25/1 under Joe Fanning made it five winning races from six for the team at Ascot. Only just though, given the price of the winner enough people found it to knock a big dent in the £2900 field money. Once the dust had settled, the book won just shy of £100 on the race, but a winning race it was so Champions Day was an excellent winning one.
Of course, the last word has to go to the hero of the day, no not Lofty for tapping in the bets or Steve and Tony for fielding them, at least not today. Frankie Dettori, say what you like about him and his on and off retirement tour, today was tremendous, winning in wonderful style on his first and last rides of the day, what an excellent day to bow out.
★ The office didn’t get hexed either, they concluded the day’s messages with ‘Plenty of smaller bets, but we did lay £2500 each-way on Docklands @ 15/2, another good result to end the day at Ascot’.
We’re not retiring either, the team will be at Cheltenham, the home of proper racing, next weekend. Catch you then and thanks for reading.
Views of authors do not necessarily represent views of Star Sports Bookmakers.
Simon Nott is author of: Skint Mob! Tales from the Betting Ring
available on Kindle CLICK HERE FOR MORE DETAILS