It was very welcome to read that racing had been given the go-ahead before the advertised inspection scheduled for 7.30am this morning. I did note on the weather app that temperatures weren’t expected to rise much above freezing all day, so layered up with clobber writes SIMON NOTT.
Star Sports were represented by Eddie and Nick today, both seasoned on-course professionals ready to take on the punters on what promised to be a busy day down in the ring.
11:55 – Play Coral ‘Racing-Super-Series’ For Free Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle (Listed) (GBB Race) (Class 1) (4YO plus) 2m ½f
I usually wait a couple of paragraphs before mentioning fractions but I’ll kick straight into it today. The first bet of note on the Star Sports pitch was £250 each-way Belle Of Annandale at 15/2. He could have asked for £260 with the fractions would win £2000. Madness not to, even worse it was from a rails bookmaker. I’m sure I could hear the whirring of the entire old front row spinning in their graves. They stopped when another bookie as for £3000 – £390, no doubt all changing the price, as Eddie did.
Apart from those hedge bets and a £220 – £200 over the jolly Manimole, the rest of the £2500 field money was in small bets from the floor. The punters were finding Star Sports on pitch six on the front row, but there didn’t appear to be many substantial backers in their ranks. As it turned out, the lack of big punters lumping on the jolly was beneficial to the book, as the Nigel Twiston-Davies trained jolly won the race by a fast diminishing head, the book won a carpet. Had the 50/1 runner-up Brave Jen won, the firm would have been lamenting not getting their whack on the race.
12:30 – Sir Peter O’Sullevan Memorial Handicap Chase (GBB Race) (Class 2) (4YO plus) 2m 6½f
The second race on the card featured another short one in Inch House. Jonjo O’Neill’s gelding was the only one the punters wanted to be on and bet him relentlessly. The biggest of a steady stream of wagers was £600 – £400. For whatever reason the punters latched onto the jolly, of course people tend to just latch onto the jolly anyway, it was the right choice winning by a couple of lengths (pictured in action below).
That victory added to the tally of market leaders that punters had enjoyed and bookies endured over the two day meeting so far. Ed and Nick’s book was a traditional one, Inch House winning cost the firm £1500 which resulted in a long queue of happy punters to be paid out with frozen fingers. Not mine of course, I had to type this. 🥶
1:05 – Coral Committed To Safer Gambling Novices’ Hurdle (GBB Race) (Class 3) (4YO plus) 2m 4½f
The third race on the card looked very competitive with two short ones in the shape of Masaccio and Jingko Blue. The betting was once again brisk but fairly modest, very modest in fact, not one bet of note but still added up to a couple of grand as the field were going down. Eddie told me that he was only one fair bet away from betting overs. I looked into the book and mentioned it’s the sort of race I’d have gone up the front two. He turned and gave me a solid look before saying, ‘Well I am the best price the front two in the ring Simon’ and indeed he was, with two minutes to go there wasn’t a punter in front of him.
I’d have never made it as a bookie, it’s much easier writing about them than being one and making the decisions. 7/4 joint favourite Jingko Blue beat Masaccio the other 7/4 joint favourite a nose on the line. That was much to the delight of the punter behind me who had been shouting ‘get up, get up’ from after the last, he did get up.
It wasn’t all bad news for Star Sports either, the book copped £187.
1:40 – Coral Racing Club Handicap Hurdle (GBB Race) (Class 2) (4YO plus) 2m 4½f
Next up and often Star Sports team member Ian Rixon, lovingly known as Ricky, came over to the joint to lament the results. He was working for a fellow bookmaker who had also been in attendance yesterday. ‘It’s like Slaughter on Tenth Avenue’ he told me, apparently that’s a film that old people know, but I understood what he meant. It could have been worse though, before the bundle of joy that is Ricky appeared I was chatting to a bag man. His men were on fire having backed all three winners in the ring so far this afternoon, lucky not with Star Sports.
Betting on this race Eddie had decided to give Nicky Henderson’s Jet Powered a striping. ‘His are always over-backed here’ he told me, so topped the ring at the machine price until he had it for the maximum, but never reached it. Get A Tonic won the race for the Skeltons at 28/1 and provided the bookmakers with their first result of the two days. The book copped pretty much what it took, £2299. Maybe Ricky’s moans did the trick, come back anytime. Did they back that one Bag Man?
2:15 – ‘Bet In Race’ With Coral Intermediate Handicap Hurdle (Registered As The Gerry Feilden) (Premier Handicap) (GBB Race) (Class 1) (4YO plus) 2m ½f
The punters wanted Nicky Henderson again in the race before the penultimate, his charge Under Control was sent off 9/4 joint-jolly with Harry Derham’s Brentford Hope. Eddie and Nick, working like Trojans, did their best to get up the front two, they sort of succeeded. At the off the former was a loser for £1300 and the latter bad for a round of drinks. There wasn’t a bet worth mentioning but once again the field money added up to around £2500. Gary Moore’s Hansard won the race under Niall Houlihan and copped the book a further £1300.
🏆 2:50 – Coral Gold Cup Handicap Chase (Premier Handicap) (GBB Race) (Class 1) (4YO plus) 3m 2f
I do think that the current sponsors Coral have made a rick ditching the Hennessy title for the feature. It’s a heritage race which in most people’s memory was sponsored by a heritage brand. The Coral Hennessy wouldn’t have detracted from Coral and would have kept its status. To me it’s just lost as another bookmaker sponsored Saturday handicap now, which is a shame. To those of us that still associate with it, the race will always be the Hennessy.
Anyway, my first one was 1987, I was on leave from the Army, my mate Larry and I had come on Friday and had it spark off 1987 style, so decided to have it all on Kildimo in the Hennessy. I had £90 on, my wages were a score a day. Playschool won the race, I did my cobblers.
The other memorable renewal was 2008, I was part of Andrew Mount’s Scoop 6 syndicate going for the bonus along with Harry Findlay and other winners. We had Air Force One which looked likely to win two out only to be beaten by David Pipe’s 40/1 chance Madison Du Berlais costing about £1,000,000 between us, well done David!
The third was when Diamond Harry won for the Williams yard, his owner Paul Duffy was a mate of Mounty’s and co-owner of Reve De Silvola with him, I was lucky enough to visit the yard the next day, that’s the Hennessy of days gone by, next up the 2023 Coral Gold Cup.
It looked for a while as if the feature would bust the £2500 barrier in field money but ultimately the punters kept to type and wagered pretty much the same as previous races, £2500. There weren’t any big bets, but once again business was brisk.
Amongst the modest but brisk business Ed and Nick laid a bookmaker hedge bet which was called in fractions by fifth generation of Jack Bevan, Archie Metcalfe. Well done Archie, you’ve learned the fractions, but you really do need a coat on perishing days like today.
At the off there were four losers in the book, Complete Unknown was the worst for a grand while Mahler Mission lost a monkey. It looked as if the latter might cost us but 16/1 chance Datsalrightgino asserted after the last under Gavin Sheehan for Jamie Snowden, and put the race to bed copping the firm a further £850.
3:25 – Coral Get Closer To The Action Handicap Chase (GBB Race) (Class 2) (4YO plus) 2m ½f
The lucky last came alive and saw the biggest take of the day. A punter had a grand on Master Chewy at 4/5 while another waded in with a £7500 – £1000 Bollingerandkrug. The only other bet of note was £1100 – £200 Elixer De Nutz in a race where the bigger punters topped up the regular business of the smaller backers enjoyed all afternoon.
The smallest of the bigger bets ultimately proved to be the shrewdest. Joe Tizzard’s Elixir De Nutz ran away with the race which was run shrouded in fog, under Freddie Gingell in veteran owner Terry Warner’s famous colours winning at 9/2 nicely from 4/6 favourite Master Chewy. (Notice the SP’s compared to the prices laid).
Sadly, for the book the latter would have won a monkey whilst the winner, very popular with the public, lost a grand. Still, that disappointment aside, although taking the shine of what was shaping up to be a good day, Eddie and Nick still copped the thick end of £3000 on the day.
Star Sports will be back for the Cheltenham Christmas meeting, I’ll be there too. 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