It may get some racing purists seething but the Shergar Cup gets the crowds in. It was a young crowd too which is fantastic to see, I must admit feeling decidedly old. Not as old as my old mate Armaloft Alex working on the Sam Harris pitch. Looking around at the lovely ladies queuing for a bet in their best frocks he rather mournfully noted ‘I have older socks than a lot of them!’ The socks Armaloft was referring to are of course well over 21.
It was excellent that the betting ring was busy. The team today were head of on-course Steve, BHA graduate Young Lofty, aka Lewis and Tony. It wasn’t just £2 bets as you might expect being staked but plenty of tenners tendered, mostly in cash but a dozen or so bets swiped on cards. Weirdly every single punter that waved the plastic did so to Lewis not Tony. Incidently, Lewis was missing Lofty, he had to resort to YouTube for instruction on how to tie his Lofty recommended Windsor knot. Who’d have thought it, our much loved shop steward a fashion icon to 21 year olds.
1:35 – Dubai Duty Free Shergar Cup Dash (Handicap) (Class 2) (3YO plus) 5f
Rogue Lightening won the first race at 9/1. It took a while to find out though, the crowd noise was deafening, and the big screen in our line of vision wasn’t working while both commentator and result announcement was drowned out. Still, it’s better to be heaving than desperate. Once Steve found out what had filled the first three it transpired that the 70 odd bet grand book had lost a bottle, £200.
2:10 – Dubai Duty Free Shergar Cup Stayers (Handicap) (Class 2) (4YO plus) 2m
Just as betting started for the next heat it started to rain, which wasn’t what anyone needed. Hollie Doyle’s mount The Very Man opened the 9/4 favourite. Whilst they weren’t knocking the bookies over to get it, it’s fair to say that the crowd in Tatts was the biggest I have seen in a long time, admittedly I was a non-runner at Royal Ascot this year. Getting around was a bit of a crush but great to see all the same.
Steve sent me off to find an RDT engineer, but the time I managed to get through the throngs to them and returned to the pitch he’d resolved the problem. He’s a man of many talents our Steve, but I’m told not much good at Windsor knots.
The rain was short lived, ever the wag Armaloft suggest it was the fear of running tan rather than the precipitation itself that had the ladies seeking cover, cheeky.
Hollie’s Mount was easy to back drifting to 5/2 at the off. The book was taking plenty of money, they issued around 140 tickets. Steve had three small losers at the off, the worst way Zoffee losing £361, The Very Man £295 and The Grand Visit £100 from a near £1700 book.
Hollie Doyle’s mount may have been hard to lay in the race, but The Very Man proved to be the easiest of winners, coming from near last to first to win by over three lengths. The book blew a carpet in total but had value.
☘️ Over in Ireland at the Curragh, Neil Casey was representing Star Sports. It was free admission paid for by the INBPA ( Irish on-course bookmakers ) Neil laid a bet of €3000 – €1000 Red Viburnum in 2.15 over there.
2:45 – Dubai Duty Free Shergar Cup Challenge (Handicap) (Class 2) (4YO plus) 1m 4f
It’s worth noting, again, the last winner returned ‘top of the head’ 9/4 but you could have had plenty of 5/2 in the betting room with the on-course bookmakers. Don’t get short changed, come racing.
La Yakel opened 2/1 in the next with RaceShare owned Scampi 11/2 second in and a popular choice with punters, possibly owners. As they went to post the jolly touched top of the head 9/4 before being clipped into 2/1 then 7/4 as the horses loaded. At the off Max Mayhem was the worst potential loser for £1194 in a book that held £1300.
Punters were treated to a thrilling finish in which Scampi won the race on the nod by a short head from Wootton’s Sun. The book lost £327 which was a monkey turnaround in the punters’ favour on the result of the photo which made it three losing races from six, but it could have been worse, every cloud and all that.
Scampi returned 11/2 but you could have had 6/1 on course, it doesn’t hurt to keep mentioning it, come racing.
☘️ Over at The Curragh, Neil Casey got his bogie beaten which was a great start for him. He also sent this lovely photo of hugely respected Irish bookmaker and friend to Star Sports Ray Mulvaney who had brought his 1 1/2 year old twins Jodie & William to the races with him As well as being a leading bookie, Ray is a top guy who made Flynn and I very welcome when we used to go over to the Curragh on big race days.
3:20 – Dubai Duty Free Shergar Cup Mile (Handicap) (Rnd) (Class 2) (4YO plus) 1m
Betting was tighter in the race before the penultimate where Empirestateofmind and Perotto were 7/2 each of two. Escobar was a popular choice with punters who evidently thought that the 6/1 on offer was not to be sniffed at.
The Star Sports mint sweets given away at the pitch were proving popular with the punters who were still getting involved. The bet numbers and average stake of about £15 had stayed consistent. Having said that, the chances of taking a monkey or anything like it here today were less likely than actually have one come up and ask for a bet.
☘️ Over at the Curragh, the bigger punters were finding Neil Casey betting for Star Sports, he laid Commanche Falls to the tune of €3000 to €1500 in the 3.25 and once again got to keep the money.
By the time the horses got down to the start Empirestateofind was clear ‘eyes’ 5/2 favourite losing a carpet in the book, whilst the bogie was Escobar for £830, Excel Power the fly in the ointment losing £322 amongst the rags.
At the business end of the race looked like Fox Tal was going to get the firm out on the day but was chinned on the line by Perotto. There was a £600 turnaround in the result but the winner still copped a rouf, £400. It was the first winning race of the day but there was still all to play for, £450 down with a brace of races to go.
3:55 – Dubai Duty Free Shergar Cup Classic (Handicap) (Class 3) (3YO only) 1m 4f
Star Sports did bet on the team event prior to racing. They took a grand total of £50 on it, two pony bets from another bookmaker, they must have left an arb up! Mike Vince made a valiant effort to gee up interest in the team aspect of the day but as far as I could see there was very little of interest in it from the punters. They were still engaged in betting on the individual races though so it didn’t really matter.
Just when I confidently predicted something wouldn’t happen, it did. No, a monkey didn’t have a bet but Steve, Lewis and Tony took a bet of £800, that is £1400 – £400 each-way Golden Move. The book was a good one, at the off Golden Move lost £859 and Regal Empire for £645. Of course a lot depended on getting Golden Move out of the frame.
The race was another cracker but it looked like it wasn’t destined to be Star’s day. Hollie Doyle came up the rail with a well-timed run to win the race on 13/2 chance Regal Empire. Luckily, the each-way bogie was out with the washing saving £400 of the winner’s payout, the book still lost £200 which was annoying.
☘️ Over at The Curragh Neil Casey was still tapping away taking on the bigger punters, he messaged to say he’d laid Bucanero Fuerte to the tune of €2500 – €1000 in the 4:40.
4:30 – Dubai Duty Free Shergar Cup Sprint (Handicap) (Class 2) (3YO only) 6f
I wonder what marketing strategy Ascot used to get people in today. Whatever it was they struck gold. The place was packed with young people enjoying themselves and engaging with the racing. The roar for each race finish drowned the commentary which after being annoying to begin with was actually a real buzz. They were betting too, in cash, with racecourse bookies. Star we’re doing good business in the second row, the lucky last proved to be the busiest of the day. Going into the concluding heat the book was losing £600 but the firm held just under £3000 with one loser, 9/2 chance Quinault for £568 and 10/1 chance He’s A Monster a taker.
Dark Trooper held up the off time of the race being re-shod but didn’t waste any time coming home, hosing in under Saffie Osborne. The winner returned the 7/2 favourite but with the places the book copped £350 which added up to a £250 losing day. It was a lot of work for Steve, Lewis and Tony to conclude a losing day, but they had the opportunity to cop plenty. As far as a day’s racing goes it was a huge success. As for the teams, it was the Ladies all the way.
☘️ Over at The Curragh Neil was still fielding it, laying a €6000 – €3000 Unquestionable in the 4.40 which was handy as Bucanero Fuerte, the original big bet won the race, so Neil still copped. Nice work Neil.
We’re back at York in a fortnight’s time.
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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