TALES FROM THE BETTING RING Cheltenham Friday

first_img[dropcap]T[/dropcap]he wind was fresh to say the least as it whistled past Andrew and Lofty on the rails. The books were wrapped up well against the elements and prepared for the onslaught of the shrewd each-way types in the opening British Stallion Studs EBF ‘National Hunt’ Novices’ Hurdle. The percentages may have been a boon for the boffins but the backers that don’t mess about were betting win only, and mostly on Lalor. Trained in South Molton, Devon, by Richard Woollacott and ridden by Star Sports brand ambassador Davy Russell, the gelding was backed from 3/1 into 2/1 briefly dipping into 15/8 in a few places. The first heat underway in brilliant sunshine, the bookies squinting to see what was where. Turning for home it became apparent that Lalor was going very well as it cruised ominously into the race, cue groans from bookies. Richard Johnson on Western Ryder had other ideas though and the combination forged up the hill away from the jolly to win at 5/2, the ring settled for that.Despite being only four runners in the Horse Comes First Novices’ Chase the bookmakers I spoke to weren’t complaining about the business. ‘We’ve gone around the clock’ said one, basically there was money for all four. Best backed of the quartet was Sizing Tennessee sent off 2/1 jolly. There were groans in the ring (though that’s not unusual) when the gelding won, but it might have been different had several firm’s chance Tintern Theatre not fallen out in the country when still going very well.There were more combatants in the Catesby Handicap Hurdle, in which Champagne City was sent off the 9/2 favourite in a competitive race. His backers still had high hopes half way up the hill when doing battle with Remiluc but then supporters of both hopes were dashed when Smaoineamh Alainn under James Best came scything between the pair to bolt home.  The 7/1 winner landing a bit of a punt in the process. It had been 11/1 in early exchanges, and that is cash between bookies and punters not the odd quid on the internet.The fourth race on the card, the CF Roberts Electrical & Mechanical Services Mares’ Handicap Chase looked equally as tricky, at least on paper. The nearest Andrew and Lofty got to taking a half decent bet so far in the afternoon was a £2,600 – £400 cash on Theatre Territory. That punter, and his fancy found one too good in Ms Parfois winning at 9/2 but as joint favourite there weren’t many bookmakers cheering in what was quite a lacklustre ring. The race before the penultimate, The Unicoin Group Handicap Steeple Chase was reduced to five runners with the defection of 9/2 Mysteree just as betting was getting underway. That stuttered things a bit after those that had started betting readjusted their prices. Once they did there was only one that the punters wanted to be on. Harry Fry’s Wotzizname was backed, though not lumped on, from 7/4 into 5/4 clear favourite. Those that joined the modest gamble knew their fate a long way out, the jolly made rick after rick then dropped away eventually finishing fourth behind 7/4 second-in Robinsfirth.I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, the Glenfarclas Cross Country Handicap Chase and others like it tend to be races that garner very little of interest from punters. They are good for bookies and staff who have been hanging in there for an ablution break, they get back in just enough time to pay out over the winning favourite, which makes them happy it’s a race that garners very little interest from the punters. This time it didn’t happen like that. The punters didn’t want to know jolly Josies Orders and instead lumped on one of the the other green and gold horses More Of That from 7/1 into 4/1. As they passed the post it was Davy Russell who’d pulled out all the stops to win the race on Gordon Elliott’s Bless The Wings, a 12/1 bonus for the ring. Read Davy’s blog here every week.Most layers went into the lucky last, the Citipost Handicap Hurdle, with renewed vigour, once again it was a hot heat. Betting opened at 9/2 the field, though by the off Colin Tizzard’s charge The Dutchman had been backed into favouritism though not to hefty bets. That money stayed in the bookmaker’s hods though. The well-touted 6/1 shot Arthur’s Gift came with a late run from well off the pace to win the race from bookies dream 33/1 result, Sykes. Oh what might have been, still the ring got the jolly beaten.Same time same place tomorrow.Simon NottSimon Nott is author of Skint Mob!: Tales from the Betting RingCLICK HERE FOR MORE DETAILSlast_img

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