Betting Articles

Nicks Punting Diary - W/C 24-06-13

After the drama and excitement of Royal Ascot I was pretty shattered and decided a good few days away from the betting world would do me good.

In fact, I had more or less decided to take a week off and then get stuck in to the two-day Newcastle meeting on Friday and Saturday.  I stuck to my guns admirably until a text message came through on Thursday evening.

Basically it went like this – “Chester races Friday evening, free train ticket, free entry to Final Furlong enclosure, free carvery and a free bar.  All you need is money to bet”.  It’s a corporate bash hosted by an electrical wholesaler and my father-in-law’s cousin is the local branch manager.  What’s more there are 2 places left after a couple of customers dropped out at the last minute.  The only thing standing in my way is how to get a half day’s holiday at such short notice.  Easy, I invite my boss and he’s the guy who authorises my holidays.

It’s game on and it’s going to be messy.

I get to don my suit and tie for the first time since Champions Day at Ascot last October.  In fact the suit still has the entry badge on the lapel, and, almost with embarrassment, I find my best shoes still have half of Ascot racecourse on them.

We meet up in the pub opposite the train station for a swift pint and then we hop onto the train and we are on our way.  Chester racecourse is at the opposite end of the town to the station, so naturally there are a few pit stops along the way.

The Final Furlong is in festival village on the inside of the course close to the paddock.  It is a huge marquee and tonight it’s populated with immaculately dressed, affluent businessmen and women… and yours truly.  But hey! At least I can show these people a thing or two about betting and it’s down to business.

One thing about a trip to the races is the obligation to bet on every race.  If I was at home I would most probably have struck a line through most races at this meeting.  With hindsight, I should have had one or two large bets on strong fancies and happily watched the remainder.

Hindsight is a wonderful thing.

A lot of the guys in our party are keen to hear my selections, knowing that I have been betting on horses for a good few years.  I do offer my usual Chester advice and calmly state “you could do a lot worse than blindly back all of Franny Norton’s rides”.  Famous last words.

Race 1 looks like a match bet between Heskin and Royal Connection.  In the betting ring I can dutch them both at 11/4.  Ideal.  I only have £100 to play with so I back them both for £10.  Heskin gets it on the nod from Royal Connection and I’m off to a nice start.

In the next I have a shortlist of previous course winners Marcret and Clockmaker along with the well treated Toto Skyllachy.  I opt for the latter two and then watch as Marcret wins by 7 lengths at a tasty 9/1.  I return to the marquee to see my table companions drinking from pitchers of Red Bull and vodka, most of them having backed Marcret.

Race 3 and I’m really keen on Danat Al Atheer in the Class 3 handicap.  With only 5 runners, it’s a straight win bet @6/4.  I’m a little disappointed when, after being held up, her challenge only sees her finish second to Lady Macduff who made all @9/1.  The home straight at Chester is very short, if you going to mount a challenge then please be in touch on the final bend, especially if my money is riding on it!!!

Back to the marquee and the pitchers of Red Bull and vodka have been joined by pitchers of Jack Daniels and coke.  Yes, they had all backed Lady Macduff.  Why?  Franny Norton was on board.

Sometimes something is so obvious you just can’t see it, especially after a good few pints and a few shots for good measure.  Mark Johnstone’s Broughton was clearly bet of the day in race number four.  Franny is on board too.  Instead I dutch Richard Hannon’s Endorsing and David Simcock’s Gabrial The Duke @5/1 and 7/1.  I imagine that this rash decision was born from the fact we’d had two outsiders winning the last two races.  Schoolboy error.  Take each race on its merit, not on what has happened previously!!!  Predictably, Endorsing finishes second to Broughton and Franny Norton has a double on the night.  My boss, who had yet to have a sniff, had a meaty bet on Broughton and he was well and truly up for the evening.  So much so that he proceeded to drink as much of the free bar as humanly possible.  More on that later.

Two races to go and if ever I need a winner it has to be in the next.  Richard Hannon’s former smart juvenile Magic City is vying for favouritism with Mark Johnstone’s Kingscroft.  Franny Norton takes the ride on the latter.  Another dutch on these two @7/2 in the betting ring and I nestle onto the rail next to the winning post.  Snow Bay holds off Kingscroft, with Magic City back in third.

And it’s raining.

As I stand by the winning post I weigh things up.  This trip hasn’t cost me a penny, it’s been a great day out and the night is young.  My betting pot is down to £40 so I decide to do what anyone would do in my position.  I return to the marquee to get smashed.  My boss is already there, wearing a balloon animal on his head.

And so to the lucky last.  My £40 is split between three outsiders World Record 11/1, Ellee Rebelle 20/1 and Clary 14/1.  They duly finish nowhere and it’s off to town and back to the station.  The fifteen minute walk takes 2 ½ hours as we stop by several dubious establishments on the way and just about catch the 00.40hrs last train home.

Whilst sitting on the train it dawns on me that the man with the animal balloon on his head is nowhere to be seen.  Oh dear.  I send a quick text message to him, thinking he has most probably got one of the earlier trains home.  Almost instantly my mobile rings and a strangers’ voice tells me they have Mr Balloon Man, he’s in a right state and his partner is on her way to collect him by car.  Oh dear indeed!

Saturday morning and I’m tired and more than a little hungover.  Back to Plan A and it’s the Newcastle card for me.  Jack Dexter looks like a bet to nothing with William Hill’s generous refund for second place on all C4 races.  £50 @4/5 will do me.  The Northumberland Plate is a race I really like and I instantly back Tominator each-way @9/1.  I just can’t see him being out of the four.  That will do for me as my body tries to recover from the excess of the previous evening.

Jack Dexter wins by a short head to set the ball rolling.  I miss the first couple of furlongs of the Northumberland Plate but focus my eyes on Tominator the grey horse, handily placed in about 6th from his decent draw in stall 4.  He maintains his position through the first mile and a half on the inside rail and then they swing for home.  The pace quickens and the jockey asks for an effort.  Short of room he plugs on gamely and it’s looking quite good for a top four finish and at least a run for my money.  Into the final furlong and my horse starts to get passed on both sides and slips out of the places.  And then the commentator gets excited and commentates that Tominator is wearing down the leader in the final strides in an attempt to land the race for a second time.  He wins and I am momentarily confused.  I had of course been focussing all my attention on another grey, Noble Alan, who finished a game 7th.  I can only put this down to the effects of the night before and I can honestly say that’s the first time I’ve ever watched a race focussing on completely the wrong horse!

Strange, but perhaps not as strange as a fully grown, middle-aged man with an animal balloon on his head!
Nick's Punting Diary - Royal Ascot Part 2
Nick's Punting Diary w/c 01-07-13


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