Good morning all,
Been a while since I did a Tale From The Rail but Saturday's fun and games at Warwick are detailed on the main piece.
With no jumps racing today, I have turned to Newcastle for a bet, and the selection is on the main piece.
It’s supposed to be Newbury, but there’s a change of plan in midweek. Storm Ciara approaches, and what time she’s arriving on our shores seems to be open to a bit of debate. Also, with Altior, Native River and, as it turns out, Chantry House, there are three odds-on favourites. Odds-on shots are no good to bookmakers (unless you think you can get them turned over, of course) and so we reroute to Warwick. I’m not unhappy about the prospect of three hours less travelling in the car, I have to say.
There’s four of us travelling down – three of us on our team and we’re giving Pat a lift down, he’s working for someone else. Pat, complete with his thick Irish accent, has a take on everything and it’s usually both off-piste and utterly hilarious. Suffice to say the journey down flies by, and we actually end up getting there way too early.
And because we do, I decide to go on the hunt for a bacon sandwich once the kit is in. Remarkably, despite there being numerous food joints scattered around the place, not one is doing a bacon roll. You’re missing out on trade there, Warwick. Little tip for you – bookmakers and their workers getting there early are usually hungry. Well I am, anyway.
We go for a tea instead and as we’ve all got members badges, we got in there for a free one. (Pat – “no wonder you said you’d get the teas in. You’re not paying for ‘em, that’s why!”). Pat tells us how he had his local bus driver in a tizz yesterday –
“A return please.”
“You think you’re so clever, don’t you?”
“Well you’re the one asking daft questions.”
He then tells us stories of how he’s managed to sneak into certain racecourses without paying, although admits it’s getting harder. “You have to stay a step ahead, that’s the game.” He tells us how Ireland will have more winners at Cheltenham, than the English (Me – “well you would say that, wouldn’t you?” Pat – “I just f*@king did. Weren’t you listening?”), how Ireland will win the rugby later, and various other items, all of which have us laughing.
Time to pick. We’re number 5 on the rail, with the Sid Hooper lot one side and Martyn Of Leicester the other. All good folk, so this should be fun. I meet a few friends not seen for a while, have a chat with them as some of them have runners later on the card, and we get cracking on race 1.
It’s the usual quiet start, although there’s a lot of students here today – nine busloads of them, in fact – and plenty are novices, so there’s a least time to give them a crash course (and see some ID’s of course. We must have asked 50 times throughout the afternoon and all had some form of ID. Which makes life easier). Trincomalee finally shows his Newbury form and might now head to the Imperial Cup, I am told.
Things liven up a bit for the next and in comes the first big bet of the day, a £4000-£500 e/w Sastruga. At no point does that ever look like copping – it’s 40+ on the machine after a mile – and we’re in front.
Card betting is becoming more and more popular with the younger brigade, who seem to carry little cash (no credit cards, obviously – only debit) and on an afternoon like this that is more noticeable. They take a little longer to process but once they have had one bet with you, tend to keep coming back, so it’s a great tool for driving repeat business.
What’s also noticeable is the wind, which has really picked up in the last hour. The storm, she is a-coming…
I’ve got one lady punter, already slightly the worse for wear, but she’s backed the first two winners and is now convinced I’m her lucky charm. The fact she then backs Nube Negra e/w at 5-4 rather ruins the illusion that it might be me and not the fact she’s backing jollies e/w as the reason for her getting a return every time – but she’s delighted to pick up her £7 for finishing second afterwards and I’m still getting the “lucky” treatment. Oh well.
The bigger bets seem to have disappeared, but no-one wants Indefatigable except me (I backed her again at 4s) and although Copper Gone West takes some shine off it (she was our place bogey) it’s still a small winning race. It’s a similar story in the next as Two Taffs drifts like a barge and I go in again, but this time I’ve given Martyn Of Leicester my money as he can only finish second to Clondaw Castle.
There’s money flying around everywhere in the handicap that follows but barely a penny of it is on the winner, Fortunate George, and he is by far and away out best result of the day. But then we see the man himself – Fortunate George! – who tells us he’s had to be very patient with the horse, but he’s pleased he’s got the win he deserves.
On to the bumper. The first bet I strike as soon as prices go up is a £480-£80 Sizeable Sam. I always think that’s a good sign for a horse in a bumper, someone having a decent bet as soon as the show goes up. My lady punter is back and by now is well oiled. She gives me a score, has £2.50 ew on four horses, and then gives me another score. It’s a good job I’m honest, and give her the surplus-to-requirements £20 back. She was last seen heading to the gin bar with it.
Sizable Sam is a small loser for us but it can’t take the shine off the day. We set off for home, but immediately hit traffic as we exit the course. However, I know a way around the back roads, which sparks Pat into life – “Don’t listen to him, he’s not a bloody clue where we are. We’ll be driving around Warwickshire for hours, I tell ya” but sure enough, we’re on the A46 within 10 minutes and heading back to Leicester. Ireland have won the rugby, and Pat makes sure we know about it. It’s been a good day. Come on Ciara, do your worst….
Over at Newcastle I think that Glenamoy Lad must have a solid chance of taking the 5.50. He's 2-3 at the track, and effectively better grade than this lot. A short break won't have harmed him and he's now 6lb lower than his last win. Throw in a good draw and the fact he's got the speed of the race in Barrington and Jungle Juice either side of him to give him a tow in, and he looks to hold a major chance.
Good luck with all your bets today,