An Epsom Tale (Part I)

Good morning all,

It's a long old Epsom tale to tell, as you might expect, so Part I is up this morning and then Derby Day will follow tomorrow.

Southwell is chock-full of odds-on shots and I'm trying to get one of them beaten with today's selection.

It’s Thursday evening, around 7pm, and we’re travelling to Epsom, or to be more specific, the Premier Inn at Tolworth, which will be our base for the next two days. The team for MT Racing (for it is they I’m working for) consists of Col, our leader, Tim, Steve, Jen, Baz, Raymondo (on Saturday) and yours truly. Three pitches in the Lonsdale is what we’ll be running and, as it’s my first ever Oaks/Derby working, I’m both a bit excited and intrigued as to what the next two days will bring.

There’s a reason that we’re going down Thursday night rather than Friday morning – the pick the next day is at 10am, a full FOUR hours before the first. The reason for this is simple enough – there are so many areas that the bookmakers bet in at Epsom that, to make sure they are all in position in plenty of time, each “area” has its own pick time. Sadly for us, the Lonsdale (the area by the rails in the middle of the course, where you always see the buses on TV) is one of the earlier areas. It means a 6.30am start for me Friday, to finish my writing, have breakfast, shower and we’re out of the hotel by 8.30. We arrive at 9, drop all the gear off and park up. We’ll be working pitches 1, 4 and 6. They are very good pitches (especially 1, which is colossal) and I’ll be on 4, with Baz as my frontman (for a change, I’m on the computer).

And then we wait.

Because, of course , there’s nothing to do now. There’s no-one here (the public aren’t let in until 11) and although the buses are starting to roll in and park up, there’s not many people on them. The other thing to bear in mind is the batteries we use to power all the equipment last about 5-6 hours, so if you start betting at 10am, expect your board to be going off before the end of racing.

So we take our seats and relax a bit. The weather isn’t anywhere near what was forecast – it’s very overcast, 14 degrees and the wind isn’t helping either. I go for a wander to see what’s going on. It’s still pretty quiet.

There is another reason for the early pick – last year, some of the buses rolled in early and their passengers set their marquees up on the bookmakers pitches before they had even arrived! They then refused to move, meaning the bookmakers had to have makeshift pitches for the day. So to prevent that happening again, there’s some painted lines this year. Seems to work, as the buses all set up directly opposite the books. I’ve never seen so much ale in my life. Crates and crates of the stuff.

Anyway, we get around to 1pm and get betting. It’s a very slow start – people are now having their lunches, and have little interest in having a bet. We take a few tenners and scores but there’s very little to report on the first couple of races. The favourite Pinatubo takes the first (from Oh Purple Reign, who didn’t handle the track – keep him onside) and the rejuvenated Gossiping the second. The first is a poor result, the second a good one.

And finally the sun comes out, to a huge cheer from the crowd. Never heard the appearance of the sun cheered before. But it’s a welcome blast of warmth, especially for Tim, who is working in his shorts. The lunatic.

Baz works some of his magic on a couple of punters and hey presto, four bottles of beer appear in front of us. I thirstily neck a Peroni and Baz does the same. Meanwhile, on Pick 1, Jen’s had a £180 cash tip (yes, that’s £180) and some wine from her punters. (And a couple of phone numbers…). Tim and Steve have the other beers and the afternoon is flying along. Defoe is a blinding result in the next (all the punters wanted was La Ti Dar) and although Mountain Angel takes a bit of gloss off in the next, it’s still going well. Oaks time now and, to my surprise, the two they all want are Peach Tree, who is very popular with the fivers and tenners crowd, and Frankellina. I take a couple of £100 bets on Mediiyah but in truth she’s not that popular. Unsurprisingly, the Frankie fans are out in force for Anapurna as well, and they get their reward as she battles on to get the better of Pink Dogwood. It’s a winning race but a fair payout to do.

“I’ve not had a winner yet!” bemoans one lady punter who has had a £20 bet with us each race. “Come on, help me out”, she pleads. I tell her Space Blues won’t get beat and luckily for me, as she has £50 on it, it doesn’t. A smacker on the cheek for me and a happy punter. More beers arrive from her bus as a thankyou and the second Peroni goes down as well as the first. I like this, can we come here every year please?

Corazon Espinado rounds off a decent day for us and Colin jokingly informs us we can all have starters tonight.

Now to get out of the car park. And it’s a nightmare. This makes Worcester look organized. By the time we’ve packed the gear away, and actually got on the road, it’s gone 7pm. However, as we’re waiting to turn at a junction, Colin spots something. “Hello, she’s got one of her boobs out!” He’s right as well. There’s two girls walking along and they’re so p*ssed, one of them has had a wardrobe malfunction and half her dress has come down, revealing the lot on one side. But she’s so drunk she doesn’t realise it, and neither does her mate. We, ahem, respectfully give her a shout to sort it out and she just about manages to get it back in. What a state to get in!

Anyway, it’s a meal at the Indian and a couple of beers to finish the night off with. It’s been a long day – a 6.30am start, an 11pm finish, and tomorrow is going to be even busier….

On to Southwell today, where if short-priced favourites are your thing, you'll be in clover. But two I want to try and take on are Magna Cartor (who never runs two races alike) and earlier on the card, Kahdian, who is 10-11 despite winning just 1 of his 40 starts to date. The trainer switch to Olly Murphy seems to be the reason for his cramped odds but if you're following that angle (Olly Murphy first time up with other's castoffs) you're well down to level stakes over the last year. So I'd rather chance a small bet on Diligent, who didn't run at all badly at Worcester last time out and this drop back to 2m could prove ideal, especially if we get a drop of rain before racing (and some is due). This represents a drop in class for him and he might be able to take advantage.

Good luck with all your bets today,


5 Responses to An Epsom Tale (Part I)

  1. David Baker says:

    Great article – as usual… I REALLY look forward to these.

  2. Gerry says:

    Cheers, looking forward to tomorrow’s Dave…thanks.

  3. Ian says:

    Great bit of insight into your world Dave. I love reading these! Had a little tickle on Diligent, fingers crossed!

  4. Jo says:

    Unlucky Dave – Picked the wrong un in the first

    Fav is a dog

    Late Night Lily is due a change of luck though

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