Good morning all,
I'm working at Nottingham today, which means a winter start time as the first is at 12! It's the latest track to take up the BHA initiative to try and get a bit more betting going in the shops at lunchtime. Anyway, early start means an early finish, so I'm not complaining.
Part 2 of my Epsom adventures are on the main piece, plus a selection from Fontwell today. For those wanting full comments, I have done the whole card for the Sporting Life, and it can be found on their website.
Saturday, and it’s Derby Day. Another 6.30am start, breakfast at half seven, on the track for 9, same as yesterday. And because the gear was set up yesterday, we don’t even have that to occupy us. It’s literally a case of putting your feet up for three hours. I’m very grateful for that.
However, the atmosphere today is different. It’s more lively, more vibrant from the word go. Buses are already pulling in when we arrive. Indeed, one bus full of lads arrived at 9, all piled off and got straight on the pop. What kind of a state are they going to be in later?! Jan (from the Martyn Of Leicester team, whose pitch is directly in front of them) comes down later on to tell me a story about them. In front of Pick 1 is a bus that’s full of folk dressed in Victorian gear. They all look fantastic. One of the girls walked past the lads and one of them called out “M’Lady” at one of them. She just looked at him and walked past. So he shouts “you fing miserable bitch” at her and then she turns around and gives him a right mouthful, puts up a real good fight. “You’re a fing misogynist you” she yells at him and walks off. Ten minutes later, she walks by again, and the bloke goes over to her. “I’d like to apologize for my actions earlier” he says. “I looked up that word you called me and you’re right, I am!”
Dust. There’s bloody dust everywhere. I noticed it yesterday but it’s worse today. It’s already covered my shoes. Amazing how dusty it gets in here on a hot day. And it is hot – the sun is well and truly out today, and it’s well over 20 degrees on the dial by mid-morning. I have to say, I much prefer cooler conditions for working in, although Tim, in his shorts again, loves it.
The ITV crew are now here, doing some colour pieces, and of course, the Victorian bus attracts plenty of attention. As do the circus that’s just turned up too, all acrobats, throwing each other around. It’s a real party atmosphere. Then, on top of one of the buses, “Him and Her”, a Pearly King and Queen, get everyone going with a singalong. It’s a Bontempi frenzy. Tim changes the lyrics of “My Bonnie Lies Over The Ocean” to something a lot ruder, the terrible man. It made me laugh, anyway. All this and it’s only half eleven.
Anyway, we set up at midday, and start betting. Sadly, Raymond, who is working with me today, is caught in traffic on the M1 and won’t be here for a while. So Baz fronts for me again to begin with and again, it’s not that long before two beers appear. I decide to take it a bit easier today – beer, hot weather and me are not a great mix. I have to be on top form this afternoon and the last thing I need is to feel a bit sleepy mid-afternoon after a couple of beers! Also, given I’m drinking water by the bottle to keep hydrated, I don’t need to be nipping off to the loo every half hour!
Jen’s working with Tim on Pick 6 today and she’s already roping them in. Jen’s one of the best frontmen (frontwomen?) in the business. If you were just starting out as a frontman and wanted to know what to do, you’d just watch Jen for an afternoon. She has them eating out her palms at times. It’s no surprise that, despite being on a supposed worse pick than us, she’s out-ticketed our pick by the end of the day. She’s that good. Not only that, she’s a great laugh too, taking the p*ss out of everyone and happy to get it back. Top lady.
Whereas it was slow to get going today, not so today. Soon as we’re up and running the tenners and twenties come flying in. We bet on the Derby for half an hour but there’s not much interest, so we switch back to the first. And then Raymondo arrives! He takes over from Baz, we do our introductions to each other and get started. He usually works for the Roy Christie firm but is helping us out today. He’s forgotten more than I’ll ever know about racing, and has tales to tell. But the poor bloke is starving, having been stuck in traffic for two hours, so goes off to a bus to give them his sob story and nick a bit of food. He comes back with a right plateful! No sooner has he finished it off than a bloke comes up and tells us that he’s paid for that food as that’s his bus, so can he have bigger odds with us all afternoon please? We’re only too happy to oblige, fair’s fair after all, and he comes back with two more beers as well. Uh-oh. I can see what’s coming here….sleepy Dave come Derby time.
Results are good early on but I’m surprised the bet size isn't a bit bigger today. Don’t get me wrong, there’s plenty of tenners and twenties but no really lumpy ones. Maybe you need to be in Tatts for that. We tick along nicely and then the Dash comes along. Ornate is a cracking result for the books. Over the two days the bookmakers pray for one result like this and when it comes, it’s almost a relief. It means you know you’re going home winning after all the expenses are paid (which, as you can imagine – food, hotel, betting badges and the rest – is not cheap).
There’s a good spread of money around for the Derby and finally some lumps – a £200 Sir Dragonet, a £100 Broome (twice) and a £50 ew Humanitarian at 33s. Over on Pick 6, Tim and Jen have taken a £300 win bet at 33s on Humanitarian too! Someone fancies it but someone’s wrong, as Anthony Van Dyck thunders up the rail past me to glory. It’s a good result.
Up we go for the next and I put 2-1 Sextant on the board. “Can you lay me 9-4?” is the first thing I hear. Raymondo and I decide we can and the bloke pulls a monkey out. That’s more like it, the favourite is straight in the book and we can crack on and bet around it. I then watch as the price crashes in to 13-8 and wonder what the hell I’ve done! Thankfully, near the off, it drifts back to the price it was in the first place. However, Sextant doesn’t read the script and is well beaten.
People are leaving now and the last is a quiet affair. The time has come to pack everything up, and go home. It’s been a real blast. I get home around 10pm and think how ready I am for a rest. Then remember I’m working at Fakenham tomorrow. No lie in for me. The work of a frontman is never done…
Fontwell today, and small fields are the order of the day. I'm hoping that Not A Role Model, a horse I like a lot – he's a very sound jumper, and ravels well in his races – can go one better than last year in the 4.00. Just touched off last time around, he'll be a lot fitter for an outing at Warwick that he clearly needed. He's got Regulation to see off, who is on a roll, but I'd be hopeful he can take this on the way to better things.
Good luck with all your bets today,