by David Massey

October 16, 2020

Something that happened this week jogged my memory of a punter that, when I was managing a bookies all those years ago, reminded me of the bets I used to take from him. It was the same bet(s) every single day, he never changed, not once. That in turn set me off thinking about some of the other weird bets I used to have to settle, usually by longhand and using a calculator! I thought I’d share a few of those with you today, I hope you enjoy them.

Back in the 2000’s I was managing a shop in central Derby (one of a few, actually) and one of the punters I had in, we'll call him J, was a daily regular. His bets – every single day – consisted of placing all the days races into time order, and then taking them, five at a time, and having them in a Lucky 31. He’d continue this process until he’d run out of races, so he’d have the favourite covered in every race, English and Irish, in Lucky’s.

I asked him once what his theory was. He reckoned that, about a dozen times a year, he’d hit the magic five winners in a bet, as “there’s always a point in every day when the favourites start winning.” (Work that out for yourself). And even if he hit, say, three winners in a bet, as long as they weren’t odds-on, it’d pay for the bet. “I’m on the best horse every time, “ he’d say. (Again, you be the judge of that).

I remember him hitting the first five winners one day, none of them odds-on and I wish I could remember the name of the last one! I do remember this – on the off, there were 9-2 joint favourites for his last race, and we joked that he had 2 chances of getting the bet up. One of them won. Imagine his joy when it returned 4-1 clear favourite. The lucky old sod. It was at Sandown, a handicap hurdle, in JP’s colours and, of course, ridden by AP. With the 50% bonus for getting all five, he cleared over two grand.

Other strange bets I’ve settled, then. Another shop I managed was in Scarborough, on the Falgrave Road. I loved that shop, the clientele were good fun and I loved Scarborough. Anyway, I had one guy that used to do each-way Union Jack Patents every day, nine selections, every line up, down, diagonally a patent – BUT – always tried to put the favourite in a four-horse race in the middle. “If that wins, you’re laughing,” he’d say. I could see his theory, an all-to-win selection in the middle means that if it does win, it mounts the other places up a fair bit, but the flip side of that is, of course, if it loses, there’s so many bets sunk in one go it almost becomes worthless.

When I worked for Stanley Racing as a relief manager in the Midlands, I’d go to various shops, some busy, some less so. One such shop was in Burton, which was very quiet. To amuse themselves, the manager of that shop and a nearby Needwood Racing, neither of whom liked each other that much, used to try and concoct the most convoluted bets they could imagine for the other one to settle. It turned into a battle of wills, and sadly one day, I was caught in the crossfire.

I was in charge when the Needwood manager came in with his bet. A 4×4 grid with 16 dog selections on it. The instructions? Any line across, down or diagonally – a 20p Lucky 15, a 10p e/w Perm Patent and a 10p e/w Yankee.

Now, with a settling machine that didn't work in the shop (and he knew that, I think) you basically to work each line out by hand. The bets themselves weren’t hard to settle, it was just so long-winded, making sure you’d got each line correct and applying any bonuses for one winner on a line. And because the bet was so tricky, you had to ring another shop to check it.

“Hello, Di, can you check me a bet please?”

“Course I can, what is it?”

“Take a piece of paper and draw a 4×4 grid.”

“It’s that tw*t, isn’t it?”

After much toing-and-froing we came to a figure we were both happy with. Whether he was I’ve no idea, because I wasn’t there when he came to pick up….!

Today's racing makes little appeal but I can see Multellie running a good race from the front in the 4.35 Redcar. I worry he might have a shade too much weight but Ella McCain takes 7lb off, and in the absence of any other potential front runner, he might get an easy lead here. No problem with the ground and at worst, there ought to be an in-running trade out of him, if that's your thing. 14s looks big enough to take a chance on.

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Good luck with all your bets today,

David.

Disclaimer: All views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of TGH Trading Ltd or it's employees.

About the author 

David Massey

David Massey is an on course bookmakers clerk, a Sporting Life race card author, a horse racing punter and of course a regular contributor here at the Daily Punt

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