HAMMER GUN first, the rest nowhere, on the old Southwell fibresand. THIS IMAGE IS SOURCED FROM "RACINGFOTOS.COM"

Roving Reports: In Between

We're into the bit of the season I call the "in-between" bit, writes David Massey; the Flat season starts to wind down, although there's still some good stuff to come, and the jumps hasn't really got going, with Chepstow today the signifier that things are about to go up another level.

The return of the evening meetings at Southwell will be my main work in the ring for the next few months. As I've said before, Southwell is one of the strongest betting rings in the country, you'll often get exchange prices or even bigger on some occasions, which makes it a great place for punters but hard to win at for bookmakers.

As an example, the one I work for just about broke even after expenses over the winter last year. You'd wonder why they bother, but work is work and there's always the hope that results will be better for them this time around.

We were at the first of the evening meetings a couple of weeks ago and weren't expecting much in the way of either a crowd or large wagers. Well, how wrong could we have been....

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After a fairly quiet opener (in which I tipped the winner Papa Ricco at 14-1, just as an aside ;-)) it all kicked off in the nursery that followed. Literally the first bet I took was a £30ew on the winner Lotting's Lass at 40-1, swiftly followed up by another £25ew and £20ew from his mates. Then in come the each-way bombs for third-home Elliott; a £150ew and a £200ew, the latter from a well-known racing personality. Finally a £200 win on the well-backed runner-up Amroon just on the off. Suffice to say my payout sheet was a large one after the race, and the firm were well and truly behind.

You'd have thought having an 18-1 chance win the maiden would help but no, we took plenty of scores and ponies for winner Sir Terence Hadley, and The Pug was no better in the next. Sniper's Eye attracts two monkey bets at 4-5 before winning the next and third home Running Star is the each-way bogey to give us another kicking. I've twice been to the boss for more float money already before War Defender is a well-backed winning favourite in the sixth, and not even Dance Time at 33-1 in the last gives us any respite, with plenty of small tenners and fivers laid at 33s and 40s. An awful evening, and a shocking start to the new Southwell season.

Compare that to Tuesday night's meeting - a smaller crowd, barely a big bet taken on my joint (the biggest I took was £100 all night, and that won) and nine races with 35-minute gaps between the first three. Those, my friends, are long and boring nights. Thank goodness it wasn't cold.

The appeal for having nine races (and ten can only be around the corner, you feel) for tracks is obvious enough - hello, more media rights money - but for both punters and bookmakers alike it feels like a marathon. Most people had left after seven races and by the time the last came around the stands looked pretty sparse. If we are to have these nine-race cards, can we not have 25-minute gaps? It isn't like there's anything else on most of the time, so you're not clashing with anything.

The spell of recent unexpected good weather saw a decent crowd at Stratford on Monday, too. I'd been called up as the firm I was working for also have pitches at Pontefract and, with the sun out, it made sense to work an extra pitch. Plenty of people enjoying themselves but not a lot of betting action, it must be said. The crowd we were betting to can be best summed up as thus - for the third race, the novice hurdle, one punter came up to my pitch and had £20 win on a 150-1 shot and a tenner each-way on the 7-2 fav. I politely enquired if he'd got one the wrong way round. "Actually, no, but I can see your point, it would make more sense to have the £20 on the favourite and the outsider each-way, wouldn't it?" The boss wasn't happy as he switched his bets around but after he'd backed the winner he thanked me and bet with us all afternoon. See, customer service, it's what it's all about!

Other than those fixtures I've not been about a lot. We, that's the new Mrs Massey and me, had a very pleasant day out at Newmarket for the Sun Chariot and managed to fail to back a single winner. It was good to be there for Inspiral's win and subsequent Frankie Group 1 leap to keep the crowd happy, but all the same it would have been nice if I'd had the chance to roar one home.

I've been to my local track, Nottingham, a couple of times, too, and thankfully the punting there has been a lot more successful. I have bailed out of Wednesday's Nottingham card as the weather forecast suggested a very soggy day ahead - they were right - and given I fancied nothing at all, I chose to stay home and have a study up for the weekend!

We're off to York tomorrow as it's the good lady's birthday so please do come say hello if you see us loitering by the paddock!

- DM

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1 reply
  1. Mugpunter
    Mugpunter says:

    Please write a book. You have a direct conversational style and an autobiography would be welcome. You childhood, mum, dad, siblings, uncles, grannies, grandads, friends, school, adolescence, etc. How you discovered your mathematical abilities, what lead you into racing, your gambling/betting trajectory, how you made a living/career doing something you obviously love, what you might have done instead; stand-up comedian, accountant, jockey, trainer, McD quality control tester, lorry driver, long distance swimmer (an awful lot of your Roving Reports feature copious water), journalist, gigolo, crane driver, dog breeder, etc. I would definitely buy the book. Around 250-300 pages should suffice. You have reached the age where you have a hinterland.

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