Tag Archive for: Garthorpe

Roving Reports: Here, There and Everywhere

I was going to write the next part of the blog after Aintree, as I was expecting that to be the next time anything even remotely exciting was going to happen, but last week turned into a busier week than I expected it to, writes David Massey.

It started on Sunday, at Garthorpe Point-To-Point. Having been denied my point fix when Revesby was called off during the cold snap this winter, I was determined to go, particularly as the weather forecast was favourable.

If you've never been pointing, you ought to give it a go. Don't worry about getting lost on the way there - once you're within ten miles of the track, you can follow any dirty 4x4 or Land Rover and be pretty sure you'll end up in the right spot. Tweed is a given, even on a warm day, and if you've a dog, so much the better.

There's a good crowd, maybe somewhere between 800-1000 is my best guess, and they are treated to some close finishes. Sadly none of them involve the horses I back during the afternoon, and my best result is the lamb and mint burger (local farm, naturally) for a fiver which is so tasty, I end up taking a pack of four home. Buy local, buy British, go pointing!

Having done the lot in, I nearly bag a pheasant on the way home. He darts out from a field and runs right in front of the car. How I missed him I'll never know. I see him running off in the rear view mirror, seemingly unaware of his near-death experience. Suffice to say, he's been a sight luckier than I have today.

Monday sees me back on the S&D team at Southwell and that too is reasonably well attended. Fixtures between Cheltenham and Aintree normally see attendances go down, as once the euphoria of Cheltenham is over, people tend to wait for Aintree or switch their attentions to the Flat, and the midweek fixtures are particularly hard hit. However, Southwell bucks the trend, and after I do the punters panel with Steven Powell before racing and give Rostello (11/2) in the first, we've a few more happy punters at my joint. As ever, our regular punters get BOG, and it matters not whether you're having £2 on or £200, they all get it. Plenty of books will give you benefits if you become a regular with them, whether that be BOG or next price up.

Joe Dadancer is my nap on the preview and his win gets me some of the Garthorpe losses back. I like him a lot, it'll be interesting to see where he turns up next.

Market Rasen on the Wednesday is my next port of call. The usual A46 (Northern version) bottlenecks around Newark aren't as bad as normal and I've time for a coffee on the way up. This is a mistake, as for the last ten miles to the track I'm bursting for the toilet. Let that be a lesson to you all. Get to the track first, then have a beverage.

The ground is supposed to be on the soft side, but as I drive into the grassy car park and the back end of my Auris steps out in an Ari Vatanen moment (Google, young 'un) I have my suspicions it may be worse than that. After they come back from the first with plenty of dirt on them, I go back through the card and start laying anything that doesn't want the mud. It's a successful ploy, and it also leads me to back the no-hoper Leskinfere at 10 on Betfair three places. When he rolls in a distant third the Garthorpe losses are but a memory. I celebrate with a chocolate biscuit (the best ones are wrapped in foil, another little tip for you there...) and a strong tea.

Thursday sees me at Warwick, which I wasn't intending doing but I need to pick some bookmaking kit up for Stratford on Sunday and the bookmaker I'm working for will be at Warwick, so it makes sense to meet there and collect it rather than run around like an idiot on Saturday. It's a beautiful day and the sun makes me think Spring is finally here. I shall discover later in the week this is not the case.

One of the regular Midlands bookmakers is missing from the fixture, and indeed all Midlands fixtures for the foreseeable. Swannbet, better known as Graham and Natalie to me, will sadly not been seen for a while as Graham, we find out, has cancer. I send him a message to wish him well and hope we will see him back in his rightful place in the ring before much longer. Sport is important, but it pales into insignificance at times, and today feels like one of those times.

Punting wise on the day, it's pretty much straight across for me with three bets that aren't sighted but I do have a few bob on Mr Palmtree on Betfair, as he looks in superb condition. Sadly I give too much back in running but he does at least ensure the day isn't a disaster. On the way home the police are holding traffic on the M69 due to a bad crash near Leicester; annoying as that is, when you pass the accident and see the mangled wrecks the cars are, you always thank your lucky stars it isn't you caught up in it. A 20 minute delay is neither here nor there compared to our health.

Next morning I get a call from Jason on the S&D firm. "Don't suppose you can work Sunday at Ascot, can you?" I'm not keen, if I'm honest, but Jason is desperate for a worker (most of them are on holiday, it turns out) so I'm happy to oblige this once. I'm already booked to work Stratford on Saturday, so it makes sense to stay over and travel onto Ascot Sunday morning.

I do love working Stratford. I think it's just about my favourite track to work. Always a decent atmosphere and as I've said before, the whole crowd seems to have a bet. It's only small money but you feel busy and you can make a book. However, my hearing seems to be getting worse; I was convinced one bloke asked me for two pounds on something, but when he gets a ruck of nifties from his pocket it's clear he's asked me for two grand. I lay him a monkey of it and tell him if he wants more, go and see my boss. He gets on, but his pick loses. He's back again next race, has a grand on the jolly, and watches that finish tailed off too. We don't see him again.

Both results and business are good and there's a little top-up on wages at the end of the day. Pays for the evening meal, and after a poor night's sleep (I never sleep well away from home) it's off to Ascot.

I get there early as I want to do a bit of work in the press room in the morning. Perhaps unsurprisingly the place is somewhat deserted, but that does mean when lunch comes out (chicken, veg, roasties and Yorkshires) there's plenty to go around. That's very welcome as when I go down to the ring to work, it's absolutely Baltic.

The main stand is basically causing a split between the front and back of the place. Round the back, by the paddock, there's barely a breath of wind, the sun is radiating heat and people are outside drinking and eating. Out front, in the wind and shade, there are polar bears running around wearing anoraks, it's that cold.

It's a family fun day at Ascot so you know what that means. Small money, lots of it, and rather than a fiver I make sure my minimum bet for the day is £2. That works, but it also means I'm out of change by Race 2.

Next door to me is Steve Bailey, aka Stevie Stretch. Steve, like me, enjoys these family days and is happy to show the kids how things work (all within the 18-plus boundaries, of course). Two mums are by his joint with three young kids, the youngest of which keeps touching all Steve's change. And like most kids, the more he tells her not to touch it, the more she touches it. I sneak up behind them, gesturing to Steve to be quiet, before sticking my head in and saying, in a stern voice, "I hope nobody is touching the change over here." You've never seen a kid put her arms by her sides so quickly.

Do you remember me telling you on a previous blog how, on these days when you're dealing with mainly novice punters, how they work their way from the top of the board to the bottom? As such, Blueking D'Oreaux, number 1 on the race card and top of the lightboard, is a real punters result on a day like today. Loads have had their £2.50 and fiver each-ways on; the other joint has taken a £100 win bet at 40-1. There's some serious concern we might run out of money, for all that's obviously a good result. I scrape together what I can spare for Jason's four-grand payout and it leaves me with about £300 after we've paid out. I need a result in the next to get the cash flow back up; Black Gerry provides respite, although I'm delighted for the lady who had a tenner each-way as her grandad, Gerry, had passed away earlier in the week, she tells me.

My only bet of the day, Charging Point, looks like winning coming to the last but gets it all wrong and I have to settle for the place money. I swear it's getting colder and by the time we get to the last the place has emptied quite a lot. Get paid, pack up and go home. On the way back I call into Toddington Services for food, sadly I'm in there the same time as about 500 jubilant Bolton supporters on their way back from Wembley after winning the Papa Johns Trophy earlier. So, fast food it ain't, with a 40 minute wait for a Chicken Royale and a drink. On the way back to the car I hear my name called; it is none other than Laura Morgan, trainer of Charging Point. "Caught you in the act", she says, referring to my unhealthy meal. I tell her I thought her horse was unlucky and she agrees. "He's off for a break now", she tells me. And I'm off home, getting back about 8.30pm, with an aching back and legs. Standing around in the wind all day really takes it out of you. Especially at my age...

- DM