Weblog: Betting Shop Manager of the Year
Clare Balding signing is another Mobot moment
Ascot's Dubai Duty Free Shergar Cup has had its fair share of critics, but whether it was the Olympic fever or just people warming to the format it proved to be a rip-roaring success here in Selkirk.
A feel-good factor was apparent and the shop was packed all day . . . I must say it was a great one to be working. Saturday must have been a day for lightning striking twice. We had the 5,000m final where Mo Farah struck the front and simply would not be passed in front of a delirious home crowd, and Usain Bolt could not have got a bigger cheer had he been representing Team GB when taking Gold in the 4x100m.
In my last blog I told you of the punter who scooped over £4,500 with a £1 Lucky 15, well he only went and repeated the feat again with the first four winners at Ascot. When Boom And Bust took the opener we joked that it was to be the same again, and when Address Unknown took the spoils in the second the joke became more and more like reality.
The customer watched the remaining horses at home so I can only imagine his reaction when Desert Law made it three from three and one from the perfect set again. Even before this bet had started running up a Sun Central success in the 2.40pm was our worst result. So it came to pass and for the second week in a row we had one extremely pleased punter!
Again Scotbet's bonuses benefitted the client greatly. As ever with all four correct in a Lucky 15 there is a bonus, but add to that the guaranteed odds that the customer got in shop and the fact that we don't apply 5p Rule 4s and the difference was marked. This made a three figure payout up to four, the punter joked this return (over £1,100) was "small fry" compared to his previous effort.
In a sense he was really unlucky as he had swithered on doing a Lucky 31 and his fifth selection, Gospel Choir also won. Still, he was not showing any signs of disappointment when collecting and it is always a pleasure to see punters having a good day.
So onto the evening and just when you thought the Olympic 'Super Saturday' from last week could not be topped Mo Farah came out and proved what a class act he is, becoming arguably Britain's greatest ever middle distance runner.
I loved his celebration, and the pictures of him performing Usain Bolt's victory pose while the champion sprinter returned the compliment will live long in the memory.
The credit for that celebration, believe it or not, lies with Channel 4 Racing's newest recruit, Clare Balding. I felt that the BBC's coverage has on the whole been fantastic, and the punters' opinion has been that Clare has not put a foot wrong throughout.
She was appearing on Sky 1's comedy sports show A League of their Own and Mo Farah was also a guest. It was a hilarious episode and they encouraged Mo to think up a celebration if he won, Clare coming up with the action and James Corden christening it the 'Mo-bot'. With all the emotions that must have been going through his head it's amazing he could remember it, but he is obviously such a cool character under pressure.
Next time a footballer stupidly gets booked or sent off for whipping off his top and running into the crowd then blaming it on getting caught up in the moment this celebration should be pointed out to him!
With Clare Balding's profile never higher it is a major coup for Channel 4 to have secured her services and she will add to the already hugely successful team they have assembled to present the only coverage of racing on terrestrial TV.
Some in the shop have voiced concern that racing will be moved from Channel 4 to More 4 during the Paralympics, but since the digital switchover is complete and More 4 is available on Freeview (Channel 14) this should have little bearing on viewing figures and I don't feel is a sign that C4 are treating the sport with any less respect.
The Olympics have just finished, and again what a wonderful spectacle they were. Last week I told you of Kris's enthusiasm for them to the extent he had dragged me up to the tennis court, and this Sunday we spent the early evening in the park where we played Handball, or a six year old's version of it anyway! It would be amazing if this example is copied up and down the country and the park certainly was busier than usual.
There was a statement during the commentary of the closing ceremony that, when praising the efforts and entertainment the games had provided said, "Can we afford it? Probably not. Was it worth it? Absolutely".
The short term uplift in the nation's mood seems to back that up, but in the long term it will be these trips to the park which will hopefully get a generation off X-Boxes and Playstations and into physical activity that will be the real barometer. Hopefully we can unearth the future Jessica Ennis and Mo Farah in such a way.
In what is a relatively quiet week for racing we can look forward to York's big Ebor meeting and Frankel stepping up to a mile and a quarter. It will be a hugely anticipated race and should be a real pleasure for all those who have been screaming out for Frankel to go at the greater distance.
Now that Execlebration has the taste of winning over a mile when taking the Prix Jacques le Marois, connections will be overjoyed to see Frankel step up and maybe leave some races for the unlucky bridesmaid to pick up.
If you could compare Excelebration to any other sportsman it would have to be Andy Murray. A great in his own right but hugely unlucky to be playing at a time when there is a legend ahead of him, for Frankel read Federer, Nadal or Djorkovic so perhaps fitting that Murray grabbed Olympic gold followed by Excelebration's triumph on Sunday.
Betting shop staff work long hours and I will be disappointed to get home from work later in the week and find my son tucked up in bed. The school holidays allow him to stay up a little later and I get to read him his bedtime story but the return of school means seeing the wee man that bit less.
It's a sacrifice that people have to make in all walks of life but for many in my position this week (a couple of weeks later down south) will take a bit of adjusting to. Jobs are scarce and I am fortunate to really enjoy this line of work, but if you happen to be in a shop and find the staff slightly distracted please give them a little leeway, like every job it may not always be as easy as it appears at first glance.
Lots to look forward to then with the football season getting into swing and York's big week. If we are lucky enough to be entertained as much in the coming weeks as we have been in the last two it should be some ride. Enjoy.