Weblog: Betting Shop Manager of the Year
European flights dream for one of my 'loon toons'
AFTER my ICE show ‘exertions’ of London last week it was great to get back into the shop and catch up with what had been going on in Selkirk while I was away, even if it was for only a few days as I have officially started my winter break (well, after I finish this I have!).
It was a strange feeling having to put the abandoned meetings up on the board on Wednesday, we have been so lucky with the weather so far this winter compared to the last couple of years, so to have half the meetings off and only an evening all weather British meeting was a disappointment.
Judging by the forecast for the next few days I've picked a good week to have off this year as it can be soul destroying with your core product out of action for any length of time. Even greyhounds are suffering abandonments, for example Hall Green falling victim to the weather on Wednesday, something of a rarity for a sport that so often more than amply fills in when equine meetings fall foul to the forces of nature.
So it was left to the football to capture the punters imagination this midweek, and that it did. After all the shocks of Tuesday night, plenty of coupon busters to stumble upon there, Wednesday proved not much easier. Arsenal only managing a draw and a slip up from Villa meant not much cheer, although relegation haunted Bolton and QPR may beg to differ.
Tuesday night's big shock for our punters anyway came in Wales with Chelsea's failure to beat Swansea. There are a couple of guys, Shane and Tam, or the 'Loons' as they like to be known, who are fanatical Chelsea and Newcastle fans respectively. The difference in their moods Thursday was incredible, with Shane set to fork out for a one way ticket for Fernando Torres back to Spain and Tam ready to find his flights for Newcastle's Champions League adventures next season.
Time will tell whether this comes to pass, but at least you now have some idea as to why they refer to themselves as the 'Loons'!
The transfer window slammed shut on Tuesday night and up here in Scotland there were only two teams celebrating, Celtic and Hibs. Celtic for the fact that my team, Rangers, failed to replace their star man in Nikica Jelavic, who will go on to do great things in the Premier League, and Hibs who have been having a dreadful season but managed to recruit no fewer than nine players during the window, and dispensing of six. They even managed to pinch a Rangers transfer target, Jorge Claros, which gives an indication of how bad the financial situation is at Ibrox just now.
That has perked the long suffering fans of both those clubs up, with Wee Eck, who is about 80 yet still wasn't alive the last time Hibs won the cup, declaring that this is their year. Scotbet are actually the Hibees official online partner, we are also represented at Tynecastle as both stadium and online bookmaker, so if it can't be Rangers this year I wouldn't mind the cup ending up in the Capital.
Wullie, who lost interest in football for the last three years (I wonder why?), now claims the league is over and the "trophy is going home to Parkhead". Such confidence with only a one point lead . . . but things do appear bleak for Rangers.
If Neil Lennon can't see this one out then I'd imagine the punishment will be far stiffer than that of a jockey who loses a race for dropping his hands in the run-in.
It appears that the majority of this weekend’s action will be lost and Cheltenham clues will be few and far between. Reading what most bookmakers have been saying, all of last year’s big winners, Big Bucks, Long Run, Hurricane Fly and Sizing Europe have a great chance of prevailing again, with some predicting bookmaking Armageddon if lightning does strike twice. It works out at generally 28-30/1 that this phenomenon occurs, but personally I think there will be a few flies in the ointment for backers of these fabulous four. On form all four have brilliant credentials, but the unpredictability of racing dictates that something will cause a shock, and I would be surprised if we don't see a new name on the Gold Cup in particular.
Those who read regularly will know I'm a big fan of Kauto Star, but I think this one will prove elusive even for this great champion, so I'll be looking in the next few weeks at finding the value in opposing these market leaders. Of course I'll take the advice of the experts that are our regulars and I'll let you know which horse we come up with closer to the time.
On the bright side, I'm far more confident the column inches generally will be filled with positive press around Cheltenham than I was - after last week’s chat with Paul Bittar. The threat of losing racecards in the tabloids is one that should not be taken lightly. I read a piece from the racing journalist of the year Lee Mottershead recently saying that we should celebrate the fact that racing still has as much terrestrial TV coverage as it currently receives. He definitely has a point, as there are not many sports that boast slots every Saturday afternoon as well as build up shows in the morning.
We'd all like to see more on TV and there are some meetings which I feel do deserve coverage that they don't currently get, but any loss of racecards in the nationals would be a big loss to your average punter.
It was therefore a welcome read that the Sun fully intends to stick with its current content and fingers crossed the broadsheets that have lessened their coverage see sense and restore it ASAP. It is after all the sport of Kings.
We will all watch how this one progresses, but for now I am set to enjoy a fantastic, if cold, week off. Thanks for reading.