Weblog: Betting Shop Manager of the Year
Lazarus-like comback from festival punters
Well, if day one of the 2012 Cheltenham festival belonged to the bookies, it's safe to say that day two evened things up.
However one major incident that I did think would provoke more of a response in the shop was the controversial finale to the feature race, the Queen Mother Champion Chase.
The top two in the betting battled out the finish and Sizing Europe, many people's festival banker was pipped by Nicky Henderson's Finian's Rainbow. That became a talking point in itself as Henderson helped himself to an impressive four timer on the card, but in beating Sizing Europe and sinking so many accumulators in the process they had missed the last fence due to Wishful Thinking's horrible looking fall there first time round.
Wishful Thinking had taken a tumble and went through the rails, injuring a photographer in the process. Some would argue however that damage was later done to Sizing Europe's chances as the horses veered violently off in the run to what was the final fence. I felt, a little stronger than the punters who were in anyway, that as a showpiece race at a showpiece meeting it looked amateur, and our cashier Eleanor hit the nail on the head for me when she said that as the world was watching it just appeared really unprofessional.
The fact not too much has been made of this from Sizing Europe's connections speaks volumes to the dignity in which they have accepted the defeat, and the punters who lost out in the shop were surprisingly lenient on me too, for which I am grateful. Fingers crossed the racing passes without incident Thursday.
Yes, Sizing Europe's defeat left the layers breathing a sigh of relief, but with Barry Geraghty taking the honours on the fancied Bobs Worth the respite was short-lived. Geraghty and Nicky Henderson had a great day and that was reflected in multiple bets in the offices - I know we had one unlucky punter who had the three winners but oddly changed their last selection to Get Me Out Of Here in the Coral Cup. Still a very decent payout for his £1 Lucky 15 and a hard luck story that involves the last one being second always sounds better than when the final selection fails to finish.
Once again it has been chaotic in here Wednesday, and the town came out in force for its favourite meeting. This time the punters will be nursing hangovers for different reasons, I'd imagine the celebrations will go on long after I reach the end of my shift at half past nine.
Eleanor will also be involved in those celebrations and was willing to give away all her tips on the strength of her big weekend win, picking up over £200 from a lucky 15.
Liverpool fan Eleanor, who has been like a kid in a sweetie shop all day after the Merseyside derby result Tuesday night certainly deserved that bit of luck.
Her son, Daniel, has been battling serious illness and through the help of the MacMillan Cancer Trust and Mark Hay, who owns the local Towns Arms pub they both attended the recent Manchester United versus Liverpool match at Old Trafford. That result went against them, but more importantly Daniel has recently been given the good news that he can begin his remission chemotherapy treatment. That result far outweighs any football one and the support that Eleanor and family have had from the town and company sum up why I love this place so much. And since the punters ignored her choices and actually picked the winners today it has been a great day all round!
Although every day at Cheltenham holds its own piece of magic, the focus of conversation among punters Wednesday centred not on Sizing Europe but on Friday and the Gold Cup. And that man Geraghty's ears will have been burning after his success on Finian's Rainbow as who will be partnering Long Run was the subject of at times heated debate. Rightly or wrongly most punters would be far more confident of Long Run's chances if a professional jockey, namely Geraghty, was riding instead of the owner’s son and amateur jockey Sam Waley-Cohen.
There was a camp who think that Waley-Cohen IS the right choice. Andy and Dave were quite adamant that he was the man for the job, with both pointing out he knows the horse better than anyone and Andy also making the point that the fact that he is riding gives the punters more value. He argued that if one of the big name jockeys been riding then, rather than the horse being 6/4 - 2/1 as it is now, it would be closer to even money. Jake pointed out immediately that surely that meant that the horse therefore had more chance of winning.
Hard to argue with that logic but it’s all ifs and buts at the end of the day. It would be interesting to see the general consensus given you have five winners on your lucky 63 and Long Run to come . . . who would you want on board?
As I've never been close to five winners it's not a problem for me to consider, but I can tell you when I put that question to the guys most of the replies were not fit to publish here!
So even though the last three races could have been worse for the bookmakers on Wednesday, on the whole it is certainly one for the punters. There are the some who will tell you that as good a spectacle that Cheltenham undoubtedly is to watch, it is not a viable betting event for those who do this for financial reward rather than a fun past-time.
Big Fudge, the 'Auldest striker in the Borders' who plays for the Selkirk Vics was one of the few exceptions to the rule today and he summed up his festival so far with "I haven't had a winner at that ****ing meeting"! Then went on to tell me how excited he was about tomorrow and how it was going to be his day.
Cheltenham has that effect on people, it's infectious. There are also so many companies offering all sorts of incentives, there has probably never been a better time to have a bet on the big meetings. My bosses will not like me mentioning it is a good idea to shop around, but bookmakers are fighting for every pound and punters deserve a bit of value if it is to be had.
From Scotbet's point of view we are offering guaranteed early odds on all Cheltenham races from half five on the previous day. We normally do two races from every meeting every day, but guaranteeing all the Cheltenham prices has been a big hit with punters old and new.
One of our customers you may remember from Tuesday’s blog, Dougie Robbie, has benefited from the guaranteed odds Wednesday and had a right chuckle when he read that I included his quote, so when leaving after recouping Tuesday’s losses he declared if I was to write of him again it should include his new nickname that best describes the comeback he has made.... so I hope you all have as much luck tomorrow as Dougie Lazarus has had today.
Going into the second half we stand at 1-1, and with Big Bucks the main draw tomorrow I wouldn't bet against the Big Bucks going to the punters.