Weblog: Betting Shop Manager of the Year
Ruby made me feel proud of both racing and the job
Poor, poor Kauto Star.
If ever a horse deserved a fairytale send off then Kauto Star was that horse. When I write these blogs I really enjoy them, it’s a little bit like a guilty pleasure, a way of getting out there my way of running my shop the way I do.
My partner Tracy is a manager for a major supermarket and has enough stress to deal with without listening to my emotional attachments to horses. Something I should admit now – such emotion is not normally a major concern for me as I am little more than a fascinated spectator. To the regular readers of this blog I normally just try to tell you guys what is going on in what is my main concern, the Scotbet betting outlet in Selkirk, and what my punters think of the main topics in our great sport.
Today was different, one of the few times I got seriously emotionally involved in what was going on, and at twenty past two this afternoon my heart was beating faster than an hour flat out with the boys at Sunday night football. I honestly believe that the entire country felt this way too, I could be wrong but I read that for every bet that one of the major betting firms took on our Gold Cup favourite Long Run, they took nearly twice as many on Kauto Star.
Now we all know how 'efficient' bookies are nowadays, so that is an indication of just how fancied Kauto Star was to the general public.
Andrew Pennington, a judge on the panel of the Racing Post/SIS Betting Shop Manager of the Year competition, is releasing a debut book soon on Kauto and this is not the final chapter that I or the rest of the country had wanted to read. Again, without having staked hard cash on this result I really feel gutted. But, in a strange way Kauto Star and Ruby Walsh have written a chapter in racing through there actions with far greater elegance than I, or even the most skilled journalist, could ever have done.
I am laying all my cards on the table here, Kauto Star was clearly, through betting revenue alone, the star of the Cheltenham show, the horse that everyone wanted to talk about, the horse that everyone wanted to win. In the Kauto fever that ensued it would have been easy for connections to get caught up in nostalgia, to push for everything and to win, or at least try to win, at all costs.
But here is the thing that makes me able to sleep at night, makes me able to be proud of what I do and make me able to tell my six year old son I am a manager of a betting shop. Ruby Walsh cared about what happened to that horse more than he cared about the prestige of winning the big one at what is the showpiece jumping event on the planet.
Punters, in the cold light of day, and unquestionably in my shop at least, were ecstatic that the legendary horse was going to be alright, regardless of how much or how little they had invested in this fairytale. That is what makes my job. There were those who, after the tragic deaths of three horses on the opening day of this festival, almost rejoiced in telling us that this sport is cruel. I hold my head high and point to Kauto Star and Ruby Walsh in telling you that this sport is anything but, and that I am proud to do what I do.
I could go on to tell you of the story of Brindisi Breeze, and the fantastic support a Scottish horse up here in the Borders received. I could also go on to tell you of the punter who today put that in his Lucky 31 (guaranteed odds of 9/1) with Countryside Breeze 33/1, Ubi Ace (lost), Ataglance 20/1. Big Spadger also had a Best Odds Guaranteed 6/1 about Kid Cassidy who went off as the 4/1F in the last, but as he collected just under some three and a half thousand pounds for his 5p each way lucky 31 his first question was about the health of King Kauto.
So I will relive Spadger’s story with you soon. In the meantime I'll reflect on what a champion Kauto is/was . . . and take my tips from the big guy as the Selkirk shop trip to Kelso is only a week away.
Happy retirement to you Kauto, from all winners and losers here at Scotbet in Selkirk.