Weblog: Betting Shop Manager of the Year
Swept away by Caviar, who did it despite it all
Black Caviar. She came, she saw, and she conquered. But she did not convince or capture the hearts of the British racing public in the same way she has in her homeland of Australia. My take on proceedings Saturday differs greatly from that of my punters.
The vast majority who watched the race think Black Caviar was massively over-hyped and are highly critical of Luke Nolen and the ride he gave her in the Diamond Jubilee Stakes. I hate being too hard on jockeys, they go through so much to do what they do. It's a 24/7 job and much sacrifice is required to stay in shape and maintain weight, they risk their lives every time they take a ride. According to our lot Luke Nolen may have lost his life on returning to Australia had he not been alert enough to notice Moonlight Cloud closing and give Black Caviar that extra push that saw her over the line and record an incredible twenty-second win from as many starts.
It was as far removed from Frankel's amazing performance on Tuesday as you could imagine, but the end result is as sure as the 1/10 shot will show a 1 in the form line of his latest outing so will 1/6 Black Caviar. The obvious comparisons were being made between the two champions, and there's no doubt that in the eyes of punters there would be only one winner. It seems really strange for me to be typing this next sentence. There are many reasons to excuse Black Caviar's run when winning the Group 1 feature race at Royal Ascot on Saturday. (How wrong does that sound!).
It takes a big man to admit he made a mistake and I thought Luke Nolen was a giant in his interview on BBC straight after the event. He will no doubt go through the race a million times in his head and each time he will wish he did it differently. He did have the horse’s best interests at heart though and just as horses are not machines, man will make human error too.
Despite this glaring one his horse still won. It had been 27 years since a mare last won this race, but Black Caviar defied this stat and won. Despite travelling halfway around the world and having only a couple of weeks to recover and adjust Black Caviar still won. Racing on ground that did not suit and on an Ascot course that is reported as being stiffer than any other Black Caviar had raced on she still won. And with the news that she suffered not just one but two muscle tears during the race the 'Wonder from Down Under' that is Black Caviar still won.
I've never felt as excited about a race in my life, and I wasn't the only one swept away in the hype. The shop was full for the race, and as noisy as it has ever been. Tourists who were just passing through the town had come in to see it, there were even a few of the 'once a year' Grand National punters in to have a stake in this little piece of history. The excitement for the race in the shop was mirrored on the betting exchanges where the Diamond Jubilee race set a new record for money traded on a single horse. Of £13,02,092 traded on the race on Betfair, £12,605,703 was traded on Black Caviar, making this a record in Betfair's twelve year history.
It is a great shame that Black Caviar's around the world adventure ended in the British public not getting to see the best of her, on ratings alone she ran between ten and twelve pounds below her best. And although the performance will not appease the doubters, at least they got to see her.
Royal Ascot’s final day also got punters back on an even keel with bookies taking a bit of a pounding. Sea Moon (3/1F), Cambourne (11/2F) and 11/4 jolly Simenon were popular as singles and in multiple bets, so the festival that really had it all ended with the punters making a large dent in the balance sheet for the week.
Over in Euro 2012 the in-fighting that dogged the Dutch and French camps clearly caught up with them, the French in particular were a massive disappointment in Saturday’s knock-out match against reigning champions Spain.
Luck wasn’t with a tired looking England on Sunday – who would have been our second worst result after the Germans here in Scotbet, Selkirk.
Kenny was telling me he was only backing England to soften the blow if it was to transpire, and judging by the comments of some of the others I'd have to say he is not alone! The biased commentary from the games annoys most of those punters that would have anybody but England, but we have to remember that it is aimed at an English audience. It has been that long since Scotland managed qualification to a major tournament and, with the state of the game up here, that shows no sign of ending soon.
A group containing Croatia, Belgium, Serbia, Wales and Macedonia stand between us and a trip to Brazil in 2014. Looking at that I don't think the Scottish lads need worry too much about missing their summer holidays!
Before qualifying has even began we have a situation up North where The Rangers, who were major contributors of players to the national team, may find themselves a club with no players. There was a belief that the players’ contracts would automatically transfer from 'Oldco' Rangers to 'Newco' The Rangers. This appears not to be the case and many of the star players have objected to the transfer of their contract, as is their right.
We are a mere six weeks from the start of the season and still there is doubt as to which league many clubs will play in.
Dunfermline and Dundee could benefit and will be watching proceedings closely, as will Livingston who have threatened to take the game’s governing bodies to court if the rules are not applied in the same way as they were when Livi found themselves relegated to Division 3.
It appears the SPL member clubs will not vote The Rangers back in after consulting their fans. Motherwell (rumoured to be voting no to the Newco) have advised fans that the situation could push the Steelmen to financial ruin, and this is a scenario which is no doubt mirrored at many others in Scotland's top flight. Who said turkeys wouldn't vote for Christmas.
Lots to ponder then for punters and bookmakers alike, but rest assured as I sit on the beach this time next week it will be weighing heavily on my mind . . . honest. Have a great week.