Weblog: Betting Shop Manager of the Year
Weird Al Gold Cup cash plus Synchronised too
CHELTENHAM 2012's penultimate day has drawn to a close and all the talk is rightly about the racing sensation Big Buck’s. Paul Nicholl's superstar went a super 16 unbeaten much to the delight of just about everyone in Selkirk when claiming his fourth Ladbrokes World Hurdle in a row.
There was a sustained challenge from Voler la Vedette, but the market drifter Big Buck’s dug deep to justify the faith that had been shown in him in this betting shop.
My day started in the same fashion as the previous two in that when the doors opened the surge of punters began. But the mood was different from those converging and it became clear early on that the relative early disinterest in Wednesday’s Champion Chase controversy was indeed the calm before a storm.
A lot of money would have been lost on Sizing Europe's defeat by Finian's Rainbow, but it was the manner of it which left our punters so disgruntled. Sizing Europe appeared to be jumping better and it’s now my punters’ consensus that the favourite would have gone on to win, but what annoyed everyone most was the ‘will they, won't they’ approach to jumping the last fence. No-one appeared to know if they were going to take the jump and the situation even caused Tim, who is as mild and laid back a guy as you are likely to meet, to come up with a mistaken theory of jockey ‘gamesmanship’. Strong words from anyone, but if you knew Tim you would realise how out of character this was – and why the BHA need to review what went wrong to leave the jockeys so obviously confused.
Cheltenham certainly sees emotions running high and I must admit I was glad that there was another couple of days to go as the situation may have overshadowed the event - it certainly would leave a bad taste in the mouth had it been the finale.
Back to Thursday then and Big Buck's marvellous achievement. A really good finish to that race, and the previous, the Ryanair Chase, was equally as exciting as old timer Alberta's Run looked as though it was going to defy his age and claim victory, only to be pipped to the post by the favourite, Riverside Theatre. That was the first of four favourites in a row to win and so day three again belonged to the punters.
It didn't appear that was going to be the case after the first couple of races, Peddlers Cross being a sore one for our punters to take. Having said that, local hope Red Tanber, an 100/1 chance no less, had also been backed in here like defeat was out of the question and had that one gone on to win it's safe to say that Cheltenham in Selkirk would be declared a washout for the bookies and a new local holiday for the punters.
It didn't get any easier as Cape Tribulation took the next at 14's in what was a Placepot killer, none of the tickets in our shop making it past this leg.
However Cheltenham’s heroes, Messrs Geraghty and Henderson, saved the day and got the punters back into it, provoking a surge of optimism in anticipation of Big Buck’s.
Attention later turned to the big one, the Betfred Gold Cup. The Waley-Cohen Long Run debate rages on in the shop but there has been a change in some thought processes for the showpiece.
The last time there was such scrutiny over the top two was the great Denman - Kauto Star race, which was won in the end by Imperial Commander!
Some feel that there is scope for such an outcome again and we saw money for both Synchronized and Weird Al. I think there is potential for a shock, the only one of the big four I fancied was Big Buck’s, but for purely sentimental reasons I'd just love to see Kauto Star make history and regain his crown for the second time.
It would be a popular result, and a fitting end to the horse of a generation’s career.
A rare early finish for me on such a busy day, my co-manager Allan Fox taking the reins for the rest of the evening so am now home to have some dinner with the family, tuck my wee boy Kris into bed and I'll be straight off to my bed too – my preparation for one of my favourite days of the year! As ever all the best and good luck relieving your local friendly neighbourhood bookie of all their cash!
P.S. Dougie 'Lazarus' Robbie wasn't available for comment Thursday, after his spectacular efforts Wednesday I'm told he was slightly worse for wear after the night’s celebrations. Hope you made the most of it mate, shows how often it happens for you!