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Wednesday, 19 December, 2018

Bacon rolls and Percy Pigs a must for the pilgrimage to Cheltenham

The Star Sports bookmaker's latest entry as he prepares for the big meeting

Redicean and Wayne Hutchinson won the Adonis Hurdle impressively
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Like just about everyone else we were bowled over by the performance of Redicean in the Adonis at Kempton and make him a 9-2 shot for the Triumph Hurdle.

Having chatted to my horse team this week, we’ve decided we want to stay on the right side of Un De Sceaux in the Ryanair with his task looking much more straightforward with Fox Norton coming out and Waiting Patiently seemingly doing just that for Aintree. We’re expecting plenty of inquiries on Wednesday on the handicap races when the weights are revealed.

Un De Sceaux (Virginie Bascop) in the stream at Closutton: Ben Keith wants to keep the Ryanair Chase favourite on side

Traditionally I travel up to Cheltenham the day before racing, on the Monday afternoon. I drive with my co-pilot Star Sports MD Gary Woodgate. Gary buys several bacon rolls at the Marks and Sparks at the end of my road, plus a large bag of wine gums and Percy Pigs. We devour these and arrive at Cheltenham just as we come down from the sugar.

Job Star Sports owner

Age 38

I’m a terrible sleeper. My mind races, I take sleeping pills every night (have done for 20 years) and it takes me two or more hours to get to sleep every night too.

I sleep on the floor, with the window open. An added advantage of getting to the house early is being able to run round the house, turning the radiators off before the staff get any ideas. I’m then also sure of being able to bagsy a room not above the lounge, thus not being kept awake all night listening to them talking about form, larking about and getting drunk until three o'clock in the morning (then claiming to be 'ill' the next day!).

Yet another one of my eccentricities is that I don’t wear green when I'm gambling (well, I tested the theory once, and actually won, but I daren’t again).

As a bookmaker – remember, we all sell the same product and 6-4 tastes the same with every bookie in the ring – I’ve always believed it's hugely important to look dapper but friendly.

People come up all day and comment on my ties and socks and my food blogs and vlogs. I make conversation or a joke with them and they bet with me all day. I’ve found those punters to be better customers, long term, than punters who come up and talk about if you are going to give them a better price. Funny that!

More from Ben Keith's Festival Diary:
Patience and running: how bookmaker Ben Keith gets in shape for Cheltenham
Cheltenham from a bookies' view



We want to stay on the right side of Un De Sceaux in the Ryanair with his task looking much more straightforward
E.W. Terms
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