Next Race Newspaper
Free Bets
My Account

Saturday, 15 December, 2018

Trade warming up fast with punters hot for Burning Ambition

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

Burning Ambition: leading fancy for the Foxhunter at Cheltenham
1 of 1

In the last few days we have laid more Cheltenham bets than we have all year, with markets strengthening as running plans become clearer and snowbound punters got to grips with the form.

In the case of Burning Ambition in the Foxhunter we just don’t know how short we need to go to stop taking a bet. We’ve cut him again to 11-4 and the full up sign is poised.

There has been plenty of money around too for the Gordon Elliott-trained Flawless Escape in the Martin Pipe with his price tumbling into 11-2 (from 10-1).

It was during a Cheltenham Festival several years ago that I learnt that kindness is a weakness. On arriving first at the Cheltenham house and bagsying the master bedroom with en-suite bathroom, it soon became clear that there was only one other bathroom and lavatory on the premises.

On the Tuesday morning before going out for my morning run I fell into the trap of suffering from sympathy and offered the staff the opportunity to wash in my quarters (unlikely) and also perform their morning ablutions (necessary, to be fair).

However, on returning in a sweat, I was almost knocked out by the after effects of the crimes committed in my private lavatory. The moral of the story is never show kindness or weakness to the staff.

When laying credit clients, it is always important to avoid 'confusions' on big days. It has been known for one or two (or many) to call the office for a big bet and then come to the pitch and call the same bet.

After the race if the bet had won, they deemed themselves to have correctly had it twice. In the event of it losing, they then inform me that they were just letting me know by way of confirmation what they had done in the office. How very helpful. The moral of that story is confirm that any big credit bet is laid independently by the pitch, the box or the office.

Lofty (Martin Chapman) is my longest suffering member of staff. We met at Hove dogs when I was 12 and we have never been quite able to get rid of each other since.

On starting out as a racecourse bookmaker, I took up the services of Lofty as a regular clerk and workman. He did, however, always seem to have something to get off to before they ran the last to miss the traffic, thus avoiding the tiring job of packing everything away and reconciling the figure work (a coincidence again, I'm sure).

So regular were these engagements I half expected to see Mr Lofty on the front-cover of Hello! magazine. But in business, you learn a phrase 'that was then and this is now'.

The moral of that story – absolutely everybody stays until the job is finished (except me, of course, I’m off to beat the traffic!). 

More from Ben Keith's Festival Diary . . .

Bacon rolls and Percy Pigs a must for the pilgrimage

Patience and running: how bookmaker Ben Keith gets in shape for Cheltenham

Cheltenham from a bookies' view 

Members can read the latest exclusive interviews, news analysis and comment available from 6pm daily on


There has been plenty of money around too for Flawless Escape in the Martin Pipe
E.W. Terms
Sky bet