We all have to work for a living, and in an ideal world, our vocation, would be to turn up for work knowing that we have a passion for the job in hand. To be able to combine work and pleasure is something that a familiar face in the Pointing world, Dave Phillips can be seen at the racecourses throughout the Southwest doing just that.
Devonshire born Dave Phillips has been a bookmaker for over 40 years, his first appearance working on a Point to Point course was in April 1971, the day his daughter was born, at a course called Forches Cross Newton Abbot.
“In those days, the course at Forches Cross attracted three to four thousand people, I can remember a horse called Otterway trained by Oliver Carter” Dave explained with a glint in his eye, ” The horse was sent off at 6/4 in a Maiden Race, and I watched him slice smoothly through the field, he went onto win the Whitbread Gold Cup, and Horse & Hound cup at Stratford.”
Dave Phillips can also be seen working as a bookmaker at the National Hunt courses, he used to attend over 15 different venues, averaging four per week, however, since the introduction of AGT ( Adminstration of Gambling on Track) was introduced he has cut down on his race days considerably, and with the addition of the internet, on course gambles have reduced dramatically. He had a pitch at Cheltenham for 25 years, but sold that some three years ago, and has thought about moving towards gentle retirement.
Dave’s passion for racing moved him into taking up riding for the first time when he was in his forties. He along with partner Sue Pitman, trained pointers at their home in South Brent. ” I hunted with the Dartmoor”, Dave said, “We had two really good horses, Shamarphil won four races and Holy Foley won three Opens, two Hunter Chases including the Ludlow Gold Cup, ridden by Neil Harris. They were happy days.” he went on to say ” We also ran him in the Foxhunters at Cheltenham, but the ground was too firm that day, it was still a great thrill to have a runner at Cheltenham.”
Dave remembers some of the gambles that have been made, and notably one at Black Forest Lodge about three or four seasons ago. ” It was the last race of the day, a Maiden race.” Dave remembers, he continued saying ” It was one of the Welsh raiders, I had noticed it opened at 10-1 and quickly went to odds on favorite!” “It was getting dark, and a few people were starting to leave the course, I had my suspicions as the bets were being piled on, and it won by 20 lengths, in my experience it was most odd as it hasn’t won a race since.”
Ably assisted by Lloyd, who himself is an ex work rider from Newmarket, Dave can be seen off his stand during the individual races enjoying the sport at trackside.
As a racegoer and occasional punter, I can say that Dave Phillips is a true gentleman with a passion for the sport.