It is difficult to know where to start about the betting at Chipley Park where the car parks were overflowing. It would have made interesting viewing for customers watching the live streaming. When I saw the 13 bookies lined up, I thought it could be unlucky for some. It was.
The single bet of one punter (not me) of £1,100 to win £1,000 on first race favourite Where’s Wilma (returned 4-7) went down the pan as the mare failed to run up to her form and could only finish fourth behind ex-chaser Steel Express (16-1), who was returning from a 691 days break This 10-year-old had not visited the winner’s enclosure for five years, but Martin McIntyre shrewdly dictated the pace to score a shade cleverly. Jabbea (8’s to 6’s) ran well to finish second with Grey Getaway (14-1) a respectable third.
That was just the hors d’oeuvres. The Mares Open Maiden at Chipley produced one of the biggest gambles I have seen on a point-to-point track for over 30 years.
I wrote in the book, “Axe Vale Point-to-Point” by Jacquie McCullough about a successful betting coup at the mid week Axe Vale fixture in 1989. The horse in question was trained in Wales and went by the name of Katesville on the race card. “Bookmakers were said to have been stung for over £25,000”. I remember that day well- and so do some Devon & Cornwall bookmakers still trading today.
On Sunday a good looking six-year-old mare called Highland Glory, qualified with the Llangeinor Pentyrch, was the subject of several lively wagers. 12-1 was noted early and she was backed down through all rates to evens, some books showing 8-11. My own interest (not monetary) was attracted by one or two thoughts. Her dam called Highland Retreat was successful for my good friend the late Richard Barber, and was also the first ever winner saddled by Harry Fry in 2012. I was also surprised to see Highland Glory run in some well known colours on Sunday which were not on the race card. The mare possessed very modest form, ie two pulled ups and tenth of eleven in her three runs. After these modest efforts she was bought for only £2,000 at Goffs last month.
I am indebted to my colleagues Simon Nott and Nick Taylor for collating some of the bets struck about Highland Glory. One book showed bets of £500 – 40 each way; £540-60 e w; £525-50e w; £525-150; £300 – 150 and £200=100. Another well known layer showed £520-65 each way and £500-100 before scrubbing the board. There were other bets of course. One senior bookie said, “liabilities were standing for more than they have done for many, many years, but business was good so no complaints”.
Well, definitely no complaints from the bookies when Will Biddick produced a peach of a ride on Southfield Megan (7-1) to ease past Highland Glory on the run in. Third placed Polly Sans (8-1) is worthy of a note book entry but another Welsh horse Boss Baby (5-4 to 11-8) who was found wanting yet again.
Feu Des Malberaux (11-2 from 8’s) produced a career best in first time blinkers to win the Maiden under a positive Darren Edwards ride. Placed horses Ask Alfie (3’s to 11-4) and Arv Way There (5-1) showed ability, but Red Cap (5-2 to 9-4 fav) was never jumping or travelling.
Bradley Gibbs is enjoying a great season and a short priced double with Highway Jewel (4-7 to 1-2) and Honey I’m Good (4-7 to 4-6 ) put him on to the 13 winner mark for the season in the saddle, just two behind Will Biddick. Highway Jewel jumped well to beat Singapore Saga (4-1) and Al Shahir (5-2) and is likely to head to the Cheltenham Foxhunter Chase in March (or whatever the authorities choose to dumb down the title to this year). It will always be the Foxhunter to me.
I was impressed by the performance of Honey I’m Good in the Restricted. She is potential hunter chase material.
The Exeter racecourse Intermediate qualifier provided a memorable head to head between Biddick on The Big Sting (evens to 4-5) and Gina Andrews on Indirocco (100-30). Will Biddick brought The Big Sting to challenge Gina’s mount approaching the third last and they slugged it out up the climb until Indirocco asserted before the last. Dr Rhythm (7’s to 6’s) ran well on his seasonal debut and can be noted on better ground. Port O’Clock (4-1) started very slowly and was always on the back foot.
Killaro Boy (2-1 fav) headed the market for the 14-runner lucky last on the strength of his good Barbury run, but found one too good again as the ex-Christian Williams inmate Cage of Fear (7-1) showed too much foot for him under Ellie Jefferson.
Photo Credit: Cat Down Photography
(official photographer for the fixture)