Royal Ascot, the Bookies view

Please note. You are only reading this garbage because you’ve given me permission to write it, and by reading this you agree and understand you may not always smile, laugh or hate me any less if you’ve ever given me money. That I signed up with the information commissioners office because I had to, not because I understand it

Let’s talk Ascot.
For the Yah Yah’s and Carolines, Ascot represents the pinnacle of their (racing) social calendar. Said types wouldn’t be seen dead at Kempton. No surprise there, you have to like your food from vans there. Of the fifty thousand who make the daily pilgrimage to the great track, I’d hazard only 38 are actually aware there are horses on the premises.

For dirty stinking low life Bookmakers who never lay a bet and have turned the whole planet into problem Gamblers, because that’s what we do of course, Ascot is another fun week on our cosial come working calendar. Not the Cheltenham type of money. That’s proper Irish cash. A chance simply to get some of our bail out cash back, and watch Ruby fall at the last.  Ascot by comparison far more the social event. With the Sovereign riding down the long mile in her plush carriage, reminding us gently who is, in fact in charge of the place. Bookies desperately bet on the colour of her hat, to disgraceful margins. Everyone gets on, and no restrictions.  I hear the great Paddy Power was once called to explain how they ‘knew’ she was going to wear a black hat. These days we have the Gambling Commission to get involved in such serious breaches of protocol. Like they did over the goalkeeper who ate the pie.. big deal.

I do enjoy the pomp and circumstance of Ascot, but increasingly it’s straight in, straight out, i can’t share my space anymore with people who’ve so evidently been on the lash all day, whilst I’m forced to work. Perhaps I’ve discovered religion? HRbannerwp
A dog sniffs me on the way in. To check I’ve got money?  Everyone is terribly polite. I do know many of the gatemen at Ascot, they seem a nice bunch. A long way from their snooty predecessors. Thr Ring is full of Bookies waiting to pitch up. They try to fool those ahead of them in the pick as to where the best places to bet are. Moanng hour has started. They gather to complain about their lot. Favourite topic are usually racecourse expenses, exchanges, how few bets they take. That sort of thing. Doesn’t matter how much they moan though in the given hour, they’ll never actually contemplate change. Bless

I’ve decided since Epsom to offer Best Odds Guarantee to my customers on track. It should be a real tonic to all bettors. Particularly if one of those daft buggers betting with firms betting to 1/5th the odds on handicaps, when it should be a 1/4. I mean how stupid can you get? I don’t understand such tactics. It’s as if my colleagues aren’t aware they’re in competition with cyber bookies.

Best Odds is a tonic for all customers. Unfortunately the majority of those who wager haven’t the first clue what it means. Basically if you take 7/1, and it drifts to 10/1 at the starting price (SP) – you get the 10/1. Off track, all punters expect this deal, on track most don’t know what it means.. I believe the On Course market needs to compete with the off course, if it is to survive, and prosper. That will require racetrack management to work with its Bookmakers a lot more, not just turn them upside down and shake for change. Ascot for its part is soon to be the beneficiary of a new Tote system, aligned with Hong Kong players. Wouldn’t it be sweet if the executive to pass on some of those benefits to its hard pressed ring?

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So if you see a Bookmaker offering 1/4 the odds in all handicaps, AND best odds guarantees,  support the Bookmakers making a fair stand. Punters like to gripe about such things, but universally fail to support them when they’re offered. I hear people bellyaching about Bet365 all the time, yet they still sign up every time they give away a tenner. This is why business doesn’t care what you think.



I enjoyed my spat with Star Sports, led by the amiable Ben Keith. Those so so regularly ”bigged up” by  their personal communications director, Matt Chapman, who bizzarely eats up whatever they tell him with a giant spoon. Whilst I admire their stance on greyhound funding,  a leading Bookmaker gloating over monies it has won off of its customers is all in poor taste. As for the bets they claim to have laid? Well who’s checking the truth of those wagers when the cameras are about?  We won’t know and they can’t tell us. Anyone heard of ‘top of the book?’ How big was the fish you caught??


Despite these ‘whoppers’ the firm bets to 1/5th the odds, in handicaps where the Tattersalls standard is 1/4. Ben well knows how little the 1/5th the odds trick is understood by inexperienced gamblers. No leading Bookmaker, Stephen Little, David Power, John Banks or Tony Morris in my career has ever ‘bent’ on standard terms and I thoroughly object to this penny-pinching measure. Paradoxic to the ‘we’ve laid another whopper’ when you’re short-changing someone £5 on the place book. David Power crowing about how much he made – never happened. It;s vulgar and cheap.

For me, such small-minded tactics aren’t in any way praiseworthy, and by no token ‘representing on course bookmakers.’  Particularly not me. I’m proud to say in my career, I’ve never bent on each way terms. If Star Sports want to set themselves up as Kings Of The Ring – bet with honour.

When it comes to big field events- the casual first time punter rules OK.

‘Please give us the horse numbers!’
‘£5 each way Red Rum please’
‘Which horse number please?’
‘err, ehm, 13/8?’
That bet costs £10, do you mean £5 as that’s what you’ve given me?’
‘Yes, £5, but I’ve given you the wrong horse, I want L’escargot – is that ridden by Frankie Destori??’

Repeat 1500 times daily.

Ascot for me has to be one of the pinnacle of the Racing season. It’s by a long stretch the smartest and best run racetrack, probably the world, and a showpiece week for the sport. Whilst Royal Ascot remains the showpiece event of the year, it’s not all praiseworthy. I am concerned at spiraling costs for the casual racegoer, – which results in less families. £75 to get into the Grandstand enclosure is excessively steep. £95 for a bottle of champagne, retailing at Waitrose for £32 is grand larceny, unless you get a Sheila with every glass? York manages to charge £50 for the same and offers a daily champagne for under £40.  £20 to park your car in a field 1/2 a mile from the front gate is simply beyond the pale.

If paying off the debt it ran up building such an impressive Grandstand, earlier than it needs to, puts the right people off attending such a great event, then let the Bank wait on its cash.

If a track is not fit for families, its not fit at all. 17 arrests over Ascot from various offences, perversion (no it wasn’t me..) to brawling, is not a success. The fact remains drugs are getting into these venues, sniffer dogs at entrances are spectacularly easy to circumvent. And alcohol is sold to utter excess, check the condition of people leaving race tracks these days. Thrown out on local communities. It really is entirely unacceptable.Football learned how to deal with its problems. We surely do no need to reinvent the wheel here. The front of every race track should be alcohol free.

Lumpy cash bets were few in the Ring. I laid 2 grand to one guy a winner at 2/1. Another had £3500 on a 4/1 winner. Another £1000 each way on a 33/1 winner. There’s a pattern here.. overall I showed a profit through the five days, but I won’t be buying another Sikorsky.

ITV spent three days after Ascot telling each other on Twitter how great they were, everyone nicely on message. Despite registering over a million less viewers, a story their chums at the Racing Post buried in a story headed ‘Ascot goes for sectional timings.’ and described as healthy viewing numbers..Nice bit of editing. Chamblerlin gives Millington extra shots on the golf course- NAP. Fact is the viewing figures were shocking poor. Dumbing down the sport and outlawing betting in favour of fashion isn’t winning the ratings war, along with that wooden delivery

As I pen this – I’m on business to Munich, squeezed into a British Airways ‘Club Class seat’, which looks a lot like the economy seat next door. He also seems to be eating the same crushed Panini they’ve served me. Which is odd. The crew is explaining how a life jacket will save my life, which is great news, if the airplane heads into the ground like a dart, I shall put my life jacket on of course. I’ll survive the rest are fucked. My Club Class seat also has a silver whistle to attract sharks, in case we land in the pool. Nice touch.

The ‘come on everyone- let’s self exclude’ Gambling Commission were in the Ring at Ascot sending in 16 year olds, done up to the ninepins, who look like 25 to see who cracks. I don’t mind such things, they seem marvellous punters 🙂 These days nobody asked me for my ID when I placed the odd speculative punt, which is odd.


I didn’t think the card was particularly good this year unusually. The Gold Cup seemed a poor heat. No Derby winner on parade. No Enable or even that powder puff Winx. Who impressed me the most? Well I think Blue Point running down Battaash was fairly impressive. Lady Aurelia moved smoothly to post, but didn’t head back. Cracksman and Saxon Warrior look done with Racing. You read it here first.

As for Harry’s Angel getting stuck in the stalls? check the close-ups carefully and you’ll see I had a firm grip of his tail.. No Sir, no ‘justice refunds’ – which wide-eyed boffins came up with that trick?

See you in 2019. remember lose responsibly.


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Author: Geoff Banks Racing

UK's Leading Independent Bookmaker. We pay our tax and Levy to British Racing as an Approved Betting Partner. And no begging a proper bet here, large or small stakers welcome! Text, phone, APP or website. Private Client Wagering at its best. :)

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