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Get your Jumpers on, Proper Racing is back

A near enough full house for the Jump Season Opener

Just over a week ago Chepstow saw the return of the NH season and the Jump Season Opener across the Big Welsh Racing weekend.

On a personal level it was truly a weekend to remember. My Brother and I had the honour of sponsoring the DragonBet Welsh Champion Hurdle on Sunday at Ffos Las. I tweeted at the time about the huge privilege it was to be able to be involved in such an event. The race itself has lost a lot of the prestige it previously held when the likes of Night Nurse and Bula claimed the honours all those years ago but there is undoubtably a place for the race in the calendar and I just hope it continues on its upward trajectory to once more sit on the programme for any serious Champion Hurdle contender.

Anyway we’ll get to Ffos in a bit, back to Chepstow…. Friday was a washout weather wise but the crowd was decent. Business on the rail was slow but that didn’t detract from the palpable atmosphere around the track. I’ve been critical of ARC in the past but the marketing and effort they put into this weekend as a whole and the concept of ‘The Big Welsh Racing Weekend’ clearly resonated alongside the ‘Start of the Jumps.’

I came across a few different groups some from Scotland, others from Ireland who had made the trip over and were staying around to make a weekend of it. The results on the day certainly didn’t favour bookmakers and I was pretty well behind going into day 2.

Although it could have been worse – alongside the five winning favourites there was a good old fashioned cash touch landed by the owners of Accidental Rebel who took the spoils in the Persian War. Luckily ‘they’ missed me out but someone of my bookmaking brethren looked a tad dejected after several Monkeys and Grands @ 10/1 landed in the betting Ring.

If day 1 was quiet day 2 was anything but. My ticket count was high but it was the stakes that were impressive. It’s clear to me that for the majority of average racegoers flat racing is for a day out, whilst Jump racing is for punting.

Knappers Hill winning the Silver Trophy was a bruising result but Peregrine Run in the Native River and Mothill in the 4-year-old Hurdle races were bursters for me at least. I got back Fridays and a healthy lot on top.

My big takeaways from the Jump Season Opener at Chepstow are

  • People LOVE jump racing, the atmosphere was electric, the proper punters came to play, and they were there for the sport not the booze.
  • Going cashless as all ARC tracks are, is a disaster! For those that don’t know the Wifi on track went down. This meant the tote couldn’t operate, people had problems at the bar and poor old BritBet couldn’t open the betting shop. I lost count of the amount of people who moaned about it. It’s alienating when it works but when it doesn’t it’s embarrassing.

Day 3 and we moved across West to Ffos.

The crowd wasn’t massive, but it was certainly respectable. Once more the average bet size eclipsed that on the flat and even though we took a hit when Evan Wiliam’s Court Royale held on to win the Handicap Chase we did show a small profit. I can’t claim I had too much too do with the book that day as I was celebrating the launch of DragonBet in a box with friends and family.

DragonBet has been over a year in the making and the journey from on-course to on-line has been a learning curve like no other. I thought I knew a bit about bookmaking having been involved all my life…. it turns out I didn’t and what’s more apparent is I still don’t know enough!

We’re learning quickly though and having some thrill in the process.

It’s my intention to write about that journey at some point soon but in the meantime keep punting (responsibly) and Pob lwc

If my old man taught me anything other than betting percentages it was that family come first and to celebrate the launch of DragonBet with mine was a day I’ll never forget.

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1 thought on “Get your Jumpers on, Proper Racing is back”

  1. Louise Huxley

    Absolutely brilliant blog. Interesting and educational to read. Proud of you both is an understatement. 👏

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