All or Nothing – The day we got the better of the Bookies at the Races

The sun setting at Chester Races

The sun setting at Chester Races

The Weekend

On an autumnal Saturday afternoon myself and a group of friends descended on Chester to attend the races set within the beautiful city steeped with history and stunning Victorian/Medieval buildings.
We were in town for the weekend celebrating (or commiserating) the passing of our friend Pete from the world of bachelorhood. Myself, Pete and more than half of the group are from South Wales, we grew up in a relatively poor area, which has provided us with a priceless grounding and an appreciation of the simpler things in life – so although the sums described may be meager to many but to us it was a small fortune.

Jealousy is a great motivator

Upon entering the racecourse, 4 of the boys quickly decided to bet £10 each per race and asked if I wanted in on the action. I pondered (for as long as they would let me) and eventually decided I would be better off gambling alone at a meager £5 per race with the intention of quitting if I could get ahead.

3 races later and the same gang of 4 were collecting their winnings for the 3rd race in a row, the latter of which had seen 2 of the group betting on the same (winning) horse and racking their, now considerable takings, up a notch. In stark contrast I and two of my friends (Leighton and Johnny) had lost on every race betting randomly and alone.
To buck the losing trend the three of us decided to join forces and bet £10 each on one Horse and split the winnings, if there were any, between us. I would like to add that at this stage of proceedings we had been drinking Chester Cider for a few hours and our decision making powers had become far less restricted and risk averse.

Bank Bonus

The three of us gathered by the nearest bookie (Glyn Jones) and beamed at the number 3 horse aptly named Bank Bonus – with starting odds of 6/1 – a win would do us the world of good and result in us breaking even.
The race started and as the pack passed us we delivered the courtesy screams of encouragement as Bank Bonus stormed over the line to redeem our day out and end the losing streak in the blink of an eye.
We gleefully collected the winning sum of £180 and started joking about betting the whole lot on one horse in the final race. In a flash the listings of the Horses for the final race appeared at the bookies stand, at 6/1 in the middle of the names stood the number 5 horse, called All or Nothing. We looked at each other and after some goading from the other groups decided to flip a coin, heads and we would put ten pounds each on, tails and we would pocket our Bank Bonus stake and let 150 ride on All or Nothing.

The coin shattered our drunken nerves by landing on Tails much to the cheers of the group. We couldn’t back out, not now, and sent a volunteer to bet 15 times the size of our most recent stake, which was double the token £5 we promised (ourselves) would be the biggest bet we laid on.

All or Nothing

The butterflies in the pit of my stomach roused as the big screen and tannoy exploded into life – the horses were read out one by one with roars accompanying the names, but none louder than from our section when All or Nothing was called.
Excitement rang around our huddled group as the Horses made their way to the gate and in a flash the race was underway. Our horse lay a strong fourth and as the front 6 broke away All or Nothing cut into the lead and held it right up until the home straight, as two horses flanked and painfully drew level. At that point a little voice inside me shouted ‘Noooooooooooooo’.
As soon as the front three were level, All Or Nothing picked up his head and started to pull his nose in front as the thundering noise of the galloping horses passing us like a whirlwind carried through by the bellowing of the crowd. He was pulling away – he was going to win!
‘And its All or Nothing by a length’ the announcer shouted as our group especially the ‘high rollers club’ Me, Johnny and Leighton bounce up and down with in rapturous celebration. Three of the most useless gamblers in the history of the world, who would never put more than a couple of Pounds on any bet, had somehow managed to will just shy of £1000 at the races.
Being swept up in the emotion and excitement of the sport of kings is something neither of us will forget, not least the look on the bookies face when we waltzed up to collect our £900 worth of winnings then headed into Chester to celebrate into the wee small hours. Of course singing The Small Faces All or Nothing song a few times for good measure did little harm in adding to the festivities.

The magic betting slip

The magic betting slip

I have since invested the winnings in a long sought after I Pad and have been planning for quite some time to set up a blog and here I am. Looking forward to 2013 there is so much to write about and share.
I would like to close in thanking you for taking the time to read my latest blog and I hope you enjoyed.