From the Dragon’s Mouth
DragonBet on-course bookmaker James Lovell gives the inside track on Welsh sport – what’s hot, what’s not, and who’s the talk of the betting ring.
Let’s start with a little confession.
I’m still slightly punch drunk from that big football hit the week before (the one with lots of zeroes on the end), so this week was all about recovery.
I’ve been in the game long enough now, though, to know that when you force things it never works. So, patience was the strategy.
It meant a slow build through the week then all-out attack on the weekend, when the number of events increase as do the opportunities to strike.
Monday to Friday were busy on site but for every inch gained another was lost. For every favourite beat, another one won.
It was attritional stuff. But, with attendance at Chepstow and Hereford in the diary on Saturday and Sunday, recovery was still in sight.
I’ve said it before, but Chepstow always feels like a home fixture. As a family, we’ve been standing in the betting ring for over 50 years.
The action is normally heavy, but I’m afraid that wasn’t the case this weekend.
With stakes low, it was hard to get going and, in hindsight, that might have been a blessing.
Last week’s column highlighted how Chepstow favourites are hard to beat and that proved right once again with four of them winning alongside three-second favourites picking up the other races.
Fear not, though . . . last week’s tip was still to run and it wasn’t at Chepstow.
Kitty’s Light was entered at Newcastle and had been the subject of significant market support (I’m 99% sure it wasn’t on the back of my Dragon’s Mouth column, but you never know!)
Despite hitting almost every flight, the saddle slipping, and the young Welsh jockey, Jack Tudor, having to pull out one of the rides of the season, Kitty’s got his nose in front just after the last fence.
I’d put my money where my mouth was earlier in the week, so I screamed it home.
The recovery was on and the Dragon was roaring once again!
Now, if Saturday was a home fixture then Sunday was an away one.
Hereford has never been a happy hunting ground for me, or, indeed, many of the other bookmakers I talk to.
It’s a very fair track and that means that form usually stands up. That’s not good news for us men of the turf, as we get paid for shocks. The truth is it wouldn’t have mattered who won there, because despite a decent crowd and pleasant day I took less money than I used to in the school canteen at lunchtime.
Once again the quality of Welsh trainers stood out yesterday – well done @CWilliamsRacing & @SammyTRacing on taking feature races @NewcastleRaces & @kemptonparkrace with Kitty's Light & Our Power respectively. pic.twitter.com/EEIQF4nv4q
— Chepstow Racecourse (@Chepstow_Racing) February 26, 2023
Nothing could be done, the full recovery was out of sight. But this isn’t about one-off skirmishes. It’s about being there when the battles are hard and trying to get to the other end.
Sometimes, sport is all about the grind. Ask Warren Gatland and the Welsh rugby team. Or Cardiff City and Swansea City, for that matter.
They’re all digging in for a bit of substance at the moment and never mind the style.
To continue our own battle – and reverting to the tried and tested – I’ll be looking to Newbury this weekend and some Dragon lays.
The big race is the Greatwood Gold Cup Handicap Chase – due to be run at 2.45pm on Saturday.
Leading the market is Paint the Dream. He’s a horse I’ve aways paid close attention to as he’s Welsh-owned and ridden by another talented Welsh jockey in the shape of Connor Brace.
I’m a fan of the horse but I get the feeling that Saturday may be too big an ask for him. He’s running off a handicap mark that he’s never won off and with no rain forecast he’s not going to enjoy the quicker going.
You can add to that the fact that older horse Handicap Chase favourites at Newbury can be a graveyard for punters.
So that’s the dream . . . get Paint beat and refill the satchel.
Until then, thanks for reading, thanks for betting with us and pob lwc whatever and wherever you’re punting.