It couldn’t have been a year already, could it?
The inaugural Chester Races event didn’t seem that long ago, as just after noon on Friday, the 2015 vintage of ‘Betworkers’ were rapidly gathering en-masse at Dukes ’92 ahead of another day of food and drink, making new contacts and a decent splash of merriment.
A similar plan, except we’d booked the Mockingbird Taproom for mid-afternoon grub, a stone’s throw from Chester Races and intended to hit the road much earlier than last year’s group.
The weather had looked like it might be a mixed bag all week but thankfully the day’s rain was done and dusted before lunch and the skies westbound hinted promise. As per usual, we had an interesting bunch with us.
Usual suspects like Pete Bridge-Collyns (Managing Director, Cleaning Ventures), Carlos Oliveira (CEO, Shaping Cloud), Richard Venables (Managing Director, RV Group) and Kristian Burrill (Managing Director, Gekko).
But we also welcomed some new faces like Nick Black and Howard Simms (co-founders of Apadmi), Stewart Quayle (Managing Director, AVI Fund Solutions) and Brian Painter (Managing Director, Discreet Help).
And no day at the races would be complete without Manchester’s answer to Miami Vice, Jim ‘Raino’ Rainford (Director, AON) and Kleon ‘Westy’ West (Business Development Director, theEword).
Representing the ladies were the likes of Sophie Southworth (Business Development Director, Journey 9), Jess Wilkinson (Founder, Petal & Co.) and Becky Fryer (Business Development Manager, Glued Films). As the day would eventually prove, more a case of quality over quantity where the girls were concerned.
After a few drinks at Dukes to get the day off to a good start, twenty five of us boarded our transport for the day. Like last year, Anthony’s Travel of Runcorn sent another luxurious 32-seater Club Class coach. “Spoilt rotten” was overheard from one direction. As the betworkers got comfortable, Georgina Donnelly and myself played bartenders, pouring out the copious supplies of Prosecco and beer. Unsurprisingly, Gary Chaplin (Executive Headhunter) produced iced gin & tonic miracles yet again. Fail to prepare, prepare to fail would appear to be the Yorkshireman’s preferred approach to juniper-flavoured spirits.
The journey seemed to pass in no time with conversation and drinks flowing freely and we arrived in Chester right on schedule just before 3pm where we met up with the rest of the gang inside the Mockingbird Taproom.
The food aspect was a major improvement on last year. My own choices of Shrimp Cocktail, Surf and Turf Gumbo and the Pudding Parade were an absolute delight. And that’s without whipping away half of Chris Longbottom’s (Shoosmiths) Nachez Nachos. They were literally to die for. (Drools to self.)
There were some magnificently-portioned dishes flying out to tables and evidently, everyone filled themselves up quite nicely. With a great choice of beers and a buzzing pre-races atmosphere, we couldn’t have chosen a better base and settling in for the evening did cross my mind. However, we were in Chester on some serious racing business and I had a reputation to live upto, after last year’s success, as the gambling loomed large.
We rounded up the troops and made our way to the same spot we occupied last year in the Finishing Post. Reserved seating, table service and a glorious sunny evening just about more than worth the lack of racing view offered in this part of the course. I shouted up “tenners in for the syndicate” and rustled up £150 to go and start punting with. Here’s what happened…
6.30 – Molly Dolly 7/2 Winner (£50 win at 4/1) +£200
7.05 – Aneesah 10/11 Winner (£100 win at 5/4) + £125
7.35 – Serene Beauty 6/5 Winner (£100 win at 13/8) + £162.50
8.05 – No Bet
8.35 – Subversive 5/2 4th place (£100 lost) – £100
9.10 – Mythical City 7/4 Winner (£100 win at 15/8) + £187.50
9.10 – Felix De Vega 5/1 3rd place (£50 each/way) – £100
Initial Stake Money – £150
Final Pot – £625
Same result as last year. 6 bets. 4 winners! And a better return on investment from an admittedly much smaller pot. Best still, a decent drinks fund for back in town. Should have gone all in on the last mind. Next year, definitely.
The group headed back to the coach, a few heads light in more ways than one and the party really started to fly. The journey back to Manchester starts to get a bit hazy now but I know we made it to Artisan in Spinningfields where, well, what happens at Betworking, stays at Betworking, I guess. Some of the hardcore battled on to Neighbourhood and the Suburbia launch but some of us (with kids) bailed out.
A great day out, hope you can make the next one.