Mike Quigley

Irish horse racing, betting and other stuff

   Home      Bellewstown 2001
Heaven on the hill
The 2000 Bellewstown festival was without doubt the best Irish racing trip we’d ever experienced. We therefore had high hopes for the 2001 renewal.   

It was strange being back in the same area just a couple of weeks after the Laytown meeting. We opted for the Neptune Beach hotel for the first two days-despite our reservations about the costs. Arriving on the early Wednesday morning flights, we were at the hotel by 11am. We took advantage of the leisure centre for swimming and gym stuff before grabbing some lunch. It was Wimbledon week two so we were able to follow the men’s quarterfinal action on the large screen in the bar. 

The first race was 5.30pm, unusually only seven runners, so we planned to arrive for the second race. We got rapped up in Henman v Federer – I  had backed the latter. We left at one set all, expecting to arrive at the races about 5.40pm. 

 There was a complex diversion, which took us several miles out of our way.  By the time we got out of the car, about ½ mile from the entrance, it was 5.50pm. It was blazingly hot for the time of day, but I managed to get myself into the betting ring by 6.00pm. I quickly took down the Nrs and a show and made my way to the tote. Two horses stood out in the betting Alota Bay showing 20/1 tote 10/1 ring and Muskerry King showing 44/1 tote 12/1 ring. The latter was particularly interesting as it was a reserve. I supported them both, after they had jumped the first.

 Alota Bay was never in it but Muskerry King came storming through to take it up two out and win by two lengths! What a start!

The odds had converged in the final few minutes- the SP was 16/1 and the tote paid £27.10.

The third race was the five furlong maiden. Draw important here – won by trap one last year at 8/1. The even money favourite occupied the one box, so we played small stakes on some outsiders. Favourite obliged. 

No great interest in the fourth so we watched Henman complete his victory in the Tote wagon. My Wimbledon record is not good. 

Another favourite obliged in the fifth-Golden Halo – to foil our bets on Island Song (2nd). 

We played some low number fcsts in race six- a draw bias over the mile. However trap nine beat four and one. 

The seventh race saw a return to winning ways. We followed the on track gamble on Drom Wood – top amateur Fenton jocked off Mr. T P Hyde and the 11/4 was landed. We’re on the tote at 4.3/1. 

Not a great deal of value in the last, but a small bet on Sardakaan (£12.80 tote, 9/1 SP) brought my profit on the day to £375.00.

In the evening we drove over to the Greyhound Inn at Duleek for some excellent music and a few pints of Guinness.

Day two and breakfast at the Neptune. The labour market is very tight in Ireland. Two girls from the Ukraine managed the breakfast room. The choice was actually very good.

Except ‘the catch of the day’, which we would learn was always salmon.  Sall-mon.

 A change of fortune at Wimbledon as Henin beat  Capriati to reach the final. My each-way bet paid off and thus took care of the poor selections in the men’s tournament.

Up on the hill again with an eight race card to tackle. My decision not to get involved in the first pays off as the ¼ fav obliged easily. There were four races over 1m and one over 5f. All five races could be draw biased. 

We did it wrong in the maiden, concentrating too hard on the draw; we ignored the chances of Sir Azzaro the first American trained horse to run here! Of course it trotted up at 10/1, quietly ignored by the locals. 

The next three races were all handicaps over one mile. We got stuck into various forecast and trio combinations on the low numbers. No joy in the next two races. The trap numbers of the first three were 2,14 and 3 followed by 7,9 and11. 

The 7.30pm came good though as we were on the winner In The Dusk, drawn 2 returned 20/1 tote £26.80. The first three were drawn 2,5 and 7.

I was beaten in the photo for the trio, as trap 1 finished fourth. The trio’s not won and was carried forward to the next. 

The play in the 8.00pm was obvious- the carry over trio- I staked £55 in various combinations and got it for £2 – but it only paid £78.50 for £1.

Some small stake losers in the next two races reduced the profit on the two days to £532.00. We skipped the last and headed for our gourmet meal at the Neptune (part of the package). After paying £16 for a £4 supermarket wine last time, we settled for Guinness with our monkfish.

The rest of the evening was spent at McPhails in Drogheda. Excellent rock band. I think they were called Electric Lemon. 

Friday we checked out and moved into Bed and Breakfast accommodation 100yds down the road. A third of the price and a better view of the beach.

The rooms had brilliant picture windows and we sat and watched horses exercising on the sands. I went for a run to Laytown and back (about 3 miles). Everyone smiled and said hello. Bit different to London.

Friday’s racing did not feature any ‘draw’ races so betting turnover was the lowest of the three days.

However there was a plot in the opener as Tommy Stack’s Glass Note – one of the two reserves- opened up favourite. We got involved and this one obliged by leading all the way. Two further winners on the night, including another reserve with P.Carberry as a late booking. Small win on the day increased the profit for the Festival to £597.

At breakfast the next day we were exposed to what appeared to be part of my record collection. Leonard Cohen and Nick Drake. The discs belonged to the landlady’s sixteen-year-old daughter. What goes around comes around. She told me she has an eclectic taste in music. Suited us fine.

We didn’t fancy the Leopardstown card so we stayed in Bettystown until Sunday afternoon. Pleasant seafood meal in "Bacchus", but I found it hard to keep a straight face as Adrian ordered " Sall-mon".

Nice evening in the Porterhouse in Dublin's Temple Bar before returning home.

Analysing the betting performance at Bellewstown,  I realise I have achieved a 94% profit on turnover- almost exactly the same as last year. I know that this must be difficult to believe so I publish below the returns:


Day                                 T/O             Return           Profit                %


Wednesday                     179              550              371             207.3%

Thursday                          283              445              162              57.2%

Friday                               173              243              66               38.2%


Totals                             635              1238            597              94.0%


July 2001