Monday 3rd October 2022
Despite the title of this blog let’s start with Galway. Initial aspirations to write a monthly blog have been firmly curtailed by the age old not-enough-hours-in-the-day conundrum. My last update was pre-Galway Festival so that seems like a decent place to start.
How did I find Galway? Relatively busy. Not because it hasn’t been busier in years gone by … I’m pretty sure it has been. But AK Bets maiden voyage to the Festival involved working 3 pitches and all the staffing headaches that entails.
First off we were definitely overstaffed for the week. Not knowing what to expect I decided overstaffed would beat understaffed, a policy I might be changing going forward, especially with expenses for away-days going through the proverbial roof.
Like I say we have 3 pitches – Tote Line 8, Tote Line 12, Stand Line 1. All of these pitches are busy across the 7 days and are of sufficient quality to turn over plenty of dockets (all pitches have a 1946 Seniority).
I, however, made the mistake of putting 2 pitches into the Mayor’s Garden (I’d been calling it the Mares’ Garden for months prior to the meeting with no-one correcting me) for the first 4 days of the Festival. In the draw down in the garden we secured Pitch 1 twice in 4 days and Pitch 2 on one of the other days which certainly helped. But that good variance won’t always be on our side and in hindsight we only need one pitch down there in future.
All in all it was a good week. We lost on the first day but made our money after that. Saturday, the quietest of the 7 days mainly due to the rain, we won but amusingly the total was £69. So basically that’s a losing day.
Lots of chatter about the price of accommodation putting people off until I heard local hotels were housing more than their fair share of Ukrainians fleeing war. Our family has a decent enough backstory in that regard so that’s certainly not an issue I’m going to be complaining about.
In conclusion I think the management at Galway do a fantastic job.
My one recommendation is inside the stand it’s Tote-only which no doubt detracts from the betting experience for those inside. I for one have no objection to myself or my betting ring colleagues taking turns to service the clientele inside regardless of who has what Seniority but that’s a point for another day.
Post-Galway we then lost at 7 of the next 9 meetings including a fairly decent pounding at the Curragh due to Little Big Bear in the Phoenix Stakes. I’d been asked did I want to lay a chunky bet @ 5/2 overnight (I did not) but decided to lay plenty of 7/4 in the ring until the off. I topped this off by also taking the 6/4 Bradsell in the ring for myself. Not my finest hour.
The rest of the month was fairly good to us before we headed into September.
I was debating whether to bother going down to Galway for the two-day meeting at the start of September due to the rain but in the end decided to go. This firm and rain do not go well together. The shorts got a soaking and we lost 5-figures.
Laytown was a pleasure like it always is despite internet issues in the ring resulting in only 3 out of 4 pitches being operational (2.5 really given the time it took to sort out the 3rd one). We had Simon Nott, creator of the #BettingPeople series, over working with us which is always a pleasure. He’s one of the industry’s good guys who usually brings over a bit of luck with him. Might have him back for the Troytown @ Navan so he can tick another track off his list.
Then it was onto the big one. Listowel.
This year’s meeting clashed with the Ploughing Championship (note: English readers I’m not even joking). This was a worry to us given we made a sizeable investment to secure Stand Line 1 pitch off Peter McGrane.
The first few days are slow enough (but not when you have as good a pitch as ours) and we were churning out plenty of dockets, Then the final 4 days (Wed-Sat) were absolutely bananas. We turned over a small fortune and results went our way as well. This is the best pitch we own by a country mile.
Lessons From One Year At It
Back to the title of the blog which is a bit disingenuous in itself as, despite working mid-July 2021 @ Killarney, we only worked 8 meetings in total in the whole of the calendar year (Covid) meaning we’re only 8-9 months in at most.
My biggest lesson and learning curve has been in relation to staff. Up until the end of May we were absolutely cruising along without a care in the world with everything going swimmingly. I’d built the business up and knew that the summer months would be hectic. Despite this we were all geared up for an exciting summer.
But when you’ve got little kids at home, and your main staff members have little kids at home as well, this job can be very tough. Listen I know we’re not splitting the atom here but nights away and time spent driving on the road after being stood up for long periods can take it out of you. You tend to be eating shite as well.
I didn’t staff the pitches correctly this summer factoring in all of the above and that’s something I need to correct in 2023.
Our winter months are a bit quieter (19 days in October, 17 in November, 18 in December – maybe even less January and February).
We’re going to try and improve on 2022 and kick on.
I might even sort that office out at some stage and lay a few bets over the phone. Keep your eyes open for that if I ever do pull my finger out.