Not only is this post part of my Blogtober posts, but it also falls under my ‘Story Time’ category! The title of this short story was suggested to me by the lovely Stewart Bint (I will leave links to Stewarts social media pages at the bottom of this piece!)
The Bookmakers Daughter
‘Henry! How’re ye doin’ me old pal? Tis that time of week again ey! What’re the odds for today’s races?’ Fred bounced into the betting shop with his weekly wages in his hand, eager to throw it all away in the hope of making millions. Henry smiled, a warming smile, and rolled his dark eyes, shaking his head. He fixed his flat cap and pulled out a list of the favourite racehorses for the day ahead.
‘Ere Fred, all the favourites… the odds’re good for Jimmy James after his performance last weekend ey? Think he might be a safe one for ye!’
Henry was a true gentleman, loyal with a huge heart and always giving it to people straight. He was not a very tall man, but he had a large personality and his presence made everyone feel cosy. The whole of Yorkshire knows of Henry, he has worked in the little betting shop just on the outskirts of town since he was 15 years old… he was in his late 40’s now. He has aged well over the years, with gentle wrinkles on his forehead and his pale cheeks, with glasses that fit perfectly snug around his large, kind eyes. What little hair he had left was swept neatly to one side and he wore the classic old spice scent which drove all women wild.
‘Aye, stick £20 on Jimmy James to win tonight, and £50 for Taylor Whippet to win The National Hen, I am feeling lucky today!’ Fred handed over his £70 and trudged on over to the fruit machines with a grin on his face.
‘You say that every week Freddie! And for the last time son; do not call me Hen.’ Henry looked sternly in Fred’s direction, whose grin slowly left his grey looking face.
Despite Henry being a loveable chap, everyone knew he was not one to be messed with.
The days were going by fast and it would soon be time for The Grand National, Henry’s favourite time of year! The Grand National meant that Henry was able to go to the biggest race of the year with a small betting booth ready to take thousands of bets while also enjoying the race for himself… but that was not the only part that Henry was looking forward to this year.
Henry has a daughter called Lillian-May, who is now 21-years-old. He still sees her as being his ‘little lady’, the tiny tot who would come to work with him at the weekends, helping the customers choose their bets and cheering at the television as she watched the horses race. Now that she is older, she doesn’t tend to accompany him in work anymore… but this year she has managed to get herself a ticket to The Grand National, not only to watch the race but to help her father with the betting booth.
Lil was a beauty, with a heart of gold, sparkling green eyes with blonde wavy hair which fell past her shoulders and down to the bottom of her back. Her face was pure with smooth silky skin, not a drop of make-up to be seen, just a slight shimmer on her lips. She walked into the betting shop, lighting up the room with her pearly white smile; ‘Hey Pop! You all ready for next weekend? There anything you need me to do?’
She would do anything for her Pop, always putting him first, after all, he was the only man in her life.
‘Ahhh, hello my little lady! Of course, I’m ready, I am always ready girl.’ Henry’s smile reached his eyes as he wrapped his arms tightly around his daughter. ‘ We are backing the winner this year my love!’
Before they knew it a week had passed them by and it was time for The National.
Thousands of people crowded the stands, beer or wine in hand, best clothing on and cameras at the ready. Lillian-May and Henry were all set up and ready to take bets for the first race.
‘Who are you backing Dad?’ Lil looked at Henry out of the corner of her eye,
‘Silver Bay, a beautiful horse, ran a gooden last year and came in third! What about you Lil?’
‘Mothering Angel…the name stood out to me, it made me think of mum…put me down for £40 to win.’
Henry was proud of Lil, always keeping her mother in her thoughts. He hugged her, placing a gentle kiss on her forehead.
After taking millions of pounds worth of bets, it was time for the race to begin. People were cheering and chanting different names of the horses they were rooting for. Lillian-May could feel the adrenaline rushing through her veins, her eyes were wide with excitement and her heart was beating fast. Henry held her hand tight, jumping up and down and cheering with her as the horses came to the final hurdle.
They were too far away to see which horse crossed the finishing line first, they waited patiently to hear the announcement…
‘In third place… Taylor Whippet!
In second place… Silver Bay!
And, in first place on her debut race… Mothering Angel!’
Lil screamed with joy and embraced her father with tears in her eyes, knowing she had just won £40,000 on her bet.
When she collected her winnings, she took her Henry to a quiet spot to sit and talk.
‘Dad, I have been horse riding since I could walk… and I have decided that I want to buy a racehorse with my winnings…’ Lillian-May had a very serious look in her eyes, Henry was confused but listened closely to his daughter. ‘I don’t want to only own the horse… I want to race her myself.’
Henry was shocked… ‘But Lil… no woman has ever been a Jockey before! Are you sure you are prepared for that kind of fame?’
‘I don’t care for the fame Pop, I know mum always dreamt of racing horses, she tried it once and was turned down… but the world is a different place now and I think I stand a chance!’
‘You know I will always have your back little lady… Let’s get you a racehorse!’
The following year Lillian-Mays name was all over the papers as she was about to become the first female to ride a racehorse in The Grand National. Headline’s read:
‘Bookmakers Daughter Taking The Biggest Risk Of All’
‘What Are The Odds Of That!’
‘Bookmakers Daughter Going In For The Win!’
Lil was nervous but was determined to do her mother proud. She took her place in the stalls, as the presenter revealed the name of her racehorse for the first time…
‘Today is an extra special day at The Grand National. We have the very first female jockey with us, Lillian-May Cooper, with her racehorse “Henry’s Little Lady”… can she make it in one of the top three positions? We are about to find out…’
Henry had a happy tear roll down his face as he heard the name that Lil had picked… he placed his bet and headed to the finish line, where he waited nervously for his daughter.
‘And Thereee Off!!’
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