Hello there. I’d like to begin by thanking Tim for the loan of his valuable space, something I hope to treat with the respect it deserves. Having written a weekly music blog for the now defunct SagaZone forum for some time I know how time-consuming it can be; and I had retired by then. When his life has settled down again perhaps Tim will return to enchant, enthral and enliven our entry to the weekend with his new offering “Leaks From The Peaks”; a cornucopia of fine writing awaits.
This week though you have my lesser jottings to tide you over. Apologies for the lack of a weather run-down but I’m writing this either side of a weekend away; ” a bit of everything” should cover it. The topic is betting and my own take on it. What inspired this was a spate of Cheltenham Festival ante-post betting posted on Twitter. The only race I may have an antepost bet is the Grand National but that is more to do with the races I invest in. My way will not suit everyone and some may well deride it but it is profitable and one of my life’s little pleasures. Sad I know.
Racing first caught my eye with Arkle’s first Gold Cup win in 1964 and I followed this magnificent horse’s career thereafter. Definitely the best I’ve ever seen but never a betting proposition being odds on in all subsequent races. Over the next 30 years racing was a peripheral but constant presence. Betting was limited to Grand Nationals – Highland Wedding in ’69 my first winner – and sometimes Cheltenham. Even then I didn’t like Flat racing!
Fast forward to 2004 and sorting out things to do in retirement due the following year. Racing formed part of that. The decision was do I just throw a few quid at a couple of nags on a Saturday – nothing wrong with that – or do something a bit more serious given I had the time? After researching for a year or so and starting to keep records, essential in my view and not just of bets placed, I settled on the latter which I continue to this day. First up was to buy and learn to use a computer; even though I’d used one at work for many years the software was specialised and Googling your way through the working day was not an option.
Moving to Somerset in 1990 I began going to Point To Points and, if you’ve never been, I’d recommend it for a good day out. This pointed the way (sorry) to my specialist subject – Handicap Steeplechases (HCs). This for me is proper racing and accounts for 99% of my betting, the odd conditions race being the exception.
Any race which has the following word(s) in the title is excluded: Novice, Selling, Conditional Jockeys, Amateur Riders. I think my mantra “What don’t you understand about the word Novice?” is known to some. So no speed-bump – aka “hurdles” – or bumpers. Mostly races of 10 or fewer runners too. How I select my bets is another topic but one fact I use extensively is trainers’ records on a given track in a given month but only in HCs. An example of this. If you draw a line east-west under Haydock Park there are 14 NH tracks north of it. 12 of these tracks have women trainers leading the HC stats and 2 of them have women in the first 3 places
Bookmaker or Betting Exchange? The nearest town to me has 1 bookie or, if I want a 20-mile round trip, I can go to the big city (Yeovil); online bookies weren’t as developed then The fact is that Betfair is a no-brainer. Yes, it has had problems but they seem to have overcome them and are doing well. I may be preaching to the converted but here are 5, of many, things you can do on Betfair that you can’t at a bookie:
1. Lay your bet back for a profit – useful if you’re mad enough to bet ante-post. (Grand Nat only for me)
2. Bet place only which the Tote only equals in its pool bets.
3. Put different stakes on the win and place elements of an each-way bet.
4. Get paid for 3rd/4th place when your 8/16 declared runner race is reduced to 7/15.
5. Choose whether to bet on the exchange or at Betfair SP.
I bet almost always place only, sometimes more than one horse in a race, and often at Betfair SP. Sometimes it can backfire a little and the exchange return can be better but restricting it to equivalent odds of about 10/1 in the win market it pays to do SP more often than not.You do need to remember the win and place markets on Betfair are entirely separate and do not mirror the 1/4 or 1/5 odds a bookie will “generously” give you. One quick example. At Doncaster recently I backed Dandridge each-way at Betfair SP. Bookmaker returns were 8/1 win, 1.6/1 place; Betfair SP was 9/1 win, 2.4/1 place so a 12.5% increase on the win and 50% on the place. Another effect of having a separate place-only market is that short-priced horses can be ignored – “certain to be placed” (!) – and good value place odds result.
For staking I use the tried and trusted method of a betting bank placing a % on each selection adjusting according to running profit/loss. The power of compounding works well. I take profit when initial bank has doubled. I actually run 2 banks, 1 for win bets and 1 for place bets. Over the years I’ve done OK but I make no claims of great riches being made.The profits go to all sorts of things including the 2 charities I support, RNLI and RBL.
In summary my way is specialisation, keep records, discipline – I can go long periods between bets – using a betting exchange and sticking to your staking plan but never chase losses. Never pay for tips. (Why pay someone else when it’s just as easy to find your own losers!) In short the KISS principle. It is worth repeating the well-known sayings: “If you can’t afford it don’t do it”,. “Gamble responsibly” is an oxymoron, “Invest wisely” is not.
So that’s my way and you will have yours. May Pallas Athene guide your choices and they all run into the arms of Nike.. Roll the dice.
Newbury’s Saturday card has never featured a HC and Uttoxeter’s off. Leaves just the one race at Warwick and a tricky one it is too. The 2 I would consider are Band Of Blood and Marcilhac. The former won 3/4 after 60+day break when trained by Philip Fenton and the latter’s had only 4 runs since joining Venetia Williams over 2 years ago. IF I decide to invest will tweet Saturday as it will depend on the odds. I am not a tipster so will only put up something that’s carrying my money as I believe all tipsters should.