How To Back “Impossible” Handicap Winners

Saint Helena winning wasn't a bit shock

Saint Helena winning wasn't a big shock...

Backing winners is about more than just horse form. As runners get more experience, and become more exposed, so they become more quantifiable in their own right. But for the first part of a horse's career the modus operandi of its trainer is often a more effective barometer of win probability than what a particular beast has achieved on the track.

In a country where 63% of races run under all codes are handicaps (12,615 of 19,969 in 2013 and 2014, up to 16th December) and, moreover one where the paucity of prize money relative to upkeep costs is among the lowest in the world, the ability to handicap a horse to win is almost a prerequisite for any right-thinking customer-facing trainer.

Clearly, the above paragraph won't sit easily in all quarters, but those who drive the race planning agenda - bookmakers, racecourses, the BHA, and the horseman's group - all have their hand on the knife which has carved this route to the winner's enclosure.

Like it or not, handicaps will remain the staple of British racing fare, unless or until an effective claiming system - and attitude to claiming races, and the fact that horses can actually be claimed (*gasp*) from such races - is introduced.

So that leaves us as punters with a choice: we either ignore all but top class races and exposed form handicaps, or we get smart to the rules of the game... and its finest exponents. This post is about bringing the reader up to speed (to some degree, at least) with the latter.

The Circumstances

The first thing to consider are the circumstances under which 'improvement' might be expected. Horses usually graduate to handicap ranks through either maiden races (flat) or novice races (jumps). These races accommodate horses of any and all abilities. So it was that, for example, in Frankel's maiden victory, as well as other Group 1 performers like Nathaniel and Colour Vision, there was also a horse called Castlemorris King.

Castlemorris King has a current flat rating of 66, which is very similar to the initial mark of 60 he was awarded in late September 2010 ahead of his first handicap. In fairness to Castlemorris King, he's a fair hurdling stick - rated 130-odd over obstacles - but he does serve to illustrate the 'all abilities under one race banner' point.

The same is true in novice hurdles, and in subsequent Champion Hurdler Rock On Ruby's opening hurdle win a horse called Charles finished last. Charles went on to win a Class 5 handicap hurdle - when rated 90 - while Rock On Ruby achieved a career high rating of 170.

Incidentally, Charles won that event - his only win in a 15 race career - on his first run in a handicap. Which leads me nicely on to the point here...

Horses moving from maiden or novice - in other words, open - company to far more restricted ability races logically have a better chance of winning. If I'm racing against Usain Bolt over 60 metres, I'm going to get beaten out of sight. However, if I'm running in the dad's race at the school sports day, I... well, let's just say I won't get beaten quite so far!

Handicaps group together horses of relatively similar ability. When horses have run twenty times and more, that's easy enough. But when they've had the obligatory three runs in maiden/novice company, it's somewhat more of a jelly-nailing exercise for the assessors.

The issues facing those charged with allocating initial ratings are compounded by the system - a system where, as I've written, keeping at least some of one's ability powder dry is fundamental.

A trainer may disguise a horse's ability by any or all of the following:

- Running it over the wrong trip

- Running it on the wrong ground

- Running it when 85% fit

- Running it with (or without) headgear

- Running in a hotter than average maiden/novice

- Running on an unsatisfactory track

Examples of this happen every day, up and down the country, and it is utterly pointless a) thinking they don't, or b) getting even remotely upset or moralistic about it.

Why?

It is a professional game, and a lot of money is at stake even at the grass roots level of the sport. Prize funds that are currently comparable with 2008 against a cost of living now more than 25% dearer do not help the situation.

But let's face it. Even if prize money was twice as much, the game would go on. Maybe there would be less of it; maybe there wouldn't. As trainers and owners playing an expensive game, the job is to be the best you can within the rules of the game. Better yet, within the shaded edges of the rules of the game.

And if you think this is a game reserved for the training Potless Pete's, then consider this esteemed band: Sir Mark Prescott, Luca Cumani, Jonjo O'Neill. An Englishman, an Irishman, and an Italian, all towards the head of their peer group in performance terms, and all dab hands at the handicap plot/blot.

Moreover, they undertake these machinations not for Potless Pete the owner, but for billionaires like JP McManus and Kirsten Rausing.

Why would a billionaire want to land a touch? Maybe to win a few quid - after all, you can never have enough quids - but more likely for the thrill of the sport; for the game.

We as punters need to get over any personal prejudices we have about such behaviour, for two related reasons. Firstly, it's plain stupid to perpetuate a cycle of whinging when the wool has ostensibly been pulled over one's peepers. Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, etc.

And secondly, there's gold in them there hills... if we can be arsed to look for it. The good news is that, with a slight shift in focus, it's a lot easier to find a horse about to reveal significant improvement than it is to conjecture about the fractional gains which could make the difference in a field of exposed handicappers.

Who?

So let's take a hard look at the players. The guys and girls who know their business, and the parameters within which their business resides, and who do the best for their owners irrespective of the bill-payers' position on the net worth continuum.

I wrote about one such, Jim Best, previously. That post is here. In it, I showed that, far from being unfair to punters, Best is actually giving us highly likely winners if we choose to take them. The details in his approach - late jockey switches and all - are not to all tastes. Frankly, they're not to mine.

But the fact that he's used the EXACT same blueprint SEVEN times - and five times in the past eighteen months - means if we're on the wrong side of that punting fence, it's not sonny Jim's fault.

We live in an information age. If you're reading this, and you still choose to look at the little string of six digits, letters and punctuation points to the left of a horse's name to inform a wagering decision, you have absolutely no right to complain if Jim Best or anyone else bags a winner unbacked by you because you couldn't find a sequence of 1's, 2's and 3's in that sextet of symbolic nothingness.

Sites like racingpost.com and sportinglife.com shine a dim light on trainer patterns; while sites like geegeez.co.uk and timeform.com will blaze the interrogation lamp from time to time. And, as in this post, the good ones do it presciently rather than retrospectively.

This section - entitled  'Who?' - is a tricky one, mainly because, as I've said, any handler worth his/her fee will be capable of identifying opportunities for their owners. However, some are more adept than others, and keeping them on the right side will make you money.

Geegeez Gold, the premium part of this website, is a treasure trove of form shortcuts, one of which is a report called Trainer Handicap First Run (Code). Snappy the title may not be, but this little beauty does what it says, flagging those with excellent recent records when placing a horse in a handicap for the very first time:

An example of the excellent Handicap 1st Time report

An example of the excellent Handicap 1st Time report

 

When it comes to betting, why whinge when you can win? Isn't there as much joy in unravelling a trainer-based puzzle as there is in untangling a horse form head scratcher?

When?

The most likely time for a horse to show marked improvement is under markedly different conditions. Sounds obvious, right? So why do some of us keep ignoring it?! [Rhetorical. We both know it's because some of us are too lazy to look at the horse with the 000 form until after it's won ;-)].

Right, let's shortcut this.

1. Move from maiden/novice to handicap

Regardless of code - flat or jumps - for most horses outside of the top class, the best chance they will ever have to win a race is their first run in a handicap. That move from open company, against the Frankels and the Rock On Ruby's of their world, to the company of hairy brutes half a rung up the food chain from a Tesco slaughterhouse (figuratively speaking) is a huge opportunity.

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Of course, some are simply destined to drop down that half a rung or, more enchantingly, be rehoused as pets. But many will suddenly step forward, in finishing position terms at least.

The easiest way to see if this is 'expected' is to check the geegeez.co.uk racecard (Gold users only, I'm afraid). An HC1 icon indicates first run in a handicap. Clicking the trainer form icon will then display that trainer's record with first time handicap starters in the previous two years:

In depth lowdown on a trainer's first time handicap record right in the racecard

In depth lowdown on a trainer's first time handicap record right in the racecard

 -

2. Step up (or occasionally down) in trip

If Usain Bolt ran over 800 metres, that boy would be puffing out of his pipe on the second lap. He's simply not designed for it. Likewise, if a son of Presenting rocks up in a six furlong sprint, he might just finish before the next race is ready to start. He too is likely not equipped for that sort of a speed test.

There are always genetic exceptions - triple Grand National winner Red Rum won a sprint as a two year old - but one cannot bet too much on such unlikely possibilities.

How can we know if a horse is likely to appreciate a change in trip? Click the TRAINER and SIRE icons on the geegeez.co.uk racecard:

Trainer AND Sire insights on distance movers

Trainer AND Sire insights on distance movers

 

In the image above, we can see both the trainer's record in the last two years with horses stepping up 25% or more on the flat (we also display the same for jumps horses stepping up 20% or more in trip), and the sire performance in the distance range.

In this example, we see that Kevin Ryan has a 25% strike rate (62.5% in the frame) when stepping horses up markedly in distance. We can also see that the sire, Frozen Power, has an overall two-year win rate of 7.54% (place 24.35%), but this improves to 11.03% win/ 26.62% place wihth middle distance flat horses. As such, Strummer might be expected to go better than a 20/1 shot, all other things being equal.

 

3. Change in the going

Knee action. You may or may not have heard of it. You may or may not be able to discern it when watching a horse canter to the start. In all honesty, you don't need - or kneed - to know about it. What you do need to know is whether a sire's progeny generally handle any change in underhoof conditions, either quicker or slower. This info can be found in a range of locations, including in Gold's Full Form Filter, my personal favourite (natch).

On the Full Form tab, click the 'Sire' button, and choose the 'Going' filter. Feel free to select a specific race type, periodicity and/or anything else you consider material.

At any rate, a first run in a handicap, especially when it coincides with a first run on significantly different ground than previously encountered, should set the ding-a-lings ringing.

 

4. Running after a layoff

Now here's a thing. A horse suddenly takes support having been off the track for two or three months. It had three runs close together before the break and they all culminated in duck eggs. How can he possibly win? Well, what if he'd been at the training equivalent of Butlin's around the time of those racecourse spins, and has since had two months hard labour in an equine Gulag? (Again, humour me, it's figurative prose).

Again, Gold's Trainer Snippets have this covered:

Most horses are at their fittest when the money's down. Go figure.

 

5. Headgear switch

Blinkers on. Blinkers off. Hood on. Visor. Eyeshields. Cheek pieces. If a horse has run a hundred times already - or even a dozen - the application of headgear may generally be seen as a sign of desperation. Unless it's the re-application of headgear, in which case it should be seen as a sign of an expectation of performance in line with the last time the equipment was added/removed.

Take a look at Discoverie's form overall, and then solely with today's headgear (second image below).

Discoverie: All Runs

Discoverie: Today's Headgear only

The hood is good, especially for keen-goers, so if a horse has pulled in those early runs and now gets a hood applied for its first handicap, it gets an extra point from me.

 

6. Combo la Bombo!

Any of the above is worth a second glance. Any combination of the above is worth a leisurely lingering third glance. Especially if it's 1. with any others.

 

Who? Part 2: The Specifics

I keep track of certain individuals under certain conditions in the Geegeez Tracker tool.

This is not just a game played by Potless Pete. And, as Jim Best's omission from my own list demonstrates, there are plenty more of these lads and lasses making it pay for those who pay them, and those who pay heed to them. It is your job to seek them out - believe me, once you're tuned it, it's not difficult!

 

Final Thoughts

We all know it  happens. Some accept handicap 'jobbing' as part of the game, and embrace it within their punting MO. Others resent it, and curse the actors rather than their own simplistic or partial methods when an apparently impossible punt is landed.

With early markets flagging 'springers' and a raft of tools (including our Trainer Handicap First Time report) able to trap similar patterns in trainer behaviour, there really is no excuse - time constraints aside - for allowing what can be very decent betting opportunities to pass you by. Even if you are hamstrung by time, it takes a few seconds to spot a curio in the betting market, and check for material differences in today's race conditions. And no more than 30 seconds to check our report.

Trip, ground, handicap first time, class drop. Easy to spot. If you're looking. But none are in the form string to the left of the nag's name. Readers are encouraged to ask their own questions where time allows. But, as a bare minimum, I hope this article serves to demonstrate that the seemingly esoteric manoeuvres of horsemen and women can be understood - at a high level anyway - and profited from by pretty much all of us.

Matt

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28 replies
  1. Jim says:

    Another excellent thought provoking post. Two big problems for me though and without wanting to get even remotely upset or moralistic about it (again anyway).
    If,( as you stated) the following regularly occurs;

    A trainer may disguise a horse’s ability by any or all of the following:

    – Running it over the wrong trip

    – Running it on the wrong ground

    – Running it when 85% fit

    – Running it with (or without) headgear

    – Running in a hotter than average maiden/novice

    – Running on an unsatisfactory track

    Examples of this happen every day, up and down the country, and it is utterly pointless a) thinking they don’t, or b) getting even remotely upset or moralistic about it.
    (and I completely agree with you)

    1. The handicap system is fundamentally floored and in the least is in need of an overhaul with explanations, in layman’s terms being subsequently published.

    2. Any newcomers to the sport, who are constantly being sought who read/know this would probably come to the conclusion that racing is bent, as opponents to the sport love to preach. And even the most ardent of fan would technically have to agree.

    P.S. May be as its nearly Xmas you could give us a few horses who are ‘closer to home’ and appear to be heading down the hcap route soon?

    Happy Christmas Matt, hope you and the family have a great one

  2. (John) Paul Ambrose says:

    Did you know Riversbridge and Tara for Lily were due to race tomorrow when you wrote the article, Matt? Odds at the moment seem to be putting them outside your rules, though. Cheers for the post, informative as ever. SotD might fit the bill more closely.

  3. John Polockus says:

    excellent blog ..as we get nearer to xmas you see these winners at the crazy prices paying for xmas ..we see it every year lol I just never understood why or how ..now you have pointed out some great info I will do my best to try & spot some thank you …

  4. Ian says:

    Hello Jim

    Completely agree with you that Matt has penned another top notch article – insights into the real world of horse racing. However I don’t entirely follow your argument regarding point one.Point two is correct but that rather obvious conclusion is derived from a rather simplistic view (not yours but “Joe Public) of how horse racing is portrayed in the media, and from other well publicised “gambles” that come off.

    So to your first point: handicapping seems to me a perfectly sensible system that provides a way of making betting on a horse a more tricky and hence more interesting proposition. Against this backdrop trainers and their owners seek to win money by whatever means they choose. Blatant cheating, if identified, is penalised. However outside of that there can be many ways to prepare the horse as Matt’s list demonstrates. Now clearly what is going on at any one time in any race will amount to all the variables mentioned coming into play and that means that no system can ever be seen as working to its optimal state. The handicapping system tries to establish an equality of sorts but it cannot ever achieve a true state – ever. So when I back in a handicap I try to work out most likely contenders and I try to take into account those factors that best suit the conditions on the day. In my case today I had one winner out of four – Gevrey Chambertin, a horse I have followed for years, I even know his stablename (Geoffrey) and at 9/1 over fences and still finding his way; he was so overpriced he was an absolute gift. Notes on his previous runs suggested an out of form horse – but not today. When I saw the price I knew he was a bet. Had they been disguising him in some way before? Or had he just found his form – who knows? But this result does not invalidate handicapping as a concept in my eyes.

    Ian

    • Jim says:

      Ian,

      I think many people and in some cases myself could argue that most of the preparation tactics on Matts list could be construed as blatant cheating. They are often used as reasons for what others may say were non triers. The Pipes are masters at exploiting handicaps and personally I ignore their short priced runners and only ever look at handicap runners over 5/1 as they are that good at it.

      As for point 1 I see no reason whatsoever why nearly every race could not be run of level weights. Provided the horses are accurately rated and the races are tightly controlled to ensure that horses of a similar rating are racing in them. This would iron out lots of problems and would even give poor jockeys the chance of living a more healthy lifestyle too. Radical yes, traditionalists would hate it, yes, bookmakers, trainers and owners would be against it, yes, to start with anyway. But once up and running properly I think it would bring fairness, competitiveness and make the sport easier to run, easier to understand and eradicate some of this widespread manipulation of handicap marks we see day after day.

      Cheers for response.

      Jim

  5. winninggambler says:

    Excellent piece. I would add an important extra to your list “A trainer may disguise a horse’s ability by any or all of the following:” is – running it in the wrong class. Also, – running it against another horse from the same stable with explicit tactics.

  6. RomJim says:

    Matt, This is one of your best pieces ever. I really like the mixture of analysis, logic and hints for the future. Your use of the English language is stimulating and keeps me coming back for more.

    Well Done.

    Jim

  7. luigi3907D says:

    We are often told that horses will improve significantly once handicapping.

    That is tantamount to saying they have not been given the best chance of winning in the past ( wrong trip, distance, jockey instructions etc ). Whether by design or otherwise is not the point here.

    That scenario ( whereby a horse may knowingly be given little chance before it starts ) is one thing.

    When a horse is last in each of three maiden races and improves enormously under similar conditions to win on handicap debut is another matter.

    A horse can not run 4 seconds faster over 5 furlongs carrying more weight and under similar conditions SIMPLY because it is running in a handicap.

    There is a solution that would go some way to preventing trainers just taking horses for a change of air three times before running them properly, something that is against the spirit of racing even if not breaching any specific rule.

    Give the horses a handicap mark as is done under the current system but exclude them from handicap races until they have been placed and shown a more accurate picture of their ability.

    If that results in them never being good enough to run in a handicap, would they really be missed?

    There could be an extension to classified races, limited to horses with a handicap mark but not entitled to run in them. They could be called ‘flapping stakes’. 🙂

    More seriously, if punters get gradually more disillusioned by racing and boycott races where certain trainers run a horse or just turn to FOBTs or online slots as an alternative, markets would eventually dry up and become glorified Point to Points.Gambles would then be far more difficult to engineer and implement.

    Of course it is unworkable and will never happen, but while the rules permit horses to run with no intention of showing their true ability until it suits the trainer, the situation will not change.

    When a horse finds 3 stones in performance there is a Stewards’ Enquiry and the trainer’s explanation is ‘noted’. Once that happens the horse could easily be excluded from running under conditions or over a distance stated by the trainer to be unsuitable. At least that would make them think a bit more for their money.

  8. Steve says:

    Great stuff Matt!

    As for the disguising the ability stuff – I think there is a lot to be said for race-reading, if you can find the time. Plenty of horses find trouble in running (intentional or not), or are raced using tactics they can’t win with (the classic take a 10 length lead then quickly fade for a hold-up horse).

    As for the “When?” question – exposed horses dropping significantly below their last winning mark are always worth noting. Jockey bookings can be a big clue too for if a horse is ready. I also take a look at LTO speed figures – they can be a big clue to a horse that is fit and primed to win. Finishing positions are next to useless in isolation – I’d rather back a horse that finished quickly, but 5th in a bunch finish than a horse that finished 2nd but was 10 lengths behind a slow winner.

  9. Josh Wright says:

    I can only Echo RomJim’s comment, a bloody good read.

    I made my thoughts clear under your Jim Best piece so wont repeat here, but I would say this in terms of my own betting…

    1. I dont bet that often (unless system bets say) in novice and maiden races – not necessarily for the reasons above, but I like to bet on horses who have been there and done it. However I will now be keeping an eye on those trainers you have mentioned and will set those systems up in my HRB account 🙂

    2. In my opinion and from my own experience, given the amount of information out there, especially with HRB and Geegeez Gold for example, you do not need to know any of the above, or be concerned with any of the points in this article, in order to make a (non system based) profit from racing. All of the above is part of the game, right or wrongly, my point being that it is not a barrier (and indeed is a help with the trainers etc you point out) to making profit over time.

    The idea of no handicaps I find quite terrifying as that is where i make most of my betting profits! I just leave alone those races that may have too many handicap debutantes in.

    great read as ever, and yes, one of your best (i think you may be getting better, as I have said that comment has applied to a few of your recent articles 🙂 )

    • jim says:

      Josh,

      Finding the idea of no handicaps terrifying is why the idea never gets taken seriously. However have you thought it through thoroughly? Firstly well done you for making a profit from betting on handicaps, I know there are many more who do likewise. But the sport of horse racing was not invented to enable people like your good self to profit from it nor should handicaps be any easier or difficult to get handle on the form than non handicaps. Secondly if ‘proper’ races where weights were level were regularly ran I am sure you could still do well with your betting. The kind of races I envisage would be as exciting as the top handicap races without the need for one horse to rated a lot higher than all the others or for one to sneak in to at the bottom of the weights. If say ten horses with near identical ratings were racing each other off level weights accurate form reading, judging pace, horses for courses, trainer form etc etc should still give all a good chance of finding a winner now again and hopefully in some cases still making a fair profit.

      Wishing you continued good luck with your betting.

  10. RoyalAcademy says:

    There is a lot of myth attached to owning horses and one such example is the notion that a lot of owners “have it off” when their horse is “off” and it feeds the notion that somehow having a winner, particularly in a handicap, pays for the ownership experience. The debit balance on the P&L for any year with two middling wins on track would probably still be close to £15,000 of a loss. Trying to win these sums in today’s bookies risk-shy world is a tough task (to say the least!) That’s merely an observation on a general view of horse ownership particularly extended to handicapping-nothing to do with this excellent piece.

    My other take on handicapping is the expertise of the trainer not necessarily to get a horse well-handicapped but to land the spoils when the money is down. In my experience punting a horse in his first handicap is fraught with risk because it becomes the first ever time the horse is asked a very serious question and I imagine that no-one really knows how they might react or respond to a first serious introduction to the whip, for example. Anecdotally, I am aware of a number of such first-time handicap gambles (not necessarily first time in a handicap) that fail, the horse may in hindsight “run well” and it may take the experience of the hurly burly of real handicap experience or two before they have the maturity to win.

    My Christmas handicap winner for everyone is Hard Bought who will win this Christmas and please form an orderly queue afterwards……

      • 11081100 says:

        I knew I put that horse in my GG tracker for a reason and trawling back to this post id like to say thanks to Royal Academy for the tip! 😀

  11. gary says:

    intresting indeed your quite right matt at times I have had rather heated debates about right or wrongs of the game as I you point out and myself its all about ( playing in the rules ) ad your quite righto inform people read between the lines well written

  12. Andrew says:

    This was a really interesting article Matt. You seemed to have covered all the bases. There is little more to add other than an increase in prize money would make manipulation of the ratings less likely.

  13. maverick99 says:

    Great article Matt. I predominately back and lay in handicaps, as I believe that there is far more value to be attained, given the correct and effective “race/form reading”. Sure they’re harder to read than many races and are open to a greater number of “factors” than most other races, but if you really want long term value then you just have to master the harder puzzle that are handicaps.

  14. Mugpunter says:

    Dear Matt,
    While I read your article with interest it did not really tell me anything I did not know. The fact is that the lovely sport of kings is riddled with cheating. It has to be. Racing has followed the Marxist analysis of the drive to monopoly/oligopoly that we have seen in football, rugby, and supermarkets.

    We know their are a handful of trainers in all codes, and internationally, that will hoover up all the major prizes. The days when an Arthur Stephenson (“Little fish are sweet”) could not only survive but make a good living on winning races at the lower end with the odd graded race victory have long gone.

    Now it is axiomatic that the smaller stables have to have three or four successful punts a year just to stay in business. This means that only those totally dedicated to punting will pick up the clues. Most of the time when a successful gamble taked place the bookies scream “were you on” look at our BOG. Obviously we were not ‘on’ because we did not know that today is the day. But the word is dedicated. Most people simply do not have the time to devoite to form study.

    However, you also did not look at the huge number of ‘gambles’ that fail totally. I guess there is no way to find stats on that.

    Also I have found looking closely at ‘new’ stables and ‘small’ stables is very rewarding. By definition a ‘new’ trainer wants to make a splash to demonstrate their skills and you will often find those in their 2nd or 3rd season have very high strike rates in certain types of race which may not be handicaps. They can be sellers, novices, claimers, etc. But the trainer head and shoulders above all others as a beginner was David O’ Meara.

    But trainers I keep my eye on are D. Sayer, Ralph Smith, Charles Smith, Jo Hughes, Jane Chapple Hyam, Georger Baker, G Bravery, G. Oldroyd, J. Camacho, J. Fielden, N. Bycroft, K. Burke, T. Carroll, Chris Wall, A. Duffield, any of the Easterby’s, D. Hamer, M. Hammond, L. Eyres (recently returned to British racing and a handicap specialist), J. Stimpson (ditto), H. Nelmes, M. Quinn, M. Wigham, L. Russell, T. Vaughan, S. Sherwood, D. Bridgewater, (any trainer with the surname Hills, Dunlop or Appleby, or Tizzard), J. Osborne, M. Tompkins, A. Whillans, D. Whillans, T. Walford, J. Quinn, R. Millman, etc.

    Most of these are Flat or dual purpose trainers and have a failry low strike rate. With the exception of some, like the Easterby’s or the Dunlops, they have to pull off a couple of coups each year just to stay in business.

    I don’t rate people like Nicholls, Henderson, Prescott (especially Prescott), because they may have the occasional long-priced winner but mainly they are either overbet or spotted. Smaller stables can be more profitable, but someone like Ellison is a waste of time because he is known as a specilist in landing gambles. By the time you know there is a gamble taking place the price has gone.

    I am not, like you, a ‘professional’ (I have never had an account closed like some of my friends), but even as a fun, pennies punter I still spend hours studying.

    I am phenomenally successful at finding long priced winners, at Newbury I had Zarib, Gevrey Chanbertin and Laser Hollow picked out, but had not a penny on either because of not wanting to bet the day before without a BOG and then could not get to the computer. Today I had a 20/1 and 9/2 winner in a lucky 15 with a 4/1 placed. I also picked out a 66/1 winner for R. Fahey based on breeding.

    The reason I am not rich is because as a single parent on a low income I have to do mathematically stupid bets, such as patents and lucky 15’s. I often pick out horses as ‘unassailable’ favourites ate 9/4, 2/1, 3/1, 7/2 but cannot back them singly as I cannot afford £10,20, etc just in case I am wrong.

    So I plod on nicking a fiver here and there and then building enough for a big bet like £5 e/w and seeing it lose. You see the pattern.

    But I would urge anyone to go on the Racing Post Website and use the free racecards and the tools for trainer records, particularly course, race type, and jockey combo. Look very hard at the smaller trainers and race type.

    The one thing you have not mentioned is the ‘gut feeling’ whereby you follow a trainer/jockey, to the point when you see something in the form, or the track stats, and you have the ‘bingo’ response. You just ‘know’.

    As a professional punter and mathematical person do you place any ‘value’ on instinct, or is everything based on rationality?

    Philip

    P.S. Sorry for the length but your artcicle really fired the synapses. If you can find the time to respond to some of the more salient points I would be grateful.

    • Matt Bisogno says:

      Hi Philip

      A very well written article which completely misses the point, I’m afraid. Moreover, I’m disappointed that such a regular visitor to geegeez would trumpet the free trainer information at Racing Post as better than that at geegeez. It demonstrates you’ve never taken a moment to look at what we have here, which is a LOT better. Deliberately.

      Operating within the wider elements of the rules is not cheating, and I have no sympathy for people who don’t engage properly with what they don’t know, and lose. In the same way that I have no sympathy with people who day trade without fully understanding the markets. It’s our money and fools are most easily parted from it. It is up to us to invest prudently, but we cannot complain if our methodology doesn’t reward us.

      That, of course, is something which can only be judged over the long term, and not on a single wager basis.

      I’m really surprised you have looked at the trainer and jockey data on geegeez. :-S

      Matt

    • Matt Bisogno says:

      Indeed, Mully. Hopefully she can sustain her run (under the right circumstances, of course).

      Matt

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