Posts

A bit of a round up…

It seems like ages since I've had a chance to put digits to keyboard and present something on here. The usual spiralling demands of life that so many of us have are to blame; though in truth most of those 'demands' fit more squarely into the pleasure bucket than the chore pail. Anyway, in this eclectic catch up, I've a few thoughts on a number of somethings and nothings really: no earth-shattering news, just some parish notes and the like.

Feature updates

As you may know, we recently introduced some feature updates. Things like IV3 and Instant Expert inline are small (but perfectly formed) enhancements to existing features. More on them here if you missed the bulletin. The bigger part of that release was given over to a new feature, however, which is the ability for users to add your own notes and, particularly, ratings.

It was always the intention to introduce the baseline content and then to respond to you, our wonderful readers and subscribers, with the finessing. And so, in addition to what is there now, we are currently working on adding a few options which allow users to include or exclude jockey allowances, weight for age, and weight generally.

When I pulled on the thread of ratings functionality I suspected there would be a range of somewhat niche requirements in the space, and I'm happy to accommodate those that can be justified in terms of the development effort and their broader utility. Please do keep your suggestions coming in!

 

What next?

The Gold development work stack is constantly evolving. For every item ticked off another one or two seem to get added. That's not a problem at all, it just means priority decisions have to be made and not everything will ultimately happen. We also have a couple of major infrastructure projects in train at the moment - things which underpin everything you see and do with the site - and those cannot be taken lightly for obvious reasons.

However, we'll continue to develop and these are the things you're likely to see next - within the next six months - as part of Geegeez Gold:

- Ability to produce pace maps based on a field's last two, three or (as currently) four runs

- Addition of Betfair SP data

- QT Upgrades to include last run and second last run variables

- Addition of a range of new data elements

- A raft of smaller additions and enhancements

I need to be careful about over-promising, and the reality is that the QT upgrades should have been live some time ago but require a resource who is currently neck deep in the aforementioned major infrastructure work. Until that is complete, QT evolution is on pause.

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Racing Today

For a Wednesday, today's fare is outstanding and genuinely has something for just about everyone. They race from midday until after 8pm; in Britain and in Ireland; on the fibresand and on the turf; on the flat and over jumps; from five furlongs to over three miles; and from Grade 1 to Class 6. Nice!

Today sees the first of a handful of trial lunchtime meetings: Southwell kicks off at 12pm and the Place 6 will be nearly won by the time the afternoon action gets underway. I'll be getting stuck into plenty of it after a few days without a bet (two SotD losers aside, sigh).

And those of you who like to take a piece of the syndicate action will find something to join later on. To be brutally honest, last week was rubbish. Changing of the seasons and all that, but I was unable to - as the crass vernacular goes - find my own fundament with both hands... Expecting it to be better today.

The syndicates are via Colossus Bets, and if you're still not familiar with them, you can check them out here. New customers get their first 72 hours' stakes matched up to £100 in bonus play, which essentially means you can stake as much as £200 for the cost of £100. As always, please do check the terms and conditions and see if it works for you. I'm a big advocate of Colossus, as regular readers will know.

Elsewhere and there are three Grade 1's at Punchestown. It's a very difficult meeting for me, as the finishing order of the same horses under the same conditions from Cheltenham or Aintree seems to perennially reshuffle. Perhaps the way to play is simply to select one of the beaten horses at a price!

But there are also plenty of sprint handicaps with exposed form to look at; this is an area I'll be personally focusing on in the early to middle part of the season. Using the filters at the top of the racecard menu is a great way to find the specific races you might be interested in playing. In the example image below, I've selected 5f to 6f, handicaps only. Easy as that. To see all races again, just hit the little 'reset' link beneath the search box. Simple dimple.

 

Race Walkthroughs

You may or may not have known about the race filter options in the image above. You may or may not know about any number of other little bells and whistles within the Gold tools and cards. It's my job to ensure that you are aware of anything which may help you in your quest for fun and profit from your horse racing engagement!

To that end, we have the User Guide and some really solid video tutorial content on your My Geegeez page. If you haven't checked those out, you ARE missing out, I promise you.

But, on top of that, I am going to try to do a race walkthrough once a week. It'll either be video (most often) or screenshots and text, and it will start this week on Friday. I hope they'll bring some of what we've got to life and, who knows, maybe even flag a decent winner or two along the way.

 

A Syndicate Horse for the Flat

Talking of Friday, I'll be bound for Newmarket with the intention of acquiring a horse to run on the flat from the Tattersalls Horses in Training sale. I've agreed a shortlist to look at and potentially bid for, and I've identified a (new) trainer to condition the horse should we land one. Without giving the game away, he is based in a location convenient for many and has an excellent record with horses acquired from other yards.

My plan is to syndicate into ten shares and to hopefully enjoy some summer days/nights out on the flat with a shared runner.

I'll reveal more as and when I can, but I'm excited about some of the possibles on the list - if one can be secured for what I feel is the right price.

 

Bettors' Survey

Back in October last year, the Horseracing Bettors Forum, of which I am currently the Chair, invited responses to a survey on a wide-ranging set of racing and betting related issues. More than a thousand punters completed the survey - including many geegeez.co.uk readers - and the results were published yesterday in a 110 page report.

Now, you may or may not have the appetite for that sort of deep digest; regardless, you'll find a skim summary at this page, and a slightly longer summary in the front of the actual report. If you're interested in the state of betting in Britain today, I'd certainly encourage you to take a look. The skim summary is a two minute read, the longer 'in report' summary is a five to seven minute read, and the full report is an hour job.

Check it out here, and see if you agree with its findings

 

That's all for now. Plenty to get your teeth into on site right now and coming soon. Tomorrow, I hope to have Jon Shenton's next insightful analysis, which is the first in what may be a series around racecourses: it's bound to be very interesting. Then on Friday I'll share the promised race walkthrough; and perhaps next week I'll have news of a new recruit to the horse syndicate team.

Stay tuned!

Matt

Your Questions, My Answers

Last week, I invited you to send in your questions. About geegeez.co.uk, about racing, about betting. And you did. In your droves. So today, I've recorded a video to answer them all. It's long - two hours - so underneath the video box is a list of the questions and subject headings, as well as some resources to which I've referred in the recording. I hope you'll find (at least some of) it useful.

Matt

p.s. I've also managed to create a podcast version should you prefer to listen to the audio.

n.b. The number before the questions below is the point in the video at which you'll find that answer.

Your Questions

The number before the questions below is the point in the video at which you'll find that answer.

*Race Types and betting*

1:45 - How do you work out handicaps? - Kevin Clarke

Click here for a blog post about how to look at handicap races

22:55 - My Question is I am not sure what I am looking for in looking for winners.  I use first expert to sort out horses that fit the greens this is the dogs. Then I look at pace to see if the selection has the credentials then I go to draw if flat and look at that. Then I pretty much lose the plot what do you look for after this.  Thanks love the videos learnt so much From Geegeez. - John A

27:40 - I am a massive Placepot nut , any advice on this type of bet with regards to Gold would be much appreciated.  What do you think of Colossus Bets which now offer this bet and any advice on the Cash Out option ? - Simon B

How to win the placepot

Geegeez placepot ABCX ticket builder

How to use the ticket builder

36:15 - I wonder if you could come up with a good query tool to able to lay a short price horse successfully.  I do lay, I am down money and I need to turn things around. - Gerry M

- First up I enjoy reading your articles. My question is what feature in geegeez you would use and how would you use it to find small priced lays if that is possible. - Murray S

43:00 - Would you kindly expand on the relative values of Pace in Chase, Hurdles and NH Flat. I'd find that very helpful. Many thanks. - Keith B

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Article on pace in 'speed' handicap chases

46:55 - What do you do to improve your strike rate - James T

49:35 - I would like to see more guidance on how you as an expert would go about picking a selection or 2, maybe a guided bet for a Saturday and big meetings. - Steve S

51:25 - Breeding and sales data snippet there is numbers after the stallion name, like 6,7f. What that figure means? What is your personal opinion about a very big break before start? Like over 200 days. I mean in the betting perspective. Is it better to leave those kind of horses without a bet? Thank you for excellent site! - Jussi A

54:15  - Hi Matt, forgive me if I’m wrong but I didn’t notice the ‘bringing it all together’ section on your last web tutorial thingy.  I’ll admit to still struggling with gold as there is so much to look at & whilst i feel like I understand all of the individual components of full form, pace, draw & the reports,  I’m still really struggling to know which ones to give the most weight/credence to & which ones to ignore as obviously they’re all pointing at different horses. If you could show how you sit down & attack a race cold or what starting points you use that lead you to a bet then that would help somewhat I think. I feel like you say ‘that horse could be of interest depending on other factors’ for example but then we didn’t really see you carry on that selection process to the end in any of those web shows. I appreciate you may have reservations about doing that as there’s so many different ways of using gold & you don’t want to ‘prescribe’it to us but I feel, if like me, you’re a new member who has previously tried & failed to make gold work for them, it’s incredibly frustrating to know that the relevant information is in there but i just can’t land on it with any confidence! - Iain M

59:07  - So, all in all, I’m probably in the mode of not being able to see the wood for the trees, almost too much information and not knowing how best to use it.  I’m also probably guilty of looking for big priced winners rather than just winners and of the old fear of missing a winner so backing it regardless. As a rule, I have always been led by Horses for Courses, Ground specialists and runners back to a winning handicap mark and since joining Geegeez I do like the TJ combo. So, I guess this is a very open ended ‘question’ and probably not one you can easily answer, but given all of the above (and below) can you give me a steer to start making this excellent service pay for me a bit better please?  I’m not looking to retire early or win a million, just nice steady returns and a bit of fun along the way. - Lee

*Technology *

1:03:30 - Can you see yourselves developing a geegeez mobile app in the future? Roy N

*Features*

1:05:15 - First time headgear (report, and QT)

1:07:20 - Is it possible to add to the racecard, a going filter, to see if any of the red/green figures are changed, and the form figures can relate to such an update? Instant expert does show most of this but not if the trainer's or jockeys record without having to use full form screen. - Terry S

1:10:30 - why does the contextual breeding data/trainer data etc update so late in the day before the race?  Before I used Geegeez I used to pick my horses at around 11am (just after declaration) and then place the bets in the evening. My mornings and evenings are busy so this worked best for me. I understand that you obviously wouldn’t change the way you do things just or me, but is it possible for this data to be uploaded earlier in the day? - Tom F

1:12:20 - would it be possible to add in a horses current Official Rating onto Full Form? Just that when you're looking at its past ratings, you need to minimise the window to look at the race card to see its current OR. - Eddie K

1:12:40  - Hi Guys, can I check the previous high /low prices of horses inplay ..ie if a particular horse has generally shortened in running - Michael M

*Staking / Tipsters*

1:13:30 - I am really  disappointed with SOTD , I am a yearly subscriber, it is very difficult to get BOG without being gubbed , however I do like you and your apparent honesty that's why I rejoined, but this service Stat Of The Day, leaves a lot to be desired, as I understand SOTD is found using your stats , so what does it say for using your stats. I hope that this does not come across as a knee jerk reaction , but this has been a long time coming, you asked for comments so here is mine ! - David H

1:18:40 - Do you have a forum/ group chat where you and other members send out their selections for the day? - Joe D

1:19:30 - I follow 3 or 4 racing tipsters, all have long term profitable records. However often they will tip different horses in the same race. What strategy should one adopt? Cover all, (split stake or not?) and therefore reduce overall return. Or if they tip same horse, should i increase stake? I would use separate betting banks, but wonder whether better to focus on just one tipster? - David E

1:21:28 - For many years l believed that doubles, trebles etc., were a mugs game and always stuck to win only successfully until l read somewhere that if you knew what you were doing with your selections they could be lucrative so brought this into my betting and found this so far to be true. What is your opinion on this? - Thomas

1:24:35 - I believe that you once wrote that raising stakes during a losing run was better than raising them during a winning run. Is my memory right. If not, what are your thoughts on staking. - Barry C

1:28:30 - When a new service goes live, why do all the tipsters I follow, have to blitz it, day afterday after day? It's blimmin annoying ,and 9times,out of 10, it turns out to be less than useless. But I'm at the stage now, where I am just deleting, and unsubscribing;  so you can guess that I've missed some of the ones that, actually work.  Could you just tell me, are they being paid ,for mentioning that service(which they've said they have proofed for infinity years)??  Actually, my own service is amazing: You'll never get any winners, but at least I'm up front, about it!! - Steven S

*Regulation*

1:34:10 - Around the time of Goodwood Matt Chapman suggested that there were several odd SPs. Who determines the SP? Is this something the Bettor's Forum is concerned about. I think most bettors will put up with the occassional horse which wins out of the blue having been well backed. They like the idea of an old fashioned coup landed. The idea that the whole system is skewed against them is a different ball game. - Ben S

1:38:20 - As I consider the going on the day to be very important.Is there a way to get round the lies that most Clerks and the Bha are sending out. All the best and thanks for all the help over the years, - John

1:43:30 - I was told that Sportsbook at Betfair was covering single bets, with a pay out of up to £500.00 without having your account closed, is this really true? If so what about multiples, would they stand a higher amount on these? I am thinking mainly of football bets. By the way who owns Sportsbook or managers it? - Philip P

1:44:30  - Could I ask if you have heard of any bookies who have gubbed or restricted accounts offering reasonable bets on Class 1 or 2 races? - William J

1:46:30  - I have had my account with Skybet restricted although I don't think I have won much from them. Is this common as for the stakes I am using I cannot imagine I am much of a threat. I do only bet a small number of bets per year, maybe 70-80. - Geoff W

*Research*

1:47:15 - I'd like to be pointed in the right direction regarding using the query tool please. I am sure this is a feature I do not use due to not understanding it - Paul E

1:49:05 - Thanks for being so open with your wealth of knowledge … much appreciated . I am a “systems” man and was just wondering what I should be accepting as a minimum figures for my systems if I would want to make it work on a more professional basis  =  win % /  roi % sp / roi % bfair /  “ a/e “ and or “chi”  ?? (are the last 2 the same ?) - Brian C

1:53:35 - Would it be possible to re-do the QUERY TOOL recording I get the gist of it but your teaching has a lot to be desired. I take you have never taught in a class room as you have no synchronisation what so ever or lesson plan talk about wing and a prayer Or as you put it WINGING IT - Frank R

1:55:15 - I understand A/E and I/V at least in so much as anything over 1 is good. But if A/E is say .81 and I/V is say 1.3 does  that indicate a  negative stat .....I'm presuming that it does. - Mick S

Betting Mastery Video #1: Setting Yourself Up to Succeed

In this first video, I want to talk about the building blocks of success as a bettor on horse racing. It starts more fundamentally than which horse should I back or in which race should I bet, as you'll discover...

The Importance of Pace in ‘Speed’ Handicap Chases

After writing five articles on 5f turf handicaps it seemed sensible, as we were heading into Autumn, that I would start looking at pace in National Hunt racing, writes Dave Renham.

For readers who have not read my pace articles before I will precis what pace in a race means.  When I talk about pace my main focus is the initial pace in a race, and the position horses take early on. geegeez.co.uk has a pace tab for every race and the stats I am sharing with you in this article are based on the site’s pace section data.

The pace data on Geegeez is split into four – Led (4), Prominent (3), Mid Division (2) and Held Up (1). The number in brackets are the pace scores that are assigned to each section.

For this article I am concentrating on course data and creating pace figures for specific course and distance combinations – my focus for this piece is handicap chases of 2m 1½f or shorter. In some research 7 or 8 years ago, I noted a bias to front runners in these races – not as strong as some flat race front- running biases, but a bias nonetheless.

The first set of data I wish to share is the overall pace stats for handicap chases of 2m 1½f or shorter (minimum number of runners in a race 6):

Pace comment Runners Wins SR%
Led 1936 362 18.7
Prominent 4145 608 14.7
Mid Division 1423 144 10.1
Held Up 4459 388 8.7

 

We can see that horses which led or disputed the lead early have a notably higher strike rate in these handicap chases. Prominent racers have a good looking record too, while hold up horses tend to struggle.

Another way to illustrate the data is through Impact Values – the best explanation of an impact value or (IV) is one I read many years ago in a book by Dr William Quirin, called Winning at the Races. He stated that impact values “are calculated by dividing the percentage of winners with a given characteristic by the percentage of starters with that characteristic. An IV of 1.00 means that horses with a specific characteristic have won no more and no less than their fair share of races”.

To help explain IVs further let us use the ‘led’ stats in this article to illustrate the idea. As can be seen in the table above horses that have led early have won 18.7% of these races.

Summing all of the pace data, there were 1502 winners with a pace score* from a total of 11963 runners with a pace score which gives an overall win percentage of 12.56%.

If we divide 18.7 by 12.56, then, we get the impact value for leaders – this gives us an impact value of 1.49.

*Pace scores are derived from in-running comments. In about 5% of cases it is impossible to discern the early position of a horse from its in-running comment

Here are the impact values for each pace category:

Pace comment Impact Value
Led 1.49
Prominent 1.17
Mid Division 0.81
Held Up 0.69
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Using either win percentages or the slightly more sophisticated Impact Values give us the same overall picture: in handicap chases of 2m 1½f or shorter there is a clear advantage to a more prominent running style – the closer to the lead early, the better.

As when I looked at 5f flat handicap pace data, there are significant differences in the course figures for these contests too with some courses being more suited to early leaders/front runners than others. Here are the courses with the best strike rates (25 front runners minimum):

 

Course Front Runners Wins SR%
Hexham 68 24 35.3
Taunton 39 13 33.3
Huntingdon 42 13 31.0
Lingfield 32 9 28.1
Wincanton 40 10 25.0
Plumpton 45 11 24.4
Sandown 46 11 23.9
Ludlow 82 19 23.2

 

For the record, Haydock’s strike rate for front runners was 38.9%, but there were only a handful of races (14). Now let us look at the courses with the best impact values which should give a more accurate measure of front running bias:

 

Course IV for Front runners
Hexham 2.96
Taunton 2.42
Huntingdon 2.31
Cheltenham 2.29
Lingfield 2.05
Hereford 1.93
Ludlow 1.81
Wincanton 1.80
Carlisle 1.80
Catterick 1.70
Sandown 1.68

 

The order is similar, but Cheltenham appears in 4th place in this list compared with a lowly 23rd placing on the SR% list. The simple reason for this is that chases of this type at Cheltenham have many more runners on average compared to all other racecourses. This perfectly demonstrates why Impact Values are so important and statistically meaningful.

Hexham’s front running bias is very strong – indeed it should be noted that hold up horses have a dreadful record there winning just 6 of the 56 races from a total of 174 runners (IV 0.29).

At the other end of the scale here are the courses with the poorest stats for early leaders/front runners in handicap chases of 2m 1½f or shorter:

 

Course Front Runners Wins SR%
Newcastle 44 6 13.6
Bangor 38 5 13.2
Ayr 55 7 12.7
Musselburgh 25 3 12.0
Southwell 94 11 11.7
Wetherby 50 5 10
Aintree 43 4 9.3
Newbury 40 3 7.5
Ascot 48 2 4.2

 

Very poor figures on the face of it for Ascot, Aintree and Newbury. Again, though, the impact values will provide a more complete picture. The table below shows courses that have a front runner IV of less than 1.00.

 

Course IV for Front runners
Newcastle 0.98
Musselburgh 0.96
Ayr 0.91
Southwell 0.91
Aintree 0.90
Wetherby 0.72
Newbury 0.58
Ascot 0.36

 

It provides further evidence that the Ascot figures for early leaders are indeed very poor, but interestingly hold up horses have not dominated at this course. The impact value for hold up horses at Ascot has been 0.91 – it is prominent runners (horses that track the pace) with an IV of 1.62 that have had most success in such races at Ascot.

This article to date has focused on front runners. Now I want to try and give a more rounded profile for each course. To do this I have created course pace averages as I did in my second article on 5f flat handicaps. I create course pace averages by adding up the Geegeez pace scores of all the winners at a particular course and dividing it by the total number of races. The higher the average score, the more biased the course and distance is to horses that lead or race close to the pace early. Here are the data:

 

Course Total Races Course Average
Hexham 56 3.18
Taunton 32 3.03
Ludlow 67 3.01
Sandown 32 2.97
Wincanton 30 2.97
Carlisle 36 2.92
Newton Abbot 69 2.86
Huntingdon 32 2.84
Lingfield 24 2.83
Haydock 14 2.79
Hereford 26 2.69
Plumpton 37 2.68
Southwell 64 2.64
Exeter 22 2.64
Leicester 40 2.63
Towcester 47 2.62
Kelso 72 2.60
Perth 32 2.59
Uttoxeter 54 2.59
Sedgefield 80 2.59
Worcester 99 2.59
Ffos Las 18 2.56
Chepstow 45 2.56
Catterick 35 2.54
Stratford 53 2.51
Doncaster 21 2.48
Newcastle 37 2.46
Bangor 30 2.43
Warwick 23 2.39
Cheltenham 35 2.37
Ascot 32 2.34
Wetherby 35 2.34
Market Rasen 12 2.33
Ayr 43 2.33
Aintree 31 2.32
Newbury 31 2.32
Musselburgh 20 2.30
Cartmel 36 2.17

 

It can be argued that these pace averages give a greater overall pace ‘feel’ to each course – it remains clear though that Hexham and Taunton are two courses where there is a very strong pace bias, early leaders there being more than three times as likely to prevail.

Being able to predict the front runner in handicaps chases of 2m 1½f or shorter at these two courses and, to a lesser degree, at Sandown, Wincanton and Carlisle – should provide a number of value betting opportunities this season. There are other courses that offer a strong edge too, of course, but these stand out particularly.

I hope this article has been of interest and as with most things in life, the more you ‘put in’, the more you tend to ‘get out’. I will personally continue to work hard researching pace angles because it has the potential to really pay dividends.

- Dave Renham

Race of the Day, 25th May 2018

Another video Race of the Day today. As I say, this is NOT a daily thing, but I'm happy to post something - either text/image or video - when I have the time. This was a race I was keen to look at anyway. See what you think...

Matt


“The Reverse Rule 4” Method

Few things are more frustrating than having a chunky Rule 4 deduction from a good bet, where you didn't even fancy the horse which was withdrawn.

Naturally, the chance of your bet winning is enhanced by the reduced number of rivals, and in any case you might have been wrong not to 'like' the withdrawn horse. But still, it's a situation that is frequently frustrating.

So, in today's video post, I want to highlight a way to put the boot on the other foot.

This strategy is actually about race selection as much as anything, and I know that is an area many readers struggle with - after all, there is rather a lot (ahem) of racing.

Enough with the verbiage and on with the show... click the video below to find out how to put the "Reverse Rule 4" to work for you.

 

 

 

 

If you have any questions or comments on this, do scribble them below, and I'll try to answer them.

Matt

p.s. For those who may be interested, below is the slide deck from the presentation (though most of the value is in the video walkthrough).

PoorValueFavourites

 

FFF: What’s New in Version 2?

As promised in yesterday's post, I'm very excited to share the soon to be live Full Form Filter v2.0.

Part form book, part system builder, FFFv2 is the Robocop of form study (though without all the nasty bits), and super easy to use. But don't take my word for it, watch this behind the curtain video... [click the icon bottom right to view full screen]

 

FFFv2 will be available to Gold subscribers early next week I hope. If you're not currently a subscriber, you can register here. If you're currently a free subscriber and would like to upgrade, login and then click here.

I hope this has whetted your appetite for what's coming next, and that you can envisage situations when it might be useful.

Matt

Your Questions Answered…

After you sent in your questions earlier in the week, I've made a start on answering them. I did actually record some video, but there was a problem rendering the slides for that pack. Never mind, it was only five and a half hours yesterday... Aaaargh.

I've split the questions into three groups - Racing, Betting, and Gold - and the first two groups are below. Racing even has a video that works! (I think the Betting one - with 325 slides - was too big for the software to handle...

OK, let's go...

Your Racing Questions Answered

“Hi do you think anything can be done to stop these low fields? Just look at Goodwood today also handicap races so many taken out and you can’t get the 4th place”

  • Patrick

MB – Hi Patrick, yes, this is a really serious issue affecting racing. There are plenty of reasons why it happens, such as:

  • A declining horse population
  • Reduction in the average number of runs per horse per year (perhaps in part down to breeding/training evolution)
  • A growing number of races/meetings
  • 48 hour declarations on the flat and going changes

Much can be done, but the question is whether it will be. Racing’s many stakeholders all bleat like lambs at the slaughter at the very mention of the word ‘change’, and they all consider that their particular issues are the most important. Indeed, in my opinion, racing’s inability to sing a common tune is its biggest threat.

I am personally in favour of 48 hour declarations, because they give me more time to study – and write about – the form. A necessary evil of that is growth in non-runner numbers.

However, other issues such as an – in my opinion – unsustainable volume of races/meetings for the current horse population, and the decline in popularity of National Hunt ownership require direct intervention.

In fairness to the BHA, they recognise this, and in the last couple of months I’ve contributed to a consultation on National Hunt racing, and as of this week I have sight of a race planning consultation document.

The Horseracing Betting Forum, on which I sit, also may make recommendations in relation to the above, though I can tell you the subject hasn’t made it on to a very packed agenda for the first meeting, on Friday 4th September.

It is to be hoped that some solutions can be found, though this clearly won’t happen overnight; or else getting a fourth place in handicaps will become a luxury, and getting a third place less of a common occurrence.

--

Hello Matt

I trust you won’t mind my superfluous question, it is something from the back of my mind, Has Mikael Barzalona suffered a `fall from grace`? He seems to have gone from a retained rider for Godolphin to a bit-part rider for Freddie Head. Do you know of any reason for this?

Robert Jolly

 

MB – Hi Bob, Yes and no, I think. Firstly, as with so many sportsmen and women, M. B was a precocious talent from an early age. But his flamboyance – remember that ballsy salute from the saddle as Pour Moi only just prevailed in the Derby? – is not to everyone’s tastes, and maybe betrays a lightness of character not best suited to the work ethic expected in the big yards.

 

Look at the  most successful jockeys – Richard Hughes, Ryan Moore, Frankie Dettori – and you’ll see a group who are workaholics first and showmen second. Even Frankie, after a Barzalona-esque beginning to his career back in the day, knuckled down to the work rate required to succeed.

 

MB is still getting some great rides and, perhaps, the example of Dettori is the most pertinent. He’s had more than one ‘second chance’, and is blossoming in his relative dotage this season. I think we’ll see an encore from Mikael in the next couple of years.

--

Hi Matt,   What does it mean when a trainer says he would like a bit of black type for his horse?  Regards. Ken. MB – Hi Ken, Black type is usually used in relation to fillies and mares, and refers to a first four finish in a ‘Pattern race’ (Listed or Group race). It appears on a horse’s ‘page’ in the sales catalogues, literally in bold type, and is a most attractive attribute for a buyer looking to breed from the filly/mare in question.

--

Breeding. Why isn’t semen collected from outstanding stallions and used for artificial insemination with further generation mares? Frank

MB – Hi Frank, It is against the rules, quite simply. The business of breeding is huge – much bigger than that of racing – and anything that prolongs the fertility lifetime of a stallion (such as freezing his semen for artificial insemination) is a threat to subsequent crops of stallions and, thus, the business which underpins it.

There are really strict rules around breeding which ensure that no foal can be registered without it emerging from a ‘formal’ mating, all of which is tracked regimentally.

With bulls, breeding is important; but the fact that they don’t compete directly (generally speaking) I presume means the rules can be less stringent.

--

What’s the reasoning behind naming horses by running several words into one, e.g. Diamondsandrubies? Aodhan OCarroll
buckieboy   - Names are limited to 18 characters, inclusive of spaces, so your example with spaces it would total 19.
--

Matt, what do the following expressions mean that are commonly used by TV pundits…….well furnished…..recalcitrant and precocious? Dave
MB – Hi Dave, “Well furnished” means the horse has a good physique; “recalcitrant” means it is not the most co-operative (!); and, “precocious” means it has a lot of ability / is very mature early in its life/career.

 

**

Your Betting Questions Answered

Here’s a question for you, Matt. Any idea how to knock a losing run on the head? Things have been shocking lately (and all proofed on the Geegeez forum)! Good job I've been following Chris to make up the shortfall. The ups and downs of a life of a punter, eh? Should have got a job in Poundland. Less stress! 🙂

Paul

MB – Hi Paul, Losing runs… great question, and one also asked by Keith – thanks to you, too.

There are (at least) two ways to answer this, related, so here goes:

The first is the emotional one. In the teeth of a losing run, we get defensive: defensive about our methods, about backing bigger priced horses we see as value, about the gods conspiring against us, about… well, pretty much everything. When we do this, our ‘arm tightens’: we start looking to back shorter priced horses seeking comfort from the market, we start questioning our approach.

Average losing runs in 1000 bets

Average losing runs in 1000 bets

It is very hard to take. As I speak and write this, I’m in the teeth of a horror run on Double Dutch. Honestly, just randomly picking the top two in a pair of races would have performed better than my considered approach this week and the tail end of last week.

But this is the same approach that put most of 120 points on the board in the first place, and I’m not about to abandon it even in the teeth of a howling gale of poor fortune and, yes, occasionally poor judgement. That leads me on to point two…

The second is the data-driven. If you know your average odds, your strike rate, and other key metrics; if you’re clear about your modus operandi, and if you’ve enjoyed a good spell of success with an approach, it is more likely than not that you’re suffering the necessary losing yang to your historical winning yin.

How to knock it on the head? There’s only one way: stop betting. Period.

Obviously, that extreme measure is not what most of us want to do, nor is it what we should do. So, more practically, we can either reduce stakes – meaning lower losses but also lower profits when the wheel turns again; or we can continue as we have, mindful of the numbers which support such a course of action.

Of course, if you don’t have the numbers to back up a decision to continue, then I strongly advise pausing until you can gather that information. You may find that you’re destined to lose when you look at the bigger picture. Hopefully that’s not the case, but none of us who take betting seriously – even as a hobby – should be ‘hoping’ it’s not the case. We should know unequivocally that it is, or it isn’t.

Good luck – with a solid methodology, things will turn in due course. ‘Due course’ is best described by this ‘worst case scenario’ chart based on average odds.

As you can see, even betting at average odds of even money, you could realistically expect to hit a losing run of ten in a sample of 1000 wagers. At just 4/1, that rises to 31 straight losers; and at 10/1 a whopping 72. So make sure your bank can withstand the worst ravages of a downturn.

--

Since it worked for me as a boy at Ayr yonks ago I have been a sucker for horses running on consecutive days. It is a bit of a nuisance when there are more than one in the same race though. Do you have any stats? samcarsonps

MB – Hi Sam,

Horses running the day after they previously ran have performed pretty well, though not well enough to win at SP. Saying that, the 1,561 to have run on flat turf since 2003 returned a small (+42) profit at Betfair SP.

Horses running in flat turf handicaps the day after finishing in the top five, and priced at 20/1 or shorter, have done very well.

Specifically, they’ve won 116 of 686 races (17%) for an SP return of 54.45 (8% ROI, better than the banks!), and around 132 points profit at Betfair odds. That’s close to 20% ROI on the exchange.

So yes, there’s definitely something in that…

--

Hi Matt

My question refers to a recurring difficulty of trying to get funds out of bookie accounts before the winnings grow too big for their liking. I am intending to use back and lay techniques to effectively lose with the bookies but actually transfer the money to Betfair or SMarkets

My question is which sports would you consider best to use? Low odds eg odds on tennis players keep winning and putting money from Betfair into my bookie account and long odds eg golf outrights require thousands of pounds in Betfair to cover that side of the liability

I am trying to get over £2k out of Bet 365 and Skybet and fear for each account

Clive

MB - Hi Clive, This is an interesting question, which rather assumes there bookmakers will restrict you based on withdrawn winnings rather than actually winning the bet in the first place.

Now, I’m not party to bookie algorithms, so I can’t say whether that’s a flawed assumption or not – my gut feeling is that it might be.

I don’t really have a strong view because of my uncertainty about your starting premise, but it does seem odd to be risking a percentage of your money to ‘arb’ against yourself. I would just withdraw the cash, and live with the consequences.

Even if the account does get restricted, that in my view is better than giving money away as you suggest. There are ways to open new accounts – though it’s not the sort of thing I can suggest in a Q&A such as this. Suffice it to say that if you wanted to, you’d find a way to.

If you absolutely must trade against yourself like this, your job is to use skill to find false favourites – in any sport. Seems an odd way to go…

--

Hi Matt, how are you? Do you think it can make a difference in a horse’s performance having previously put up a good performance going either left handed or right handed or does it make minimal difference? I try and look at a race from all angles.   Geegeez gold is the best thing I have ever joined. All the best, Andy

Your first 30 days for just £1

MB – Hi Andy, firstly thanks a lot for the comment about Gold. That’s great to hear! Now, to the ‘handedness’ question.

First of all, the obvious bit. Horses running on a straight track will be excluded from such a consideration. In flat racing, that’s a majority of races.

Now, to the meat of your question. I’d be confident that, yes, for some horses running at some tracks, the handedness of a course makes a difference.

The challenge is in identifying which horses and, a point which is generally ignored, which tracks. Some tracks, Chester and Pontefract for instance, have very tight turns which make up a significant amount of the circumference of the course. Others, Cheltenham and Chepstow, for example, have much more straight ground giving horses a chance to re-balance even if ideally they’d prefer to race the other way.

Then there is the horse itself. I don’t have enough data to say whether smaller, nippier types might be less bothered by the handedness of a course – and, by inference, bigger nags may have more trouble lugging one way or t’other – but I suspect that to be a reasonable generalization.

Pulling your generous Gold compliment into the argument, this is certainly a piece of information we’d like to incorporate into our reporting at some point, though it’s not top of the agenda at this stage.

--

Hi Matt, 

Throughout the 80's and early 90's I had a system based on favourites. I figured that if I applied other parameters to the favourites I could increase the win rate from the normal 36% or so to a profitable level. It worked extremely well. I had a consistent strike rate of 83%. It didn't concern me what the price was nor the type of race or the code. I averaged 2.43 bets per week, (yes I did keep meticulous records). My longest winning run was 22 and my longest losing run was 5. I adhered absolutely strictly to the rules, 1lb out in the weight or half a furlong out in distance for example made it a no bet. There was no question of decisions from the heart! 

Gradually from the late 90's my system began to fail until the point when it was no longer profitable. 

I have tried to tweak it without success but all the original rules were perfectly logical and should still be today. 

What has happened since then to make my system fail? You can't say I was lucky because luck doesn't last for 10 years, or does it? Surely not! 

Your thoughts? 

Dave 

MB – Hi Dave, another great question, and again a two part answer. The first part of the answer is “look at the data”. If you find that the win strike rate of your system picks remains largely constant with when the method was profitable, then it is simply that the market takes far better account of the combination of factors which comprise your system.

Every method has a shelf life in this regard, because the market is an iterative, evolving organism which subsumes all knowledge lobbed at it in the form of wagering pounds.

With the increased accessibility of database technology, the group called ‘favourites’ have never been under closer scrutiny – mainly because backing this group, or subsets therein, gives the highest strike rate. Consequently, any pockets of value have been squeezed, certainly in terms of starting price favourites.

On the other hand, if the strike rate diminished, either instead of or as well as the average odds, then it could be that something material has happened outside of the market. For example, have training methods reduced the effectiveness of your system? Or has the race programme changed in races you were betting? Have the courses you bet altered their drainage, or otherwise amended the track configuration?

There are myriad reasons for change, some more obvious than others. The only constant is that change WILL happen, and if something has worked previously for a period of time, it is very likely it will either reduce or disappear altogether in terms of effectiveness. That’s the price of progress!

Thanks for that great question 🙂 

--

Dear Matt

Love reading your articles and lots of other stuff from various sources.   As someone with a full-on job, it is difficult to follow regular systems and tips, simply because I may miss BOG prices or just not have the time to get bets on or not have internet access.   That has meant in the past missing good winning days!  (Holidays also get in the way of betting too!) 

Any thoughts on this?   Is trading the markets just before the off an idea you have considered or used?  I am trying out BetTrader software at the moment and can dip in and out whenever I am free. 

I have gone down the road of using free bets, arbitrage and the like to the tune of £3,700 profit in 14 months. 

Have got limited by Ladbrokes, Coral, 888 sport and Stan James but I suspect the front three are getting their house in order with the mergers afoot! 

Cheers and thanks for all your in-depth study.   Hope the Forum goes well on Friday. 

Doug.

MB – Hi Doug, I’ve put this question under the ‘betting’ heading though, in truth, you don’t seem that interested in betting.

Your approach appears purely market driven, and profiteering in intent. That’s not meant as a criticism as such. Rather, it’s not an area that holds a deep amount of fascination to me.

Can you make money arbing? Yes, absolutely. Do bookies hate arb’ers and close them down? Yes, of course.

But that’s of little consequence to the huge number of people who are making thousands of pounds in risk-free profits. Arb’ers will get closed by all bookies in the end but as most tend not to want to actually bet on the outcome of a race – rather, they merely want to trade the early prices – it is not too much of an issue.

In answer to your question, no, trading the pre-race markets is not my thing. I like form. And horses. And races. And betting!

--

Hi Matt, thanks for inviting questions from your readers. My problem is that you hear so much about systems that promise the world and fail to live up to expectations. Maybe I am asking too much but I am looking for a system that is not that expensive (no ongoing fees, been stung before) that does not require a large betting bank or complicated staking plans, win bets only which isn't too complicated and doesn't take long to find selections, and is the closest system I can find to ensuring regular decent profits! Then I would be interested. I enjoy betting on horse racing and football. Bet you wish you hadn't invited responses now! Kind regards Gary.

MB – Ah, a good old fashioned ‘golden goose’ question! 😉 No offence intended of course, Gary, so let me put some meat on the goose-y bones. I want to say two things here: One. Ask yourself whether your aspirations, in terms of the risk you’re prepared to take on, and the expense from acquiring the knowledge, are realistic.

If someone has a system that has a once off cost, and doesn’t require a large bank, isn’t very complicated, and doesn’t take long to find selections, and provides regular decent profits… …would they really offer it for a one off inexpensive price? The answer, clearly, is ‘no’. So, if you find a product that suggests it might be this, and it costs £19.99, what should you do?

The short answer is “run a mile”.

The more qualified answer is “run a mile to the nearest trusted review site and check for an unbiased road test of the system”.

And then, if you can, get a second opinion.

Here at geegeez.co.uk we still perform system reviews – as many of you will know – and the reviews are carried out by geegeez readers whose sole compensation is a copy of the system/service they’re reviewing. They have no axe to grind – either positively or negatively – with the vendor, so your first port of call is right here.

The second thing I want to say – and I would like to commend you on this, Gary – is that it is important to understand what kind of system/service will work for you. Although your requirements might be, as you’ve suggested yourself, too much to ask for, you do at least have a good handle on what you’re after. Most people looking at betting systems don’t.

Good things to know about yourself before parting with hard earned include:

-          Do I want to back or lay?

-          Can I set aside a bank? How big a bank?

-          Do I have the time to find selections

- Will I do this every day/most days?

-          Can I handle losing runs?

- How long do I give a system/service before turning it in?

-          Am I prepared to paper trade or bet to small stakes while I get comfortable?

The answers to those questions will tell you, in part at least, whether the problem with (some of) the system(s) you’ve bought lies with the seller… or with the buyer.  There are some truly awful systems and services out there; there are a lot of mediocre ones; and there are a few really good ones. But only in the right hands.

Everyone who puts their faith in someone else – as opposed to trusting their own judgment – must be accountable enough to know that the problem might be with them, especially if they piled in from day one without really knowing much about the service/system background. With so much information – much of it from trusted sources – available these days, there really is no excuse for blatant gullibility.

That was a very long answer, because it was such a great question. Thanks for asking it, Gary!

--

Hi Matt,

Great idea, have lots of questions, but my main one and the one I have trouble with is staking, I read a lot about having a betting bank and staking a percentage per point/bet either 1% or 2% then others suggest a flat rate like £10 a selection and so on.

In your opinion what is the best way and more profitable way to stake, I’m also asking this as when I watched your video you said you bet £10 on average per bet and up to £50 on fancied ones - Bubbles180

MB – Hi Bubbles, thanks for a question on staking. There were others as well, which I’ll try to answer in this space.

The most important thing to say is that staking really is a personal thing, and it should be based on good data and your own appetite to risk.

On the good data side of things, knowing average winning odds and longest losing runs, over a meaningful set of results, is key.

For instance, Stat of the Day has been running since November 2011. As at the end of August 2015, almost four years, it has registered a profit of 333.24 points (excluding a 12 point exacta, and the fact we’re in front in September already!)

That profit comes from 353 winners out of 1201 bets, a strike rate of 29.39%. Our returns are therefore 1534.24 (1201 staked, plus 333.24 profit on stakes).

That means out average win odds have been 3.34/1, or almost exactly 10/3. Using the table referenced above, we could reasonably expect a run of about 26 or 27 straight losers from 1000 bets. As it happens, the longest losing run has been 19.

But, from a staking perspective, a SotD follower should be working on at least a 30 point bank. And here’s a key thing that you ought to know – and you probably do know, but maybe overlook sometimes:

Your bet stake is governed by the size of your bank divided by the number of points, NOT by an amount you’re happy to bet each day! 😉

So, in the example for SotD, if you have £300 to set aside for SotD, then £10 stakes are the order of the day. If you have only £100 you can ringfence, then £3.33 territory is yours. And so on.

Using a percentage of bank is my preferred staking approach. The percentage depends on the parameters I’ve outlined above – average win odds, mainly, but also your own appetite for risk (where you might add, say, another 50% to the recommended number of points in the bank).

As for my own betting, well stakes in absolute terms have probably moved on a bit since I wrote that. But not a lot, in truth. It’s still about the thrill of the chase – getting it right – than making a living from betting. The mantra of geegeez will always be that fun and profit should be sought in equal measure from betting on horses. They’re most definitely not mutually exclusive!

--

Why don’t tipsters set up a trade association so that punters know that any service that is a member has a degree of respectability? Any that are not should be avoided by the punter. I not saying that profitability can be guaranteed but least the punter would know he is not dealing with rogues. mackenzie

MB – I’ve often wondered about this myself, Mackenzie, to the point where a few years ago I thought about taking it on myself. The biggest problem is around the rules of entry, and ongoing administration. In short, it would be an absolute nightmare to police.

However, there are a decent number of reputable review sites who will look independently at services over a period of time. It’s perfectly possible for the same service – especially value services that tip at bigger prices – to have a negative review on one site and a positive one on another, based on having a bad run and a good run.

At geegeez, we ask our reviewers to consider more than just profitability. We want to share customer service experiences, ease of getting bets on/finding selections, availability of quoted odds, profit after fees are paid, and so on.

We also try to show the average number of bets, and approximate odds of bets, so that readers can look at even the most profitable service and decide whether it suits their personal betting style.

In summary, a trade association is a great idea… but the practicalities of administering and policing it would be onerous.
--

Matt, Betting on Racing: What is the difference between an Exacta and a Forecast, why do they pay differing returns?

Cheers, David.

MB – Hi David, these two bets are offered by different operators.

Exacta is a tote bet, and is calculated by divided the total amount bet (less 25% deduction) by the total number of correct prediction units.

Simple example: £100 bet, three correct winning units = £100 minus £25 deduction, £75 divided by three winning units = £25 per winning unit

Forecast, full name Computer Straight Forecast (or CSF for short), is a bookie bet paid based on a complex formula that accounts primarily for the starting prices of the horses, but also takes into consideration such as consecutive racecard numbers and stall positions.

Thus, they are likely to pay different amounts. Exacta is a pretty good value bet generally, especially if you fancy at least one outsider. However, returns are more volatile than with the CSF, where the dividend is fixed, regardless of the number of punters nominating the winning outcome.

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Hi Matt…I’m a frequent user of Horseracebase and came across BF Chi score as one of the columns in the system builder. I’m aware the Chi score is an indication of how ‘reliable’ the results/data is (ie not down to chance). I’m not too sure what a larger or smaller Chi score actually means? Is a large Chi score of 10+ good?

Best, Martin

MB -  Hi Martin, Yes, horseracebase.com is a great tool for system building. With regards to Chi squared, I’m not an expert but, as I understand it, there is no absolute scale. However, generally speaking higher is better and, again generally speaking, 10+ would be a quite solid level of confidence that results were not a coincidence.

[For those unfamiliar, Chi squared test is a means of allocating a degree of confidence to a set of results in terms of the actual returns against the expected returns; and how likely this was down to chance.]

--

Hi Matt
Why is there not a uniform R4. One I backed romped in at double figure price and 
Bet365 had a 30% R4 which was fair enough as a strong favourite had been taken out. I also backed it with PaddyPower and their R4 was 45%. Surely it should be the same R4 for all firms,
Regards
David

MB – Interesting question, David. The immediate answer is that different bookmakers offer different early prices, so for example if Fred was 8/1 and Joe was 10/1 on the withdrawn horse, they’d invoke different deductions (in this case, Fred would deduct 10p in the £, and Joe would take 5p in the £).

There are a few things around Rule 4, and its potential manipulation, which have attracted the attention of the Horseracing Betting Forum, a new body designed to try to achieve a fairer deal for punters; and this will be up for discussion at one of the early meetings of this group.

3/10 or shorter = 75p in the £
2/5 to 1/3 = 70p in the £
8/15 to 4/9 = 65p in the £
4/5 to 4/6 = 55p in the £
20/21 to 5/6 = 50p in the £
Evens to 6/5 = 45p in the £
5/4 to 6/4 = 40p in the £
13/8 to 7/4 = 35p in the £
15/8 to 9/4 = 30p in the £
5/2 to 3/1 = 25p in the £
10/3 to 4/1 = 20p in the £
9/2 to 11/2 = 15p in the £
6/1 to 9/1 = 10p in the £
10/1 to 14/1 = 5p in the £
Over 14/1 = No Deductions

--

I’m a bit concerned at the supposed Paddy Power/Betfair merger. Any thoughts yourself on the subject?

Mondo

MB – Hi Mondo, I found this one a bit of a head scratcher myself, as I couldn’t work out what the synergies were. Normally, mergers and acquisitions are undertaken on the basis of ‘harmonising’ back office processes and, therefore, saving money; as well as being able to offer new products to a larger customer base.

However, with Paddee and Betfear operating in different spaces – bookmaker versus exchange – the synergy opportunities are less obvious. The best article I’ve seen on this is here:

https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/bfpp-vuvuzela-moment-eoin-ryan?trk=prof-post

The author is head of sportsbook at Victor, so knows his onions, and he suggests that it may be Betfair’s in-house technology platform, and its extensibility, which is the major appeal.

So, Paddy’s incredible PR machine, and Betfair’s industry-leading technology platform: that could make for a very big ripple in bookie waters, and other firms may be browning their shareholders’ slacks as a consequence.

It’s very early days, and these things have to be ratified by Government too. But if, as seems likely, this deal goes through, BF/PP will probably become the pre-eminent online firm within a year or so.

--

Hi Matt,
what are the advantages of using Skrill or similar over paypal or debit card?
Hugh

MB – Hi Hugh, The main advantage is that you’d have a consolidated wallet. In essence, a bank account outside of your bank account. Most bookies take skrill and skrill are happy to be used for betting transactions.

Others may have further reasons, but that’s really the only one I can think of.
--

Dear Matt,
It is known you are a successful punter so how do you get your bets on? My second question is how do you pick your horses? By this I mean that I have often read your pieces on placepots and jackpots and perms and the value of the Irish pool, etc. Obviously you are extremely mathematical and is that how you make your choices? Is there any room for instinct or ‘gut feeling’, or is that the road to the poor house? Do you ever have that feeling?

I know this is several questions but i think they are linked.

Philip

MB – Hi Philip, thanks for the questions, which I’ll do my best to answer.

First, how do I get my bets on? Like many readers/listeners, especially Gold subscribers, I’ve been restricted by some bookmakers. But I still retain most of my accounts. I don’t back tips – not even Stat of the Day – instead preferring my own judgement; so I don’t throw up a footprint as such.

My betting patterns do not conform to a specific type, and I spread my bets around. The two things which will be conspicuous to any firm taking my bets are 1) I always take top price available, and 2) I’m a few quid in front with most of them.

I’m not privy to why they still take my bets, and speculating on it adds little value. I do recognise that it is unlikely to last, and that’s just the way of it (currently). There are always ways and means of getting a bet on: it is simply how much tail wagging the dog an individual can stomach before setting the hound loose.

Regarding how do I pick my horses, that’s a question which would take a book to accommodate an even relatively comprehensive answer (one day, I’ll find the time for that – it remains a (horribly narcissistic) ambition).

Some pointers though: I’m interested in information most of the market overlooks, or factors in close to off time. Things such as trainer performance with handicap debutants, juvenile first time starts, trainer switches; horses returning to optimal conditions after a series of runs in races they couldn’t win; form profiling more generally; and, more recently, I’ve taken a much closer look at recent trainer form in conjunction with the other factors.

A great book by Malcolm Gladwell

A great book by Malcolm Gladwell

There’s no magic to it, and I back plenty of clunkers. I also hit the skids from time to time, as followers of Double Dutch can attest just now. (Honestly, if there was a shop selling winners, and I had many times the sale price, they’d have sold out just before I got there!)

I do like to bet in tote pools, especially where I think I have an edge. That edge will be when there’s either a carry over (i.e. other people’s money already in the pot) or I have a strong opinion on a couple of races where I think the top of the market is vulnerable.

None of this is especially mathematical, except inasmuch as I look at strike rates, profit and loss, and sample sizes to take a view.

But all of it is mildly contrarian, and tends to either look away from the top of the market for something to back, or looks for reasons to oppose the top of the market (two sides to the same coin in many regards).

With regards to gut feeling and instinct, my suspicion is that people who deploy such things successfully are actually operating against an unconscious methodology which has been finely honed over thousands of races. Malcolm Gladwell’s book, Blink, expounds on this and is as readable a text as you’ll clap hands and eyes on.

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Blink-The-Power-Thinking-Without/dp/0141014598

 

Geegeez Gold is, in many ways, the product of my own ‘reverse engineering’ of my unconscious thought processes (insofar as I can unpick them!) and, for now at least, it is proving a solid route to the payout window.

More on your Geegeez Gold questions in the second part of this Q&A.

For now, though, thanks a million for your questions – I hope these answers have added some colour for some of you, and been at least mildly interesting for any of you with enough stamina to get this far!

--

That's it for this Q&A - I'll be back next week with the Geegeez Gold questions. Thanks a lot for your input and, if you like this format, we'll do it again in the future! 🙂

Matt

Horse Racing Betting 101: Best of Geegeez

Welcome to Horse Racing Betting 101: The Best of geegeez.co.uk

I've written almost two million words here at geegeez.co.uk, and in amongst that vast swarm of verbosity buzzes the occasional outbreak of punting good sense.

If you'd like to read some of the best of them, you can do so by clicking the image below.

Download: Horse Racing Betting 101

Download: Horse Racing Betting 101

 

Inside, you'll discover:

- My 10 Steps to Better Betting

- 5 Racing Myths Under the Microscope

- Why Contrast is King when Seeking Value

- Why "Any Fool Can Back 30% Winners"

- How to Find Value in Markets

- How to Understand and Exploit the Handicap System for Profit

- The Full Lowdown on Handicap Ratings in UK Horse Racing

- 10 Ways (8 Free) That GeegeezGold Can Help Your Betting

 

CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD YOUR FREE COPY OF THIS 25,000 WORD eBOOK

10 Ways (8 Free) That Geegeez Gold Can Help Your Betting

Reports: #8 and #9

Reports: #8 and #9

10 Ways (8 Free) That Gold Can Help Your Betting

GeegeezGold has come a long way in its relatively short time in existence, and continues to develop new and innovative ways of 'short cutting' the form reading process.

In this post, I'd like to outline ten ways in which Gold can help your horse racing betting. And the cool part is that eight of them are free at least some of the time, so this really is a post for everyone, Gold subscriber or not.

1. Stat of the Day (Gold, free to all on Mondays)

Latest Weekly Update for SotD

Latest Weekly Update for SotD

Stat of the Day is geegeez.co.uk's flagship tipping service. As the name suggests, it comprises of a single selection each day (Monday to Saturday), which is arrived at via statistical analysis.

A core component of the Gold service, Stat of the Day is available to all registered geegeez.co.uk users on Mondays.

Since Stat of the Day was incepted in November 2011, it has produced over 275 points of profit, at an ROI of 23.58% (as of 6th June 2015).

Stat of the Day is available as a daily members only post, and can be found here. The free Monday selection is found from the home page.

You can read more about Stat of the Day's long-term performance here.

 

>>CLICK HERE to register for a free geegeez.co.uk account<<

 

2. The Shortlist (Gold, free to registered users on Tuesdays)

One of eleven reports inside Geegeez Gold, The Shortlist identifies the pick of the day's runners according to their suitability to today's race conditions. It is a sort of form profiling tool, and can be very effective at sifting through moderate recent form to find horses wheeling back to their preferred setup. Here's an example of the report in action:

The Shortlist, sorted by race time...

The Shortlist, sorted by race time...

 

That was by no means an exceptional day, and you can see the results of a larger piece of research I did into The Shortlist's performance here.

Although many people use The Shortlist successfully 'as is', my recommendation is to use it as a starting point before looking in a bit more detail at the race in question. Clicking the race time on the left hand side will take Gold users to the Instant Expert for that race. Here, we can compare our favoured horse with the other runners in the race.

The best combination is a horse off The Shortlist running in a race where no other horse has a compelling profile on Instant Expert. More on that in a moment (see #7 below)...

The Shortlist report can be found here.

 

>>CLICK HERE to register for a free geegeez.co.uk account<<

3. Race of the Day (free to all)

Each day, from Monday to Friday, we showcase some of the Gold racecard wonders in our Race of the Day. RotD is a walkthrough of a particular race, honing in on such as Instant Expert, pace, trainer patterns and more. An example segment from Race of the Day is below, and you can get this every weekday, for free, here.

Race of the Day example

Race of the Day example

 

>>CLICK HERE to register for a free geegeez.co.uk account<<

 

 

4. "Then What?" (free to all)

So far, so normal (except, of course, that we publicly track our results and can prove that our tips are every bit as good as they look). But geegeez.co.uk is also about innovation, and 'filling in the blanks'. The first example of this is our "Then What?" feature.

Have you ever looked at a field full of maidens or novice hurdlers, with no more than a couple of runs each, and thought, "How am I supposed to unravel this?"

"Then What?" is your caped crusader in such scenarios.

Sitting right in the racecard and located behind the horse icon, at the end of each recent formline - and also in the full form found by clicking the horse's name - is a series of columns, headed 'Then What?', as per the image below.

Form working out very well, as seen in the 'Then What?' section

Form working out very well, as seen in the 'Then What?' section

In this example, we can see in the 'Form' column to the left of the horse's name that Liquid Gold was second on his only start to date. We can also see from the right hand column that he's 15/8 to win today. How can we have any idea whether that's a good price, or even the right price?

This is where clicking the horse icon (under the horse's name, with a red border indicating it has been selected) to review the 'Then What?' data can help.

In this case, horses from Liquid Gold's debut race have run five times subsequently (R), winning twice (W), and another two placing (P). That's a win percentage (W%) of 40% and a place percentage (P%) of 80%.

Clicking on the form line opens up that race's result, and shows the subsequent form of each runner. Let's do that:

We can see which horses have run, and how they have fared, from Then What? on the full result

We can see which horses have run, and how they have fared, from Then What? on the full result

 

We can see from the highlighted area that the third and fifth-placed horses have won since, and that the winner has placed since. In other words, the form looks good.

'Then What?' is a useful ally for finding potentially under-priced horses for both win and place bets, and for combination players (exactas, trifectas, placepots) too. You'll find it in the racecards themselves.

 

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5. Trainer / Jockey Form Indicators (Gold, free to registered users on Races of the Day)

One of the main objectives of the Gold race card service is to provide as much information without clicking as is possible. The problem with this is that there is a danger of overloading the view with too much data. We hope we've struck a balance to provide what we consider to be the most intuitive and user-friendly race card in Britain right now. (What do you think? Leave a comment and let us know!)

A key element in considering a bet for a lot of people is whether or not a trainer or jockey is in form. Gold flags four 'quadrants' of form right on the card, as follows:

14 - Trainer / jockey is in form in the last 14 days
30 - Trainer / jockey is in form in the last 30 days
C1 - Trainer / jockey is in form at this course in the last year
C09+ - Trainer / jockey is in form at this course since 2009

More detail regarding how we calculate 'in form' can be found by hovering over the respective symbol on the card. Here's how they look on an average race card:

Trainers and jockeys in form, just like that...

Trainers and jockeys in form, just like that...

Whatever else we're looking at on the Gold card - be it horse form, 'Then What?', head to head records, breeding/sales information, or speed ratings - we can instantly see whether the trainer and/or jockey are in form, or have a good historical record at the track.

In the above example, we can see that Messrs Morrison and Mackay are both in form in the last 30 days, and trainer Hughie Morrison has a good record at the track in the last year.

Below him, trainer Ed Walker has been in great recent form and also has a fine one year course record. Further up, we can see jockey George Baker appears to ride Salisbury well.

In and of itself, it's unlikely to be a wager-determining snippet; but as ballast to a prospective bet's rationale, the TJ Form Indicators are, well, golden.

 

>>CLICK HERE to register for a free geegeez.co.uk account<<

6. Full Form Filter (basic filters free to all users)

Although requiring a bit more time to use than some features, I believe that Full Form Filter (FFF) is the best free form tool in Britain today (again, if you know of a better one, let us know in the comments below, and we'll up our game!).

It has always been my intention to create a state of the art race card for Gold subscribers; but I've been keen to offer as strong a free provision as is possible without undermining the value of the upgrade to Gold. FFF is a great tool, and one I personally use every day.

Its beauty is in its flexibility, allowing the user to 'slice and dice' the relevant form in any way they choose. Only want to look at flat turf runs? No problem. Want to look at class and distance in combination? Sure thing. Handicap form only? You bet. Runs for this jockey? One click, job done. Just want to look at winning (or placed, or unplaced) form? Easy.

For every filter you select (or de-select), you'll see revised summary form, and only the relevant past performances. Here's an example of a horse running today, with a filter applied:

Full Form Filter, in Full Effect...

Full Form Filter, in Full Effect...

 

As you can see (click on any/all images to enlarge to full size), I've selected the course and going filters for Hi Note in the 2.10 Fontwell. We can see from both the blue Race Record area and the red Race Form area that Hi Note finds it hard to win. But she's got a very solid place record, including in higher class, under similar conditions. And she's 16/1. Maybe she'll run into a place. Maybe she's a good exacta/placepot bet.

[UPDATE: Hi Note ran on into 3rd - placed again - at the somewhat skinnier price of 10/1]

[The eagle eyed amongst you will also have noticed that 'Then What?' appears on the right hand side of the Race Form on this view as well. Very helpful it is, too...]

Full Form Filter can be used to analyse trainer and jockey performance as well, by changing the radio buttons top right. It can be found within the racecards, under its own tab.

>>CLICK HERE to register for a free geegeez.co.uk account<<

 

 

7. Instant Expert (Gold, free on Race of the Day and for registered users every Thursday)

For many people, the best thing about Geegeez Gold is Instant Expert. Formerly known as Race Analysis Report, that rather drab nomenclature got a celebrity makeover more befitting of this view's Hollywood appeal.

Instant Expert is simple, but brilliant. It showcases the entire relevant form history of every runner in a race in a single view. Disregarding runs on different ground, in different class, over different trips, and so on, Instant Expert hones in on what we know to be true about a horse's liking - or otherwise - for the job in hand this day.

It is, in truth, a blunt instrument. It lacks the peripheral focus of a wider angled lens across a horse's entire form panorama. But that is deliberate. And, in any case, if users want to look more broadly at the form, they may change the dropdowns at the top of the grid to take in, say, the class above, or a slightly bigger distance range. Whatever.

But straight off the peg, this is the simplest way of finding horses suited by today's config. And if you think that's only going to flag obvious contenders already subsumed in the market, think again. Here's old Master Of The Hall, a Market Rasen stalwart:

Master Of The Hall's green status in contrast to his rivals

Master Of The Hall, nice!

 

Instant Expert can be sorted by win or place (which includes wins), and uses a traffic light rating system. Green is good, amber is all right, and red is not so good (grey means there is no data for that condition). Looking at the grid above, how long would it have taken you to get interested in the chance of Master Of The Hall?

It didn't take me long either:

Huge price for a horse with his profile

Huge price for a horse with his profile

 

Now, obviously, they don't all win; and even when they do win, they're not all 25/1. But there are similar contenders at similarly big prices flagged on a regular basis, and they're almost always value propositions. [By the way, that's a fairly average bet for me, £20. I don't bet lumps but, using Gold, I've won over six grand this year so far (proof here). I mention that only to illustrate how Gold unearths massive value on an almost daily basis].

Oh, I almost forgot, Instant Expert was featured in the British Champions' Day racecard at Ascot recently. It's a very useful tool which is easy to access for all levels of time and racing experience.

 

>>CLICK HERE to register for a free geegeez.co.uk account<<

 

8. Trainer / Jockey Combination Report (Gold, free to registered users every Saturday)

Some days this is my favourite report. Some days it is my second favourite report (see #9 below). Everyday it gets checked by me, and I bet on the basis of its content. It is, quite simply, a winner-finding machine!

It has four different views, which may sound familiar if you've read from the top - 14 Day, 30 Day, Course 1 Year, and Course Form 2009+. I tend to focus on the first three, and especially the first two.

Here's what it looks like, example taken from last week:

More chicken dinners, courtesy of TJ Combo's conveyor belt...

More chicken dinners, courtesy of TJ Combo's conveyor belt...

 

Such is the 'hidden' value of TJ Combo that I've received two emails in the past week from people who have been in Gold from the start - one of them who is on the staff!! - extolling its virtues.

Here's Stuart F, a stalwart of Stat of the Day and Double Dutch, on his new discover:

TJ Combo, making people happy for a lot longer than since last week...

TJ Combo, making people happy for a lot longer than since last week...

 

And here's Chris, a man of few words, but always able to get his point over (I could learn a thing or two from that!)

More fun and profit with TJ Combo...

More fun and profit with TJ Combo...

 

I thought it was interesting to note that Chris is using a different view - Course 2009+ - from the one I personally favour. And that's the thing: it's each to their own. There's no right or wrong way. Though if you want to follow me loosely, I've put my baseline parameters in the User Guide.

Here's where to find the TJ Combo Report (also from the dropdown on the cards page, or in the main menu under Racecards)

 

>>CLICK HERE to register for a free geegeez.co.uk account<<

 

 

9. Trainer Handicap 1st Run Report (Gold only)

Like I say, until recently, I was happily married to TJ Combo, #8 above. But the world turns, and so does the head; and I've been smitten in recent months with a new foxy little number called Trainer Handicap 1st Run report.

I've written extensively about the rise and rise of the handicap race in Britain - perhaps this piece is the most eye-opening - and I've also (in that post) flagged the importance to owners and trainers of that first run in a handicap.

The more a horse runs, the more the handicapper, and the betting public, know about the horse. In its early performances, however, trainer habits are far more enlightening. Thus, a report which shows the historical performance of trainers with their horses running for the first time in a handicap today. I, and more importantly lots of Gold subscribers, have backed a bundle of winners using this new report.

Here's yesterday's report - just two horses on it:

One of the pair, Jan Van Hoof, won at 8/1.

This is the sort of information that is not available in such a digestible, easy to access, format anywhere else. Sure, you can dig it out in horseracebase.com or on Proform by trawling through. And those are both excellent tools, by the way, if you have plenty of time.

But you won't find anything like it on Racing Post, or Attheraces, or Sporting Life; nor even on Timeform, as far as I'm aware.

And if you want something largely 'done for you', which is cost effective, and cuts to the chase, welcome home, friend. 😉

You can find this report in the same generic places as the one in #8 above, or click here for the direct link.

 

>>CLICK HERE to register for a free geegeez.co.uk account<<

10. Pace Analysis tab (Gold users, free on Races of the Day)

Slightly more geeky, though not much in truth, the Pace tab on the Geegeez racecard, attempts to show how a race might be run before it has been run.

By scoring each horse's last four UK/Irish runs, we can build a picture of how the race is likely to pan out today. The scores are derived from a horse's race position in the early part of its previous races, as follows:

4 - Led, pressed leader, disputed
3 - Close up, prominent, chased/tracked leader
2 - In touch, Midfield
1 - Held up

Like Instant Expert, it is a basic projection, but is remarkably effective in predicting the ways things will pan out. And, used in conjunction with our Speed Ratings (SR in the image below), and the draw, it can be highly effective. It is something I always look to before placing a bet on the flat or over jumps, and I have made (winning) bets on the basis of this tab alone.

Here's an example for this afternoon at Salisbury. This time, a horse who is a perennial front-runner with a competitive speed rating. Somedaysrdiamonds looks interesting at least, at 16/1, despite a wider than ideal draw.

Has the pace tab found a diamond in the rough?

Has the pace tab found a diamond in the rough?

More information on pace and how it can be used in your betting can be found in the video at the very bottom of this page.

 

>>CLICK HERE to register for a free geegeez.co.uk account<<

 

 

SUMMARY

In this post, I've highlighted ten ways that geegeez.co.uk, and the Gold service, can help your betting. Three of them are free every day, another five are available to free registered users at least once a week, and a couple are the preserve of Gold subscribers only.

Geegeez Gold has moved the marker forward for how a race card should be presented, and I'm extremely proud of the way our small tech team have brought my (and your - this is a collaborative effort) ideas to life.

At £24 a month, Gold offers huge value for money - most monthly tipping services cost more than that (and perform worse than Stat of the Day). And these ten elements are just a subset of what users can access within Gold.

Everything has been built to save time, and to present data as knowledge: packaged and ready to use as you see fit.

We are always moving forwards with Gold, so it continues to be a work in progress. But, even if we never added a single further feature, I believe it would stand apart from the competition for a good few years yet.

But enough of my bluster - if you haven't already, or if you haven't for some time, take a look for yourself. For just £1, you can get a month unlimited access to Gold.

JOIN GEEGEEZ GOLD

If you've not yet sampled the amazing winner-getting tools and tips inside Geegeez Gold, you can take a 30 day £1 trial by clicking this link.

Or, if you're not ready to take that step just yet, register for a free account here.

Matt

p.s. If you're a Gold user, leave a comment to let others know what you like best. If you've got any questions, feel free to ask them in the comments below. Thanks again for reading.

 

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?

Your first 30 days for just £1

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.

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

p.s. If you liked this post, please use the 'share' buttons to tell others. And if you're not yet a Gold subscriber, click here for news on a special trial offer.

Exactology: The Science of the Lucrative 1-2

Shedding some light on the exacta...

Shedding some light on the exacta...

In this latest instalment of the Oc-Tote-ber series, let's take a look at the exacta, a bet which requires the player to nominate the first and second placed horses in the correct order. The exacta is a pool bet, which means the dividend is declared by dividing the total number of winning tickets by the total pool of funds, after deductions.

For instance, if £10,000 was bet, and 20% deducted for expenses, the net pool would be £8,000. Supposing there were 80 winning tickets of £1 (£80), the dividend would be £8,000/80 = £100.

The game is to find the 1-2's that pay more than they should, and to leave the 1-2's that pay less than they should. So how exactly (or exacta-ly) do we do that?

 

How Not To Play The Exacta

Before we get to the good stuff, I'd like to debunk a few myths about exactas. Specifically, I'd like to look at some bad bets.

Bad bet #1: First three in the market combination exacta

The ultimate mug bet in exacta terms, this involves six combinations, all equally staked:

1-2, 1-3, 2-1, 2-3, 3-1, 3-2

Because exactas are 'bets of the people' - that is, there is no bookmaker setting the prices, but rather the people playing the bet set the odds - and most people are either lazy or don't have any sort of opinion on a given race, this is where the vast majority of wagering falls.

This sort of bet can account as much as, or more than, half of the total pool, meaning even if the result is the least likely of the six possible outcomes, it is sure to return a deflated yield.

Apart from operating at the very top of the market, and being deeply unimaginative, it also has no merit over a straight win bet.

Imagine that the average payoff for these six combinations was £15 for a £1 stake. That means a £6 bet covering all six combinations returns £15. That gives average odds of 6/4 on your £6 bet. The favourite could well be a longer price than that on its own, let alone the second or third market choices.

You can also expect to be disappointed with the dividend if the second and third market choices finish 1-2, due to the number of other punters that have taken the same well-worn path to the bet - and then the payout - windows.

Here's the management summary: if you think the top of the market will win a race, either bet a win single on your main fancy (or value fancy)... or pass the race. There is simply no point in making a combination exacta including the first three in the betting, ever.

Bad bet #2: Level staking on combinations

A subtle nuance of bad bet #1 is that all combinations have the same amount of money wagered upon them. That means the 6/4 favourite to beat the 4/1 shot has the same bet stake as the 4/1 to beat the 7/2 second favourite (assuming the top three in the market were 6/4, 7/2 and 4/1). This leads to 'prayer mat punting': hoping that the least likely of the six combinations lands even though... well, even though it's the least likely combination.

That cannot be a sensible way to bet. It is slightly more sophisticated - and commensurately more time-consuming - to stake different combinations to different amounts to ensure a more level payout regardless of which of your six combo's cops. Although this is less 'sexy' and involves less scope for the 'big coup', it is also far more likely to return a profit in the longer term.

Blind combination bets are generally not a great way forward in any case, but if you do have difficulty separating three or more horses, then at least stake them according to the likely payouts to reward yourself equally if you're correct about it being between these x horses.

Bad bet #3: Betting 'All' or most with an outsider you quite fancy

This is the chocolate teapot of wagering approaches: something good (chocolate, or an opinion on a decent priced horse) utilized in a completely useless manner (teapot, or betting with 'all').

By using so many options with your dark horse, you completely dilute the value of the opinion. Far better to bet the horse to win, or maybe even each way, than to make an exacta with all/most of the other runners in the race, and hope to catch a second biggie in the first two for a monster return. This is another prayer mat punt.

Bad bet #4: Leaving out the favourite 'because it's the favourite'

I know people who do this. It's daft. They kick themselves when the favourite, which they feared/respected, finishes second to a decent-priced horse. Dividends for bigger priced nags to beat the jolly are often bigger than they ought to be (assuming the bigger priced horse is lower down the market rank than third or fourth).

If you think the favourite looks solid for the frame, you have two choices:

1. If you have another opinion that could 'make' the bet, then play them together

2. If you don't have another opinion, or you think the 2nd or 3rd market pick could join the jolly, move on to another race

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You don't have to bet, and if you don't have two good views, then your bet will probably be misguided (i.e. lose) or return less than it should (i.e. be poor value)

**

If you recognise any of the above traits in the way you bet exactas, now is a good time to review your approach, and to consider an alternative. Below are some alternative methodologies - or exactologies - that you might want to employ.

How To Play The Exacta

Good bet #1: 'Down market' staggered stake combo

In my examples, I've used starting price notation (6/4, 7/2, etc) to highlight the strength of support for each horse. But with all tote multi-horse or multi-race bets, it helps the player greatly to think less in terms of market price, and more in terms of market rank.

Let's look at a 10/1 shot (industry odds) in two different races.

In race 1, a four horse race, there is a 1/16 favourite, and the 10/1 shot is second choice, with two complete no hopers prices at 66/1 apiece.

In race 2, a nine horse race, there is a 4/1 favourite, five more horses priced between 9/2 and 8/1, our 10/1 shot, a 12/1 and a 20/1 chance.

If you expect the tote prices on those two 10/1 chances to be roughly equivalent, you will be badly wrong. The former is likely be around 5/1 on the 'nanny' (nanny goat = tote), while the latter could be as big as 20/1 depending on how 'obvious' it is in the recent form string.

The difference, as you'll have cottoned onto, is market rank. Industry market rank is much more significant than industry market price when translating to tote bets.

If you take just one thing from this article let it be that. It WILL pay you repeatedly.

So, if you have an opinion that the top two in the betting look a bit questionable, but you can't split the next three (or four), play the combinations... but to varying stakes.

A three horse combination is six bets, four horses will be twelve bets, and five horses will be twenty bets. It can take a bit of time to write the varying staked bets down, but your reward is a consistent (ish) return irrespective of which combination bags gold and silver. An example of how to stake this type of bet is below in good bet #2...

Good bet #2: The quite fancied outsider revisited

As touched on in bad bet #3, if you like an outsider, you need to have at least one other opinion to justify betting it in an exacta. For instance, if you think the favourite is weak, you can play your outsider with some of the other unfavoured runners, staggering your stakes higher to lower as you move away from the top end of the market. Let me show you what I mean.

Suppose you like a 12/1 shot in an eight horse race that bets as follows:

6/4 - 7/2 - 4/1 - 6/1 - 10/1 - 12/1 - 33/1 - 50/1

If your only view is that the 12/1 shot is of interest, then exacta is not the bet. Back it to win, or each way if you like.

However, if you think the 6/4 shot might be unsuited by today's going, or class, or pace set up, or whatever, you now have a chance to back up your primary opinion. In that case, you could for instance play the 12/1 with the 7/2 through to 10/1 chances, as follows:

£5 12/1 to beat 7/2
£4 12/1 to beat 4/1
£3 12/1 to beat 6/1
£1 12/1 to beat 10/1

That's a total stake of £13 optimized to smooth the return if you're right about the 12/1 winning. The key here is that your second opinion - that the favourite is dodgy - offers scope to improve the win price on your fancy. In other words, we're looking to get better than 12/1 for any combination of stake and non-favoured runner.

If fear drives your punting bus, and watching the 6/4 fav (or perhaps worse still, one of the rags) finish second to the 12/1 shot will hurt you, then make a small win bet on it as well.

Always remember that playing more than one combination dilutes your return. As in the bad bet #1 example, a 6 x £1 combination exacta paying £15 is not a 14/1 return, it's a 6/4 return. As obvious as that is, it is amazing how many punters delude themselves that they've made a big score, when all they've done is traded off risk against return, by having more coverage for smaller average odds.

Balance is required here, because the polar opposite - habitually taking a single horse to win over a single other horse for second - is a very narrow prayer mat punt too. Somewhere between death by a single bullet and death by a thousand cuts (or permutations) is a sustainable risk-reward equilibrium. Where that pivot point is will vary according to the race type and the nature and strength of your opinions.

Good bet #3: Staggering stakes to emphasize differing strengths of opinion

In good bet #2 above, the staking is staggered to smooth out the likely returns. That assumes that the player has no specific second opinion. In other words, (s)he feels the 12/1 is a fair bet, and the jolly looks opposable. But (s)he has no view on the remaining runners.

In this strategy, we assume that we have a view that a second runner has a better than implied chance. This might be in place of, or as well as, the view about the weak favourite.

Let's use the market from good bet #2, only this time we'll suppose that we think the 6/1 horse is probably the main danger. Although we don't want to lose the value of our main opinion, the 12/1 shot, we definitely want to emphasize our return if the 6/1 runs second. Our staggered stake might now look more like this:

£4 12/1 to beat 7/2
£2.50 12/1 to beat 4/1
£6 12/1 to beat 6/1
£0.50 12/1 to beat 10/1

We've spent the same £13, but loaded up a bit more on 12/1 to beat 6/1. The flip side is that we'll take less of a return - probably something more in line with the equivalent return for simply backing the 12/1 shot to win - if 12/1 beats one of our other nominees. That being the case, a win bet on the 12/1 with small exacta on 12/1 to beat 6/1 is a highly viable alternative play.

In both #2 and this approach, I've not touched on the prospect of the 12/1 finishing second to one of the other selections. Players wishing to insure for this will double the number of permutations - in this case, from four to eight - and should again look to spread the same (or similar) outlay over the additional combinations.

Thus, in #2 above, we might have £2 on 12/1 to beat 7/2, and £3 on the reverse; £1.50 on 12/1 to beat 4/1, and £2.50 on the reverse; £1.25 on 12/1 to beat 6/1, and £1.75 on the reverse; and, 50p either way on 12/1 and 10/1 being first/second.

In #3 here, we'd look to play up the 12/1-6/1 and 6/1-12/1 combo's, whilst splitting the other stakes accordingly.

As you can see, it quickly becomes easy to spread one's opinions too thinly to justify the play... and that's a good thing, because it forces the bettor to have a second thought about whether or not exacta is the correct conduit for investment.

(Fairly) Good bet #4: 'Two against a few'

This wouldn't be the greatest betting strategy in the world, but it is one that recognises the human failing which is the urge to bet, and embraces it! It's what the excellent 'exotics' writer Steven Crist refers to as "Stupid Exacta Tricks", also known as fun or action bets.

In races where you have a bit of an opinion but nothing strong, and where you consequently want to 'limp in', Crist suggests taking a couple at big prices for which you can make a case, and playing them with two or three or four shorted priced runners, though leaving out the front rank in the market.

Obviously, if you fancy the head of the market, or you can't make any sort of case for the bigger priced nags, then it's pass o'clock. But if you can find a pair of piggie possibles, then a bet like this is a reasonable way to engage the action:

A, B with A, B, C, D, E, F = 10 bets

A, B, C, D, E, F with A, B = 10 bets

These are ten bets each, not twelve, by the way, because A cannot be first and second, and neither can B. Should A beat B, or vice versa, the combination appears on both tickets, making for the happiness of a doubly staked winner.

 

Tools and Tips

You can play the exacta for both UK and Irish racing with Tote Ireland. And when you open an account they'll give you some free bets and other bonuses. Check this page for details.

Also, both new and existing Irish tote players can have a piece of a £200 syndicate bet, if registered and placing €/£25 worth of bets during Oc-tote-ber and up to/including 9th November.

Join me and other syndicateers by placing your qualifying bet(s) here.

 

Recommended Reading

Steven Crist's book, Exotic Betting, is about the best on the subject. Whilst it relates to US racing in its examples, the approaches and staking advice are generic, and will help any tote punter improve their seasonal return.

Smarter Bets - The Exacta Way: A Simple Process to Winning on Horse Racing is a newer book, written by Keith Hoffman. It's another American text, available from Amazon UK and, as the name suggests, it focuses specifically on the exacta wager.

What is Pace in Horse Racing? And how to use it.

An example of pace predicting a winner

Another example of pace predicting a winner

There are some racing jurisdictions in the racing world where pace is as fundamental a 'handicapping' tool as you can get. In places like America, even beginner bettors understand the concepts of pace and its likely effect on race outcomes.

Strange, then, that for so long pace has been completely overlooked by UK punters. The main reasons for this are twofold. Or perhaps one-and-a-half-fold, as they're directly connected.

First, there's the almost complete lack of pace data or information. Obviously, this creates a barrier to entry, because any savvy bettor wanting to establish the likely pace scenario in a race has to do all the crunching himself (or herself). It is not a quick or easy task.

And second, related to point one, is the almost blanket lack of understanding around how pace affects the outcome of horse races.

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This WILL change in the next few years, as information boundaries are pushed with new racing data publishers challenging the half-asleep establishment content providers. geegeez.co.uk aims to be something of a pioneer in the space and, in today's video post, there is an introduction to the basic concepts of pace, and an example of how pace can be easily assimilated into your betting using the geegeez race cards.

Note, these concepts are not hard to understand, but they are new for most people. In that novelty, some will automatically switch off. Those that embrace the new data are far better armed for the betting battles through the summer particularly. To use a well worn, if unattractive, cliché, having this exclusive information to hand is like taking a gun to a knife fight.

So here's the video. [There's a full screen button in the bottom right corner, which will help].

**

I hope it mostly made sense, and that you can see the value in the information even if it hasn't automatically registered completely with you.

If you're not already a Gold subscriber - meaning you have access to this valuable information - you can register here.

To upgrade a free account to Gold, click here.

And if you have any questions on the subject of pace, please leave a comment below, and I'll do what I can to answer.

It's nice to have something a bit different to think about, and this pace information is available in very few places currently, so you really do have a head start on almost all punters. Get to grips with it, and use it to your advantage!

Matt

How to Prepare for the Cheltenham Festival

Let BSM teach you how to drive Cheltenham profits up.

Let BSM teach you to drive Cheltenham profit up

The Cheltenham Festival 2014 is almost upon us and, with the unending bombardment of data, stats, bookie offers, stable whispers, preview nights, and tips (many of them emanating from these virtual pages, it should be added!), it can be hard to see the winning wood from the information overload trees.

So, in this post, I'll outline my 'Driving to Cheltenham Profits with BSM' methodology. It's nothing to do with a certain car training school, but everything to do with a three step process to keep yourself honest in the midst of what is always a week of frenzied activity.

Now, before I go any further, I should say that if Cheltenham's four day Festival is just another race meeting for you - if you do nothing differently from any other racing day - then fair play, this post will probably have limited utility.

If, however, you take the 27 races which comprise National Hunt's Olympics as a sort of personal, maybe even professional, challenge, then this will hopefully act as a timely aide memoire to retaining sanity, at the very least.

OK, with that said, let me introduce you to the first of my BSM components:

Bank

As I've scribbled above, and you probably know, there are 27 races spread across the four days of Cheltenham. From the big fields of unexposed novices to the even bigger fields of wily handicappers - many of whose talent lights have been hidden under various inappropriate engagement bushels for the larger part of the season - the Cheltenham Festival is a minefield for punters.

Consequently, it makes sense to allocate a separate ring-fenced betting pot, specifically for the week. By doing so, you'll be forced to think in terms of four days and 27 races, rather than lurching from race to race, wager to wager.

The nature of the Festival is that a significantly disproportionate amount of the publicity is focused on the first day. It's usually correct to say that Cheltenham Tuesday offers the highest calibre of racing; but that doesn't necessarily translate into it having the best wagering opportunities. Bookies are looking to get online accounts loaded on Day One, so you bet with them subsequently, and the vast majority of the best offers relate to the first day as a result.

But those who burn brightly on Tuesday only to fizzle out by early Thursday face a long walk home, in purely metaphorical terms of course (at least, I hope that's the case!)

So how much are you setting aside to wager across the Festival? And how might you divide that fund over the four days?

If you know you like a couple on Friday, make sure you've either already backed them, or you've left an adequate slice for that purpose. There's little in betting more soul-destroying than doing it in before your main fancy comes along; then limping onto it because you're 'short-stacked'; and seeing it romp home. That's an ugly, and wholly avoidable, scenario.

Finally on Bank, it doesn't make sense, unless you're following a tipping service, to bet level stakes, especially if you're intending - like me - to bet in every race, to some degree or other. Which brings me on to my second element of BSM...

Strengths

Know your strengths. As trite as that may sound, keep it in mind as the week progresses. What's your wagering / handicapping forte? Are you a judge at picking out 'plot' horses in handicaps? Do you have an all-seeing eye when it comes to Championship races? Can you skilfully infer improvement in novice horses?

Unless you're a full-time pro, the truth is likely to be that you're none of the above. But you will still be more akin to one of those types than the others. As such, it makes sense to focus more of your energies on that which you are most adept, and less on that which you are most inept.

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For me, this means a primary focus on the Championship races and some of the novice events, and a cursory review of the handicap form using a few tools and techniques I've developed to shortlist the fields.

Obviously, then, betting one point level stakes across that varied punting panorama is plain daft. I will be wagering in line with the strength of my opinions, and I will live or die (again, metaphorically only!) by those opinions.

That means I will be getting stuck into a couple of Championship events; I will be having a reasonable tickle on some in the novice races; and I'll generally be mucking about in the handicaps, hoping to get lucky at a price (which, of course, is perfectly possible at Cheltenham, where lots of good horses are sent off at a price).

[Note, if you've been following my Cheltenham race previews, you'll know I've hammered one handicapper, though it's not one of the traditional handicap events... Hint: I've only previewed one handicap 😉 ]

So, what are your strengths? Give it a bit of thought if you haven't already, and try to "gear your portfolio" accordingly.

That leads us nicely into the final third of my punting triptych (good horse, she was)...

Mindset

Incorporating pieces of both Bank and Strengths, Mindset is crucial when betting, especially when we're exposed to the searing heat of a furnace of fetlocks and fancies for four full days.

It's always interesting to note the reactions of big punters - those whose responses can be publicly viewed, anyway - like JP McManus. They seem to maintain a Kipling-esque stoicism, greeting "those two impostors" of Triumph and Disaster even-handedly.

Of course, inside, they're probably cartwheeling or crying. But managing those emotions is the key to not losing - or gaining - too much confidence.

The thing with a meeting like Cheltenham is that plenty of winners are sent off at 12/1, 14/1, 16/1 and bigger. If your modus operandi is, like mine, to be frequently involved at that sort of price, then - even if you're very good - you'll incur longish losing sequences.

It is of paramount importance to remember that this is par for the course, and to continue to trust yourself. The worst thing bettors can do if they have an overall knack of finding enough nice-priced winners to pay for the losers and manage some bunce left over, is to chase the top of the market in the hope of clawing things back.

Firstly, it's not a part of the market for which you'll have the same 'value barometer'. And secondly, even when you do catch a winner - or even two - it's unlikely to return the fund to parity.

What we're actually doing when we adopt this approach is seeking comfort in correctness: a little ego stroke and reassurance when the winners have absented themselves. Always keep in mind one of the maxims of geegeez in times like this:

"What do you really want? Winners? Or profit?"

Finding winners at Cheltenham is bloody hard. But if you're safe in the knowledge that when they're unearthed, they generally pay for a lot of losers, then you're ahead of the pack mentally. Don't give in to self-doubt. After all, if you've set aside a bank and you've still got some of it to tickle the Grand Annual, the final race of 27, you've done well, win, lose or draw.

And keep in mind another geegeez maxim too:

"If it's not fun, we might as well go and get a job"

The most important aspect of mindset - even if you're a professional - is to enjoy Cheltenham's slings and arrows of outrageous fortune.

It's going to be great!!! 🙂

Matt

p.s. here's Rudyard with a poem so utterly magnificent it's been confined to cliché in pieces such as this. But if ever a man captured the very essence of what it is to engage in the betting battle at Cheltenham, it was - unwittingly - the fellow whose namesake baked exceedingly good cakes.

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;

If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don't deal in lies,
Or being hated, don't give way to hating,
And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise:

If you can dream - and not make dreams your master;
If you can think - and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;

If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to broken,
And stoop and build 'em up with wornout tools:

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;

If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: 'Hold on!'

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with kings - nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much;

If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds' worth of distance run -
Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And - which is more - you'll be a Man my son!

The Punting Confessional: A Galway Review

A Galway Review

A Galway Review

The Punting Confessional – Thursday, August 8th 2013

After five losing days out of six, I drew stumps on Galway before Sunday’s all jumps card and if I’m being honest I called just one race at the meeting meaningfully right, the mile and a half premier handicap on Friday in which my main play Curley Bill just held on from my saver and place bet Bayan.

Clearly I got plenty wrong over the week, notably backing Trikala ahead of Hidden Oasis when keen to oppose the favourite Backdrop in the opening maiden on Friday and only having a token bet on Dark Crusader at a massive price in the 3yo handicap on Monday despite her being an impressive last time out winner for an in-form yard.

There are always lessons to be learned from such events however and let’s survey the car wreckage to see where the damage was done.

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Though it is not easy at the time, the sensible punter has to allow for the fact that a bad period of losses can often be the result of randomness; if you are backing horses away from the front end of the market – as I prefer to do – long losing runs are inevitable and simply a consequence of your approach.

During a Festival week, when there is a sharp concentration of racing and strong opinions are often held, a losing streak could be more likely as there is simply more betting going on. There is little point feeling gutted about this but equally this should not be taken as carte blanche to continue punting foolishly; there is a time for self-examination but rarely is it the time itself.

In gambling, it is very easy to get things wrong, even calling a race right does not mean one gets paid, as I mentioned above in the Backdrop race. With this, it is also worth noting what one is doing right and I certainly backed a lot of horses that the early market called wrong at Galway, Usa at 11/1 (SP 6/1), Quinine at 8/1 (SP 9/2), Elegant Statesman at 9/2 (SP 9/4), Cairdiuil at 12/1 (SP 13/2) amongst others.

None of that quartet won and most never came close but if you’re backing horses at odds well in advance of starting price you have to be doing something right; as my whole approach is based on backing horses at bigger odds than their true value, one expects to see money come for them at some point as the market corrects itself.
Despite rain that was biblical at times, notably on Ladies’ Day, form held up well at Galway; at one point in the meeting, 12 of the last 16 favourites had won between Tuesday and Thursday. Of course, you then have the hacks saying that the professionals must be winning which is a misnomer, if anything it means that the mugs are winning.

Too many punters revert to the security blanket of the favourite when things are going against them; I have a couple of friends that like a punt without being seriously into it and if they chance upon a decent price winner for a fair return they don’t see that this is the best way to approach the game and instead return to backing short prices, their approach neatly summed up as: high strike rate, low returns, plenty of shouting, no real profit.

There is no meeting I dislike punting more than a card where I fancy a number of favourites as it means that I have to get a lot right and the upside is small due to the odds. I much prefer heading into a card with a few fancies at bigger prices and profit if even one of them clicks.
Many of these ideas about favourites apply to the Dermot Weld horses at the meeting as you simply need to get an awful lot right with his horses if backing them over the seven days. The SPs of his eleven winners were 9/10, 11/8, 2/5, 11/8, 1/5, evens, 11/4 twice, 8/15, 6/1 and evens again. At those sorts of prices, one would need to be an ultra-selective genius to make him pay at Galway; if you detect some bitterness in my tone you’re probably right as I backed him to have ten or fewer winners at 7/4!

I do struggle to call Weld’s horses at the meeting as it is often not the runners with standout form claims that win; the three of his horses that I backed over the week – Pay Day Kitten, Tandem and Stuccodor – all came to the track with form that was working out yet none made an impact.

Sour grapes aside, the almost saintly status accorded to Weld at the meeting is over-the-top; yes, it is admirable that he manages to peak his inmates for one week of the year and that he extracts wins out of bad horses in a competitive scene and seems to know what horses will handle the unusual track well but one also needs to note that most of the maidens at the meeting are handed to him on a plate with many of the other big yards sending out second-graders to make up the field if even taking their chance at all.
One pleasing trend to emerge from the meeting was the sight of other trainers getting in on the act, notably Tony Martin but also Ger Lyons. Lyons opting to aim a few good horses at the meeting – he won the big mile handicap with Brendan Brackan and also ran Group 1 entry Sniper in a maiden – is particularly interesting as he had scorned Galway in the past but perhaps he now comes to view it as a good shop window for his yard and he would certainly have many horses that, in class terms at least, would fit the programme offered at Galway.

An opening up of the meeting to yards other than Rosewell House would certainly be good for the meeting as a whole as it would make it more competitive though the course executive could hardly care less on that front; as we saw from the crowd figures that came through the deluge to make racing on the Thursday, they will turn up regardless.