Sometimes, dear reader, it is healthy to pause and reflect on recent happenings, and to take stock of the current status quo. For all that was as it was may not now be as it is... Forgive the riddle, and let me explain.
Having put up a couple of confident draw bias-based selections this week, and seen the converse effect occur I am reminded that, although the past is far and away the best means of gauging the future, it is quantum distances away from being a bulletproof barometer.
The fact that Warwick 6f sprints have almost unfailingly been won by low drawn horses, until two days ago; and, that Newcastle mud sprints nearly always fall to low drawn runners, until yesterday; leaves me pondering...
What do these events actually mean? I mean, in material terms, as opposed to me (and probably some of you - sorry) dropping a few quid on the races in question. Do these events mark a transition? Have the previously reliable track preferences become more akin to a lottery?
The short answer is: no, probably... In reality, there are often temporary changes in the favoured part of tracks, and the reasons for these may well be unpublicised.
For instance, the movement of the running rail can not only affect the race distance, but also the fact that a fresh strip of ground is made available can influence the pilots to go in search of it.
Or what about the unseasonal amount of rain we've had this summer? On the surface, both literally and metaphorically, that just means that the ground is heavy. But what exactly do those preposterously antiquated going descriptions impart to the punter, in terms of meaningful information?
Let me exemplify: at the Cheltenham Festival in 2000, the official going was described as Good. There had been no rain for weeks in the run up to mid-March, and the chalk hills of which Cleeve Hill (the home of Cheltenham racecourse) is one have a famously porous ability to absorb water in the soil. Indeed, the water table there pretty much guarantees to deal with excess precipitation with the minimum of fuss.
'Genuine' (and I use the term lightly) good ground for jumping horses means they make a fair print in the turf, and it is a good test for a horse tape to line.
But on that first day, 14th March 2000, on good ground, no fewer than FOUR of the six races were won in course record time. HOW is it possible to run faster than any other race on the track ever in middling ground?
The answer of course is that the real going was at best Good to Firm, and more likely Firm to Tarmac.
It is entirely in the domain of the clerk of the course to determine the going description. Some of them use a penetrometer, little more than an electronic broom handle, which at least adds a degree of plausibility to the description.
My point is that the evidence of the clock and your eyes should be used over any 'official' statement from the track. Those that spotted this outright lie early on, and backed light framed horses with fast ground form, cashed in at Chelters in the millennium. In fact, generally, that's a pretty good route to the payout window at the big Festival, as it definitely favours agile nags.
Back to my core point: transient influences that upset the established equilibrium. Other issues that can lead to apparent taciturn results include the jockeys' cartel. Jockeys, bless them, are very talented horsemen in the main (or should that be in the mane?). They are not normally paid for their judgment of pace or of where the best ground is, but rather for being able to ride a race to the finishing line.
So it is that a few influential figures can decide where the horses will travel on a course. I suspect this is what happened at Warwick on Tuesday, when they all tacked across to the stands rail for some reason, presumably in search of better ground.
Another imponderable from Warwick was that there was a fierce tailwind. I have no idea 'how' it affected the outcome, but I'm sure it had a bearing.
Does that mean the draw bias is dead at Warwick? No, without doubt. Does it mean caution should be exercised the next time they race there? Yes, without doubt!
The same applies at Newcastle. Or anywhere else when tradition has been usurped by a temporary impostor. Sometimes, the impostor takes residence and becomes the new law. Usually, it doesn't. Either way, it pays to be aware of what's happening and flexible enough to respond before the masses.
One swallow doesn't make a summer, nor does one adverse call destroy a trend. At this time of year, it's prudent to start focusing on the jumps anyway, as most horses have been on the go for a long time and are ready for a rest.
Which brings me - finally - to the three D's that will make you a better bettor. The 'savoir faire' amongst you will have worked this out by now.
The three D's are: discipline, Discipline, and DISCIPLINE.
So here are three things I urge you to consider, which may not win you any more, but will certainly stop you losing some:
- Choose one day in the week and don't bet that day (for me its Mondays)
- Don't have more than two bets a week on a horse priced at 20/1 or more, unless there is a very good reason for doing so (the true chance of a horse priced 20/1 or more winning the race is more like double that price)
- Don't do a multiple bet with more than three selections in it (i.e. yes to a trixie, or even a patent at a push, no no no to a yankee, heinz or lucky 31/63/94235!)
And here's my rationale for the above:
If you can't take a day off, you should take a year off, because you're addicted. That is clearly not good, and it means you will lose money. Possibly a lot. Stop, have a rest, think about something else for a day.
If you back long priced horses habitually, you are dreaming of the big payday. You are not prepared to chip away with small victories constituting fractional progress to a major triumph (i.e. getting level or even in front against the bookies / betfair).
You will know from my tipping that I like to tilt at windmills from time to time, but I only throw in a speculative longshot when there is evidence to support the prospect of a good run. And, even there, almost always I'll have nominated a shorter priced, 'more likely' winner.
And on the third point, it is a long time since I have done any kind of multiple bet. I used to be addicted to them. They are the most colourful betting slips in the shop, and the bookies love Love LOVE (the three L's!) them. Do you know why?
Consider this: you've just placed your 50p lucky 31 (oh, the irony of the name). The bet consists of five selections across 5 singles, 10 doubles, 10 trebles, 5 fourfolds and an accumulator. Total cost to you is £15.50.
Your first horse, a live 4/1 shot finishes an unlucky head second.
Even though only one of your five horses has run, your bet has just lost 1 single, 4 doubles, 6 trebles, 4 fourfolds and the accumulator.
In other words, SIXTEEN of your 31 bets have lost after your first losing selection. If the second (or third) also loses, you are down to a patent (i.e. seven bets in 3 singles, 3 doubles and 1 treble).
These bets are terrible value: that's why good old Fred at Betfred is able to offer (apparently) huge bonuses. He's no mug - in fact, he's the most aggressive bookie on the high street these days, and is to be applauded for that.
But he's certainly not a charity case either. If you must bet these things, either learn not to, or do it with Fred.
These are some of my universal negatives (i.e. things I try to never do), and if you are serious about trying to come out in front, then you need to either copy these or find your own rules.
Break them if you want, but know that you will be further from winning status as a result.
I couldn't find anything to back today, and so I have no advice on today's racing. What's the use of me putting up a selection or two, if I don't really fancy them? Maybe tomorrow we'll find something to play...
After the sermon, it's Thursday Fun time, and this week I am reminded of trying to explain the rules of chess to my your nephew, who is bright enough but has erm... a limited attention span. Over to Richie and Eddie...
Until next time,