Tag Archives: horse racing

The Good, Bad & Ugly – Week #1:2019

It’s a new year – the time for a New Year’s Resolution: be more active on the blog again! Plain and simple.

The last year in particular I’ve focused on the betting side neglecting the other rather important side of why I initially started this blog a good eight years ago: to write about all the things I love about horse racing – the sport, the horses, the global aspect of the game!

So, with the new year still fresh, I gonna try to be a bit more (pro-) active: a few more insightful (hopefully!) columns, opinion pieces, educational stuff and so on – starting with the introduction of a new weekly column right here:

The Good, Bad & Ugly – a short review of all the good and not so good things in racing that caught my eye and lit up my emotions during the past week. Let’s get started with Week #1:2019!

good.pngThe Good:

Do It Again – he did it again, indeed! This imperious looking son of the great Twice Over and reigning Durban July champion, has followed up on his biggest triumph with another massive success.

On Saturday he was one of nine starters in South Africa’s premier 1 mile race, the Queen’s Plate, that took place at Kenilworth racecourse.

The powerful gelding overcame a slow pace and produced another stunning performance to get his head in front when it mattered most:


The Candy Man
– What a lovely name for a horse, isn’t it? The performance of this lad in a Handicap on Sunday at Australia’s Sunshine Coast was certainly as sweet as candy!

The grey missed the start completely, still standing in the gates while the others flew out to race. He was trailing the field by half a dozen lengths for half the race, until making a swift move to the rear of the field as the pace slowed. He then unleashed a devastating turn of foot in the home straight – WOW!

Watch a replay of this unreal performance here.

First winner of 2019 – It was the perfect start: first bet, first winner! Paparazzi strolled home on Wednesday in a Newcastle handicap to win as easy as he liked, despite a 12/1 price tag.

It’s those magic moments when the picture you painted in your mind beforehand comes to fruition in reality, as I concluded in the preview:

“This is the poorest opposition Paparazzi will encounter for quite some time. If a slow start doesn’t see him falling back too far too early he should run a huge race today.”

bad2The Bad:

Racing’s Staff Crisis – Becomes one of the biggest threats to the industry. It was reported over the weekend that there’s an estimated shortfall of around 1,000 staff in the UK. Brexit fears enhance the feeling of uncertainty in relation to employing foreign staff to offset the shortfall in yards.

Often long hours, not enough off-days and low pay – those are the main concerns brought forward. Understandably so: the stable staff is preparing the horses day in day out, hence they play a pivotal role in the industry.

If they can’t be retained in numbers enough to keep the show going, plus if the jobs aren’t attractive enough for new people to join, then the game is in incredible danger. Falling prize-money surely isn’t helping, particularly for smaller yards it adds even more pressure.

A viscous cycle: working long hours, physical work, often starting very early in the morning, ordinary pay at best – that isn’t attractive to a lot of young people these days.

Stable staff does it for the love of horses. Without this love and duty of care for the welfare of our equine athletes these wonderful people show any given day, horse racing would be long gone.

Add to this the rather low pay at times where everything else becomes more expensive and the possibility of Brexit which could make it harder for yards to employ foreign staff – there you have an existential crisis.

It was surprising to see it so blatantly called out by the biggest names in the sport over the weekend. Nicky Henderson commented that the threat is no longer only a threat but  it “has already become a reality”.

Now, not everything is black and white. Not all staff are impacted by issues the same way. Plenty love their job, enjoy their day to day doing, are paid well enough and feel treated fairly.

Not all, though, and there is, no doubt, a balanced and fair discussion needed right now – a solution oriented one that addresses issues. Because the issue of staff shortage is at the heart of the game.

badThe Ugly:

 A Bad Loss – “I’m excited as heck because I feel Blue Harmony could be supremely well handicapped in this race!”

I got that spectacularly wrong. Blue Harmony finished nearly last, never went a yard. There was zero confidence in the market either. The filly was obviously not as well in as I felt she is.

Well, that’s racing. Can happen. It was a 16/1 shot. But it hurts. Particularly if you go and shout it so loud as I did in my preview.

Irish racing video archive – Gone. Since Racing TV has taken over the rights to show Irish racing, the complete video archive of all races prior to 1st January 2019 are no longer accessible – neither on ATR, the Racing Post- and Sportinglife website and certainly not on the RTV site.

You couldn’t make it up, could you? They had months and months time to prepare for this transition. But they didn’t seem to think about this rather important piece – or shall we say didn’t care – which shows a complete disregard for the racing public.

Please also read my latest opinion piece on the matter: Racing’s Problems bigger than ATR vs RTV

Got your own ideas of what was good or not so good in the the last week? Want to share feedback? Let me know in the comments! 

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My Betting Review 2018

671.50 points profit. 28.78% ROI – 239 bets, 33 successful selections: 2018.

A fine year from a punting perspective! It’s back-to-back profitable years in fact, ever since I changed my approach to betting on horses. As last year was all about refining, tweaking and adjusting the method, 2018 was all about putting it consistently to work.

There is no doubt that the All-Weather is my happy hunting ground. It’s so by a wide margin outperforming turf in terms of profit and ROI, and has delivered the majority of success this year: 605pts.

Of course a few big priced winners helped. They always help. However, you only find long-shots if you consistently punt them, and they only turn into a long-term profit if you find value in them. The notion that any 20/1 shot is automatically value isn’t only flawed, it’s the route to bankruptcy.

The British Turf has been a different story: a lot of bets for a negative return: -49.50pts. The story could have been a different one if not for 7 furlong races. 22 selections, not a single winner. Burned a lot of money there. Take those out of the equation and it would have been a healthy profit.

Jumps delivered a minimal loss -8pts. The Cheltenham Festival, profitably for the second year running, couldn’t make up for an otherwise poor performance over obstacles.

It’s simply not where my strengths are and I don’t have the same tools available as for flat racing. It’s telling on the scoreboard.

On the international front it was yet again a fine year. From a small selection of bets, the highlights were Hawkbill in Dubai and of course for the second year running, finding the Melbourne Cup winner with Cross Counter: +144pts.

January and March 2018 contributed as the most successful months of the year to the profit of 2018. No surprise, as those are major months for the All-Weather.

The summer months were a difficult roller-coaster. August resulted in a -90pts loss, October posting minus 75pts.

Clearly there is a lot to learn from all of that, though:

  1. Despite having more selections in 2018 than the year before I found less winners and posted a smaller ROI, yet a higher profit. 2019 shall be about quality over quantity.
  2. Low grade- and 7 furlong Handicaps on Turf have been a disaster. Keep selections on this type of races to an absolute minimum.
  3. Jumps: Focus on the Cheltenham Festival. Keep money in the pocket otherwise.

One of the major issues developing over the course of 2018 has been the problem of getting on with bookies. This is nothing totally new. Many punters face severe restrictions.

Only over the last two years, though – punting higher sums as confidence in my process is rock solid now, followed up by monetary success – I have started to see my accounts become restricted. Bet365, Sky, VC or Betway – they all market their products prominently but only want mugs to join them (from a business perspective: who can blame them!).

Most firms, big an small, have restricted my accounts to meaningless amounts these days. A certain Geoff Banks – at least he had the guts to engage in a real conversation, mind – accused me of cheating. While all I’m doing is working hard and putting in the effort.

Obviously the majority of my races are lower grade, less liquid markets, mid-week. To get a reasonable stake of something like 100 quid on  to an 8/1 shot is neigh to imposible. And it doesn’t even matter whether you’re winning long term with these firms or not.

Exchanges help, but only to an extend. Betfair has high charges, particularly if you win well over a certain period of time. And markets for my races aren’t always liquid.

I’ve found Matchbook a pretty good substitute, thankfully. The markets are growing. Even though I barely get my full stake on top prices, at least I get my stake on within a range of odds that I still regard as value.

The issue of “getting on” has put me off the idea to potentially increase my flat stake – yes, I do bet with flat stake, because it simply works best for my process, particularly mentally – and considering going full time. The hassle isn’t worth it.

For now it remains a wonderful side income. Tax free. 671.50 points profit and 28.78% return of investment for around 20 hours work a week – that’s pretty decent – no bank gives you that sort of interest on your money. And I do actually enjoy the hours put in as well. A win-win situation.

  • A complete list of all 2018 selections can be found here.

Disclaimer: This website is not a betting service. I do not take responsibility for your losses. This is a betting blog where I write about my selections. If others follow, enjoy the read and get on to a few winners thanks to this blog – great, I’m happy. Please only bet what you can afford to lose!

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Saying that: happy punting in 2019 – and bringing it to an end with my personal favourite victories of 2018: