Tag Archives: winner

Eyecatchers #5 2022

A list of horses that caught my eye during the last seven days of racing. These individuals look ready to win a race sooner rather than later.

Kimngrace
22/04/22: 1.20 Sandown:

After a steadied start she settled in rear of the field. She made some smooth progress from over three furlongs out but was stuck behind a bunch of horses and a clear passage denied until very late. She finished well when a bit of racing room opened up in the closing stages.

The winner made all from the front, the runner-up and third raced close to the pace too. Given these circumstances this was a big run on what was Kimngrace’s seasonal reappearance.

She looks a filly open to improvement, possibly more so if stepping up to 6 furlongs again, or perhaps a really stiff five. When last seen in 2021 she won a Maiden race at Haydock over 6f and looked at home over the trip. That particular form worked out well with the runner-up having ran a huge race in the Fred Darling Stakes recently.

It will be interesting to see what the handicapper does. I feel he can’t raise her mark too much . Of her current 78 rating she looks potentially really well handicapped, though.

Race Replay

Devilwala
23/04/22 – 1.20 Ripon:

I admit this requires a bit of imagination and context. Devilwala travelled okayish, always close to the pace, and attempted to make a move from 3 furlongs out as the pace increased. He looked one of the more dangerous horses at this moment in time, was still there for a good finish with a furlong to go, but ran out of gas eventually.

Not unexpectedly. Devilwala doesn’t stay the mile trip. He was 4th in a 2000 Guineas, and overall highly tried in his first two seasons, but his best came over 6f and 7f, like a strong 4th, less than three lengths beaten in the Dewhurst behind St. Mark’s Basilica.

Those days are long gone. He changed yards twice and has been gelded. He’s fallen from a career highest 114 OR to a modest 84 right now. I suspect he’ll be dropped another couple of pounds soon.

That’s the context to this 4th place finish at Ripon. A solid run over a distance that stretched his stamina. It should bring him on for the moment he drops in trip.

I want to see a few more pounds off the mark plus a drop in class to be seriously interested. This day will come in the not too distinct future.

Race Replay

Buckshaw Village
23/04/22 – 5.10 Ripon:

Travelled in midfield initially, then relegated to the rear and switched to the inside, possibly for more cover. Was behind a wall of horses and stuck to the task to stay in touch and looked poised for a challenge. Didn’t get a run through, slightly impeded 1 furlong out. Finished really well under hands and heels.

This was only the second handicap start for the colt and second run after a lackluster but excusable comeback run at Pontefract. He showed promise last season as a juvenile with three placed efforts in maiden & novice company.

This was a great run though, given circumstances, also over the minimum trip. I feel, given the pedigree, and the way he finished here, he’ll absolutely enjoy going back up to 6 furlongs again, or perhaps even attempting 7 furlongs.

He comes down to a workable mark, particularly if he can improve for experience and trip. Buckshaw Village is ready to win. He certainly wants decent ground, though, and wouldn’t be of interest to me if he stays over the minimum trip.

Race Replay

Billian
23/04/22 – 1.30 Haydock:

Breaking slowly put him at a disadvantage right away. He trailed the field but travelled well enough with good progress. Dramatic move to be switched to the wide outside in order to get a clear run. He looked dangerous there but had too much too do and tired in the closing stages.

Still managed to finish the 2nd fastest combined splits for the final three furlongs, just behind the well handicapped After John (3rd place). This form looks really strong and his performance a definite return to form.

He has fallen 17lb in the mark in the last year, and clearly lost his enthusiasm for racing. Breaking poorly has become a habit and he was never once fancied in 2021.

Nonetheless, he’s coming down to a sexy handicap mark now, possibly with even further assistance from the handicapper after this run. Billian has ran six times to topspeed ratings of 60 and higher throughout his career which gives plenty of hope that he can win soon.

One caveat: I have to account for the slow starts and think they are easier to make up in smaller fields. Plus while he appears ground independent I believe his best comes out on decent ground. Only in those circumstances I will be interested in him.

Race Replay

Strawman
23/04/22 – 7.05 Doncaster:

He completely messed up the start and lost a number of lengths early on (have to monitor whether this becomes a habit). Trailed until turning for home when making rapid progress highlighted by blistering sectionals to move into a challenging position. Pays for the effort in the closing stages but also entitled to tire on his first run in 223 days.

This was Strawman’s first “poor” run in a year. He won three races and finished another one second of his four starts last season. And this most recent one is a much stronger performance than the 7 lengths beaten 5/5 result suggests.

In fact this run suggests the handicapper may still not have caught up with him and he can win again as long as it’s 9-10 furlongs on decent ground.

Race Replay

Secretfact
24/04/22 – 2.40 Bath:

Was very alertly out of the gate, travelled strongly in midfield to the 2 furlong marker. Had nowhere to go from there, though, trying different routes. Eventually pushed toward the inside when he runs out of fuel.

The 9-year-old was entitled to get tired on his first start in 2022, but clearly ran much better than the result and price suggested. He has still a lot of enthusiasm for racing.

Down to a mark of 65, which is probably a fairer reflection of his class these days, but a little bit of additional assistance from the handicapper will mean he’s got to be well handicapped over the minimum trip on lightning fast ground.

Side note: He ran at Chepstow on Thursday in the meantime. Same mark, same trip. Fine performance, leading from the front, just to tire in the closing stages and drop to 4th late. He should be ready for a big run next time if conditions suit (5f, fast going).

Race Replay

Sense Of Security
24/04/22 – 4.55 Bath:

Was well away from the gates and travelled in midfield for the majority of the race. She was quite keen too, pulling hard from midway through. Yet she appeared to go easily and strongly turning for home, the jockey taking a pull over 3 furlongs out.

She seemed to travel like the winner, with the only problem how to get a run for home. It didn’t happen until very late when the race was over. She is obviously much better than this result.

Sense Of Security has shown promise last year, was placed over 5.5f at this track in an eye-catching performance. She was a good third at Kempton earlier this month too, having ran to topspeed 61.

With experience she should improve. I feel a drop to 7f wouldn’t be an issue, neither would be a step up in trip out of question given the pedigree. Though, given her tendency to pull hard, a mile is probably the maximum right now.

Race Replay

Dream Composer
24/04/22 – 4.05 Wetherby:

Travelled in last position for most of the race, until turning for home when he attempted to make progress on the wide outside. Wasn’t helped by moving horses in front but also struggled with top-end speed on this fast surface.

Was brave in the final furlong to move through a gap and finished well. Clear improvement on recent poor Pontefract showing, which was a first run after a break, though. Performance is notable for the fact he ran so well here on fast ground even though he’s a much better horse with cut in the ground.

Comes down to a really nice mark having won of 1lb higher last summer and having ran a massive race in a big Ayr Handicap of 7lb higher. Interesting next time whenever on soft ground.

Race Replay

Hodler
25/04/22 – 4.55 Windsor:

Travelled strongly in rear, hard on the bridle approaching the last two furlongs. Stuck behind a wall of horses he’s switched to the inside but that doesn’t make the situation any better. Short of room there until very late when switched even wider.

I really liked how Hodler travelled here. He spotted a hood for the first time. Still pretty lightly raced it’s clear racing him over sprint trips is far from ideal given his pedigree. But potentially required to bring the mark down from what was a stiff opening mark (78).

He will clearly benefit moving up in distance. 10 furlongs looks possible. The fact he has been keen in the past is the obvious question mark for that sort of project. Nonetheless worth waiting for it to happen before backing him.

Race Replay

Homemade Andrea
25/04/22 – 7.55 Windsor:

Settled in rear of the field and travelled much the strongest to the 2 furlong marker, although had to delay her challenge. Once things opened up she dropped away tamely.

The mile trip could be too far for her. The filly’s best is over 7 furlongs which looks more in line with her sire and dam’s sire stamina index too. I imagine she might be best with a bit of cut in the ground as well.

Clearly 13 runs and 1 single win isn’t an overly sexy profile. But she managed to win of a mark of 50 as a juvenile and was a good runner-up of 2lb higher at Lingfield in January, when also running to a 50 topspeed rating, validating this form.

She’s likely to fall another couple of pounds for this run. If dropping back to 7 furlongs she’ll be interesting with a bit of cut in the ground I reckon.

Race Replay

Golden Apollo
25/04/22 – 7.05 Thirsk:

Didn’t have a good start and as a consequence settled in the final third of the field. Travelled okay and looked in with a shot if getting a clear run. He was kept up to the task the entire race but didn’t find a gap. Finished easily and seemingly with something left in the tank.

The golden years are obviously behind the 8-year-old but he still performed of marks in the 80s last year and also ran to topspeed 84 when runner-up in a hot Redcar Handicap.

He’s been a shade unlucky a number times too in the meantime, as a results his mark is reduced all the time. He’s down to a good mark already, but any additional help from the handicapper will be welcome. A 6f race of a 75 rating in class 4 could be an optimal scenario.

Race Replay

Northbound
25/04/22 – 20.05 Thirsk:

Keen at different stages of the race, nonetheless travelling smoothly on the inside. Still hard on the bridle over a furlong out, although absolutely no chance to get a run. Gently switched to the middle of the track very late and finished eye-catchingly well in one of the fasted final furlong splits despite being hard held.

He hasn’t won since his juvenile days, but has been competitive and placed numerous times last season, without winning though, and sometimes unlucky.

His mark continues to fall and is down to what makes him a well handicapped individual now. He was placed of 65 and ran to Topspeed 58, 59 and 61 last year. He also has a career best 71 TS rating. 7f fast ground may be ideal.

Race Replay

Golden Melody
26/04/22 – 3.30 Nottingham:

This was a really slow race for the most part resulting in a sprint finish. Golden Melody was disadvantaged by her racing position but made eye-catching progress on the inside from 4 furlongs out against a rapidly increasing pace.

The leaders where not for catching holding all the aces due to the nature of how the race developed, but Golden Melody finished the last four furlongs still much the fastest. It’s speculative but she was probably the best horse in the race on handicapping terms and would have won in different circumstances.

The 4-year-old filly looks quite exposed on paper, given 23 lifetime starts already. However, she was still progressive in a busy campaign last year. Particularly from summer on this March filly was prolific: three wins and a number of quality efforts.

She’s up to a 73 mark now and hasn’t matched that with topspeed yet. However she came close enough with a 69 TS effort in a hot class 2 York Handicap last year. She can improve again as this most recent run suggests. Anything between 9-10 furlongs is probably ideal with relative ground independence.

Race Replay

Kraken Power
26/04/22 – 6.15 Ayr:

Got a bump right after the start and was quite keen in the aftermath. Yet travelled much the best and made a big effort from 3f out to contest the lead on the outside of the field approaching the final furlong marker. Tired in the closing stages.

He possibly paid for a big effort from three to one furlongs out. Despite fading away late, he finished the last three furlongs fast and wasn’t knocked about in the closing stages. This performance is a clear return to form and build nicely on a solid comeback run at Thirsk earlier this month.

He changed yards late last year after obviously losing his way. He hasn’t exactly fired in the first two starts for Jim Goldie but was better than the bare form suggested at Thirsk and really caught my eye here too.

Kraken Power has talent. He was rated as high as 86, was placed in good races of 82 last season, as well as ran to topspeed 82. He’s now down to 70. If this upward trend continues he’ll be a massive chance next time. Both minimum trip and 6 furlongs are fine, although fast ground 6f may be the ideal scenario.

Race Replay

Hathlool
27/04/22 – 1.50 Ascot:

Awkward start, settled in rear travelling notably well. Made eye-catching progress from midway through the race, switching toward the inside looking for a clear run, although there’s also a noticeable lack of urgency from the jockey . He’s short of room one furlong out again and finishes easily under hands and heels.

This was an eye-catching run for a number of reasons and the stewards thought so too, holding an inquiry into the ride. Whatever the lack of in-running luck, in my view the jockey didn’t really try to obtain the best possible position in the race.

Hathlool has been quite progressive over the last half year on both turf and All-Weather, winning three times and running better than the bare form suggested the last two times on turf.

His mark is probably high enough now as he’s not yet run to a topspeed above 58. But I feel once he goes up to 9-10 furlongs again, and drops to 75 or lower he’ll be really interesting.

Perhaps that’s exactly the idea of connections to get him into that type of scenario. He’s got an entry for Beverley over 8.5f on Monday. With his sketchy starting habits and the trip perhaps slightly below his preferred optimum, I can see him not running too well there. That could bring him down to the rating I want to see.

Race Replay

Rocket Dancer
27/04/22 – 5.30 Pontefract:

Had a wide draw to overcome and as a consequence settled in rear, which was a huge disadvantage in a race dominated by those up or close to the pace.

Cut the corner turning for home and then made significant progress against the inside rail to finish 4th, staying on as one of very few from the back of the field.

Clear sign of life for a horse that lost form in the second half of last season. He was still a fine runner-up over this course and distance twelve months earlier of a mark of 62, won subsequently of 64 on the All-Weather. Was well beaten in all other runs then.

Down to a 52 rating now he appears to be supremely well handicapped on past form. This performance gives me the impression he is ready to win soon.

Race Replay

Chant For More
27/04/22 – 7.55 Musselburgh:

The gelding travelled nicely enough on the inside rail behind the leading trio but had to wait for a gap to open. It only really opened up for him very late, over half a furlong from home, he went through bravely and ran on strongly for 3rd place in a tight finish.

This was a significant improvement on his juvenile form. A recent wind operation must have done the trick here. He was a cheap vendor foal but offers some upside as a 3-year-old I feel, given he was an April foal and has scope to get better with experience, now that his wind is okay.

A step up to 6 furlongs would be really interesting in a low-grade race next time.

Race Replay

Perfect Symphony + San Juan
28/04/22 – 4.05 Lingfield:

Despite a solid break from the gates Perfect Symphony got behind soon, perhaps also got a bit tight amongst horses around the first bend (hard to see). Was pushed along from 4 furlongs out and turned home in last position. Thundered home in impressive fashion to finish runner-up eventually.

The 8-year-old has still something to give as evidence by his latest performances. He ran well on a number of occasions over the last weeks and months on the All-Weather. At his age he’s a bit quirky and needs things to fall right, though.

Saying that, a small field sprint over the minimum distance on the All-Weather is certainly a possibility for him to win, particularly of such a low mark he’s fallen to. He was fancied in the betting for the first time in a while here, so I’ll want to monitor the market before backing him.

San Juan had to contend with the widest draw which wasn’t ideal given he has starting issues. Consequently he was slowly away, lost ground early on and played catch-up. Made rapid progress over three furlongs out but turned a bit awkward and wide. Took time to get organised, then rattled home to finish 3rd.

Given the circumstances this was a massive performance. The first furlong aside hampered by the start, he ran incredible sectionals. He was unlucky last time out not getting a clear run 2f out and also losing a shoe.

He’s obviously a horse with issues and one has to account for his habit of starting slowly. Now down to a mark of 48 though, he looks supremely well handicapped even taking those issues into account. He clearly acts well on the All-Weather, but I would love to see him on turf, perhaps with a bit of cut in the ground.

Race Replay

Cobra Kai
28/04/22 – 4.35 Musselburgh

A big keen to get on with the job early on, but totally lit up once hampered over five furlongs out. Was stuck on the inside in a pocket behind the long-term leader and eventual winner, always kept up to work and stuck nicely to the task. Finished well in the closing stages given the circumstances.

He was well fancied here as the favourite after a highly promising seasonal reappearance at Newcastle in March. That day he finished strongly and in contrast to what one would have expected given the price tag.

Still a maiden after eight lifetime starts now, but he looks well capable of winning of his current mark. Ideally runs over 7 furlongs or over a mile, which looks realistic on pedigree. He needs to learn to settle, that’s key, though.

If he does, perhaps with the application of some headgear, he’ll make a mockery of a 49 handicap mark I feel.

Race Replay

5 Golden Rules – Betting On Horses

Whether you aspire to become a serious punter or simply have a flutter for the enjoyment of the sport, it all boils down to two pivotal points – at least in my view:

  • The desire to win money. 
  • Losing money isn’t fun.

Personally, I have been on a long journey when it comes to betting in general, particularly when it comes to betting on horses. I tested and trialed many ideas, systems and angles – won some, lost some more – be it laying, trading, naive attempts of building automated betting models as well as all the way back to conducting the good old-fashioned form study.

In the end all of that can be successful. It depends on the type of person, what you prefer, what suits your own style and mentality.

These days I’m using a hybrid method: data based as an initial selection step – uncover specific circumstances on any given day which then initiate action to dig deeper, i.e. put my own analysis on top of it. It took years to come to this point – a point where it all clicks, works and is profitable.

While the approach may change again (there’s no standing still in betting = what works today may be obsolete tomorrow) what stays with me are a simple rules that act as a guide of how to approach betting on horses.

These rules are obviously highly subjective in their significance and impact. For someone else they may seem trivial, maybe controversial or even wrong. Nonetheless, I imagine that following these rules can help anyone to be a more successful punter in the long run, and with that enhancing the enjoyment of “the game”.

:::::::::::::

#1: No Bet? No Problem.

The first rule is one about discouraging from the actual act of betting. It’s the most important rule for the simple fact that you’re usually investing your hard earned money when betting. Earning money is far more difficult than losing it in a matter of minutes in the 4.45pm class 5 Handicap at Wolverhampton.

In our day and age bets can be made as easily and swiftly as the simple touch on the screen of a mobile phone. It’s the fastest way of losing money. Not betting means not losing money. Obviously!

What we really want, though, is to maximise our chance of winning when finally decided on a bet. Yet, more often than not, I argue, it’s about being prudent and working along the lines of “letting go” and not having a bet.

To illustrate what I mean let’s imagine the following scenario: most likely we all have been there, studying a race for a significant amount of time – “putting in the effort”, analysing video footage and making plenty of notes and whatever else you do to work through a race.

What’s the result after all the hard work? More often than not you likely won’t have a strong feeling about any horse in the race. You haven’t discovered any value opportunity at all! Yes, you may ‘fancy’ a horse – simply because you think “he’ll run well”. The horse, possibly a 5/1 chance, seems like a “fair price”. There is an obvious urge:

“Hey! I’ve done all the work, I want my reward: a bet!”

From my experience there can be this overarching feeling of “what if the horse wins and I’m not on?!”. We all know this feeling if this horse we somewhat fancied, but didn’t back because we didn’t believe there was enough juice in the price, crosses the line in first place. Crap feeling. It hurts. A missed opportunity?!

reward

Perhaps the next time you gonna follow your “gut instinct”, you back the fancies you didn’t identify as value but feel they should run well. A winner is a winner after all and sure enough some will win. But what’s the chance those winners are going to be offsetting the losing bets in ROI terms in the long run? That’s the value question that is the fundamental aspect of understanding how profitable betting works.

I firmly believe once you subscribe to this sort of mentality – following the gut feeling  – as described above, it’s game over.

When betting on horses on a day to day basis one encounters these type of scenarios numerous times. You put in the time and effort but at the end you’ve got no bet to show for all the work. How annoying! However, fact is: you haven’t lost any money….. yet. And that is a good thing. Because you really want to invest your money when you truly have identified a proper value opportunity.

Also: even if not having a bet as the outcome of analysing a race, it may still have been time well spent: you may have learned something about some of the horses in the race for future studies or possibly uncovered an interesting trend to monitor moving forward.

Put simply: it’s not always lost time only because the effort didn’t result in the desired outcome of finding a bet. The opposite is true. No bet? No Problem.

#2: Let Go of Emotions.

This rule links back to rule #1. And it’s easier said than done. As in the example outlined above: seeking the reward for an hour of studying a race – having a bet – despite the outcome of the analysis saying one shouldn’t have a bet, is seriously influenced by our emotions and feelings.

It’s a natural human reaction to be seeking a reward for work (having a burger or ice cream post gym, anyone?). You have to learn to let go, though. Stick with the objective analysis you’ve already completed and its corresponding result: no bet.

What can help in this type of situation: if you fancy one or two horses in a race and feel the urge to reward your work with a bet, even though your objective analysis comes to the conclusion that the odds aren’t good enough, simply writing down the pro’s and con’s for or against the horse side by side does help me. Having the cold, hard facts written down on a paper right in front of us can take the emotions out of the equation.

Emotions come into play in other situations as well. If things go well or if things go badly. We may get enthusiastic. Euphoric. Let’s strike while the iron is hot. Or: disappointment. The feeling of depletion. Anger. It’s the jockey’s fault. Let’s chase the losses. A sudden change in a method proven over time…..

emotions.png

Emotions cloud our mind. They cloud our objective decision-making skills. Fact. Therefore: never get too high and never get too low. You can be happy if your work pays off and you can be disappointed if the long analysis you did and the great value horse you identified didn’t get the luck in running. But it should never lead to subsequent decisions based on these emotions.

A good piece worth reading in this context is: How I Learned to Love Variance

#3: Think Big Picture.

Horses have bad days, jockeys make mistakes and variance is the reason for winning- and losing runs alike. The only thing that stays constant: if you find value bets – i.e. the horse has a better % chance of winning the race than the odds suggest – you will be a winner in the long run.

In that sense it is important to see the bigger picture: the race you lost because Jamie Spencer was sitting and suffering on the well-backed favourite at the back of the field and got his mount out too late…. it’s only a single race.

In the context of the hundreds of other races you’re betting o this sort of “bad luck” will be neglectable and is going to be offset by those times where you have the eventual winner on your side, even though he wasn’t the best horse in the race, perhaps because the best horse was boxed in and made a run too late as the jockey was overconfident, while your lad got a clean run from the front in a slowly run race, hence you’ve been the “lucky one”.

In the long run this one race won’t matter. It won’t matter because if your bets are consistently value bets, if you got an edge, if you see something others don’t see, and if you – leaving emotions out – keep following whatever method you have to identify the value, you won’t need luck today to be a winner tomorrow.

Understand this and it becomes much easier to see the one race in context of the bigger picture. Which ultimately helps to control emotions and feelings, hence is vital for making the level-headed decisions.

#4: Follow the Concept of Value.

What is this ominous value in betting we hear so often referred to by experts, jockeys and punters? Google says this:

“A value bet is the one where you believe the chances of one team (or horse) winning are better than the odds suggest and all you need to do is to take advantage of the situation.”

I love the last part. As if it would be that easy….. of course it isn’t. The concept of value works different for different people. However the essence of it – you know your horse has a better chance of winning than the layers’ assessment – will remain a constant.

It’s vital and is the one key question you need to ask yourself before backing a horse: is it value? If the answer is “No” or “not sure” then move on, refer to rule #1 and #2, there’s nothing to see here. It has to be a resounding “Yes” for a confident selection – or as I call it: “quality bet”. Otherwise: no bet? No problem.

Some people might go into more detail. They make a 100% book and assign % chances to each horse which then translates into odds. In its most simple form: if you assign a 10% chance to a horse that translates into fair odds of 9/1. If a bookie offers 10/1 you’ve got a value bet.

In theory, if you always back horses that have a better chance of winning than the odds offered, you will make a certain profit long-term. It’s the one thing a successful punter can’t compromise on.

How punters come to the conclusion of identifying value is a personal choice and responsibility. And obviously there are a few more nuances to it than my simple explanation. Nonetheless, what holds true: finding value is crucial.

A good read if you want to dig deeper on this topic: What is a Value bet?

#5: Bet Win Only.

Obviously this is highly subjective. But it is likely, and studies have shown the same, that if punters back their selections “win only” they will win more in the long run. One could also argue: if you didn’t believe strongly enough that your horse has a better chance of winning than the odds suggest – even if it is a 20/1 shot – why bother backing the horse anyway?

Place terms are often poor, they favour the bookie. Keep in mind even a 9/1 “each-way chance” – a relevant example because this is often the cut-off price for punters as their confidence in win-only dwindles and they feel it’s big enough a price for a decent place return – will only place around one in four times (~7% win). Not exactly ‘value material’, particularly in races with 1/5 place terms.

Even if you are decent at identifying so called “each-way value”, you’ll struggle to turn this into sizable profits long term – I believe.

Now, you can make exceptions to the rule: put simply, some people will be better suited to each-way backing due to the nature of their psychology. Even if in an ideal world we fully eliminate emotions and feelings, the reality is a different one. We’re humans after all.

Some punters simply can’t stand losing, let alone long losing runs – which tend to be inevitable if you back win-only.

Each-Way betting offers the opportunity for tasting success on a more regular basis. There are professional punters who know full well they would make more money if they’d go win-only all the time. But if they would do so their mental state would prevent them from being successful and making confident selections day in day out.

There are also some other reasons to consider each/way betting once in a while, as outlined in this excellent piece by Simon Rowlands.

With that in mind, it is not to say you can’t be profitable backing each-way. But it is much easier in the long run to go win-only – if you can be endure losing runs. It’s certainly not for me, although I still have the occasional each/way bet, regardless.

Most will agree, though: keep your fingers off multi-bets, parlays and the likes. You’re gonna be the bookies best friend if you’re handing in a “Lucky 15” every Saturday.

Yes, the promise of a massive payout is sexy. In truth, you’re hardly ever win one of these bets, if ever! The value on these multiples is non-existent. It’s heavily skewed toward the bookmaker. Sure, some folks get lucky. But that’s it: luck. Some people get lucky in the lottery. Luck isn’t what influences successful long-term betting.

“But it’s fun!”. Some may say. And it’s probably true: having a Lucky 15 running on a Saturday through the ITV card can be fun. But only until one sees the first two selections finishing tailed off. It’s the moment when reality bites: losing isn’t fun. Never.

#Bonus – Put in the Effort.

Racing is an immensely complex sport. So many parameters to consider. So much information available through many different resources. You have to make sense of it and find a way to put the puzzle together in a way it works for the individual.

Consistency breeds success (not only in betting). This requires some level of (minimum) effort that goes beyond checking the left-hand column of the racecard and reading the spotlight comments.

Questions I consider asking regularly: what is it that you do, you know and see that others don’t do, know and see? What is your niche? How do you get to a point where you can confidently make decisions on the value of a specific horse and its price in a given race?

To get there requires effort. One could say it requires work. Doesn’t sound like fun? Well, we love horses. We love racing. If that wouldn’t be the case we’d find it difficult to put in the effort – it would feel like “real work”.

I know if I put in the effort it feels like work. Yet this is work I do enjoy, in fact. Because I do love racing. And I do love working through the form book, through the stats and video clips, figuring out the value prices, solving the puzzle and finding winners…. and having a positive ROI to show for all the effort in the long run is the reward.

Without this enthusiasm for putting in the effort you’ve lost before even started.

Side Notes: a couple of thoughts I want to add – not specifically rules, more general guidance in addition to the Golden Rules that are important for me:

  • Keep a Record: you will struggle to keep track of your P/L if not. You will also be able to identify where things work well for you. Is there a specific race – class, trip, course – where you’re consistently able to find value? Are there specific situations where you simply can’t get it right? Keeping records is paramount.
  • Realistic Expectations: It’s unlikely you’ll get rich with your betting. But if you do it smartly you may earn a little extra cash that can pay for holidays, a new car or at least the pints and entrance fee to the race track. Something like 5-10% ROI is certainly attainable.
  • Consistent Staking: Find the best method for your bank and betting style and stick with it. I use a flat stake to keep things simple. All I need to decide: do I believe so strongly in the chance of this horse that I want to invest? If so then I do want to be on with my full stake, regardless of price. I understand proportional staking may be the more profitable way to go long-term. But in the end it comes down to what suits ones personality best.
    Recommended read: Choosing A Staking Method
  • Avoid Odds-On Shots: value can be found in any price – even a 2/5 shot could be value. But let’s face it: the amount of races you have to win consistently to make a profit is high. Racing is a volatile sport. Things can go wrong quickly. Even odds-on shots win only about every second race. Backing all odds-on shots would result in a certain loss. Of course nobody does that. But you would have to be incredibly selective and a superb punter to turn it into a profit long term. It’s not for me. One saying resonates with me when it comes to odds-on shots: “you can’t buy money”.

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There you have it: those are my golden rules of betting on horses. Obviously a lot of is deliberately kept simple. Further details need to be filled in by oneself.

The issue of “getting on” isn’t addressed, obviously. I’d argue being successful in the long run isn’t the challenge any longer thanks to all the resources available today. But account restrictions and premium charges make life difficult. That’s a different topic altogether, though.

My Betting Review 2019

2019 is over! It’s been a year that has flown by like Paco Boy thundering past his rivals in the 2010 Lockinge Stakes! The last twelve months were intense. Certainly on the betting front: a real roller-coaster year!

As in 2017 as well as 2018 I like to do a detailed review of my betting year: overall results, what worked, what didn’t work, plus key lessons for the new year.

2019 in numbers:
  • 635pts Profit
  • 20.09% ROI
  • 336 bets
  • 45 winners
  • 13.39% Strike Rate

Overall it was a good year once more – the third profitable one in a row, with 9/12 months in green.

2019 was also about an ever increasing difficulty in “getting on”. My accounts with any high-street bookmaker are limited to cents now. Liquidity on exchanges for the low grade races I am usually interested in isn’t always a given either.

Nonetheless, compared to to other years I placed more bets than ever before, however, for lower profit and lower ROI than in 2017 and 2018. Which is perfectly fine – 20% ROI is plenty and any profitable year is a good year after all.

In reflection I have to be critical of myself as well because there were days when I simply gave in to my urge to have the bet because I somewhat fancied the horse without having all boxes ticked on my “checklist”. Something to address: no bet, no problem – my mantra, which I want to follow even more rigidly in 2020.

It was also a year where I missed out on some big scores. Some massive prices denied on the line – in fact my selections hit the post a whopping 80 times!

The Good:

Turf delivers the goods: A 385pts profit! I was losing in this sphere last year so I am delighted to see my slightly revised focus on how to approach the turf paying off. UK only posted 485pts (without class 6 Handicaps, a massive 615pts!).

Highlight was clearly the 1000 Guineas victory of Hermosa at 16/1. The majority of winners came in the lower grades though, class 4 and 5 Handicaps – which really is no surprise as it’s always been my happy hunting ground. Windsor and Brighton turned out to be the most lucrative tracks.

1m & 2 furlongs: The mile and a quarter trip is a clear standout profit wise: 465pts+ profit, 9 of 26 successful bets – British racing provided all winners (of 20 bets, +515pts).

Jump racing: 275pts profit, thanks to another decent Cheltenham Festival, including 22/1 selection Al Boum Photo in the Gold Cup. City Island (11/1) landing the Ballymore was another fine winner during the Festival week.

Lately the French Diesel D’Allier’s success in a Cross-Country Chase at the Cotswolds venue helped boosting a profitable 2019.

I wanted to be much more selective here, as the last years taught me my knowledge and understand of the day to day world of jump racing is simply not good enough to make it pay in the long run. The bigger races, though, have always yielded a fair return as more data – and reliable data – is freely available that helps me to make quality calls on races.

The Bad:

The All-Weather: My bread and butter. A 15pts loss! To compare: 605pts profit in 2018. Something went badly wrong here. I don’t think my selections were poor. A lot of big prices hit the post. However I know that in autumn in particular I lost focus a bit and made selections there were not quite up to the high quality I would expect of myself.

Class 6 Sprinting: A total disaster. Regardless of the surface, a 200pts loss is a clear sign for what to avoid moving forward. Across the board from 5 furlongs to 7 furlongs, in the lowest grade I struggled badly. It’s such an issue in higher classes, though. Apart from the minimum trip, specifically on turf. These are trends manifested from years before as well.

25 losers in a row: Not a single winner in October – tough autumn. It’s those long losing runs that test your mentality as a punter. However it also shows how tight the margins are: if Delphinia would have got up in the super tight finish on British Champions Day it all would have looked a little bit different – a 25/1 shot denied on the line.

2020 Outlook:

Hopefully another successful year. Potentially even more selective, with less bets and more quality, that’s the aim. Combining several different data points with my own form analysis will remain the method of choice in identifying potentially well handicapped horses, likely in lower grades.

If I can’t answer the question “Is the horse well handicapped” with a resounding YES I’ll revert back to “no bet, no problem”.

Avoiding class 6 races on turf altogether. Be properly diligent in my assessment on anything below class 5 on the All-Weather before placing a bet while swerving sprint races on the sand.

The odd group races will still keep me entertained. Speed ratings tend to hold up well in those competitions therefore they remain of interest in the right circumstances. I also enjoy writing more complete and in -depth previews of the big Group 1 races.

Become even more selective on Irish racing. Don’t get sucked into the excitement of the bigger meetings. I always struggled to make it pay.

Complete Betting Record

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Sunday Selections: June, 16th 2019

Newmarket Rowley Mile Winning post

It’s been another pretty quiet week – but, with only the second bet of the week (the first one  came yesterday as well and was a major disappointment, mind) the betting bank got a major boost, thanks to Gold Mount’s (SP 16/1) decisive victory in the Grand Cup at York.

To be honest I didn’t expect that after he drifted badly before the off, only minutes before the race available at 20/1. It was clear expectations were low and my worry this might only be a pipe opener seemed reflected in the market. On the other hand, even then, given his class, which I felt stood above the rest in the field, should see him go close.

In the end Gold Mount outclassed his opposition:

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2.30 Salisbury: Class 6 Handicap, 1m 4f

A quick one for today – I am missing the good prices as just as I made my decision to back this lad his odds start to tumble. Regardless, he remains one to back here – talking about favourite Robert Fitzroy who’ll take a lot to get beaten today.

He drops in grade after a highly encouraging 1 lengths beaten 4th place finish at Doncaster recently. That is fair form and I expect him to be able to improve for the different ground today.

As he ran to a top speed rating of 66 that day, equivalent of his current handicap mark, any improvement this still fairly lightly raced gelding can find, will likely be good enough to get his head in front today.

The ground conditions are the most likely factor that can have positive impact. Robert Fitzroy is a full-brother to smart filly Bolder Bob who is a multiple winner over this sort of trip with plenty of cut in the ground. Big Bad Bob offspring generally tends to perform well in soft ground conditions anyways.

SDS on board is the cherry on the cake.

Selection:
10pts win – Robert Fitzroy @ 3/1 MB

Friday Selections: May, 10th 2019

DSC_1100

First winner of the week with Lincoln Park (11/2) yesterday. It was a peach of a ride by Silvestre De Sousa, utilizing the good draw in the best possible way; Lincolm Park lead pretty much start to finish, even though he was hard pressed for a while. It looked like some of his rivals were travelling stronger turning for home, but the 3-year-old kept finding.

The listed Dee Stakes were an intriguing contest. The favourite Circus Maximus won it as he was entitled to do. He had the run of the race, in truth. Moving forward I’m much more keen on stable mate Mohawk, the runner-up. I was looking forward to his return this year, and was pleased with this performance.

Wherever he goes next, granted he gets decent ground, he could be value and underestimated I feel, given his profile and achievements to date aren’t quite as sexy as some of his stablemates.

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6.50 Nottingham: Class 5 Handicap, 1m 2f

You need to have ultimate confidence in favourite Group Stage at short odds to find a hell of improvement on handicap debut now as a 3yo. Not impossible, but hard to say 3/1 is a good price.

The one I’m interested on is Michael Stoute’s handicap debutatn El Picador. He’s got a phenomenal record in these type of situations and we know his horses usually improve with time.

El Picador is clearly down the packing order in the yard, although an opening handicap mark of 72 could underestimate him quite a fair bit. He didn’t show a lot in three starts as a juvenile in the second half last year. And his seasonal debut at Wolverhampton last month was also rather poor.

However, he was an 18/1 shot that day, and travelled like an inexperienced horse, who was found out for speed in the home straight, while also looking a bit awkward as his rivals quickened away.

First time blinkered today is interesting, to keep El Picador possibly focused on the job. Stepping up in trip that will suit well on pedigree should also help to see him in much better light today.

That in combination offers enough potential to see this well bred son of Dansili improve enough to overcome a 72 handicap mark, I believe.

Selection:
10pts win – El Picador @ 8/1 PP

Wednesday Selections: May, 1st 2019

Newmarket Rowley Mile after race

Finished April with a winner and thanks to that with a small profit. Ashazuri (6/1) finished her race really nicely and took advantage of the featherweight she carried. It could have been so much better, but both The British Lion and Chaplin Bay only managed third place.

Well, on to May now…. where the flat kicks properly into gear. The Guineas and Kentucky Derby looming large on the horizon – exciting!

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5.00 Ascot: Class 4 Handicap, 5 furlongs

Top weight Tomily drops down to class 4 as well as to a sexy mark – he’s an obvious choice in an open contest, where many could put claim on running well, but few appear truly well handicapped.

Tomily ran well enough on his seasonal reappearance in a hot race at Kempton last month. That’s a positive after his form clearly tailed off in the second half of last year.

However he was competing in much hotter grade than this today of much higher marks. He managed to run to TS ratings of 90+ on three occasions in 2018, albeit on the All-Weather. But he was also less than 3 lengths beaten in a strong class 3 sprint at Ripon in May.

So, if Tomily can regain anything near his best today he’ll be hard to beat in hands of a very capable 5lb claimer in the saddle.

Selection:
10pts win – Tomily @ 15/2 MB

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7.25 Brighton: Class 6 Handicap, 7 furlongs

Maazel is frustrating horse to follow, usually having a few issues at the start and then running consistently into trouble, so the last few times on the All-Weather as well as three weeks ago here over course and distance.

He got a few bumps along the way, made up a lot of ground after starting slowly but was squeezed badly inside the final furlong.

He’s down a mark of 55 now. That looks definitely a handy mark, given he ran to higher TS ratings in the past on turf and AW, most recently in March at Lingfield when he ran to a TS rating of 58. So if he can get a clear run in what appears not to be a particularly strong race, he should go close.

Selection:
10pts win – Maazel @ 15/2 MB