Wednesday, 20 November 2019

Professional Gamblers: The Secret Guide to Phil Bull's Betting Success


Ironically, for a devout, lifelong atheist, Phil Bull once said, ‘I was bred to be a saint, you know’. Born on April 9, 1910, in the small town of Hemsworth, West Yorkshire, Bull was the son of William Osborne Bull, who began his career in the Salvation Army, but later worked as a coal miner and as a sanitation engineer, and Lizzie Jessop Watson, who was a Sunday school teacher. He was educated at Hemsworth Grammar School and at Leeds University, graduating with a modest degree in mathematics in 1931. Bull subsequently taught mathematics in London and did not abandon the teaching profession, at least, not entirely, when he embarked on a career as a professional gambler, which would make him a familiar figure on British racecourses for decades afterward.

Interest in Gambling

Later in life, Phil Bull recounted almost certainly apocryphal stories of how he was taught the rudiments of odds and betting parlance by his mother in early childhood. Nevertheless, Bull started betting, to small stakes, as a schoolboy and, during his studies at Leeds University, his mathematical and research skills, coupled with his abiding interest in horse racing, naturally led to the statistical analysis of race times. Following graduation, Bull continued to develop a unique technique for evaluating horse racing form, based not only on relative finishing positions, as was commonplace, but also on race times. Bull bet on the conclusions of what became ‘Temple Racetime Analysis’ with no little success and, in 1938, starting selling information, by mail order, to the general public. Initially, his teaching job precluded using his own name, so the ‘Temple Time Test’, as the service known, was sold under the pseudonym ‘William K. Temple’. The Temple Time Test proved highly successful, so successful, in fact, that Bull gave up his teaching job to concentrate on gambling for a living.

Golden Rules

In 1970, Phil Bull published his ‘Ten Commandments’, which, paraphrased in less ‘Biblical’ language, read more or less as follows: 

1. The selection source is unimportant, but bet only on selections you consider value-for-money; avoid the temptation to bet in every race. (As a side-note, on the subject of value-for-money, Bull was not afraid to bet odds-on).

2. Luck, the law of averages and staking plans are delusional, so place no faith in any of them.

3. Bet according to your means and adjust your stake according to the chance of your selection, as you see it; a selection with a greater chance deserves a higher stake.

4. Do not bet each-way in large fields, unless you are satisfied that the place portion of the bet represents value-for-money.

5. Shop around with bookmakers and the Tote to find the best prices, according to your judgment.

6. Do not bet ante-post unless you know your selection is a definite runner.

7. Do not buy systems; if you come across a profitable system, keep it to yourself.

8. Bet in doubles and trebles if you want to, but not on objections.

9. Make wise, attentive betting decisions and adopt a patient, cautious approach to betting, but do not be afraid to be bold if circumstances dictate.

10. Bet only what you can afford to lose; increasing stakes beyond your means, even in the short-term, can lead to catastrophic losses.


Thankfully, from a historical perspective, Phil Bull kept meticulous accounts, just over three decades’ worth, of his ‘serious’ betting activity between 1943 and 1974. However, it is worth noting that, even before the start of that period, Bull had won enough money by backing Pont L’Eveque, winning of the so-called ‘New Derby’ – a wartime substitute for the Derby, run at Newmarket, rather than Epsom – in 1940 to buy a five-bedroom, detached house in Putney, South-West London. In 1944, the year in which he was bombed out of his London home, prompting a return to Yorkshire, Bull had a ‘serious bet’ on Dante, beaten favourite in the 2,000 Guineas and, always one to stand by his judgment invested heavily at 5/1 and again, at 10/1, on the same horse to win the New Derby. At Newmarket, Dante was sent off at 100/30 favourite and won by two lengths; Bull collected £22,000, or in excess of £958,000 in modern terms. In 1952, Bull enjoyed his most profitable season ever, collecting £10,500 for an investment of £1,700, in various bets, on 1,000 Guineas-winner Zabara and £8,000 on Middle Park Stakes-winner Nearula; all told, that season he collected nearly £38,000. Another notable success came in 1963, when, after a series of unfavourable results, Bull staked £1,000 at 20/1 on Ebor-winner Partholon, thereby recouping all his previous losses. According to his own accounts, between 1943 and 1974, Bull made a total profit of just under £296,000 which, even at the most a conservative estimate, is the equivalent of over £3 million in modern terms.

The Mathematics of Betting by Phil Bull pro gambler

Aside from his early work under the pseudonym William K. Temple, in 1942, Bull published his treatise on betting, entitled ‘The Mathematics of Betting’, under his own name. The following year he published ‘Best Horses of 1942’, the first in a series of annual volumes that would ultimately evolve into the ‘Racehorses’ annual under the ‘Timeform’ banner. Indeed, the first Timeform annual ‘Racehorses of 1947’ followed in 1948, and included an essay and numerical rating for each horse that ran on the Flat in the 1947 season. Remarkably, the four highest-rated horses, according to Timeform, filled the first four places in 2,000 Guineas, in the correct order, and were led home by My Babu, whose entry read ‘should win 2,000 Guineas’. In 1975/76, Bull published the first edition of the Timeform ‘Chasers & Hurdlers’ annual, which extended coverage to the sphere of National Hunt racing.


In promotional material for ‘Bull: The Biography’, published in 1995, Phil Bull was billed, justifiably, as ‘racing’s most celebrated and successful punter’. Certainly, Bull was one of the most influential figures in the history of horse racing, developing an innovative technique for analysing form by awarding a performance figure to each individual performance by a horse. Nowadays, that practice is part of the official handicappers’ methodology for handicapping horses. However, although he won, and lost, thousands of pounds, Bull was by no means an inveterate gambler. In fact, he once said, ‘I’m not a gambler. Betting as such doesn’t interest me’, although he added, ‘Racing is different; it’s a continuing play with a fresh set of individual characters every year. Not a who-done-it, but a who’ll do it.’

Tuesday, 12 November 2019

Do You Have A Favourite Horse Trainer to Bet?

Horse trainers. 

Big, small, plenty in the middle. 

Why would you want to follow a horse trainer in favour of others? It's the same old story, you will have a better understanding of what they are all about. You will be in tune with the highs and lows but mostly you the opportunities which it brings. 

Know your niche. 

I follow lots of horse trainers. Studying two-year-old horse racing is very much about understanding strength and weakness especially how the trainer works. Because each has its own approach. If you don't appreciate this information you will be at a loss on all fronts. 

One of my favourite horse trainers is Karl burke. I always say if you can't make money following Spigot Lodge. I'm not going into how I make money from this outfit although it isn't particularly difficult to learn about the money trail. 

Which horse trainer is your favourite and how much success have you had?

Good luck to all. 

Monday, 11 November 2019

It Takes Research to be a Successful Gambler?

It's an interesting question. 

Are you the 1% of the horse racing population who does your own research? 

To be fair, I have no idea of the percentage of punters who do their own, independent research or study.

It may be more or less. I guess the first person to ask is you.

I have had this conversation with my good friend Eric Winner. And I know we have all done it, but, hopefully, we have all learned a lesson or two from our gambling pursuits over the days, months and years. 

These words paint a familiar picture. We go to the bookies. Look at the Racing Post on the wall. Read the last three pieces of form. Make a bet. And another loser. 

(It may have won!). 

Let's face it, it's not the best approach to finding winners. 

I wonder what percentage of the population does this day in day out. It may have been going on for years. Perhaps a whole lifetime of betting! The plus side, we simply need the memory of a goldfish (to appreciate the last three races). 

Swim around the tank. What was I thinking? I remember... I bet three starfish to one. Turn left, via the seaweed, under the ornamental bridge, have a quick bite of fish flakes and wait for the race to begin. 

I think it's the Derby. 

A competitive field of three guppies (2/1), angelfish (4/6f), and the outsider one of those suction fish who just sticks to the side of the tank (50/1). 

For God's sake be a piranha!

Everyone has their own way of doing things. Who am I to say what is right from wrong? As I have said umpteen times. The answer to the question is whether you make money or not. If you are winning, then keep doing what you are doing. If you are losing, then you need some aspect of assessment and re-evaluation. 

What troubles me about most people who bet is that many never learn from the day they placed that first bet. 

I don't know about you, but there is something very sad about that mentality. Would you go to college for years and come out knowing the same ''very little'' you went in? 

A little bit more education, certificate even if it isn't a Ph.D.  

But for many, the three-race analysis is the norm. You see it in bookmakers up and down the country. I have nothing against such use as a recap or just to familiarise your mind. But if that is the start and finish of your reasoning then it's a worry. 

You may think: ''So what!''

You're welcome to your thoughts. 

However, if you are expecting to make your betting pay by doing the same as Tom, Dick or Harry then you will probably suffer a similar failure. 

That's why doing your own research is worthwhile. I'm not talking rocket science. I don't expect you to turn a piece of lead into a gold bar. However, with your own research, you may find a seam of gold. Something lying in the pan other than shit. 

To achieve some level of understanding doesn't take much time or effort. 

What do you need?

All you need is an inquisitive mind and the ability to ask yourself a question. 

It might be something as simple as knowing a little more than most about a given horse trainer. You decide - you are going to be the font of all knowledge when it comes to a horse trainer. 

It could be anyone. 

John Gosden to John Ryan. It's your choice. Here's the key to understanding. What do you think 90% of the population of gamblers, race fans, journalists and pundits know about this trainer? 

Find a few questions about the 10% of the knowledge no one is talking about, bothers with or tries to understand. 

That knowledge may give you a chance of appreciating something that most do not. 

Trust me, you are getting nearer the gold.

I love doing my own research. Why do I bother? Well, with a little bit of work I know something which most doesn't. I can clearly see that the information yields a profit or, at least, steers me away from an opinion that guarantees I lose. 

The other day I detailed a thought. 

David Simcock. 

A decent trainer of two-year-olds. He has a fair number of winners. His juveniles often go well on their second start. But here's the question? What can you tell me about his two-year-olds on their second start? 

It's not a trick question. It is just me detailing what knowing or not knowing can reveal. 

It's like one of those questions on Who Want's to be a Millionaire. It may well be the million-dollar question (or at least £500). 

As I write this sentence I'm thinking: ''I know something you don't.''

Should that worry you? You may not give a rat's arse. Good for you. It makes no difference to me. I'm happy to live in my bubble of knowledge. It's a tranquil place, a cozy club chair, TV, laptop, and a bed with a mattress cushioned with a wad of cash.

We live in a world where knowledge is power. 

Did you know that for over 300 horses David Simcock has never had a winning two-year-old on its second start at odds bigger than 5/1?

It didn't take me that much time to find that answer. 

It didn't come from looking at the last three races published in the Racing Post, stuck on a wall in the local bookmakers. 

Funny how we are limited by a lack of questions and understanding. 

It's self-imposed. 

Friday, 8 November 2019

If Bill Gates & Warren Buffett were Gamblers

When Bill Gates first met Warren Buffett, their host at dinner, Gates’ mother, asked everyone around the table to identify what they believed was the single most important factor in their success through life. Gates and Buffett gave the same one-word answer: “Focus.”

Being a successful gambler is exactly the same. 

I have said many times before that principles, discipline and focus are even more important than simply picking winners. 

That is why it is so important to have your own niche. I mean, you may have a liking for a little bit of everything but you know there simply isn't the time to be the Jack of all trades. Do you really want to be the master of none? 

The Flat turf season is just about to conclude (8th November) and I'm looking forward to getting stuck into data analysis for each and every trainer. This helps focus the mind and makes it easier (if that's the word) to pinpoint horses with a better than not chance of winning. It is all about looking in the right direction. And understanding for a horse trainer where the winners start and end is very important. Each potential losing bet may have a very good reason why you shouldn't be betting. Often that comes from a quick look at the facts and figures. 

Of course, all horses are there to defy the odds. That's why every favourite doesn't win. Unless you are a backer of the good old jolly you should be thankful those outsiders pop up here and there. 

I think one or two fancy-priced winners throughout the season can make the world of difference. 

Focus is one of the key factors in keeping you on the straight and narrow. It's like shooting at a target. If you are looking to the right or left, you are likely to miss the objective. 

Good luck to all.

Tuesday, 5 November 2019

Would You Lay a Horse to Lose £999 to Win £1?

If you use the betting exchanges you will be aware that you can just about bet or lay any sporting event at odds of 999/1. 

For most mere mortals this would be a bet we'd push to one side and say that's a bit too rich for me. Well, the laying part of the bet. I doubt there are too many people who refuse betting £1 to win a grand (almost) if they thought the horse had a fighting chance. I'm not sure if I have ever bet on a horse priced at such huge odds. 

I've seen plenty of people betting/laying horses. 

Would you be tempted to lay a bet of £999 to win £1? How about £9990 to win £10? If your response was negative to the first two options, then I am wasting my breath asking about £99990 to win £100. 

It seems an astronomical bet. Almost a hundred grand to win ten cockles (£10 x 10). Surely, no one lays such bets? 

It's a fact they do. 

To be honest, most people don't have £100,000 in their Betfair account to consider such a wager. So who are these people? Where did they get all their money from? How much do they win? How much do they lose? 

I would love to get an interview with someone who takes these bets day in day out. What image comes to mind? 

The mind boggles. 

Clearly, they don't lack cash on the hip. The bank balance was buoyant before they got into this gambling world.

I follow the two-year-old horse racing and there is often a weak link in a race. Perhaps a small trainer with a horse which cost £500 taking on a favourite worth £1M. There are examples seen on a daily basis. 

This approach to betting intrigues me. Why? Because these people (some of them) are making a very good living from what most layers would view as crazy bets. For example, the other day I noticed a couple of outsiders in a two-year-old race which had very poor form. They came from small stables who weren't recognised as having much horsepower (so to speak). Taking a look at the betting, both had been backed a couple of hundred pounds apiece. So the layer was looking to win £200 - £300 by the time the race had concluded. They may have put the bet up in running hoping to catch a few ''mug punters'' as the horse looked to hold some hope at any stage of the race. 

When you consider these people are laying 999/1 shots like they are going out of fashion, it wouldn't be a surprise to learn they are making £4000 a day. For all I know, they could be making £20,000 a day. 

The only point of worry - if not terror - would come to dawn if/when one of these ''no-hopers'' gets its head in front. (The beast!)

To be fair the layer, if good at their job, maybe confident that the horses they take on cannot possibly win. (Perhaps a bold, if not foolish, statement) 

(You be the judge) 

Is it possible for every no-hoper someone lays to lose? That, somehow, they are correct to the end of their betting days? At which point they retire to the Bahamas to sit on a beach and think about all the money they won?

I guess some layers have done exactly that. 

But surely there is always a fear that one day the slowest horse on earth will sprout wings and shout to the crowd: ''My name is Pegasus and I'm going to f*** you over!''

Years back, I remember seeing an example of this. I can't remember the horse or trainer. It was a relatively unfashionable yard. The two-year-old had run twice and finished last on both starts and looks pretty poor. I'm sure some layers must have pinned the tail to the donkey and renamed this juvenile Eeyore. Anyway, this day the layers got it wrong as the horse ran a race of a lifetime and to make matters worse it was in a photo finish. The betting detailed it was a very close call. But it was favourite to win on the exchanges. 

It won. 

Joy for the backers who got 999/1. Horror and probably a loss which would see most layers living on the streets rather than a penthouse in Mayfair. 

Would you fancy laying a horse at odds of 999/1? 

Even if it meant you could live the life of a king (at least until that infamous horse wins).

Are You Tempted to Bet Odds On?

I guess we have all been tempted.

That odds on looks a certainty. It only needs to go up and down and the money is in your pocket. 

It's money without work!

When did you last take the plunge betting odds on? Today, yesterday, last year, a decade ago...or never ever (I promise).

Was it a good or a bad bet? I suppose that depends on whether it won or lost. Because, let's face it, betting on a short-priced favourite you need it to be numero uno. There's no hiding place. But you know the score. 

Fill your boots. 

Odds on shots are one of those subjects which sways your thoughts from one extreme to the other. We know the horse has ability, it's fancied by the majority of punter and probably 70% of all placed bets on the given race. That in itself it is a positive. If it was a popularity contest it would be a winner. From a statistical point of view, it is likely to cross the finishing line in first place. 

I don't know about you, but every time I don't bet on an odds on fancy they win and when I do they are weighed down by the burden of my pocket money and it all goes tragically wrong. 

Perhaps that is a little bit hyperbolic (I'm sure many a punter has shouted bollocks as Tommo takes pride in announcing your horse is struggling like a rag). 

You know exactly what I'm talking about. 

Generally, these days, I never bet odds on. I'm not saying I wouldn't because the whole point about an astute gambler is that you are open to any bet because working to a mandatory rule only comes back to bite you on the arse. I'm sure if we went back to the 1970s a few red-faced punters have the tooth print of Red Rum on their derriere. I'm not sure if he ever won or lost at odds on but you get the idea. 

It sounds painful in every sense: physically and emotionally. 

Following the two-year-old horse racing season, it seems to me a lot of odds on priced horses get beaten. Certainly, those priced from 10/11 - 1/3f. I think when you get to the realm of horses priced 1/4 or shorter it is difficult to get those on the back foot (although it does happen). 

The problem with betting odds on is that by definition you need over a 50% strike rate to be level. So cranking the odds to 4/9f you need a strike rate of what? (I'm terrible at maths but I know it is an incredibly high rate). 

I know a lot of people say: ''You're buying money''. 

It's probably better than putting your money in the bank! You get 5% on a 1/20f that cruises home. 

If you can make your betting pay then you have no need to grumble. That is and always will be the answer to the question. 

The problem comes into play when you hit a loser. God forbid a couple of losers. All of a sudden you are counting the number of winners you need to be back to even. How many losers can you afford? 

In this day and age of betting in-running, we have gone into a new dimension of odds on gambler. People who are happy to bet 1/100. When you consider someone betting 1/10 in-running you may think they are crazy, mad, foolish, idiots. 

The losers are exactly that. But what about the winners?

Because you can guarantee there are many punters (backers/layers) who are making a tidy profit by doing just that. 

How would you consider them? Perhaps they are simply delaying the inevitable when they get caught by a truly costly decision. 

It's an interesting question. 

Those who make money betting/laying odds on are correct. Well, as correct as they can be for the moment in time they are in profit. Who knows what tomorrow brings. 

I, personally, am very wary of betting odds on because I feel there are better options. However, it is probably foolish to tar every odds on punter with a brush which says it's a mug's game.

Have you ever bet odds on?  More important was it a good bet and are you looking to bet again anytime soon?

Betting Strategy: Are You Betting on Your Horse to be Backed

It's an interesting question.

We all like to see the horse we have backed supported by a point or two. It helps add to the confidence that your horse is a winner.

But do you bet on a horse simply because you are ''sure'' it will start at shorter odds? I must admit I have seen a lot of two-year-old horses and convinced the price I bet was brilliant value and it's odds-on to be backed. 

For a moment, think about this statement. You may have bet on a horse because you were sure it was decent odds. I can pretty much guarantee you didn't bet on it because you thought it was a terrible price.  

But how sensible is it to bet on a horse because you are basically waiting for it to be backed. If betting on the exchanges and trading you may only bet because you are looking to mop up a few points or even a fraction of a point if you are betting big money.

But here's the point. Can you ever know a horse is going to be backed? There could be any number of reasons why a horse would be backed or not. I've backed a few horses simply because I thought the price was going to be supported. This has seen a number of incredible bets and some very nice no-lose bets or winners. But also a number of horses that were far from backed. In fact, many drifted markedly in the betting and proved from a value point of view to be incredibly poor wagers. 

Betting on a horse in the hope it will be backed can be an inspired or foolish endeavour. 

What I find most difficult is trying to assess why a horse may be backed. The problem being that you may be convinced but betting is the sum of the populous and their opinion. There may be a good reason why your selection will be backed. You may have some insight from a trading perspective which makes you confident you can make some easy cash. 

However, if you are basing your reason that a horse may be backed just because you like it is probably a terrible idea. 

For me, I would bet on a horse simply because I fancy it to go well and happy with the price. If it is backed then that may well bring further confidence or an opportunity to lay some of the bet to cover the stake or, perhaps, lay the bet pre-race at half odds. I have done this plenty of times and had a bets to win a few grand. 

Without real understanding, there is no such thing as easy money. And betting on a horse to win compared to betting on a horse that you think will be backed is a very different thing. It takes a completely different mindset, approach, and skills.

You need to be disciplined enough to know exactly why you are betting. Don't fall in between two thoughts or opinions because the chances are you will come unstuck.

Sunday, 3 November 2019

Are Speculative Bets Good or Bad News?

Who doesn't love a big priced winner? 

I've had a few decent winners in my time. For example, winning £1,800 for a bet of £60. You know what I'm going to say, there have been far too many near misses or horses I didn't bet which turned into longterm regrets. The most disappointing bet of my life is one of these said outsiders. Unbelievably, it was priced over 300/1 on Betfair. You may be thinking I'm talking from the realms of cloud cuckoo land but as God is my judge it's perfectly true. A bet of just £35 to £10,000. With every winning stride of pure joy turned to dismay with the cruellest twist of fate.  

In the final half-furlong, the saddle slipped and the jockey went over the port side. I could have done with a big drink of something stronger after that misdemeanour.  

I am confident the horse would have won. You don't expect the saddle to slip on the Flat turf. But there you go. Gambling is never straight forward and winning and losing just moments in time. 

My brother has won a lot of money from a handful of speculative bets. For example, a bet of £20 to win £4,000. The horse was called Puggy, winning on debut for a relatively unknown horse trainer Roy Arne Kvisla, who had a season or two in the UK, after being a big name in his native Sweden. As it happened Puggy was a very classy filly who went on to compete in the Newmarket 1,000 Guineas. Anyway, that is another story, but a fantastic memory of what can happen when you bet on a horse at huge odds. 

Take a look at the race result here

Tony has had many similar days where he seemingly did the impossible. 

After all this talk, you must be thinking why wouldn't anyone be betting on 100/1 shots left, right and centre.

Here's the problem, not every outsider is value. Just as you need to assess the favourite because it's short odds you need to do the same with the rag to make sure it has something going for it. 

In many respects, betting on huge priced horses can be a frustrating business. However, good you are at finding these potential diamonds in the sand the strike rate is going to be low. It's the nature of the beast. 

Outsiders are a mirror image of favourites. 

Instead of a high win rate, you bet less in an attempt to win more. 

It may well be easier to put £2,000 on an even-money favourite than bet £10 at 200/1. The only answer to that question is your knowledge, insight and understanding.

The problem with betting on outsiders is that you feel you can take a risk because you only need one to pop up once in a blue moon.

That is true to a point. But as with so many things, it's a strength and weakness. Similar to the punter who does an each-way double to make a bet because the prices of each doesn't allow a single each-way wager. 

Are you trying to be too clever or trying to make a cup of tea with your beautifully crafted chocolate teapot? 

When betting outsiders you cannot afford to think just because you have big odds anything goes. 

It doesn't. 

Each and every speculative bet needs to be assessed as if you are looking at a favourite. Can it win? Is it value? Can it really beat the favourite... the list goes on. 

If these bets are pinned simply on the size of the betting odds you will be frustrated by the losses and the realisation (after the event) that very few were good bets. 

At best, speculative bets can be the turning point of a betting year or even a life-changing event. 

The day Eric Winner tipped a 100/1 winner!

When done to their best, they are a wonderful moment. To see that 100/1 shot hit the finishing line first is something very few punters will ever experience. However, betting on a big priced horse takes knowledge which far exceeds the favourite backers. Unless you have the odds in your favour the price means nothing at all. 

Good luck to all. 

Monday, 28 October 2019

Have You Ever Placed An Ante-Post Bet?

I can't say I have placed an ante-post bet for a hell of a long time. 

It was about twenty years back, a filly of Sir Michael Stoute's, probably before his knighthood! (He was made Knight Bachelor in 1998 for services to tourism in Barbados). 

The same year I won a gonk from the traveling fair.

I'm almost embarrassed to talk about the horse. It will remain nameless because although she got to the 1991 1000 Guineas, backed to 9/1 (I think I got 20s) this daughter of Darshaan finished 7th, some seven lengths behind Shadayid, trained by John Dunlop, ridden by Willie Carson for Hamdan Al Maktoum. 

The filly, I backed, was called Dartrey (see, I'm far too honest). 

In truth, I was dazzled by her three-length victory on debut at two. She looked an ideal candidate to shine for (Sir) Stoute and Sheikh Mohammed. We live and learn. 

For me, I don't feel confident anticipating a horse to win a race several months in advance. Obviously, an ante-post bet can be a few days to the race being run. But even before the final declarations, you are the mercy of someone's decision.

My brother, Tony, had much more luck with his ante-post bet when he backed Finsceal Beo to win the 1000 Guineas back in 2007. He bet about £500 at 7/2 or so because he was pretty sure Sander Camillo, trained by Jeremy Noseda, looked a weak link. It proved correct as she didn't get to the race and Finsceal Beo was seriously backed and won the 1000 Guineas priced 5/4f. 

Anyway, that's me dusting down a couple of old betting slips from memory at least. 

As you have probably gathered, I'm not keen on betting ante-post. The main reasons are common sense:

  • Often betting on potential rather than proven form
  • The fear of injury, regression or change of plans leading to a non-runner
  • No idea of the going on the day
  • Is there any good reason why the horse will be backed (they often drift out)

In this age of betting exchanges, at least gamblers have the option of bailing out or taking a few points profit if their horse is backed. In the days of betting with no opportunity to trade it really was a matter of do or die. 

If there is any race I would bet ante-post it would be the English 1000 Guineas simply that there isn't likely to be too many surprises. However, you really are on a loser if an unraced three-year-old pops up as a major contender. 

Do you bet ante-post and if so which races do you fancy your chance of winning?

Does the Betting Indicate the True Chance of Winning?

One thing all racing pundits love to mention is market movers.  

You know the score, horses which have been heavily backed or those big drifters. Is finding winners and losers as simple as watching the market? Well, clearly this is a very complex subject and one most punters have little understanding. I say this, because, unless you have statistical data to back up your opinion is it worth a jot?

Being a graduate in Psychology I learned enough to remember this simple maxim: ''Without objective testing theories are only guesses however good.''

Like it or not, that is 100% true. 

Without question, the betting market is telling us something. However, to what extent? Is it enough to make us cold, hard cash or just another one of the many promotional/marketing techniques to sway punters up a blind alley? 

I worry about any information promoted by bookmakers or horse racing publications as most of their revenue comes from bookmakers who are far from unbiased. They have many wonderful ways of addling the mind. 

So what do I know? In general, I have little idea about market movers. It is such a broad topic of conversation that it is difficult, if not impossible, to make a judgment based on fact. I'm sure if someone has the data to back up their opinions. 

My niche is two-year-old racing

I'm big on data because it is objective. I'm often surprised what an hour or two of research details. I'd rather understand the chance of XYZ if it saves me wasting my cash on a poor bet. And until we understand what the data is saying we are at the mercy of someone who knows better. Can you afford to be the naive punter who is waiting to be taken advantage of by an informed layer? That's the reason for knowing your niche. You cannot know it all for two reasons:
  • There simply isn't enough time.
  • Why do you need to know everything when you can double your knowledge by simply doubling your stake.
Each to their own, but I think punters are selling themselves short by betting on everything!

From studying two-year-old horse racing I've learned a thing or two (I still have lots to learn). From what I understand, the majority of horses are priced by the trainer. Clearly, this is related to the level of horse they train. However, each horse is (and must) be judged on its own merit. Even the smallest trainers get a good one if they train long enough. Often they are short in the betting. 

But do they win or lose?

However, there are exceptions to every rule and it is a mistake to consider that every short-priced horse means it is a winner waiting to happen. In particular, one trainer comes to mind. Brian Meehan is an intriguing trainer of two-year-olds and especially debutantes. Meehan's two-year-old debutantes at short odds are poor bets. I'm not saying they can't run a race and be placed but the chance of winning is unlikely. They are, without question, not priced to chance whatever the market may tell you. 

In contrast, Michael Dods is one of those trainers who can spring a surprise with his two-year-old debutantes at huge odds. They go very well at big odds, especially when racing at auction class on testing going. 

So does the betting indicate the true chance of winning? 

It does to a point (probably). To understand the truth of the matter you need to find the data to back up your opinions. It is remarkable how few punters do their own research. This is a mistake and reason why most gamblers are betting on hunches or flawed opinion. If you follow the crowd you will most likely lose. When most people lose at gambling you need to keep away from the opinion of the populous. 

To win at gambling you cannot afford to follow the crowd. For that reason, I would steer away from market mover (backed) unless you have the information to assess this data. In truth, I would rather consider those horses which drift in the market. Once again, this should be backed up with statistical data. 

Research is the key. Very few people bother to dig a little and find that golden nugget of information which sits in the pay dirt just below the surface. 

Good luck to all.