Latest News:

Saturday, 16 October 2021

The Integrity of Using Bots on Betting Exchanges

I use Betfair on a regular basis. 

Compared to placing bets with conventional bookmakers (which seems a waste of times these days as they limit bets to a point of £1 win) they are a logical platform. 

You may have heard of punters using bots to place bets on the exchanges. They do all the work so you don't have to. I can't say I have used them myself and have little understanding of how I would make one. 

Considering I have no understanding of computer coding, I think it would be a long time before I made anything that could place the most basic of bets. Anyway, I have been chatting with my good friend Eric Winner as we both (like many punters) would love to have a bot to place bets akin to a passive income. Obviously, we would need to find an angle that made money on a consistent basis. That is no easy task because winning money is far from an easy endeavour. 

Anyway, let's get past the point of this elusive winning angle. 

I wonder if a bot kept winning would the powers take note and use it to their own ends? I have no idea but we have seen with all platforms and terms and conditions that any user is at the mercy of the owner. So I have to question whether such a winning bot would be winning for long because it may well be used by others who tinker with the code to take your profit and put it in their pockets. 

It may be a cynical thought and something of George Orwell's 1984 but it does make me wonder if the profitable bots would be left to their own devices.

I would love to hear your thoughts.

Sunday, 10 October 2021

Professional Gamblers: J.P. McManus - From Humble Beginnings

John Patrick McManus, almost universally known as 'J.P.', was born in Limerick, Republic of Ireland on March 10, 1951. 

From humble beginnings, McManus rose to become a horse racing tycoon – at the last count, he had a net worth of €2.2 billion – with hundreds of horses in training on both sides of the Irish Sea. He became tax-resident in Switzerland in the Nineties but, while he conducts the lion's share of his currency dealing operation from Geneva, he owns Martinstown Stud in Kilmallock, Co. Limerick, which acts as his base on his frequent visits to the Emerald Isle.

McManus' racing colours, adorned in recent years by retained jockeys Sir Anthony McCoy and Barry Geraghty, were originally 'borrowed' from his cherished South Liberties Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA) club. Nevertheless, since he bought his first horse, Cill Dara, in 1976, his distinctive green and gold hooped silks have become synonymous with National Hunt racing in Britain and, in particular, with the Cheltenham Festival. Indeed, McManus is the most successful owner in the history of the March showpiece with 66 winners, including seven during the four-day event in 2020. 

Nicknamed the 'Sundance Kid' is his early years, McManus is also one of the greatest professional gamblers of modern times. At the Cheltenham Festival, two early gambles, on Jack Of Trumps and Deep Gale in the National Hunt Chase in 1978 and 1979, respectively, went awry when both horses came to grief, but McManus finally opened his account with Mister Donovan in the Sun Alliance Novices' Hurdle in 1982. Trained, like Jack Of Trumps and Deep Gale, by Edward O'Grady in Co. Tipperary, Mister Donovan was, as O'Grady later fondly remembered, 'a maiden with a heart murmur'. Nevertheless, having been bought by McManus just a month before the Festival, he duly prevailed at odds of 9/2, landing bets worth £250,000 in the process and offsetting what his owner described as a 'distastrous first day'. 

Down the years, McManus has been the architect of several more notable betting coups at the Cheltenham Festival. 

In 2002, his unbeaten Like-A-Butterfly was sent off at prohibitive odds of 7/4 to win the Supreme Novices' Hurdle and had just been headed by Adamant Approach, who looked the likely winner, at the final flight; the latter parted company with his jockey, Ruby Walsh, leaving Like-A-Butterfly to pick up the pieces. 

Thursday, March 16, 2006 was another red-letter day for McManus, when he won £600,000 in one hit from legendary bookmaker 'Fearless' Freddie Williams, courtesy of Reveillez in the Jewson Novices' Handicap Chase, and a further £312,500, courtesy of Kadoun in the Pertemps Final later the same afternoon. 

More recently, in 2013, McManus landed another Cheltenham Festival gamble with Alderwood in the Grand Annual Handicap Chase, which, since 2009, had been the 'getting out stakes' for the week. Already a Cheltenham Festival winner, having won the Vincent O'Brien County Handicap Hurdle, all out, in 2012, the nine-year-old was having just his fifth start over fences and, consequently, lined up just 1lb higher in the weights than the previous year. Backed at all odds from 6/1 to 3/1 favourite throughout the day, Alderwood took over from Kid Cassidy, also owned by McManus, at the bypassed final fence and drew away in the final hundred yards to win, comfortably, by 3¼ lengths. Kid Cassidy finished second to give McManus a 1-2 in the race, in the right order, while Alderwood chalked up win number fourteen for Irish-trained horses during the week. 

Nowadays, McManus makes fewer excursions to the betting ring than was once the case and appears to be in no desperate hurry to announce a successor to Barry Geraghty, who retired in July, 2020, as his new retained rider in Britain. Nevertheless, with the likes of Epatante, Champ and Easysland, to name but three, at or towards the head of the antepost markets for their likely engagements, in the Champion Hurdle, Cheltenham Gold Cup and Cross Country Chase, respectively, at the 2021 Cheltenham Festival, he has plenty to look forward to.

Author: David Dunning

Thursday, 7 October 2021

Free Horse Racing Tips

You never know who is searching the net. 

I received an email from Neil C, asking if I was interested in selling horse racing info. 

Firstly, I like people who introduce themselves and have money to put on the table. I bet you think, yes you would because you're interested in the money. You know what, you would be 100% wrong. 

I say that because I don't have anything to sell. 

That isn't completely true as I could easily sell my tips but I don't want to as it's a thankless task and a distraction from making money myself. I'd rather enjoy horse racing for me. 

Who wants to be held accountable for a paltry sum? To be honest, I would have to be earning an additional £40,000+ a year to be bothered with the hassle. Unless I could secure that level of investment I really wouldn't want to share my info or time (the latter is more important). 

Neil asked me about selling info to him. 

I enjoyed his email because it was well written, courteous and grateful for my time. (As I am of him for taking the time to write and take an interest in Craig's Betting Blog and Talkbet, where he contacted me).

I invited him to subscribe to Group Horse because it is informative and free of charge. I mentioned that I am adding to the mailings so we will be sending on a weekly basis because two mailings a year are positively sedentary. 

We'll never simply fire emails at subscribers as a way of filling our pockets at the expense of the receiver. It's disgusting and self-interested. 

I've paid for a couple of online courses and every other email is trying to sell something. I do find this a touch irritating. It seems the nature of the beast that once you're on a mailing list they just cannot help but keep going to the well. I think website and blog owners need to respect those who are good enough to sign up for whatever they offer without becoming a pain in the arse. 

We will never get to that point. It has to be 99% free stuff and 1% selling. Clearly, we need to make money along the way but I intend to sell products that actually make money and something that cannot be found anywhere else. In addition, we give a guarantee that if we do not live up to expectations you will get a full refund. You may not appreciate this point but sending emails can be a very expensive business. ConvertKit charges $119 a month to send to 10,000 subscribers. I think the price is bordering on criminal. In fact, if you send monthly mailings to 105,000 subscribers it cost $679 (a month). What on Earth is that all about.  

As far as selling horse racing tips go, I think the industry is stuck in the dark ages. Their marketing is literally dire and lacks imagination. 

I'm not going to say too much about how I am going to work and what I will be offering but it will be something that punters are looking forward to receiving at an affordable price. 

If you want to be part of our journey to ventures new, then subscribe to Group Horse because you will be impressed by what we have to offer and especially the new approaches we will be introducing this year. 

Thanks for your support. 

Pixabay: free for commercial use and no attribution but given  

Do You Need to Bet Thousands to be a Professional Gambler?

Lots of people like a bet. 

They do as they do. 

Although I am not in favour of punters betting for fun. 


Simply because too many gamblers are naive to what they are doing and the potential implications of that first, small, bet. 

Sure it makes the football match more fun. 

But tell that to the compulsive gambler or addict who started the same way. I know you will say: ''Well, that won't happen to me!''

And you know what, I agree with you. On a statistical basis, you are, thankfully, unlikely to become a problem gambler or struggle with psychopathology. 

But here's the thing you need to consider. If you bet for fun, and you lack experience, knowledge, understanding then don't consider yourself the same as the few gamblers who make their betting pay. 

I'm not trying to be funny, but you are a million miles away from them. 

''Well, how are they so good?''

They have worked for years to hone their skills. You see to be a professional gambler isn't about betting thousands of pounds. You may have seen a few wealthy (naive) punters betting thousands like you bet £25. 

Trust me, that doesn't make them a professional gambler. They may be a professional idiot with a bundle of cash to burn but it's like saying the person who shouts an answer to a question is the most intelligent person in the room (just because they have similar DNA to a foghorn). 

You notice a lot of these professional gambler/pundits on TV. Most of them made their name by betting big money. That doesn't mean they know more than the person who bets quietly £100, £200 or £500 a time. However, everyone wants to know about extremes. TV shows are built on stories based on conflict. That's why Emmerdale Farm went from talking about cows in the field to a plane crash where half the cast was killed (partly, I guess, because their acting skills weren't much better than Ermintrude from the Magic Roundabout). In this day of political correctness, we cannot say she was a pink cow just in case there is some confusion about sexual orientation or prejudice.

In ten years' time, Emmerdale will see an alien invasion where the actors are replaced by robots.    

It's the same as all forms of media. 

That's why the Daily Sport wrote a story about the Men of March Public House in our little town saying it had so many windows so the girls in the ''brothel'' could easily see the police coming (no pun intended). 

It was all lies but it sold a few papers. 

A professional gambler, in my opinion, doesn't need to be a big bettor. 

They simply follow their undoubted passion in a very professional way. They didn't wake up one morning and consider they are a professional gambler just because they bet their gran's inheritance. 

Just as a plumber, an electrician or plasterer didn't wake up one day and decide they would be a tradesman (or woman).

You may think betting is betting but it's not. It's no different to someone trying to change an engine on a Porsche 911 but they have no idea the engine is in the back. In fact, you don't even have any tools. 

This is why to be a gambler with any hope of winning money comes down to a game of knowledge and principles. You can be exceptionally good at picking winners but still make little money because you lack the many and varied principles to be efficient in all you do. 

This aspect of gambling is even more important than the exceptional knowledge you may have at hand. 

In truth, the best gamblers are the ones who don't really enjoy gambling at all. They do so because they are convinced they have the odds in their favour. Anything can happen short term. You could have 20 losers in a row. To others, it may look like you have no idea what you are doing. However, long term the truth will show. 

TV adverts detail gambling as fun. The buzz. If you bet for the buzz then start beekeeping, at least you get a jar of honey. 

Betting is a serious business. 

When you calculate how much a gambler can lose over a lifetime betting a tenner here and there it's a scary thought. If you smoke, drink, and gamble (to excess or badly) your health and finances are going to look like you - a shadow of your former self. 

The best gamblers in the world aren't the people with books and notoriety they are the clever people who keep their mouth shut and get on with business in a professional manner and love their sport with a passion. 

They don't need anyone to pat them on the back to say well done. 

They couldn't give a toss.

Tuesday, 28 September 2021

Do You Need to Smoke Cigars to be a Professional Gambler?

Both my parents smoked. 

One loved a pint and Castella while the other a vodka and cigarette. 

I told my mum many times that it just wasn't lady like to smoke a cigar. 

That's obviously a joke. 

However, I would love to meet a woman who could afford to pay £500 for a box of 20 cigars. For her personal use. A good, heavy smoker. 

I get the feeling she'd have a story to tell. 

I think they must be a rare breed.

My Dad loved a cigar. He always smoked Castellas. A box of five back in the day cost £5. So that's a quid a piece. I have no idea what they cost these days. If he was feeling flush he would upgrade to a King Edward. I wish I had bought Dad a box of Cuban cigars. It might have taken me a year to save the money to buy such exotic refinery. 

I know on the box of each cigar it says: ''Smoking kills'' but I know my father would have killed for a good cigar. 

I'm pretty sure smoking did him no favours and may have cut his life short. A sad loss at the age of 62. 

If anyone deserved a long life it was this good, kind man who did his best for all. 

It's a strange thing that all those years Dad smoked his cigars I couldn't smell that distinctive aroma. 

However, years later, if I got a waft of cigar smoke down the street or at the races it would catch my senses and memories of my Dad. 

To be fair, I don't think there are many people who can afford to smoke these days let alone a cigar with a touch of class. 

I've never smoked but for some reason I have this feeling if not need to buy a sample of pricey cigars and smoke them while attending Great Yarmouth racecourse. This seaside racecourse fills my heart with joy with the fondest memories and feeling of family, hope and love which I never really thought much about until the passing of my Dad. 

I actually bought a couple of cigars which are still awaiting the day and this has been several years. I'm sure they must have dried to a crisp and if lit would burn like a fuse rather than a pleasant smoke. 

There has always been an association with professional gamblers and smoking cigars. I guess because you need a fair wedge to even buy a cigar. Something tells me that someone who buys a cigar that costs £25 a time isn't going to Honest Joe Turf Accountant and bet five pound each-way on number ten. 

Dad would be at the races, smoking his cigar, and betting. To be fair he was betting ten, twenty or a little more cash if he was on a winning day.   

I'm going on our merry pilgrimage to the Eastern Festival this September at Great Yarmouth races. We go as a family to remember those who are sadly no longer here. I really need to buy my box of Cuban cigars and walk around the racecourse and light a cigar and say: ''Thank you, Dad.'' 

For all those good times I took for granted. 

I just wish we could go to the races once more and I say: ''I've got you a little present.'' 

And offer him the best Cuban cigar that money can buy. 

For all those people who saw my Dad smoking his cigars at the racecourse he wasn't a professional gambler but the kindest most decent man you ever could meet who loved a cigar. 

God bless.

Photo: Pixabay free for commercial use and no attribution but given 

Thursday, 23 September 2021

Can You Win Playing Roulette at the Casino?

The short answer is no. 

However, there is more to that answer than meets the eye because it doesn't guarantee you will be a loser if playing at a brick-and-mortar casino or going online. 

So how can there be a difference from having seemingly no chance of winning to some chance when we are still playing the same game of roulette? 

It has a lot to do with how long you play and how you bet.

Let's face it, the only way you can win playing roulette is to get lucky. Sometimes we all need a little bit of luck. In fact, some people have made a fortune by wishing on a shooting star. 

For example, wouldn't you rather have an ounce of luck when you have a bet to win one million than one pound?

Clearly, we can all appreciate that thought.

In ways, gambling at the casino and especially at roulette is the same. Believe it or not, I have won good money at the Grosvenor Casino in Great Yarmouth, Norfolk. This listed building has a touch of class - then I turned up!   

I've won several hundred pounds betting no more than £20 - £50. And starting at small stakes is really one of the keys to winning because you set your limit and really have little to lose but something to gain. 

With a little bit of help from Lady Luck. 

So what's all this luck about?

As I said earlier, the only way you will win when playing fixed odds is via luck. You may imagine there is some skill involved but I don't think there is any evidence that you can manipulate the statistics to improve your chance of winning unless you cheat. I know a few of you will say you can use the martingale system and you're sure to win. The trouble is you may need a million pounds to win a tenner if black or red comes up umpteen times. And you will find that the limit of perhaps a couple of grand bet on a single number puts pay to you doubling up infinitely. 

Even if you could do it, I don't think it would be a good idea. Simply because black came up 20 times, it still levels you devils it will come up again. In fact, it is slightly less as you may have noticed zero is green!

However, I do consider betting on the single number is the key to you, potentially, winning money. 

To win you need a touch of luck and that can come up just as easily on a single number as it can black or red. The difference being one pays even money while the other thirty-five to one. 

Simply play your stake betting on the same single number and hope it is your lucky night. If it comes up once you are pretty much guaranteed not to lose and if it comes up twice you are flying high. 

It's as boring as watching paint dry, but, in my opinion, it is one of the few ways you spend a little with the chance of winning a lot. 

Good luck to all.  

Pixabay: Free for commercial use and no attribution 

Saturday, 11 September 2021

Do You Follow Trainers in Form?

I remember watching Racing UK, as it was known in the day and James Willoughby said there was literally no logic following a trainer in form. 

Now, I know James is an intellectual and he certainly knows a lot more about statistics than I do  (although I do have an understanding from my research within psychology, which is enough to bamboozle the life out of me). I enjoy his analysis although I do feel his rambles can go on a little too much at times and listeners lose the thread of the subject matter. That's talking about horse racing let alone statistics, which to most people in the human race equates to watching paint dry. I was going to say listening to paint dry but not sure if that makes much sense, but you get the idea. 

He is very much in the mould of John Berry who is another racing pundit (and talented horse trainer) but someone so stop-start in his dialectical materialism that I am kind of fascinated and losing the will to live at the same time. Please, if you are fans of either or both, these words are not meant as a criticism as I admire both and they have a lot more to offer than the generic racing pundit who would be at a loss without the classic cliches (which well and truly have me pressing the mute button). 

I do enjoy an original thought or piece of information (even a word) which tells me this person knows their stuff. That is a rarity if not difficult when talking in soundbites for a media that isn't really interested in going above and beyond the norm for the happy medium (which is a fair stat in itself).

But here's the question: Do You Follow a Trainer in Form?

Whether this has one ounce of logic or not, I do tend to follow horse trainers who are in form, and even more, try to avoid trainers who are missing the mark. 

Richard Fahey started this two-year-old season out of form. It's a surprise as he is normally a handler who literally hits the turf running. Fahey said after a number of two-year-old disappointments that his early string was simply not as good as they had hoped. Which must be a bitter pill for any trainer to swallow. These things have to be taken in the context of a whole season because Mews House, Musley Bank, Malton won't lack in classy two-year-old because based on a numbers game they must have 100+ in their ranks. 

However, the fact the stable has struggled to win with their two-year-olds this season does make me keep my money in my pocket until they start to find the winner's enclosure. 

Similarly, Brian Meehan has started this season with a bang and a purple patch with just five two-year-olds running so far and four winners, three on debut, two at double-figure odds. 

Throughout the season we will see a number of peaks and troughs with trainers and they will (hopefully) come out the other side with a few, if not, many winners. Sadly, a few well-known horse trainers struggle when the winners dry up, being funded by a few rich owners who rightfully want to see success. 

I remember Olly Steven was one such trainer who made it public that he had a couple of years to prove his worth or his hopes and dreams would fall by the way. He started his career with a number of two-year-old talents and things looked prosperous but the second season didn't see such rich pickings and he fell by the way. 

Just think of the number of talented horse trainers who have come and gone. In this economic climate, I am sure many others will be fearing what the future holds. 

I felt sad for Mark Brisbourne who had a small string but a very talented trainer and very much a family concern. However, after a 30-year career and sending out 560 winners his business was literally culled when the Earl of Bradford sold the land to build five homes and he was left with no option but relinquish his trainer's licence. 

His fateful words: ''I'm being forced to quit.''

Racing is all about the horse's finishing position but also the story behind trainers big and small. 

Sometimes those very statistics hide a bucket full of tears. 

Photo: Mark Brisbourne 

Wednesday, 1 September 2021

There's Nowt So Queer as Folk

Even though I come from the Fens I like this Yorkshire saying: ''There's nowt so queer as folk.'' 

I like to think I'm a good, kind, decent, and generous person. 

Words are always open to interpretation and I'm sure a few people have read my blog posts with varied thoughts. It depends on the quality of the post and the topic. 

At times, I have been a bit annoyed by something and I'm sure people have considered I'm a half-mad grumpy old man, and a bit full-on in my belief I know more about two-year-old horse racing than just about anyone on planet Earth. 

If you worked to understand your niche for over 30-years I'd be disappointed if you didn't think the same. I'd question what you'd been doing to learn so little over the duration. 

I hate to say it, but I believe in the quote: ''No good deed goes unpunished.'' 

You do someone a favour and by the time it comes to bringing the lawnmower back they've convinced themselves it really belongs to them and it's a pain in the arse bring it back. Or the other scenario when they bring it back and you find when you try to use it again - it's broken. 

''It was perfectly fine the last time I used it,'' says the borrower. 

(Yes, of course, it was!).

As The Doors classic 1967 song goes: ''People are strange when you're a stranger.''

Anyway, I have a mailing list in which horse racing fans can subscribe. It doesn't cost them anything. Readers receive 10 Dark Horses, which, basically, detailed a denary of unraced or lightly-raced two-year-old horses. Not just any old horses but exceptional talents. 

Being a generous soul, I thought I would add some more quality info for readers. And I mean quality. 

Here is a rundown of the new info that will be mailed about once a week. 

Now, by joining, readers will receive:

  • 10 Dark Horse Mailing
  • Secret Gambler Diary
  • Top Trainer Secrets
  • Group Horse Daily 
  • Pro Tips 
  • Speculative Tips 
  • Quality Articles
  • Psychological Edge

To be fair, the tips will be few and far between. Probably just 10 or so a year. But everything is top quality. And I mean above and beyond the norm. You know, all this stuff takes time. I think a lot of people imagine they are doing me a favour by joining the ''bloody'' list. If anyone really thinks that well they can go and jump off a cliff. They will probably be following a favourite horse.

You know what happened?

I had four people unsubscribe. 

I truly couldn't care if everyone unsubscribed because it makes sod all difference to me. In fact, I would have more time to please my self.  

So, strangely, you give more value and some people are seemingly offended or turned off by the addition. 

Mailchimp forwards the new subscribers and those who unsubscribe. I could, in theory, contact the unsubscribers and ask why they jumped out of the plane. I won't because I respect people's opinions but, similarly, don't want to be bogged down, depressed, or on the cliff edge with them by reading some bizarre logic. I'm sure a word or two on the infamous mailing may have irritated the few. 

I did mention that we have a maximum of 2,000 subscribers so make sure you read each and every email else the account may (I may have said will) be deleted. 

I said I may sell online courses in the future. That I will guarantee will make people money (more than the cost of the course, that's for sure).

That may have irritated someone who has short arms and deep pockets. 

Who knows...

I'm not going to ask them to find out. I know I should for the sake of market research but I cannot be around negative people. They are the equivalent of a bloodsucker who enjoys sapping your hard-earned energy and unlikely to give you anything back. 

As my good friend Eric Winner says: ''There are too many takers.''

Sadly, there are too many takers. I don't bump into many, as I don't give too much away these days because I have learned a few lessons along the way. 

It really is something and nothing. 

And I am sure I am a fully-fledged member of the Grumpy Old Man Club. 

I guess it is simply the fact of giving more and somehow someone is offended. 

''How dare he give me more...''

''The front of that bloke to give added value...''

''The beast...''

''I'm going to unsubscribe.''

Here's my response.

Good. Thanks for departing the little world I live in. I have created it to please me. And that's the way it is going to continue. 

That's to the four bloodsuckers who turned left at the sign detailing 1 mile to the town There's Nowt So Queer As Folk. 

I'm awaiting more unsubscribers with this sitting on the horizon.

Monday, 23 August 2021

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


Ironically, for a devout, lifelong atheist, Phil Bull (not pictured) 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.


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.’

Monday, 16 August 2021

Why Do Men Go to the Pub: To Talk Shit & Tell Lies

Unfortunately, we can't go to the pub with the lockdown but I'm sure we can all associate with this blog title. 

It was inspired by my actor friend, Simon Fowler, who does a daily live chat on Facebook. He talks about life and all the toils and tribulations. Also, all the love in the world which he says in his own kind of way. 

He talks about mental health and issues especially true to men who have often suffered from the British stiff upper lip. 

Simon quoted the comedians Mel Smith and Griff Rhys Jones. When they used to sit across the table and chat about nothing (but at the same time everything). 

I used to drink like a fish when I played rugby union for March Bear, based in the Fenland town of March in Cambridgeshire. As I have said about my experiences of playing rugby it is a sport you learn a lot about yourself and others. One thing you can guarantee is that if you play rugby long enough, you will suffer an injury or two. I noticed with the forwards and lot of dislocated shoulders, the odd broken leg, nose, and even jaw. 

No wonder people used to like a good drink after the game - it was a pain killer. 

I must admit I've never been too much of a drinker at the races because the combination of alcohol and betting isn't a good mix. Not even Del Trotter would have a Creme De La Menthe at Kempton Park. To be fair, people have outlandish stories about gambling before they get stuck into the amber nectar. 

We'd go to Yarmouth races and then spend an evening at the Grosvenor casino. You don't need many pints an hour to slip under the table. 

In fact, the last time we went, just before lockdown, my cousin, who I won't name, returned from the casino at 6am. 

I concluded that he must have been winning at 4am because drink and tiredness must-have set in by stupid o'clock. I figured winning was the motivation to keep alert enough to play a few more hands of three-card poker (a game that really plays itself). I don't know what sort of conversation was going on but it was definitely pub talk. I'm sure there were a bit of swearing and pork pies too. 

As the old TV advert used to say: ''It's good to talk.''

It is good that in recent years people have felt more open to express their concerns about mental health because we have all had our moments. Once upon a time, people were stigmatised by saying they were struggling. I'm not saying people are still not tarred with the same brush but I think the UK is more accepting (especially in times of lockdown) that people may be suffering. 

And, you know, I'm pretty sure that's why so many men love to go to the pub and talk shit and tell lies. 

If anyone is struggling with depression or mental health problems then it is good to talk. 

So often in life, all we need is someone to stop for a few minutes to listen. 

If I can help, I'm always here.