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.
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).