Welcome to the World of Horseracing

Record of the blog selections

Profit for the 2016-17 Jumps Season = £84.38

from wagers on 26 individual selections (4 winners, 6 placed)

Total Staked = £280.00

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This blog is based on finding winners - if you want to lose your money then read another blog.
advising selections on which to wager, since March 2010.

Wednesday, 24 May 2017

Holiday reflections

I'm currently on holiday (Sri Lanka) and I've been thinking about the blog and the way forward.
My opinion is that betting in general on horse-racing is becoming tougher mainly due to the expansion of rating services which is chiselling the "edge" away from old hands like me.  Horses which used to go off at 10/1 are now running with an SP of under 5/1 - what that means is that the "risk" factor is being reduced. 

To explain, I generally try and operate on a winner from every 5 wagers (20% strike rate), so to break-even my winners have to have odds of 4/1.  To make a profit, my selections have to have average odds of 9/2 or longer.  After building-in "margin" (about 2pts) and risk of the unexpected (another point), I'm looking for wagers at odds of 8/1 or longer on horses that I consider to have a chance on my odds-line of 4/1 or shorter.  Those opportunities are getting fewer, and I am looking at ways of overcoming the situation.

I've been reading a book called "Against The Odds - the remarkable story of risk" by Peter Bernstein.  It confirms what I had already concluded myself (although I do not consider myself a scholar or professor) that knowledge of risk is understood by very few.  I have made note of a passage which summarises the 1992 paper (by Kahneman and Tversky) titled "Prospect Theory": "Theories of choice are, at best, approximate and incomplete... Choice is a constructive and contingent process. When faced with a complex problem (ie. horseracing) people use computational shortcuts and editing operations." Since 1494, when Luca Paccioli set out the basics of algebra in his book Summa de arithmetic, geometria et proportionalita, mathematicians have tried to ascertain how to measure risk as a formula and, essentially, all have failed - although in the intervening years each advance in risk management has brought a greater understanding of risk and its complexities. What reading this book has confirmed to me is that few people understand what risk is, so if you don't understand it how can you value it? However, if you are to make a long-term profit from gambling on horseracing then you must at least make due allowance for risk in the structure of how you wager.  Right now, I don't think enough people take risk into account when placing a wager, and so they accept odds that do not accommodate a reasonable element of risk. It is not good enough just to bet on the winner of a race if the odds do not accommodate risk and offer the punter "value" - unless you are capable of finding winners at a very high strike-rate; and by high I mean over 40% of all wagers must win. If you do not accommodate risk within your odds assessment, then you will lose in the long run. 

What this has led me to consider is that with high a turnover of wagers, shortcuts have to be taken and, in taking shortcuts, you end up making decisions with incomplete or approximate information. As such, I will be intending to reduce the number of wagers I make in the coming 12 months to enable me to take as much information into account as possible.  With a reduced number of wagers, there needs to be a corresponding increase in the stake applied. Some years ago, I suggested that in order for wagers to have significance they should be at a level at which losing would "hurt". I took this from the memoirs of Sir Clement Freud and, at the time, I suggested the wager amount should be a days wage.  This produced a fair amount of comment back then, and I expect it will do the same again. As a freelance consultant in construction, I know what my daily rate is but, if you don't and you are on a salary then you have to divide your salary by 230 which is approximately the number of days a typical person works in a year. You can do this in your head by dividing your salary by 100 (if your salary is £40,000 divide by 100 equals £400), then halve that number (half of £400 is £200) and taking off another 10% (that is 10% of £200 which is £20), so £180 is a days wage for someone on £40,000pa.

I will be trialling this approach over the coming weeks, and the Royal Ascot meeting will provide several suitable races. I will be using every tool in my betting armoury to make a profit including laying-off my stake before the off should the odds provide the opportunity.

Post-blog notes: some differing responses via twitter with one suggestion being to give up betting on horseracing altogether, and another suggesting I increase the number of wagers and reduce the stake rather than reduce them and increase the stake. I have tried that latter suggestion before privately, but that is akin to adopting horseracing betting as a full-time occupation. This blog is essentially to provide readers with entertainment and information that will (hopefully) provide a profit. 

Friday, 14 April 2017

Easter thoughts - a time of reflection

The 2016-17 Jumps season hasn't been successful for me, in fact it has probably been the worst for my betting bank since I started blogging back in March 2010.

I need to update the profit & loss scenario for advised wagers on the blog, but I'm putting it off as it probably won't be good reading. I think, or perhaps I know, what the problem for me has been this season, and that is time - or (rather) the lack of it.

The way horse-racing is developing now into a season fixated on the Cheltenham Festival - and that has been made very evident by the lack of competition for some of the Grade 1 races at last weeks Aintree "Grand National" meeting -    is that horses are being prepared slowly and you cannot know just when they will be at their peak.

A perfect example of this is Saphir Du Rheu who I advised a wager on for the 2m5f chase at Cheltenham on 28th January. The ground that day was soft, which was perfect for the horse as he'd won the Lanzarote Hurdle a Class 1 "Listed" handicap on soft, and the Grade 2 "Cleeve" Hurdle at this meeting in January 2015. His worst ever run on soft ground had been over an inadequate 2-mile when a novice hurdler. The 2m5f trip was also suitable as he'd won all 4 of his completed races at a similar trip (only failure was unseating his rider in a novice chase won by Coneygree). He should have been race-fit as he'd run 3rd at Ascot in October over 3-mile and he'd fallen early-on in the Hennessy Gold Cup so, all-in-all he should have started the short-priced fav for this race and not had an SP of 6/1 when running off OR153 - especially when you consider his good performance in the Cheltenham Gold Cup last month which has resulted in his Official Rating being raised to OR162.
Instead, he was given a "gentle" ride by his jockey and only started racing "proper" after the 3rd last fence by which time the eventual winner opened-up at least a 12-length lead. Sure, Saphir Du Rheu managed to peg-back the leader, and some may be wanting to describe this as an ill-judged ride. However, the horse was so tenderly ridden until the 3rd-last fence that I think his trainer was ensuring he still had something to work with for Cheltenham. Remember, when he won the "Cleeve" Hurdle in 2015, he went to Cheltenham as the 5/1 fav for the Grade 1 "World" Hurdle over 3-miles and came home 2nd beaten by Cole Harden - a horse who has not won again since - so it's possible that trainer Paul Nicholls wanted to get plenty of work into this horse in preparation for the Cheltenham Gold Cup.

Some will read this and say I'm just griping and that there are always hard-luck stories - that is the nature of placing wagers on horse-racing. And there is an element of that in this post, but I need to cleanse - draw a line under this jumps season and put it behind me. Writing this post is one of the steps that forms part of that process. The next will be formulating a way forward, and then finding a way of putting that into practise.  What I do know is that what I've been doing this season while being good, just isn't good enough.  Coming 2nd is not the same as winning.

Saturday, 8 April 2017

The Grand National at Aintree, 2017

First thing, the great race itself.
I went through the runners earlier in the week, and my opinion hasn't changed. 
My opinion is that the ground is possibly on the soft side of good out on the National course and the race may be more testing than expected.  I want horses that genuinely stay the trip on my side and I want horses that are well prepared with this race in mind.  I've narrowed the field down to 4 horses - 
Blaklion (14/1), Perfect Candidate (50/1), Pleasant Company (16/1), and Thunder and Roses (33/1).

As for the other races on the card today, I am expecting CHARBEL to win the novice chase at 3pm, but then he is odds-on today. The handicap chase at 3:40pm over 3m1f looks a good race to be involved in and I am taken by POTTERS LEGEND who stayed well at Cheltenham LTO and looks the type to keep improving.  Some of the others still have to prove their stamina at this sort of trip, or have been off the course for longer than I would like, but Potters Legend is in decent form and has been running consistently. 

In the Stayers Hurdle over 3-mile at 4:20pm, I have thought this is the trip for Yanworth all season, but his run in the Champion Hurdle LTO was so poor that I feel he has something to prove today and I would not want to be on him. The Irish challenger Supasundae is on the upgrade and could be the one to be on, but this in another race for me to sit out.

As such, I'm concentrating on the Grand National and my idea of the eventual winner is BLAKLION. He has only 11st 1lb to carry and he has that touch of class having won the RSA Chase at Cheltenham as a novice last season. He has been prepared for this and I know him as a very consistent performer.  I am expecting big runs from the other 3 on my shortlist too.  PLEASANT COMPANY is another that has been aimed at this race by Willie Mullins and there is no better jockey than Ruby Walsh, so he will not lack for preparation. PERFECT CANDIDATE is on my shortlist as he stays the trip well, is a front-runner (and sometimes it is tricky to peg back the leaders in this race), and won LTO so comes here in top form. THUNDER AND ROSES is an Irish Grand National winner and is sent here by the trainer of last years winner, "Mouse" Morris.  He has been running well without winning all season and can go well here. 

My advised wagers are
BLAKLION - £6.00 win @ 14/1
PLEASANT COMPANY - £3.00 eachway @ 16/1
THUNDER AND ROSES - £2.00 eachway @ 33/1 
PERFECT CANDIDATE -  £2.00 eachway @ 50/1
Most bookies are a minimum of quarter-odds a place to 5-places, but NOT Betfred or Ladbrokes so avoid those two.

Friday, 7 April 2017

Aintree Day 2 - Friday 7th April

We had no luck yesterday as Bristol De Mai never took a single jump cleanly and lost a couple of lengths at nearly every fence.  He managed to keep himself in contention even so, and if he can just learn to jump better then he could be top class.  If he cannot master jumping fences then perhaps Hobbs will do a "Big Bucks" and send him hurdling over trips around 3-miles.

Top Notch looked over-the-top in the opening race, and I expect he's done now for the season.  I have noticed in recent seasons that Henderson can bring his horses to a peak at Cheltenham from which they can only go downhill from if racing again that season.

As for Cue Card, it was a brave effort but he's not the performer of old and this was a run of pure guts. I rated him at 165 yesterday, about the same as his win at Ascot in February and the same as his win in this race last year. However, last year he was a 10lb better horse and had plenty in hand - this year he was flat out.  That puts Tea For Two on 165 as well, and what is good about this horse is that he's improved with every run this season.

Today we have a couple of hurdle races and then the Grade 1 Novice chase over 3m1f.  This brings together the 1sts & 2nd from the RSA Chase at Cheltenham last month: Might Bite and Whisper. There should be no excuses for Might Bite this time and we should see another fantastic effort from him.  However, Whisper loves this course and has won twice before over hurdles at this meeting, so he will be in his element.

The Grad 1 Melling Chase at 3:25pm is very competitive and, on my ratings Fox Norton, Sub Lieutenant and God's Own are separated by only 3lbs. Also, both Kylemore Lough and Royal Regatta are capable of running above 155. With Fox Norton having to prove he stays this 2m4f trip for me this is a toss-up between Sub Lieutenant and God's Own.  However, with the Ryanair form taking a knock yesterday (both Aso and Empire Of Dirt ran poorly) my head goes with GOD'S OWN.  There will not be much in this and the odds offer no real value.

I'm not going to attempt to fathom the 30 runner "Topham" Chase over the National fences, so onto the 3-mile Grade 1 novices hurdle which looks a bit tricky.  The front pair in the betting - The World's End and Constantine Bay - both suffered in the 3-mile novices hurdle at Cheltenham and are running on "what-if" rather than form. As such, I'm more taken with the 3rd-fav West Approach who even though a novice was raced in the Stayers' Hurdle at Cheltenham after running 3rd in the "Cleeve" hurdle in January.  He could be a lot better than this field as he has the highest official rating at OR157 which is 8lb better than The World's End.  Odds of 6/1 (BetVictor) look fair eachway value (5th odds a place 1,2,3) but you have to wonder if the Official Rating is realistic.

The ground looked a little testing out on the National course yesterday and that puts me more in favour of BLAKLION for the big race on Saturday. However, I will almost certainly be sticking to my 4 of Blaklion, Perfect Candidate, Pleasant Company and Thunder And Roses.

No advised wager today.