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Between March 2010 and April 2017, this blog recommended wagers on 520 individual races on Jump Racing in the UK, resulting in a PROFIT of £1,525.39 on cumulative stakes of £5,726 - this is equivalent to a Return On Investment of 26.60%.


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Thursday 23 January 2014

Caught by the short & Curley's (again)

Yesterday, a significant betting “coup” was pulled-off that was almost certainly engineered by Barney Curley. There has been a lot of “hero” worship of the man considered the scourge of the bookies but, in my opinion, this hero-worship is misdirected.

Here is what I wrote on 16th September 2010.
At Yarmouth, Barney Curley sends a couple. The one that interests me is his progressive hurdler ZABEEL PALACE, currently 11/1. If he’s fit to race, then he’ll win this doing handsprings (he’s reated OR129 over hurdles and I usually discount by 40lbs for a flat rating, ie OR89 which makes his rating today of OR66 a handicap snip). However, if he’s spent the summer eating grass in a field then he’ll no doubt come last. Paddock inspection required!

Here is what I wrote on 20th July 2010
Barney Curley is a name that puts fear into bookmakers, and he struck last Friday evening in the last race on the card at Newmarket by winning with his only runner of the day - AVISO.

Think about this; Aviso, which won off OR67 at 25/1, had won the Group 2 German 2000 Guineas as a 3yo, with the Mark Johnston trained Champery in 3rd. Champery then won a Listed race in France NTO and ended up with a rating of OR107 before he died as a 4yo. How does an OR110+ Group 2 winner at a mile end up at OR67 in a Class 5 handicap at Newmarket over the same trip? Well, it doesn’t happen by it running well. It has to run, and run poorly for its handicap to drop. Read this note on its running; “Took keen hold, soon tracking leaders, lost place over 1f out, eased.” That was Aviso on 29-Mar 2009 when trained by Curley, and it came 17th of 19 in a class 4 handicap. Aviso has now won 2 of his last 3 races at odds of 6/1 and 25/1.

 The methods of Barney Curley are fairly simple.

1.       Buy a horse with proven ability (yesterday’s winner Eye Of The Tiger, had won a Group 2 over 12-furlongs in Germany as a 5yo in 2010).

2.       Leave horse standing in a field for a long time not being trained (Eye Of The Tiger did not run from May 2010 until April 2012 – nearly 2 years off the track – when it ran appallingly badly).

3.       Force handicapper to re-assess rating by sending horse to race when unfit and watch it be easily beaten. (from May 2012 to September 2012, horse dropped from OR102 to OR56 having run last (or 2nd-last) in 5 consecutive races).

4.       When rating has dropped enough, train horse to race-fitness and send out to win.

The unfortunate thing about this is that, on the face of it, no rules of racing have been broken – and that is an appalling oversight by the BHA. It is one thing for a trainer to send a race-fit horse to contest a race over an unsuitable trip or on unsuitable ground as that can be construed a fact-finding mission. It is quite another to send a totally unfit horse to the races whereupon it is soundly beaten.

Consider the Rules of Racing:
Clause 45. Duty to secure the best possible placing;
I think this should be amended to include a sub-clause which state a horse should be fit enough to race to its merit. If a horse is found unfit to race (which has resulted in an exceptionally poor performance) then the stewards may order that (a) the horse is to be banned for life, or (b) the official rating is to remain unchanged.

The adverse publicity for this coup by Barney Curley means that (for the general public) the image of horseracing being “bent”, “fixed” or some other derogatory term, is reinforced.  Only last Friday, I was talking to some friends over dinner and discussed this blog: “Isn’t all horseracing fixed?” came the reply. No, it’s not (I replied), but sometimes I feel like I’m ploughing a lone furrow in giving it my support.



  1. Ian that's a really good argument you put up there, however for me, your / this level of understanding about horse-racing is potentially the big attraction for would-be racing fans.

    If people want a sport with immdeiacy they try basketball or 20-20 cricket. Easily understood, easily digested, easily forgotten. To a certain extent, racing could be the same. You go, you bet, you curse / celebrate and then forget about it.

    But if you have a yearning for depth and complexity and layers in, well, anything (music, art, whatever) then racing can give you that too as you have ably demonstrated! You've invested time and energy in gaining an understanding of the sport (and what Curley gets up to time and again) and have a handle on the 'ducking and diving' aspect of the game. Why can't anyone else?

    Bent? I don't know, since everything is there if you invest some time to understand what's in front of you.

    See you on Linked IN!

  2. I backed Heurtevent at 10/1 and it got pulled out when 11/4 fav in the 1.40 Catterick, Im now left wondering why ?? Were they paid to withdraw it, official reason ground, but the horse had run on ground a lot worse. It leaves a sour taste in the mouth

  3. Good post.
    The only positive I can take out of this is that knowing his work in Africa might get a financial boost. Otherwise, you're right. It's farcical that it falls within the remit of the rules that time and again, someone can exploit a loophole so flagrantly.

    What of the honest punters who bet other horses in the races? What about the wider damage to the reputation of the sport, as you say?

    1. Honest punters? Should work harder / understand more Should lay off if they suspect someone is 'at it' or not get involved in the first place.

      Here's a real disgrace they have every right to get indignant about: The mysterious withdrawl of horses in 16-runner handicaps and in the outer stalls at Chester in races up to 7f 122 yds.

    2. Yeah, honest punters.

      The guy who puts his money on every morning or reads his form and tries his luck. There is no way to read a Curley race so any shrewd punter leaves well alone. That's not good for racing. Plus these horses were concealed so anyone backing any other horse was on a loser before they started without a clue.

      It's just poor practice & he's about as punter friendly as a case of the clap.

      Your points are fair but that doesn't excuse Curley's dodgy efforts too.