Monthly Archives: January 2016

OLBG Mares Hurdle Preview

OLBG Mares Hurdle Preview

(Registered as Doncaster Mares´ Hurdle)
(Grade 2)(CLASS 1) (4yo+) (2m 140y)

There are some quality races scheduled for this Saturday at Cheltenham and Doncaster and there will be lots of festival clues to be found, especially with the ground drying out. The OLBG mares hurdle at Doncaster is a fascinating little contest and almost all of the field can have a case made for them.

Only 2 favourites have won since 2008 and the last jolly to oblige was Annie Power a couple of years ago. Intense Tango is back to defend her crown but she has plenty of challengers from both sides of the Irish Sea and it promises to be an exciting race. If you are having a bet you should have a look at our preview below and discover who we think will come out on top.


This tough little 5yo daughter of Intense Focus has been admirably consistent for connections, hitting the frame on 11 of her 21 starts. She has won on the flat off a mark of 72, but her game is hurdling and she has been kept ticking over on the all-weather over the winter waiting for better ground. She was beaten only a head on her penultimate run off 87 on the all-weather at Lingfield at the turn of the year, and she ran respectably again there last time in a class 3 conditions race.

Her well-being is not in question judging by those runs and fitness will not be an issue. She bombed out on her last hurdles run behind Identity Thief, but the ground was soft at Newcastle that day, and she needs it good to soft or better to be seen at her best. It is looking like those will be the ground conditions at Doncaster on Saturday with the wind drying it out. She has to carry a lot more weight this year admittedly, but she looks sure to be primed to run a big race and put up a strong defence of her crown at the generous looking odds of 7/1.


Undoubtedly talented 7yo daughter of King’s Theatre who is 6 from 7 under rules, including a brace of grade 3s at Down Royal (16f) and Fairyhouse (18f) on yielding and heavy ground respectively. Suffered the first defeat of her career on her seasonal reappearance in another grade 3 at Leopardstown (20f) on heavy ground when she finished a well beaten 3rd behind Keppols Queen (11L behind Rock On The Moor in 2nd).

However, it would be dangerous to dismiss this mare on the back of one poor run, and she is undeniably a better horse than she showed that day. She could have been short of fitness and the 20f trip may well also have stretched her. She drops back down to 16f for this race and back on better ground she will make a bold bid from the front. She could be hard to reel back in if she is given too much rope and she is a serious contender at odds of 6/4.


This 6yo daughter of Hubbly Bubbly has made the frame in every one of her runs under rules. She has had 6 career starts and has won 3 of those by wide margins, including when stepped up in class at Haydock last time (19f heavy) when she hacked up by 8L in a listed heat. Her 2 novice hurdle wins came on good to soft ground at Worcester (16f) and Sedgefield (20f) so she is versatile regarding trip and ground.

This is another big step up in class for the Ellison mare though, and she looks likely to face stern competition for the lead from the Mullins horse. She is currently priced up at 15/2 and after her impressive win last time she is sure to have her supporters. She is not discounted and it would be no surprise to see a big run from this versatile mare.


This 8yo daughter of Flemensfirth is a mare I have been keeping an eye on ever since she won her bumper back in 2014. I was at Leopardstown the day she won her maiden (18f soft) and she really caught my eye in the parade ring. She is beautifully bred and is a half-sister to none other than the very useful Get Me Out Of Here, the perennial Cheltenham bridesmaid.

She is very lightly raced for her age and has only had 9 runs, winning 3 of those and hitting the frame on 2 other occasions. She was well beaten in grade 1 company behind Annie Power on her final run last season, but she showed it was too early to write her off with an excellent effort behind Keppols Queen (Morning Run well behind) in a grade 3 at Leopardstown last month (20f heavy). She has shown her best form on yielding ground so conditions will be to her liking tomorrow and if she strips fitter for her last run she will be there or thereabouts at odds of 9/2.


This 7yo daughter of Beat All has won only once from 14 starts and has been well beaten in 3 handicaps since returning to action this season. Her last run here over 19.5f (soft) at the start off this month saw her trail in 3rd of 5 off a mark of 109 and on all known form it is very difficult to see her troubling the principals here. Her trainer had a nice winner at the track on Friday, but it is hard to see him repeating the trick in this race and she is readily overlooked at odds of 33/1.


This 9yo daughter of King’s Theatre has been a revelation this season and will be looking to complete a 4 timer in this race. She has struck up a good partnership with crack claimer David Noonan and he is unbeaten on this tough mare, though he won’t be able to claim his 5lbs here. She has had 22 starts, winning 6 of those and hitting the frame on 9 other occasions.

She has shown a clear preference for decent ground, which she will get tomorrow, but the big worry has to be the 2m trip. Her last 3 victories have come at trips ranging from 19f to 21f and she hasn’t had a run over 2m since a handicap win off 112 back in March 2014. I’m not sure this test will suit and she looks a bit skinny at odds of 7/2, even if she is receiving weight from her main rivals.


This 7yo daughter of Passing Glance has been a great servant to connections. She has had 37 runs under rules, both on the flat and over timber, and she has managed to win 8 times, including 5 hurdle races. Her last win came in a class 3 handicap off 126 (16f good to soft) at Ludlow and she is a previous course and distance winner, another handicap off 123. She was 2nd behind Intense Tango in this race last year but she is far better off at the weights this time around.

She was pulled up behind Lily Waugh on her last hurdles start at Cheltenham, but the 20f trip and soft ground were clearly to blame and she showed she is in good form for this with a close 2nd on the all-weather at Wolves at the start of this month. The ground will suit tomorrow and she likes the track, but this looks a stronger heat than last year and she will do well to make the frame again at her current odds of 10/1.


This is a competitive looking race and as has been illustrated above there are a host of horses with realistic claims. Morning Run will likely go off a short priced favourite and if she can bounce back from her last run she could be hard to peg back. However, she won’t get an easy lead with Smart Talk in the field and they could end up cutting each other’s throats up front. The likely strong pace could suit Rock On The Moor but it is hard to forget how impressive Intense Tango was when landing this prize last season, and with the ground drying out all the time she is the selection at odds of 7/1.



Why The Best Horse Doesn’t Always Win

Why The Best Horse Doesn’t Always Win

I wrote this post before I sent the ‘Conditions to Suit’ post to Brian, I meant to send this through first, so if it’s a bit ‘back to front’, I apologise. Grab a coffee, make yourself comfortable and get ready for another BV rant…

I have been pondering something I read recently in Davey Towey’s excellent book, The Solidus, and one quote I want to share with you is the basis of this article… “The horse that wins is not necessarily the best horse in the race, the horse that wins is the one that has the most factors in its favour on the day”.

What I am going to tell you now may, or may not, be the difference between you personally winning or losing long term when betting horses, but it will hopefully encourage you to take a step back, think about, and reassess the basis upon which you make selections.

The average punter has a ‘back to front’ approach to betting I think personally. They start out looking for the likely ‘winner’ of a race, when in actual fact what they should be doing is looking for the most likely ‘losers’ in the race first.

By reversing this process, the punter allows himself the opportunity to ‘narrow down’ the field considerably to just the possible main contenders. It’s a lot easier to pick a winner from 3 potential selections, than one from 8+ selections I feel personally.

I started to use this concept towards the end of last year and I am scratching my head and wondering why on earth this simple concept never dawned on me earlier, it’s such a basic principle, unyet it’s one that many punters miss the boat on and pay dearly with a succession of losing bets.

In his book, “A Bloody Good Winner”, Dave Nevison also highlighted this realisation as a ‘eureka moment’ in his betting career also. It just makes so much sense to narrow down the field based on the factors a horse needs to be in place in order to run optimally and hopefully win.

The ‘find the winner in one go’ approach is easy I think, that’s the reason why many punters opt to go down that route. They see the jockey is a high profile one, or read in the Racing Post that so and so trainer is on the ‘hot list’ and they latch on to that as the main basis of their selection. The problem with this approach is that long term there is a huge downside to this – the market has this information also, and by the time you latch on to it (unless you get on before they do), the price has generally diminished to odds more advantageous to the bookie rather than the punter.

The best horse in the race doesn’t always win! The horse with conditions to suit on the day will always be the most likely winner. By eliminating horses where the conditions today don’t match the winning profile of the horse, there is a huge profit opportunity waiting to happen. Refer to my recent article, ‘Horse Racing – Conditions to Suit’ for a basic guide.

I use to use the ‘find the winner in one go’ approach, or more specifically ‘find the winner in 3-4 goes’ with my own betting on Betfair for a long time – trying to find a few horses in the race that could turn over the favourite at decent odds. I still do it now to a degree, but less so as I have turned the process around completely and make more money in the process just betting 1 or 2 at decent odds and laying a dodgy favourite at short odds in the same race where possible.

The steps are simply…

1. Start the selection process by ELIMINATING those horses that cannot win based on their required factors. This could be unsuitable ground, inadequate distance, breeding stats, poor jockey form, poor trainer form, weight, handicap mark, days since last run, course preferance, course orientation, jockey performance at the course, trainer performance at the course, age, draw, etc. These are all factors that come into play when deciding what cannot win.

2. Once you have eliminated those horses you feel are disadvantaged by todays race conditions, the process of finding the winner becomes a lot easier. You are then working with a few selections that on the face of it DO have conditions to suit – you have a potential edge over the market at this point.

I personally like to narrow a race down to 2-4 or less selections (depending on the number of runners in the race: 2-3 in 8 or less runner races, 4 in races where there are more than 8 runners). I know that if I am left with just 1 selection after going through the elimination process, I have a potentially good bet just waiting to happen.

Using this process was how I found Golden Chieftain recently, a winner at 16/1, and Baron Alco at 16/1 who was narrowly beaten into 2nd by another of the 4 I had narrowed the race down to at shorter odds. It was also how I found Realize who was a nice 6/1 winner for us recently and was the only remaining selection after the elimination process was completed.

And this process was equally effective as recently as today when we picked up the nice winner, Wild Tobacco at 11/1 in a selling race at Southwell where I felt the front 2 in the market were vulnerable and looked to find something more likely to win the race with conditions to suit.

By first eliminating horses that can’t win, you are better able then to find the ones that stand a good chance – the decision then can be undertaken based on the odds available to find some great value bets.

Something else I have realised, more so in the last couple of weeks, is that focusing on 1-2 races a day is better than trying to find the winner across multiple races and cards. Punters become lazy and tend to take ‘shortcuts’ when faced with to much choice. So what I start to do is focus initially on the most valuable handicaps of the day as the priority – races where there is a lot of information about the horses, and only look at the lower grade races where there is definitely a ‘stand out’ horse at the odds when my tissue price is very low compared to what the market is offering – the ‘value radar’ is always on for those opportunities!

Studing better quality races makes finding winners that much easier when you have quality information you can use to eliminate horses and find winners.

There is also another reason I do this now. Horses, Trainers and Jockeys are competing for BIG prize money, so every one of them is trying to get their head in front. The motivation is there to win when there’s a lot at stake. Unlike an 8 runner handicap at say Southwell, with prize money of around £2k and horses that can barely walk, let alone run! Any nag can win that sort of race, but it takes a standout horse, with conditions to suit, to take home a big prize. Finding them is made a lot easier if you first eliminate those runners that simply cannot win based on the current race conditions and the runner requirements.

I no longer bet on races where there are more than 4 selections on my shortlist that can win. It becomes a chance bet then again. The more narrowed down the approach, the more effective it is, and the more likely you are to hit the winner.

Think about it… it makes sense to approach your selections this way. Isn’t it easier to focus on what can win, rather than what waste time looking for positives in horses that can’t get their head in front under the race conditions today?

Yes, it takes more time to reverse the selection process, I spent over 3 hours on the race at Wincanton won by Golden Chieftain, the selection… and have spent many hours on other races where the result hasn’t been so good, but ultimately the research has paid off and my win rate has increased significantly as a result.

If you need proof that this method of selection works, think back to the 19th of December, 2015 and take a look at my betting history. That was the day I came back to the tipping board, I was -£475.35 on that day.

Up until that point I was ‘winner in one’ focused with my tipping – I was looking for the winner amongst all the runners in a race – had some good success initially with that, got in to the top 10 position on the board, but then it all started to go wrong around the time of Cheltenham last year.

For a few months after that I was desperately trying to use the same short term ‘winner finding’ process as before to correct an inevitable long term problem – I was trying to find the winner in one go, when what I realise now I should have been doing was trying to find the winner in no more than 3-4 in a race that could actually win at decent value odds. It was only when I realised that I was doing things ‘back to front’ that the job of finding winners again was made that much easier.

The results speak for themselves, I pulled back that £-475.35 deficit, won the tipping competition in December and for this month I am currently +485.10 on the board overall and +£613.95 for the month.

Was that a fluke?

I ask myself that often, but I know it isn’t. Sure, I may not find the winner every time – but as long as I find it enough times to stay ahead of the game at the odds, the totals will continue rising. This ‘reverse method’ of selection works!

Eliminate horses that cannot win first, then focus on the one’s that have conditions to suit in today’s race that can!

Focus is the key. I realised that as an essential requirement now – I am like a lot of punters, I tend to suffer from ‘tip`itus’ at times. Ron has pulled me up on it just recently, and I know myself that I have a tendancy to get carried away at times, putting up way to many tips on any given day. So I have done something about it… I have restricted myself to 2 tips a day from now on and asked Brian to put in place the necessary restrictions to ensure that I cannot exceed that ever.

Why did I do that? To become more focused. There are tips, and there are good tips. What I want to do is apply the ‘elimination’ process to the selections I end up with as well – really weed out the ‘might wins’ and only put up the ‘can win’ tips. It also allows me to still focus on the areas I am strongest at, odds of >= 6 and <= 11, and >= 16. These are the tips I want to be putting up now, and 2 tips a day allows me the opportunity to really home in on my strengths in this area and identify the bets that have the best chance of gaining points and making money for followers.

It’s all part of the process to make myself a better, more profitable tipster over the longer period, rather than just look for short term success – the focus is very much long term for me now, and just as Rome wasn’t built in a day, the principles in this game are the same. Slowly catches the monkey!

I will leave you with a parting thought – Regardless of where you are on the board, tipsters are vulnerable to losing runs. Never make the mistake I made and assume that once you are +£700 up and in the top 10 on the board you are infallible. You aren’t (as I found out the hard way when I was in that position and then dropped rapidly!) – a losing run will wipe you out within a month at 5 tips a day. The fall is quick, the panic sets in, you chase losers, pray for winners, and it all goes horribly wrong so quickly! Better to have a sound selection process in place, set yourself limits and stick to them regardless of whether you are on a losing run or a winning one – plan to win, work to the plan. Expect the positive results, but be prepared for the negatives.

And for those who are in the minus zone on the board, there is good reason for hope. Don’t reflect on the past, look to the future. Take the necessary steps to correct things, look at your selection process, analyse your tips, learn from others, and apply what you learn to your own tipping style. It can really pay off big time and I can think of no other better place to learn than, there is a wealth of information available, you just have to look for it, and if you can’t find it then simply ask someone to help you – 2 sets of eyes are better than 1.

I still spend hours day trawling through tips on the board, asking myself why a tipster put up a tip – what was the basis of that recommendation, is it something I should apply to my own selection system, or something I should seriously avoid. So much to learn, and the opportunity is there daily to gain just that little bit more knowledge that can mean the difference between being a good tipster and a great tipster – it just requires a bit of effort to make it happen. I am still very much learning!

I will be expounding on the selection process more over the coming weeks in future articles, really delving into the subject.

“The joy is in the learning, the proof you have learnt well is in the positive result”.

Horse Racing – Conditions to Suit

Horse Racing – Conditions to Suit

When a Horse has Conditions to Suit, it’s More Likely to Win than Lose

I remember reading in Dave Nevison’s book, ‘A Bloody Good Winner’ once where he stated that if a horse has conditions to suit it’s more likely to win than lose, and at the time that just made so much sense – BUT, I ignored it for a good while after reading it, to my peril! This simple statement can transform your selection process, and it’s something that I realise now has to be the sole basis of putting up a selection on the board that has a half decent chance of getting it’s head in front when it matters.

There are 2 distinct advantages in ascertaining the race condition requirements for any selection:

1. It allows you to quickly eliminate horses from the race who don’t have conditions to suit. This often reduces the field considerably to just a handful of main contenders, and saves you having to waste time considering horses that just cannot win given the conditions they are racing in.

2. It allows you to find good value bets, because this aspect is still something the general public don’t consider seriously enough.

Proof of both of these aspects can be seen clearly in recent tip, Golden Chieftan, in the big race of the day at Wincanton.

By going through and analysing the conditions each of the 14 runners required to run a good race, I could quickly eliminate well over half the field in that race, allowing me to focus on the one’s that could win… and then from them narrowed it down even further to just the 1 horse in that race that had what it took to win it. Golden Chieftan. He won at 16/1.

So what are the bare minimum conditions you should be looking for:

1. The Going – This is my #1 priority now – before anything else I look at the horse’s ability to handle the ground. Anything that has not at least placed once on the stated going gets a big negative from me. If there is insufficient evidence based on the horse’s performance on the going, then a quick check on the breeding stats is a good fallback position.

2. The Distance – This is the second priority for me. I have to know whether or not the horse is a fit for the distance. If it hasn’t run over this distance, or is trying a new distance (either stepping up in trip or down), you should always determine the suitability of the horse to that new race condition being imposed upon it. Sometimes trainers experiment with distance, you see this a lot. What you have to importantly determine is whether or not this horse is a good fit for what is being expected of it.

I like to see the horse having at least placed at the distance. This is a good starting point for me. They may not have won, but at least it proves they get the distance and the fact they didn’t win may have been due to other factors in the race.

If the horse’s race history is limited, or uncertain, you should always revert back to breeding to answer any questions you may have. What I like to do is check selection’s performance over the race, and if it has placed I still check the breeding to see just how suitable that distance actually is for the horse. Some horses may get a distance at a stretch, and have placed, but it is not a natural distance for them and it could have been other factors that saw it gain a place – e.g a very slow pace that allowed the jockey to get a good breather into the horse during the race. In a fast run situation the horse might well falter at that trip again.

3. Race Fitness – This is now a crucial part of my analysis, it never use to be. I now look at the days since last raced, and the position the horse achieved in that race in relation to the number of runners, as a key factor.

Some horse’s bounce back quickly, others need weeks or months to recover. Some horse’s retain fitness over a longer period, some don’t. You need to know, factually, in which of these two camps your horse resides in. Importantly, it also gives you a valuable insight into whether the previous run was ‘prep run’ for the race he is now. Trainers often use this tactic, and it is easy to spot if you have the right information.

4. Weight – It’s easy just to look at the official rating and say this horse is ‘well in’ at the weights. Many punters have been burned by placing to much emphasis on this factor alone. Horse’s fall in the weights for a reason…. They have been performing badly at the higher weights and the handicapper has stepped in to help them out a bit. This is good, but a well handicapped horse can also run a shocker of a race. The handicap mark is just one of the conditions you have to take into account, but decisions should not be based solely on it.

I like to look at the horse’s history at the weights now before placing to much emphasis on the handicap mark. If the history suggests the horse performs better within a certain range of weights, then that is an optimal condition for that horse – so if the other conditions are good, but this one isn’t, then you can still assume the worst and pass over the selection.

Of course if the weight history falls in line with the rest of the conditions, then this is starting to look like a possible bet, but there are other factors to consider also.

Never discount a horse’s chance based on a penalty or a rise in the weights. These horses win races, lots of them. Always check to see if you think the horse is showing signs of being ‘progressive’ before discounting a horse running under a penalty for a last win, or one that has been reassessed by the handicapper and had their mark raised. Horses often run well in these circumstances, and bargains are there to be grabbed if you get it right and identify a horse that can defy the mark.

A good example of this in action was my recent tip on Realize. The handicapper kept raising him, and he kept winning! Weight eventually catches up with the horse, but until such time as it appears to have done so, keep backing it if it looks ‘progressive’.

5. Jockey – It’s a fact that a good jockey on a horse that doesn’t have conditions to suit will run a shocker of a race. The jockey is not running, the horse is! To much over-reliance is placed on the jockey, and unfortunately I see that a lot on the tipping board. The market also under-prices these selections considerably and you need to know that the horse is capable of winning, with a good jockey onboard, rather than having a good jockey onboard and hoping he can perform a miracle on a horse that doesn’t want these conditions. It happens that sometimes the jockey does get it home in front, but it happens more often that they don’t and the bet was a complete waste of money.

Bookies pay horrible tricks on punters with regards to the jockey booking, and unfortunately the results bear witness to the fact that the bookies make a lot of money from ‘mug’ punters who have placed an over-reliance on the jockey booking.

6. Trainer – Another way the bookie gets you is with the trainer stat. If you read the racing post you will know that they highlight trainers who are ‘in form’, and this is very deceptive. Yes, they are in form, but more important to me is how well do they do at the particular course. Some ‘in form’ trainers have a shocking record at some courses… and you need this stat to reinforce whether or not the horse is likely to be prepared for the particular course conditions.

7. Days Since Last Raced – This is a critical piece of information and gives a good clue about the possible performance today. What I like to see is a good stat that proves a horse can retain fitness over a specific period of time. Then I look at the last run, to see if it could have possibly been a ‘prep’ run for the race it’s entered in today. How has the horse fared in the past after running x number of days after a run, this can throw up some valuable clues as to the horses performance then, and what is expected today.

I missed a 20/1 winner the other day because I didn’t check this stat in a race I had bet in. Had I have looked, I would have seen immediately that the horse was at the optimal fitness level to win, and the race before was just a ‘prep’ race for this one. Needless to say, I double check every runner in the race now for this vital statistic!

Another thing to consider is how well the horse runs ‘fresh’ after a layoff. This is ‘risky’ to bet, but there is an angle there if you get it right enough times. My record in this area of late is not good, so will be dropping this angle now, but I know of times where the tipster has got it right and the odds have been huge. There was a good example on the board recently when Arwel put one up off a break and it was only narrowly defeated. Some horses run well ‘fresh’, you just have to find the right ones.

Last but not least:

NEVER believe what a trainer says! I learnt this a long time ago. Colin Tizzard was interviewed on Racing UK about Golden Chieftan recently and he gave a somewhat cautious appraisal of his chance, saying in particular… “the horse is more suited to a left hand course”. What a load of rubbish! A quick look at the stats and you would immediately see that the results are pretty much level as to whether he jumps on a left handed course, or a right handed one.

Of course the minute he said this the betting on almost immediately flashed and the price went back out a point or so. Markets place to much emphasis on what the trainer says, and unless it agrees with your own conclusion ignore what they say. They are always ‘cautious’, and most of the time they get it wrong anyway. No trainer will tell you it will definitely win, it’s their head on the block, so they understate the positives and accentuate the negatives – and the market believes them and reacts accordingly.

Let the horse’s performance, history and stats tell you what you need to know without the ‘noise in the background’ putting you off.

The same can also be said for reading the press. If I took onboard everything written about Golden Chieftain on that day I would never have put that selection up and we would have missed a lovely 16/1 winner!

I listened to the guy on Racing UK giving the preliminary positives and negatives about the runners in the race also – his comments were somewhat negative I thought, and if I was a punter I would have been put off by that possibly.

It happens time and time again… the press and TV pundits know as much as about horse racing as my granny does. It’s all guesswork, and they almost always have a favourable word to say about the favourite! Bookies like that, they drop it a point or two in the betting immediately and make even more money when it’s turned over.

But importantly, the pundits know that they at least have a 30% chance of getting it right if they put up the favourite, which incidentally the tv pundit did in this race… though to his credit he did highlight the ‘dodgy’ nature of the jumping for that one albeit just one minute before the off!

The only racing pundit I ever listen to with regard to All-Weather racing is Jason Weaver on ATR, he’s the only one who actually comes across as knowing what he’s talking about. And on the radio (William Hill) I like listening to Andy Holding when he’s on as he is a wealth of racing knowledge and well worth tuning in to for nuggets on both the day’s horse racing, and also the chances of horses in future races.

What I am trying to get at is this… one positive factor alone does not make a good selection or bet. It is multiple factors coming together, providing ideal racing conditions for the horse, that more often than not determine its chance of winning before the race has even begun.

The market is the enemy! If the market says a favourite will win, remember this… they only get it right about 3.5 times out of every 10 attempts. That leaves the door wide open for value bettors to prove them wrong 6.5 times out of every 10 attempts. And you only need to get it right a couple of times at decent odds and you have a big advantage over the market who are left scratching their head wondering why a top jockey didn’t get that horse home in front, when the betting suggested it was a sure cert!

We know the reason of course, the horse did not have conditions to suit. It wasn’t necessarily beaten by a better horse, it was beat by a horse that DID have conditions to suit!

Be a smart punter, take the time to check your selections thoroughly before betting. If you follow a tipster, check their reasoning for the vitals – and then do a random sample yourself to see if in fact the conditions are what this selection really wants. By doing this you will save yourself a lot of money in the long run and find yourself in the winners enclosure more often with some very nice results at the prices!

Who to Follow, What to Avoid

Who to Follow, What to Avoid

An interesting week we’ve just had, and a classic example of why you need to be selective with your betting. At the end of last week the points total was approaching +140 (+£1,400) and today we have are on just under +80 (+£800), that’s a huge points drop in the space of just a few days and provides both tipsters and followers with a wake-up call to ensure they are prepared for the extreme result swings that so often befalls horse racing.

This last week in particular demonstrates why it’s so important to ensure your betting bank is large enough to weather the storm, particularly if you are a religious follower of 1 or more tipsters. No tipster can get it right every time and there are going to be days / weeks / months even when things can go wrong, and you have to be prepared both financially to cover these periods, and mentally to ensure that your betting in the optimal state of mind.

A question that comes up at times is, “who is the best tipster to follow”? Brian kindly expounded his thoughts on this in a comment yesterday, and I have been asked several times via private message in the forum… and the answer is not clear cut, there are many factors that come in to play here, so I thought I would write this article to reflect my own thoughts on how I use the board, how I think the most profit can be made, and how to optimise your betting opportunities across a whole range of tipsters without having to religiously follow just a few.

It’s all in the tipster stats! There are some brilliant tipsters on, each one with strengths and weaknesses, and the best way to discover what those strengths and weaknesses are is to look at the stats for each tipster. Brian has now extended this even further by including additional information, like the average number of tips a day the tipster puts up, the average odds of the tips, and importantly the average odds of the winners.

The other valuable addition that was implemented last year was the winnings at different odds levels. This provides an absolute goldmine of information – both for followers and for tipsters.

For example, I went through all T’s tips last week, and that girl is brilliant at identifying big price horses that can hit the frame. Profits at odds greater than 16 are £1,621.72, equating to +162.10 points profit over that price range. But, if you bet her selections at odds of less than 16 you are looking at a whopping loss – so T’s strength is her ability to spot horses at big prices that can run well. As a follower you would then want to take notice of this the next time one goes up at odds > 16.00!

If you go through each of the tipsters you can see a pattern emerge – and as a follower it’s your money that goes on the line when a bet is placed – so you want to be sure that what you are betting on has a good chance of providing a positive return over time. In the above example you could bet T’s biggies with a fairly large degree of confidence because of her track record, but best avoid the ‘Blinky Blue’ bets :).

I singled T out there because it was a good example. If you do this across all tipsters you get a good feel for the strengths and weaknesses of tipsters.

You can glean a whole raft of information from these stats. You just have to look and pay attention to them.

The point I am making is… you don’t have to follow a tipster ‘blindly’, the tipping board is like a ‘sweetie shop’, so many different types of ‘sweets’ to choose from, so you just have to home in on the ones you like in particular and let the rest go.
Choosing tips based on tipster ‘strengths’ is a better way of bringing bets into your portfolio, and it can significantly reduce the risk of hitting a losing run when a tipster starts to perform badly. By covering multiple tipsters, with a bet or 2 from each, where they clearly have an ‘edge’ you are taking a lot of the risk out of your portfolio.

It’s a bit like picking stocks and shares. There’s an old saying… “don’t keep all your eggs in one basket”. The same can be said about using the tipsters and the tipping board.

Spread the risk around to reduce your exposure.

If you were heavily exposed to oil company shares 2 years ago you would have thought the chances of oil ever performing badly was damn near impossible! And at around $100 a barrel back then you would have had reason to think that – but things change, and yesterday I heard that the price of a barrel of oil can drop to as low at $10! Your oil share portfolio is looking pretty grim right now if that’s the case.

So start thinking ‘portfolio’ when deciding on what to bet on. Don’t follow a tipster blindly, identify their strengths and weaknesses… avoid betting on tips where the tipster does not have an edge, and every time one goes up where the tipster excels, GET ON!

Never follow a tipster based on their position on the board in any given month – it is volatile! It changes daily and is a good indicator of recent performance, but should not be trusted for long term betting decisions. You must dig deeper into the individual tipsters, even tipsters showing a level stakes loss, have strengths that should be punted.

ST is an example of this… he shows a loss on the current month board, and in general, but when he puts a big price one up in a maiden, or novice, or first time in a handicap race I always take a serious look at it. I trust his judgement in this area.

Arwel is the e/w man and you have to seriously take a 2nd look at his big e/w tips. If I see he has tipped up something I have also put up, then bingo, my confidence level soars. Arwel is also a classic example of why you should not follow tipsters based on their position on the board in the current month. At the beginning of last week you could have written him off for the month, he was nearly -30pts down and struggling to hit the frame, but this week he is back in the green and a strong contender once again. A classic example of why you should always do your homework on a tipster, otherwise you might very well have lost out on some good bets over the last few days, and in particular a 16/1 winner yesterday.

And of course there is Ron, who is the most successful tipster we have on the board. But even Ron will admit there are areas where he has strengths and weaknesses – his strengths are his naps and his biggies at odds greater than 10/1, a brilliant track record here, but at odds of > 3.00 and < 10.00 he shows a loss. So the focus on Ron’s tips has to be his naps and the selections at bigger prices for me. For me, I know I can find a biggie to get me and followers out of trouble when it matters, but I was surprised to see that I perform best around > 6 and < 11.00, so anyone following me would be well advised to stick to those odds ranges for my tips if they choose to follow me in – however, if I hit a losing run then you can be fairly confident that a biggie will surface at some point to get us out of trouble!

It’s this sort of analysis you have to do as a follower. You have to ‘spread the risk’, and rather than just focus on betting all of Tipster A’s tips, or all of Tipster B’s tips, you should really find the strengths and weaknesses of a group of tipsters within an odds range you like to bet, and have your radar on for the minute a tipster puts one up in that group where they clearly have an edge.

I personally don’t follow any one tipster, but I have identified tipsters who have particular strengths and I always look at their tips in detail to find the edge in a bet – and if it’s there I will at times have a few quid on it, or throw it in the mix with a couple at decent odds I have also running for me in the race. This has proved a lifesaver in the past, because oftentimes I miss something that another tipster has picked up on – and this can be the difference between a profitable outcome or a loss on that race for me.

I could have gone through all the tipsters in this article, but that would have defeated the purpose, which is to get followers to undertake their own research and form their own opinions. Instead of asking yourself ‘who should I follow’, ask yourself ‘what should I bet’, and importantly know WHY you are betting it!

There are many things in life that is a ‘numbers game’, betting horses is not always one of them. In this instance betting less at advantageous odds is a better way to make money. Just because a tipster puts up 5 a day, that doesn’t mean as a follower you also have to wade in (remember, the tipping board itself is a competition) – look through each tip, read the reasoning… has the tipster convinced you it’s a good bet, win or lose? If there’s just a single line with 6 words in it, does that instil confidence in you that this is a good bet. On the flipside, if there is an ‘essay’ expounding the virtues of the selection, is the argument being made a positive one? If not, move right along to the next one.

Reasoning is important, as a follower you have to be convinced that what you are putting your money into has a realistic chance of a return. If the argument is not sound, then don’t bet it!

The best examples of reasoning I have seen is Ron. He provides clear and valid points to reinforce why he thinks a tip is worth investing in. Clear, concise, and rational. Unlike me of course who just wades through with gibberish! But hopefully the point comes through also.

Nothing frustrates me more when I read the reasoning for a tip and it’s a one-liner that I can see for myself anyway – what I want is a valid and persuasive argument for this selection if I am to be expected to part with my ‘hard earned’ to back it. Otherwise to me, it’s just another horse with a couple of positives in a race anything can win – it’s a ‘luck’ bet and they are not good bets to make!

Anyone can say the horse is well handicapped and has Adam Kirby on board. I can see that for myself, and there may well be other horses in the race that also have a good jockey on board and are looking well handicapped. What makes this one so special as to make me want to bet it? What’s the stand-out reason for putting this one up over the fav for example? Is the fav weak? Why? Convince me this is a good bet, don’t just state the obvious as the market knows that anyway and has more than likely already priced it in.

What about the going, what about the distance, what about the trainer recent form, does the jockey ride the track well, how many days ago was it out and does it suit a comeback run in that period? How about breeding, should it be expected to stay that distance, or handle that ground. What about the jockey and trainer performance at that course in particular? These are all valid points and should be addressed.

That’s the “who to follow part out of the way”… what about the “what to avoid” part!

Avoid betting on any tip that is based on the jockey or jockey/trainer stat ALONE.

These are the most over bet selections – and never provide any real value. The market knows what you know, and unless you can get on at a value price, then ultimately you are just lining the pockets of the bookmaker whether it wins or loses.

Don’t get me wrong, the jockey / trainer / jockey and trainer stat is important, but only as a part of the whole argument for or against – never should a selection be based on that alone. As a tipster, if you do make your selection based on just one standout stat you are very much at the mercy of the market – and of course are very prone to a losing run the minute that jockey or trainer starts to falter (and they do, even the best of them eventually).

And as a follower you should always double-check that the selection is not being made on the basis of just 1-2 factors like the jockey or the trainer. They are very important factors, but only in the overall scheme of things, not on their own.

Think of the selection process, whether you are a tipster or a follower, as a synergy. The sum of the parts must add up to a number greater than that of the whole. In a scenario like that the horse has a good chance of winning! If the numbers fall short, it’s just another runner in a race that can be won by anything.

Hope you find this useful. There are so many good tipsters on the board, you have to narrow them down, and identifying and playing to their strengths is the best way I know how to do that without having to be tied to any particular one or few even.

More systems given the boot!

More systems given the boot!

A fortnight ago I wrote about my strategies for 2016 and you could almost sense some green shoots of optimism sprouting from the page. I had hoped to not have much to say about progress so far other than – ‘so far so good’, so what is that horrific noise you can hear? Well that would be the sound of my hopes, dreams and plans shattering into a thousand pieces.

I appreciate that I am beginning to sound like a broken record but, I mean, come on! My main areas of focus and supposed expertise are my laying strategies. These are the bedrock on which I was to build my success. Oh dear. There were 12 systems which required the laying of horses at lengthy odds. This high risk-low reward strategy is not for the faint-hearted but they have been reliable for many a year now. Profits over the last five years have exceeded 1500 points with a worst-year performance comfortably in excess of 200 points. The highest total of actual race winners (and thereby losing lays) in any 12-month period over that time has been 56 from a total of 8030 runners in 2011. This is a ratio of 0.7%. The average over the five years has been 39 winners at 0.6%. So how come I have already managed to lay 5 winners out of 270 runners in 18 days at a ratio of 1.85% for a total loss of 110 points? Yes, you read correctly, 110 points!!! 18 days is one-twentieth of a year so if that run continues that will be 100 winners, or almost three times the average. Please tell me I am not insane for thinking that that is unlikely. I am beginning to have serious doubts.

One offending system has now gone west. Yes, the other sound you can hear is that of stable doors being locked now my horses have bolted. It was a system based too much on odds and not on any other logical reason. There had only been eight winners in eight years but the fact that on both occasions when there were two winners in one year the system ended up losing means that it isn’t strong enough. It has gone out with a bang, largely to my stomach from the hooves of Tarakkom (66/1), but, no matter, onwards and upwards. On the back of the decision to scrap the system in question another has also been given the boot. It hasn’t backfired as yet this year but closer inspection left me nervous and so it has gone. This leaves me with ten systems at longer-odds out of a portfolio of 26 laying systems in total.

I have, naturally, spent time analysing things in greater detail these last few days and have discovered that the ten remaining longer-odds systems may have returned a large profit every year but they have had 17 losing months in 60. I suppose that is the nature of the beast. A couple of unlikely winners close together can scupper the whole month. There have been other months without a single winning horse at all. January, it turns out, is not a good month. Over the last five years the portfolio has made a loss in three of them and shown an overall profit of only six points. That can pretty much be taken to be a loss over six years given the way 2016 has gone so far. This has, perversely, cheered me up a little. This would seem to be an almost expected poor time of the year. I have since carried out an in-depth month-by-month examination of each system in turn which was time-consuming and ever so slightly boring but the results were quite interesting. Not much use, sadly, but quite interesting nonetheless. Well, to a statistical geek at least.

Everything else seems to be going okay at this early stage of the year. If you ignore the long-odds laying catastrophes I am 42 points ahead so no need to panic about anything else just yet. There have been, however, those hair-ripping moments that affect all punters on a regular basis. A team scoring after eight-minutes of injury-time to blow a nice win bet on their opponents is annoying enough, but for it to have been a full yard offside makes it all the more frustrating. The fact that it was John Terry and Chelsea was the icing on the, extremely unpleasant to digest, cake.

But I digress. The fact is that, despite my early woes, my annual targets for 2016 remain unaltered. There may be many of you shaking your heads in disbelief at my sheer bloody-minded refusal to face reality and I can understand why. I took on the job of writing this column on the basis that I was a successful bettor, but, since my first article appeared some three months ago, I am down 77 points! Maybe I will one-day submit my final piece before leaving my house for a broadband-free cardboard box and it will consist of the word ‘wibble’ one thousand times. But for now I am remaining positive. I am anticipating a profit by the end of the year of at least 500 points and hope for it to be nearer 700. Further work may yet be needed but, believe me, I am more keen than you are for my opening piece in February to be a positive one confirming that this target is in sight!


Paul Dixon is a lifelong sports fan and author of the book Fun and Games in Fife and Gretna– a humorous look at an Englishman’s journey into Scottish football. He has been making regular profits from betting since 2012.

Burnley vs Derby

Burnley vs Derby

Fixture: Burnley vs Derby
Date: January 25th, 2016
Competition: English Championship
Venue: York Street, Burnley
Kick-Off Time: 19:45


— Found a way past Brentford last time out with a 3-1 home victory
— Have 26 more points than at the same stage last season (48 vs 22)
— Have kept 4 clean sheets in their last 6 league matches
— Have won 4 of their last 6 league games


— Least goals conceded away from home in Championship (9)
— Lost 3-0 at home to Birmingham last Saturday
— Have lost 4 of their last 5 league games when meeting Burnley
— Have kept 12 clean sheets in their last 21 league matches

Levante vs Las Palmas

Levante vs Las Palmas

Fixture: Levante vs Las Palmas
Date: January 25th, 2016
Competition: Spanish Primera Division
Venue: York Street, Levante
Kick-Off Time: 19:30


— Lost 4-3 vs Celta last Saturday
— Have lost 5 of their last 6 league games
— Only won 1 of their last 8 league games
— Not kept a clean sheet in 8 league matches

Las Palmas

— Lost 3-0 at home to Ath Madrid last Sunday
— Are 15 places lower in league than at the same point last season (16th vs 1st)
— Not kept a clean sheet in 5 league matches
— Have lost 8 of their last 15 league games

Livorno vs Como

Livorno vs Como

Fixture: Livorno vs Como
Date: January 25th, 2016
Competition: Italian Serie B
Venue: York Street, Livorno
Kick-Off Time: 19:30


— Lost 2-1 vs Pescara last Saturday
— Only the 4th ever league meeting between these two sides
— Have lost 4 of their last 5 league games
— Not kept a clean sheet in 5 league matches


— Found a way past Perugia last Saturday with a 1-0 home victory
— Only won 3 of their last 30 league games
— Have lost 18 of their last 29 league games
— Have only kept 1 clean sheet in their last 17 league games

Clermont vs Le Havre

Clermont vs Le Havre

Fixture: Clermont vs Le Havre
Date: January 25th, 2016
Competition: French Ligue 2
Venue: York Street, Clermont
Kick-Off Time: 19:30


— Comfortably beaten 6-2 by Nimes last Friday
— Have 11 more points than at the same stage last season (34 vs 23)
— Have won 4 of their last 6 league games
— Have been leading at half-time in 4 of their last 6 league matches

Le Havre

— Found a way past Paris FC last time out with a 2-1 home victory
— Took 5 more games to reach current total of 35 points last season
— Not lost in their last 5 league games
— Have won 7 of their last 11 league games

Morton vs Rangers

Morton vs Rangers

Fixture: Morton vs Rangers
Date: January 25th, 2016
Competition: Scottish Championship
Venue: York Street, Morton
Kick-Off Time: 19:45


— Lost 1-0 at home to St Mirren last time out
— Only the 3rd ever league meeting between these two sides
— Only won 1 of their last 5 league games
— Have won 4 of their last 8 league games


— Most goals scored in top five English divisions (61)
— Found a way past Livingston last time out with a 4-1 home victory
— Took 8 more games to reach current total of 50 points last season
— Have won 16 of their last 20 league games