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.