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A year in the life of....

Twelve months ago on the 10th May I sat here at my computer during lockdown thinking – I need another string to my bow! UK and Irish racing was still suspended and I noticed the French were starting back with their National Hunt racing programme the following day. I had always bet on jumps racing but concentrated on just a few staying races every now and then when time permitted. Golf was increasingly becoming harder for me to make money at and I had no idea what was in store for the coming months with regards tournaments being played. Add in the fact that any income from this site and outside jobs had dwindled to zero and betting was likely to become my only source of income and it was obvious a new plan of attack was required.

I had no idea how long the experiment would last and fast forward a year sitting here and looking at the results I’m pretty pleased with how it’s gone on something I knew nothing about. My overall profit is £11,500 for all races with £10,000 coming on the French racing. I’ll get the UK/Irish stuff out the way first, profit wasn’t great but I didn’t lose and I have basically confirmed my thoughts that I should stick with the staying handicap chasers and forget the rest. Low grade races are not for me and the old saying “if you don’t know you don’t know” applies to those. I have done particularly well with the Irish regional Nationals and big staying handicaps concentrating on unexposed handicap debutants, which makes total sense.

In France the figures are not totally accurate as a few months ago I managed to wipe a lot of data off my computer (idiot!) but I kept a lot of the stats. So the £10k profit came from 255 bets with an ROI of c 50%, if you had told me I could make £200 a week on something I knew nothing about with that ROI I wouldn’t have believed you.

I have tried to absorb a lot of knowledge by listening to people who have been very helpful so it’s been a steep learning curve as it really is very different to UK/Irish racing. I have learned to concentrate on course form (maybe my old golf intuition) especially as a lot of French courses are very idiosyncratic in particular Cross Country courses where I have had a lot of success.

I pick and choose races avoiding 3 year old hurdles and 3-4 year old chases where there is no real form to go on. I don’t price up everything, I find a selection I like the look of and then price that race up and so far it has worked. Keeping accurate stats has been key to finding what was good and more importantly what was bad and the Claiming races I backed in fall into the latter category. I had 20 bets in claimers and only had one 4/1 winner resulting in a big loss so that’s a line through those races, it makes sense – they are low grade where horses don’t always run to form.

I was accused the other week on Twitter of simply taking wrong prices that were unattainable for other people. I agree that prices move quickly but it’s still possible to get on and also I’m not charging for this!! However the main idea of betting for a living is putting your opinion against the book price, which actually takes a surprising amount of effort and skill. I make no apologies for prices shortening quickly, it’s the nature of the beast, last week was the perfect example. I put up Formule Un at Nancy on Monday morning, it was a race later in the day and it wasn’t that difficult to get on at 8/1, it eventually went off 5/2 and won easily. Then on Saturday night I had to put up Foofighters for the morning meeting as I made it Evens and it was 3/1 and got what I wanted on, it went off 11/10 and was a bit unlucky going wrong in the final quarter mile when looking all over the winner. They don’t all win or even place but the key is taking advantage when your price is different to the books.

As for the future I can see me having less but bigger bets and for as long as I can get on I will continue to post, but this may not always be the case. I may have to curtail what I post at least until nearer the off when the Betfair market springs into life, although by then the price is often gone. I really don’t know what will happen over the coming year, maybe I’ll be forced “underground”.

Just to touch on golf for a moment, still struggling away but in a much smaller way than in the past, the win of Prinsloo back in March has kept my head above water in that department. I often think what has changed in the past ten years to make it harder for me? I do think the culling of golf odds compilers and the use of odds comparison sites so other firms can copy and paste is a huge factor. Price discrepancies are a rare thing these days! More recently the increase in place terms offered really has been to the detriment of punters as outright odds have been cut so that should you actually back an outright winner your winnings won’t be as big as they were.

There is one other thing that has changed and that is the number of tipsters out there who now put up bets on a Monday and also the number of tips that have crept into staking plans. I remember quite a few years ago Jeremy Chapman was often criticised for putting up maybe four players for an event, nowadays six and seven are the norm. Now think on what that does to prices – maybe a quarter of the field will be tipped up leading to prices being cut even before Tuesday morning when bookmakers will allow you a bit more on. Also noted is that hardly any player ever has their price pushed out. Hats off to Niall Lyons who often waits until Wednesday to put his tips up, he must spend Monday and Tuesday hoping nobody else puts his selections up! Don’t get me wrong – I have been guilty of the same scenario in the past and on a rare occasion still am where golf is concerned, but more so these days on the horse racing.

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