The good news . . . I tweeted this today:
The bad news is it will probably never happen again. Tartan Snow won at 100/1 – his Betfair SP was 223/1. That tweet got 92 retweets and I got over 100 new followers. If you’re one of those, welcome.
I know that many think some people get ‘inside information’ on horse racing: they do, but it’s almost always useless. Yes, horses are laid out for certain races, not always in an honest fashion, and yes, sometimes they win. But these ‘plots’ are usually very carefully managed. Part of that management means keeping the inside info locked up. If it gets out, the horse’s price shortens and those managing these ‘coups’ suffer. So the plots are jealously guarded.
I used to work at Aintree. On my first big raceday there (the equivalent of today in 1994) I was introduced to 3 owners: each had a runner in the same race, each assured me his was a ‘cert’. None finished in the first three. Owners, trainers and jockeys are the worst tipsters you’ll find. They are extreme optimists by nature or they wouldn’t be in this business, and they almost always think their horse has a better chance than it does. Ignore them. You’ll miss the occasional winner by doing so but you’ll save stacks by avoiding a barrowload of losers.
I bet almost exclusively on jump racing, much of it ante-post (well in advance of the race). I don’t study form, as such. I listen to what pros in the business say – including owners, trainers and jockeys – and disregard about 95% of it. I pick up the odd precious nugget although it is often buried in a comment about a horse’s character rather than its chances in a particular race.
I’m much more interested in a horse’s character, quirks, running style and potential than in any other ‘weapon’ for assessing its chances.
The core of my ‘strategy’ if you can call it such, is to get value. That means betting a horse at a price that is substantially bigger than it should be, in my opinion. That’s why I like ante-post betting; you can often make a pretty accurate long-term analysis of a race that might be a year away and take advantage of the prices now. There are risks, of course; unlike your day to day betting, an ante-post bet, with most bookmakers, is lost if the horse does not run. At the foot of this post, for those still awake, you can read my analysis of the King George Chase which is due to be run on Boxing Day and promises one of the best value bets I’ve ever seen.
But back to the ‘normal’ day-to-day stuff. To give you some idea of how strongly I fancy a horse, I work like this:
I tweet what I fancy if I think it is worthwhile. I often have a bet but won’t tweet about it because it is nothing but a small ‘throw-away’ bet to give me an interest in a race.
At big meetings like Aintree and Cheltenham, if I see something that looks great value – like Tartan Snow – I will tweet along the lines of ‘this is worth a bet’ ‘worth a small bet’, ‘worth an each way’ etc. That will generally mean that I’d have not much more than £5 or £10 on.
Sometimes there is excellent value to be had, as much in the way a horse can be bet as in its price.
For example, the Racing Post have an offer just now that if you bet using their mobile app, you’ll get your stake back as a free bet if your horse is 2nd in any race covered on Channel 4 (I don’t think they are offering this on Saturday). In today’s big Chase, a horse called First Lieutenant was running. I’ve never backed him before but I know his style and character very well (as important, if not more so than form in my opinion). He is high class and, vitally for today, most consistent, having finished out of the first three just twice in all completed races (even then he was 4th).
I had £25 on using the Racing Post app (the max allowed for the stake-back offer). Before the race I tweeted this:
Now, I tell you this not only so I can show-off a bit, but so you can judge how strongly I fancy something by the way the tweet is worded.
If I really think something should not be missed, I always start the tweet ‘I strongly recommend a bet on…’. That doesn’t mean I think the horse is a cert. It does mean that I think he represents superb value and if you always get value, you will win in the long run.
So, be careful. Don’t bet more than you can afford to lose and never listen to ‘tips’ where the tipster claims inside info. The key reason I like to learn about a horse’s character and running style is that they are all individuals. They are no more dependable than human beings are. They sometimes have to go to the races feeling as pissed off as you do about going to work.
Finally, I often don’t tweet a tip until about 5 minutes or so before the off. I don’t charge for tips because I tip plenty of losers too.
So, on to tomorrow.
Third Intention in the 2.30 at Aintree is what is known to betting folk as a ‘cliff horse’ for me (I’d follow him off a cliff). He’s cost me plenty, but I’m convinced he has the ability to win a decent race. He’s around 16/1 tomorrow and I’ll be backing him through sheer dogged determination that I am going to get it right at some point.
In the 3.05, jump racing’s wonderful Sprinter Sacre runs. A fantastic horse who many think unbeatable, and his price will reflect that at around 1/3. I love the horse but he might lose tomorrow. He won by a long way at Cheltenham but I think that race could have taken more out of him than some think. Many call him a great jumper; I don’t think he is. Spectacular, yes, but his style is, I believe, inefficient, using up a fair bit of energy, sometimes unbalancing him too. His jumping performance at Cheltenham was sloppy in places and I wouldn’t back him in any race at 1/3 let alone this hot one, until I’d seen a good clear round from him.
Followers of my blog/tweets know what’s coming next…Cue Card. Since I saw this horse win his first chase, I’ve thought him very special. He’s the opposite of Sprinter Sacre in that many people don’t like him. They crab his performances and criticise his attitude. But I think he’s a hell of a horse with a superb engine.
I agree that he looks a bit quirky with his slightly high head carriage, and his jumping style is all his own, a strange, cat-backed hop at times, miles from the huge leaps Sprinter Scare can throw. But handsome is as handsome does. We know he will stay this trip while SS is trying it over fences for the first time. SS trounced CC over 2 miles last season but I expect CC to be much closer over this 20 furlong trip. If Sprinter Sacre is to be beaten, Cue Card is the horse who will do it. Last week I recommended an EW bet on him at 7/1, even though only the first 2 qualify for payouts in EW bets because of the number of runners (a minimum of 8 needed for three places EW).
I believe the worst CC will be is 2nd, so the value bet tomorrow is once again through the Racing Post app. I strongly recommend a bet on Cue Card through the app. He could pull off a victory and, if not, I’m very hopeful you’ll get your stake back as a free bet if you use the RP app (an appropriate time to say I take no payment of any kind from anyone or any business for what I write here).
That’s it for tomorrow though if you are on twitter I might tweet a small bet. My Grand National tips are here. My analysis of the King George is below. If you want to take my advice on the KG bet, you should do so before the 3.05 on Friday. If he beats Sprinter Sacre, he could very well be favourite for the Boxing Day race.
King George VI Chase, Boxing Day, Kempton
Cue Card is available at 12/1 for this race with a number of bookmakers and, if you are happy to accept the risks that come with ante-post betting (money lost if the horse doesn’t run) I strongly recommend that you bet him.
I tipped CC him for this race last year and had my biggest bet for a long time on him. But he made a bad mistake at the first, where he was on his nose, and another blunder at the third. Some claim he did not stay the trip, but I believe those early errors were much more debilitating than the 3 miles he was trying for the first time. Also, the race was run on the heaviest ground for a KG since 1937. Cue Card’s blunders and the glue-like going cost him all chance, I think (he finished 5th, beaten 20 lengths).
Since then he has won easily at Ascot and over 2m 5f at the Cheltenham festival (The Ryanair Chase). His trainer was recently reported as being keen to have another crack at the King George and if he runs, and I’m pretty confident he will, he’ll be a lot shorter than 12/1, especially if he gives Sprinter Sacre a tough race at Aintree in The Melling Chase.
Leaving aside Cue Card’s considerable talent, the King George looks to me like it won’t resemble the current structure as the bookies see it.
Some have Simonsig as favourite: his trainer thinks him a two-miler so he must be a doubtful runner. If he does turn up, he doesn’t jump well enough to win it imo and will need to prove he stays the trip (I have a suspicion he will return to hurdling next season).
Others have Sprinter Sacre as favourite. It’s not beyond possibility that he could stay the trip and The Melling chase will add some info on his stamina. But at the moment I think he’d need to be considered a doubtful runner.
Bobs Worth: another fine horse who’s won me a fair bit but he needs a stern stamina test, the kind Cheltenham brings (he’s unbeaten there and loves the hill). He’s another who might not even run and if he does, will probably struggle to go the pace, finding himself with too much to do in the later stages.
Long Run: lovely horse but woefully one-paced. He needs an even stiffer test than Bobs Worth these days.
Dynaste: overrated by quite some way and a doubtful stayer to boot.
Al Ferof: I’d fear him a bit if he returned to his best after a long time off injured. But horses with any history of serious injuries are seldom worth depending on in ante-post betting. Even at his best, Cue Card should beat him.
Flemenstar: judgement best reserved till after The Melling Chase, but he finished his last race like a horse with a problem and was later reported to be suffering from a lung infection. Still, he’s been involved in a couple of tight finishes and lost both. His trainer is also on record as saying the horse might be upset by travelling from Ireland. The Melling should tell us a lot more about him.
Silviniaco Conti: exposed today as probably a bit below top class.
First Lieutenant: a very likable horse and a good bet for a place but Cue Card thrashed him at Cheltenham and I don’t think the extra 660 yards of the KG will help him in his quest for revenge.
So, not only is Cue Card a highly talented horse, there are valid doubts about many of his potential opponents. The bookies have made a big mistake here. Cue Card should be no more than 5/1 in my book and he is a steal at 12/1.