How often have I extolled the virtues of a disciplined and systematic approach to betting on horse racing? If only I put into practice what I preach!
Sunday 1st April, and please note the date because the fool that appeared in last month’s article (courtesy of the back-to-winning-ways antics of a certain Canadian Danehill) has reappeared on mug punters’ hill. It was a fantastic spring day and the sun shone on the assembled mad dogs and Englishmen (and women) showcasing sporting pursuits and apparel on Countryside Raceday.
We had travelled to meet the new Ascot Colts & Fillies Club horse: Yurituni. The five-year-old mare is trained at Blewsbury by Eve Johnson Houghton and has been loaned to the club for the season.
Yurituni is by Bahamian Bounty out of Vax Star and has won five of her 34 races to date (placed 10 times); she has won races in each of her three seasons in training and is owned by Eve’s mother.
Yurituni’s outings have run into double figures in each season and it to be hoped that she stays sound and gives the club members plenty of exciting times over the summer months.
Remember, if you wish to enrol any children in the Ascot Colts & Fillies Club it is FREE and there are plenty of opportunities to go on stable visits and engage in lots of horse racing related activities.
On the Sunday in question the Larkspurette had managed to book a place on the jockey skills workshop and was put through her paces on an Equiziser under the watchful eyes of ex-jockeys Olly McPhail and John Pritchard.
In the famous Mill Reef colours she rode the mechanical horse with a degree of assuredness and dexterity that we attributed to all the years of ballet lessons! The British Horseracing Education and Standards Trust runs ‘Racing to School’ a free education programme for pupils and students of all ages at racecourses up and down the country. The aim of the Trust is to promote interest in the sport of horseracing and the many different career opportunities within the industry. Visit www.bhest.co.uk-racing_to_school for more information.
While the Larkspurette was undergoing her tutelage, the first two races were run. I had no interest in the first race which was a maiden hurdle.
The second race featured a ‘Dead Cert’ selection (more of which later). Nicky Henderson’s Prince of Pirates was forecast at 5-4 favourite in the Racing Post and the JP McManus owned and AP McCoy ridden runner went off the 4-5 favourite.
Next in the betting at 11-8 was the Kim Bailey trained Darna ridden by Jason Maguire. The Racing Post had Darna at 11-4 third favourite, while the racecard showed the horse as an 11-2 chance.
Darna won comfortably and I inwardly congratulated myself on not having bet in the race having spotted a well-backed horse that upset a ‘false’ favourite.
And then it all went wrong.
Lexi’s Boy in the third race was the bet of the day. A Larkspur Method top-rated runner and tipped by Fineform in the racecard, the 3-1 favourite was ridden by Jason Maguire fresh from his victory on Darna in the last.
Evan Williams’ runner Clarion Call had fallen last time out but was the Fineform second-rated and ridden by Paul Moloney the top jockey at the course in respect of strike rate and profitable returns. But, was Clarion Call the second-rated runner according to the Larkspur Method? Or one of TOP systems’ pick? Absolutely not.
So why did I back Clarion Call? Perhaps it was the dim memory of a racing system that suggested that in handicap hurdle races you focus on the third and fourth runners in the betting if the favourite is priced at 5-2 or more. Or was it that, notwithstanding the fact that the horse was not a TOP Jockey pick, Paul Moloney was going to going to work a little Ascot magic. ‘What’, ‘ifs and maybe’… No excuses, and even as I stood waiting my place in the betting queue the person in front of me backed Lexi’s Boy – my bet of the day and a ‘top-rated’ selection according to my favoured modus operandi. And yet I went against all that I believe in.
I stuck to my principles in the fourth race. Cool Friend had the best form figures and was the top-rated selection according to ‘Larkspur’.
So there I was chasing my losses for the folly of not having backed Lexi’s Boy and missing out on a pillar-to-post winner. Cool Friend ran poorly and was never in the race. And that was it for the day, as far as my betting was concerned. As the girls slept on the drive back down the M3, I cursed my stupidity and vowed that it must never happen again. But it will. Such is the nature of this horse racing beast. Thankfully, I have all but rid myself of such bad habits. Occasionally they do make a brief reappearance, and when they do it is usually painful reminder of how not to bet.
Last month we looked at ‘Dead Certs’. From a sample of 100 horses returned ‘odds-on’ in February and March it was concluded that, by focussing on horses that had been backed-in from odds-against in the betting forecast, a reasonable profit might be made.
The sample of 100 horses was reduced to 50 selections which gave 33 winners (66%) and a profit of 14% to level stakes. I continued the experiment for the rest of March and a further 66 selections produced 42 winners and a profit to level stakes of 9% (71.68 points returned).
In total there were 116 selections and 76 winners resulted, a strike rate of 66%. The level stakes profit was 11.93 points (127.93 points returned), which was a profit of 10%.
Therefore, I feel that we may now have a new method – The Dead Cert System – with which to play with.
I have previously shied away from betting at odds-on. The above results suggest that returns of 10% might force me to reconsider this. At £10 level stakes you would have staked £1,160 in order to return a £119.30 profit. At £100 per bet the stakes would have amounted to £11,600 and returns would have been £1,193.
However, judging from the correspondence that I have received I suspect that most readers — like me – are in the position where three-figure stakes are beyond our financial remit. But £10 stakes may not be. A starting bank of £100 would have had an end balance of £219.30. Therefore, I will keep this theoretical bank going throughout the next few months and will upload the spreadsheet onto my website for readers to check on progress. Go to www.larkspurracing.co.uk and click on the Betting Matters tab.
For the most part, April is a month for contemplation. The Flat season has just started and a ‘watching brief’ is arguably the best advice as the new season’s form begins to unravel. With the Jumps season having reached its climax at Aintree, it is time to review and prepare anew for the battles ahead.
I promised that I would collate all the results for the TOPS systems and the individual results for February and March, together with the cumulative results are available on my website.
They are a work in progress. The original ideas have undergone a little revision and it is to be hoped that come the end of the trial period that we will have a definitive set of TOPS systems that can produce regular profits in the future.
The trial period will run from 1st February until 31st August 2012; this will give seven months worth of results and allow for periods where it has not been possible to collate returns due to holidays etc.
Indeed, the period 1st to 13th April will be missing from calculations due to the Larkspur family holiday. That said, there should still be at least six months worth of data to work from.
In last month’s issue I suggested that with the TOP 10 system there would appear to be some merit in taking a closer look at those horses that are sent off favourite rather than the forecast favourite. After all, the record of favourites from which the selections are taken comprises of the finishing position of the starting-price favourite.
The SP favourite did not perform as well as the forecast favourite during March posting a 21% loss compared to a 14% loss for the original system. Nonetheless, we will monitor the two variations of the systems over the trial period.
I have tried playing around with the TOP 10 system, looking at whether it pays to back horses that won last time out, or had a winning performance in their last three runs. The latter produced a 23% profit from the March selections from a 42% strike rate.
However, they say that one swallow does not make a summer and indeed the February results were not as impressive with a loss of -47% to level stakes and a strike rate of 25%. Again, this is something that we might want to keep a careful eye on.
A couple of decent priced winners in Golden Call 5-1 (4.25 Bangor 24th March) and Lava Lamp 7-1 (4.30 Ffos Las 29th March) produced a winning month for the TOP Trainer System – seven winners from 20 runners and returns of 25.65 points for a 28% profit in March. Over the two month period to date this system is showing a profit as are the TOP Jockey and TOP Shot. Overall, the TOP systems have found 230 selections finding 74 winners, a 32% strike rate. The losses are -3% to level stakes. As I have stated previously, it is the long term viability of the systems that is under scrutiny, although a couple of the systems (TOP Hat and Trump) have been performing particularly badly over the winter months.
May I thank all readers who have ‘subscribed’ to the new FREE Saturday Special Newsletter. It has been nice to receive positive comments about the ideas that I write about in Racing Ahead. I have found that it is an altogether different matter to offer up such advice as ‘tips’. But I have an ethos of transparency and the newsletter is another outlet for this.
The problem being of course that the racing on Saturday could be a total wipe-out as far as identifying winners is concerned, whereas the rest of the week has seen a plethora of ‘good-things’ going in. Such is the nature of the beast.
The Saturday Special offers readers a number of selections for the day. The Scoop6 bets are gleaned using the Larkspur Method and are the top-rated horses according to the system.
The second week of the Saturday Special gave Nazreef 11-1 and Hada Men 4-1 among the Scoop6 bets.
The launch of the Saturday Special proved a little disappointing on the opening day of the Flat season, Edinburgh Knight ran a good race to finish in fourth place at 11-1 in the Lincoln, and Tinshu was 8-1 second to Arctic Cosmos who was highlighted as a TOP Hat System selection – a rare winner for that particular system that continues to find winners but disappoints in its profitability, something which we will look at in more detail next month.
Reachforthebucks was a TOP 10 selection and a 6-1 second place to Qaraaba who was the 4-1 joint-favourite! All newsletters will be uploaded onto my website for reference purposes and we will keep a separate record of the Saturday Special selections.
On the opening day of the Aintree Festival the Larkspur Method identified Cape Tribulation, a 14-1 winner in the Silver Cross Handicap Hurdle.
The TOP bet of the day and a horse that hit the jackpot for no fewer than four of the TOP systems and was a Larkspur Method top-rated selection was Big Buck’s – a truly remarkable racehorse. But in backing Big Buck’s at 2-9 you are not going to be making big money.
At the same time, 14-1 winners do not come about that often and herein is the bettor’s dilemma. The ‘Dead Cert System’ gives an average of two winning horses from three runners. The profit margin appears reasonable too, but the backer has to be in a position to be able to get the bets on.
For those of us at work during the day this is just not possible and our ‘live’ bets are confined to evenings and weekends, for those with families and other commitments the ‘live’ opportunities are further reduced. Therefore, we need systems that are ‘user-friendly’ in that they can be operated at any time and are profitable in the long-term.
STOP PRESS: 4.50 Aintree 13th April 2012. Winner: Attaglance 14-1. Another big priced winner trained by Malcolm Jefferson who had never had an Aintree winner in 30 years of training.
Attaglance, like Cape Tribulation, was top-rated according to the Larkspur Method! Who said that 14-1 winners don’t come along that often?
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