Emotion: The Gambler's Enemy

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Bookies rely on emotion to fill their coffers. Think about the big race meeting for example the pageantry, the noise, the carnival atmosphere. Do you think that this evolved by accident? It’s all engendered to create a mob mentality, to get people going with the flow. Logical methodical thought is the bookies enemy. Someone who is having a good time, caught up in the party atmosphere, or indeed they may be scared that they’ll lose the weeks housekeeping if their ‘sure thing’ doesn’t come in. In either case, emotion rules, logical thought and planning doesn’t get a look in.

Professional gamblers, who by definition take a different approach, are regularly banned by bookies up and down the country. Bookies don’t like to lose, and they lose to professionals who don’t play the game by their rules. 

So what’s the trick? Are some people just born cool? Almost certainly. However, being ‘cool’ is a trick that can be learned. A basic understanding of body mechanics and mental control are all that’s required. When people get emotional, whether happy, sad, excited or scared, the way that the blood flows around the brain changes subtly. Without making this a lesson in biology lets just say that those parts of the brain that deal with emotion are most active during these times. However, the problem for us is that these parts of the brain claim the majority of the available resources, energy, oxygen etc. This deprives other parts of the brain and consequently they don’t work as well until the situation redresses and a balance is achieved. This includes those parts of the brain that deal with logical thought and communication, which are separate from the emotional centres. So how to we create that balance ourselves so that we stay in charge of our own brains? Learning a simple process of self hypnosis calms the mind/body system and switches off or calms down unhelpful emotional responses. There follows a set of specific instructions on how to use basic self hypnosis techniques to achieve this, you’ll probably be amazed at how simple it is, and that you probably already know how to do it. You just didn’t recognise it as self-hypnosis.

Start by taking three very slow deep breaths, in through the nose, hold for a mental count of two, then exhale slowly via the mouth without forcing, almost like a sigh. Make the out breath longer than the in breath. Its important when doing this to relax the tummy muscles so that you fill your lungs to the bottom. Most of us breath to the top our lungs, which is shallow breathing. This type of breathing actually predisposes us to an emotional reaction. Slow deep breathing on the other hand is associated with calm.

Once you have calmed your breathing down then you can begin to use the power of your imagination through visualisation exercises.

Imagine yourself being calm and focused. You are not affected by noise, or pressure, or atmosphere. You are about to make a rational decision. You’re going to place a bet on a horse which has a reasonable chance of winning. You’ve either decided this yourself, based on totally logical factors, or you’ve taken advice from someone you trust. You don’t care what the horse’s name is. Nor do you care about any other extraneous factors. You are making your decision based on factors such as past performance, the going that day and the jockey.

Of course physical and mental preparation are only part of the skill set needed to beat the bookies. Professionals make best available use of the skills of other professionals. Once you have mastered the necessary self-control and are no longer controlled by your emotions you make better decisions. I would like to thank Neil for his comment on Twitter: illusion of control: Why gamblers throw dice harder when trying to for a higher number and softer for a low.

Pro Gamblers: Proud To Be A Betting Man


An old story originally published in the Northern Echo, 2002 by Ruth Campbell. A fascinating read about professional gambler Paul Cooper. 
For most gamblers, having a flutter is more of a bit of fun than a serious attempt to get rich. But Ruth Campbell meets one man for whom a day at the races means earning a living.
PAUL Cooper greets me by the gate of his imposing five-bedroom Georgian farmhouse, set in 100 acres, in North Yorkshire. There is a gleaming four wheel drive and an Alexis with the personalised number plate PC2 parked in the courtyard.
The former public schoolboy is charming and polite, and surrounded by the trappings of his success. If I were a betting woman and were asked, from first impressions, to guess what he did for a living, I would plump for accountant or stockbroker, or something in the City.
I'd be wrong. Paul Cooper is a professional gambler. It is hard to know what a professional gambler is supposed to look like - there are not many working in the UK and just two or three, like Paul Cooper, are big players.
Cooper, 43, has bet £44m over the last 23 years and made just under £1m. He started with just a few pounds, which means he has enjoyed some spectacular wins, but at the same time endured some horrendous losses.
"I would almost bet on the proverbial fly crawling up a wall if I thought I could win. I more or less bet every day," he says.
He lost £26,000 on David Chapman's sprinter Glencroft in the 1988 Bovis Handicap. But the following year he won an incredible £250,000 after laying out just £432 on a tricast (guessing the first three horses in order) at Thirsk.
And then there was his nailbiting near miss in the States. Tantalisingly close to winning $5m after placing the winners in six out of seven races, his horse in the seventh race missed by a nose.
These are the sorts of highs and lows which would reduce the rest of us to jittery, nervous wrecks. But Cooper is cool, calm and measured. To him, it may as well be just another day at the office. There is none of the impulsiveness or recklessness we associate with habitual gamblers.
His wife Danielle, an interior designer, takes the ups and downs of her husband's unusual career in her stride: "I was surprised at what he did, I had never met a professional gambler. But you marry the person you marry, I accept it."
The couple have two children Clementine, two, and Cordelia, four months: "It is like a volatile business, no different than being married to a stockbroker," adds Danielle. Indeed, Paul regards the £44m he has laid out over the years as turnover and keeps detailed accounts. "I lost money last year and this year I am level. I could do with another quarter of a million pound win," he smiles.
His analytical, computer-like mind, combined with an instinctive eye for a good horse, is complemented by his incredible discipline: "I am not flippant about it, it is an art form if you like. It is quite mathematical." At one point he did work as a Lloyds insurance underwriter: "Insurance is similar, but a lot more risky than gambling on horses."
The son of a farmer, Cooper's gambling career began at the tender age of four when his parents took him to Derwent point-to-point. He bet four shillings on a horse called Paul's Diamond, which won at 100-1, and was hooked. He left Stowe public school at 17 to work on the racing magazine Stud and Stable. Out of his first wages, a £1.90 stake on the ITV seven, won him £800. Within two years, he had collected £13,365 for a £3 accumulator. That bought him a plush London flat overlooking the Thames. By then he realised he could live off gambling and turned professional. His parents didn't mind: "My mother was amused," he says.
Although he wouldn't want his own children to follow in his footsteps, he never thought of doing anything else: "It is what I know and understand." Much of his success can be put down to his meticulous research of times, trainers, form and track bias.
Immediately before a race, he views the horses, then takes about five minutes to weigh up odds and make a decision, staking between £50 and £1,000 a time. There is no adrenaline, no nerves: "I am as relaxed as can be. It is conditioning."
Cooper has his forensic approach to thank for his incredible £250,000 win at Thirsk (which got him into the Guinness Book of Records), followed by a £178,000 win there the year after.
He doesn't pick favourites, as they give poor value. "On days when a whole string of favourites win, I tend to lose." He likes discovering trainers who are underestimated, he virtually never backs a maiden and homes in on high quality races: "I love group races and big events."
Whatever happens, Cooper keeps a cool head. Like a good poker player, he rarely betrays emotion. He recalls that, despite losing £61,000 after three days at Ascot one year, friends assumed he was having a good run. "Most people would not be able to tell how I was doing," he explains. (Incidentally, he adds, he won all the money back again by the Friday.)
He appears to dismiss huge losses easily, but admits: "It is a rollercoaster. I don't think anyone enjoys the lows." He regards the bookies as public enemy number one. The feeling is probably mutual. He has had 41 credit accounts closed over the years. "It is an incredibly unfair service," he says.
He plays the lottery, £8 every week but has won nothing - yet. Because most people pick birth dates, he goes for numbers 32-49 which are better value and linked with higher wins. "There is an edge to picking the high numbers." Beating the system intrigues him, he says, financial rewards come second.
In addition to his gambling, he is now in charge of sponsorship for Betfair.com, a betting exchange launched in June 2000 which links people who want to bet on anything, from horses to the stock market.
Where bookmakers make about 20pc on every race, Cooper points out Betfair, which now has a turnover of £17m a month, takes just 2-5pc commission. "It is rather like buying stocks and shares without the need of a stockbroker," he says.
Cooper has recently returned to his roots, buying the house near Thirsk where he was born and enjoyed a happy childhood.
Occasionally it does cross his mind that his life may be misguided. But betting is in his blood. "Yorkshire people love horses, it is in our roots," he says. "I am not leaving home again. This is home for the rest of my life."

Saturday Tipping Competition

Second week of this month's tipping competition. We have an even earlier start so please get those tips in pronto. A great start to proceedings with Mark notching-up 20pts in the free competition, while Danny found a winner with 8pts. The Pro Competition saw a more workman-like affair with Inittowinit leading the way with 6pts, Gareth 4.75pts in second and Pam third with 2.444pts. Still all to play for so get those tips in. (Important: 11:30am Deadline).

Tipster selections:

12:20 Lingfield     - Count Guido Diero 2pt w (Rawnsley) 1st (22pts)
1:15 Southwell     - Grey Mirage 2pt w (Longbow) 2nd
2:00 Cheltenham - No Buts 2pt w (Mark) Fell
2:00 Cheltenham - Caid Du Berlais 2pt w (Jodonovan) PU
2:00 Cheltenham - Caid Du Berlais 2pt w (Me Old Mum) PU
2:00 Cheltenham - Ericht 2pt w (Bobby Talk) Fell
2:00 Cheltenham - Darna 2pt w (Fred Pippage) Unp
2:00 Cheltenham - Niceonefrankie 2pt w (Uncle Keith/Paul) 1st (34pts)
2:00 Cheltenham - Niceonefrankie 2pt w (Shukman) 1st (34pts)
2:00 Cheltenham - Niceonefrankie 2pt w (Waterhouse) 1st (34pts)
2:05 Lingfield       - Beau Lake 2pt w (Stephenson) 3rd
2:15 Doncaster    - Peace And Co 2pt w (Emanuel) 1st (3.81pts)
2:15 Doncaster    - Peace And Co 2pt w (Clint) 1st (3.81pts)
2:35 Cheltenham - Binge Drinker 2pt w (Danny) 5th
3:10 Cheltenham - King Of The Pict 1pt ew (Racing Mama) Unp
3:15 Lingfield       - Muthabir 1pt ew (Bird) 3rd (5pts)
3:25 Doncaster    - Light The City 2pt w (Tecbet) Unp
5:45 Wolverhampton - Secret Glance 2pt w (Pam) 3rd
5:45 Wolverhampton - Lamps Of Heaven 2pt w (Inittowinit) 2nd
5:45 Wolverhampton - Optimystic 2pt w (HCE) Unp
5:45 Wolverhampton - Mo Henry 2pt w (Glueythepig) 1st (42pts)
7:15 WolverhamptonSpowarticus 2pt w (Eric) 2nd
7:15 Wolverhampton - Divine Call 1pt ew (Winter) Unp
7:45 Wolverhampton - Star Link 2pt w (OneEyeEnos) Unp
8:15 Southwell - San Quentin 2pt w (Capt Heathcliffe) Unp
8:45 Wolverhampton - Haris Tweed 2pt w (Gareth) 3rd

Table Toppers

42pts Glueythepig
34pts  Shukman
34pts Uncle Kieth/Paul
34pts Waterhouse
22pts Rawnsley
20pts Mark

2:00 Cheltenham Racing Tips (13th December) CASPIAN CAVIAR GOLD CUP (A Handicap Chase) (Grade 3) (CLASS 1) (4yo+)

Thirteen runners for this Grade 3 Handicap Chase over 2m 5f on Good going. With total win price money of over £100,000 this will be a fascinating contest. Paul Nicholls' Caid Du Berlais looks a decent each-way prospect. This five-year-old bay gelding, sired by Westener out of a French mare put up a mighty performance when running at this course in Novemeber when running on stoutly to deny John's Spirit by a head in the Paddy power Gold Cup Chase. With total prize money of just under £200,000 this horse could target the Ryanair Chase, come Cheltenham Festival in March. Remember to take advantage of bookmaker offer. Winner are giving Money Back If Your Horse Finishes 2nd In the Gold Cup on Saturday. Plus 1/4 odds each way for all Saturday's live Channel 4 racing. If that's not enough, then players can earn Free Bets by placing 10 bets on Horse Racing.   

He's Backed Every Favourite Since 1974

When you make a decision it seems natural to think you have weighed up all the factors. Let's say you considered a bet. You think the horse has winning form. It likes the ground. Good jockey. The price is better than you thought and looks value. Job done. Well, that's the logic, hey. However, research suggests there may be a problem. Our decision making is mostly unconscious. Now you may consider that is a load of old rubbish. ''I know what I think!'' But  consider how these aspects may influence your ''decisions''. 

Are you influenced by what others say? The paper favourite? What does that bloke from the Racing Post have to say? You maverick doing your own thing. In an instant you can appreciate how social validation plays its part.  The difficultly is that so much of our ''decision making'' is ingrained, habitual, implicit that even trying to make it conscious is no easy task. As Sigmund Freud would say: ''We are trying to make the unconscious conscious.''

Your past behaviour will affect how you behave in the future? It most likely will unless you can appreciate why you behave in such a way. Have you noticed the bloke in the bookies who only bets on the favourite? Every time it's a favourite. He may try and mix it up a little with a cross the card double (but it's still two favourites). But why? We like to stay true to ourselves and so we follow a personal commitment to do just that. Take a read of our post: I followed That Horse Off A Cliff

Boy, you will be waiting a long time for Uncle Harold to take out his mat and do some break dancing.

Back an outsider? Fu*k Off!!!!!

Free Horse Racing Tips, Click Here!

But what else? Do you follow a tipster even though he has been in terrible form of late because he had a good winner last year. I owe him. Or your mate took your advice last week and he's really keen on this horse  and would you believe it's in the same race as mine. That reciprocity can turn your mind. But so too can your ''decision'' never to trust anyone's advice but your own (talking to myself here).

However, this doesn't mean your thinking is faulty, irrational or bad. It's simply that our conscious mind cannot cope with all the data it tries to process. Our unconscious mind has evolved to do the job. For the most part it does it well. It's not a tyrant trying to teach us a lesson for being a naughty child. It trusts it makes a decision in our interests. That's the ''gut feeling''. 

Probably the best way to appreciating how we make decisions is to keep a diary. Not so much about our selection or bets but how we got to that point. This is much more difficult than it sounds but it can be revealing especially if you notice a pattern of behaviour keeps cropping up. 

What do you think, Sigmund?

When does a Professional Gambler stop gambling?

Another fascinating article from the Horseracing Pro. It is a well known fact that comedians are at their funniest when on stage. Put them in a normal social environment without the spotlights and cameras and most are unamusing. The art of making people laugh is a skill and it is one learned and practised by the jokester, but he is not a funny man all the time and in many instances lacks wit and wisdom, especially when in an every day situation. Similarly, when filming or on stage, actors have the luxury of being able to assume a part.

This allows them to shelter behind an alter ego. It is often noticeable that characters that play, James Bond for example – the epitome of the English gentleman – often dress casually when interviewed on television: Pierce Brosnan sported a beard on one occasion. It is as if they are seeking to escape from the character created, wishing to scream, ‘That is not me! This is me!’ Daniel Craig and Sir Roger Moore apart, most Bonds look as if they have been yanked from the pub when no longer assuming the mantle of 007.

When you think about it this is not surprising. A comedian is an impersonator in much the same way as an actor. When performing they run the risk of baring their all, their very souls, to the audience. So what better way to alleviate this potential nightmare than to hide behind a mask. For an actor that is easy. He portrays a ready-made part and becomes Hannibal Lector, Dirty Harry or Rhett Butler and if it fails to work, well he is merely following a script. The interesting point, however, is that most film actors are chosen to portray characters close to the public perception of them in real life. But the script, the fact that a film is largely a slab of make believe, allows the actor refuge, meaning he can claim, at least publicly, that whatever parts he has played have been works of fiction. In most cases that is true but there has been a central theme running through the roles adopted by the greats. I am talking about the likes of Bogart, Douglas (yes, Kirk and Michael – ever see Falling Down?), Steiger, Redford, Grant, De Niro, Eastwood, Newman, Hanks – the list is a long one and omissions are not intentional. I am straying slightly here and that is because I am talking about one of my great loves – the cinema.

Thank you for your patience – often an essential attribute in my pieces! I am about to come to the point that is relevant to our business which is not as glamorous as that practised by those that live in and around Malibu and Beverly Hills. But, just as an actor sheds his image when off camera, professional punters need to remove their gambling jackets when not at work. Those that are the most successful at betting are not necessarily gamblers at heart. They trade during the day, using their skill and expertise to bob and weave through the treacherous programme that is a racecard. Ask them what they are doing when they place a bet and the chances are prosperous punters will deny they are gambling. Some of the biggest gambles I have taken in life have been away from the racetrack. If you have the desire to live life on the edge, to bet, to drive too fast, to gamble whenever the situation crops up, you may not last long in racing. Betting is not about deriving a thrill. Yes, winning is thrilling and exciting, it is also rewarding in every sense, but if that is your motivation, take stock. Just the same as any writer or actor that is purely driven by the desire to be famous will eventually flip hamburgers, punters who wish to use horseracing as a legitimate way to gamble are likely to find themselves on the night shift at Tesco.

We are of course all different. I can only speak for myself along with those I have come across during my time in racing. And it is true that like tends to attract like so, even if we had moved in the same social circles, I am sure that, much as I admired his wit and recklessness, Jeffrey Barnard and myself would not have got along. He was a man who liked to take chances from the moment his feet hit the floor in the morning – or perhaps that should be lunchtime! I take no pleasure in risk-taking. My intention when backing horses is to remove as much of it as possible. I have seen what can happen, know that messages can often be dangerous in the extreme because they are someone else’s opinion and the one I trust the most is my own. I try to prune the risk before I bet and unless the price is commensurate with that risk, I don’t take it. As a result, there are those that level the charge against me that I am over-cautious and they may well be right. But, by such an approach, I have survived in a business that claims more scalps than the Sioux Indians managed at the Battle Of Little Bighorn.

Some of my contemporaries have a bank balance that must read like the graph at the end of a bed of a hospitalised heart-attack victim. They dine at the Ritz one day and eat fish and chips the next. Some could not wait to light the fuse, burning out like comets streaking across a night sky. Then there are those that plunged into the high life straight away without actually having earned the money that accompanies such a lifestyle. Others, forced into a corner, have bulldozed their way to massive fortunes by scraping together enough cash for one last do-or-die wager that obliged and from which point there was no looking back. Through a succession of poor decisions, I found myself in that situation during my early years, and had the good fortune to dynamite my way out of trouble. But such action is not something to be advocated. Making a mistake does not mean you are a fool. Failing to learn from it does that.

To a degree, how you play this precarious game depends on your make-up although there are parameters. I tend to trundle along, making enough to live a life that more or less suits and always hoping that one day I will pull off the miracle bet. Miracle bets do not tend to happen to people like me because I lack the optimism or the foolhardiness to strike too many of them. I am always looking to protect my investments so the emphasis is on survival rather than upgrading to a Porsche.

I have stated this before but it is worth repeating: If you have hit on a formula that works for you, that is all that matters.

But I do feel it is important is that would-be professional punters do not confuse gambling with betting. The gambler stands in a casino believing, or hoping, he can beat the house at its own game. The punter constructs his rules. He bets in his own house and to his own percentages, taking risks because they are unavoidable and a means to an end. But he does not take them because he likes to or because he enjoys the buzz they give. Become that man and you are the drunk that runs a pub, a dentist that delights in inflicting pain, a psychiatrist that feels superior to his patients.

Source: Horse Racing Pro

Retiree re-invents himself as professional blackjack gambler

In Rudyard Kipling's The Man Who Would be King, a British soldier named Daniel Dravot schemes to become king of a remote area of Afghanistan. Today, a 63-year-old retired real estate developer calling himself Daniel Dravot also schemes to become king -- of the blackjack table. 

In what is surely the most unlikely of "encore careers," Dravot works as a professional gambler.

For 33 years Dravot often gambled in real estate development to keep his 250 employees at work. "There were times I had to remortgage my house on a Thursday to make payroll," he says. But he only set foot in a casino a handful of times.

By 2004, Dravot saw the recession coming and closed his business. "I got out whole," he says, "though not as whole as I wanted to be. At 30 you think you're going to conquer the world. At 60 you realize the world has conquered you."

Bored with TV, Dravot searched his bookshelf for something to read and came across a book on blackjack strategy he'd bought 25 years earlier. He studied card counting, the system by which you assign a plus or minus value to cards in order to keep track of them. Soon he was making money at it.

And even though card-counting is perfectly legal, casinos don't like losing. "The casinos are there to take the money from the foolish and the stupid," he says. "They frown on people using their brains." Which is why Dravot's been thrown out of dozens of them. And uses a pseudonym.

Dravot's system is actually no different than the one used by hedge-fund managers to calculate risk. Indeed, billionaire Bill Gross, founder of Pimco, the world's largest bond fund, started his career playing blackjack professionally. And Beat the Dealer author Ed Thorpe, the MIT mathematician credited with creating the system of blackjack card-counting, went on to make a fortune in the securities market.

Now Dravot has simplified that system, taking out all the heavy division to provide a methodology for the average person.

Here are some of the tips you'll find in his book The Color of Blackjack. They apply equally to business as well as cards.

1) Make sure you're adequately financed. Dravot says to measure your bet size by your bankroll. For instance, with a table minimum of $5, you can't possibly make any money if you've only got $50. You'll need at least $500 so you can lose a few hundred before you start winning.

2) Get the best deal. Some blackjack tables play with a single deck while others can play with as many as eight, which favors the house. That is, unless the single-deck table is paying 6 to 5 instead of the traditional 3 to 2. "It's like a restaurant offering two different sets of prices," Dravot says. In other words, perform due diligence.

3) Pay attention. Unlike dice, which have no memory, blackjack depends on a "sequential event." The more cards the house deals, the fewer there are in the deck. So you should start with small bets, then increase as you gather information.

"Blackjack's taught me to stop and think, 'Where's the edge and who has the advantage?'" Dravot says.

Nowadays, Dravot lives on the road 250 to 300 days a year. After being single for 25 years, in June he married a woman who worked for his company for 28 years.

"I could be spending my money on greens fees every day," Dravot says. "Instead we're out having fun."

And that, my friends, is The Upside.

In Search of the Outsider: The Significance of Trainers & Starting Price

Winning Big On Debut

From what we have learned so far, it becomes apparent that  finding an outsider with a lively chance of winning on debut needs a certain calibre of trainer. The problem with following the elite is that their juveniles are very much in the spotlight. As we have mentioned, their reputation precedes them to a point where many are under priced.

Few trainers, however capable, feature a level stakes profit with their debutantes. In fact, most would make truly poor bets from a blanket approach. Even looking at the individual rather than the general? To a certain extent this would be a pointless exercise. Why? Because it is a remote chance these two-year-old could win at speculative odds. It would simply dictate they have a slim chance of winning. For example, from just over 450 debutantes, how many two-year-old winners did Mick Channon train priced over 8/1? It was in single figures. Fair enough, a large number of his juveniles were fancied in the betting. But would that inspire you to wager? I wouldn’t be interested. It is surprising how difficult it is to win on debut – at any price. And don’t forget how many win against a field of debutantes. The statistics would no doubt plummet when racing against experience horses primed to run for their lives.

What we are searching for is this: not the biggest stables and certainly not the smallest who rarely train a two-year-old let alone a juvenile winner. What we need are those trainer who have plenty of ammunition but somehow slip under the radar. There are a number of interesting candidates.

One of the best candidates is Michael Dods. In my opinion, he is a talented trainer of two-year-old, especially on debut. He has excellent statistics with his debutantes, which, strangely, seem to have more chance of winning at speculative odds than when strongly fancied. However, the icing on the cake for his debutantes is when running on soft or heavy ground. I’m not sure if he goes for the type of horse with hooves the size of dinner plates but they often love testing conditions. If you see one of his juveniles priced 40/1, 50/1 or even 66/1 on debut, racing in terrible ground they make outstanding each way bets.

Now, I’m not saying all of them are going to win. Who would imagine they could! This article is simply to highlight which trainers can go well at speculative odds in the knowledge that you have a fighting chance.

My brother bets on many horses just because he likes their physical stature. In fact, he goes to the extreme of not really caring who trains them. He's had so many big priced winners it is quite astonishing. What I want to highlight from his success is that gigantic-priced horses fall into a niche area to prove victorious. It is all about looking in the right direction. That is the reason why some gamblers win and others lose. They have the skills to know that rich seam of gold is within reach while others are searching unforgiving grounds. 

Make sure you read Part 3 (coming soon)

2:10 Kempton Racing Tips (8th December) BOOK NOW FOR BOXING DAY MAIDEN STAKES (CLASS 5) (2yo)

A Maiden over one-mile on standard going. Thirteen two-year-olds take part: eleven colts and two fillies. A mix of lightly-raced thoroughbreds from leading stables and two debutantes, including the well-bred New Style for Saeed Bin Suroor, sired by Street Cry out of Land Of Dreams who was a class sprinter, racing at the highest level before retiring at three. A debut winner at two, she was triumphant in the Flying Childers Stakes (Group 2). 

The betting will give a good clue to the likely chances of all. One horse that catches the eye is Entitling, trained by James Fanshawe. This bay colt, an Irish-bred son of Mastercraftsman, was an expensive yearling purchase for Suzanne Roberts from Tattersalls October Sales 2013 when achieving 200,000GNS. 

Now racing in the familiar silks of Ben MC Wong, this March foal was well backed on debut [12/1 - 15/2] when racing on good ground at Nottingham over 1m 1/2f. That was a promising first start, running on after being short of room.

Generally, Fanshawe's two-year-olds improve for their run and this youngster has the making of a fair horse. A high draw is a slight concern although that experience should help Tom Queally sit in a handy position. 

The betting will be the best indicator. Wait for the markets to settle before making judgement. If this horse is priced 13/2 & less SP it should run a big race featuring strong each-way claims. 

An intriguing race.  

Free Horse Racing Tips, Click Here!

Saturday Tipping Competition - Xmas Special

Last month saw a great competition with Tecbet wining the pro ranks in style while no less than three hopefuls: Glueythepig, Gareth & Inittowinit won the equivalent of Willy Wonker's Golden Ticket to dip their toe into the dizzy heights of professionalism. In turn, this means we have a bumper win prize. Obviously to get your mitts on the cash you either have to enter the pro competition by clicking the Pay Pal button below [£10] or write a letter to Santa. Both have worked for me! We should have a prize around £150. Another early start so please get those tips in before 12 O'Clock. Here's to a great month. 

Does the King George Give Any Pointers to the Cheltenham Gold Cup?

The King George VI chase at Kempton Park on Boxing Day is the racing highlight of the Christmas National Hunt calendar. Racegoers will flock in their thousands to the south-west London track to revel in the Christmas spirit – and hope to back a few winners along the way!

There has been many fine champions of this prestigious race - most notably - Kauto Star, who racked up an incredible five King George victories in his stellar career. Silviniaco Conti is the current King George market leader but how significant is this festive showpiece race in regard to the blue riband Cheltenham Gold Cup? Here we will look into the recent results of the Boxing Day spectacle, and see how those outcomes reflect towards the March festival.

Favourites’ race

In recent seasons, the King George has been a safe haven for favourite backers as eight of the last twelve renewals of the great race have been won by the jolly. Edredon Bleu sprang a 25/1 shock back in 2003, but this race is likely - according to statistics - to be won by a horse that is at the head of the market. It must be said that three of the last four renewals have been won by a non-favourite to redress the balance – but those three recent winners have all returned at odds of no bigger than 9/2.

Age no barrier

Most age trends to a specific race tend to congregate around a certain bracket, but that cannot be said for the King George. Three six-year old winners, Kicking King (2004), Kauto Star (2006) and Long Run (2010) have all proven that youth can conquer experience in the race. It could be argued that Long Run was effectively a five-year old as the 2010 renewal was actually run in January 2011 due to bad weather over the festive period.
The three mentioned above also won the race as seven-year olds, together with Best Mate (2002) and Silviniaco Conti from last season. Kauto Star (2008-2009) is the only eight, and nine-year old winner in the last twelve runnings, while Edredon Bleu and Kauto Star yet again in 2011, proved that age was no barrier by entering the winners’ enclosure at aged 11.

Experience is key

Other notable statistics are that nine French bred horses have passed the post in first place in the last 12 years, while the other three winners are Irish bred. Every winner of the King George during that twelve year period has also won a Grade One chase previously, which can be classed as a negative sign for the inexperienced Champagne Fever.

Tough task

So, how does all this information work towards the Cheltenham Gold Cup? From 1990 onwards, there have been just four horses who won the King George, and then went on and claimed the Gold Cup in March. Best Mate (2003), Kicking King (2005), Kauto Star (2007, 2009) and most latterly Long Run in 2011, all completed the seasonal double. That quintet are arguably the four finest staying chasers in recent history, which proves the thought of winning both titles in the same season is a very tough task that only the finest equine talent have achieved.


If you are looking for the winner of the King George, then the sensible option is to look towards an experienced horse, who has already won at Grade One level – and is relatively short in the betting. Form tends to hold up year on year in the race, so Silviniaco Conti must have excellent claims to return to the winners’ enclosure once again. However, if the Paul Nicholls trained gelding was to triumph at Kempton this Christmas, is he capable of winning the Gold Cup as well? I’ll leave that decision up to you.