Saturday Tipping Competition: 3-2-1

The first week of the Saturday Tipping Competition. November is a time for big bangs, setting things on fire and letting rockets fly - so I'm expecting fireworks this month! To add to the fun there will be £10 win prize money for the top three places (you have to imagine the old game show at this moment when Ted Rogers gave you the finger). However, there is a proviso: that any winning free entrant has to compete in next month's pro competition. If a pro player finishes in the places [so to speak] they will be given a free entry in the professional competition. This money will come out of my pocket and a little thank you for all who take part. (Don't count on it happening every month). With the changing of the clocks it is an even earlier start to proceedings so please make sure all tips are forwarded by 12:30, else you may be knocking on an unanswered door! Good luck to all.   
£10 Pro Entry

Click here via Pay Pal or simply use jason_coote@hotmail.com (then it doesn't cost me any money) 

Tipster selections: 

Ferdy Doesn't Bottle It Over Crabbie's Grand National Campaign

The Crabbie’s Grand National advertising campaign for 2015 has been unveiled. A set of dramatic, powerful images that really capture the spirit and thrill of this great race. 

Being local to Aintree Paul Green's Oaklea Racing Stables were asked if they could supply a horse to partner Katie Walsh for the Ladies Day advert. Green said: ''Lets say, when it came to finding a horse that knew how to pose we knew we had the perfect one. Good looks, style and certainly not camera shy…step up Ferdy!'' 

As we all know Katie Walsh is no stranger to riding racehorses, but I’m sure that even she found riding in a full-length dress a bit hard to negotiate. Ferdy was a perfect gentleman and even with a 3 ft train flapping around his bum he still behaved impeccably…well most of the time!

Wet Sail Heads To Breeders' Cup For Charlie Fellows

WET SAIL is running in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf on Friday and is drawn very satisfactorily in stall one with Jamie Spencer on board. Claire Mackay has travelled out with the horse and has reported back that he’s travelled incredibly well and settled into LA life very nicely!

Already this has been an incredible opportunity for myself and my team and an exciting entry for Sheik Fahad and Qatar Racing [formerly owned by Saffron House Stables Partnership]. Fellows said: ''Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would get the opportunity to have a runner in the Breeders’ cup during my first year training, just to be considered has been a real dream come true.''

All that’s left now is for me to get out there and join him for a memorable few days. Best of luck to all connections and let’s hope we can do the brits proud!

Other UK entrants include: Aktabantay (Hugo Palmer), Commemorative (Charlie Hills), War Envoy (Aidan O'Brien), Faithful Creek (Brian Meehan). Other big name includes Hootenanny (Wesley Ward).

Check out this Breeders' Cup Price Boost - To Make Your Winnings Count


Saturday Tipping Competition

The final week of October's tip comp. The three leaders have an edge over the opposition but it's not over until the robust female warbles. Mark leads the free competition with 42pts after a couple of juicy winners this month. Alan Winter is showing his form and leads the pro competition with 31pts. Fellow pro Jodonovan may have been quite of late but he has burst onto the scene with 26pts. Pam & Tecbet have double-figure scores and warming up for this finale. As we know, it takes just one big priced winner to steal the glory [cash] so keeps those tips coming. [1:30PM Deadline. No late entries please, else I might scream and adorn a pumpkin mask as Halloween in almost upon us.] 

Hannon's California duo leave on Saturday

ALL the preparation work has been done with Toronado and Osaila, who leave for their Breeders Cup expedition in California on Saturday, and Harry Herbert, racing manager to Al Shaqab racing, is predicting a big run from both. 

He said:"I know that Olympic Glory disappointed in the Mile last year, but fast ground at Santa Anita was never going to be his bag, whereas Toronado will relish the underfoot conditions and has the tactical speed to be able to take a good position early on.

"Toronado is much more the straight-forward of the pair. We have been keeping them apart all season, but Olympic Glory went out on a high at Longchamp (Prix de la Foret), and now we hope that Toronado can do likewise before he, too, starts his new career at stud.

"This has always been the target for Toronado, who should be suited by the two-turn mile. He is versatile enough to be able to adapt wherever he is drawn, but obviously we are hoping for a single figure stall as it becomes very difficult if you are planted wide with the first bend coming up so quickly.

"Toronado is very much a fresh horse which is what you need for a Breeders Cup. He is one of the Sheikh's favourite horses, and apart from last year's Juddmonte, in which he swallowed his tongue, he has done nothing wrong. He won the Queen Anne first time out this year at Royal Ascot, lost nothing in defeat against Kingman in the Sussex Stakes at Goodwood and last time out pushed Charm Spirit all the way in the Prix Moulin in France. That form received a boost in last week's QE11 at Ascot, so Toronado is entitled to be favourite.

"Osaila probably has a tougher task in the Juvenile Fillies Turf, but she is a different filly than she was in June and has improved 7lb. 

"Even though she won the Princess Margaret Stakes at Ascot on King George day, we knew that she would improve for going up in trip, and she duly confirmed that view when running a screamer in what was a very hot Moyglare Stud Stakes at The Curragh. 

"We then took Osaila to the big sales race at Newmarket and she won well, but she was starting to go in her coat and we had our doubts as to whether she should go to America or not. "However, she was clipped and now looks better, and her subsequent work in the mornings has encouraged us to give it a go. She will be one of the highest rated fillies in the race and deserves her chance. Granted a good draw, she will race handy and she will love the fast ground and the trip."

Elm Park To Win The Racing Post Trophy (Saturday 3:50 Doncaster)

All eyes will be on Andrew Balding's Elm Park this Saturday as Qatar Racing & Kingsclere Racing send their two-year-old bay colt to race at Group 1. This homebred son of Phoenix Reach out of a limited-winning mare has progressed with racing. He may have fluffed his lines on debut at Sandown - but it's been winners all the way since. Kingsclere Racing sold a major share to Qatar Racing after winning readily at Salisbury when competing at Listed class. His most recent [third] victory saw a sterling effort when staying on to win the Judmonte Royal Lodge Stakes (Group 1) when ridden by Andrea Atzeni, racing over one mile. Winner Sport have a great offer for backers of Elm Park to win @ 5/1

Richard Hannon Hailed The New Champion With Record Prize Money

There are still almost three weeks left of the domestic season, but, while Richard Hannon's team drew a blank at last week's big meetings at Ascot and Newmarket, they still amassed plenty of prize money from the placed horses, so Richard's haul of £4,620,792 gives him a cushion of more than £460,000 over John Gosden. 

With next Saturday's Racing Post Trophy at Doncaster being the final Group 1 of the season and all the really valuable handicaps done and dusted, the fat lady has been on her feet since last week-end, acclaiming Richard Hannon as champion trainer in his very first season at the helm.

Furthermore, Richard's tally beats his father's record prize money from last year by more than £68,000, though they can both claim 16 Group winners each on home soil, so junior will be anxious to inch ahead some time between now and November 8. 

No Pattern prizes up for grabs until the week-end, but seven of the eight races at Newmarket tomorrow are two-year-old affairs, and the stable are well represented at HQ, with Crafty Choice flying the flag in the feature event, the 10-furlong Zetland Stakes. 

Hannon said:"Crafty Choice is on a roll, having won three off the spin, and he was going away at the finish when revelling in the soft ground at Nottingham last time, so neither the extra furlong nor the testing conditions will be a problem." 

Control The Dice And Become The Richest Man On Earth

I know it's illogical but I've cracked it! After hours of practice I am confident I have increased my chance of throwing double six. It's a great little system: the harder I throw the dice the higher the score; slower then lower numbers appear. It works like magic. I can't wait to get down the casino & clean up. Well, that's what some people would have you believe and for all of its madness is it a phenomenon which many a bettor may use in their assessment when gambling.

Ellen Langer named this psychological effect as the illusion of control. It is a tendency for people to overestimate their ability to control events even when it can be demonstrated they have no influence at all. It is a behaviour often seen in gambling and known as one of the positive illusions. This cognitive bias can also be seen within illusory superiority with regard to intelligence, performance on tasks and tests, and the possession of desirable personality traits. This phenomenon is studied in social psychology.

The illusion is more common in familiar situations where the person knows the desired outcome. If a player of craps is initially successful this feedback is likely to increase the effect, while failure may decrease or reverse it. This resembles irrational primacy effect in which people give greater influence to information that occurs earlier in a series. In stressful or competitive situation the illusion strengthens control especially when there is an emotional need to an outcome. Intriguingly, this confidence is overestimated in games determined by chance but individuals often underestimate their control when they hold an advantage. Langer's research demonstrated that participants are more likely to throw a dice harder when they need a higher number and softer for lower numbers. This study has been replicated with lottery tickets. Participants who had chosen their lottery ticket were more reluctant to part with it even when they could trade it for another with a higher chance of paying out. They were also less likely to swap tickets if they had familiar symbols ( lucky numbers, birthdays etc). It is important to remember that these tickets - although random - were instrumental in the  behaviour affecting their win chance.

Langer explained her findings in terms of confusion between skill and chance situations. In essence, participants' judgements were based on ''skill cues'' and made all the stronger when associated with games of skill. However, Suzanne Thompson proposed that judgements about control were based on an intention to create an outcome and a relationship between the action and outcome. This can be seen with playing slot machine where there is an intention to win but also an action by pressing a button. This control heuristic could be seen with the old-style one armed bandits which a player would change their style with regard to a given ''need'' (I'm always lucky when I do this behaviour...) The self-regulatory theory suggests we cope with a lack of control by falsely attributing self control of the situation.

Taylor and Brown argue that positive illusions are adaptive as they help motivate people to persist at a task when they might give up. In fact, optimistic self-appraisals of our capability can be advantageous but only in situations where control is possible. 

Saturday Tipster Competition

Been to Newmarket all day and then back home to the pub and a game of three card brag. Enjoyable day/evening but got back and having to update the blog at 1:30am. Never mind. I won't go mad and try and detail the leader board. Good luck to all. 1:30pm Deadline.    

Tip selections: 


I Followed That Horse Off A Cliff

A study by Knox & Inkster (1968) revealed something interesting about people at the racetrack. Just after placing a bet they were much more confident of their horses' chance of winning than immediately before the wager. What is intriguing is that nothing about the horses' chances had changed: it was the same horse, the same course, the same opposition. What had changed was that the bettor considered his likelihood of winning had greatly improved with that ticket in hand.

But why?


Psychologists consider this to be an effect of social influence. By living in a social world where our behaviour is often questioned we are brought up with a need to appear consistent. In essence, when we make a choice we stick to it doggedly and ultimately displaying commitment to the task. But in doing so we often convince ourselves that we have made the right choice even when at times this may seem quite illogical.

Psychologists have long known about the power of the consistency principle to direct human action as a central motivator of behaviour. In fact consistency is generally associate with intelligence and good character - it also makes for an easier life in that we are not contemplating a myriad of choices in daily life. In fact, to behave in an inconsistent manner may be seen as an undesirable character trait: two faced, irrational or even categorized as mentally ill.

However, there are two sides to this coin.

Does a commitment to consistency make you do things that you wouldn't ordinarily do? There is little doubt it does! In fact, such is the power of social influence it often causes us to act in ways which are contrary to our best interests. We become habitually consistent - to the point it is unconscious.

But how can we relate this psychological research to everyday gambling? I have noted a couple of interesting points that people quote to the extent they have become a cliche. And they afford an intriguing insight to this subject matter. Many people have a favourite horse, trainer, jockey, type of bet, betting system - you name it - because it is part of your commitment to consistency. But now consider this. How many times have you heard someone say: 'I followed that horse off a cliff'. Why did they do that? Is it because you once made a commitment by backing it before? How many times have you battled with yourself  'questioning' whether you should 'give it one more chance?' You probably lost out to the quiet power of social influence - the terrible twins: consistency and commitment.

It is the same with people chasing losses. Consciously or unconsciously - mainly the latter - you have made a commitment to myself to make money that day - most certainly not to lose! Something is pushing your buttons to remain consistent (even if it costs you more and more). Have you ever noticed how a small loss - which on the grand scale of things is insignificant - can get you completely stressed out. I would suggest it is more to do with the internal disharmony of thinking 'What the hell was I doing?' rather than the money itself.

We are all victims of the consistency principle in everyday life. Why does the car salesman say: 'Would you buy the car right now if the price was right?'. He is trying to control that commitment - and by doing so is halfway to a sale.

I have only pointed a to a few aspects of how consistency and commitment can play a part in your gambling. I am sure with this new awareness you will be able to note how its significance has an impact on you and how you may be able to change this for the better - although it will be more difficult than you think. It is surprising how these things can slip under your betting radar. It pays to be aware of their influence.

As a final illustration of the power of social influence - consistency and commitment - I have one final piece of research which is quite humorous in its way but clearly identifies the problems at hand.

In 1966 Freeman and Fraser published an astonishing set of data.

A researcher posing as a volunteer worker had gone door to door in a residential California neighbourhood making an absurd request to homeowners. They were asked if a public-service billboard could be placed on their front lawns. They were even shown photographs of what it would look like where the view of an attractive house was almost completely obscured by a very large, poorly lettered sign reading: DRIVE CAREFULLY.

Although the request was normally and understandably refused by the great majority (17% complied), one particular group reacted favourably!

In fact, over 75% of them offered the use of their front lawn.

Why?

The reason for their startling compliance had to do with something that had happened two weeks earlier: they had made the small commitment to driver safety. A different volunteer had come to their doors and asked them to display a little three-inch square sign that read BE A SAFE DRIVER. It seemed such a small request that nearly all of them agreed. However, the effects of that request was enormous.

How does consistency and commitment affect your betting?



Expert Vs Novice: Place Your Bets Now

So what's your selection? To even contemplate such a task takes considerable knowledge, let alone successfully finding a winner! 

But wait a minute. 

How come my mate Joe is ahead of the game? In fact, he seems to have the bookies running for cover. He's been banned by most! I guess you could call him a professional gambler. 

But is there a difference between how an expert and novice solve problems?  While it is obvious experts know more than novices, until recently the lay person's view of the expert might presume their skills were due to a superior mental capacity rather than a vast body of specialist knowledge. 

However, there has been a shift in emphasis with ground-breaking research regarding chess skills. The chess analogy is interesting because not only does it investigate problem-solving strategies but it has the focus of the adversary opponent. 

De Groot (1946/65) conducted a series of chess studies which conflicted with the assumption that skilled problem solvers must have superior information processing skills.  He asked five grand masters & five skilled chess players to think aloud as they studied a chessboard and choose a move. If grand masters used such superior information processing they would be expected to make broader searches for their next move. Interestingly, evidence illustrated there was no qualitative difference between the expert and novice. The difference between the two groups was unremarkable - the grand masters simply made the better moves.  Players were  shown chessboards with pieces arranged from actual games. The boards were presented to players for a short time and then removed. They were asked to construct the board positions from memory. The grand masters constructed the board almost without error while the novice faltered (91% - 41%). Skill level was linked to the amount of information remembered about the chessboard positions. Further research from Chase and Simon (1973) suggest experts not only posses more knowledge but it is organized in more meaningful and readily accessible ways.    

Larkin et al (1980) were interested in the possible strategic differences between experts and novices. They asked expert and novice physicists to solve a range of physics problems. They found that experts tended to use a working forwards strategy. Using the information to derive a solution. Novices use a working backwards strategy starting with the goal. In gambling terms this would amount to thinking ''I must find the winner''.

It appears experts use their knowledge to generate good problem representations which support working forward strategies while novices rely on trial and error.

It is often said 'practice makes perfect'. But what researchers noticed many years ago that performance improves with practice in a very systematic and predictable way. The 'power law of practice' has been known for a long time. Practice seems to be a factor in the development of skills over a range of activities.  Performance improves with practice because individual task components are executed more efficiently; sequences of task components are executed more efficiently & qualitative changes occur in representations of task structure.    

Performance improves with practice because the time to recovery memory is reduced and importantly sequences of units or chunks. In addition, performance improves because the task is restructured.

But how much practice is needed to achieve excellence? Ericsson et al. (1993) have given ten years as a ballpark figure for attaining high levels of performance in a variety of areas (chess, mathematics, violin playing). Ericsson (1991) suggests that it takes at least ten years to reach the international level of performance in sport, the arts and sciences. Simon and Chase (1973) estimated it took 3,000 hours practice to become an expert and around 30,000 hours to become a chess master. Many of those who achieve excellence start at a very young age simply because it takes such a long time to acquire the necessary knowledge. 

However, it is possible to train participants to improve on their best performance. Ericsson and Harris (1990) trained an individual who was not a chess player over a period of 50 hours to recognise chess positions almost as accurately as some chess masters. Although Ericsson and Polson (1988) found, practice itself is not a guarantee of superior performance. In their study, the waiter most skilled in remembering orders used more effective encoding strategies compared to equally experienced counterparts. The critical point is not how much practice individuals have, but what they actually do while they are practising the skill. (This point will be explored in our next article.)