Barney's father, a grocer by trade, decided to take a gamble. He bet and bet big on one of his own dogs. During the race, the dog fell and broke his neck at the first bend. The sight of his dad walking back up the track, cradling the dead dog, has haunted Barney ever since. The consequences were devastating, yet would be the backbone of the driving force in Curley becoming in a league of his own where punters are concerned.
Curley's father, Curley senior, took Barney, the oldest of six siblings, out of school and sentenced him to 15 months of working double shifts at the plastics factory in Manchester. The two Curley's stayed in Manchester working until enough was saved to pay off all his debts from the gamble.
Curley's father taught him what honour and pride was the best way he knew how. "My father wouldn't come back to Ireland until everyone was paid" Barney recalled. This fact was a good lesson even though it really left him scarred. Each and every winning bet he makes is a bit more retribution for the ways that the bookies made him feel that night and suffer for the next 15 months. Barney has secured betting accounts with bookies all over the world. His most wicked pleasure came in the late 1980's. William Hill decided that he no longer wanted to conduct business with Curley. Over the previous two years Barney had taken them for £200,000.
Barney did not get his start in the business world as a punter. At the tender age of 24 he began by managing bands. Eventually, he added to his plate the ownership of a few pubs and betting shops. Later he decided it was not enough and packed up, closing shop, and moved south of the border to start his punting career into overdrive.
"I wanted to prove myself, " he says. "You have to be out of the ordinary to make money." "I fancied myself as a race reader and I thought I could crack the system. My first big win was about £80,000 and within 6 weeks it had all vanished. I was drinking. I soon discovered that drinking and gambling don't go together!"
The largest venture Curley orchestrated in Ireland was the ever famous 'Yellow Sam' coup. In this one endeavour he netted almost £300,000. The race was a race that took place at the Mount Hanover Amateur Riders Handicap Hurdle at Bellewstown on the 25th of June 1975. Bellewstown, a small country Track, just north of Dublin, at the time had just one phone line. Curley and his team got work backing the horse off-course in stakes up to £50, while the others involved made sure the phone was occupied. This was pre-modern technology days so it was impossible for the bookmakers to notify their representatives at the track that a coup was underway. Yellow Sam, who had shown little to no form in his nine previous runs, started the complete outsider at 20/1. At the end of the race, Yellow Sam won with a full 2 ½ lengths ahead of the rest
Like all the other professional punters, Barney Curley made a very comfortable living from racing. His house is a seven bedroom mansion near Newmarket, complete with an indoor swimming pool there's a Mercedes in the driveway. Its number plate simply puts it "I BET".
When asked what advice he would give to the average punter, his answer was not entirely positive. "It's very difficult to make racing pay in the bookmakers' shops with their computerised tracking systems and expert analysts. Always go to the course if you can. You will invariably get better prices by shopping around. The important thing is to control your emotions and don't chase your losses. There's always another day. I know my judgement of form is sound enough to pay off in the end." This statement helps separate Curley from a number of his peers. He knows that no matter how seasoned, there is no such thing as a sure bet and knows everyone can lose.
In conclusion, it is clear Curley is a man of skill. He was brought up to know the value of hard work and the importance of the value of ones word. Curley took a hard life and made it successful.