7:10 Kempton Racing Tips (29th June) BRITISH STALLION STUDS EBF NOVICE FILLIES´ STAKES (Plus 10 Race) (CLASS 5) (2yo)

An EBF Novice Fillies' Stakes (Plus 10) over 7f on standard going. James Tate has been quiet this season with his two-year-old runners. One juvenile that caught the eye is Urban Fox., This bay filly is a daughter of Australian stallion Foxwedge out of a winning mare who was trained by Amanda Perrett. This January foal runs in the familiar silks of Saeed Manana and exceptional yearling purchase at just 10,000G. She is held in high regard at home by connetions and backed on debut and powered home to win in tidy fashion. The form of that race has been franked with Rosebelle winning next start at Chester and Michael Bell's Preobrajenska who was pipped at the post at the course. This step up to 7f should suit Urban Fox. Clearly connections have been keen to make the right decision on this second start because she bypassed a Listed raced and Nursery on Friday. She carries a 7lb penalty which makes life more difficult but I can imagine Tate sees this as a test with a view to pattern class which I would consider is on the cards next start. With two other winners in the line-up this is a fair challenge. 

Fancy Day looks the main danger for Mark Johnston after a ready win at Pontefract. 

David Simcock has been in flying form with his two-year-olds and while respecting Miss Sugars this looks a much hotter race and she will need to make a marked step forward. This daughter of Harbour Watch is another juvenile who will enjoy this extra furlong. However, although limiting a winner is often a foolish exercise, I would take a watching brief with this winning favourite owned by The Tick Tock partnership. 

John Gosden is represented by two juveniles making their debut. It will take a smart horse to win against these talented opponents at the first time of asking. Both are owned and bred by Newsells Park Stud. Elas Ruby looks to be second string and best watched although she did go through the sale's ring for 160,000G. 

Double Spin is fancied in the betting and the stable have a respectable strike rate with their debutantes priced 13/2 & less SP. This American-bred daughter of Hard Spun is an early [January] foal and not sold for 50,000E. The mare won on debut, achieving a Listed success in her native France before competing in the U.S for her final three starts.      

Pacofilha is trained by Paul Cole and once-raced when placed fourth on debut at Wolverhampton over two months back. best watched unless substantially backed. 

Conclusion: A tough little stakes race and a good test for those with ambitions of racing at pattern class. Urban Fox showed a touch of class winning at Yarmouth on debut, the form has been franked and this step up to 7f will suit. Disappointing that we are dealing with just two places for each-way backers but I think this filly will go well. 

St George to finally complete Melbourne Order

Like so many British and Irish based trainers, Aidan O'Brien has to date found the Melbourne Cup an elusive prize.
'The race that stops a nation' at Flemington on the first Tuesday in November is one of the world's iconic Flat contests.
A two-mile handicap, usually run on the quick ground, it is devilishly tough to win but the recent Ascot Gold Cup suggested that O'Brien's Ballydoyle juggernaut might finally be ready to crack the Melbourne puzzle.
Order Of St George produced a stirring effort to triumph in the Ascot stayers' event, run over two and a half miles.
The grit, determination and, eventually, the inevitability with which Order Of St George won his race at Ascot bodes well for Australia, a destination O'Brien has already declared is part of his plan for last year's Irish St Leger winner.
In the wake of the Gold Cup success, Order Of St George finds himself right near the top of the market in the racing betting for the Flemington showpiece and he looks like being arguably O'Brien's best hope yet of tasting victory Down Under.
In securing victory at Ascot, Order Of St George extended to five his winning sequence.
That winning run began at 1m2f last summer before Irish St Leger success arrived over the 1m6f trip. His ability to win by wide margins was showcased again on his seasonal reappearance in Ireland but it was his Ascot win that best framed his Melbourne credentials.
Stepped up beyond 1m6f for the first time in his career, there were some lingering stamina doubts in certain quarters ahead of the Gold Cup.
The race proved to be a tetchy affair, with Ryan Moore and Order Of St George meeting trouble in running amid what was a rough race by any standards.
Afterwards, the winning trainer and jockey talked about a 'nightmare' passage through the race. Shuffled back through the pack as the home turn loomed, Order Of St George appeared to have a real task on his hands to reel back the long-time leader, Mille Et Mille.
Despite the stamina doubts and the trouble in running, what cannot be argued when reviewing the Gold Cup now is that the longer the race went on, the more it became crystal clear there would be only one winner.
Moving to the wide outside to lay down his effort, Moore brought Order Of St George smoothly up to challenge courtesy of an impressive gear change that his rivals simply could not match.
That ability to overcome in-race adversity, coupled with the pace to make up any lost ground, are traits that will surely serve this four-year-old well should he make it Flemington in November.
Part-owner Lloyd Williams has tasted Melbourne Cup success on four previous occasions and his association with the son of Galileo makes Australia a logical destination.

Dermot Weld's Media Puzzle was the last UK or Irish trained winner of 'the race that stops a nation' 14 years ago. O'Brien will be keeping his fingers crossed that the impressive Order Of St George might just prove to be the missing piece in his own Melbourne jigsaw in a few month time.

Your Guide to Royal Ascot 2016

I will be detailing tips for each of the two-year-old races at Royal Ascot. Make sure you come and take a look from Tuesday 14th - Saturday 18th June.  Whether you love the pomp, fashion or tradition. Her Majesty The Queen waving to the crowd or top-class racing action with 30 outstanding races to saviour. There is something for everyone at this year's jewel in the racing crown. For each of the days, I will detail just one hot tip for each of the two-year-old contests. It's never easy to find a winner or two here but we will be giving it a good try. If you love a bet, or even better still going to the course then see what we can offer you in the way of selective tips. We have a tip for one horse sired by Frankel. It will take all the beating.       


Tuesday - 3:05 Royal Ascot - Coventry Stakes (Group 2)

A big field with 19 runners on good to soft ground. There may well be a few non-runners and if the ground becomes very testing it could be a difficult race to assess. It goes without saying this will be a tough race but I'm making one selection for each two-year-old race so here goes. I'm pretty keen on Mehmas trained by Richard Hannon and ridden by Frankie Dettori. His debut effort was decent. I was impressed the way this son of Acclamation defeated Global Applause at Newbury showed a class horse. The form was reversed at Sandown when dropping to the minimum trip but it speaks well to think Global Applause could win at Listed class. This step back up to 6f will see a much better race by Mehmas. Dettori is likely to give this grey a waiting ride and at odds of 8/1 looks a fair each-way bet.           

Bet: Mehmas @ 8/1 EW William Hill 2nd



Tuesday - 5:35 Royal Ascot - Windsor Castle Stakes (Listed)

With 24 entrants this Listed race looks very tricky affair. Plenty of winners and trying to assess both potential and limitation is no easy task. I would be betting small stakes and hoping to steal a place and get lucky for the win. Battaash won with ease on debut at Bath at odds of 14/1. I can only imagine  this son of Dark Angel came as something of a surprise but boy did he win well. The only horse for Hamdan Al Maktoum and Hanagan in the saddle gives hope of a big performance. 

Bet: Battaash @ 14/1 EW Ladbrokes Unp


Wednesday -  3:05 Royal Ascot - Queen Mary Stakes (Group 2)

Seventeen runners and a tricky race to have strong views, especially when Wesley Ward's Lady Aurelia will be favouirte. She won well in the U.S so very difficult to assess how the form relates to the UK contenders. However, it would be no surprise to see Lady Aurelia take the beating at 11/4 could well prove a very good price. Ward has stated this filly is in a different class to the others and I would suspect this is the two-year-old connections are pinning their hopes of glory. She will take the beating. 

Bet: Lady Aurelia @ 11/4 W Paddy Power 1st


Thursday - 2:30 Royal Ascot -  Norfolk Stakes (Group 2)

A small field no doubts a consequence of soft ground. Just 11 runners with 6 major hopes with others who need to spring a surprise. Can't say I'm confident about this race but Legendary Lunch should go well and I think this drop back to the minimum trip will be positive. This son of Dragon Pulse didn't seem inconvenienced at Epsom and it might just be a plus. This good-looking colt has pace and enough stamina to last to the line and at 8/1 has each-way claims.       

Bet: Legendary Lunch @ 10/1 EW 10Bet 6th


Friday - 2:30 Royal Ascot - Albany Stakes (Group 3) 

This Group 3 race for fillies. Sixteen two-year-olds take part and a decent renewal. Taking a bit of a punt here with a big priced tip. Bletchley is trained by Ralph Beckett and certainly needs to improve on her debut win at Nottingham. I don't think connections expected her to win that day and for most of the race I don't think anyone else did. However, she fairly flew home in the closing stages at 25/1. I liked the way she powered home but what I liked, even more, was the physical stature of this daughter of Makfi. She is a good-looking juvenile and for a filly big and strong. It may have been the case those in opposition were just inferior types on looks but Beckett's charge could well put many of these in the shade. With improvement to come, she is worth a speculative each-way bet.  

Bet: Bletchley @ 25/1 EW Ladbrokes 2nd


Saturday - 2:30 Royal Ascot - Chesham Stakes (Listed) 

The final two-year-old race of Royal Ascot. The Chesham Stakes Listed race over 7f on soft going. Fifteen juveniles take part all race bar one debutante who will need to be smart to win this on his racecourse bow. I mentioned that I had a tip for one of Frankel's offspring and two turns up here. I'm sticking with John Gosden's Cunco to seal a great early-season for the wonder horse/stallion. Cunco did a lot wrong on debut and the preliminaries just about scared every backer off and the layers circled like vultures thinking this chestnut simply couldn't win after being coltish and hot under the collar. However, in the race itself, he was a true professional and made great headway in the final furlong to beat another of today's runner, Isomer, who is held in high regard by Kingsclere. This step up in distance should help and Gosden doesn't send his juveniles to class races they cannot go well. Have each-way claims. 

Bet: Cunco @ 9/2 ew Boylesport 3rd

Sporty the tale of a professional gambler

In memory of Sporty Jim. I found this article, which is a number of years old, but enjoyed the sentiment what this reader says about 'behind every username there is someone with a story to tell'. Well, this is his story. For me, this is what makes blogging so interesting: our ability to see through another's eyes. I hope you enjoy.  

On the buses

Regulars on the Betfair football forum may recognise my name. It can be very lonely sitting on the computer all day, especially midweek, and I really enjoy the forum and the good banter you get there. I have also made some very good friends through the forum. One of the interesting things about the forum for me is the fact that behind every username there is someone with a story to tell, but for the vast majority, the story remains untold. I am pleased to take this opportunity to share my story with anyone who is interested – I hope that you enjoy it.

I am 56 years of age, married for 27 years with 2 daughters. One a lawyer the other an accountant - they take their brains from their mother. My interest in betting began at school where I started betting on the horses. Like most punters I lost more than I won, mostly because I took no interest in studying form, my technique for picking winners was betting on short priced favourites and following newspaper tipsters. Sad eh?

I left school at 16 and started as a civil servant in 1965 in Glasgow. In those days, you had to finish high up in the exam or else you were off to London. Fortunately, I got to stay in Scotland so maybe the girls did take their brains from me after all! After three years in the civil service, I met a friend of mine who was earning twice as much as me as a bus conductor. To my mother's dismay, I promptly left the Civil Service and became a bus conductor.

Part of the reason for my career change was I believed that if I could get hold of enough cash I could make a living from gambling. Being a bus conductor gave me the chance to earn decent money quickly. Six months later I had £800 in the kitty and the newly christened ‘Sporty' left for a new life as a professional gambler. Surprise, surprise eight weeks later I was back on the buses having blown the lot. Looking back I was very na├»ve, the poor value offered by the bookies combined with the 40% (yes 40%!) tax on football winnings left me no chance. Add to this the fact that the only football singles you could bet were on cup ties, and you will realise how exchange bettors today have never had it so good.

Sporty Bookmakers part 1

Undeterred, a year later in 1970 I had saved up an even bigger bank and I was ready to try again. This time, there was to be no return to the buses and I have never since worked for anyone else. I soon found out that a massive black economy existed in the bookmaking industry, and that it was possible to place football singles and more importantly tax-free bets if you struck up relationships with the right bookmaker. Also at this time, a good friend of mine suggested I get a bookmakers permit and become a bookie at the local greyhound flapping tracks. This was the start of Sporty Bookmakers – a trading name that was to last until I sold my betting shop in East Kilbride in 1986. My first stint at this flapping track lasted just a week, I had come out on top, but wasn't convinced it was for me.

However, six months later Falkirk dog track opened and I was there as a bookie from the start, combining this with my football punting. Was I successful as a bookmaker? To be truthful in the early days at the track I was happy on far too many occasions to lay the outsiders and keep the favourites to myself. I was a gambling bookmaker. I survived, but it really was a roller coaster experience. One week I would have £5,000 the next week I would have nothing.

Mount Vernon Flapping Track

It was around this time that an interesting opportunity arose. I was offered the chance to take on the lease of a local flapping track at Mount Vernon. It was very run down but the rent was cheap and the costs were low especially with my family helping out. A flapping track offers the lowest grade of greyhound racing. Most races were handicaps, with fancied dogs giving a head start to the others. A typical race would see traps 1 and 2 going off scratch with the other dogs getting between a 1-yard head start in trap 3 and an 8-yard head start in trap 6. The responsibility of handicapping fell on the shoulders of my staff and I and we had to contend with all sorts of scams from dodgy owners. It was common practise to enter the dogs at different tracks under different names. Other tricks included feeding the dogs before the race and giving them pills to stop them running well, either so the owners could bet on other dogs, or to get them a better handicap in a subsequent race, enabling them to pull off a coup.

We knew the owners who were most likely to try it on and did our best to counter them. We always made sure that untried dogs were not placed off a good mark. As handicappers, it was our role to make the races as competitive as possible and to do our best to prevent the owners from taking the bookies for a ride. After all, if the bookies were losing their money they might have chucked it in and without bookies we had no business.

We made some decent money from Mount Vernon, but at the end of two years worried by its increasingly dilapidated state, we walked away from it, leaving the landlords to run it, as nobody else wanted to.

Sporty Bookmakers part 2

Half way through the Mount Vernon adventure I bought my first betting shop in Glasgow. I gave this my best shot, but there were problems, notably its high rent and rates but also the fact that it needed a lot of work doing to bring it up to scratch. However, investing this money was out of the question as the shop was in a part of Glasgow which was the subject of ongoing talks for it to be demolished to make way for a new shopping centre and car park. I was between the devil and the deep blue sea. When the opportunity arose I was pleased to sell the shop to Mecca. I was, however, happy to hold on to a number of works pitches which had come with the shop. This worked on the basis that a bookie would have a number of agents collecting bets for him in each factory in exchange for a commission. Despite being perfectly legal, these pitches were in many ways a throwback to the old days of illegal bookmaking with every customer having an alias. Lisbon Lion, Lucky Jim, The Scout, Joe 67 and Paradise are some of the names that stick in my mind to this day.

It did become more difficult though when I sold the betting shop as I had no way of finding out the results without ringing up some bookie friends and asking them, but I couldn't do that too often without making a nuisance of myself. Eventually, Ceefax came along and solved the problem. The other issue was recording the bets, which came through by telephone – as many as 600 a day. When the first answerphone was invented it was a godsend, but you couldn't just buy one you had to hire it at a cost of £600 a year and take out a two-year contract! Despite all this the works pitches were very lucrative, particularly due to the number of doubles and trebles I used to take.

Sporty Bookmakers part 3

However, this side of the business went into decline as the factories in which they operated started to close down. The outlook was starting to look bleak, when I got a lucky break, a phone call out of the blue asking me if I would like to run a betting shop in East Kilbride. This was to be for a three month period due to the owners' illness but it eventually stretched out to four years. Unlike my previous betting shop, this one had prospects. It was struggling because the owner had alienated most of his customers due to his abrasive attitude and his open hostility to anyone who dared win. I set about trying to win these customers back and attracting new ones. I particularly targeted the Chinese community who were well known as big gamblers. It was possible to make great money from these guys but you also had to take big risks, as they had a habit of placing their large bets at the last minute giving you no chance to lay off your liabilities. One time one of my Chinese customers won the impressive sum of £2,500 when one of his accumulators came good at a competitor's shop. My staff thought I would be delighted to have escaped this loss. On the contrary, I was gutted that he had gone to the competition at all!

Having been happy to take a back seat, the owner of the shop took a keen interest again when Ladbrokes appeared on the scene offering big money for the shop. I had done very well out of it but I had concerns about the future of the business. I struggled to see where the future punters would come from, the next generation didn't seem to be coming through and I couldn't imagine who would be in the shop in ten years time. I and the shop owner came to an arrangement, Ladbrokes took over in January 1986 and I moved on. This was the end of the brief history of Sporty Bookmakers.

Sporty Race Nights

Fortunately, while I had been running the betting shop another string to my bow developed. My brother was organising a race night to raise funds for a charity he was involved in and he asked me to organise the betting side for him. The evening was a great success and I immediately saw a business opportunity. I made enquiries with the English company behind the event and in 1981 they made me their agent for Scotland, resulting in the launch of Sporty Race Nights.

The way a race night works is that you hire a set of films, normally eight horse races, each with eight runners. You bet on runners based on their number – there is no skill, it's just a bit of fun. It works on the basis of a tote, with half the money going to the organisers to pay their expenses and normally make a profit for charity. The rest of the money gets shared out between those people with a ticket for the winning horse. In addition, people could become a horse owner by buying a horse and a sponsor would put up a prize for the winner.

These events were excellent fund raisers and substantial sums could be made. As a business, it was slow to start, in 1982 we had 23 orders, but this gradually increased until by 1985 we were over the 400 mark despite the fact that I was only working on the project part-time. This was around the time that Ladbrokes bought the shop, so I decided to go full time.

To maximise the opportunity I needed my own films. I knew Jim McGrath the race commentator and was lucky enough to have his help with this surprisingly tricky task. I started by getting some races from Australia, then a few British races and then the New York Tracks sold us 80 races. We were flying. In 1989 we bought the English Company that I had been an agent for and the business went from strength to strength. In our best year throughout England and Scotland, we did over 5,000 events.

When I came out of the betting shop I started to go football matches again. As a young man, I had followed Celtic all over Scotland but this time, I started to go to lower division games as well. I would have a few quid on and then go to the match. This led me into a period of time where I became very hot indeed at Scottish football.

That wraps up the first part of my story – I hope you have enjoyed reading it. If you ever fancy a chat you can always find me on Betfair's soccer forum.

Hail hail!

Sporty

Next month. Sporty tells of the year that Forfar won the Scottish 3rd Division and he won £300,000.

Click to read Part 2

In memory of Jim who passes away in 2015. Thanks to Chris Miller a good friend of Jim's. Condolences to family and friends. 

The gist of part 3


Sadly, there never was a part 3 - at least not in print. 

The phone call took place as usual but Mike, who used to ghost-write the articles, started a new job down in London, I was finishing my degree at university, and the web server for the p2pbetting site changed hands leaving the site down for a while, so the newsletter didn't happen for the next six months and never really returned in the same depth afterwards.

However, I'm told part 3 was basically about Sporty making easy money on Betfair for a good few years until he eventually got stung by the Tottenham 3-4 Man City game in the FA Cup. Spurs were 3-0 up at half-time and the market obviously reflected that, but Sporty reacted quicker than anyone else to Joey Barton being sent off as the teams walked off at half time, which most people seemed unaware of until they came out of the second half.

By that time, Sporty had basically emptied his bank, both laying City and backing Tottenham, and the market soon enough reflected the fact he was sitting on cracking value, albeit backing at 1.01 or laying three-figure prices! As we know, City came back to win 4-3 and I have a hazy recollection of Sporty ringing me straight after the game.

I was pissed up in the pub and obviously over the moon, so I don't think I did much to help his state of mind at the time! I had no idea how much he had lost, it was only a few weeks later I realised it wasn't your average once-a-year kick in the bollocks - it was pretty severe!

Anyway, last I heard, he was working for Tony Bloom, passing on info about the Scottish footy and being paid a decent retainer that meant he could settle down, relax and take things easy a bit more. I remember him laughing and saying "I'm too old for all this now" when telling me about it, I'm not sure how soon afterwards it was but I think the Spurs-City thing certainly  had a big impact and made him take stock.

I know he spent a lot of time in Tenerife after that as well, so I really hope he had some good times out there, sat back and enjoyed whatever he had built up over the years. He was a real gent, an absolute pleasure to have known, even though I only really knew him for about 4-5 years during the Betfair days.