Monday, 8 July 2019

Pro Gambler Favourite Bets

Professional Gambler Favourite Bets
There is one thing all pro gamblers have in common: they want to win money from bookmakers. However, from there many have conflicting ideas of what makes a good bet. See what these three yesteryears to modern-day professional gamblers had to say on this fascinating subject. What bet made them tick? Learn the secrets from the likes of Jack Ramsden, Alex Bird & Harry Findlay.    


Jack Ramsden quit his job as a stockbroker in 1980 and made a name for himself as a professional punter. His successful punting like so many other professionals were based on speed figures and race times.

Ramsden's advice on each way bets is to ditch them. He states: I analysed my betting a couple of years ago and found that if I had doubled my win stakes instead of having each way bets, I would have been much better off. I think all punters would benefit by cutting out all each-way bets and sticking to singles.

He was unusual in that he used his own bookmaker, Colin Webster. Their relationship was indeed unique, Colin paid Ramsden £5,000 a year for his advice and also had the job of getting his bets on with other bookmakers. Another unusual trait of Jack Ramsden was his liking for the multiple bets. His reasoning was that they are an extension of his policy to go for large prices and he reckoned that on 4 occasions he won over £200,000 on multiple bets.

Alex Bird was the original professional gambler who made a fortune after the war at Britain's racecourses. He learned his trade working for his father who was a bookmaker but soon decided that it would be more profitable to be on the other side. He had many different ways of beating the bookmaker, but probably his most famous was his success in betting on the result of photo finishes. Unlike today photo finishes would take about 5 minutes to develop so there was always an active betting market on the outcome. Bird very early on noticed that when horses crossed the line together an optical illusion meant that the horse on the far side invariably looked like he had won. He also discovered a simple technique which meant the illusion didn't occur. He stood at an elevated vantage point as near to the winning post as possible, he would keep very still, close his left eye and create an imaginary line across the track at the finishing line. He used this simple system for the next 20 years to make himself a fortune. With a reported 500 consecutive successful bets.

Another favoured method he used to make money was to use his influence in the ring to create a false favourite. He often placed huge bets often as much as £50K at a time however he couldn't get these sort of bets laid in the betting ring so he would employ an army of helpers around the country placing bets in off-course bookmakers. If Bird fancied a horse but felt the odds were to short he would place a bet of up to £10K on another horse in the race. He would then ensure that it was "leaked" that he had placed the bet. Prices would then dramatically alter as the "mug" money poured onto his horse. This meant that the price of the horse that he wanted to back heavily and clandestinely off the course would drift out in the market. His army of helpers would then back the horse off course all over the country.

These are Alex Birds Golden Betting Rules:

1. Never bet when there is a change in the going. There is nothing to upset form quite as much as a change in the going.


2. Be aware of the over rounds being offered by bookmakers and don't bet when they are unfair. At some smaller meetings, bookmakers will sometimes create a book 40% or 50% in their favour.


3. Be an Each-Way thief. Do this by finding races with 8-10 runners which are not handicaps, and where there are only a few form horses in the race. Then oppose the favourite and combine the second and third favourites in each-way combination bets.


4. Look for up and coming apprentices. A good apprentice with a 7lb claim can be worth his weight in gold!


5. Never bet on the first show, you will find that the majority of runners increase in price. Taking second show prices will increase your winnings by 10% over a season.


6. Never bet in handicaps.


7. Never bet in 3-year-old maidens, particularly those only for fillies.



Harry Findlay, a flamboyant and highly successful gambler, gives the impression that he can hardly believe his luck in owning a horse as good as Denman, arguably one of the most talented novice chasers in its time. He said: "Denman had got that sort of thing about him, people either want to take him on or they like him, and that's the sort of person I am. There was no middle, grey area with Denman, there's no grey area with me. That's my type of character."

On gambling

"If you look up gambling in the dictionary, it doesn't say 'this means a sure way to make a steady profit over a period of time', it says 'gambling: a form of interest that can either ruin you or make you a fortune', and that's the way it is."


On Horse Race Betting he said: "There's no difference between getting 1-2 about a 1-4 chance and getting 4-1 about a 2-1 chance. People who say 'I won't bet odds-on', they're just idiots. When you want to bet an odds-on shot, you can get on - when you want to bet a big-priced one, you can't."


On why you shouldn't hedge


"When you pick a 20-1 shot to win the Grand National, don't have £200 at 20's and then go and lay £600 at 5-2 and, when it wins, get £2,500. If you believe that 20-1 shot, have £200 at 20's and then go and have another £300 at 14's and then £400 at 10's and then, when it goes off 5-2 or 11-4, don't hedge if you still fancy it."



Thursday, 20 June 2019

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.

Monday, 17 June 2019

Weird and Amazing Facts about Horse Racing

Horse racing is a thrilling and fantastic game for many people. But as there is money involved, it becomes a great sport for betting enthusiasts. Getting to know the amazing facts about horse racing can make you peep into all new world of stallions. 

How it started and a few records?

For the successful horses, the owners would pledge their lives. Yes, they can earn more on stud than on the racecourse, and $100 million is involved in horse racing every year. It all started with the chariot races of Rome, and they are the organized form of horse races, from where today’s horse races are derived. These races trace back to 4500 BC in Central Asia. 


  • Till date, there is no record that a horse more than 18 years of age has won the race. 
  • A racehorse on an average weighs 1000 pounds, and the recorded that is lowest for a jockey is 49 pounds. 
  • The highest aged jockey was Levi Barlingume, who raced till 80 years of age, which was until 1932. 
  • Humorist was the winner of the Epsom Derby in 1921 that ran with only one lung.


Big-hearted horses have more chance to win 

You will also be excited to know about the organs of the racing horses. Yes, only the horses with large hearts have a great chance to win, compared with the rest those who have smaller or average-sized hearts. 

If you are one of the groups who thinks that horse racing is not very animal-friendly, and they have stopped putting money in it. You have options to participate in other sports or you can play casino games at Betfair to get the same thrilling experience. 

Slow or fast? 

If you are looking for something funny then here is some amusing fact for you. Time is significant when it comes to winning a race. In 1945, the recorded time for winning that is the slowest of all time was set. Never Mind II, the horse refused to move from a fence, and the jockey had no other go, but to abandon the horse. But, to his joy, all the runners of the race had either been disqualified or fallen. So, he rushed back to complete the 2-mile race in 11 minutes and 28 seconds. This means he would have been at leisure. 

Facts about different breeds

Most of the times, you will find that the thoroughbred horses are chosen for their speed, agility, and determination. They had Arabian ancestors and were produced in England. The Arabian racehorses that raced more than 1000 years ago are of just ½ the size of the thoroughbred horses. Compared with these, the quarter-bred horses that are specially bred for quarter-mile races are smaller and less muscular. For harness racing, the standardbred horses are used. They are best suited for trot than gallop racing. 

Dangers associated with horse racing

While it can be seen a great sport, no one can deny that many a times horse racing involves the fatal end of the horses on the race course, with broken spines. Horses are also killed because of the use of drugs that are meant for improving speed but are illegal and restricted. Thousands of former racehorses end up at slaughter beds. Even younger horses, say of age 3 and 4 are made to risk their lives on tracks.

Friday, 14 June 2019

Professional Gambler & Bookmaker: Freddie Williams

Freddie Williams Bookmaker & Gambler
It's November 2005. The location: Cheltenham racecourse. It's about an hour before the first race - the opening day of the Paddy Power Gold Cup meeting. 

Under a grey sky, with steadily dropping temperatures, the crowd gathers. In the betting circle bookies are pitching. 

Barry Dennis shouts prices back and forth. Gregory and John Hughes watch the crowd. Andy Smith and John Christie await the first bets of the day. Mickey 'The Asparagus Kid' Fletcher, his face like a 'Wanted' poster, scowls from the sidelines. But Scotsman Freddie Williams, a famed drama actor, hasn't yet arrived.


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Miniature in stature he may be, he's known as the biggest bookmaker at Prestbury Park.

Freddie delays his entrance, sitting comfortably in his Jaguar a hundred yards away in the members' car park. His daughter Julie, and other members of his on-course team are already in place on the pitch. Freddie, the softly spoken boss, confers with them by phone, always monitoring the early activity and estimating the moves of the day.


At the Cheltenham Festival in March 1999, JP McManus - a feared pro gambler of racing legend - has a colossal £100,000 each way at 7/1 on his own horse in the Pertempts Hurdle Final. This wasn't some transaction by chance. It was a very deliberate, planned, almost hand-to-hand combat in the heat and gun-smoke of the Festival. Shannon Gale, trained by Christy Roche, finished fourth and JP collected £175,000 from the each-way part of his wager. If he had finished first, Freddie Williams would have had a payout in the ballpark of the £900,000. To clearly understand what makes him such an accomplished man we need to take a look at his whole life. What makes his story so interesting is not just his enthusiastic embrace of customary betting and his detest for the cautious, corporate approach of the big betting-shop chains but also credit that this is a man came from a modest beginning and earned the right to be a player on the greatest racing stage of them all.


Freddie was born in 1942 in Cumnock, East Ayrshire. His father was a miner, like his father before him. Freddie, like the rest of his male relations and colleagues, would have gone down the pit himself had he not failed the medical exam at the age of 15. Instead he became a mining engineer.


After a few years Freddie went to work for a soft drink company. Everyone knew bet in those days, and the backbone of gambling in the mining communities was 'pitch and toss'. Horse racing, especially jump racing, was exerting a far greater allure.


I was lucky to earn a pound a week at the time. I kept my money in a tin box. There were illegal betting offices all around Ayrshire and I put every dime I could on Pas Seul. He made it to the last stretch but then he fell.' Williams laughs sorrowfully at the memory. 'Kerstin stayed on to win the race.


Pas Seul made no mistake the next year, though.' Freddie's was not alone in his love of a punt.In fact it was shared by his workmates at Currys.


He bought his first bookmaking pitch at Ayr in 1974, followed by one in Hamilton and one in Musselburgh. He would go on to own seven betting offices. After Currys was bought out again in 1991, Freddie, already worth over a million, started his own bottled-water business called Caledonian Clear.


Some of competitors like to say that it must be very nice to try bookmaking when you have another job paying your bills.However, Freddie emphatically denies racing job is some sort of sideline. 'Bookmaking is my livelihood and my passion in life.' Freddie has said.


The enthusiasm and nerve Freddie brings to his job is something the Southerners had not witnessed for themselves until the massively overdue reforms that allowed racecourse pitches to be bought and sold at public auction in the late 1990s. The old-fashioned system of Dead Man's Shoes, the bookmaking pitches were restricted to successive generations of the same family, was a sort of Masonic protection swindle that shut out new money and new faces from the ring.


The Scotsman got an early start on 1st January 1999 and again in March. It didn't take McManus to seek him out. As well as conflicting Shannon Gale, the bookmaker also accepted Nick Dundee. Dundee was the Irish banker of the week. The young novice ran in the colours of McManus' close friends John and Sue Magnier. But Freddie didn't fancy Nick Dundee. 'I was going 11/8, One gentleman wanted £80,000 on, and I laid it to him, but I didn't take down the price. He looked at me for a moment then asked for the bet again. So I laid him another £110,000 to £80,000, but I still not taking down the price.'


It was a close-run race. Then it happened Nick Dundee's legs buckled landing over the third last fence. Plus, presumably, the sound of one Scottish heart beating faster. Freddie was not always so lucky.


Although the bookie and punter seem to be natural enemies, they also tend to respect each other alot. 'We're friends,' says Williams sincerely. 'John was in business as a bookmaker for 15 years. He had a good bet on Dawn Run when she won the Gold Cup in 1986 and that helped him to change his life. However, he told me that if she'd lost, he'd have been skint the following week.'


Freddie admits, 'Festival trading is totally draining, which is why I stay in a nice, quiet hotel. When you get back, all you want to do is eat and sleep. I'm afraid I'm well behind in the entertainment stakes.'


There was plenty of entertainment on November '04, though: The Rising Moon, running in the McManus colours, was the medium of a £100,000 plunge at 3/1. Half an hour later, JP's Spot The Difference won the Sporting Index cross-country chase. Someone stuck on £28,000 at 7/1 for a payout of nearly two hundred grand.


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Frederick Sidney Williams, soft-drink manufacturer and bookmaker: born Cumnock, Ayrshire 28 October 1942; married Sheila Edwards (two daughters; marriage dissolved 2006); died Cumnock 21 June 2008


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Freddie Williams: Bookmaker of amazing boldness by Tony Smurthwaite, The Independent 



Freddie Williams was the buccaneering bookmaker who left onlookers amazed by an incredible boldness that, at the end of one remarkable day at the races, had cost him £1m. He attained celebrity status as the immovable object that met the irresistible force of J.P. McManus, the singularly audacious punter whose huge wagers during the Cheltenham National Hunt Festival each March are one of horse-racing's constants.



Their personal conflict might have bankrupted lesser players, yet relations were always cordial amid McManus's six-figure investments. Such Corinthian spirit, made easier by each man's wealth, captivated many who followed the betting moves at the leading racing and greyhound meetings, and made Williams a hugely popular and high-profile bookmaker.


Williams's most bruising encounter with McManus came on a day he would never forget, as it was to end in terror. It began at the Cheltenham Festival on 16 March 2006. McManus had struck a £100,000 bet to win £600,000 on Reveillez, who won, then followed up with £5,000 each way on Kadoun, another of his horses, at 50-1. When Kadoun won, in the last race of the day, Williams owed McManus more than £1m. As if that were that not bad enough, on driving away from the course in his Jaguar with his daughter Julie and her boyfriend, Andrew, Williams was ambushed by an armed gang. Though the three escaped physically unscathed, the ordeal shook them badly. The assailants were said to have made off with £70,000.


It had long been Williams's ambition to be a bookmaker at Cheltenham. Born in the coal-mining heartland of Cumnock, South Ayrshire, he developed an aptitude for laying odds at a young age, watching the miners playing endless games of pitch and toss. "There was nothing to do then but work and gamble," recalled Williams, whose grandfather and father had both gone down the pit. Freddie's first role model was his great-grandfather. When a pit accident robbed him of an arm, cut off in an accident, he recovered to set up in business as a coal merchant.


Freddie was bedridden as a child and missed out on pit life after failing a medical as a result of polio. He swept floors in the local Curries of Auchinleck lemonade factory, and acted as a bookie's runner before graduating to lay his own odds in a small way at Auchinleck greyhound track.


Though his schooling was interrupted and his education compromised, Freddie Williams had an aptitude that allowed him to rise to manager at the lemonade plant. A buy-out among staff increased his involvement, and later he took over the business. In 1991 he sold his stake and four years later opened the alcopop manufacturer Caledonian Bottlers, which boasted a state-of-the-art factory employing 50 full-time staff, and used natural Scottish spring water.


Williams maintained, however, that bookmaking, not bottling, was his livelihood. He had established a bookmaker's pitch at Ayr racecourse in 1974, where he became known as a daredevil, and then put his name down for a coveted spot at Cheltenham. But the "dead man's shoes" system of bookmaker pitch transfer was a source of great frustration, and Williams languished on the waiting list for 20 years. In one interview, he said: "I started off at 120 on the list and by the 1990s I was at number 40. It was never going to happen, but then the rules changed and you could buy a pitch. I was the first to buy one. I thought, 'Here I am! I'm not just here for a day out – I'm taking on the biggest hitters in the game.' "


So it was that on 1 January 1999, Williams arrived for Cheltenham's traditional New Year's Day meeting. McManus tested his nerve immediately, placing £90,000 on the Queen Mother's runner Buckside. The 2-1 favourite led at the last fence, but faded into second place. Seven weeks earlier, Williams had undergone a quadruple heart bypass.


He never looked back. In March 1999 he took on McManus and other big hitters over the three days of the National Hunt Festival. He clearly loved the cut and thrust, never flinching no matter how high the stakes. "Fearless" Freddie was soon in his pomp, making appearances on Channel 4 racing where he shared his love of the betting ring, and the game of wits, bravado and instinct he waged with customers, who ranged from heavy hitters to £2 punters at Glasgow's Shawfield greyhound track.


Shannon Gale marked the start of battle royal with McManus. Williams accepted a bet of £100,000 each way on the 7-1 chance. Honours were shared when the horse ran fourth, ensuring an each-way payout of £175,000 rather than the £875,000 had it won.


Williams enjoyed studying his clients as much as the horses, seeking give-away signs of confidence or uncertainty. He stood at other racecourses and at greyhound tracks, and owned a string of racehorses. In 2004 he bought the 78 St Vincent Street restaurant in Glasgow, installing his daughter Julie as manager, it was said to stop her following him into the betting game. When his marriage broke down in 2006, it was reported that a £1m divorce settlement had been agreed.


Williams worked until he dropped, suffering a heart attack after a day spent working at Ayr races and an evening working at Shawfield. His philosophy was summed up in the view that the final race each day did not mean an end to the winning or the losing. "There is no last race," he would often say.

Wednesday, 12 June 2019

How Do I Use Betfair While In The USA?

Clematis Street, West Palm Beach, Florida
It's great to go on holiday. Even better the chance to visit West Palm Beach, Florida. All parts of the state are beautiful and there is plenty to see and do. 

But there's a problem. I love UK horse racing. In fact, it is my business to follow the Flat racing season. Also, I need to place bets on the betting exchange. I have a Betfair and Betdaq account. So what's the problem? Have you ever tried to access the betting exchanges while on holiday in the US? If you have, you will know what I'm talking about. 

Your access to the site will be blocked!

Annoying. You may question why this is the case. America has a very different view of gambling than other countries. To be fair each and every country has its own little ways. Many prohibit gambling full stop. The main problem with the US is that they are interested in looking after the bandwagon which is known as Las Vegas. No wonder the city in Nevada is synonymous with gambling. The Strip. The shows. The casinos. The lobbyists who are paid good money to make sure that potential wad of cash goes into the pockets of the few.

I think the only state in America where you can access Betfair is New Jersey. However, that's not much good if you are in Florida or any other state for that matter. 

So what do you do? 

You may have heard people using VPNs which help disguise where you are accessing the internet and website. However, this isn't legal and it has been known for Betfair to suspend people's accounts because they realising they are breaking the law of the land. 

Another alternative may be to use Team Viewer. This still may be illegal but it would probably be very difficult to prosecute. Team Viewer allows you to access another computer even from a different country. So you could have a laptop switched on in the UK and access it in Florida. So technically you are using your laptop at home. It makes life easier. It is also a lot easier to access all those things on your laptop at home because it's not practical to carry your desktop and monitor across the pond! 

Anyway, it is a way to gain access to your Betfair account as long as you have wifi. 

Don't be restricted.

Personally, I phone my brother in the UK to place bets for me as it is both legal and easy to work. 

Sunday, 2 June 2019

Hilary Needler Trophy Fillies' Conditions Stakes 2019 (Plus 10 Race) Cl2 (2yo)

Hilary Needler Stakes 2019
The Hilary Needler Trophy Fillies' Conditions Stakes 2019. 

One of the jewels in the crown of Beverley racecourse which has its share of two-year-old races throughout the season. 

The race is named after Hilary Needler who passed away in London 14th April 2012. Aged 91, the family had sponsored this notable contest at Beverley since 1965. Her husband, Harold, was one-time chairman of Hull City football club, had been a loyal supporter of Beverley racecourse.



In fact, such is their patronage of the course and this race that the Hilary Needler is the longest private backing of a British horserace. 

The Hilary Needler is run over 5f. 

Sadly, it was downgraded from Listed status in 2011, after being awarded that classification in 2001. 
Last 15 Winners of Hilary Needler 

2003 Attraction - Mark Johnston 11/10f
2004 Miss Meggy - Tim Easterby 16/1
2005 Clare Hills - Karl Burke 16/1
*2006 Roxan - Kevin Ryan 3/1f
2007 Loch Jipp - John Wainwright 20/1
2008 Knavesmire - Mel Brittain 40/1 
2009 Don't Tell Mary - Tom Dascombe 11/4f
2010 Geesala - Kevin Ryan 8/1
2011 Dozy - Kevin Ryan 9/2
2012 Jadanna - James Given 7/1
2013 Ventura Mist - Tim Easterby 14/1
2014 Abandoned (waterlogged)
2015 Easton Angel - Michael Dods 9/4f
2016 Grizzel - Richard Hannon Jnr 5/2
*2017 Chica La Habana - Robert Cowell 6/1 
2018 Kodyanna - Richard Fahey 4/1 

Hilary Needler Trends:

So what can review the last 15 winners reveal? The Hilary Needler is a quality race and generally speaking, goes to a fancied horse with experience. Three favourites have won since 2003. Including - Attraction 11/10f (2003), Don't Tell Mary 11/4f (2009), Easton Angel 9/4f (2015). It is interesting to note that a couple of debutantes have won and that they were both fancied in the betting. Roxan started favourite for Kevin Ryan (2006), while Robert Cowell's Chica La Habana was 6/1. However, there have been a number of big priced winners over the years. Five horses have won at odds bigger than 10/1. Mel Brittain's Knavesmire won by a neck at odds of 40/1, beating stablemate Caronbola (12/1), a year when Percolatopr (the 11/4f was a late withdrawal). Ten of the last fifteen winners of the Hilary Needler have been priced 8/1 & less.  Kean has won the race three times in recent years.  
  
This horse race has seen a number of exciting and very talented fillies win over the years. 

Attraction 

2003 saw Mark Johnston's classy filly Attraction win, drawing clear of the field and then eased in the final furlong to beat Tolzey by two-and-a-half lengths priced 11/10f. This daughter of Efisio was often criticised as having crooked legs and poor conformation. However, it didn't stop her from winning her first eight races. She was recognised as a superb sprinter but defied her critics by winning the 1,000 Guineas. In a career of 15 races, this gritty bay won 10 times. Her owner the Duke Of Roxburghe's star filly achieved the highest official rating of 119. A truly remarkable filly who concluded her career winning at Group 1 to become a broodmare. 

Other notable winners include Michael Dods' Easton Angel (2015) who went on to finish unplaced in the 2016 Nunthorpe Stakes Group 1.  

2017 Winner Chica La Habana

Last year's winner Kodyanna which won by a head from 50/1 shot Deia Glory.   

2019 Hilary Needler Stakes: 

To be updated... 

2:00 Hilary Needler Trophy Fillies' Conditions Stakes (Plus 10 Race) Cl2 (2yo) 5f ITV

Eight two-year-olds are declared at this final stage. Interesting that Richard Fahey fields a debutante in Moon Of Love, who is owned by The Cool Silk Partnership who have done well in this race over the years. 

1)   41  - Bella Brazil    - David Barron  -  10/1 
2)    1  - Execlusive      - Archie Watson -   5/1 
3)  102  - Lady Quickstep  - Gay Kelleway  -  12/1 
4)    1  - Liberty Beach   - John Quinn    -   7/1 
5) 2411  - Rose Of Kildare - Mark Johnston -   5/1
6)    1  - Three Coins     - Richard Fahey -   5/1 
7)   42  - Yarrow Gate     - Michael Dods  -   8/1
8)       - Moon Of Love    - Richard Fahey -   9/2

Click this link if you want to know the best two-year-old racehorses in training

Wednesday, 29 May 2019

Investec Woodcote EBF Stakes (Conditions Race) (Plus 10 Race) (Class 2) (2yo)

Woodcote Stakes 2019
A quick preview to the Investec Woodcote EBF Stakes

2:00 Epsom. Going: Good. Just seven two-year-olds (2yo) taking part for this Class 2 race with win prize money £37,350. 

Interesting history to the Woodcote Stakes. Run over a distance of 6f 3 yards, it is open to two-year-old thoroughbred racehorses. Originally named the Woodcot Stakes, it was first to run in 1794. Although, in those days, it was run over four furlongs. 

In this modern era, winners since 1988 detail a number of very talented juveniles. 

Readers of a certain age may remember the likes of Champagne Gold (1989) who won for trainer Denys Smith, ridden by Willie Carson. 

In 1991, Showbrook ran a sparkling time of 1:07.85, for Richard Hannon's stable, ridden by Bruce Raymond in the familiar silks of Tony Budge (known as ''King Coal'').  Showbrook went on to win the July Stakes and Mill Reef Stakes.  

Other popular winners of this race include Ron Boss, Clive Britain, Richard Hannon (Snr), Ian Balding, Paul Cole, Mick Channon, Mark Johnston, Alan Jarvis, Peter Chapple-Hyam, Neville Callaghan, Rod Millman, Kevin Ryan, William Jarvis, Karl Burke, Richard Hannon (Jnr) & even Irish-raider Tommy Stack (2010) with High Award. 

Last year saw Richard Fahey's Cosmic Law run out an easy six-length winner for owner John Dance, ridden by Partick McDonald. 

Click this link to see the result on the Racing Post. 

2019 Investec Woodcote Stakes 

This year sees a small field of just seven contenders (the same as last year). 

Pinatubo (Charlie Appleby) Price: 11/4

This bay colt is a son of Shamardal, a homebred from Godolphin.  He ran out a tidy winner when racing at Wolverhampton on debut. The second horse, Platinum Star, has since franked the form. Charlie Appleby has a number of two-year-olds who could have gone for this race. 

Misty Grey (Mark Johnston) Price: 4/1

This chestnut (looks grey) disappointed on debut but improved significantly second start at Ripon leading all the way and winning by seven lengths. There was a lot to like about that victory.

Oh Purple Reign (Richard Hannon) Price: 11/2

This son of Sir Prancealot wasn't overly fancied when winning on debut at Nottingham. However, the 12/1 starting price didn't stop this bay colt from battling for victory. 

Rayong (Karl Burke) Price: 8/1

Karl Burke has a fantastic strike rate at Carlisle and Rayong ran a sterling race to win by three-quarters of a length. I get the feeling that was a fair race. This step up to 6f should be positive. In the ownership of King Power Racing Ltd, this two-year-old needs to improve but could well fight to the line.  

Dancinginthewoods (Dean Ivory) Price: 11/1

Dean Ivory isn't known for his debut winners and that may explain why this son of Garswood won at odds of 50/1. Victory looked unlikely right up to the last stride, winning by a nose. Not the easiest horse to assess and this is a step up in class. 

Dragon Command (George Scott) Price: 14/1 

This attractive son of War Command ran well on debut at Doncaster. He was a little short of room and finished with spirit giving the impression better would be seen on his second start. Owners, The Black Dragon, must have thought they had a favourites chance next start at Carlisle. However, they couldn't beat Rayong, who held a small advantage. On the form, looks held by Karl Burke's charge. 

Barry Magoo (Adam West) Price: 100/1 

This bay gelding has been a big price on both starts to date and not shown a great deal. Not been seen for over a month, needs vast improvement. 

Conclusion: I wouldn't look beyond Pinatubo and Misty Grey. 


2019 Woodcote Stakes Winner Pinatubo

Monday, 27 May 2019

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."