Wednesday, 25 March 2020

An early look at the 2021 Cheltenham Gold Cup contenders

An early look at the 2021 Cheltenham Gold Cup contenders

Al Boum Photo etched his place in the history of Cheltenham Festival by joining a select company of horses win the Gold Cup in back-to-back years. Willie Mullins’ charge produced a fine performance to surge down the stretch in the prestigious race, edging a duel with Santini to claim the victory by a neck ahead of his rival. 

The eight-year-old will now aim to become the first horse since the legendary Best Mate to win the crown three times on the bounce. Al Boum Photo is the leading contender at 5/1 in the early horse racing betting odds to triumph in the Gold Cup in 2021. Mullins’ charge seems to have the measure of the race and Cheltenham, although there will be competition once again from a talented field. 

We’ll now take a look at if he can pull off the feat once again next year and see who could end his reign at the top, in arguably the ultimate prize in jumps horse racing. 

Al Boum Photo

After his triumph of the 2019 Gold Cup where he beat out Anibale Fly for the crown, Mullins’ charge was beaten in his next appearance. His stable-mate Kemboy bested him at the Punchestown Gold Cup, ending his campaign on a low note. The French thoroughbred was rested for seven months before he returned to action for the Savills New Year's Day Chase at Tramore.

Al Boum Photo was the odds-on favourite for the race and delivered with an emphatic victory, finishing six lengths ahead of his nearest rival. The eight-year-old arrived for the Gold Cup in prime form and Paul Townend at the reins put forward another brilliant ride. He timed the surge to perfection, with the bay gelding possessing just enough speed to see out the win by a fine margin. Whether he can maintain that form for next season remains to be seen. 


Nicky Henderson’s charge almost beat out Al Boum Photo down the stretch, but just lacked the pace when it mattered the most. Had the race been a fraction longer Santini may have been able to snatch the victory away from the French thoroughbred. It was still a fine performance from the bay gelding and Nico de Boinville, who will be optimistic about another run in the event next year.

It was the second season in a row that Santini finished second in a meet at the Festival, having been beaten out by Topofthegame in the RSA Novices’ Chase in 2019. He bounced back this term, notching impressive victories in the Future Stars Intermediate Chase and the Cotswold Chase. The eight-year-old put in a fine effort at the Gold Cup, and may be richer for the experience next season to dethrone Al Boum Photo. 


The Irish thoroughbred put in one of the performances of the week to win the RSA Novices’ Chase. It looked as though Minella Indo and Allaho were destined for a tense duel on the line for the win, but Champ exploded out of nowhere to surge between the two horses to close out the victory by a length. Henderson’s charge will now have the challenge of taking the next step to compete for the Gold Cup against the elite horses of the National Hunt.

He recorded solid victories in the Berkshire Novices' Chase and the KKA-Highpoint Beginners' Chase at Newbury. However, the only proof of his Gold Cup credentials will come in the new season and perhaps the King George VI Chase at Kempton Park on Boxing Day. Champ is one to monitor as, like his victory in the RSA Novices’ Chase, he could burst on to the elite scene next term.

Wednesday, 18 March 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Make sure you read Part 3 (coming soon)

Wednesday, 11 March 2020

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 the 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. 

  • To 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 of 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 time, 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 times horse racing involves the fatal end of the horses on the racecourse, 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 ages 3 and 4 are made to risk their lives on tracks.

Sunday, 8 March 2020

Brocklesby Stakes Stars - Mind Games

For many, the emphasis of Doncaster's William Hill Lincoln meeting will be the handicap mile, while HCE will focus on the Brocklesby Conditions Stakes, which heralds the start of our two-year-old season. To celebrate the Flat season, we remember a number of talented two-year-olds who have not only won the Brocklesby but gone on to mark themselves as truly talented individuals. Read this year's analysis on 28th March 2015, 1:25 Doncaster. High-Class Equine - the home of two-year-old racing. 

Mind Games

Puissance (6.4f) — Aryaf (CAN) (Vice Regent (CAN) (8.8f)

Trainer J Berry
OWNER: Robert Hughes (Shropshire)

2nd foal, half-brother to Able Fun, 1m winner at 2, Prince Ary, 10f winner at 3, & Quiz Show, 1m winner at 3, later dam of smart sprint 2yo Right Answer; dam unplaced at 2-3, half-sister to quite a useful miler Peartree House

On the 24th March 1994, Mind Games won the Brocklesby Conditions Stakes by a neck from Jobran, trained by Gay Kelleway, at 4/1 joint-favorite. Jack Berry - the renowned trainer often noted for his red shirts - had unveiled one of the most talented horses from the vast string. Berry was well known for his early-season dominance of two-year-old races. This son of Puissance ran seven times at two, winning his first three races with a ready success taking the Norfolk Stakes (Group 3) at Royal Ascot over 5f. He suffered his first loss (5th) when competing at Leopardstown (IRE) in the Heinze 57 Phoenix Stakes (Group 1). Mind Games continued to mark himself as a top-class two-year-old racing at Group level and narrowly losing by a short head in the Flying Childers (Group 2).
A successful career at 3 & 4 saw him race from Listed to Group 1 level, winning a further four races, with the Temple Stakes (Group 2) at Sandown being a notable success. Mind Games raced at Group 1 level on nine occasions but never won at this level albeit finishing 4th in the Nunthorpe Stakes (Group 1) at York, beaten by two lengths behind Pivotal. 
Berry's star raced once as a five-year-old before being retired to stud.
In his career, Mind Games raced 20 times, winning 7 races and won total prize money of over a quarter of a million pounds and an official rating of 112.

Sunday, 1 March 2020

Becoming a Professional Gambler

I found this article on Slipperytoad website, originally published by Punt.Com blog, and it makes fascinating if not a little pessimistic reading.

Forums, blogs, bookies and betting websites are full of people dreaming of becoming professional gamblers. Being your own boss, working when you feel like it, making loads of money and watching sports for a living is certainly appealing to most people. Let this post (and the rest of this blog) be a reality check.

I see a lot of people giving up jobs to do this after a short time trading. They think it’s easy and straight forward, they think it will last forever… They haven’t thought it through.

I’ve been a professional gambler now for over 3 1/2 years. Before that, I gambled for 2 years before I took the decision to do it. It was the biggest decision of my life, certainly not one I took lightly. Giving up a guaranteed income and job prospects to gamble with my own money was extremely risky, to say the least.

When you give up your job, you’re not only going to be risking your money gambling but your entire future job prospects. Let me tell you, gamblers are not viewed in the same way as someone who works in a normal job. Compare the reaction you get when you tell someone you are a gambler to when you tell them you work in a bank. Even if you compare it to being a “day trader”, the reaction is a mixture of contempt, fascination and disbelief.

Most people will flatly not believe you. Gamblers are the vagrants of society. The losers that hang around bookies, wasting their family income on an addiction. No one believes it is possible to win, and if you have – it’s just luck. Like it or not, this is how you will be viewed. Some will feel sorry for you, others will not give you the time of day. You are going to be one of society’s outsiders.

Family relationships can be strained and tested. It takes a lot of understanding from family and friends and this can weigh on your mind whilst you are gambling. Stable family life is important, it spills over into your work – few jobs are affected as much by this. You need stability and space to work well. And vice versa, a bad day at the office should not affect the way you treat those closest to you, can you really say that you won’t be in a terrible mood when you lose £xxxxx on some tennis player that gave up?

Your financial future is now uncertain. You are no longer contributing to society, you are not paying tax – an advantage to the gambler sure, but it doesn’t improve your self-esteem and further enhances the feeling of being an outsider.

Try to borrow money from the bank? It’s easier said than done. This is why you need to try to secure your future financially as far in advance as you can before you make it your sole income

What about future job prospects? If you need to work again, do you really think future employers are going to be happy with you spending a year or two gambling for a living when they read your cv?

How much have you won before you turn pro? It’s hardly ever enough. You need to make many times your current income before you do it. Make sure you have savings that are stashed away, preferably making you a reasonable amount of interest. I might have turned professional a year before I did, but I had to make sure I was safe financially before I did so. Not only for my livelihood but so that I could work confidently and without pressure. You cannot perform in this game if you are too worried about losing your hard earned cash. Pressure on your profit and loss is deadly.

What about when you do take the plunge, your day to day life is going to change dramatically in ways you may not have imagined. Interaction with other people becomes scarce. You will be spending long periods of time alone, clicking away staring at a screen all day. The temptation to live up to the stereotype is obvious. Why bother making an effort when you can get up, do some work and go back to bed again.. Discipline. Working alone throws up serious challenges. Your health and fitness can suffer drastically. The way you interact with other people can take a tumble. Prepare for this in advance.

It’s not all excitement and glamour. It can be downright boring doing the same things day in day out. Boredom for some gamblers can be their most dangerous adversary. You can end up working on things you don’t need to be. Betting too much and over trading for the sake of it.

Gambling certainly doesn’t owe you a living. A normal job pays you for turning up, no one’s going to do that here – they are going to try to take money off you for turning up. It’s you against a world of other people, all of whom have opinions, some of them most definitely better informed than you. Just how professional are you when it comes to the crunch, are you certain you are at the top of the tree? How consistent is your performance going to be to combat everyone else and stay ahead of the game. There are some brilliant brains out there trying to beat you at every turn – be wise to the available strategies and the people you are up against and give them respect – it’s your money and therefore livelihood they are after.

There are very few real professional gamblers, the reasons above outline why. It’s incredibly tough to do. You are going to be tested mentally every day and you will need to guard against developing bad psychological habits. There are reasons why gambling can cause problems for most people. There is a fine line between problem gambling, pathological gambling and professional gambling. Many professionals develop problems, be aware of the risks. Here’s a site about different types of gamblers. It suggests there are fewer than 50 gamblers in the US that make over $100,000 a year. With all the negative problems you can face as a professional gambler, you better make sure you are being compensated. Ask yourself what a fair amount is for enduring these problems if you aren’t already making that then is it really worthwhile.

Think about your life situation and your family life. You are risking your money and theirs. I was fortunate when I began that I was young, single and in a job that didn’t pay that much and I was able to spend as much time as I liked pursuing it, without overheads and relationship damaging consequences. It’s extraordinary time consuming, to begin with, especially as you are going to have to work hard to increase from little to a sum of money suitable to work from. Don’t underestimate the time this takes, and the time you will be spending away from family chasing something that might not even work out.

I know this post is quite pessimistic. I think it’s supposed to be. I’ve heard it said before that professional gamblers are pessimists, I’m not sure I agree completely, but in this post, I certainly think it’s a good idea to be. No matter how much you think you are ready, wait a while longer. Wait until you are sure you aren’t just lucky, then wait some more… Know why you aren’t plain lucky, and be big enough to admit defeat if you have been.

Monday, 24 February 2020

You Won't Win

I know it's not horse racing but this article on blackjack, written by Arnold Snyder, is fascinating simply for his frankness in explaining his thoughts about the chances of winning in a game he has dedicated his life. If you are interested in blackjack, card counting or strategies, it makes sobering reading. Not sure if it has relevance to horse racing betting or trading but it makes a point or two that we may all relate.

[Written from the depths of a once-in-a-lifetime magnitude losing streak...]

I am now in the process of editing a new book which, by the time you read this article in Casino Player, will already be published. Blackjack Wisdom is a compilation of some seventy-five magazine articles I have written over the past fifteen years or so, many of which initially appeared in Casino Player.

As I wrap up this project, I must confess that an entire chapter has been excised from this book—and the single longest chapter at that. “Bucks in Flux” was, for many months, the working title of Chapter One. This chapter was composed of more than a dozen articles I had written over the years for various periodicals, all with a common theme—negative fluctuations.

Among these articles were such gems as:

“Is It all Just Luck?” from Card Player,

“Speaking of Streaking,” from Casino Player,

“Those *!%]#* Fluctuations,” from Poker World,

“Good Guys Lose and Bad Guys Win,” from Blackjack Forum, and many other fine essays which, I must admit, bore some of my favorite titles. Perhaps I will include this chapter, or portions of it, in Blackjack Wisdom II. Perhaps I will simply let these writings die, uncollected in any anthology. But I have trashed the entire chapter at this late hour, with a decision instead to end the book with this article you are reading right now. So, you—my Casino Player faithful—do not have to buy the book, since you already know how it ends!

Essentially, each and every one of the “Bucks in Flux” articles delivers the same depressing message, a message I have espoused in every one of my books, a message which can be edited down to three words:

You won’t win.

Do I really need fifteen articles to say those three words? I don’t think so. Though it occurs to me that all blackjack books should have at least one chapter titled: “You Won’t Win.”

The message delivered by most blackjack books and systems has always been the same baloney. Stanley Roberts’ Winning Blackjack was once advertised with the slogan: “Make every casino in the world your personal bank account!” Ken Uston’s Million Dollar Blackjack was promoted with: “Make $500 per day any time you want!” And these aren’t phony systems; these books contain legitimate card counting strategies.

You can’t always tell the real systems from the phonies by looking at the advertising. Promotion is a promotion. Authors of blackjack books, like authors of all “self-help” books—from weight-loss systems to multi-level marketing programs—are reluctant to deliver the message:

You won’t win.

Nobody wants to hear it.

When I self-published my first book, The Blackjack Formula, in 1980, and advertised it in Gambling Times magazine with the catchy, upbeat slogan: “Card Counters Beware,” stating in the ad that most of the blackjack games available in the casinos of the world were unbeatable with any card counting system, the publisher of Gambling Times, Stan Sludikoff, told me bluntly that I would never make any great amount of money trying to sell books with that type of pessimistic advertising.

Stan was write. Seventeen years later, I’m still just scraping by, still delivering that vastly unpopular message:

You won’t win.

Of course, there are a few players who do win. Professional card counters exist; they’re not entirely mythical. It’s just that I know that these professional players are so exceptional, so obsessed, so dedicated, such gluttons for punishment, so terror-stricken by the concept of working a nine-to-five job, so few and far between in every sense of few and far between, that, honestly, you are highly unlikely to be one of these human anomalies. And the most honest thing I can say to you, if you tell me that you really want to become a professional blackjack player, is:

You won’t win.

And the reason is fluctuations.

If you are anything like the masses of humanity, if you like to be rewarded for your efforts within some reasonable time frame, you won’t be able to take the fluctuations. Those negative downswings will be bigger, and harder, and longer lasting, and more upsetting, and more unbelievable, than your level of toleration. Your losses will tear at your heart, and fill you with emptiness, and leave you in a state of quiet desperation. I hear this from players over and over again. I hear this from players who claim to have studied diligently and practiced for hours on end, for weeks and months with a singular dream—to beat the casinos.

And they don’t win.

And they ask me why.

And I say, “Oh, it’s just a normal standard deviation. A negative fluctuation. It could happen to anyone.”

But it happened to you.

Your money.

Your hours.

Your months of dreaming.

And you didn’t win.

So, over and over again, in my books, and my columns, and my magazine articles, I feel compelled to deliver the message I have been delivering since my very first book in 1980:

You won’t win.

Some card counters will win, but not you. Some card counters will actually experience inordinate positive fluctuations! Wow!

But not you.

You won’t win.

Other card counters will be having champagne parties in their hotel rooms, celebrating that marvelous life of freedom and money and adventure that just seems to come naturally with the lifestyle of a professional gambler. But not for you. You will be among the unfortunate few who, statistically speaking, will be located in the far left tail of the Gaussian curve. Someone has to be there. It will be you.

I have been in that tail; it is a cold and lonely place. I suspect many of those who write about this game have been there, and they know what a cold and lonely place it is. Every professional card counter I know has been there. And if they have played blackjack professionally for many years, they have been there many times. These players have hearts stronger than mine, and I suspect, stronger than yours.

This much I know: it is easier to make a living writing about this game than it is playing it.

In any case, instead of filling an entire chapter of this book with some fifteen articles, written over a period of seventeen years, every one of which simply says, you won’t win, I’ve tossed the whole chapter out in favor of leaving you with just those three words of blackjack wisdom:


By Arnold Snyder
(From Casino Player, November 1997)
© Arnold Snyder 1997

Thursday, 6 February 2020

Bill Turner's Brocklesby Stakes Race Winners (1996 - 2013)

Embed from Getty Images

The Brocklesby Conditions Stakes is synonymous with racehorse trainer Bill Turner. 

The first Flat turf two-year-old race of the season simply wouldn't be the same without the Dorset trainer who sends out his better, if not best, juvenile to compete in this significant race. 

The Brocklesby Stakes dates back to 1849. However, in those early days, it was a 12-furlong race for horses of all ages. In fact, it used to take place at the now-defunct Carholme racecourse in Lincoln. 

In this modern era, most racegoers know the Brocklesby as a fast and furious five-furlong sprint held annually at Doncaster racecourse. It takes place late March or early April and presently sponsored by Unibet with the feature race on the card the Lincoln Handicap. 

The Brocklesby moved to Doncaster in 1965. 

Since 1988, an array of horse trainers has proven they can win the Brocklesby, making a bold start to the turf season with hopes of showing a quality horse that can go on to better prizes. That has been the case and a number of very talented two-year-olds have won the Brocklesby Stakes before going on to Group class success, while some achieve the distinction of becoming stallions.

Two very talented colts to do just that are Jack Berry's Mind Games who won the 1994 Brocklesby Stakes by a neck from a horse called Jobran. The apple of Jack Berry's eye [a horse trainer who is known for wearing his lucky red shirt when going to the races and founder of the charity Jack Berry House] saw his sprinter win multiple group races but fell short of group 1 success. 

In 2016, The Last Lion, trained by Mark Johnston, won this Brocklesby in stylish fashion and later that season took the Middle Park Stakes Group 1. He achieved four victories from ten starts at two and was unraced at three when retired to stud for a fee of £7.500. 

Other notable winners of the Brocklesby include: 

The Bill O'Gorman-trained Provideo who won the Brocklesby Stakes in 1984 before setting a 20th-century record for a British two-year-old when he won 16 from 24 races. Surprisingly, his best performance saw him win at Listed class, while Timeform rated him 20lb inferior of the best juveniles of the year. However, he was named British/Timeform Horse of the Year for a feat that simply couldn't be matched nowadays because of the introduction of win penalties. 

Hearts Of Fire is another colt worthy of respect. Trained by Pat Eddery, this son of Firebreak won the 2009 Brocklesby by an authoritative two-and-a-quarter lengths. A versatile horse, he won on all types of going but proved best in testing conditions. He culminated a successful juvenile season when heading to San Siro, Italy, taking the Gran Criterium Stakes (Group 1) in soft ground by a head. Other victories at Listed and Group 3 proved a very talented colt. He concluded his race career in 2011 after racing four times in Meydan (UAE). A racing career of 17 runs, 4 victories and total prize earnings of £326,543 details a Brocklesby winner who achieved much. 

Santry had the potential to be a true star in the making when winning the 2017 Brocklesby by a head. Trained by Declan Carroll, this son of Harbour Watch won his next start under a penalty, then finished second in the Norfolk Stakes (Group 2) at Royal Ascot. Sadly, he was fatally injured on the gallops. Carroll said: ''He broke a leg on the gallops this morning. I can't belive we've lost him.''   

Bill Turner has won the Brocklesby Conditions Stakes an impressive six times. The first victory coming back in 1996 when Indian Spark thrashed the opposition by four lengths. This remarkable racehorse went on to race 143 times and won 14 races. Very few thoroughbreds come close to this longevity.  

In 2002, we saw The Lord, owned by Mrs M Teversham. This classy son of Averti won impressively by five lengths in testing conditions. He went on to win the Lily Agnes Conditions Stakes at Chester after failing to shine at Royal Ascot's Norfolk Stakes (Group 3) in between. The Lord was another fine horse who ran 68 times in his career, winning 8 times and achieving the highest official rating of 105. It was pleasing to see this dedicated sprinter win once at Listed class. A success most deserved. Without question, The Lord was Bill Turner's best Brocklesby Stakes winner, if not the best horse he has trained to this date. 

Spoof Master was something of an anomaly for Turner, being a Brocklesby Stakes winner at Redcar. This was due to maintenance work at Doncaster which saw the race take place at a different northern venue. In addition, Spoof Master made his debut when finishing second place on the all-weather surface at Lingfield Park. This son of Invincible Spirit made the most of that first-time experience by winning the Brocklesby by four lengths. In a racing career which saw him run 65 times, he won just 3 races. 

Next up, just two years later, Bill Turner would win the Brocklesby in 2008 with a filly named Sally's Dilemma.  Very few fillies are capable of winning this race and it must have made Turner's day to achieve this meritable performance for loyal owner E A Brook. She was pushed out to win by half a length from Stuart Parr's Doncaster Rover. She raced just 12 times in a two-season career and the Brocklesby was her greatest and only success. 

E A Brook was jubilant once more when He's So Cool won the Brocklesby on his second start after finishing third of seven on debut at Kempton, a disappointing flop at odds of 5/4. This son of One Cool Cat beat Redair at Doncaster priced 8/1. He raced 9 times at two, winning 2 times before being retired in August that same year.  

The latest Brocklesby Stakes win for Turner came in 2013. Mick's Yer Man won by five lengths. He followed up by winning at Musselburgh. Originally owned by Tracy Turner, this colt lost his form before showing a resurgence in 2014 winning at Listed class.

Later, he was sold privately and trained by T P Yung to race in Hong Kong. Interesting to note that his name was changed to Always Win (no wonder I struggled to find his name when searching the Racing Post database). Hong Kong horse racing has the luxury of exceptional prize money compared to the UK. For instance, Always Win won a sprint handicap off an offical rating of just 62 bagging an incredible £73,557.99 prize. In 2018, this son of Bahamian Bounty won two more races over six furlongs (those two victories alone totalled to over £141,000). Rising in the handicap to 85, with total prize earnings of £328,456 from 22 runs and 7 wins. 

The future looks bright for this Brocklesby winner who changed his name.

Great to see that Turner has Hell Of A Joker entered to run in this year's Brocklesby Conditions Stakes 2019

A trainer who has taken on the biggest stables and proven when it comes to talented two-year-old horses the Brocklesby Stakes is his to win.

Bill Turner Trains Zebra as a Racehorse

Photo: Mick's Yer Man

Want to know the best 2yo horses in training? Group Horse details inside info trainer would rather you didn't know. 

Friday, 24 January 2020

Ex-Gambler Turns Software Ace

Like all successful businessmen, Yuchun Lee is passionate about his experience of making money. The 42-year-old Taiwanese-American gushes about "big players", "advanced techniques" and "ace tracking".

None of these exotic terms relate to Unica, the software house based in Waltham, Massachusetts, that he founded in 1992.

Mr Lee is reminiscing about gambling tactics and his time with the Amphibians, a gang of top-grade students and graduates from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

The Amphibians took on casinos and other gambling dens using a disciplined mathematical model of card-counting to lower the odds in their favour.

Today, their exploits form the backdrop for 21, the Hollywood movie starring Kevin Spacey and based on the book Bringing Down The House by Ben Mezrich.

The card-counting technique works only in blackjack, where the player bets against the casino, hoping to be dealt cards that add up to 21.

Covert activity

Mathematically-savvy MIT students, working to strict-allocated rules and acting in rehearsed roles, racked up impressive earnings during Mr Lee's era. Hand signals indicated to the team's designated high-roller when to bet heavily on a table.

These tactics were not illegal, but casinos made every effort to blacklist the team members. The thrill of outwitting casino security appealed to Mr Lee.

"It was like being a spy," he recalls.

The future technology industry executive got an early taste of hard cash when travelling with up to $250,000 of winnings strapped to his body. Mr Lee's card-counting streak ran from 1995 to 2000, before post-9/11 metal detectors could pick up the metal strip in a $100 bill.

The David v Goliath feeling is the same, plus the gusto, the team spirit we felt when we beat the casinos

Yuchun Lee on his software firm

"There were maybe three times a year we got caught with cash at an airport, but we were very organised, we had a lawyer ready to take our call," he says.

He was caught once, and relied on the pre-arranged lawyer to convince the authorities he was not transporting drug-dealing profits.

The sums of money involved were astonishing, even by the standards of the computer industry, where Mr Lee's company employs 500 staff with annual revenues of $100m.

At the opening weekend of a casino in Connecticut, Mr Lee and his team made a killing. Driving back to MIT in Boston, they gathered in a meeting room to pile up gambling chips worth $500,000, all made in just 48 hours.

Mr Lee fizzes with tales of his blackjack adventures. In fact, he is perfectly equipped to play his allocated role among spotters and card-counters wearing disguises to deflect observant casino security staff. Mr Lee played the Crazy Asian Gambler, whose job title within the Amphibians was the Big Player.

The Crazy Asian Gambler was an act that Mr Lee embraced with gusto, convincing the casino staff that here was a man who would abandon all logic in his pursuit of a winning hand.

Rogues' gallery

Team members who were identified were photographed and barred from the casino, which would then share their faces via its security firm with other operators. Mr Lee's five-year streak ended when he was barred from the giant Bellagio casino in Las Vegas.

By this time, he was already running Unica and came home to open his e-mail, where a purchase order for marketing software was awaiting him. The customer was the Bellagio casino.

Unica now has offices in eight countries

How does it compare with running a marketing software company? "There are some parallels. The David v Goliath feeling is the same, plus the gusto, the team spirit we felt when we beat the casinos."

Four of Unica's staff are ex-counters who have been blacklisted by the casinos. What kind of mind does it take to follow all of this fast card action?

Mr Lee produces a laminated card from his wallet. There are tiny numbers covering the credit-card sized item. These represent 10,000 hours of simulated blackjack rules. He maintains that by memorising this card it is possible to lower the odds in a player's favour.

"Anyone can do it."

Mr Lee still carries the card about with him, a tangible reminder of a time when, as a Big Player cherished by casinos, he was showered with extraordinary incentives to keep on gambling. "You would never have experiences such as these anywhere else. I was given a helicopter ride through the Grand Canyon at sunset."

Changing roles

In the film 21, Laurence Fishburne plays a casino security chief fighting for his job, as face-recognition software threatens to render his generation of tough investigators extinct.

Now Mr Lee revels in the potential of sophisticated software. The program he sells helps his clients spot a potential future customer. But just as his card-counting alter ego, the Crazy Asian Gambler, relied on cold mathematical odds, this product works on precision.

He encourages his clients to use data generated by the program with care. "We don't want to spook people by appearing to know too much about them."

And like Laurence Fishburne's security man, Cole, Mr Lee has seen the world change.

Airport security is a serious impediment to shifting the sums needed to raise the stakes on a table and the winnings that can result from diligent team work. And the quicker the money is carried away from one city, the sooner it can be used to bet against a casino in another location.

If hundreds of thousands of dollars cannot be moved through airport scanners, then surely a rota of drivers could be organised to carry the cash to selected points? Mr Lee nods in agreement at this suggestion. He still seems like a man who is very familiar with the milieu of the Big Players.

Wednesday, 15 January 2020

How Do You Win at Slots?

Playing Slots - How To Win
Ask a casino owner where they make most of their revenue and you will hear them say: ''Slots'' In fact, most casinos make about 70% of their money from those technological one-armed bandits. 

True the arm has gone to be replaced by a button but basically, punters can't get enough of online slots. 

Take a look at Casumo's welcome bonus to get 200% up to £50 + £20 free spins.  

For all you slot players out there, you may have one question to ask.

How do you win at slots?

What strategy should your everyday punter use?

Is it possible to make a living from playing slots? To be fair, I haven't met anyone who makes a living but that doesn't mean to say people don't make betting on slots pay. 

Take a look at these secrets:

1# Bankroll management

It's an old adage, but bet what you can afford to lose. If betting £100, then you are wise to bet at a lower level unless you really want to chance your luck with high-priced spins. Basically, bet to your budget.

2# Connect play lines to... costs 

Whether playing live or online, play lines matter. 

Take  a look at what this expert had to say on the subject: 

''A common mistake slots beginners make is to consider pay lines relevant only when it gets on how to build a winning spin and calculate a number of coins won, while where pay lines matter the most – again – is the calculation of your slot machine’s actual cost. 

True, if you sit at a 25 pay lines slot and you bet only on 5 of them you can simply forget to hit one of those absurdly large payouts and see a six-figures jackpot coming to fatten your bankroll.

But try not to forget our first slots tip, as betting on all the 25 lines of trying to hit the jackpot will cost you considerably more than just going for a handful of those aiming to a more modest win. So, once again, what does your balance say? Can you really afford all those bets at once? ''

3# Don't be a slot player stalker

This isn't going to happen in your living room. However, if you go to a brick-and-mortar casino you will notice a lot of gamblers are playing. Like they have some kind of formula which means they win while you are like some newbie finding your feet. 

In actual fact, they are looking for what they term ''hot'' or ''cold'' slots. The hot slots being ones that haven't paid pay for a considerable amount of time, while the cold being those which have given someone a bundle of love (cash). 

Here's the thing you need to know. 

It's a lie

Modern-day slots don't work like that. It's all very random. If they pay out big, it doesn't mean the next spin will not go one better.   

4# Go for the maximum bet 

When you have loaded your slot with money you have to make a choice: 

The amount of money you will play on each bet. 

The point being that betting £1 four times is the same as one £4 bet. Although costing the same in total, they have different consequences. 

Our expert quote: 

''That is because online slots generally offer identical payouts whether you bet 1, 2 or more coins – changing only the multiplier you will have to multiply your winning by. Bet one coin and you will multiply your winning by 1x; bet two coins and the multiplier will be 2x; three coins and you will go for 3x and so on.''

Good luck.