Monday, 28 February 2011

It's Black and White...

A Lady Never Mounts Unaided

Two Shares Left in a Racing Champion

He's antennae-post favourite

OK, so buying a racehorse is out of the question. Even a leg is too expensive in this financial climate. All is not lost. I have two shares left in a future racing champion. Our trainer is none other than  Claire Lawrence. Claire who? Never heard of her? Well, you would if you followed The World Snail Racing Championships.

Last years winner, Sidney, trained by Lawrance, from Litcham, won the final in 3 minutes and 41 seconds. And this annual event held at Congham, Norfolk, is the next best thing to Royal Ascot, a stone's throw from the Queen's residence at Sandringham.

Well, I have been searching the garden all day. It's tiring work. But I have found the biggest snail ever - a real bruiser - 16-hands tall even without his antennae up. I've named him HCE Rocket after he fairly sprinted towards a peppery lettuce of a similar name. He is incredibly fast - for a snail.

I take it you want a share? I mean, who wouldn't?

See you at Congham cricket field, Norfolk, on 16th July 2011. (Be careful with than ball!).

Press Release:

World Snail Racing Championships

Snail racing is a fun event for young and old alike. For more than 25 years the World Snail Racing Championships have been held at Congham, near King's Lynn, in Norfolk.

Snail racing is easy to organise. Collect snails from a garden. Favourite places are behind or underneath big stones. They like wet areas.

Before snails can enter a race a sticker with a number must be put on so they can be identified. One garden snail looks very much like another!

It is best to hold heats if there are large numbers.

The snails race from the centre of a circle to the outside. The circle has a radius of 13 inches. The snails are put in the middle and pointed in the right direction.

Professional Gamblers: Zeljko Ranogajec

Zeljko Ranogajec is the Billion Dollar Man of betting. He is most certainly Australia's and probably the worlds biggest gambler and strikes fear into the heart of every bookmaker.

Ranogajec is one of the gambling world's most secretive characters and a sure thing to come away from any race meeting in the money. Ranogajec, 43, and his army of contracted researchers have been analysing races throughout the country for months in preparation for the Melbourne carnival, including the big race, which is expected to attract $100 million in bets. Having crunched the data from thousands of races, he will put big bucks on the horse statistics say should finish first.

Contemporaries say no one else in Australia - maybe the world -has reduced the odds so successfully. Mr Ranogajec, of Balmoral on the North Shore, boasts a gambling turnover of about $1 billion a year. "That's one thousand million dollars," IASBet bookmakers owner Mark Read said. "A profit margin of just 1 per cent would net $10m. "He has agents betting for him with the bookmakers but he basically controls the totes. "Zeljko claims he's the world's biggest punter; I think he's right."

An estimated $200m of that $1bn is bet on horse races in Australia.The rest is gambled on casinos, other sports and overseas races. When The Daily Telegraph visited his home yesterday , a neighbour said he was rarely there. "He owns it but he doesn't live here," the neighbour said. For Mr Ranogajec, home is the former residence of failed entrepreneur Brad Cooper. Mr Ranogajec's partner Shelley Wilson is listed on the property transfer, which shows Cooper's Coronation Ave home was bought in July 2001 for $5.96m.

It's a long way from Hobart, where Mr Ranogajec was born in 1961 to Croatian immigrants.

He first set out to be a lawyer but soon realised he could cash in on his memory and intellect.But his talent for counting cards soon had him banned from casinos including Wrest Point in Tasmania and Jupiters on the Gold Coast.

In 1998 his betting activity was restricted at Sydney's Star Casino; card-counters like him increase their stakes as the odds improve. Being blacklisted meant he had to diversify, turning to racing and lotteries around the globe. And what a gamble that proved: of the $11.7bn bet on racing in Australia with totes in 2003, he was responsible for up to $500m - 5 per cent.

The world's biggest punter is Zeljko Ranogajec, and he's an Australian by Nick Tabakoff (The Daily Telegraph)
SOME call him the "Loch Ness Monster" because of his rare public sightings. Casinos have dubbed him "The Joker". High-profile racing industry figures say he is the biggest punter not only in Australia but in the world.

Meet Australia's most mysterious and elusive gambling figure: Zeljko Ranogajec, the man acknowledged even by sources close to the TAB to be, by some margin, its largest punter.

Those who know him well describe him as just a normal bloke and one relative says: "If you met him on the street, you would never think he's rich." Others describe him similarly as "polite" and "unassuming": descriptions that matched his demeanour when The Daily Telegraph finally caught up with him this week.

But the size of Mr Ranogajec's betting is far from ordinary. It is believed he accounts for between 6 and 8 per cent of Tabcorp's $10 billion Australian betting turnover - or between $600-800 million - and bets tens of millions more with local bookmakers.

But that is just the start. Once the overseas betting turnover of his 24-hour, seven-day-a-week operation is taken into account, his total annual betting spend globally is believed to be well over $1 billion. One of Australia's most senior racing figures says Mr Ranogajec is truly a global punter, adding: "He goes wherever he can get set late with big bets . . . that means countries like Japan, England, Hong Kong, New Zealand and America."

Other sources say he has also been known to bet anywhere from France to Canada and Russia. Intriguingly, part of his operation takes up a large portion of the top floor of the Harris St, Pyrmont, NSW headquarters of Tabcorp, the organisation with which he bets hundreds of millions a year. He is also believed to have office space in the Fox Sports building in Pyrmont and other premises overseas. Industry talk has him employing anything from 30 to more than 100 staff just to analyse form.

The operation has generated plenty of wealth. One relative of Mr Ranogajec from his father's side, who asked not to be named, told us: "I heard just maybe two or three months ago that he's a multi-billionaire."

Yet he has never been mentioned on any Australian rich list - because the secrecy around his operations means no one is able to estimate his exact wealth. But the man himself says the talk about the magnitude of his betting and wealth is all just a big exaggeration.

When The Daily Telegraph finally found him in Mosman after a three-day search spanning Sydney and the Central Coast this week, the well-spoken Mr Ranogajec was asked if he was the world's biggest punter. The reply was succinct: "I believe that's absolutely untrue."

But in Australia and overseas, any number of racing websites, industry analysts and books indicate he is indeed a global betting giant. The betting website, for example, nominates him as "most likely" the world's biggest punter. One book, Living And Learning With The World's Biggest Punters, goes further, dubbing Mr Ranogajec "the biggest punter the world has ever seen or (is) likely to see".

The Daily Telegraph's racing editor Ray Thomas says: "In my opinion, he has no challengers as the world's biggest punter."

One thing is clear: the 48-year old has come a long way from his days of being kicked out of Wrest Point Casino in the 1980s as a highly-successful young mathematics whiz-kid legitimately beating the casino at blackjack by keeping track of each card played.

The relative from the side of his late father Mirko claims Mr Ranogajec started to work part-time at Wrest Point while studying for a commerce/law degree. The relative says he met his wife and "first love" Shelley Wilson while she was also working there. But the more successful he became at blackjack, the more his studies started to take a backseat. He first transferred from the University of Tasmania (where he was studying tax, money and banking as part of his degree) to the University of NSW in Sydney, where he has settled permanently.

But with his real career as a punter beckoning, he dropped out of uni studies permanently in the mid-1980s. Meanwhile, his skills as a blackjack player saw him feared by casinos around the world. His business was "politely declined" first at Wrest Point, then at Queensland's Jupiters Casino in the mid-1980s.

But he did not give up the casinos, moving to greener pastures overseas. Some Australian sources believe he was successful at many casinos internationally. The relative from his father's side recalls him coming home after being too successful on the blackjack tables in the US, explaining: "He was in Chicago, I think. They stopped him and he had to come back."

He increasingly turned his attention to horse racing and other games like Keno. He once won a then world-record $7.5 million Keno jackpot at North Ryde RSL Club in 1994, reportedly going to the club over several days with million-dollar cheques. Some sources claim he had to bet significantly more than $7.5 million to win it but may still have come out ahead because of the smaller prizes he collected along the way.

But it is in horse racing where Mr Ranogajec has built his fortune, through a combination of betting massive amounts on small margins, generous rebates from many totes (including Tabcorp) and a highly sophisticated betting system. Those in the know say the key to Mr Ranogajec's betting is chasing liquidity. He and his associates look for large betting pools awash with "mug punter" money that makes the pool as big as possible. It is understood Mr Ranogajec accumulated a "bank"of funds from his successful casino playing around the world.

This in turn allowed him to set up a sophisticated operation that allowed him to employ specialists to analyse horse racing in minute detail through computer, video and mathematical analysis. It also allowed him to bet big. His operation in the NSW Tabcorp headquarters is the stuff of legend.

Industry gossip about it is rampant - everything from staff numbers, to questionnaires employees are given to test their skills and, importantly, the secrets of his analysis. Mr Ranogajec jealously guards his secrets and getting those who know him well to talk on the record about him is impossible.

Staff who work for him at his Harris St headquarters sign confidentiality agreements. One high-profile racing figure who knows Mr Ranogajec says: "If he knew I was talking to you about him, he'd never talk to me again."

So private is he that there have even been suggestions he uses a pseudonym incorporating his wife's surname. Records show a John Wilson, born in Hobart with an identical birthdate to Mr Ranogajec and an identical business address, owns a company with assets that include a multi-million dollar Central Coast beachfront property and a Pacific Highway apartment in St Leonards.

Mr Ranogajec and Ms Wilson have been shrewd investors in property, often buying when others are forced to sell, mainly in the Mosman area.

In December 2008, the couple shelled out $19.75 million for a 2000sq m waterfront property on two blocks at Balmoral Beach, after its value had been hit by the global financial crisis. The property is in the name of Ms Wilson. Parts of the property had previously been owned by jailed HIH executives Ray Williams and Brad Cooper. In the aftermath of the HIH collapse in 2001, the couple had bought another Balmoral property for a knockdown $5.96 million, again in Ms Wilson's name. It is now worth many millions more. Another property in the Mosman area is used by Mr Ranogajec largely as a business address. It's all a long way from his humble origins in Hobart as the son of Croatian immigrants - but the Tasmanian connection remains strong.

His main business partner David Walsh still lives in Hobart where he has built a $70 million private museum to house a $100 million art collection. The two were reported to have bid for Tote Tasmania (where Mr Ranogajec used to be a huge punter) last year, but it has since been taken off the market.

When we approached Mr Ranogajec in Mosman about his wins, on who "John Wilson" was and on his betting secrets, there was no sign of him opening up. He told The Daily Telegraph: "I'm not meaning to be rude.

"I'm not interested in talking to a reporter . . . no offence but it doesn't do any good at all."

Nevertheless, the very public interest in the very private life of Mr Ranogajec is likely to continue unabated.

Sunday, 27 February 2011

The Gambler's Book Club

See, I said our friends over the pond do things better than us! Just received an email hotfoot from Las Vegas thanking HCE for plugging the Gambler's Book Club. The pleasure is all ours because we love to be part of the global betting community. This is what Robert Cassagrande, Director of Operations, had to say:

Hello Jason,

On behalf of the Gambler's Book Club ,Avery Cardoza an myself, I would like to say Thank You very much for that excellent article about our store. I means a lot us when we get compliments like the one you just gave us. Personally it gives me great satisfaction to read your article, it validates all the hard work myself and Mr. Cardoza have put into the store over the past year. We are continuing to improve on a daily basis, within the next month we are expanding the store and adding a studio and classroom to our arsenal.This will give the author a venue to be able to teach customers/ students the systems from their book/ books, while the customer will have a chance to meet and learn from their favorite writer. As for the studio the possibilities are going to endless, I will just give you a hint if you see a channel in the near future dedicated to gambling that will be us.

Next time your in town please come and introduce yourself I would be like to meet you. I'm also forwarding your email over to Avery. Once again Thank you.


Robert Casagrande

Director of Operations

Cardoza Publishing

Gambler's Book Club

5473 S Eastern Ave

Las Vegas, NV 89119


Professional Gamblers: Clive Holt

Clive Holt is a legendary punter. He talks so much sense that his word should be written in gold. He goes racing at least four times a week and prefers midweek to a Saturday. Clive bets on the racecourse only, not in the shops. Like many of the successful punters, William Hill closed Holts account in 1978. Coral soon followed suit closing his account as well. He admits it is difficult these days for him to place a bet.

Clive Holt has come a long way since the day in the past when a friend of his told him The Holt was running at Ally Pally. His friend suggested that he back him. In the more than 30 years that have past since that first day, Clive has made a comfortable living. Holt attributes his interest in betting back to his father. His father kept a couple greyhounds in the 1960's and showed his son that there was money to make in betting on them. The first business principle Clive Holt learned about punting was that betting in singles was a fairly easy way for him to make a profit.

Free Horse Racing Tips, Click Here!By March of 1975 Clive had realized he was ready to punt full time. No need to work anymore just bet. He mainly was betting in doubles, trebles, and the likes of those. Clive himself will tell you his approach was haphazard at best. His pockets dictated what he could and couldn't bet on.

When Holt was starting out, he did not keep proper records of the bets he made. He only worked on a week to week basis. He usually was only able to keep the same amount coming in as he had going out. Thus he was left with the same amount to bet weekly. He really had no way to track the percentage of return he was making. This did bother him so he decided to finally do a thorough job and track all bets. This was the first time he treated his hobby of betting as a business venture.

Thinking back Clive said, "It probably had the greatest influence on my future success. As the figures and the percentages built up before me, it was clear that I was becoming more and more analytical." With the figures in front of his face he could see he was clearing almost 50% profit on an outlay. Had he bet on singles, he would have cleared a bit over 60%. With this fact, and the fact that there were fewer singles available he figured he should increase the outlay on single bets. Importantly, he had shorter losing streaks and was more in control of his money.

His second business venture that he applied to make a difference and net a better profit was setting up his betting bank. It took Clive seven years from the first day he stepped into Haydock Park to feel confident enough to bet full time and quit his day job. Clive recalls, "I set off for Chester on the 6th May 1975 in a new Ford Ghia Capri, in a new suit and in a new job. My first bet was £67 to £30 on Western Jewel with Roy Christie on the rails down to a ticket number. The horse won by two lengths and was never in any danger."

That was the beginning of a streak that Holt himself was surprised with. In the following six weeks he would make more money than he did in a year working with the Electricity Board. Betting has been a very rewarding career for Clive. He claims he's never been a big time hitter. Holt usually does not hit more than £1,000 at a time but with the rather modest start he had, it is clear he has grown greatly as a skilled punter.

Clive himself will admit that he has enjoyed the success of betting he has become accustomed to and his tangible belongings can show anyone that. He has such items as, Lotus, Jaguar, De Tomaso, Pantera, BMW's, and many other luxury cars. Winter holidays in the Caribbean, Africa, Australia, America, Israel, Hong Kong, Singapore and the Canaries - plus the Mediterranean of course. It has provided his wife and four children with a Listed Georgian Country House complete with Coach House and Stables, set in acres of parkland, close to the norths major training centre.

Clive will be the first person to admit he knows that had he not quit his job jointing electricity cables to bet full time, most of his worldly possessions would not have been obtainable. His life would have been woven on a much different cloth. Surprisingly, Holt has never had the desire to bet purely to have an interest in a race per say. He claims that he would not have a problem not placing another bet ever if he could find another, equally rewarding and challenging career.

When asked what advice he would give to the new professional's apprentices he said, "One vital ingredient for successful punting is that you've got to be confident that your selection can win. Horses with good recent form, preferably winning form, running against limited opposition within their class, when at their peak, progressing or improving - do win the majority of races, all year round. They are a constant source of winners for anyone to exploit. Almost every winner worth backing falls into this category which is broadened even further by the four Pros: PROVEN, PROGRESSIVE, PROMISING and PROFITABLE

Bad day at the office?

It seems the results are not going the way of many backers of late. If all else fails I can lend you my Do Not Disturb Sign. Take comfort in the fact that you are in good company because every successful gambler has days they would rather forget. Take a read of these sobering stories of bets gone bad.

Don't do it, Dave!

You know that feeling, when you've bet a bit more than you meant to? Dave Nevison, the well-known professional punter and hugely entertaining columnist in the Racing & Football Outlook, was in that position for the William Hill Trophy at the 2007 Cheltenham Festival.

He'd done a couple of spread bets that covered the whole Festival, buying favourites and selling total SPs. In essence, that meant that he would win money if favourites did well and if the odds of the week's winners added up to a low total. If favourites fared poorly and a number of big outsiders won, he would be in trouble.

The very first race was won by a 40-1 shot, which was pretty bad news, but it got a lot worse in the William Hill, the fourth race on day one. In addition to his spread bets, Nevison had had substantial wagers on two of the co-favourites, Juveigneur and Distant Thunder, so his position on the race was firmly established. All his eggs were piled on top of each other in the one basket.

It nearly ended well. Juveigneur and Distant Thunder seemed to have the race to themselves on the run-in but, in one of those finishes that only Cheltenham can produce, both were run down in the final stride by Joes Edge, a 50-1 shot.

The short-head by which victory was achieved cost Nevison £46,000, thanks to the various combination of bets he had placed. "I felt as if I'd soon be looking for a false beard and a cheap ticket to Paraguay," he wrote in his autobiography, A Bloody Good Winner. It didn't come to that – incredibly, he ended the week in profit.

It is never a good idea to put yourself in a position where you have basically backed the same outcome in a variety of different ways and will suffer horribly if anything else happens.

What would Sigmund say about this? 

The late Clement Freud has many fans among followers of racing, having written entertainingly on the subject over many years. But we may never have heard of him if the 1949 Gold Cup had gone the wrong way.

Freud had just become manager of a hotel in Devon. On the morning of the Ascot race, a wealthy customer asked him if he had a bookmaker (which he had) and then asked if he could place a bet for him — £100 on Benny Lynch at 100-1.

Benny Lynch was one of two pacemakers for Alycidon and therefore, Freud felt, had no chance. He stuck the money, the equivalent of eight weeks' pay to him at the time, in his pocket and called it an easy profit.

But Raymond Glendenning's radio commentary frightened the life out of him. As Freud recalled it, Glendenning said at one point: "Benny Lynch is 15 lengths ahead and shows no sign of slowing down," following up shortly after with: "The lead is down to 10 lengths but he doesn't look like getting caught".

If Benny Lynch hung on, Freud would owe his guest £10,000, no small sum now but a serious bundle of hay in 1949. He reckoned it was "20 times the average reason for jumping off Beachy Head".

Glendenning's judgement was off by a mile, if his commentary has been accurately relayed by Freud. After helping to force the pace, Benny Lynch was swept aside by Alycidon with more than half a mile to go, but in the meantime a valuable lesson had been learned. Freud vowed to take gambling more seriously.

That resolution would presumably resonate with anyone who ever laid a big-priced winner on Betfair. A backer by temperament, I can understand why someone might lay outsiders as part of a balanced book on a race, but it is beyond me why dramatically inflated odds are available about the outsiders on Betfair.

For example, it is baffling that anyone would want to lay Soldatino at more than 300-1 for the Triumph Hurdle (a bet struck by the very shrewd Mr Hayler) when the horse hadn't yet run in this country and there was no sensible way of gauging his chance. If someone wants to back the horse, you can bet that he's not beaten yet. It can always go wrong.

I wouldn't advise any friend of mine to do this!

I've heard of some dumb bets but this one takes the Terry Ramsden Award for Profligate Punting. It concerns a former colleague (I can't use his real name, so he may as well be Terry) who got paid £1,000 one Friday afternoon for his part in a project we'd recently finished. It had been hard work and it was nice to have the money but we all needed it and had certainly earned it.

Terry went out and got smashed. At about 1am, he called me asking for the number of an all-night bookie. He wanted to get a bet on Vallée Enchantée for the King George at Ascot the next day and he wasn't sure he'd be awake in time for the race.

If I were a good friend, I'd have gently found a way to talk him out of it, but I must be a rotten friend because I pulled a plastic card out of my wallet and gave him a number. He sounded really grateful.

Bookies make it easy for you to give them your money but it's still impressive that Terry was able, while hammered and calling from some noisy bar, to open an account and place a large bet. He was still able to make himself understood at 2am, when he phoned up to put a bit more on, and again about an hour after that. By this time, Terry had bet the entire grand he'd been paid just hours before. He'd been excited about this horse all week, for reasons I can't recall, but it still seems unlikely he'd have risked that much if, say, he'd spent Friday night at home with a pizza.

Incredibly, he was given a chance to get out if it. At about 10am, his bank called to report some unusual activity on his account - had he authorised a £1,000 transfer to a bookmaker? Knowing he'd done a silly thing, Terry nevertheless took the honourable course and confirmed that he was the sort of mug who placed bets while normal folk were asleep. Unexpectedly conscious, he managed to get himself to Ascot, where we stood by the paddock, looking from the majestic Doyen to Vallée Enchantée, who looked almost as green as Terry.

By this point, he knew what was coming and stood up to it like a man. Others might have tried desperately to lay it off but, like a sinner accepting his punishment, he went meekly to the grandstand to meet his fate and turn himself into a cautionary tale.

If, having read this, you can struggle through life without getting sloshed and calling up your bookie in the middle of the night, Terry's grand will not have been lost in vain.

Chris Wall's two-year-olds for 2011

Chris Wall's two-year-olds for the 2011 season. 
2 y-o's

ALECO b.c. Sahkee(USA)-VanishingPoint(USA) Ms A Fustoq

BASSARA(IRE) b.f. Oasis Dream-Sauvage(FR) Ms A Fustoq

BELLE MADEMOISELLE b.f. Monsieur Bond(IRE)-Belle de Jour P G & P T Kingston

CHARITY BOX b.f. Haafhd-Bible Box(IRE) Mr John E Sims/Mr M Sinclair

FARHANA FOREVER b.f. Haafhd-Farhana Ms A Fustoq

FLAG IS UP b.c. Dr Fong(USA)-Rainbow Sky Follow The Flag Partnership*

HARD ROAD b.c. Cape Cross(IRE)-Ivy League Star Ms A Fustoq

INTENSE PINK b.f. Pivotal-Clincher Club Mr D S Lee

MAGIK MAGGIE ch.f. Deportivo-Sasperella Mr Philip Milburn

MELLOR b.c. Echo of Light-Lumiere d'Espoir(FR) David Andrews Plastering*

NORFOLK SKY ch.f. Haafhd-Cayman Sound FarandWide Partners*

SILVER LACE(IRE) gr.f. Clodovil(IRE)-Rockahoolababy(IRE) The Equema Partners*

WORLD CLASS ch.f. Galileo(IRE)-Out West(USA) Ms A Fustoq

ZE KING b.c. Manduro(GER)-Top Flight Queen Ms A Fustoq

ch.f. Speightstown(USA)-Nature's Magic(USA) Pearl Bloodstock Ltd

Professional Gamblers: Freddie Williams

Scottish born and bred: a fearless wild cat 
Picture it, its November 2005, the location, Cheltenham racecourse, time, about an hour prior to the first race of the day, its opening day of the Paddy Power Gold Cup meeting. Under a grey sky with steadily dropping temperatures the crowd gathers thru the gates. In the betting circles, the bookies are pitching. Pompous men such as Barry Dennis, noticeably having his leaving the provision to his people, flings louder enquiries back and forth. Gregory and John Hughes are there; Andy Smith and John Christie are there; Mickey 'The Asparagus Kid' Fletcher, face like a 'Wanted' poster, scowls from the sidelines. But Scotsman Freddie Williams, a famed drama actor, hasn't yet arrived.

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

Freddie delaying his entrance sits comfortably in his Jaguar hundreds of yards away in the members' car parking lot. 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.

Free Horse Racing Tips, Click Here!At the Cheltenham Festival in March 1999, JP McManus, the Sundance Kid of racing legend, has a colossal £100,000 each way at 7/1 on his own horse in the Per tempts Hurdle Final. This wasn't some transaction by chance. It was a very deliberate, planned action in the 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.


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


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.

The Gambler's Book Club

I am always interested in gambling-related books and as usual our friends over the pond are much more advanced in their sporting publications and cutting-edge research. My brother, Tony, mentioned the Gambler's Book Club.

He has purchased a number of titles from them over the years. I am hoping to get a few publishers or book selling businesses to give a book or two as prizes for a plug on High Class Equine (HCE). If you are interested in a Free link on our homepage (which is worth a couple of hundred pounds of anyone's money) then get in contact and we will throw in a posting dedicated to your business, author or publication(s). Have a look at the Gambler's Book Club as they have a comprehensive range of titles covering many subjects.

Gambler's Book Club is one of the most famous gaming institutions in Las Vegas—and with more than 3,000 titles, the largest gaming book store in the world. During its 47-year history as the reigning authority on gambling publications, the GBC has hosted numerous book signings by internationally famous gaming authors, including Nick Pileggi, author of Casino and Wise Guys; thoroughbred handicapper Andy Beyer, author of The Winning Horseplayer; Ken Uston, author of Million Dollar Blackjack; and poker legend Amarillo Slim, author of Play Poker to Win.

Through the doors of the GBC have passed virtually all the legends of gambling. On any given day, you might find poker legend Doyle Brunson talking about his book Super System or the exploits of his life in the rough and tumble days of yore, or handicapping icon Lem Banker chatting with gambling historian Howard Schwartz, famed consultant and figurehead of the GBC. Casino owners Steve Wynn, Jackie Gaughan, and Jack Binion have purchased books on casino management, surveillance and customer service. Ex-mobsters, FBI agents, best-selling authors, legendary screenwriters such as William Goldman (who wrote the screenplay for Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid), and gaming researchers regularly shop here. The GBC was even credited in the hit movie Rounders.

John and Edna Luckman founded the Gambler’s Book Club in their home in 1964 as a hobby. They started with 18 titles on gambling that they sold through mail order. When John retired as a floor person at the Tropicana, they rented a storefront on Charleston near Main in Las Vegas. The Luckmans began publishing gaming books soon after opening the GBC, including several titles that John wrote—a library that eventually would number more than 250 works. Their company, GBC Press, published the first hold’em poker book in 1976, David Sklansky’s seminal work, Hold’em Poker, and the first pai gow poker book ever. John Scarne, Walter Gibson, Sonny Reizner, and the great Harry Houdini are just a few GBC Press authors. Later, the store was renamed Gambler's Book Shop so that shoppers wouldn't think they had to join a club, but we have restored the original name to Gambler's Book Club.

Today the shop is aligned with Cardoza Publishing, the world’s largest publisher of gambling books—bringing together two legendary brand names. New proprietor Avery Cardoza says, “I wanted to revive the luster and nostalgia of the GBC in its glory days and at the same time bring it in line with the modern era.” The GBC now features its widest selection ever of gaming titles, DVDs and software, and has added accessories such as cards, dice, gaming felts, memorabilia—plus a wide range of biographies, Vegas interest items, games such as chess and backgammon, and Mafia titles.

After more than 30 years on Charleston and 11th in Downtown Las Vegas, the GBC recently moved to a more appealing location, replete with wood floors and bookcases, with memorabilia tucked into every nook and cranny. The GBC is about three miles east of the Strip at 5473 S. Eastern Ave, Las Vegas NV 89119 (between Tropicana and Russell, two blocks from Wal-Mart). Store hours are 9 till 7 Monday-Friday, and 10-6 on Saturdays.

Next time you’re in Las Vegas, come visit the most famous gambling store in the world. You never know what gaming celebrity you’ll run into!
Here is a book review:
Taking a Calculated Risk or Just Gambling? Fantasy or Fiction?

In Sports, Dana T Smith Added on: 10/08/2010

Suppose you decide to risk $100,000 at gambling. Would it be better for you to wager your wad on betting sports or investing in the stock market? The answer Elihu Feustel and George Howard give in their book, Conquering Risk: Attacking Vegas and Wall Street, (280 pgs, $24.95), may surprise you. I would be hard pressed to find a book on the ins and outs, the how-to and the how-not-to of gambling at sports or stocks that is more intelligent or lucid.

The authors adeptly explain the concepts of trading and risk management in gambling, but they don’t stop short of the goal line: They investigate strategies for winning your bets on the NFL, WNBA, MLB, and NCAA football with mathematical formulas to guide you. Although I am math-challenged, I could still understand and follow their reasoning. Five sports betting models—black box, handicapper success, NFL point-based, WNBA efficiency-based, and baseball runs scored—are clearly outlined, followed by MLB conversions and NCAA football conversions analyses. Departing from academics and how-to advice, Feustel and Howard insert colorful and helpful personal experiences and newsworthy stories from the headlines in shaded boxes that do not distract readers from the flow of the dialogue.

“Wall Street is tougher and nastier than sports betting” is the lead sentence in the section on stocks, titled “Stock Betting” rather than “investing.” Contrasting stocks and sports, stock market wagers have the advantage of a lower average house edge. But don’t let that fool you—sports wagers have two key advantages over betting stocks: real transparency and a lower level of opposition. It is far easier to find out everything you want to know about a team’s capabilities (stats are plastered all over the web, and sportscasters debate ad infinitum 24/7) than it is to discover the true colors of a large corporation (whose financials can easily be doctored). Therefore, the authors conclude, “If you are both mathematically inclined and motivated to learn, sports betting is likely far safer and more profitable.”

This book is a gem that I wholeheartedly recommend to people who want to rise above the crowd by taking intelligent risks in their life, whether at sports, stocks—or yes, even love and occupational choices.

Stephen Nover, author of Winning Fantasy Football (275 pgs, $14.95), has won a warehouseful of fantasy football championships, including several head-to-head titles in ESPN and Yahoo leagues. After claiming that fantasy football is the greatest thing that’s happened to pro football fans in the last ten years, the author moves right along to the seven basics of fantasy football—from assembling a league and choosing a commissioner to setting up a schedule and compiling scores—to different types of leagues, explaining each in detail (head-to-head, rotisserie, salary cap, and keeper).

Nover takes you through the how-to of drafting stars to build a winning team; improving your team through trades, pickups, and the waiver wire; and finding sleepers. If you’re lucky enough to make it to the playoffs, you still need to be flexible, he warns. Although you’d like to stick with the “studs and starters who got you that far, you almost always have to do some minor tweaking with your lineup.” Then he advises how to prepare for the playoffs using “contingency” thinking.

Ragging on himself, Nover admits that he used to play fantasy basketball, baseball and football, but gave up baseball when his girlfriend abruptly packed her bags and left after waiting too long for him to tear himself away from the computer. “It’s called getting a life,” he says. If you want to put more life into your football gaming, this book is a well of information with intelligently written advice and winning strategies.

Take a look at The Gambler's Book Club (click)

Saturday, 26 February 2011

H.C.E: be careful when making those early-season selections

From reading the views of  many professional gamblers it is revealing how often they contradict each other. While one religiously backs each way selections another says they wouldn't give them time of day. As I have always thought - there is no such thing as right or wrong it's just a matter of opinion regarding our own philosophy. In a sense we are all scientists testing our hypotheses in search of significant factors.

This post is about the potential difficulty of assessing early-season  two-year-old form.

HCE uses both form and statistics to make selections. In fact, we use early race declarations, jockey bookings, group entries, betting patterns and a veritable jigsaw puzzle of other factors which can be viewed on many levels.

It is important to appreciate that in the first few weeks of the season trainers are often none the wiser to where their juveniles feature in the pecking order of their string. It may take a number of runners to gain a basic understanding of what they have. However, Bill Turner is renowned for sending his best two-year-old  to the Brocklesby and why a disappointing effort may not bode well for his other early-season youngsters. It is also invaluable to realise - as I am sure you do - that most two-year-olds are priced by the status of their trainers. It is hardly surprising to see a Richard Fahey juvenile start favourite on debut compared with a horse trained by Dean Ivory. Although there are no guarantees, these are strong indicators that should be considered.

It is imperative that two-year-olds have attained a winning level of ability before being backed. For HCE, this is a basic starting point for all form horses. In many ways this can be quite an ambiguous point. In some cases this is quite an easy process, while others are perilously tricky. If you are not confident a two-year-old has attained a winning standard, then the only alternative is to wait and see how the form holds up over time. The mistake many people make is presuming the form of an individual horse is good enough when it hasn't been fully tested. Always be brutally honest when assessing form and bet wisely. Deal with the facts rather than concluding unrealistic improvement is forthcoming or simply hoping for the best. It is very important to know that a two-year-old has achieved a basic winning standard of ability rather than take faith that it may have been placed and conclude it is simply natural progression to go one or two better and win on its next start. Often these juveniles are favourites and get beaten. Why? Because they are not proven. I have a theory that many juveniles placed in the first few weeks of the season should be viewed as potential losers rather than winners waiting to happen. Sure these candidates have fitness and valuable experience on their sides, which is normally a huge advantage. However, they have often competed in weak races - especially when contesting low-grade auction races or run at northern courses. At times, a second or third placing simply identifies a juvenile who is likely to continue to struggle to win.

Early season can be a particularly difficult time for these type of horses and gamblers, too. Generally bigger more fashionable stables are best. Be particularly careful of smaller trainers with placed juveniles. If you can latch on to a decent form line in the first few weeks of the season you can make good money. However, it pays to be very careful when assessing form. Generally, the Brocklesby yields a number of winners. This is hardly surprising when the prize money is relatively high and being a Stakes race many individuals are to all purposes dropped in class when racing at maiden or auction level.It is also fair to say that certain trainers simply do not win with their debutantes because they are much better on their second start.

For HCE the early season is a very important time but also a time to be cautious. It can take a few weeks for basic form lines to appear and why statistical bets are more likely to bring about selections in April. I am very confident in the use of our statistical information which comes from our unique analysis. However, there is no substitute for considering each horse as an individual. I have statistics which tell me a horse may have an 80% chance of being placed. But that is no guarantee. Looking at the individual can make the difference between winning and losing.

Professional Gamblers: J P McManus

J.P. McManus can say among his closest personal friends are the greats like Tiger Woods. He himself is a millionaire several times over. How did he begin?

Well, his extraordinary fortune all began with a race. Originally from Limerick, he is now worth roughly £255m. Most of it has come from his various gambles and foreign currency trades. This makes him Ireland's eighth richest man. McManus now is living in Switzerland and has more than 100 racehorses which he mainly runs in jump races. He also holds a sizable share of Manchester United. In addition, McManus also co-owns the Sandy Lane Resort in Barbados, along with fellow millionaire and former Celtic's major shareholder Dermot Desmond. He got his first tastes of gambling as a schoolboy long before going to work in his family business.

It wasn't long before he got his own betting stand at Limerick's greyhound track. His early trials in the betting ring had earned him the nickname the Sundance Kid. Such is his pulling power that he managed to attract some of golf's biggest names to Limerick for his own tournament, the JP McManus Invitational Pro-Am.

Woods, David Duval, Tom Lehman, Lee Janzen, Colin Montgomerie and Mark O'Meara attended in 2000 along with a handful of lucky locals. The tournament itself and the celebrity auction afterwards raised a massive £13m for charity. In fact, McManus' is very generous when it comes to his local charities.

Many of McManus' most memorable exploits have involved his racehorses, especially at Cheltenham. McManus is a National Hunt supporter and his horses race in the green and gold colours of his home GAA club, South Liberties. His best-known horse Istabraq is the triple Champion Hurdle winner. The gelding, which now is retired, became a much-loved figure with Irelands racing fans.

McManus' greatest memory and moment in his racing career he admitted was "This is my greatest moment in racing," admitted McManus was when he won the first of his three Champion Hurdle races with Istabraq. McManus does have one regret, even with all his miraculous accomplishments in racing, he regrets that Limerick has not won an all-Ireland senior hurling title since 1973. So you see there are things that money just can not purchase

Stan Moore's two-year-olds for 2011

Berkeley House Stable

Stan Moore's two-year-olds for the 2011 season with horse photo links and recent juvenile blog comments.

Professional Gamblers: Paul Cooper

Biased Attitude
There is more than one way to skin a cat so the story goes, and being a professional gambler can be achieved in many different ways. Paul Cooper had his own unique way of gambling for profit, and he used his knowledge of draw bias at British racecourses coupled with an unusual bet called the Tricast to win over £400,000 on a number of bets at Thirsk racecourse.

Free Horse Racing Tips, Click Here!Cooper noticed before virtually any one else that horses drawn high over the straight sprint course at Thirsk appeared to have a distinct advantage. There are a number of racecourses with distinct draw biases around the country. Chester and Beverley probably being the most prevelant but the difference at Thirsk was that the bias was just as marked on fast ground as it was on soft ground. The reason for this was that the watering system at Thirsk left a lot to be desired, and it left a strip of ground next to the stands rail which was unwatered and therefore significantly faster than the rest of the track.

Cooper would perm those 5 or 6 horses drawn highest in tricasts, and therefore the ones who would be running on the favoured fast ground these 5 or 6 often included several complete outsiders and when his bet came in which it did more often than not the return was massive.

Cooper is certainly not a £10,000 win single guy, and is fascinated by the returns which you can get from multiple bets. He believes that the Lucky 15 is a value bet. A Lucky 15 is a Yankee (6 doubles, 4 trebles and an accumulator) plus 4 win singles. The major bookmakers normally often some form of concession with the bet. For instance if you only have one winner they will double the odds. So one 7/1 winner means that you will just about get your money back.

Here are Paul Coopers tips for successful betting on the horses:

1.Always stay cool, calm and collected when making a selection. Don't let your emotions affect your selection.

2.Only bet when you believe that you are getting good value.

3.Look to back horses with winning form, be very wary of maidens.

4.Concentrate on Sprint races the form is often more reliable than longer distance flat races.

5.Try and find a small competent yard to follow. You will get much better prices on their horses than those of the larger stables.

6.Don't back odds on favourites.

Ed McMahon's two-year-olds for 2011

One of my favourite trainers
Ed McMahon's two-year-olds for the 2011 season with picture gallery and website link. After the success of Temple Meads, John Fretwell has a number of new acquisitions.

Acclamation Unnamed Bay Filly (IRE) Sire: Acclamation Dam: Last Tango Owner: Mr J C Fretwell

Acclamation Unnamed Bay Filly (IRE) Sire: Acclamation Dam: Khalkissa Owner: Mr J C Fretwell

Artistic Jewel (IRE) Sire: Excellant Art Dam: Danish Gem Owner: Mr R L Bedding

Aussie Rules Unnamed Bay Colt (IRE) Sire: Aussie Rules Dam: Princess Clara Owner: Mr J C Fretwell

Choisir Unnamed Chesnut Filly Sire: Choisir Dam: Frigid Owner: Mr J C Fretwell

Dark Angel Unnamed Bay Colt (IRE) Sire: Dark Angel Dam: Brazilia Owner: Mr J C Fretwell

Dark Angel Unnamed Bay Colt (IRE) Sire: Dark Angel Dam: Silver Arrow Owner: Mr J C Fretwell

Dixie Union Unnamed Bay Filly (USA) Sire: Dixie Union Dam: I'm Right Owner: Mr J C Fretwell

Dr Fong Unnamed Bay Filly Sire: Dr Fong Dam: Bright Moll Owner: Mr A Buxton

Dutch Art Unamed Bay Colt Sire: Dutch Art Dam: Tesary Owner: Mr J C Fretwell

Elusive City Unnamed Bay Colt (IRE) Sire: Elusive City Dam: Prepare For War Owner: Mr J C Fretwell

Hawk Wing Unnamed Bay Colt Sire: Hawk Wing Dam: Chelsey Jayne (IRE) Owner: Mr A Ashley

Kyllachy Unnamed Bay Filly Sire: Kyllachy Dam: Look Here's Carol Owner: Mr S L Edwards

Lightning Jet (GB) Sire: Dutch Art Dam: Glint Owner: Petros Partnership

Pivotal Bay Colt (IRE) Sire: Pivotal Dam: Jewel In The Sand Owner: Mr J Coleman

Pussycat Dream (GB) Sire: Oasis Dream Dam: The Cats Whiskers Owner: Mr J C Fretwell

Verglas Unnamed Grey Colt (IRE) Sire: Verglas Dam: Dream State Owner: Mr J C Fretwell

Vespasia (GB) Sire: Medicean Dam: Agrippina Owner: Mrs F Williams

Vital Equine Unnamed Chesnut Filly Sire: Vital Equine Dam: Its Another Gift Owner: Premspace Ltd

Went The Day Well (USA) Sire: Proud Citizen (USA) Dam: Tiz Maie's Day (CAN) Owner: The LAM Partnership

Gallery: two-year-old talentes from 2011

Temple Meads - Winner of 2010 Mill Reef Stakes Group
2 & Winner of 2010 Weatherbys Super Sprint

Electric Waves winner of the 2010 Sodexo Prestige Cornwallis Stakes - Group 3

Visit Ed McMahon's website (click)