Thursday, 31 March 2011

Quick Note...

Just the one two-year-old race tomorrow: 2:20 Musselburgh

Five-Shot Bullet Points: William Haggas

Fury Trained by William Haggas
With horses from Cheveley Park Stud & Highclere Thoroughbred, William Haggas continues to be a trainer of note. With about 60 two-year-olds at Somerville Lodge stable, this could be a very good season. But what makes a winner for this accomplished trainer?
  • Juveniles do not attain the greatest win rate on debut
  • Debutantes priced 13/2 & less fair a little better but still struggle to win
  • Second time out is best for Haggas with a good win & place rate with fancied runners
  • Early season juveniles go on to win
  • Group entered juveniles are worth noting

Community Chest - Your 999/1 Shot Wins €5,000

Some people may say we have a monopoly on two-year-old racing but we are generous, too. OK, it's a slim chance. However, the Community Chest gives you a glimmer of hope to win €5,000. Follow the link below, leave a comment, and you could be the lucky winner. Here's hoping for a miracle! 

2:20 Leicester (31st March) - Result

A restricted median auction maiden for colts & fillies over 5f 2y.  This doesn't look the most competitive of heats. An open race that is difficult to call.

Jack Who's He comes from David Evans stable and one of the better 2yo trainers here. This son of Red Club is the most expensive of a cheap lot costing £9,000 as a yearling. Evans had the first two-year-old winner of the season, so they should have a line to this ones ability. If backed it would be encouraging.

Bill Turner is always noted as an early season trainer but can be rather hit and miss with his youngsters. Dougie Boy is already a gelding. He is relatively fancied on the exchanges, which is a positive. Turner's juveniles are usually fit and well prepared for their debut and that can be a huge advantage.

Gay Kellaway knows how to train a two-year-old horse to win on debut and Waybuloo, a bay filly by Balmont, is one for the shortlist. She originally had two declared for this race - the other with Jamie Spencer booked to ride. Whether that is a negative to this filly's chance only time will tell. A positive is that in the last few years her first 2yo runner has proven to have ability.

Alan McCabe sends out Dawn Lightning. His stable feature poor statistics for 2yo debutantes and unless heavily backed is probably best watched.

A difficult race to assess and a watching brief.

Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Monthly Newsletter

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Tomorrow's Action...

Just a quick note to say there is one two-year-old race tomorrow - 2:20 Leicester.

2:30 Lingfield (30th March) - Result

Miss Work Of Art is most likely to win. Fahey has nearly 60% (7/12) strike rate at Lingfield with his two year olds in recent years and this daughter of Dutch Art must have strong claims.

The main danger could be Choice Of Remark trained by David Evans. Owner Nick Shutts has had a few decent juveniles in his time (Scarlet Rocks, Vhujon etc). However, Evans has a poor strike rate at the course (5%) and that is a negative.

If there is a weakness in Choice Of Remark, it would be no surprise to see Fahey's 2yo start odds on favourite.

The others are best watched.

Update: James Millman said on Twitter:

''Despite bein a l8 april foal shes [Night Angel] not v big + would b the sharpest of r 2yos but ours norm improve 4 the run. on paper could b a hot race...''

HCE:  ''A nice performance from Miss Work Of Art, prevailing with authority after showing signs of inexperience. Difficult to know what the race is worth at present, although Fahey's has the potential to win again. Bill Turner's Launch On Line showed good speed but was soon struggling in the final furlong. Fillies are not the easiest to assess on looks, however, the second was quite lightly built.''

6:00 Wolverhampton (30th March) - Result

A restricted maiden auction for fillies costing £21000 or less. Considering the most expensive in the field, Aquasulis, cost 7000euros it is likely most of these individuals will be limited.

David Evans is represented by Aquasulis and Jettie. After winning the first two-year-old race of the season with Redair, his next few runners are likely to be in the spotlight and potentially under priced. Cathy Gannon was booked early to ride the former, so preference goes with the daughter of Titus Livius, although the betting will be the best indicator.

One of the trainers more likely to win on debut is Kevin Ryan, who has Hannagan booked to ride Nannerl. The mare, Orpendonna, was in the same ownership. In recent years, Ryan has been slightly disappointing considering he has a large string of juveniles. He always finds one or two decent prospects but many of his 2yo seem limited. Very few of his juveniles win when priced over 7/1 on debut and although credited as a trainer who can win on debut, his general strike rate is average. Although one of the more hopeful candidates this looks a race to tread careful.

Of the others, Queen Of The Hop cost 1,000gns. Stan Moore is a capable 2yo trainer. However, he doesn't have the best strike rate on debut and his juveniles generally run much better on their second start.

Early Ambition comes from a trainer (Andrew Haynes) who has juvenile winners on debut but is a difficult trainer to judge. Even though a cheap buy, her owners Diamond Racing Ltd are quite a canny outfit and one to note if heavily backed.

Mousie is one of the most interesting runners in the field for one reason - she had an entry for the Brocklesby Conditions Stakes. Clearly, running here, McCabe is taking an easier option and it could well be the case that this daughter of Auction House is limited. The major negative is that McCabe rarely wins on debut and for that reason there would need to be a lot of money for this runner to give any confidence. It is also intriguing why Robert Winston isn't riding, as he was booked in the early declarations. It might be the case that he would struggle to do the weight although he does ride at 8-3. As Nicky Mackay was booked to ride her in the Brocklesby, perhaps it is just a factor of McCabe being loyal.

Dijarvo is worth noting in the betting, although Tony Carroll doesn't have many two-year-olds win on debut.

A very difficult race to have any strong views and many of these will soon be running in plating class. This race looks to be a seller in everything but name.

A watching race.

Tuesday, 29 March 2011

I Have 100's of Trainers Hiding Inside My Mouse

Click to see what's in your mouse

With the click of your mouse you can see what is going on with 100s (and I mean several hundred) trainer websites, blogs & twitter links. Simple click on The Horse Trainer Website Directory and see what the all the fuss is about.

The only reason I made this facility is for HCE readers to take advantage of this great source of information. It took hours & hours to develop. It just sits there like a pink elephant because no one seems to appreciate that it exists.

Make my day and take a look. It's a one-stop website to more trainers than you can shake a stick at.

Couple of 2yo Races Tomorrow

Pleased to see a couple of two-year-old races tomorrow at Lingfield & Wolverhampton respectively. I will be up nice and early to review both races:

2:30 Lingfield
Premier Showfreight Yearling Bonus Scheme Maiden Stakes (CLASS 5) (2yo) Winner £2,047ATR
Standard 5f
6:00 Wolverhampton
Name A Race To Enhance Your Brand Fillies´ Maiden Auction Stakes (CLASS 5) (2yo) Winner £1,943ATR Standard 5f20y

Five-Shot Bullet Points: Saeed Bin Suroor

Go Go Godolphin
Few trainers have the opportunity of Saeed Bin Suroor. With some of the best bred two-year-olds in training he is always to be respected. But what makes a winner for this articulate man?
  • He features a decent win rate on debut (24% in last few years)
  • However, many are short priced and often under priced
  • Second time out statistics are very good although the majority win at prohibitive odds
  • Very good strike rate on all-weather courses: Wolverhampton, Kempton, Southwell & Lingfield 
  • Ted Durcan features an impressive points profit on all his rides 

HCE Snippets: 2YO Talk

George Baker

This year is massively important for us. Plenty of dreams tied up in the 2-year-olds. And in others. Belgian Bill and Humidor have just worked through the mist of early dawn. Two of the horses who can take us to the right places. I hope that there will be others emerging in the weeks ahead......

David Evans

Redair strikes first blow

Redair gave the stable' s two-years-old a boost by winning the first juvenile event of the year on the all-weather at Kempton. The daughter of Redback won by one and three quarter lengths in the hands of Cathy Gannon to give owners - Mid-Wales partnership of Sally Edwards and Jean and James Potter a winning start. Two of stables other two-year-olds Ciara Boo and Umph gained valuable experience from their first outing.

Richard Hannon

The two-year-olds are starting to come to themselves, and Andrew Tinkler's Wolfgang, a son of first season stallion Amadeus Wolf, looks a sharp sort who won't be long in making his racecourse debut. He worked well at Everleigh, bringing a smile to Jones's face.

Tinkler also has a nice Kyllachy two-year-old filly, Pretty Primo, who is a half-sister to Richard Fahey's top-class three-year-old Wootton Bassett.

However, Pretty Primo will take a bit longer, and Jones said:"We paid 120,000gns for her before Wootton Bassett won the Group 1 Prix Marcel Boussac at Longchamp on Arc day, and I think she might be worth a bit more now. Obviously, making her a winner is the number one priority, so we won't be any rush."

Tinkler also has an unraced three-year-old, who has strengthened up considerably during the winter. He goes by the name of Danehill Dante - yes, by Danehill Dancer - and he could be the type for one of those early maidens at Newbury or Newmarket next month.

Dubawi Gold is one of 12 horses that Andrew Tinkler of Eddie Stobart fame has in training this season with Hannon - "we have around 65 spread around and some lovely two-year-olds," said racing manager Tim Jones - but Richard jnr warned not to write off Vanguard Dream, who made the running for six furlongs. "He has run well and he would have needed that, but his day will come," he said.

Quiet Day - But we Still Won an Award!

A quiet day on the two-year-old front with no races today. The early season can be a little slow. There are a couple of races tomorrow on the all-weather at Lingfield and Wolverhampton, so that will be something to consider. The Brocklesby is getting closer by the day (2nd April) and we are looking forward to the race for two reasons: 1) For early season it is a race of merit. 2) We have an article published in this months Racing Ahead magazine (which should be out now). I have been lucky enough to have a number of articles published in Racing Ahead, usually pinpointing two-year-olds to follow. These selections have done very well.

I wonder if you noticed HCE won an award. Patient Speculation has awarded us Blog Post of the Week. Mark has a superb blog and his tipping is top flight with Level Stakes Running Total P/L: +28.30 pts in just a couple of months since starting. With Tips, Quotation of the Week, and the exciting Portfolio Lite, which is a superb initiative he has a blog that takes some beating.

Monday, 28 March 2011 Brocklesby Conditions Stakes (Preview)

For many the Lincoln is the emphasis of Doncaster's prestigious meeting. However, High Class Equine (HCE) takes pride in the Brocklesby Conditions Stakes. For us it heralds the start of the two-year-old race Flat season. Our top-ranked blog is dedicated to pinpointing the best juveniles in racing and why our race analysis for this year's Brocklesby Conditions on 28th March, 1:25 Doncaster, is one of the most popular blog posts we publish.   

To celebrate this traditional race, we highlight a number of talented two-year-olds which have not only won the Brocklesby but gone on to mark themselves as truly talented individuals.

HCE - Motivation

Before anything else, preparation is the key to success.

- Albert Einstein

Five-Shot Bullet Points: David Evans

On The Gallops
David Evans is a canny trainer and his two-year-olds are always worthy of note. With Redair winning the first two-year-old race of the season, he is bound to have a few more talented juveniles to come. But what makes this hard working trainer a winner?
  • Generally has a poor win rate on debut
  • Best juveniles run early season
  • Second time out, juveniles have much greater chance of winning, especially when 7/2 & less
  • Gambles are of interest
  • Two-year-olds are usually limited   

For the latest news visit David Evans' website (click)

Duffield, Dascombe, D'Arcy & Two Men Crying

His friend has gone for the tissues
No two-year-old racing today, so been trawling a few websites to see what the trainer's have to say. I found these few snippets which make interesting reading:

Ann Duffield Talks About Prize Money

Discussions about the tariff's are warming up ahead of the start of the flat. Richard Hannon announced that he will not be racing in any races below tariff, even abandoning his favourite local track Windsor, where Hannon trained winners are standing dish. Sheikh Mohammed has also announced that he (and all the Arab owners) will be supporting the tariff's and not running in any races which fall below their level. Ascot have immediately announced that they will do everything they can, to remedy the situation, acknowledging the importance of the Arab owners in horseracing. Mark Johnston has already thrown his hat in the ring by announcing he will stand by the tariffs, and major league owners such as Cheveley Park are also on board. The war on prize money is stepping up, and at this rate, providing not too many short sighted owners and trainers see the absence of the bigger yards as something of an advantage, the game of "rob the owners and run", played magnificently by some of the racecourses will be over.

When racetracks say they cannot afford to pay more in prize money, it is worth remembering that in the case of Arena Leisure they recorded that profits rose by over ten percent last year to 5.4 million while at the same time they managed to pay off 6.5 million in old debts. That's the equivalent of a whopping 12 million in profits. Furthermore, they also announced that the new five year, media rights deal beginning in January 2012 will yield 106 million pounds. Given that they have pocketed all or virtually all, the media rights payments so far, I think its probably safe to say we wont get any of the bigger amount either, unless we make a stand now. Racing is undergoing its biggest challenge to its future. There will be the odd occasion, in certain circumstances when it is necessary to run in a race one would prefer not to run in, but we must make those occasions a rarity.

Duffield Two year old Talk

A busy work moring for two year olds and routine cantering for the older horses. The grass canter was opened for use for the first time since last year, and all the horses really enjoyed going up the grass prior to working on the all weather. Seven pairs of two year olds worked upsides ridden by George, Phil Makin, Jimmy Bleasdale and James. They all went well and are making good progress. New owners Terry and Michael Mosess were here to watch their filly by Rock Of Gibraltar, Brian Woods arrived to see the filly he owns a share in "Oneniteinheavan" and went away wishing he owned a bit more in her, and David Barlow who used to own the enigmatic Dr Valentine (now retired) arrived to watch proceedings. William Wainwright has gone to Wolverhampton and is running in about half an hour, ridden by Phil Makin who knows the horse is a bit of a coward and, has his work cut out if he is to persuade him to put his best foot forwards. He has an engine but lacks the courage to use it fully.

Tomorrow will be another busy day, this time for the older horses, while today's youngsters take it a bit easier.

Paul D’Arcy

The two year olds are a super lot and we are looking forward to running them when they are ready.

Tom Dascombe

We now have all the entries in for the 2011 Five To Follow competition.

The highlights are that the most selected 2yo was the Majestic Missile ex Khawafi Colt, by the same sire as last year’s most selected 2yo, Ballista. This colt is part of the MHS 4×10 Partnership, which there are still shares available in!
The most selected 2yo filly was the Lucky Story ex Soft Touch, a half sister to Gentle Lord. This filly is part of the MHS 8×8 Partnership, which again there are still shares available in!

An Entertaining Blog Post From Robin Dickin 

Two Grown Men Crying!!

Autumm Spirit made up for some of her appalling behaviour at Leicester yesterday by easily winning her first race over fences. The 'ginger b***h' gives Darren the most horrendous time most days of the week, and all credit to him for putting up with her antics every single day (no one else wants to ride her!!).

As per usual getting the saddle (very small) and the tongue tie on proved to be a trial in itself for Darren & myself, but getting Charlie on was even more interesting (she had forgotten that she has been broken in for several years!). Undeterred though, Charlie gave her a peach of a ride and the mare jumped like a seasoned pro, coming to join the leader two out and going on to win by five lengths.

I would like to say she came home to cheering from the team, but I have no voice at the moment & Darren & Brian Wilson who owns her along with the rest of the Lordy Partnership were in floods of tears!!!

I am sure they will both be cross with me for revealing this,but tough! Its certainly an extra special feeling when you have also bred your horse, so we will let Brian off, and in Darren's case it was probably just relief that he does not have to ride her today!

Sunday, 27 March 2011

Five-Shot Bullet Points: Roger Charlton

Roger Charlton is a forward-thinking trainer as shown by his website, blog and Twitter communication. With a large string of two-year-olds and many an influential owner he is always likely to unveil a new, young talent. But what makes a winner for this talented trainer?

  • Generally a poor win rate on debut - best watched
  • However, juveniles priced 13/2 & less feature a fair strike rate
  • Second time out is best with fancied juveniles attaining a good win & place rate
  • He features quite a high strike rate in 2yo nurseries
  • Group-entered juveniles are worth noting   

Jockey Bookings, Late Non Runners & Switching Rides

They say knowledge is power. And if you're at the top of the tree you hear all the juicy gossip a long time before Joe Bloggs on the street.

Which leads me to yesterday's first two-year-old race of the season - 2:30 Kempton

I wonder if anyone noticed anything interesting about that event? Did the winner - Redair - catch your attention for more that one reason? Yes, it won. But that's only part of the story because if we had been in a privileged position - with our highly polished badge of knowledge - the result would have seemed much clearer.

What interests me about yesterday's race is how being a trainer, owner or even slightly connected to a given horse can garner huge advantage.

Looking at the early declarations for the 2:30 Kempton, Cathy Gannon was booked to ride all of David Evans two-year-olds; he originally had five entered but four were declared to run on the day. Gannon - either by choice or the trainers - decided to ride Seven Year Itch. This filly was quite well supported early in the day, probably because the majority of bettors considered she had the pick of the rides. However, later in the day this filly was uneasy on the exchanges and drift to double its odds, while Evans other entrant with Lee Vickers booked to ride was backed. With about two hours before the race, Seven Year Itch was declared a non runner.

I'm sure those in the know at Evans stable were smiling as they polished their badge of knowledge. It must have been gleaming by the time they realised Gannon had demoted Lee Vickers and was now sitting on the well backed second favourite, Redair.

Clearly, there is a period of time between knowing a horse is unlikely to run and it being withdrawn. It must vary quite considerably from one individual to the next. It must take even longer to reach the bookmakers and betting exchanges. There is nothing fundamentally wrong with this because these things happen: one moment a horse is sound and the next it is lame. But this period of information and how it is used can be a tool of advantage to those who are in a privileged position.

One specific incident that happened a couple of years ago stuck in  my mind. I will not mention the trainers name because this was truly an incredible event. This well known trainer had two horse entered to run in a race with Jamie Spencer booked to ride the more fancied of the two with the other weak in the betting as many punters considered he had the pick of the rides. Well, from huge prices the outsider was backed on the exchanges. Late on, Spencer's original ride was withdrawn and he replaced the other jockey, on this now very well backed horse, which by the off was a leading fancy. The horse won with ease. But what was amazing. And I still find it beyond comprehension, the trainer said when interviewed after the race that the non runner had never left the stables - but it was only declared a non runner hours later.

Oh, to be in a privileged position of power. Those people down there must look like ants from high in the clouds.

Saturday, 26 March 2011

2:30 Kempton (26th March) - Update

The first 2yo race of the season, over this turning  5f. It would be interesting to consider whether a few of these were considered for the Brocklesby on 2nd April? It is possible one or two may take that option after today.

Cathy Gannon was booked to ride all of Evans' juveniles at the early declaration stage and for that reason Seven Year Itch* is probably the best of his runners and certainly one of the more likelier types. However, Evans doesn't feature the best win rate with his debutantes and a race I will be watching rather than wagering.

Snowed In is already a gelding, and drawn on the extreme outside is a big negative. Moore commented on this youngster saying: ''Today sees our first 2nd old runner at Kempton - Snowed In. He is a straight forward little horse, does his job well and will run a nice race.'' Moore doesn't feature a very good strike rate on debut and unless very forward will struggle from his low draw.

A 2yo trainer worth noting is Mick Channon - with a huge string he is guaranteed to have a number of talented juveniles. His juveniles are very unlikely to win on debut if priced over 8/1, so the market is important. However, he does feature fair statistics with juveniles priced 13/2 & less  Lilygloves is owned by Channon and is one of the more interesting juveniles although she is probably but best watched today.

Bubbly Ballerina could be of interest - but only if strongly fancied in the betting. Alan Bailey's horses have been in good form of late and he can get one ready for its debut. The key to this chestnut fillies chances relate to her starting price. If fancied in the betting, she has place claims. One to keep an eye on but a drift in the betting wouldn't inspire confidence.

Bill Turner's He's So Cool is the most interesting runner. It would be a huge positive if Turner considered this for the Brocklesby because he generally sends his best 2yo to Doncaster. Owner, E A Brook has had a few talented juveniles in his time and won the Brocklesby with Sally's Dilemma on debut in 2008. Being a colt, and born in January, are both positives against a field of mostly fillies. Turner is likely to have this son One Cool Cat fit and ready and from a high draw could take advantage of this turning course. A good, professional performance will make a huge difference as many of these will struggle with the bend.

Very much a watching race.

* NR

Full result (click)

Summary: It will be interesting to see if the late non runner, Seven Year Itch, has any ability as it seems rather strange that Lee Vickers was booked to ride Redair, but was replaced by Gannon at the off. Intriguing. Bailey's Bubbly Ballerina was sharp and knew her job - but this was a two-horse race after a couple of furlongs.

Friday, 25 March 2011

HCE - The Home of Two-year-old Racing

HCE Welcomes 2011 Flat Season

Exciting times! Tomorrow sees the first two-year-old race of the season: a maiden at 2:30 Kempton. This is where the long, thrilling, successful season begins. I would like to thank all our readers and great blogging community for their support as we waited for this day to arrive. From this point HCE will be the ultimate 2yo blog. For daily updates by 11:30am we will pinpoint cutting-edge news and views. If you want to know that little bit more - then HCE is for you.

All Out To Win

Great to see Roy have a winner today. This is what he said:

15:50 Newbury Bui Zhu £400 win 9/2 1st

Made a good start 1st time over fences at Fontwell making all to finish 1st over 2m4 despite looking a little green at times. Well thought of by connections he was dropped straight into a competitive handicap over 2m6 here last November finishing 7 ¾ lengths back in 5th to some useful types. Probably given a bit too much to do that day sure to come on for that run and should appreciate the return to a smaller field here today. Dropped 2 lbs, Jumps well and is looks to be improving into a decent staying type. Should go well in this company.

Take a read of Roy's blog:  All Out To Win

What is Your View on Prize Money?

 With Richard Hannon suggesting to his owners not to race at courses with poor prize money (following in the footsteps of Sheikh Mohammed) how will such a potential boycott affect racing? What are your thoughts on prize money? Have your say!

Professional Gamblers: Steve Lewis Hamilton

This article was originally published a number of years ago in the Irish Sunday Independent. However, it is still a good read and brings further insight to the life and times of a professional gambler. For the latest news on Steve Lewis Hamilton visit his website.

The man who makes gambling a profitable livelihood

Picture a professional gambler. What do you see? Limo, designer suit, Monte Carlo, wire transfer, year-round tan, cravat. Cuban cigar, gold jewellery, Michael Caine.

Suggest this to Steve Lewis Hamilton and he’d probably crease himself with ironic laughter. This full-time backer has an altogether different pedigree. Try Vauxhall Omega, Chesterfield, anorak, open-neck shirt, wedding ring. The only similarity is that the accent is more the reality and less the myth.

Steve Hamilton has been making betting pay for well over a decade and while you are more likely to find him in Gortex at the gaff tracks than in a Gucci at Gstaad, he is doing one thing well. He is practising what he preaches. His record speaks for itself. Since he began backing horses full-time, he has beaten the bookie consistently every year. "Betting as a hobby is one thing, betting for a living is an entirely different matter", suggests Steve, betraying his South London origins with every syllable.

I suppose we have all fancied ourselves at betting, one time or another. All had a semi-idea about full-time punting. Usually after a winning run when we’re feeling a bit infallible: or when the travel or the boss is making the nine-to-five even more of a drudgery. Steve Hamilton actually bit the bullet.

Son of a docker, Steve was reared in Bermondsey, south of the Thames. "My father was a gambler. One of the old school who followed a jockey blind and believed you could never win gambling, but continued anyway. I started by putting my Dad’s bets on".

Steve went to a Comprehensive school and, when he left, took a few "bum jobs". He was a handy footballer, playing for Millwall and Orient reserves in his early twenties. In those days he remembers he was a gambler and a loser - just like everybody else.

It was about this time he met Jane, now his wife and backbone. Her father was a publican and soon Steve found himself and Jane attempting to run two pubs in King’s Cross, attended by all the pressures and ills of that particular borough. Steve doesn’t elaborate but volunteers, "it was a nightmare, and how we survived it is still a mystery, but we knew that if we lived through that we could handle anything".

After ridding himself of that albatross, Steve began working early-mornings at Smithfield’s Meat Market: marked the board in the local betting shop in the afternoon: and kept a hand in with the soccer by coaching youngsters in the evenings.

Although he didn’t know it, Steve was already on his betting path to Damascus. His inspiration wasn’t so much a flash as a slow awakening, helped along by some sound advice from the betting-shop manager. Steve identifies what inspired the metamorphosis from regular loser to winner. "I started to write down my bets and keep a record. Gamblers always remember the winners and forget the losers. Writing and recording all bets highlighted stupid mistakes and caused me to be more selective. This selectivity was my first step".

His record began to show consistent profit. An average profit of £60 sterling per week off a £50 maximum stake whilst paying tax became a lively tributary to the family kitty. He wasn’t slow to deduce either that if he multiplied the stake by ten, then logically he should clear £600 a week and not £60. By betting on-course he could also strip away the 10% tax.

He was in his mid-twenties when he discussed these possibilities with Jane who offered her full support. They realised the risks - not just financial, but also the commitment of time and the potential domino effect on a marriage. The resistance of the sensible parents -in-law to any such cavalier act was also at work. In addition, they acknowledged that for the plan to work, a Smithfield morning income would never sustain betting in monkeys (£500). They would need a bankroll.

If you never ask you never get, and so they were granted an unsecured £10,000 loan from the Lloyd’s Bank. Whether or not the true requirement for the cash was revealed on the application form has been retired into Betting Mythology.

"I got off to a flying start. In my first week I won £4,000! The second £1,500". For the next two years Steve combined early morning Smithfield with afternoons at the racetrack, Study, analysis, travel, work - the biggest difficulty involved finding time to sleep and also for daughter Elizabeth who was now three. Steve saw others making it pay full-time , notably John Gough, known for a spell on the Irish circuit.

Inevitably, he removed the Smithfield safety-net to go 100% professional gambler.

Steve began to do ‘nixers’ for some big players in the betting ring who paid him a retainer to mark their card. These proved a handy supplement and acted as ready expenses money. In year one as a full-time backer, Steve netted a £65,000 profit. Every year since has shown a positive return.

Hamilton is under no illusions that hard work and dedication keep him in profit. And in business. His day starts with the formbook around 5.30. In the evening "I work till my eyes hurt - I know I need on average six-and-a-half hours sleep". Ten to twelve o’clock in the morning see him combing through the early morning prices for any jutting value.

During this time he is on the phone to yards, moles, connections, Incoming calls are usually from bookmakers who have taken money for a horse and seek Steve’s opinion before deciding their next move. Then it’s racing in the afternoon, usually at the racecourse, followed by a return to the books with tomorrow’s declarations. Evening meetings and Sunday racing ensure Steve never lifts his head. "The downside of it all is that it’s never ending - you need a break but then you’re frightened to take one!"

I ask the question every punter wants the short answer to. "What is the secret?" And needless to say, there is no short answer.

"There are no short-cuts - I wish there were! Winning consistently requires hard work and dedication. Taking that as given, then everything else revolves around value". Value is a word that repeats itself regularly during our conversation.

''In simple terms, this means not backing horses that are underpriced. If you consistently back realistic 2/1 shots at even money, in the long run you will lose. A concept every punter must accept is that every runner in a race has a chance of some sort, however small, and I have the ability to reflect that chance accurately in odds. I am not correct 100% of the time, but neither are the bookmakers. Identifying such bookmaker errors is one of the principal factors on the road to successful betting. I price up every runner in every race where I intend to bet".

In January 1995, Steve began a racing advisory service which to date, reflects a consistent profit for his subscribers. "My unique selling point is my integrity. To my knowledge, I am the only service operating who actually makes a living from betting full-time". Living the message.

Sitting in central London, Steve Hamilton discourses on about a passion that consumes 24 hours of almost his every day dressed in Joe Bloggs clothes, glasses and haircut. Defeating the popular image of the pro; a living antithesis to the Gambler Myth. His name is certainly not Michael Caine and now a lot of people know that.


Thursday, 24 March 2011

Hannon slams prize money cuts

Richard Hannon has thrown his champion trainer's hat in the ring in support of Sheikh Mohammed when making a forthright stance over prize money levels and claiming that unless racecourses honour the Horsemen Group's proposed race tariffs which will be introduced in Britain on Saturday week he will recommend his owners swerve these tracks, beginning with his beloved Windsor meeting 48 hours later.

Hannon, who has been leading trainer at Windsor on numerous occasions and has a huge following with punters at the regular Monday evening sessions through the summer, especially with his two-year-olds, labelled the prize money cuts as "disgusting" and claimed that the likes of Arena Leisure and Northern Racing "are taking the Mickey".

He said:"I am not one to get involved in racing politics, but the time has come to make a stand and I fully agree with the Godolphin team that radical action is required.

"It costs on average between £16,000-£17,000 a year for an owner to have a horse in training, and with these cuts the powers-that-be are simply driving them out of the sport.

 "Windsor is one of my favourite tracks and I don't miss many Monday nights there, but unless my owners insist on me entering their horse I will be opting out of the first meeting there and, if things don't change, we could continue to be absentees.

"Ian Renton, the racing director of Arena Leisure, is hanging on to the coat-tails of the Racing Post Yearling Bonus scheme, and he is abusing the system. He seems to forget that it is the owners who pay for the bonus scheme in the first place, so, while he continues to cut prize money at his courses, the owners are left to try and win their own money back with the bonuses in the juvenile races.

"Windsor has been a lucky course for us and I have not taken this decision lightly, but we are getting the rough end of the stick and sometimes you have to say 'enough is enough'."

HCE Motivation

"The only real mistake is the one from which we learn nothing."

- John Powell

Betting Golden Rules


Readers occasionally criticise tipsters for tipping against a player or team we have already recommended backing for long-term success.

This is most common in snooker and tennis. For instance, we may have advised a bet on Andy Roddick to win Wimbledon but, come his quarter-final match, have reached the conclusion that the value lies with Roddick's opponent and advocated a wager on him instead. "What is that all about?" the reader will demand. "If you tipped Roddick at the start you can't start riding another horse halfway through the race."

Why not? If, subsequent to our original advice, Roddick's last-eight foe has shown better form and is overpriced it would be remiss of us not to advise getting on the best-value player.

So it is with everyone's punting. Each event has to be analysed using the most up-to-date information available and should not be clouded by an earlier trade on the same event.

In other words, if you have backed Mill wall to win the Championship, you are not obliged to stick by them come what may. On a match-by-match basis they may represent what you consider to be value - this should be especially true in the early part of the season given that, if you dispute the bookmaker's assessment of the team's long-term prospects you are also likely to disagree with their match prices - but you should not wear blinkers that lead you to the conclusion that they will always be value or, indeed, are never worth opposing.

Evaluate each proposition on its current merits. Be prepared to admit an earlier long-term wager you struck may have been wrong.

Stubbornness and intransigence are characteristics no successful punter possesses.


Just as bad as not backing a winner that you fancied is not backing a winner because you let someone either talk you out of making the bet or, worse, still, into backing something else.

It is interesting, if not always beneficial, to hear the views of others on a betting event you have an opinion on. Sometimes you will pick up a key point you had overlooked. Other times you will hear a theory you disagree with, thus strengthening your belief that you have made the right choice.

What you should never do is fall into the trap of believing the person whose view conflicts with yours is probably right.

If you have confidence in your judgement you will be immune from this pitfall, but there are times, especially when you are on a bad run, when you are vulnerable to latching on to someone else's opinion in the belief that they are probably in better form than you.

This is a particular risk when the person expresses his views in vehement tones. If you find yourself sold on a proposition other than the one you were planning to back simply because you are impressed by the way the person is stating his case, you should switch off and stick to your guns. Oh, and don't answer the door to salesmen. You are probably just the sort of person who would be coerced into spending a fortune on a set of encyclopedias.

The best punters quietly go about their business without telling the whole world who they fancy and why.

Money Talks...Welcome to the World of Mrs Fitri Hay

If you had all the money in the world, which horses would you buy? From reviewing the Horses In Training 2011 publication you would have to consider that for some wealthy owners money really is no object. Bring in Mrs Fitri Hay. This is just a small selection of her most expensive 2yo with a few of our favourite trainers:

Paul Cole
Cardinal Walter (IRE) £134,849
Macdonald Mor (IRE) £110.000
Minimise Risk £410,000
Pink Damsel £600,000

Tom Tate
Beyond Conceit (IRE) £250,000
Keep Swinging (IRE) £210,702
Key Appointment £150,000
Mean It (IRE) £168,562
Thane Of Cawdor  £280,000

Patient Speculation

2:1O Chepstow - 11/2 WINNER

The Beauty of Backing 2 Year Old Thoroughbred Racehorses

I found this article on OggBlog and it's worth a read.

I FINALLY met up with The One-Armed Man, something Dr Richard Kimble, better known as David Janssen, failed to do in 120 episodes of the classic American television series The Fugitive. Kimble, some of you may remember, was sentenced to death for a crime he didn’t commit, managed to escape when the train transporting him to a maximum security prison was de-railed, and spent the rest of his life – well, all of the series – trying in vain to track down the real killer, The One-Armed Man.

However, the one-armed man I refer to is a semi-professional gambler who lives in Wolverhampton and frequents the Midlands tracks. I hadn’t seen him in about five years but we still share something, apart from three good arms! That’s a love of two-year-old races.

I had schlepped to Leicester to back a juvenile at the bookies raceside in the first and he was there, perusing the runners in the paddock. We both agreed that the only danger – a Michael Bell debutant to be ridden by Jamie Spencer – was extremely edgy in the paddock and looked very green and inexperienced on what was his first visit to a racecourse.

I’ve been going racing for several decades but I must admit my paddock judgement is pretty naff. The only thing I can really tell is whether a horse is totally unfit. But, as everyone else, can see that a horse if fat or ‘gone in its coat’ it doesn’t give me much of an edge.

The one-armed man, though, fancies himself as a bit of a paddock expert although in my view only those closely connected with the horse can really know whether a horse is fit or not. Some horses carry more condition than others – and might not look as fit as others in the field, but that’s just the way they are.

The only thing I inspect is the form book. And if a horse has some decent form in the book then it gives it a massive edge over rivals who haven’t raced. A run will give a previously unraced two-year-old a big advantage. My selection was a good second in the first two-year-old race of the season, the Brocklesby, at Doncaster and proved too good for his rivals, all of whom were unraced.

I know it’s a classic case of ‘after-timing’, but my theory will hold good for a good few months to come. Even after the season has settled down, I still feel two-year-olds offer punters the best chance of making some dosh. One key factor is that they are too young to have picked up any bad habits, like many of their elders, who need to be persuaded to put their best hooves forward.

Look at some races and you’ll see horses with blinkers, cheek pieces, tongue-ties and eye shields. Some trainers even resort to the last resort, getting their jockey to wear spurs although how the north London side can persuade anyone to win is completely beyond my (admittedly, limited) imagination!

Two-year-olds invariably give their running – and don’t have too many off days. They haven’t been soured by too much racing and, in the first few months of the Flat turf season, will only be racing over trips of five or six furlongs, which also makes punting a little easier, cutting out some of the variables.

But a few words of warning. I would advise you to steer clear of nurseries. They’re just handicaps for two-year-olds and are pretty tough to figure, in my opinion. And ‘my’ one-armed man told me once: ‘Don’t give a two-year-old too many chances’. I have taken that on board and once a juvenile has run three or four times without winning I rarely give him or her another chance. They might be the exception to the rule, but I’m not paying to find out. Of course, the reverse is also true. Some two-year-olds just keep on wining and winning. The best example of this is the sequence of successes by two youngsters trained by Newmarket-based Bill O’Gorman. He saddled Timeless Times (1990) and Provideo (1984) to 16 - yes, you read it right, 16 - straight wins apiece.

How he kept them on the boil or at least simmering throughout their long first seasons was a remarkable feat. Unsurprisingly, no one has got close since, but it doesn’t mean it will never be equalled or even surpassed although I doubt it.

Of course, two-year-olds grow up into the Classic generation in the following season and it’s interesting to watch them develop from green-as-grass youngsters to hardened professionals. In fact, following two-year-olds can give you a very clear picture of what might win the next season’s Guineas, Oaks and Derby.

Happy punting…

Hannon Stable Talk of First Two-year-old Runner

Richard Hannon has made our first two-year-old entry - Guava, a Kyllachy filly owned by the Middleham Park Racing syndicate who enjoyed such a brilliant 2010 under both codes - has sent ripples down the spine of everyone at Herridge and Everleigh, and, while the boss has not yet decided whether the youngster derfinitely runs at Kempton on Saturday - we made a flying start in the race last year with Takeaway - there is certainly an air of expectation around both yards as we prepare for the curtain to go up on the 2011 Flat season.

Art & Humour

Bad Horse Joke of the Week

A stallion and a mare where due to get married, but the stallion didn’t show up at the church. He got colt feet

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

2:30 Kempton, Saturday. Meet You Here...

The first British 2yo race of the season: 2:30 Kempton, Saturday. I'm not going to ramble on about the race. Just wanted to keep you informed, as you may have seen on my post it note (top right, that yellow thing). The early declarations show the usual protagonists: Bill Turner, Mick Channon, Stan Moore, David Evans has half the field! I will detail the race on Saturday although the start of the season is very quiet for HCE. We rarely bet horses making their debut (it can happen if we have a good, speculative bet or a talented juvenile against poor opposition) but, in truth, it is never the easiest of times to win a race. For much of April we like to get a feel for the season and appreciate those first threads of form. Early season can lead to two types of bets: very easy winners or complete disasters. The best bets speak for themselves. This years tips are going to very selective - good, strong, confident bets. It is all about steady progress. As always, thanks for your support.

Horses, Religion and Chocolate Biscuits

Blogs. They kind of have a life of their own, hey. Never really knowing where they will lead or who is reading each and every post. They say that walls have ears. Not sure what blogs have? Probably best not to venture down that blind alley.

I wonder what is the most amazing, strangest or craziest thing your blog has led to? I say that because HCE blog has been quite an adventure in ways. For instance, the only reason I write for the Racing Ahead magazine is because the editor saw our blog and asked if we would like to write on the subject of two-year-old racing.


These last two weeks have been kind of surreal. Firstly, I had an influx of religious bloggers start to follow HCE. I must admit that I did start this in ways because I noticed Patient Speculation had a religious follower (blog Well, I asked the gentleman if he would like to write about religion and gambling - how they kind of work together (or not). I received a polite email but sadly no article, which I thought would be a great read. Then I had two more religious followers (blog followers arrive) As there is nothing much religious about me, I began to feel a little nervous. One wrote me a comment, which I thought was great because I asked what was the difference between the Church of England having stocks and shares and me placing a bet on a horse. It's a sin, hey. Betting. Not that it bothers me because I know I am a good person whether heaven awaits me or not. I didn't really get a reply on that question but it was very kind of the gentleman to take the time to correspond about the general view of the Church and gambling. I still find it slightly unusual having religious followers (blog followers). I guess they find it strange having a gambling blogger following them. I wonder who will be converted first!

The way this week is going I will not think too much on that subject. You may have noticed I had a post about a 2yo horse stabled with a well known trainer (can't say his name as I may ruffle some feathers) and related to a popular brand of biscuits. I can't say their name (again) because I seemingly threw a spanner in their advertising campaign works. So much so, that the PR company sent me an email asking (politely) if I would remove the post. I have no problem with that at all and certainly didn't mean to cause them any problems, far from it. I only printed what I found on this particular trainer's website, so it is in the public domain. I didn't don my rocket backpack and fly over the said biscuit company research and development lab to peep at their wonka bar. Well, it was more the horses name that is meant to be hush hush rather than the biscuit itself. Fair dues to them. They have a job to do so it wasn't a big deal although I did like that post. I'm please HCE find these - fleeting - gems for our readers to enjoy. The PR company have been great and said they are going to send me some biscuits so I am more than happy. I had better not say any more as there is no doubt someone is watching and reading (well, I hope you are!). It's like George Orwell's 1984 all over again. I'm definitely a prole...but with posh biscuits.

So it's been a strange couple of weeks with horses, religion and chocolate biscuits. Best not think about next week, hey?

Professional Gamblers: Harry Findlay

Harry Findlay, a flamboyant and highly successful gambler, gives the impression that he can hardly believe his luck in owning a horse as good as Denman, arguably the most exciting novice chaser around. "He's got that sort of thing about him, people either want to take him on or they like him, and that's the sort of person I am. There's no middle, grey area with Denman, there's no grey area with me. It's a horse that suits my type of character."
The Paul Nicholls-trained six-year-old, unbeaten in three runs over fences, is a best-priced 4-1 favourite for the Royal & SunAlliance Chase next March and Findlay is in the happy position of having backed him at all rates down from 10-1. The last of the 5-1 disappeared a fortnight ago after a £50,000 cash bet was staked at a Ladbrokes shop in Doncaster.

Free Horse Racing Tips, Click Here!''I thought he was the wrong price at 5-1," says Findlay, adding that "a lot of the ones at the front of the market might not run."

Denman goes to Cheltenham on Saturday for what is expected to be his last run for two months, before a final Festival prep at Newbury in February.

His proud owner is in very upbeat mood. "Until he gets beat, he's a tank," he says. "I personally think that Paul Barber believes that he might have a horse he's always dreamt of."

Barber, who is Nicholls' landlord and has the other half-share in Denman, seems an unlikely partner for Findlay. The Somerset dairy farmer is the older man by 20 years, generally wears a lot of green tweed at the races and is very reserved in his dealings with the media - in short, he is exactly the kind of old-school type that might be expected to bridle at the presence in his yard of a plain-speaking, high-rolling punter.

"I can honestly say that but for a chance meeting through a mutual friend with Paul Barber at Doncaster Sales about five years ago, I doubt if I ever would have owned a horse," says Findlay. "We've since become good friends and his advice and knowledge have been great.

"Some of the first horses I bought with Paul for a minimal outlay have turned out to be such good value. It was only after the success of those type of horses I decided to take a chance with Desert Quest."

Even that £100,000 purchase now appears a bargain - Desert Quest has already won it back in prize money alone and there is little doubt that Findlay has made a substantial profit from his bets on the hurdler.

Almost all of his gambling is done through the leading betting exchange Betfair, for whom Findlay has given plenty of plugs in a string of interviews over the years, whilst referring to traditional bookmakers as "vermin".

"Most people believe I'm a walking advert for Betfair," says the 44-year-old and his expensive home near Bath would indeed seem to be evidence for the proposition that there is serious money to be made from his favourite website.

But he is tired of all this unpaid PR work. In fact, he has a major reservation about the way the exchange works and now, for the first time, he is happy to say so in public.

"I believe that Betfair have a moral obligation to get everyone down to 2% commission," he says, referring to the rake which the website takes from successful bets.

As a valued customer responsible for a consistently high turnover, Findlay himself pays just 2%, but the vast majority of users pay more, with most paying the standard rate of 5%. Betfair's principal selling point is that they offer better odds than can be found with the High Street bookmakers, but Findlay feels strongly that this is undermined by the high rate of commission that they charge.

"I talk about bookmakers not taking bets - well let me tell you now, on Betfair, no one can make a long-term profit paying 5% commission. I believe that it's nearly impossible to do it paying 4%.

"One of the main reasons why I'm pro exchanges is because of the moral argument. You can check how much you're losing, it stops the lies, there's no credit. But Betfair lets itself down by charging people between 5% and 2%, depending on how much they bet - which encourages them to bet more than they otherwise would.

"I have paid so far this year, to the start of this month, £714,000 commission, and I'm on 2%. I would rather pay 2.5% and have everyone pay 2.5% and give ordinary punters a chance.

"Betfair's been stagnant for years and they've lost the heart of what they were trying to do. They are starting to lose liquidity in many markets and they need to increase the percentage of people who win on the exchange. "Bringing everyone down to 2% is the only option and eventually it will be to Betfair's financial advantage."

Findlay's guide to winning and losing

On gambling

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

On backing odds-on

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

On why you shouldn't hedge

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