Clear, concise, comprehensive horseracing analysis and insight from Paul Jones, former author of the Cheltenham Festival Betting Guide, concentrating on jump racing in addition to the best of the Flat and leading Sports events.
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Q & A with Alan Potts

For serious punters of my generation and older, Alan Potts needs little introduction having written Against The Crowd, widely regarded as one of the most influential books on betting on horse racing which grabbed the attention of many punters offering a fresh way at looking at how to beat the bookmakers. A week before Cheltenham I sat down with Alan to discuss various aspects of his punting theories and strategies etc. over 20 years after his first book was published.

You are best known for writing Against The Crowd and being a professional punter and familiar face in betting rings during the 1990s. How are you involved in racing these days?

I would have called myself a full-time punter from the beginning of 1992 until the end of the 2015 but since then have regarded myself as semi retired. I still bet. I still love it. I am never going to give up gambling because I am a gambler. Aside from my betting, I'm working with a leading trainer on the purchasing and placing aspects of his horses. I also provide input to a few owners from other yards on the same things - they seem to like dealing with somebody that isn't motivated by earning commission or training fees! I also provide blogs for members.

As punting is more of a hobby now, does that mean your stakes are reduced?

No. Definitely not. It means I bet less though plus there is no pressure as I can live very comfortably now on my pensions and savings. Throughout the 1990s I used to have around 300-400 bets a year, almost all on course, many at smaller midweek meetings. Now around 95% of my betting is off course and based around the big meetings for three reasons:

a) You know they're all trying when the prestige and/or prize money is high.

b) It means I'm dealing with a relatively small pool of horses, since anything rated below 85 is unlikely ever to appear in the races I play.

c) It is easier to get on in races that the bookies know will provide them with high turnover, and of course the same races have good liquidity on Betfair.

It will take an exceptional circumstance for me to have a bet between Monday and Friday on a non-festival week. Motivation is certainly an issue when you get to my age having been doing it for so long!

Do you have any kind of routine?

Not really. I have a general look through the cards for maybe ten minutes online in the morning. Very rarely the night before. I used to look overnight religiously when I was betting professionally of course hunting for early value but if you can find me somewhere where I can get on then let me know as I would go back to it, but there is no liquidity on Betfair at that stage and I have very few other choices now having burnt those bridges.

I should say that there are two online firms that are happy to lay me a bet to lose up to £1000 and they have never messed me about at all. You don’t go asking questions about why, you just accept it and if they will lay a bet, they will lay a bet. Everyone else, no. As such about 90% of my betting is on Betfair. From 2004/05 onwards, I have been forced to concentrate on the good meetings as they are the only ones where there is sufficient liquidity and bookmakers might be prepared to take a bet.

How do you start looking at a race?

One way I like is dealing in races only with a favourite at under 3/1 so therefore I can take a view around that horse, whether I want to be with it, in which case leave the race alone more often than not, or against it and look for a bigger-priced alternative. I wouldn’t therefore look at a Wokingham, Hunt Cup or Stewards’ Cup. I have long grown out of that! That was partly why I gave up commercial tipping as members would expect me to have a view on these kind of races. I’m just like as you wrote in your book (From Soba To Moldova), give me the 8-12 runner Group 2s instead. I only bet in handicaps nowadays when I am following a particular horse. I certainly don’t sit down and try to work out which horse to back that I think the Handicapper has underestimated.

What was your biggest winner?

Outside of a Tote Jackpot my biggest ever winning bet was in a handicap in September 2013 on a Saeed bin Suroor-trained horse called Excellent Result, which was beautifully named as far as I was concerned, who was a horse I had noted to follow. I saw him win a maiden at Sandown and was convinced I was looking at a Group horse and he then got a mark of 94. The difficult part is explaining exactly why I was so confident, to put into words what is a purely subjective judgement. But I can say that this is not something that happens every week, or even every month. In most flat seasons, I'd hope to see two or three horses like this, and they would usually be in maidens run before Royal Ascot. It's the combination of how fluently he moved, the immediate response when the jockey asks him to stretch two out, the stride length when he starts to draw clear and the fact that he sustains the effort all the way to the line. If you were looking for a definition of 'class' in a middle-distance horse, then the ability to produce sustained pace in the closing stages is a good measure. I've owned horses that could do that for half a furlong, some even as much as a furlong, but never one that could do it for two furlongs. He got beat next time out at Royal Ascot but was only beaten three lengths and then won at 14/1 the time after at the Ascot September Meeting.

So being able to spot something before the vast majority is a key ingredient to successful betting?

‘Talent Spotting’ is not a phrase I’ve ever used before but when I started thinking about it and working backwards, you can make a case that I’ve actually started doing this since Day 1. A few weeks after my 18th birthday I went racing for the first time with my father at Sandown on Solario Stakes day, which was run on a Friday then. We saw Charlottown win on debut by eight lengths for John Gosden’s father, Towser, who not long after retired from illness so Gordon Smyth took over the training of him as a three-year-old. After the race I said: “That will win the Derby next year dad.” He replied: “If it does then I will stop harassing you about betting on horses as it’s clearly a waste of money.” He did win the Derby in 1966 after he won the Horris Hill later as a two-year-old and was second in the Lingfield Derby Trial after which they ditched Ron Hutchinson and replaced him with Scobie Breasley. The lad that led up Charlottown on Derby Day was none other than Michael Jarvis. I don’t know exactly what I saw, but I saw something just like with Excellent Result.

Trying to spot something before everyone else is a huge thing. Jockeys also. I can remember watching Walter Swinburn ride the winner of an apprentices’ handicap at Windsor and being very impressed, likewise Richard Dunwoody at the Cheltenham Hunters’ Chase meeting. Also Richard Johnson who won a race another year at the same meeting when it was transferred to Warwick.

In your second book The Inside Track you focus on adapting your punting methods to the changing times and that was just three years after writing Against The Crowd. Another 17 years have passed since then so what has changed most notably in that period?

Online gambling would be the main thing of course, including the exchanges. In the period soon after my second book was when account-closing started to occur but also when the first online betting opportunities emerged. I remember the Irish firm Luvbet with great fondness as they would put up prices the night before and also lay a bet. I can remember having a decent bet on a 16/1 winner in a handicap hurdle and got paid out no trouble. They went bust in the end which was no surprise as the shrewdies were taking them on the night before and absolutely killing them I should imagine. While it lasted, which wasn’t long, it was great. Once other bookmakers went online I started going racing a lot less.

The next big thing was when Betfair arrived. I joined in December 2001 so was on board from very early on thinking that it would be money for old rope laying horses and I was wrong, but not totally wrong. It was indeed money for old rope for the first few years laying if you knew what you were doing. You couldn’t lose money by knowing prices were totally wrong. Early in the day there was enough liquidity so you could spot a favourite that should be 4/1 or 5/1 and there would be punters backing it at 5/4 so you could lay it until the cows came home if you wanted to. It died for me in 2005. I spent the whole of that summer glued to the laptop, the racing channels and Betfair and by the end of August I was drained. Totally shattered and I just thought, no, never again. I was 58 then. Between 2007-2011 my time for study was cut due to various family issues and I could never get the same level of concentration back.

In terms of adapting to punting angles, how have they changed?

From a personal standpoint I can trace that through the decades. During the sixties it was tipsters (including my barber!) who I trusted and then in the seventies I discovered Timeform. After the drought hit in 1976, the last two months of the flat season with soft ground was the best betting period I had in my entire life. I had a list of horses that had won before on soft and they all obliged - Alanrod, Handycuff, Jenny Spendid, Make A Signal, the last named three times in less than a month.

I don’t think there was much of a draw bias in the seventies because they didn’t water and I’m pretty sure it was watering that is the reason for draw bias in the eighties as it wasn’t evenly distributed across the track and that was a major part of my betting that decade. Thirsk was the big one in the eighties although I latched onto it too late but the bias at Kempton on the straight track more than made up for that. Even the dimmest jockeys realised that if the stalls were on the stands’ side they had to track over to the favoured far rail. As explained earlier, the nineties was mainly about the introduction on online betting and then Betfair after the turn of the century.

Being an owner, how has that helped you with a view to successful punting?

Massively. Especially as I have dealt with so many trainers over the years. More so in terms of the physicality of a horse, internally and externally, and just from being around and watching trainers going round the stables, gallops and attending racing with them, more so than how they approach preparing a horse for a race. I started out with David Elsworth and I don’t think he knew what to make of me! He was the person who suggested I walk the courses which is one the best pieces of advice I have been given. You just learn so much by doing this. At our first meeting me he took me round the stables and pointed out a scrawny-looking three-year-old filly with form figures of 000000 and told me that it would win a Brighton seller next week. It won by seven lengths at 11/2 and I’m thinking to myself, we’ve chosen the right trainer here.

Since then I’ve had horses with Stan Mellor. A totally different experience to David and a totally different approach to training horses and thinking whether they should win. I remember driving Stan to the races one day and he’s reading through The Racing Post and asking me what tactics we should employ? Then I had a gap and went with Pat Murphy. Again, a totally different experience being a supreme horseman with years of experience in Ireland behind him before he came over here. Brilliant with horses but lacking the rich owners needed to build up a big enough stable or get quality horses in to make it work. Alan King was, again, totally different, given his background as assistant to David Nicholson.

You have stated in the past that the three things a successful horseracing gambler needs to be is self confident, a good mathematician and be obsessive about the sport. Do you still stand by that?

I think that is still right. Maths was always my number one subject at school, I always sailed through the exams. It was probably the reason why I got interested in gambling in the first place as the racing pages of the newspapers were the most interesting to me as they had all these numbers and symbols. Self confidence, absolutely, as it's the ultimate business in which you succeed or fail on your own opinion. Obsession may be too strong a word, but it would probably seem that way to an outsider!  

Are race trends still important to you?

Not as much as they used to be but I still look. There still seem to be occasions when it is overlooked. Take a recent example like this year’s Eider. The market overlooked older horses this year as it was dominated by very young horses, six and seven-year-olds, but I don’t even have to look at past records of the race to realise that we want to be on a nine, ten or eleven-year-old to win a 4m1f handicap chase. Trends have become less useful in certain cases where race conditions have changed like the Four Miler at the Festival which is the classic example. There’s no point now going down the same line as 15 years ago as the race has completely changed. The handicaps at Cheltenham are also now different to even half a dozen years ago which is all down to Phil Smith and that has affected the trends. I don’t think that the horses winning the same handicaps are any better than they were 15-20 years ago, they are just higher rated because of the massive rating inflation that Smith has been in charge of.

Let me give you an example. Remember Cherrykino trained by Tim Forster and who was pretty much the last horse that Anne, Duchess of Westminster owned? I saw him in his first novice chase at Towcester over 2m when he made a late seasonal reappearance in January. He was well beaten over a trip never likely to be far enough. Two weeks later he appeared at Leicester and I went along purely to back him. I got a couple of hundred quid on at 10/1 which let me tell you was not easy to do at Leicester on a Monday afternoon! Not easy at all, even then. He slipped on landing at the fourth-last, that ghastly open ditch they used to have on the home turn, and he unseated his rider. He won his next six starts after that. The first of those was at Nottingham and he won by 12 lengths and then he ran at Towcester over Easter where he won a pretty competitive novice chase by 30 lengths. Nowadays if you would hazard a guess what handicap mark he started off the next season, you would probably say Smith would have him on something like mid-140s. Well, Cherrykino started his career in handicaps off 119! That’s a huge difference. He then won two handicaps and two conditions chases on the spin, beating Bradbury Star and Garrison Savannah in the last of those. That persuaded connections to run in the Gold Cup where sadly he took a fatal fall on the first circuit. I followed him all over the country for those six races. This is why higher-rated horses are now winning the big handicaps as, given the inflated ratings, they are the only horses there now are! They are no better horses, they are just rated higher. The handicap system has gone badly wrong.

So staking. You don’t like to make your biggest bet too different from your smallest?

That’s right I like to make 5pts my average bet rather than say 1pt. So that that means if I increase a bet to say 8pts, then I’m not doubling my bet like I would with 1pt up to 2pts. Therefore scales of 1-5pts seem nonsensical to me. My minimum bet would be £400 and my maximum in the main is £1000 so that staking plan works for me. Very rarely in recent years would I go over £1000 but I made an exception for Sire de Grugy in the Champion Chase and most recently, Presenting Percy in the RSA. The maximum bets are staked when I feel I have a bigger edge in that the odds are more out of line with what I think they should be - e.g. Presenting Percy I made a 5/4 shot on the day, so 11/4 compelled a big bet.

Are you a favourite backer?

Not often. Of my 40 biggest wins, only three started favourite. Inevitably your biggest wins won’t be at shortish prices though as you can’t win that kind of money at short odds without drastically increasing your stake. Excellent Result was my biggest winner ahead of Big Buck’s when he won his first Stayers’ Hurdle. Another five-figure profit was Kicking King for the Gold Cup who I had vowed to back after seeing him in the King George at Sandown which I just thought was the best round of jumping I had ever seen. He was one of the three favourites. My Way de Solzen was another big winner in the Arkle and so was Ossmoses who won the Greenall Whitley Gold Cup at 14/1. He only had 10st and had won a 4m race at Kelso.

What is your biggest ever losing bet?

On Azertyuiop when he dragged his hind legs through the water jump in the Champion Chase. I really did think he was the bees’ knees having backed him when he won the Arkle two years earlier and the Champion Chase the next season. Probably the biggest disappointment though was a big bet on Valiramix in the Champion Hurdle. You can’t do anything about those sort of things. We all know he would have won and probably the next two Champion Hurdles as well had he been kept sound.

How do you cope with a losing run? Take a break?

Now that I am only betting at weekends and festivals I don’t think that is a practical answer. You just keep working away at it. I know I’ve got 30 years now of knowing I can make profits. I’ve had plenty of bad losing spells in that time but it has always come round again. I’ve had a couple of really bad years. 1995 was a shocker. 2006 was a shocker. Anytime you get distracted by something. In 1995 I was distracted by writing a book and I shouldn’t have let that happen of course. They put blinkers on horses to make them concentrate. I know lots of punters that could use blinkers, let’s put it that way.

Do you feel under pressure giving tips?

I made a decision on August 2016 that I would no longer pass on tips to anybody, even privately. I stopped doing it commercially a few good few years earlier having had a spell with Mark Holder’s tipping service. I didn’t feel any early pressure then as I got off the kind of start that not even Mark could have dreamed of with the first five tips winning at 8/1, 11/4, 6/1, 100/30 and 5/1, the first three at Glorious Goodwood, so that was emblazoned over all the adverts. Of course the next sixteen all got beat straight after the advert!

Why do you think you have a good record at Goodwood which strikes me as a notoriously difficult place to find winners with so much hostage to fortune in races?

Latching onto the far rail bias on the round course was key over 7f/1m, even the 1m2f races. There was a spell during the second half of the 1990s where if you could identify which horse was going to be in front 3f out then you just couldn’t go wrong. Not only did they have the curve of the track in their favour, they also had the fastest strip of ground and it’s always an advantage anyway to have a horse in front next to a rail as they can only hang one way so a jockey knows which hand to hold the whip in. Everything seemed to just fall into place. It’s nowhere near as big an advantage now as they changed to boom irrigation rather than sprinklers meaning the far rail gets watered exactly the same, so it’s no longer the faster strip.

My angle at Goodwood now is back the horse I think will be last place in a 1m4f race in the early stages. When they come out of the stalls over the 1m4f course, it is just about the steepest hill on a flat course in Britain. Everyone should walk the courses. Take advantage of the tours on race days and go out and see the contours for yourself as television doesn’t tell you what it’s really like. If a jockey rousts along a horse in the early stages to get an easy lead over 1m4f, they are using so much energy up that hill that there is no way they have anything left for the finish. Mark Johnston has a superb Goodwood record, usually with prominently-ridden horses, but not in the 1m4f races. They do sometimes win, Soldier In Action last year, but nowhere near as often as the market suggests.

What courses and types of races do you concentrate on outside of Goodwood?

I reckon this has to be a purely personal thing. I've always had tracks where I seem to do well and I feel this is a matter of confidence and familiarity - they are tracks I've been attending in the flesh for many years, tracks where I know the sort of horse that's needed to win, tracks where I might have some little edge from things I've observed over the years. 

I did some digging through my old accounts and found that from when I went full time at the start of 1992 to the end of that decade, I'd made over £60k profit at Goodwood, way ahead of any other Flat track. I also had my best ever single meeting at Glorious Goodwood in 2004 when I backed 9/16 winners and netted over £28k in the space of five days. That golden week was also a prime example of something that you rarely see mentioned in relation to horserace betting, which is the narrow margins between success and failure. Seven of those nine winners scored by less than a length and the total winning margin for all nine was just six and half lengths. 

About 70% of my jumps betting would be at Cheltenham, Sandown, Newbury, Kempton and Ascot. I hardly touch Haydock. I’d hardly ever bet at the west-country tracks or even Warwick these days which was once a course I used to attend quite regularly. A lot of my NH betting is about course configuration. Kempton is particularly brilliant for horses with a right-handed preference but it doesn’t suit front runners due to the very long bend to the second-last flight over hurdles or third-last fence over fences.

On the Flat, I now limit my bets almost entirely to Group/Listed races. Within those categories, I tend to prefer longer distance races to sprints, but don't go so far as to rule out the latter entirely. For NH racing, I've always preferred chases to hurdles for betting, and again it's the longer races that appeal most.

Do you bet ante-post?

No. It’s just me. Those of my age would have started betting in the 1960s when there was no opportunity to back ante-post for someone who went into a betting shop. You had to have an account to do this and, to have an account, you had to have a certain amount of money. There was this mysterious thing called the Victoria Blower. It was all the bookies getting together in a room at the Victoria Club in London on a Monday evening and basically hedging each other’s bets on the big ante-post events and at the end of the night they would update a list of the new odds. The same thing happens now with the Australian bookmakers with the Melbourne Cup where they get together once a week in the weeks leading up to the race. Then daily in the final week up to the race. I didn’t have a clue how to get an account so never got into ante-post betting from an early age and then struggled when I tried. One of the last ante-post bets I had was backing Mr Mulligan each-way at 20/1 for the King George at Kempton won by One Man when he was in second place until falling at the final fence. Who knows how much One Man would have found in the run-in? That put me off really.

You are the most cynical punter I know and don’t strike me as someone interested in what connections say about their chance beforehand. Would that be right?

I've been able to make steady profits for 25+ years by ignoring this sort of information and seeing through the hype. I watch the races and make my own judgements based on what I've seen, not what I've heard. But I certainly listened to Paul Nicholls when he was dominating the British scene ahead of the Cheltenham Festival though. I appeared on a preview panel at Chipping Campden for many years and had a long series of winning naps. What nobody cottoned onto was that they were usually what Nicholls had said was his best chance of the week as he was rarely wrong. Big Buck’s, Taranis, Celestial Halo and Sanctuaire for example. You couldn’t argue with his record as he got things right and he was completely open about it.

I have noticed that you have done well in the Triumph and Fred Winter down the years. Any reason why this is the case?

I did well in the Fred Winter as latched onto well-handicapped horses from France but the French Handicapper has now changed. I haven’t established this from fact but I can tell you from the amount of work I do on French racing that somewhere a new broom swept through the jumps handicapping system in France and the horses that we were getting over here that were getting in a stone-and-a-half light are now over-handicapped. It’s almost like the new guy is a Phil Smith disciple, or Smith has had a word saying ‘you’ve embarrassed me enough times that it’s not going to happen anymore!’ It’s very rare now that an ex-French juvenile hurdler will win in Britain on their handicap debut. Very rare indeed. You could find 10-15 a season in the past. I advise a leading jumps trainer when it comes to sales and the best horses to buy from France now are maidens that don’t have a French handicap mark. Studying French jumps racing now takes up a good deal of my time.

I remember reading a Q&A back in 2001 when you said that you didn’t pay any attention to ratings. Is that still the case?

Obviously I keep an eye on official rating handicap ratings as that’s important, not so much as in the actual number but what that rating allows you to do in terms of where you place the horse. For example, one of the owners I am advising has got a horse running having its third career start in a novice stakes so the absolute key is what handicap mark is this horse going to get afterwards as that will decide what sort of race it will be aiming at subsequently. If it’s 76 then you have to look at 0-80s but if it’s a little higher then you have to go up a scale. That’s what ratings are important for. Most odds are framed around ratings so where’s the edge?

What type of horses do you like to oppose?

Those housed in big stables. If the horse is good enough then the trainer usually is. Something I learned working with Pat Murphy was when we had a horse that went off favourite we should lump on. If you are going to back favourites then back small-yard favourites as their chance is still underestimated given their lower profile. I owned a horse called Salute who started favourite only three times. Two of those were in claimers and he won both of those and another one was running under a 6lb penalty after a previous win and he won that too. They were the only three times in the 52 races he ran for me that he started shorter than 4/1.

I remember one time we had a favourite and he got beaten. The trainer was absolutely convinced that the jockey must have pulled the horse. It was a 3yo claimer at Wolverhampton so the story has some credibility. It actually turned out that two weeks later when he restarted training he had a cracked sesamoid bone so it was probably done during that race. There is often a reason for a horse underperforming that doesn’t come to light immediately. They are fragile and if you are a punter that has never owned a horse then you can not realise just how fragile they are and how easily they go wrong, and all the things that can happen in a race. I had a horse who pulled up with a fibrillating heart after which the course vet asked if anyone was growing oilseed rape near the stables? There was a field of the stuff on the walk up to the gallops and he was only allergic to it! I owned another horse that was six lengths clear on the run-in but broke down (a tendon injury) and was passed close to the line. We kept him in training for three years afterwards and he was due to run twice until he broke down again in his final piece of work. That was a lesson.

What do you think are the most under-rated angles punters don’t do look at enough?

It’s becoming less so but over most of my career the importance of horses who prefer going either left-handed or right-handed. It’s to do with how the horse is made physically preferring to lead on one leg or the other. Do the trick. Get a footstool and step over it with one leg and it will feel natural. Then try it with the other leg and it can feel more awkward. Whether that’s a trait in horses as well I don’t know but, speaking with people who work closely with them, I am told they prefer to lead on one leg or the other.

I also feel there is an issue with the schooling. Take Henrietta Knight’s horses. Apart from Best Mate she never had a horse that was suited to Cheltenham. Edredon Bleu won a Champion Chase but he also won a King George when considered a non-stayer and over the hill beforehand and he was better going right-handed. I remember a good horse of hers called Impek who went round Cheltenham like Bambi on three wheels. Almost all of her horses were more likely to win if they were going round Kempton, Sandown or Wincanton rather than Cheltenham or Newbury. She had a terrible record at Newbury. I often wondered whether it was because the horses would approach the schooling fences from the right-hand side, turning right-handed to jump the obstacles?

Geoff Hubbard was another. His best horse Strong Promise coped left-handed but On The Twist was a horse who could only win on right-handed tracks. The example Nick Mordin gave of backing On The Twist in Betting For A Living at Sandown is spot on. I was there the same day and backed him as he could only go right-handed so we both independently took the same angle. Not that I knew that until I later read his book. Having been to their yards I know that Tim Vaughan’s horses always come onto a schooling ground right-handed and Jonjo O’Neill left-handed. Whether this is an influence or not, I just don’t know.

Desert Orchid was the most famous example but in the end his became a self-fulfilling prophecy as David only ran him on right-handed tracks before he had to go for the Gold Cup. He never tried him in the Hennessy or at Haydock, Wetherby, Doncaster, or Chepstow over fences. He did run him at Aintree where he fell which was significant as what can happen with horses with a left-or-right bias is that they fall at the first fence after a bend, which is exactly what he did. I think that’s why the third-last at Kempton is such a crucial fence. If you are not a right-handed horse, that fence comes up before they have got rebalanced after the bend. A lot of horses hit that fence. Four out on the New Course at Cheltenham after a bend and running downhill is another example. The third-last at Taunton is another horrible fence.

Do you bet much on Irish racing?

No, never - not enough hours in the day to keep on top of the form over there as well as covering the UK racing. The Arc de Triomphe is the only race I would bet on in France. America is more interesting. The first time Flintshire ran in America after he left Andre Fabre he was odds-against over there for God’s sake on turf over 1¼ miles. Unbelievable for a fast-ground-loving dual-Arc runner-up. Gift of the century. I couldn’t really get enough on. He won without coming off the bridle.

I have a contact over there and he’s an owner but also a dealer who runs his horses on turf with Bill Mott. He also has some horses in California with Peter Miller and likes to buy horses from Europe to race on the turf. The best success he had was with Amira’s Prince who came from David Wachman and ended up winning a Grade 2 turf race at Fairgrounds in New Orleans. He broke down in that and they could never get him fit again.

Mott won the Breeders’ Cup Mile in 2016 with Tourist and he was part owner of that horse. A friend was acting as M.C. for a Breeders’ Cup dinner event at York Racecourse that year. Betfred were providing a betting service and offered a price boost for any horse my friend tipped to the audience. I mentioned Tourist to him, who was about 12/1 on the US Morning Line, he tipped it, Betfred were going 40/1 and boosted that to 50/1. After he’d won they had to get out the cheque book to cover the payout. The following year I asked my friend if York were doing it again but the response was negative as Betfred had declined to get involved!

To close, if you had to name one mistake that everyday punters make what would it be?

You are only going to learn from your mistakes and not your successes. Most punters back a horse and celebrate their winners but when they lose they completely forget about it. You have to keep records and, for example, after the Cheltenham Festival you should sit down on the Sunday or Monday afterwards and go back over your bets and see if you could have done better, even if you have had a winning week. What the mistakes ought to do is show you where you shouldn’t be betting. That’s the key. It taught me to give up betting on the Cheltenham Festival handicaps three years ago. Since then I thought to myself, right, there are only 11 races at this meeting I am going to consider betting on. The Grade 1 races basically. The maximum fields make the other races too hard. The last bet I had in a handicap at the meeting was Aux Ptits Soins in the Coral Cup using the French handicap mark angle, but that angle has now gone as far as I am concerned.

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