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July 2020 Review – Mediocrity Rules!

Not a great month by any stretch of the imagination.  In fact, it takes no imagination at all to sum up July’s performance – distinctly mediocre!

Turnover has been relatively low, with nothing (naturally) from winter racing specialist Racing Service 2, and no football north of the border for Scottish Football Income Booster to get stuck into.  The Scottish Premier League did get going on Saturday however, so we should see some bets coming through during August.

Of the six services that did advise bets, only two provided a profit.  The ROI for July ended at -6.61%, the ROC at -3.26%.  Not great, clearly.

There was plenty of high class racing for Bet Alchemist to get stuck into last week with festivals at Galway in Ireland and the Glorious Goodwood meeting here in England.  Not sure how ‘glorious’ Goodwood can be with no spectators, although the beautiful location remained the same of course.  Bet Alchemist did manage to claw back some of the month’s previous losses with one 11/1 winner notable, and in the end July’s deficit wasn’t too bad.

Not the case for Racing Service 1, whose misery continued last week.  Viewed as a separate entity in itself, a disastrous month should be seen in perspective.  They happen.  But RS1 has been struggling for a while now and whilst the difficulties facing tipsters on an ongoing basis were highlighted in last week’s Bet Diary post, there is always concern when it is made apparent that there has been a slight shift or coming away from the original strategy that has made a tipster successful in the past.  I’m not going to draw any conclusions just yet, but it’s fair to say the pressure is on.

The one success story of July was the massive winner and subsequent profit put up by Golf Insider.  A good job we hit that, as without it the month would have been absolutely dire!  Ifs and buts…suffice to say that GI wins ‘Tipster of the Month’.

Note that the performance of the two golf services, Golf Insider and PGA Profit, last week will count under August’s figures as the result wasn’t apparent until Sunday 2nd, despite the tips being issued during the last week of July.  Sadly, PGA Profit couldn’t match Golf Insider’s monthly performance this time, but its time will come, I’m sure.

It has been heartening to see two weeks of Precision Value hitting some semblance of good form and whittling away at the not insubstantial losses accrued during the first half of July.  Although it couldn’t quite break back to the right side of the profit and loss line, losses were small and fingers crossed the solid form will continue to ensure August sees a return to the good times.

Finally, we have Racing Intelligence, which provided a decent profit.  I’m unable to secure official prices for most of the bets that come through, but I set an unofficial target for the service of a 10% ROI over time.  I appreciate the prices move quickly, and don’t set out to meet the official figures – I see this more as a strong service from which I ought to be able to profit.  So, I suspect my month’s figures may well be short of the official, but an ROI of 10.14% this month means I’m happy enough.

Bet Alchemist (100 point bank): Staked 68pts, -8.913pts

Racing Service 1 (200): Staked 73pts, -41.125pts

Golf Insider (400): Staked 46.5pts, +66.5pts

PGA Profit (500): Staked 126pts, -114.25pts

Precision Value (200): Staked 98pts, -5.585pts

Racing Intelligence (200): Staked 309pts, +31.345pts

Scottish Football Income Booster (100): n/a

Racing Service 2 (50): n/a

Total for July: ROI -6.61%, ROC -3.26%

Finally, I’m aware a couple of people have emailed in and left comments after last week’s post.  I’ll address these next week.  See you then.

It’s tough at the top of the tipster world…

A recent blog post on the Racing Service 1 (RS1) site caught my eye this week, and made for very interesting reading.  It was a missive on how the main analyst had sought a reason for the service’s extended poor form.  The conclusion ultimately reached was that the cause has been an unconscious drifting away from core principles and a proven formula.  Reading between the lines, the remedy it seems, is a re-concentration (is there such a word?) on the basics, or perhaps a return to the basics that had for so long proven to be the foundation of consistent success.

To me, that must be easier said than done.  There are so many variables at play in evaluating the relative chances a horse has in a particular race and the price being offered by the bookmaker, I can imagine it would be very easy indeed to fall into the trap of overcomplicating things. I can also see why an extended period of poor form might lead to becoming entangled in a particularly sticky web, the route to escape from which needs a focused, calculated and steady movement as opposed to a thrashing around of arms and legs in a vain attempt at breaking free.

In other words, I reckon it’s bloomin’ hard being a tipster!

The post provides an example of where the ratings that RS 1 use as the basis of their selection process found a clear top-rated selection that was overlooked as a tip, despite it being “the most likely winner”, because the price was deemed too short; a good decision pre-race, for one of the very fundamentals of betting is that if you’re not sure you’re securing a price that holds value (on anything), you do not bet.  However, RS1 did find an alternative horse to tip in the race, which of course lost to the top-rated, overlooked horse.  Their policy moving forward is that if they feel a horse is the likeliest winner albeit at a price that is too short, they will offer no bet, as opposed to trying to find one to oppose it with.  I get the logic, particularly during a losing run, but I’m mindful that it is not uncommon for A. of Racing Service 2 to oppose “the likeliest winner” in a race with one he feels has a decent chance of winning and whose price significantly underestimates its chances of doing so, ie. it’s a real value price.  And over the years he’s had some of his greatest successes by using this approach.

Let me be clear, I am not criticising RS1’s approach here.  To the contrary, I commend them for undertaking some proper self-analysis during a bad run and taking steps to make sure they don’t lose sight of the fundamentals that have made them such a successful service over time.  No, what I’m saying is that the job of a tipster really is a tough one at times, demanding clarity of thought and a consistency in approach that can only be admired and respected.

I wish them well, and look forward to seeing an upswing in their fortunes.

Portfolio performance for July to date

It’s not just Racing Service 1 struggling at the moment.  Bet Alchemist is finding it hard going and although Precision Value produced some good results in the latter part of last week, it is still running at a significant loss for the month.  Even  Racing Intelligence, the one racing service to be enjoying July, didn’t have the best of weeks.

Bet Alchemist (100 point bank): Staked 41pts, -14.213pts

Racing Service 1 (200): Staked 54pts, -32.25pts

Golf Insider (400): Staked 46.5pts, +66.5pts

PGA Profit (500): Staked 126pts, -114.25pts

Precision Value (200): Staked 80pts, -9.585pts

Racing Intelligence (200): Staked 249pts, +45.145pts

Scottish Football Income Booster (100): n/a

Racing Service 2 (50): n/a

Total for July: ROI -8.21%, ROC -2.67%

An alternative view on value.

Is it possible to completely miss a tipster’s price on a consistent basis, and yet still be sure of securing value on each bet he tips?

I was asking myself this question this past week as I failed to get the advised prices on the excellent Racing Intelligence’s bets, and generally struck my wagers at significantly lower.  This is a service for whom the odds move quickly but generally speaking, as I’m usually at my laptop when his bets come through, jumping on immediately means I at least get close to the official prices.  Due to circumstances this past week I’ve not been sitting down and in a position to act as fast, and these circumstances are likely to continue through what is left of the summer.

This all caused me some initial concern.  Should I still be following if I know I’m likely to be only able to bet at much reduced odds?  We all know the fundamental importance of value in every bet we strike.  If I’m not confident of achieving this, am I not relying on luck to make a profit over the next few weeks, needing to hit a higher strike rate than usual to have a chance of making any money?  Over time, one thing is for absolute sure – if you’re not betting at value prices, you’re not going to make any money.

Then I started to consider things from a different angle.

If we work on the assumption that Betfair SP represents as close as we’re going to get to true market efficiency in the price of a horse, then we can start to reassess the premise that if we’re falling significantly short of a tipster’s advised prices, then we’re ultimately doomed to failure.  Say Tipster A advises a horse at 10/1.  I can only take 7/1, but the Betfair SP (the closest to true market price) is only 5/1…then my 7/1 betting slip carries good value, does it not?

Now before we draw any conclusion we have to note that it is not only on winning bets that we must judge whether we are attaining value or not.  We need to be backing at longer than Betfair SP on a consistent basis to be able to say we can follow a tipster profitably or not if taking shorter prices than those advised, whether the horses go on to win or not.  And let’s be clear, we’re not going to turn a profit close to the tipster’s official figures.  But say an outstanding tipster is running at an official ROI of 25-30%, and because of the odds movements we’re not getting close to the advised odds.  We may still be able to eke out a very acceptable 10% say, if we’re consistently beating Betfair SP on the majority of the tipster’s selections.

Food for thought.  I should add too, that the SBC’s odds testing sections of their reviews point out exactly what sort of dent on the official ROI we might expect to take when betting at different times following bet release; hugely valuable information.  But one thing is for sure.  The rather lazy assertion that, “I can’t follow that tipster because the odds move too quickly”, may actually not be true if we’re prepared to make a certain level of profit that is lower than the officially recorded.

A poor week for the portfolio and the month is now running barely above break even.  Bet Alchemist, Racing Service 1 and PGA Golf continue to struggle, and no eroics from anyone else this week.

Bet Alchemist (100 point bank): Staked 35pts, -8.213pts

Racing Service 1 (200): Staked 44pts, -26.25pts

Golf Insider (400): Staked 29.5pts, +74pts

PGA Profit (500): Staked 99pts, -99pts

Precision Value (200): Staked 62pts, -18.54pts

Racing Intelligence (200): Staked 189pts, +67.77pts

Scottish Football Income Booster (100): n/a

Racing Service 2 (50): n/a

Total for July: ROI 0.95%, ROC 0.28%

Tough going, but great profit!

The trend looks like it was set in the first week, when most services found the going a bit of a struggle but by one excelling, a strong overall profit was notched.  And so it was this week, with all the racing services finding winners hard to come by, but then a 150/1 winner (yes, 150/1!) from Golf Insider on the European Tour not only stopping the rot but pushing us really nicely into the black.  Happy days.

You know I really struggle to get my head around golf betting.  We all know that we have to be patient, that the winners don’t happen all that frequently, but that when they do, they tend to be worth the wait.  I can drum this mantra into my head as much as I want – and it’s all entirely true, every word of it – but between you and me, I still struggle a bit with the losing runs, and I still get over excited when we land that mahoosive winner on the Sunday afternoon or evening.  It’s not how it should be.  All this about the ‘professional’ bettor not becoming engaged with the daily ups and downs, not to get excited when big wins land, just to take everything in our stride and accept that this is not a smooth path to profit…blah, blah, blah.  When it comes to golf, I just can’t do it.  I’m reduced to being an adrenaline junkie when I’ve got a golfer at a big price in contention going down the back nine in the final round, chasing the sweet, sweet hit of one bookmaker account or exchange taking what can only be described as a bit of a beating.  BRING. IT. ON.

I’m getting giddy.  Maybe best to remember that elsewhere, results weren’t too impressive.  Not least at that other golfing service PGA Profit, who mentioned the dreaded ‘D’ word (‘Drawdown’) in their latest missive to members.  Nothing to worry about though.  We all know, don’t we, that we have a bumpy ride when it comes to golf!

Bet Alchemist (100 point bank): Staked 26pts, -5.288pts

Racing Service 1 (200): Staked 26pts, -11.55pts

Golf Insider (400): Staked 13.5pts, +90pts

PGA Profit (500): Staked 64.5pts, -64.5pts

Precision Value (200): Staked 40pts, -20.54pts

Racing Intelligence (200): Staked 116pts, +43.95pts

Scottish Football Income Booster (100): n/a

Racing Service 2 (50): n/a

Total for July: ROI 7.69%, ROC 3.14%

Racing Intelligence – the brains behind big profit.

So here we go again.  Back in the saddle, behind the steering wheel, on the bike…you choose whichever turn of phrase to use.  The end result is the same; the battle with the bookmaker is resumed.

And what a weekend it was for Racing Intelligence!  Saturday saw winners at 25/1 and 8/1 (official prices), and this Super Saturday was followed by a Sparkling Sunday, with another winner at 17/2.  I confess I wasn’t able to quite grab the official prices (I managed 20/1 on the 25/1 winner, for example) but I’m shedding no tears at that.

Funnily enough, these winners came just three days after RI had sent an email to members acknowledging that June had been something of a horror show but emphasizing that when encountering difficult periods in the past, the service had always bounced back strongly.  Having not backed anything in June I wasn’t aware of the extent of the drawdown, but I believe that it was in the range of 80 points or so.  Saturday’s results wiped out that loss.

It’s a rare and valuable talent for a tipster to consistently prove his ability to bounce back after a bad run.  Whatever method is used to identify value bets – be it form reading, having access to information, following money from marked accounts, or some other strategy – once a losing run takes grip it must be very difficult not to question your approach.  It’s human nature.  Sure, experience helps.  If you’ve been there, seen it all and worn the proverbial T-shirt, when a losing run hits it must be easier to contextualize.  But even then, I’ve seen many a tipster look great for a year or so, seemingly recover from a drawdown, but ultimately fade away never to be seen again.

I would think that what is absolutely essential for a tipster to survive and thrive long term is an absolutely unshakeable belief in their methods.  When it comes to tipping, one thing is as certain as a Jose Mourinho team defeat being followed by a Jose Mourinho moan, and that is that the belief in those methods will be severely tested.  And I reckon only those with the strongest conviction will ultimately survive.

July performance to date…

Not such a good week for PGA Profit but we’ve only had one tournament to go at so far this month.  A small profit for Bet Alchemist which got off to a flyer with their very first bet landing odds of 7/1, but then a series of losers eroded the profit significantly.  Both Racing Service 1 and Precision Value yet to hit their straps.

Bet Alchemist (100 point bank): Staked 11pts, +1.7pts

Racing Service 1 (200): Staked 10pts, -3pts

PGA Profit (500): Staked 37.5pts, -37.5pts

Precision Value (200): Staked 16pts, -2.54pts

Racing Intelligence (200): Staked 52pts, +86.75pts

Scottish Football Income Booster (100): n/a

Racing Service 2 (50): n/a

Total for July: ROI 60.53%, ROC 4.35%

 

Almost back. Let’s hope it’s with a bang!

I’m excited about starting up my betting again.  I’ve missed it.  Never have words rung truer than Joni Mitchell’s when she sang about not knowing what you’ve got ’til it’s gone, when viewed through the prism of the pandemic and its affect on sport and betting.  It’s inevitable that as soon as you have no choice, when you can’t bet, that you quickly forget about the dreariness of losing runs, the constant rush to secure the best prices, or anything else that we tend to moan about when we ARE betting.  Nope, all those things are forgotten for now, and instead it’s with an eager sense of anticipation that I’m looking forward to striking my first bet in quite some time tomorrow.

So I’m giving myself a slap on the back for exercising self-discipline and refusing to get drawn into betting at the earliest possible opportunity, and instead have waited until the start of July to get back to it.  I explained my reasons for doing so in last week’s post.  Although I stand by my reasoning, I didn’t have any particularly strong conviction that my chosen course was the correct one.  So it’s been interesting to see since I wrote that post, a couple of things that back up – in a far more scientific and statistical way – my decision.

The first comes from newly reviewed racing service Flat Race Betting, which uses artificial intelligence and modelling to identify value selections.  Although it is possible to sign up for the service the first month has been provided for free with strong advice not to bet whilst the models are able to utilize more data and get back up to speed, as it were.  You can read a lot more about it here.  In a nutshell, you will find a diagram that shows how the algorithms are proving to be no quite so powerful since the resumption of horse racing than they were prior to it, the salient issue being a relative lack of recent data.  It is notable too that the performance of the models is improving day by day.

The second comes from the following tweet from @stevectilley:

If you had backed every horse that has run in June so far at Betfair
SP you would have made +13.5% ROI. 2019 June blindly backing every
horse at SP 34.5% loss. 2020 June doing the same 15% loss

Clearly more unfancied longshots are winning than is the norm!

Anyway, this is all rendered a side issue as of tomorrow, when the betting boots will be dusted off and into battle I shall go.  Looking forward to it.

Next week I’ll have the first results update from the various services in the portfolio.  Let’s hope we get off to a flying start.

Until then…

Betting is back! Bookies beware…just not quite yet.

Before I start my ramblings, may I just express the hope that you have come through these past few months fit and well, and family members, friends and colleagues likewise.  The virus has not yet been eradicated and we must naturally continue to be wary and act appropriately, but we have reached a point now where sport is returning – albeit in some unfamiliar guises – and there’s plenty to bet on.  The light at the end of the tunnel is shining ever more brightly and is growing stronger and stronger with each passing day.

We had Royal Ascot last week, the return of the Premier League, and football in other major European leagues has returned too.  No doubt the tipsters we all follow, who have endured an enforced period of hibernation that perhaps has granted an opportunity to take stock of their methods and strategies, will all have been champing at the bit to get going again.  I know I was with my own betting, and yet as things stand, I have not struck a bet since lockdown began.

My own, and I stress very personal view, is that June would be used as a period of waiting for form and fitness to settle a little and watching to see if there were any fundamentals associated with betting on a sport that had shifted at all.  It’s been interesting to note the huge increase in the percentage of away wins in the Bundesliga since that league rebooted, the theory being that without the pressure home fans exert on referees to influence decisions (subconsciously, before any referee reading gets their knickers in a twist!) and the momentum that vociferous support can provide a home team, means that “home advantage” is not currently a thing.  You take my point?  I’m not saying this is fact, but if there’s something to it then the relative percentage chance of each outcome of a match will have shifted a little.  In such a climate of uncertainty, I’d rather keep my money in my wallet.

Same with the racing.  How have different stables been able to operate through lockdown and social distancing and the subsequent difficulties of running a yard?  All I’m sure will have adapted, but the nature of things is that some will have adapted better than others.  Consequently their horses will be fitter than those from yards who have found working through a pandemic more of a struggle, but whose horses might previously have shown superior form.  This is purely anecdotal, but I’ve heard from a few who have said that their betting performance since racing resumed has been awful.  It could of course simply be short term variance at play, the law of Sod kicking; as we finally have something to bet on, that cruel mistress wakes herself up from her own lockdown slumbers, yawns, stretches, and wreaks betting havoc.

So, my plan is to start betting again on the 1st of July.  A nominal date and there’s nothing scientific about choosing that particular day to get going again.  It just appeals to my vague tendency towards OCD – new month, new start, etc.  All nonsense of course.  But that’s the way I roll… 🙂

See you next week.

Filling the void – things to do during lockdown.

So how are we all then?

Really hope you’re well, staying fit and healthy, and are coming to terms with being a miserable, unsociable old git!  Welcome to my life. 🙂

On a serious note, it’s good to see that people finally seem to be getting the ‘social distancing’ message.  I had to go to the supermarket today, and it was a completely different experience to how it was just three days before.  An orderly queue was formed at 2m intervals outside the store which was operating a strict one-in/one-out policy.  It was fairly easy once inside to keep a healthy distance from others, all staff were wearing gloves, and you know what?  There was actually stuff on the shelves.  Still no pasta or rice or pulses, but everything else was all there.  Oh, apart from the wine stock which had clearly been decimated.  Not sure what that tells us about us as a nation?  Probably best not to dwell.

As mentioned last week, I thought I’d mention some podcasts that are worth listening to and books that are worth reading to help pass the time whilst in lockdown or self-isolation.

Betting Podcasts

First up is the Pinnacle Sports podcast which is available via their website.  Under the ‘Betting Resources’ tab you’ll find podcasts and articles galore covering almost every sport you can think of.  Seriously, there’s a couple of day’s worth of reading material alone on there, addressing betting angles, probabilities, strategies, predictions, betting psychology and the rest.  Get stuck in – it’s all good stuff.  I still sigh wistfully when I think of the time when us UK bettors could use Pinnacle.  Happy days.

Another I listen to which although not specifically related to betting, I find really thought-provoking, is the StatsBomb podcast.  It’s a basic format of two gents chatting football but very much from a statistical viewpoint.  Ted Knutson, who is one half of the duo, used to be a professional gambler and comes from a predictive modelling background.  By listening clearly you can often discover potential betting angles by hearing about underrated and overrated teams.  Well worth a listen, and as I find out in the most recent pod, they both have a real interest in The Wire, which makes them alright by me!

Good Reading Material

As for reading material, one that has been strongly recommended to me is Nassim Nicholas Taleb’s ‘The Black Swan’, and ‘The Four Pillars of Investing’ by William Bernstein.  Reading the blurb on each, they look fascinating.  I notice too that both are available via Audible too, so no need to miss out even if unable to get hold of a hard copy in these strange times.

Finally, one article I would very strongly recommend is the SBC’s own piece on bookmakers and the level of protection they provide the funds we deposit with them.  We need to face up to the fact that what is happening now globally is going to have a massive negative impact on the world’s economy.  There will be many companies, some of them pretty big ones, which are going to find the going very, very tough.  Bookmakers will not be exempt from this, and who knows which are built on strong foundations that will enable them to weather the storm and which are not.  This is no time to be leaving funds with them – why would you? – you can’t bet on anything.  Some provide a much greater level of protection than others – read the guide to ensure you’re fully up to speed.

Right, that’s it for now.  It may well be that in the absence of any betting action that the Bet Diary takes a short break for a few weeks.  Stay safe, don’t go out unless you have to, and keep washing those hands.  🙂

Filling your time by making yourself a better bettor.

Goodness me, these aren’t so much strange times we’re living in as completely surreal.

I don’t know about you, but I have started to become a little overwhelmed psychologically by all that is happening.  There are good things to come from social media – information, important messages for people to read, social contact for people that perhaps grow lonely as a result of ‘social distancing’.  But there are also bad, not the least of which I believe, is that it can very easily lead to crippling anxiety.  It is so easy to use Twitter say, to be informed, but reading negative fact and statistic followed by negative fact and statistic can lead to introversion and a feeling of helplessness.  If this is you, take my advice, and stop.  Distance yourself a little.  Get on with other things.  Sure, watch the news, but don’t let this take over your life.

So, in these rather odd days, it is good to see the SBC producing betting-related material to read and enjoy.  Why not use what extra spare time you might have to educate yourself with regards to gambling, as much as you possibly can?  Read up on subjects such as the principles behind ‘value’ betting and why securing value is so vital to healthy betting performance, the psychology of betting and how to cope with losing runs, how to set up betting banks and how to calculate what is sufficient in terms of funding to ensure profit once tipster fees have been deducted?  There are a myriad of betting subjects to gen up on, and a lot of information can be found within the pages of the SBC website.

Another thing you can do, perhaps after reading up on the above subjects and more, is to execute a health check on your betting operation.  Is your staking correctly balanced between your tipsters, are you able to get the advised prices your tipsters give you, or at least very close to them?  What about the risk profile of your tipsters? Are you ok with what is involved in following a certain tipster?  Or does doing so cause you anxious moments, because if they do, then something is very definitely not right.

Explore this site thoroughly.  If you’ve not done for a while (if at all), then re-read the Pro-Betting Guides and the SBC Insights.  It’s a bit like exam revision.  You read something once and you take some of it in.  You read the same piece and you take more of it in.  Read something enough times and you ensure success when you are tested.  It is the same with betting.  The more of the basics you learn and remember to execute, the more success you will have.

Next week I’ll look at some useful books and betting podcasts you can listen to.

And here is something else you can do…why not use this time and the comments section below to make suggestions in terms of the books and articles you’ve read that you’ve found useful or betting related podcasts you enjoy listening to.  It would be great to get a list together of helpful sources of information and entertainment to fill in the hours.

Stay healthy!

March betting performance

I was going to add a ‘to date’ to the above.  Not sure it’s necessary though…

Bet Alchemist (100 point bank): Staked 33pts, +7.55pts, roi 22.88%, roc 7.55%

Staked 81pts, +4.787pts, roi 5.91%, roc -4.79%

Racing Service 1 (200): Staked 47pts, -9.6pts, roi -20.42%, roc -4.8%

Staked 108pts, -7.2pts, roi -6.67%, roc -3.6%

Golf Insider (400): Staked 28pts, +53.4pts, roi 102.69%, roc 13.35%

Staked 102.3pts, +55.7pts, roi 54.45%, roc 13.93%

PGA Profit (500): Staked 69pts, -49.43pts, roi -71.63%, roc -9.89%

Staked 121pts, +26.63pts, roi 59.36%, roc 20.53%

Precision Value (200): Staked 24pts, -1pt, roi -4.17%, roc -0.5%

Staked 178pts, +7.999pts, roi 4.49%, roc 4%

Racing Intelligence (200): Staked 89pts, -22.7pts, roi -25.51%, roc -11.35%

Staked 309.5pts, +3.773pts, roi 1.22%, roc 1.89%

Scottish Football Income Booster (100): Staked 13pts, -6.073pts, roi -46.72%, roc -6.07%

Staked 70pts, +7.677pts, roi 10.97%, roc 7.68%

Racing Service 2 (50): Staked 6.25pts, -0.25pts, roi -4%, roc -0.5%

Staked 30.5pts, -1.75pts, roi -5.74%, roc -3.5%

 

Total for March: ROI -7.39%, ROC -1.91%

Total 2020 to date: ROI 8.02%, ROC 7.14%

Cheltenham Day 4 – going out with a bang?

So here we are, the last day.  With what has happened to other top level sport in the UK and overseas, I think it’s a bit of a surprise to say the least, that the Festival has been staged in it’s entirety.  Bearing in mind it was abandoned for Foot & Mouth disease a few years ago, it does make you wonder what might have happened if horses could contract Covid-19.

I must admit that the more I’ve learnt about the disease I’ve changed my tune somewhat. I’ve gone from thinking that we were victims of media hype and that of course the Festival should go ahead, to looking at pictures of 50,000 crammed in and wincing a bit.  Italy has one of the best-reputed health services in Europe, and has been totally overwhelmed.  That is truly concerning bearing in mind all the experts I’ve heard say we’re about two weeks behind where they are.

Anyway, this is a betting diary, so let’s not get too deep. All I’d say is, wash your hands….lots!

1.30 Triumph Hurdle

Racing Service 1 – Allmankind each way 5/1.

With a place return that meant I come out level on the race, the story here was of the favourite Goshen who looked like he was about to post one of the most remarkable performances – if not THE most – by charging away from the field from two out.  It was exhilarating viewing until disaster struck, the horse failed to pick up at the last and unceremoniously dumped poor Jamie Moore on his backside.  Racing is a truly evil mistress at times, and even an old cynic like me felt for the jockey who was clearly devastated.

Racing Service 1: Staked 2pts, n/a.

2.10 County Handicap Hurdle

Bet Alchemist – Adjali each way 12/1, Embittered each way 25/1; Racing Service 1 – Zanza each way 40/1; Racing Intelligence – Thasty each way 11/1.

Not a great result as the only horse to produce a return was third placed Embittered.  To be fair, this looked another of those impossible looking races to try to fathom.

Bet Alchemist: Staked 2pts, +1.625pts; Racing Service 1: Staked 2pts, -2pts; Racing Intelligence: Staked 3pts, -3pts.

2.50 Albert Bartlett Novices Hurdle

Bet Alchemist – Redford Road each way 33/1; Racing Service 1 – Thyme Hill to win 5/1.

You do need a wee bit of luck at Cheltenham.  You must hope your horse gets the gaps when they need them, avoid faltering or falling opponents, etc.  It’s fair to say Thyme Hill didn’t get the breaks it needed, twice up the hill being closed out of the gap his jockey was going for.  Whether or not he would have won had he not been obstructed, it’s impossible to say, but I can say with confidence it would have a better chance of doing so.  Oh well, c’est la vie.

Bet Alchemist: Staked 2pts, -2pts; Racing Service 1: Staked 2pts, -2pts

3.30 Gold Cup

Bet Alchemist – Santini (antepost) to win 10/1; Racing Service 1 – Clan Des Obeaux each way 9/1; Racing Intelligence – Santini each way 6/1; Racing Service 2 – Clan Des Obeaux to win 8/1.

The margins between success and failure, profit and loss in this game are frequently very small indeed.  In what has become a bit of a personal theme at this year’s Festival, Santini just failed to get up in a thrilling battle to the line.  It must now be four or five times this has happened this week.  If you remember, the pattern was set as early as the opening races on Tuesday.

The four or five strides it took Santini to regather full momentum after jumping the last and having to pull out and around one of his opponents looked to have cost him victory, and a nice pay out for me.  I feel that I’ve been on the wrong side of that line too many times this week and just one or two going the other way would have ensured a fine profit.

Bet Alchemist: Staked 1pt, -1pt; Racing Service 1: Staked 2pts, -2pts; Racing Intelligence: Staked 6pts, +0.6pts; Racing Service 2: Staked 0.75pts, -0.75pts.

4.10 Foxhunter Hunter Chase

Bet Alchemist – Shantou Flyer each way 8/1

Yesterday’s 50/1 winner in the Stayers Hurdle surpassed by a 66/1 winner in this race!  And by 10 lengths!

Shantou Flyer ran respectably to finish third.  Not a lot more to say.

Bet Alchemist: Staked 1pt, +0.3pts.

4.50 Grand Annual Handicap Chase

Bet Alchemist – Capeland each way 25/1; Racing Service 1 – Eclair de Beaufeu each way 7/1; Racing Service 2 – Greaneteen to win 4/1, Lisp to win 15/2.

The week is very much in danger of ending with something of a whimper.  Another 2nd place, this time Éclair de Beaufeu so a return of sorts, but like so many other times over the last four days not one as big as it so could easily have been.

Bet Alchemist: Staked 2pts, -2pts; Racing Service 1: Staked 2pts, +0.4pts; Racing Service 2: Staked 1pt, -1pt.

Let’s see if we can go out with a bang…

5.30 Martin Pipe Handicap Hurdle

Bet Alchemist – Assemble each way 20/1; Racing Service 1 – The Boss’s Oscar each way 12/1.

Hmmm…more a slight fizzle than a bang, as The Boss’s Oscar grabs a place and Assemble is a non-runner.

Racing Service 1: Staked 2pts, +1.4pts.

No winners on the final day and I must admit, this year’s Festival has proven to be harder to make a profit than in previous years.  That’s bound to happen from time to time of course, but the 20%+ ROIs hit in the past sadly didn’t materialize this week.  Bet Alchemist can be pleased with its week’s work, and although not many bets were issued, Precision Value has performed well too.  Racing Service 2, though improving on previous losing Cheltenhams, essentially only broke even as did Racing Intelligence.

So that’s it for another year.  I hope you ended the week in profit and thank you for reading.  Stay healthy, and roll on next year.  Let’s face it, the build up starts tomorrow…

Day’s figures: ROI -35.79% (for the Festival in total: 6.28%).

Bet Alchemist: Staked 7pts, -1.075pts (Staked 31pts, +7.675pts, ROI 24.75%)

Racing Service 1: Staked 14pts, -4.2pts (Staked 47pts, -9.6pts, ROI -20.43%)

Precision Value: n/a (Staked 5pts, +4pts, ROI 80%)

Racing Intelligence: Staked 9pts, -2.4pts (Staked 31pts, -0.2pts, ROI -0.65%)

Racing Service 2: Staked 1.75pts, -1.75pts (Staked 5.75pts, +0.25pts, ROI 4.34%)