Month: March 2020

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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%)

Cheltenham Day 3 – break even as we run hard to stand still.

I saw that two or three tipsters referred to Day 3 as a make or break day as far as overall Festival performance is concerned.  Let’s hope there is more making being done than breaking, eh?

1.30 Marsh Novices’ Chase

Bet Alchemist – Itchy Feet each way 5/1; Racing Service 1 – Mister Fisher each way 6/1; Precision Value – Faugheen to win 7/2; Racing Service 2 – Mister Fisher to win 13/2.

Some real ‘Festival’ horses lining up in this race and it turned out to be a heck of a race to watch, but sadly one from which we made no return.  There was a brief moment up the hill when first I thought Mister Fisher was going to rally and make a real fist of getting up, and then as that one faded to fourth that Faugheen might just do so instead.  Itchy Feet had crashed out after making one too many blunders much earlier in the race.  Faugheen ‘The Machine’ sadly isn’t as good a jumper of a fence as he was a hurdler of a hurdle, and his jumping wasn’t as slick as the two who fought a right old ding dong to the line.  I guess at the highest level of the sport, losing the odd half a length at a fence is ultimately going to prove costly.

Bet Alchemist: Staked 1pt, -1pt; Racing Service 1: Staked 2pts, -2pts; Precision Value: Staked 1pt, -1pt; Racing Service 2: Staked 0.5pts, -0.5pts.

2.00 Pertemps Final Handicap Hurdle

Racing Service 1 – Third Wind each way 12/1, Jatiluwih each way 18/1; Racing Intelligence – Welsh Saint each way 11/2; Racing Service 2 – The Storyteller to win 5/1, Tout est Permis to win 20/1.

Oh dear.  That one feels like a bit of a kick in the teeth.  I was convinced Storyteller was going to win but he was just run out of it in the last 100 yards.  Tout est Permis ran a very decent race too at the odds, finishing third – not much good when you’ve backed him win only.  The only return was on 4th placed Third Wind and to come away from such a competitive race as that with just a minimal return having backed three of the first four home…I hope it’s not going to be one of those days.

Racing Service 1: Staked 2pts, -0.3pts; Racing Intelligence: Staked 6pts, -6pts; Racing Service 2: Staked 1pt, -1pt.

2.50 Ryanair Chase

Bet Alchemist – Aso each way 28/1; Racing Service 1 – Riders On The Storm each way 7/1 (antepost).

Yup, it does look increasingly like it is going to be one of those days.  There’s not much to say about this race.  Riders On The Storm fell, and I think Aso is still running!

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

3.30 Stayers’ Hurdle

Bet Alchemist – Summerville Boy each way 9/1; Racing Service 1 – City Island each way 14/1.

And again, no joy.  This is proving to be break, not make.  Somebody do some making!  Making is good.  Making is the future.  Breaking is so yesterday, goddammit…

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

4.10 Steel Plate Handicap Chase

Bet Alchemist – Ben Dundee each way 9/1, Simply The Betts each way 7/1 (antepost); Racing Service 1 – Clondaw Castle each way 25/1.

I was just beginning to think that Clondaw Castle as a non-runner might be the best result I get today, and then like a lighthouse appearing on a stormy night to guide the ship away from perilous rocks, Simply The Betts lands the spoils.  Thank goodness for that – a win was much needed.  The cherry on the cake was Ben Dundee squeaking home to grab 5th – and therefore a place return – by about the width of a fly’s whisker.  Happy days.

Bet Alchemist: Staked 3pts, +9.45pts.  

4.50 Mares’ Novices Hurdle

Bet Alchemist – Concertista each way 9/2; Precision Value – Concertista to win 9/2.

Now we’re cooking on gas!  This is what we want…a 12 length winner on a horse tipped up by two tipsters.  Never in doubt. I never for one second doubted this was going to be a good day.

Bet Alchemist: Staked 2pts, +5.4pts; Precision Value: Staked 1pt, +4,5pts.

5.30 Fulke Walwyn Amateurs Handicap Chase

Bet Alchemist – Le Breuil each way 8/1 (antepost); Racing Service 1 – Le Breuil each way 11/2; Racing Service 2 – Cloth Cap to win 20/1.

Didn’t see the race, but looks from the result that neither horse came close to giving a return.

Bet Alchemist: Staked 2pts, -2pts; Racing Service 1: Staked 2pts, -2pts; Racing Service 2: Staked 0.5pts, -0.5pts.

After the first three races, we were staring down the barrel of a gun.  All the gains made yesterday were at risk of largely being handed straight back before a couple of nice winners turned things around and made Day 3 a break even day.  So, after all that make or break build up, we neither made nor broke.  So we go into the final day nicely up and all to play for.

Day’s figures: ROI -0.21% (Festival to date: 20.4%)

Bet Alchemist: Staked 10pts, +9.85pts.

Racing Service 1: Staked 12pts, -9.3pts.

Precision Value: Staked 2pts, +3.5pts.

Racing Intelligence: Staked 6pts, -6pts.

Racing Service 2: Staked 2pts, -2pts.

Cheltenham Day 2 – Great profit, and an amazing forecast!

So we go again.  Would be nice to show a profit today, although the card looks incredibly difficult.  But then, to my untutored eye, they all do.

1.30 Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle

Bet Alchemist – Longhouse Poet each way 18/1; Racing Service 1 – The Big Breakaway each way 10/1.

No return from the first race of the day, but a reminder of what a doughnut I can be at times!  The Big Getaway made all and approaching the climb up the hill to the line looked in a real chance of winning.  I’d been cheering this beast on from the beginning, and as it passed the line in third place consoled myself with the thought that it least I’d grabbed a place return.  Doh.

The Big Getaway wasn’t my horse.  The Big Breakaway was.  Where did that one finish?  Just the one place out of the frame in fourth.  Naturally.

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

2.10 RSA Novices’ Chase

Racing Service 1 – Battleoverdoyen each way 14/1; Precision Value – Allaho to win 4/1; Racing Intelligence – Battleoverdoyen each way 12/1.

For a long way I thought we were going to get a big result with Battleoverdoyen, which to my eye jumped superbly all the way around.  Coming down the hill it looked to be going best of all and I was getting really quite excited.  As soon as he hit the hill though, he went out like a light and crossed the line rather wearily just out of the frame for my Racing Service 1 bet, but with a different bookmaker paying out on four places for the Racing Intelligence bet, I got at least a small place return there.

Meanwhile, as that one faded, Allaho seemed to be finding a second wind but it was misleading, and with the winner Champ storming home with a wet sail Allaho stumbled into third.

So, two races down, and barely a return in sight.  I’ve been in this situation at many a Cheltenham Festival in the past only to end the week with a fine profit.  Will that pattern be repeated here, or will things deteriorate further from here?

Racing Service 1: Staked 2pts, -2pts; Precision Value: Staked 1pt, -1pt; Racing Intelligence: Staked 4pts, +2.8pts.

2.50 Coral Cup Handicap

Bet Alchemist – Dame du Compagnie each way 6/1, Black Tears each way 18/1; Racing Service 1 – Franco du Port each way 10/1, Coco Beach each way 40/1; Racing Intelligence – Thosedaysaregone each way 14/1; Racing Service 2 – Dame du Compagnie to win 5/1.

An absolutely impossible looking handicap and yet Bet Alchemist managed the 1-2, which is quite the feat.  Great to see Dame du Compagnie get up for Racing Service 2, too.  A. doesn’t have the best of records at the Festival which is strange for a man of his talents, so to watch his sole wager of the day land the spoils was particularly gratifying.

In my experience, you make good profit at Cheltenham when one of two things happen.  Either you back a big-priced winner or two, or you have two or three tipsters tip up the same horse that goes on to win.  This is why I would always treat each individual tipsters betting advice as it’s own thing, and stick to the staking plan you have in place for each tipster.

Not only did we have the 1-2, but we had the 3 as well, with Thosedaysaregone again landing place money for Racing Intelligence.

Bet Alchemist: Staked 2pts, +5.5pts; Racing Service 1: Staked 2pts, -2pts; Racing Intelligence: Staked 4pts, +5pts; Racing Service 2: Staked 1pt, +5pts.

3.30 Queen Mother Champion Chase

Racing Service 1 – Defi du Seuil to win 9/4 (antepost).

To my mind, there’s nothing better in gambling on the nags than a well planned and executed antepost coup.  It’s great holding a ticket at a good price for a horse whose price come the off is a fraction of what you took.  So when Defi du Seuil goes off as a 2/5 favourite and the price I’m holding is 9/4, I feel justified in smiling smugly and feeling that all in the gambling world is good.

And then the beast runs like a hairy goat.

Racing Service 1: Staked 2pts, -2pts.

I’ve got nothing in the next, which is a relief.  I hate those cross country mickey mouse races.  Find them incredibly dull.

4.50 Fred Winter Juvenile Handicap Hurdle

Racing Service 1 – Thyme White each way 14/1, Frazer Island each way 28/1; Racing Intelligence – Saint D’Oroux each way 16/1.

Not a clue what happened in this race, other than Racing Intelligence brought up a hat trick of place returns for what amounts to a decent day.

Racing Service 1: Staked 2pts, -2pts; Racing Intelligence: Staked 4pts, +4.4pts.

5.30 Champion Bumper

Bet Alchemist – Five For Brian each way 28/1.

Had a bet. Came nowhere.

Bet Alchemist: Staked 1pt, -1pt.

A much better and profitable day.  A big doff of the cap to Bet Alchemist for getting the 1-2 in one of the most fiercely competitive and open handicaps of the week – sensational tipping (shame I didn’t back the forecast – some lucky beggar will have done so, no doubt!).  Great to see Racing Service 2 hitting bullseye too.  So, a good profit on the day but not enough to make me think the Festival will definitely be a profitable one.  Let’s see what tomorrow brings.

By the way, I’ve got to leave the house at 4.30 tomorrow and won’t be home until late, so the post will likely be up much later.

Day’s figures: ROI 77.71% (Festival to date: 32.99%)

Bet Alchemist: Staked 4pts, +3.5pts.

Racing Service 1: Staked 10pts, -10pts

Precision Value: Staked 1pt, -1pt.

Racing Intelligence: Staked 12pts, +12.2pts.

Racing Service 2: Staked 1t, +5pts.

Cheltenham Day 1 – good win in the last saves the day.

And so it’s finally here.  Seriously wet weather and the Coronavirus have done their level best to ruin it all for everybody, but there seems to be no stopping the Festival.  Let’s see how we fare over the next four days of superb sporting action.

1.30 Supreme Novices’ Hurdle

Bets: Bet Alchemist – Asterion Forlonge to win 4/1 (antepost), Abracadabras each way 9/2; Racing Service 1 – Asterion Forlonge each way 6/1 (antepost), Precision Value – Abracadabras to win 3/1.

A thrilling race to kick the Festival off that had a bit of everything bar a win.  After an anticlimactic false start the race itself looked to be going as hoped with Asterion Forlonge making all the running with Abracadabras going well tucked into the field.  Asterion was still in the lead jumping the second last but Abracadabras was to my eye going the best of the lot but was so nearly brought down by two fallers.  Breathing a sigh of relief I genuinely thought that we were getting the Festival off and running with a bang, getting that bit of luck we need as Abracadabras forges into the lead approaching the last looking all over the winner.  It must have hit a pretty low in running price on Betfair!  However, Shishkin came seemingly from nowhere and the two entered a tremendous duel up the hill.  With a different stride patten Abracadabras would have won on the nod – instead, it lost.  Let’s hope this isn’t a sign of things to come.

Bet Alchemist: Staked 3pts, -1.1pts; Racing Service 1: Staked 2pts, +0.2pts; Precision Value: Staked 1pt, -1pt.

2.10 Arkle Novices’ Chase

Bet Alchemist – Brewinupastorm each way 6/1; Racing Service 1 – Notebook to win 3/1; Racing Service 2 – Esprit du Large to win 12/1.

A complete damp squibb of a race.  A second false start in as many races and Notebook one of the chief culprits.  Alas, it showed more alacrity and willing before the start than in the race itself.  Brewinupastorm never looked to be going well and the jockey seemed to jump out the side door going over one of the fences down the back straight.  Esprit du Large fell when well beaten at the second last.  All very anticlimactic.

Bet Alchemist: Staked 1pt, -1pt; Racing Service 1: Staked 2pts, -2pts; Racing Service 2: Staked 0.5pts, -0.5pts.

2.50 Ultima Handicap

Bet Alchemist – Kildisart each way 10/1, Atlanta Ablaze each way 33/1; Racing Service 1 – Kildisart each way 10/1.

I hope this isn’t going to turn into one of those meetings.  So far, it’s certainly been one of those days.  Atalanta Ablaze ran well enough without ever really threatening to land a place.  Kildisart on the other had jumped the last looking good, looking like it was going to get up to win, but despite a last ditch rally failed to get up by a neck.  That’s two second now in three races where the aggregate of the losing distances adds up to about two feet!

It would be nice to break the duck and get one over the line….

Bet Alchemist: Staked 2pts, -0.25pts; Racing Service 1: Staked 2pts, +1.5pts.

3.30 Champion Hurdle

Bet Alchemist – Supasundae each way 12/1 (antepost); Racing Service 1 – Sharjah each way 14/1; Precision Value – Epatante to win 5/2; Racing Intelligence – Supasundae each way 4/1.

Well, I asked for a winner, and a winner I got.  Probably not the best of the three horses backed to have come in as the price was short.  Sharjah ran a fine race and approached the last hurdle swinging on the bridle and I thought we were in for a big one, but ultimately the favourite won quite cosily, although a place return on Sharjah is not to be sniffed at.  With horses backed running well, at least we’re not really losing money, but we are still waiting for the big priced winner that will truly set us on our way.

Nothing in the next race and then I’ll not see the last two races as they’re not being televised, and I need to take the dog out.  Poor thing, she’s sitting here with her legs crossed!

Bet Alchemist: Staked 1pt, -1pt; Racing Service 1: Staked 2pts, Precision Value: Staked 1pt, +2.5pts; Racing Intelligence Staked 4pts, -4pts.

4.50 Novices’ Handicap Chase

Bet Alchemist – Hold The Note each way 10/1, Precious Cargo each way 16/1; Racing Service 1 – Precious Cargo each way 16/1; Racing Service 2 – Hold The Note to win 10/1.

The theme of selections running well but not winning that has fast emerged from this year’s Festival continues with Hold The Note coming in third.  One more race to go to find that elusive win that will forge the day into profit.

Bet Alchemist: Staked 2pts, -0.25pts; Racing Service 1: Staked 2pts, -2pts; Racing Service 2: Staked 0.5pts, -0.5pts.

5.30 Amateur Riders’ Novice Chase

Bet Alchemist – Springfield Fox each way 6/1; Racing Service 1 – Ravenhill each way 12/1.

At last!  Last race of the day, first big win of the Festival as Ravenhill, a big drifter, wins a duel to the line with Lord de Mesnil to win by a shade over two lengths.  Hoorah!  This is more like it – a bit of a drifter too in the markets.

I listened to race commentary on the radio in the car.  I reckon you could have a horse 30 lengths in front with 100 yards to go and it would still sound exciting.  Had to beep the horn a couple of times for that one!

Bet Alchemist: Staked 1pt, -1pt; Racing Service 1: Staked 2pts, +14.4pts.

And so we reach the end of Day 1.  That result in the last made things a lot better, but still end in the red, although not by much.  Star of the Day easily Racing Service 1.  Let’s see what Day 2 brings.

Day’s Figures: ROI -4.29%

Bet Alchemist: Staked 10pts, -4.6pts.

Racing Service 1: Staked 12pts, +13.9pts.

Precision Value: Staked 2pts, +1.5pts.

Racing Intelligence: Staked 4pts, -4pts.

Racing Service 2: Staked 1pt, -1pt.





Cheltenham is nearly here folks! It’s nearly here…

There is, without any shadow of doubt, something very special about the Cheltenham Festival. I know it’s a bit of a cliché, but it really is like Christmas if you are a fan of jumps racing.

The build up starts way back in October/November when the National Hunt season begins to gather real momentum, and that build up doesn’t stop until the tape goes up at the start of the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle on the Tuesday and the famous ‘Cheltenham Roar’ fills the air. Until that point, everything that happens at the higher level of the Sport is all about Cheltenham. The winning trainer of the King George at Kempton on Boxing Day is not given five minutes to wallow in the warmth of victory in such a prestigious race before being asked live on television what chances they feel their equine star has in the Cheltenham Gold Cup.

It seems like every year we have rumours of Irish wonder horses that will win their allotted Festival race not so much doing cartwheels, than puffing nonchalantly on a fat Cuban cigar and pulling on a nip of Jameson’s after jumping the last, such will their ease of victory surely be. We have handicap plots galore, and “Insider” jobs hinted at conspiratorially by experts holding court at the various pre-Cheltenham preview shows.

I confess I’ve only been to the actual meeting once previously. It was Gold Cup day back in 1995, and it gave me one of my true Cheltenham highlights. Never one to successfully tip winners myself, that year I had a theory that I repetitively tried to convince my best mate and his Dad, who were my travel companions for the day, would lead to riches. The hot favourite was One Man, but after reading Nick Mordin’s book, Betting For A Living and doing a wee bit of form study (!), I was absolutely certain that it couldn’t win over 3m+ on an undulating track. Cheltenham is as undulating as the Yorkshire Dales, and Imperial Call – second favourite, an Irish raider – was my choice. Goodness, a few pints of the Black Stuff were sunk when Imperial Call came home in front and One Man trailed in last!

My other stand out Festival memory is playing truant from school – or wagging it, as it was known – with the same mate, as callow youths back in 1989, the year Desert Orchid won the Gold Cup. Trouble was, my gambling partner and I had antepost tickets on Yahoo at 14/1 (the local bookie wasn’t too fussed on age restrictions) and if Betfair had been going back then, Yahoo would have definitely hit odds on in running going over the last. Alas it wasn’t to be, and I think we were the only two in the country who weren’t teary eyed when Desert Orchid battled back so gamely to pip ours in the final few yards…

And who can forget Long Run’s famous win over the great Kauto Star and Denman. What a race that was – possibly the best I’ve ever seen – and having had a big bet on the winner made it all the sweeter.

Anyway, that’s all in the past. What do I do for Cheltenham in the present? The easiest way to explain is to give you a breakdown of the typical Cheltenham day…

The night before

 I’ll have struck my Bet Alchemist and Cleeve Racing bets and be tucked up nice and early with a mug of hot chocolate and the Weekender. There’ll be no work distractions for the remainder of the week and in some ways this is my favourite time of the week – all is ahead to look forward to, and like Christmas presents as a kid, the anticipation is more than half the overall enjoyment.


 Up and at ‘em. Laughing at the wife and kids because they have to go to work/school, I imagine that with my perma-grin I’m pretty annoying to be around. Still, the kids get a lift in to school, as I want to pick up a copy of the Racing Post which is read over a traditional Cheltenham week breakfast of Potato Cakes (a nod to the Irish) and coffee. With selections highlighted and opinions absorbed, it’s time to whizz the mutt around the block.


 It’s from this time that I expect and anticipate some bets coming through. The Value Bettor will be sending his early tips but this year it will be interesting to see how he plays the week. Previous years have not proven to be too successful for Andrew, which is really surprising bearing in mind his love of the course and aptitude for finding winners there. I do know that after last year he wondered aloud if he should continue to tip as he has been doing at the Festival, so it will be interesting to see exactly how he plays it this year.

We’ll also have Racing Intelligence selections coming through. This will be my first experience of the service through Cheltenham week, so I have no idea as to whether to expect a lot of action at Prestbury Park or very little. Precision Value too, should have some tips, but always important to back the selections at the other meetings held during the week. A 4/1 winner at Sedgefield pays the same as a 4/1 winner at the Festival!


In between striking the bets as they come through, it will be time to watch the ITV Morning Line or whatever it’s called nowadays, previously recorded on the Sky box. Can’t say it’s particularly informative, but all adds to the growing sense of anticipation.


 Lunch and the switch on to the tv coverage, leading up to the 1.30 start to the first race of the card. On the Friday it will be a traditional visit to my old mate and his Dad to watch the Gold Cup over a couple of beers and a reminisce…Imperial Call may have been my only ever self-found winner, but it wasn’t half a good one!

Finally, just one thing to address, an issue that I am frequently asked about. Most horse racing tipsters will be concentrating on Cheltenham and if you follow a few, you are quite likely going to see a number of races in which you have been tipped a number of different horses. What to do? My advice is simple – just back everything in the same way as you always do for each tipster. Same stake, same time…just get on in the normal way. As soon as you start messing about, not backing horses, the sooner it will be you’ll live to regret it. You’ll judge your tipster’s record over the long term, so just keep methodically plugging away with each.

No doubt – as it is the case every year – the following hours of racing each afternoon will generate new memories; wonderment at the bravery of both horse and jockey, thrilling finishes, and great stories. Some of which will be written up via my daily Bet Diary post each evening. Here’s hoping that we all make some money and the tipsters we follow get their fair share of luck.

You know what? I can’t wait for the weekend and Monday to be over! Very best of luck to all.

February 2020 review – some lovely profit to keep us warm through the cold and wet.

February is a dark, miserable month, and I for one am glad to see the back of it.  It really has no redeeming features.  It’s cold.  This year it has been ridiculously wet.  It still gets dark very early in the afternoon, and it’s dark when you get up in the morning.  It’s just horrible – I hate it.  And whose bloomin’ idea was it to stick an extra day on the end of it every four years!?!  I understand we need a leap year to maintain the delicate balance of the universe and our place in it or whatever, but why not tag an extra day onto the end of June or July, when we can enjoy warm, balmy weather and sit in the garden until late, sipping a nice glass of wine?  Seriously, who is to blame for the madness of giving us an extra day in February, of all months!?!

Still, despite the gloom, the portfolio produced a nice enough profit through the month and all things considered everything is ticking along nicely.  The ROI, for the second consecutive month, lies comfortably above the 10% marker that is the stated aim for the Bet Diary portfolio this year.  At 16.54% for the month (14.11% since the 1st January) I can really find no cause for complaint.

The stand out performer has been PGA Profit, aided of course by the 50/1 winner the other week.  I’ve now reverted to following the advised staking plan and bank allocation and we’ll see how things go through March, but so far I’m really enjoying the service.  I’ve found that waiting until Wednesday evening/Thursday morning to place the Top 10 and Top 20 market bets is not having an adverse impact at all on the prices I’m taking and I really like the idea of being busy in these markets to take away some of the big drawdowns and lengthy losing runs that backing in the outright market inevitably bring.  So far, so very good.

Really pleasing to see a strong return from Scottish Football Income Booster.  As you may remember, at the start of the year I expressed concerns over the ability to breach the 10% ROI marker from football betting nowadays, but SFIB is currently achieving that and more.  Long may that continue.

By hitting on a decent winner this last Saturday Racing Service 2 completed the turnaround from what had been promising to be another sticky month to follow on from January’s difficulties, to one that ended very nicely in the black.  It will be interesting to see what TVB does through Cheltenham this year.

Racing Intelligence the other notable performer although I have noticed prices disappearing quicker now.  Need to be sharp!

One last thing – keep an eye out for a bonus post on Friday…all about Cheltenham.  Fingers crossed the old coronavirus doesn’t cause the meeting to be cancelled, eh?  That would never do.

Bet Alchemist (100 point bank): Staked 26pts, -4.163pts, roi -16.01%, roc -4.16%

Staked 48pts, -2.763pts, roi -5.76%, roc -2.76%

 Racing Service 1 (200): Staked 26pts, -5pts, roi -19.23%, roc -2.5%

Staked 61pts, +2.4pts, roi 3.93%, roc 1.2%

Golf Insider (400): Staked 29.2pts, -10.8pts, roi -36.99%, roc -2.7%

Staked 74.3pts, +2.3pts, roi 3.1%, roc 0.58%

PGA Profit (300): Staked 41pts, +61.7pts, roi 150.49%, roc 20.57%

Staked 52pts, +76.06pts, roi 146.27%, roc 25.35%

Precision Value (200): Staked 68pts, -13.792pts, roi -20.28%, roc -6.9%

Staked 154pts, +8.999pts, roi 5.84%, roc 4.5%

Racing Intelligence (200): Staked 93pts, +18.375pts, roi 19.76%, roc 9.19%

Staked 220.5pts, +26.473pts, roi 12%, roc 13.24%

Scottish Football Income Booster (100): Staked 43pts, +9.65pts, roi 22.44%, roc 9.65%

Staked 57pts, +13.75pts, roi 24.12%, roc 13.75%

Racing Service 2 (50): Staked 13.5pts, +4pts, roi 29.63%, roc 8%

Staked 24.25pts, -1.5pts, roi -6.18%, roc -3%



February roi 16.54%, roc 5.51%

Year to Date roi 14.11%, roc 9.05%