Friday, 12 February 2016

Just a click away

Alongside the exponential growth of on-line betting over the last 10 years has come the equally voracious spread of internet forums, tipsters and bloggers. Indeed, in some small way I am part of that virtual community.

Any amount of advice and information is (theoretically, at least) available if you are prepared to filter out the detritus; sieve through the rubbish; scroll through the pap. I recently left the Horse Racing Social group on Facebook because I got fed up with the amount of knee-jerk bellyaching, belligerent contributor-baiting  and bellicose conspiracy-theorising. Racing trolls, eh?  (Sounds like a new toy for Christmas.)

That’s not to say the site was bereft of occasional wisdom, insightful comment or the odd pretty photo. I even learnt some new insults. For instance, last week I had backed Paul Nicholls’ Stilletto to win a novice chase at Wincanton. The horse cruised around the home bend to lead, with his rivals toiling in the mud. Approaching three out, I could see Sam Twiston Davies stoking up Stilletto, but the horse just wouldn’t come up for him. He made barely any effort to jump the fence and came crashing down. I was sick. Up until that point he looked a certain winner. I wasn’t particularly blaming the jockey. One group member certainly was, however. Look away now to protect your sensibilities. “Sam Twiston Davies, you cock-juggling thundercunt!” screamed the post headline. A memorable epithet that made me chuckle. I’ll tuck that one away, ready to unfurl at the track…

There are plenty of good websites out there though. And it’s worth persevering. In early December a tipster was recommended to me who was offering up value punts on good quality 3m+ handicap mile chases and landing them regularly. So this is a big shout out to Josh Wright and his Racing To Profit set up. 

The lads and I were at Sandown’s excellent Tingle Creek meeting. It coincided with Aintree’s best fixture outside the Grand National Festival. Josh had put up an extensive analysis of the Becher Chase over the big national fences. His selections were Highland Lodge at 28/1 and Portrait King at 16/1. I watched the race unfold on a bank of TV screens near the real ale bar in the nether regions of the main stand. Nick was stood next to me. Josh’s selection was prominent from the off. I said,

“Some lad tipped this up this morning. Made a compelling case”.

The horse continued to fence with alacrity and rhythm.

“So are you on then? He looks like he’ll win!”

I coughed and shuffled my feet.

“No, I backed Thunder and Roses. I couldn’t see past his shocking recent form!”

Highland Lodge came home like a trooper, despite a little wandering on the run in. My horse was pulled up. I have not ignored his advice so glibly since.

Josh has gone on to put up the winners of many staying handicap chases over the winter, many at outstanding value: Last Samuri in the William Hill Chase (13/2); Ziga Boy (twice, both at Donny, and 9/2 and 8/1), Soll in the Veterans Chase Final (8/1), Russe Blance in the Betfred Classic Chase (a staggering 20/1); the North Yorkshire National (Lackamon at 14/1), Golden Chieftain at Wincanton (14/1) ), Cloudy Too in the Tommy Whittle (7/1), Le Reve last Saturday in the Betfred Masters (4/1). Many more. 

I’ve been on some of these and others I’ve left alone. I like to read Josh’s refreshing, honest analysis and then make up my own mind.  I shouldn’t bother with the last bit. If I’d followed him punt-for-punt I would have been far, far better off. His stats in 2016 to last week were 40 bets yielding 12 wins plus place returns giving a stunning +96.5 points profit.  

I’m a cynical old sod and I don’t endorse very much. But you could do a lot worse than get yourself over to his free site (though donations are welcomed) and check out the advice. 

As Josh candidly admits, this outstanding run can’t continue for ever. I only hope he can squeeze out a little more juice to help me in those murderous handicap chases at the upcoming Festival. My 15 year record in them is a mere four wins from 101 renewals, including no win at all, ever, in the Grand Annual, the Plate or the Kim Muir.  I kid you not. Every year I sweat cobs to land a few of the graded races and then try my damnedest to lose it all in those black holes, sucking the life out of my punting strategy. To be fair, I have learned the lessons from my stats; identified and acted upon my own trends. My staking is much lower in the both handicap chases and handicap hurdles (although I do have a better record over timber) these days. There’s no way I can leave them completely unpunted though. It is the Festival after all.


Maybe sticking with Josh’s advice will help me rescue those lamentable stats a bit. In the meantime, better get back to the ante-post markets.  Only 5 weeks to go, you know. Tick. Tick.

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