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A Chat with Kieran O’Hagan

I am perhaps different from many of those that write in On Course Profits, in that I was in my 40's when I got into horse racing, or that should probably say ‘betting on horse racing', as I was not really into the sport as such, I just wanted to make money.

My Mum died in 2002 and there was a small inheritance that mainly paid some off the mortgage and did things around the house.

There was a grand left after doing that and interest rates were a pittance, so I decided I would see if there was another way of ‘investing' it.

The internet was fairly new to us back then and I soon found some bloke who was going to turn my grand into a fortune and get me a new car and holiday and whatever else I wanted.

All I had to do was wait for an email from him each morning, after he had walked the track and chatted to some trainers and owners and boom! I was in!

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That grand did not last too long but it really was worth losing it because it taught me a lot of lessons very quickly and I was fast to learn a lot of work was needed to try and make this game pay.

It also made me think that I could do better myself.

As a computer programmer by trade (pre PC, so mini computer/mainframe type background and developing Business systems), I have a fairly logical mind and soon I was looking for statistics and analysis based on speed or patterns and things that would help me to lose my money much less quickly.

I used Lawrence Taylor's speed ratings along with the Racing Post analysis and then I came across Proform in its early days but after an introductory offer, I moved away due to the cost (probably a costly mistake as it happens) and then settled on Pattern Form, which I thought was a superb tool. All those things made me a much better punter, but time was always an issue.

I was in a fairly high pressured job, I had a young family, I didn't have the time to study as much as was necessary and at the end of the day, I was still losing over time. I decided to call it a day, but I was fairly sure I would return when the time was right.

A few years later and my life had changed significantly, the company I worked for had down sized and I was now contracting for myself in different parts of the country, and I had a lot more time in the evenings.

After a bit of research, I decided that I would invest in Proform and use the Data Export function and start writing my own software to process it. I rented space on a server in Germany where I could write in my language (RPG) and a new era began.

The main aim was to try and reduce the time that was involved to make selections and that automatically followed through to writing systems that would produce a list of bets each day and if time allowed at the weekends or during festivals, I would have tools to help me analyse a race and have a bet without spending a huge amount of time.

Very early, I realised that something visual would be required for my way of thinking and I decided that Speed figures (exported from Proform) would be the key and I came up with something along these lines (and I did say it was mini/mainframe computers!):

Red is good (i.e., above Par) and yellow is not necessarily a warning but something to check. One of the keys to the above was that I used speed for the same type of course (Top Cmb Spd column). So, a horse may be running on a track that is Undulating and Stiff, but it has never run at that course before.

It has though run at other Undulating and Stiff courses, so I would first check if it had a Top Course Speed above par and if not, if it had a Top Combined Speed (Undulating and Stiff) that was above par. If it had one or the other and was above par for Going and Distance, it would definitely be of interest. It was obviously fairly easy to make a system for that scenario and in fact, that would have been my earliest successful system.

All those figures are based on the data exported from Proform and obviously, without the Proform speed figures, it would not have been possible.

Using systems such as the above and other Proform statistics, I soon had a decent portfolio and was beginning to believe that I would be able to make a living from my betting. Alas, it was not too long before the inevitable account restrictions took place and after one year in which I had 18 accounts closed or restricted, I realised that Betfair was my only way forward.

That was maybe 6 years or 7 years ago now and boy has it been hard trying to make it without BOG and early prices. Those early systems just did not work without those bookie accounts.

I still have 3 bookmaker accounts, though only one in my name. One I use mainly for football, one I have an occasional horse racing bet and the other is an under the radar (for now anyway) account where I place very small bets every evening and over the year, it pays for my Proform subscription.

That allows me to continue to try and find systems that will work at BSP.

My latest efforts are back to my early days and some enhancements that include me rating each individual race based on past performance of the horse, jockey, trainer etc. and the inclusion of PRB (Percentage of Rivals Beaten) statistics. So, my screen now looks like this:

It is very early days using these new approaches but as I have recently retired (a few years early) and have more time than ever to research systems, I feel much more confident that I can crack this betting at BFSP lark!

Kieran O’Hagan

Kieran shares selections daily in the Platinum members area

Featured Image: Image: Pixabay

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