This month's Paul Moon of The Racing Horse – On The Bit talks to us about his passion for racing and Pacafi.
1. Hi Paul, and many thanks for joining us this month, first off would you start by telling our readers a little about yourself and your background?I love horse racing, cricket, football and boxing and bet professionally on those sports to supplement a small pension and to pay for those little extras in life.I have a lifetime experience of horse racing (51 years) and previously worked for Heathorns and Ladbrokes as Betting Managers.In my pomp, I would troubleshoot for Ladbrokes and go to problem shops deemed to be in unsavoury areas or those with an awkward clientele. To be trained in management and settling by Ladbrokes in the 60s and 70s carried real status, those days are long gone.Most of my working life has been involved in the cricket industry but more recently I wrote for Betfair for four and a half years on a range of sporting issues. I thoroughly enjoyed the experience and it has given me the confidence to express myself not just on sporting topics, but also in the world of betting! In the last year, I have recently taken up shares in three horses with Paul Nicholls and hope to have lots of fun, winners, and information through 2018.
2. What attracted you to the world of horse racing? What do you enjoy most about the sport?In 1967 I ran away from home (aged 16) from Bath in Somerset to Australia to become a jackaroo/cowboy but that ended up badly. Fortuitously, I found myself living in Sydney just two minutes away from Centennial Park and Randwick Racecourse where I watched horses school and exercise most days. I got to know some of the work riders/staff and was then able to recognise some of the horses before following their progress on the track; from then on I was hooked.I love race days but get as much pleasure in the anticipation and build-up. Visiting stables is always a privilege and I love those opportunities of seeing horses close up and personal and then watch them generate their awesome power on the gallops. This side of the game thrills me as much now as it did in 1967 and I urge everyone to visit a racing stable at least once if they have the opportunity.
3. What led you to set up the blog and what do you offer your members of the Pacafi club? Can you explain the word and principle behind Pacafi? What do you feel you can offer racing enthusiasts and punters that other subscription services can’t?
The Racing Horse blog was always going to be a place where I could scribe my thoughts post Betfair but also to assist and hone my personal betting. If something does not make sense the written word will expose it and I wanted my bets/rationale tested.
The Pacafi Club started in June 2011 and is where I share my strategy and a number of micro-systems to those of a similar mind set. All the advice is mathematically driven and extricated from a sound statistical base. The website received vital help at a crucial time from Matt Bisogno and we are indebted to him.
PACAFI is an acronym for Professional, Calculated, Filtered, Investment and the cornerstone of The Racing Horse. It represents the complete antipathy of random wagering! Every single Pacafi must come with a common-sense rationale and perceived value. The bet has been filtered using strict criteria and heavily weighted towards trainer form, horse profile, ground, class, and jockey booking.
The Racing Horse does not presume to know better than other subscriptions. We know there are those who are dishonest, whilst some complicate matters and others are simply not fit for purpose. We promise honesty, insight, opinion, and advice on how to profit from horse racing though readily admit our style of betting will not suit the vast majority of bettors.
Making slow and small incremental gains over a period is not deemed sexy, but we are in the incremental gains business and something that suits our personality in the context of risk and reward.
4. Do you have a “typical” working day? How would you describe your day to day work?
We are big readers of everything horse racing and scan every race the day before looking for interest and opportunity. For me this is not a chore, so with dictaphone at the ready we note key races and trainer activity.
Filtration is a big part of our work as we sieve contenders from pretenders.
Last minute problems with our bets will include late changes to the going conditions, draw bias or jockey bookings. Once these are known we can price up races before seeing the opening shows. Bookmakers start to price up at 5 pm the day before racing and this usually instigates a flurry of activity as we look for an advantage.
If we have a value bet that meets our strictest criteria we have a Pacafi, and although different weighting applies, we adopt similar principles to our micro-systems. When there are qualifiers we back our nominations before alerting our members 60 seconds later. As quickly as time restraints allow, a sound rationale is posted supporting the selection and explaining our direction of travel. Every single horse nominated to a member carries our stake money and is our primary source of income and we never use the word tip.
5. What traits do you think a good racing tipster should possess and what do you think the average punter is looking for from a tipping service?
A racing tipster must be honest and able to show a profit over a quarter. If they can explain their processes simply so much the better.
The average punter is a contradiction.
They believe in luck and look for something that does not exist. They are happy to lose yet blame others for their misjudgment. They do not understand the rules of the game, have no set aside bank and keep no records, yet hope to win. They have no patience or goals, have no structure and bet randomly yet think they are close to cracking it.
The average punter is cannon fodder and the biggest part of the food chain, how do I know this – I was one of them.
6. Do you regularly bet yourself? What style of approach do you take to your betting? What do you think of staking plans, loss retrieval systems etc.?I bet most days in some form or other but only in a perceived value situation with a pre-planned edge.My approach to betting is a cautious one.When logging results we generally show them at level-stakes but on a personal note, we prefer a version of a percentage of the bank staking.Each of our systems or strategy has predetermined rules and a separate bank and we do not merge different subjects. Loss retrieval systems or chasing no longer enters my head because I know that if I maintain discipline over a quarter period I will almost certainly finish ahead.
7. New and old punters alike often struggle to make a success of their betting. If you could give them one piece of advice to improve profitability what would it be?Assuming a punter would listen, the advice I would give is of the type universally agreed upon. Accept mathematics is the governing force of betting and learn the importance of fractions, percentages, probability and perceived value. Introduce predetermined criteria before striking a bet.Prerequisites to betting include a set aside bank, a strategy and a staking plan that suits the bettor. If they were still listening, advise them never to bet randomly or recreationally again.
8. Another common gripe of many a punter is the number of races and poor quality meetings very often with low levels of prize money. Many race goers would rather see fewer better quality races. Is there anything that you would like to see changed within the horse racing industry and why?There are dozens of things I would change in racing given the opportunity, some of which might sound hysterical. There are too many to list but just for starters I would heavily reduce racing across the board and if that meant closing poor racecourses so be it.
Because of integrity and numbers I would ban trainers like Richard Hannon and Richard Fahey having multiple entries for different owners in the same race and I would remove Class 6 and 7 Handicaps from the racing calendar. I absolutely abhor violence towards horses! Had I the power Jason Maguire would not have won the 2011 Grand National on Ballabriggs and Davy Russell would be serving a three-year ban for punching Kings Dolly in the head!
9. What do you consider to be the highlight of your racing experience to date? Do you have any personal racing / betting experiences which on reflection bring a smile, or for that matter any which bring a grimace; you can share with our readers?
Racing has given me some fantastic experiences but my favourite was being invited to the 2017 Melbourne Cup in November where I met a fabulous mix of people/trainers/owners. The welcome I received from the Victorian Racing Club was phenomenal. For the duration of the Carnival there were four or five peaks but perhaps my favourite was on the Saturday night for the live televised draw of the Melbourne Cup (raced on the following Tuesday) from the Phar Lap Marquee at Flemington Racecourse. I spoke to the British contingent who had interest in the race including Hugo Palmer, Hughie Morrison and Iain Jardine but spent some valuable one-to-one time with the greatest NH trainer of all time Willie Mullins, and what a gentleman he was.
I had used a system regarding his horses to pay for the trip originally (shared with Betting Insiders and Betting School Forum readers) and I told Willie all about it over a couple of glasses of champagne. He accepted my premise, called me perceptive and then asked about my latest article on the Melbourne Cup itself and what were the chances his horses had of winning. He confirmed Max Dynamite was his best chance and I duly took the 28/1 each-way (finished third).
The point I am making is Willie Mullins asked for my detailed opinions on the big race. At that point, I knew my contribution had value as he listened intently. He had opportunities to opt out of the discussion before a debate took place about what was the single best advantage to win the cup, a good draw or a kind trip, a kind trip won the argument. Eventually, he was called up for a television interview but promised to say hello to me next year and promised to read my 2018 Melbourne Cup piece and comment.
On the Wednesday after the Cup I was invited to a ‘Melbourne Cup Breakfast Recovery Party' with Gai Waterhouse and her team and their leading millionaire owners. For those who are not aware, Gai is an icon of Australian sport and considered the Queen of Racing. I was then invited to visit the Waterhouse office, stables and home in Sydney where I received updates on their horses before handling and studying some of the greatest racing trophies in Australia including the owners 2013 Melbourne Cup won by Fiorente worth $175,000. Relaying this story makes me think again about the unbelievable level of hospitality afforded to me, suffice it to say the information gleaned made my Australian trip profitable.
The above contained lots of glorious moments but for those who know Sydney will know how beautiful Centennial Park is. On a couple of occasions I was allowed to canter a lovely and relaxed 16-hands thoroughbred mare in the most idyllic setting, can you imagine how this made a 67-year old feel?
10. What do you do to relax and unwind? Do you have any interests outside of the world of horse racing?
Professional sports betting can be unforgiving at times and keeping a sense of humour and proportion is not always easy.
I am lucky to have a lovely garden which needs a lot of tending and a couple of beautiful Cavalier King Charles Spaniels. Apart from gardening, dog walking and swimming are my main exercise these days. I still go to the occasional cricket match but the football excursions have almost ceased because of my racing commitments. I have friends in the boxing world (trainers and boxers) and that gives me some great nights out. Having a few shares in horses will mean a little more travelling to watch racing this year and I am already planning my next Australian trip also.