1. Would you start by telling us a little about yourself and your background? What attracted you to the horse racing world and what do you enjoy most about the sport?
I have no school qualifications as I left very early. I used to take my dad’s bets up to the local shop in my early teens and when racing was on the TV I became fascinated by the coloured jockeys’ silks. After leaving school I was unemployed for 3 years’ before I got a job in a shop for 6 years, and then I became a postman in 1989.
I have always had a flutter with friends growing up & whilst working and went point to point racing regularly with family and friends in the late 1980's through to around 2014. It's those early days pointing where I get my passion for jump racing from.
For me it is far more enjoyable than flat racing and you do get to know the characters of the sport as they tend to stay around for longer. I believe that jump racing and the people within the sport are like one big family really. I have met loads of friendly people over the years who share the same views and passion for the jumping game.
2. We know that you make your sole living from gambling these days? What made you take the plunge and move from being a recreational punter to a professional gambler?
My postie career ended in 2004. At that time I was using Betfair & betting in play, usually laying. I started to make some decent money during 2003 and by the time the year had turned, I believed I had earned enough to walk away from my job and just use Betfair as my sole income. I was still betting outside of that at that time as well but most of my profits were through the exchanges. So, at the start of 2004, I quit work to go as a full time punter.
3. How would you describe a typical working day?
A typical day so far as what I call work would be, around 11-11:15am the following days runners become available to us online. The one downside is with us jump fans we only have 24 hour declarations. I will have a look briefly around that time or if the weather is poor outside, I might stay online and get struck in. I do like to get out for an hour most days when possible and it’s usually late morning during winter. If I can do that then I will start doing my form whilst racing is being shown through the afternoon. I give myself a break now and then as it can do your head in at times. In the evening, I will go back online and try to finalise what could be the bets for the following day and at the same time I will be monitoring oddschecker, to see how the markets are doing.
4. What style of approach do you take to your betting on a personal level? What do you think of staking plans, loss retrieval systems etc.?
These days as I cannot get a bet on with the bookmakers, I rely on other alternatives and as that is the case, my stakes are limited. When I had every account, my funds were easier to manage and I could pick and choose more easily but now that has changed, I don't punt to the levels I once did. I don't really do plans with staking or worry about losses and retrieval. My motto is, the bigger the price, the more I try to get on and if my selection is under-priced, I do the opposite. Getting on these days though is ridiculously hard and it can get very frustrating indeed watching the value disappear before my eyes. It’s all down to the bookmakers for they price up way too early and make some horrendous mistakes, day in, day out. Oh, I wish I could still have every account.
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?
Myself, I like to think I am passing on my knowledge and an understanding that I believe I have, to offer some value and not pick the obvious, as some hacks still do. If I get time to entertain as well, that's a little extra but irrelevant really. Generally, the average punter wants a winner at a reasonable, working man’s price.
6. New and old punters alike can struggle to make a success of their betting. If you could give them just one piece of advice to improve their profitability what would it be?
Most punters think the wrong way.
The shorter their fancies the more they have on. If they bet a big price horse, why are they betting it…they fancy it of course but because of the odds, they stake a lower amount. Reverse all that process and over time you will have a better chance of a decent profit in the long run. Don't ever be put off by a price.
Also, close your ears and open your eyes, for they are by far, your best form guide. What your eyes see doesn’t lie but you can hear too much bull & it could affect your thoughts entirely. Trust your own judgement and don't be put off by others.
7. What would you consider to be a highlight of your racing experience to date?
My best racing experience is easy. Being a part owner and having a fair bit of luck / success, especially on Friday 13th 2013, when our horse King Massini, won at the home of racing, Cheltenham, albeit in a photo. I doubt I will ever top that and it’s a day that will live long in the memory. I've had some decent punting days winning some useful cash but nothing will come close to leading your horse back into the winners’ enclosure at our mecca. Every owner’s dream in the national hunt game.
8. The racing industry is often criticised for having too many races and poor quality meetings with insufficient prize monies to encourage entries etc. Is there anything that you would like to see changed within the horse racing industry and why?
I'm not into the politics of the sport to be honest and it's hard to see where to get funding for the average meeting. I will leave that to the more intelligent people to work out but the jumpers do seem to suffer more and it’s an expensive game to be an owner as I have found out.
Perhaps entrance fees at racecourses could be made cheaper, especially midweek and offer better quality catering perhaps than the usual rubbish served from vans. The industry probably needs to look at something like this to attract people through the gates. It can be an expensive day out for a group to go racing and what do you get for your money!!
One thing I would like to do on a racing front is change the handicapping system as I think it can be ridiculous sometimes. Perhaps a system similar to the cricket one of Duckworth Lewis, if anyone can work that out, as I don't think the current one run by the offices that be is fair to quite a lot of horses at times. No doubt Phil Smith would disagree but for me it seems the higher rated horses just creep up in the weights but those towards the bottom end take silly huge hikes. It's a matter of opinion at the end of the day but I think it should be structured better and be clearer for those involved in keeping the game rolling on a day to day basis.
i.e. – owners & trainers, who basically need to be treated a little fairer I feel.
9. What about the gambling industry, is there anything you like to see changed there? Many website forums are full of criticisms of the bookmakers and their treatment of their customers? Is this something you have an opinion on?
Bookmakers – The only 10 letter swear word in the dictionary.
Everyone I know, that I call a punter, is struggling to get a bet on these days and accounts can last month’s weeks’ days and sometimes only hours now. They are pathetic and want it all their own way. Line them up I say.
One thing I detest is their advertising. “We are offering this” or “that” and falling over each other to get mug punters on board with them. Makes my blood boil. Stop them doing that and keep them off the racing channels as well. Whatever they are saying can be taken with a pinch of salt. All they are these days is greedy accountants with no intention of laying a decent bet to anyone other than somebody marking their cards for them.
Go into a betting shop and all you will see are people playing their BOTS and they will let you lose a fortune on them. Yet you try and take a price in a horse race later that day for a few quid and you will probably get the 3rd degree. GET THEM OFF OUR SCREENS PLEASE, IT’S LIKE WATCHING POLITICIANS RABBITING ON, TALKING C**P….
10. What do you do to relax and unwind? What interests have you outside the world of horse racing?
I like to go walking whenever possible. I have to unwind and get away from horse racing totally taking over or I will go bonkers :). I like most sports on the box, I like to cook a bit and dine out when possible for a treat once in a while. Generally, peace & tranquillity in the welsh countryside, is where I'm happiest outside of racing.
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