This month's Q and A is a more detailed look at the man behind the new tipping service Bet Less Win More. A master wordsmith and master tipster.
1. What attracted you to the world of horse racing and what do you enjoy most about the sport?
My Dad was a bookie and maintained a lifelong interest as did Granddad Boswell who gave my Dad the forenames Gordon Richard. That tells you that it’s in my genes and I inherited the middle name Richard as well although my Christian name is a legacy of my Mom who was a big Gary Cooper fan!
I remember Dad taking us to Goodwood as kids (the day he lost his car keys but not his shirt!) so we could witness the living legend, Lester Piggott. I was six at the time and my older brother got a selfie with the great man down by the rail with Lester sat upon his horse. Twenty years later in a similar position down by the starting rail at Haydock I distinctly remember seeing Pat Eddery’s hands close up and deciding they were the second biggest human hands I ever saw. Lester’s come first still.
In that twenty years in between, horse racing did come third behind football and cricket and only third because Mom made a big thing each year of the Grand National taking us up the chocolate box (local sweetshop) before the race started and allowing us a bet every year.
Dad was always busy working and in general Mom loathed horse racing (cricket was her thing) so I didn’t really become a slave to the sound of the thundering hooves until I was in my twenties although I was put in detention at primary school one year for listening to the Derby commentary on a smuggled in radio during lessons. Mrs Hood was my teacher and those old enough will remember that Hood was the name of the number one enemy in Thunderbirds. School was always a scary experience for me.
What do I like most about horse racing now?
Standing up close to a chase fence and watching them soar over. A head bobbing finish (so long as one of mine is involved!), and the names of horses. I collect them alongside the names of non league football teams.
My favourite horse name for years was the legendary Wiki Wiki Wheels – named after a transport company I believe. Current favourite is Chillililli. Never won a race! My kind of horse! The roof will come off the day she wins! The current favourite footy team name is Mickleover Sports although Frank Sidebottom’s beautifully named Timperley Bigshorts hold a special place in my heart!
2. What do you think of the world of sports tipping in general and what do you think people are in search of when it comes to their hunt for a successful tipster?
I’ve met some very nice people in the sports tipping world recently and the Betting School renewed my faith to a large extent. I don’t like blagging tipsters (although I concede we all like to discuss a winner in the aftermath) and I’ve come across a few shysters in my time which tends to give the profession a slightly seedy air (although it’s not as nefarious as being a taxi driver!).
My Dad was always scared of my being a tipster based on what used to happen to ones in the bookie’s runner days when tipsters of losers used to be strung up from lampposts! It’s a funny profession with no real apprenticeship (I’m an advocate of an NVQ in tipping!) and any old bugger able to set himself up and call himself such (how else did I start!).
But it is a good profession to still be in after 20 years.
Not possible unless you are ok at it as it is a totally customer driven profession. Customers desert you faster than rats in a sinking ship if you’re no good. I’ve treated it as much as a school as anything and I remain teacher and student as ever. Those people looking for that aspect have got it right I reckon although no complaints about those looking for a way to easy money for little effort. Fraught with disappointments that approach, but when it works no doubt it is rewarding.
Personally, though I prefer Premium Bonds for that aspect of things! No losers. I have a general aversion to losing as my followers will attest to.
3. 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?
Honesty and Reliability are paramount for me. And as little bullshit as possible.
I like thorough tipsters although can’t claim that as an especial trait of mine. I have that innate air of the mystical about me (which oftens translates as a tendency to waffle!) and I do get struck by thunderbolts every now and then. I’m told that is an endearing feature of mine.
I work hard though and the tortoise moniker recently acquired is very apt. I’m confident but ever wary of over confidence. A good tipster must have oodles of self belief. Can’t say I know what the average punter is looking for from a tipping sheet other than the obvious. Winners sell the beast and the ones no other tipster is finding also helps. I try hard to look where others do not. A wet Wednesday at Sedgefield type of thing.
4. Would you say that you have a “typical” working day, and how would you describe it?
I sit and watch racing every day and make copious mental and written notes. I’m an observer by nature and I like to have ideas and back them up with experience and research.
I used to go racing a lot but old age has led me to the comforts of TV watching at home mostly now. I spend hours and hours every day tapping away at keyboards. Had to have my fingers and arm nerves operated on this summer. Occupational hazard alongside emphysema in miners! Emphysema probably worse though!
5. Staggered Accumulators – a brilliant idea that I’m sure many have contemplated before but maybe not actioned in a disciplined way. There’s a world of difference between the casino player who keeps moving their whole stack onto red or black like in the movies and your staggered accas. Could you tell us a bit more about your method, thrill us with stories of previous successes and explain how you decide when to stop and take the money because in theory, you could go on until you can’t get any more bets on.
That was a long question with half the answer in it!
It dawned on me as the way all betting should be played for the serious picker when David Davies explained it to me as his modus operandi way back in about 1988. I should have never had another type of bet since then but of course I have. He landed it on me just as I was about to go on stage at the Lancaster Literature Festival of that year (he was the then Director) and I spent the next hour explaining it to an audience of ten year olds (I entertained school audiences in those days).
Often wondered if they ever knew what on earth I‘d been on about. I told them all about the magic of Pegasus and Wiki Wiki Wheels. By rights they’ll all be forty year old millionaires by now. I wonder if any of them are?
The staggered acca is simply an acca with the forced element of all events having to take place on the same day taken out. You don’t cram any slight fancy into it. You wait for the weapons grade good thing that comes along sporadically if you are working on form study every day and plonk all the returns from the last bet leg on as the stake.
It was my tipster addition to take only the winnings forward from the first leg winner – returning that stake to the betting bank and thus making every following bet a free bet. Playing with the bookmakers money.
It succeeds if you are good at stringing winners without having a loser in between and only loses if that first leg bet goes down. I am trained to wait like a statue now for that first bet to come along. Like I said before, I don’t like losers. So that helps. And I have the patience of Jove these days. So trained by the awareness that this bet is THE bet.
It is good for you not to bet just for the sake of it. Part of the required learning of discipline. Am I a master of that now? Just admitted that the staggered acca has never been the only bet I ever have so that answers that long question in one short answer!
You answered the bit about when you stop a staggered acca yourself. You don’t or you do. You pick the moment before the loser happens. Or you don’t. The King is dead, long live the king as the Bard said. My version of that is the next bet is just around the corner and in the very far distance which I think sums the staggered acca up.
My best experiences of it?
I had a recent one at Ffos Las which did actually all take place in one day but utilised an unfolding day’s racing to make it work as a pre backed acca with the bookmaker could not have done. Came from watching the depth of the heavy going that day and the physiognomy of horses coping with what was atrocious ground. I had done some pre meeting form study of the card highlighting heavy ground horses, but Ffos Las is a law unto itself and only being there and watching that day's racing enabled me to start identifying possible winners and value legs for the staggered acca in running.
I missed two races out and landed a 400+ point winner on the day and although I have had better returns than that they have sometimes been spread out over several months so cramming that all into one day was exciting. Not something I could have tipped though that. It was me showing a rare moment of being a successful gambler!
The trouble with the staggered acca is the feeling you get from tipping all the winnings away when you do have a losing leg. Strong mentality required to cope with that.
So these days I do briefer and less long priced staggered accas which can raise 10 points or so from an initial 0.4point initial stake and then start afresh. Less exciting but requiring less of that steely discipline required to plonk enormous sums on.
Never been great at staking thousands on a horse or anything else if I’m honest.
But I tip and back to £100 a point these days in general so can move into that area swiftly with the staggered acca hence my treating it more as a £10 a point bet and thus gambling responsibly and saving myself from the thousand pound loser.
Done them in my time. Not recommended for lily livered weaklings like me! And I learned trading when the exchanges came along. Very few of my big horse bets these days go untraded.
You can build perming into the staggered acca which I also tend to do a lot in my cautious mode to make them more likely to be successful.
Becoming a longer answer than question now though. Stick around and experience a live staggered acca with me and I promise once we have a decent bank of winnings we’ll have a go at the old style yahoo staggered acca which can indeed be like the casino chip roulette experience spread over a six month period.
I have enjoyed one of those where the last leg landed but back in my youth when I knew no fear and didn’t have the aversion to losing that I have these days. The thrill is something though. Maybe you have to be young to appreciate it!
6. You specialise in NH racing, women’s tennis and non-league football. Do you consider there is more value to be found in women’s tennis and non-league footy, or do you just enjoy watching those sports and so know more about them?
I do bet them because I have a lifetime of enjoying watching them.
Value is around always though if you look where others do not. Non League footy used to be chockful of that 18 years ago when I started doing it for the newspapers and after a period of bookmaker tightening up it is back as an area bookmakers invest less time pricing up accurately now.
Won’t last though now I’m using it for my new staggered accas!
7. From your previous interview I get the impression that a lot of your bets start off with a feeling or a hunch (“I do best when following the muse”) and then you do the research to support your initial idea.
Do a high percentage of these hunches result in money going down or do many fall by the wayside once the data is checked?
Both. Depends how much time I’ve got after hunch occurs and before event takes place. Never afraid to kill a hunch off if research makes a monkey of it, neither am I afraid to back blind the one I haven’t time to research.
Both ways lead to winners and losers but you can still be on a loser after all the research in the world and likewise, hunches occasionally win when no research can tell you why they have won. The whole process is an amalgam of research and hunch I think. The wonders of the human brain. We carry a lot of stuff in it which is how the hunches occur. It is a good exercise to keep track of pure hunch bets for an extended time span to see if they produce a profit. If they do, chances are your brain works in a way that it needs to to be successful at this game.
Some of the ‘research’ actually takes place purely cranially. The younger you are for this sort the better. These days I find myself double checking nearly everything and yet still the occasional light bulb certainty will emerge which I know I can trust and that I don’t need to check.
Don’t worry, I’ll do my best to tell you when this happens!
8. You are known for your original ideas and for finding value where others aren’t looking, could you talk a little about originality and share some examples of your past ‘original' bets, good or bad?
That’s not an easy thing for me to talk about. Really needs you or somebody who has followed me or studied my methods for a while to answer that.
Where does my best original poetry come from? Same thing as tipping. Answer is no idea. Like with comedians trying to analyse why they are funny. A destructive instinct. You just gotta trust it baby.
If you’ve got it the results will confirm it tipping wise just as a clapping audience confirms the arrival of a good poem. I can feel it happening sometimes though in the process stage. That exciting tingling feeling that what your brain just thought was good. Must be in the chemistry and personality I suspect. I admire originality in others. Therefore seek it and champion it in myself. Always have. Entwined in how I’m writing these answers too. It’s the way my brain works. Looking where others do not is the best I’ve ever come to explaining it or advising others how best to develop it in themselves (the younger you start the better. The best tipster I ever met was three years old!).
Good or bad original tips? Not easy to answer either.
I tipped a Gary Moore horse to beat a Henderson hotpot in a three runner affair at Warwick in the early days of LIM and I was the only tipster in the country who seriously thought the Henderson hotpot would get beat. Hang on whilst I sort out names I’ve forgotten……Violet Dancer was the Moore horse at 8/1. He hasn’t raced since sadly. L’Ami Serge the Henderson horse at 1/5. Went back to hurdling after and has won the Select Hurdle, The Betway Aintree Hurdle and the Grande Course de Hautes Autieul in France. February 2016. Seems like a hundred years ago.
That was a brilliant original thought tip based mainly I think in me loving the horse Violet Dancer and being a serious fan of the Moore family. Can I remember a bad original tip? There must be hundreds but I’m struggling. Perhaps they don’t exist??? Going to have to think longer about that. Maybe they are too painful to be remembered?
9. The sales letter for your Bet Less Win More service says you are the tortoise of the betting world, I guess we all know the hare and the tortoise fable, but what does it mean for our betting and followers of your selections?
Beware of over confidence.
If we are truthful with ourselves we are all susceptible to it. Slow and steady does win the race. 800 points profit in January is worth nowt if you lose 802 points in February.
This doesn’t apply to everybody. We all have our foibles but like most good fables it resonates with the human experience.
A little humility, a little fear perhaps and a belief in perseverance and constancy. All built in to make sure you don’t fall foul of the house that Jack built. I want houses I build to last forever. No merit in houses with plasterboard walls! Note to self to write and remind Persimmon Homes of that fact!
It was a young admirer who coined me as the tortoise of the tipping world. Even younger than the one in poetry in primary school days who described me as like a stick of celery in a baggy blue jumper!
10. 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?
Trust yourself and always be honest about your losses.
The profits will follow if you open yourself to learning and in particular into learning self discipline.
11. What do you do to relax and unwind? What interests have you outside the world of horse racing?
Remember answering this before. Don’t really do relaxing. Never have.
I like my work but I am a lifelong amateur chess player and ex-punk rock drummer who loves listening to old punk tracks incessantly these days. As I write, just learned that Pete Shelley died today. Aged 63. Lead singer of the legendary Buzzcocks if you never heard of him. Alongside Steve Diggle as part of a songwriting duo as strong as Lennon and McCartney. The King is dead. Long live the King.
Not all of life is about horse racing.
Just most of it.