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Top Ten Professional Horse Racing Gamblers (UK Horse Racing)

Over the years there have been numerous professional gamblers who specialised in horse racing, on this page we have listed the top ten who've put in the hard work and written a little about each one, including details of where you can find out more about them.

Whether you're interested in the old days when Phil Bull was king of the hill or more modern pros like Dave Nevison and Alan Potts.

Or if you just want to know what Patrick Veitch's nett worth is we have the answers.

Some made their money carefully and slowly others made it with big hits and managed to spend it just as quickly. (I'm looking at you Harry!)

Professional Gamblers – UK Horse Racing

Phil Bull

Phil Bull made a massive amount of money from betting horse races, but not only was he a successful gambler he was also a breeder, owner, writer and publisher. It is estimated he made millions during his career. That's a money management problem we'd like to have.

In 1948 he launched the now internationally renowned organisation Timeform and invented the Timeform handicapping system which assesses past performances and key factors that is to this day one of the best horse racing betting sites to check before you make your horse racing bets.

Phil had a shrewd attitude towards betting. He looked at the season as a whole and his form study was the same for every race.

How To Make A Book by Phil Bull
Phil Bull: The Biography by Howard Wright

JP McManus

What is JP McManus nett worth?

According to Wikipedia JP MvManus nett worth runs into the billions and they currently state it as 2.3 billion USD

Multi millionaire JP McManus is a renowned gambler and race horse owner.

Originally from Limerick in Ireland, McManus started betting as a schoolboy before working in his family’s plant hire business. He had his own betting stand for a while at Limerick’s greyhound race tracks and it wasn’t long before he moved into owning horses as well as betting and laying. These days JP owns the largest number of National Hunt horses in training.

His first ‘big’ win (rumoured to be around £250,000) but not his best victory was at Cheltenham with a horse called Mister Donovan who was 2nd favourite but ended up winning the race. He also won over £1 million from famous Scottish bookie Freddie Williams in 2006 at Cheltenham.

He has won The Grand National twice once in 2010 when AP McCoy rode Don't Push It to Victory and again in 2021 with Minella Times ridden by Rachel Blackmore and trained by Henry De Bromhead.

Although McManus is a high level gambler a large part of his wealth is said to have come from international financing and money dealing which he overseas from his base in Geneva.

Still a big player and maybe he should be at the top of this list as he is still very active. If there is a book to read about JP let me know in the comments, I’d love to read it.

Alex Bird

The late Alex Bird made a considerable amount of money from betting after the war.   It is estimated he had an annual turnover of £2 million from gambling.

His interest in gambling began when he was a child.  He had learned a lot from his late father who was a bookmaker.  However, he decided there was more money to be made from the other side and he became one of Britain’s most well known professional punters, betting horses full-time.

Bird had several methods for getting one over on the bookies but his most famous was probably his success on betting on photo finishes which in those days took about 5 minutes to develop.  This process earned him a fortune over a period of around 20 years and only stopped when the modernisation of technology meant there was no longer the delay in photo developing. It is said that he backed 500 consecutive photo finish winners.

Alex Bird made his own mind up when it come to betting and rarely listened to anyone – he stuck to his rules and systems and trusted his own statistical analysis Even now, almost 30 years after his death, there are current systems available that are based on the practices he used, although it has to be said that the gambling industry and by that I mean bookmakers, and I dare say the betting public are ahead of most old school betting systems.

His biggest bet was on the well known horse Mill Reef at Gimcrack. The season after this Mill Reef won the Derby, again backed by Bird who had by then backed 7 Derby winners in 8 years.

One of his last bets was on a horse called Final Shot in 1990 when it won the Ayr Gold Cup.

Life and Secrets of a Professional Punter by Alex Bird.

Patrick Veitch

What is Patrick Veitch nett worth?

According to Net Worth Post, Patrick Veitch has a nett worth of $14 million which is about £11 Million.

Patrick Veitch is one of Britain’s most successful gamblers who has won over £10 million from betting.

At just 15 years of age this mathematical genius got a place at Cambridge although he never completed his degree, instead he turned to gambling and started his own tipping line.

By his mid 20s Patrick Veitch was already making a lot of money but then came a turning point in his life.  He became the target of a criminal and was forced to live in hiding for many months putting his career on hold and leaving him broke.  However, following this episode he became more successful than ever and was soon making £1 million a year from his strategic betting methods.

Veitch is a strong believer that there is no short cut when it comes to betting – the only way to win is by working hard at it to get it right and betting good horses.

It is very rare to see Patrick at the races.  He uses agents to place his bets and spends most of his time watching and analysing events from his computer.

Enemy Number One by Patrick Veitch (Autobiography)

Harry Findlay

Professional gambler Harry Findlay is a larger than life gambler who has not only made a fortune but also lost a fortune from gambling over the years.

He has always had a love for British greyhound racing and worked with greyhounds for a while after leaving school.  Then aged just 20 Findlay spent 11 months in prison convicted of credit card fraud.

These days bets from his home office which is fully equipped with a number of TV screens and monitors often with different sporting events on at the same time.

As well as being a professional gambler Harry is also an owner.  He jointly owns the 2008 Cheltenham Gold Cup winner, Denman who also won two Hennessy Gold Cups.  Big Fella Thanks was another of his co-owned horses who he named after his beloved greyhound 1999 Coursing Derby winning Big Fella.

There is no Wikipedia entry for Harry Findlay, but he does get a mention on this page</a>

You can also read Harry's book for his version of his life story.

Harry Findlay – Gambling for Life

Barney Curley

Barney Curley is a professional gambler and trainer from Northern Ireland who has a reputation for being one of racing’s most colourful characters.

During his childhood he watched his Father run up huge gambling debts but still took up betting himself.

In 1975 he famously organised one of the biggest betting scams of all time – The Yellow Sam betting coup which made him over £300,000. He has also appeared in court for illegal lottery after raffling his mansion for £1.5 million.

More recently Barney organised big coups in 2010 and 2014 and 2016.

Giving a Little Back by Barney Curley (Autobiography)

The Sure Thing: The Greatest Coup in Horse Racing History

Terry Ramsden

Terry Ramsden originally made his fortune from investment company Glen International which traded the financial markets in the 80s.  He was worth millions and, amongst other things, owned a string of race horses.

He was also well known for his betting and in 1985 won £2 million on one horse.  The following year he had another big win on Motivator in the 1986 Coral Golden Hurdle Final.

Towards the end of the 80s however, Ramsden’s company collapsed and he started losing massive amounts on bets – he reportedly lost £1 million on one bet alone.  This led to him going bust at which time he fled to America.   He had won but also lost millions of pounds.

In the late 1990s he was jailed for concealing assets during his bankruptcy – one of which was rumoured to be a £70,000 plus win on the horses.

Despite returning to public life a few years later Ramsden has failed to recreate his earlier success and has since been involved in a number of arguments over money.

Pro gambler or rich man who lost it all on the horses? Many think the latter but he was a big player all the same.

Dave Nevison

Dave Nevison became a professional gambler in 1993 after he lost his job working as a currency trader in the City.

He now has an estimated six figure income made up largely from gambling but also from journalism columns he writes. Dave has also written 2 books and has his own horse racing tipping service and you can get Dave Nevison's tips for today on the Racing TV website.

A Bloody Good Winner: Life As A Professional Gambler by Dave Nevison
No Easy Money: A Gambler’s Diary by Dave Nevison

Alan Potts

At the age of just 14 Alan Potts started betting on horse racing and become a full time professional gambler after being made redundant from his office job in 1991.

He has admitted it took him many years to become a regular winner and despite making an estimated £50,000 a year from betting in the past, he has also suffered losing runs.  Although he is also an owner, author and pundit Potts’ main source of income is from gambling.

In 1999 he jointly formed The Golden Anorak Partnership and that was the banner under which his horses ran.

Alan has written 2 books and also wrote for the betting exchange WBX until it closed in 2015.

I'm constantly looking for horses of interest next time and for patterns in the racing that might indicate any bias at the track.

I have a method of splitting big field results by draw to see if any horse stands out.

Eg. in a 16 runner race , look at the horses drawn 1 – 8 as if it was a separate race. If one horse from that group beat the other seven by a wide margin, he's almost certainly run better than the bare result of the overall race suggests.

Against The Crowd

Against The Crowd by Alan Potts
The Inside Track by Alan Potts

Clive Holt

Legendary punter Clive Holt was first shown that money could be made from betting by his father who kept a couple of greyhounds during the 1960s.

In the early part of 1975 Clive decided he was ready to quit his job working for the Electricity Board and take up gambling on a full time basis.

He started out using a fairly random approach dictated by his finances and he kept no proper records of bets he had placed.  He soon made the decision to start recording his bets and this was the first of two business methods he implemented in order to make a better profit.  The second was to setup a betting bank.

His first bet was £67 to £30 on Western Jewel who won comfortably and within 6 weeks he had made more money than he was earning in a year working in electricity.  Over the years, although rarely winning more than £1,000 at a time, Holt’s profits from betting provided a lifestyle of luxury cars, exotic holidays and a listed country house with acres of land.

A number of books have been written by Clive Holt who was also the man behind Fineform.

Profitable Winners Always Back Winners
Be A Successful Punter
Fineform Winners Guide
Profitable Betting Strategies

Bill Benter

Although we are focused on UK and Ireland horse racing as is this list we should probably mention the reputed biggest and most successful bettor in the world. Bill Benter earned nearly $1 billion through the development of one of the most successful analysis computer software programs in the horse racing market and is considered to be the most successful gambler of all time.

Are there professional horse bettors?

Yes. There always have been and always will be professional horse bettors. Some will operate with a network of contacts and others will use their research and judgement to beat the bookies.

Or more likely these days to beat fellow punters on betting exchanges.

How much does a professional gambler earn?

Professional gamblers earn in relation to the funds they have available to risk. Some just scrape a living, some rely on providing selections to others for their income and some like Patrick Veitch have a net worth of £11 Million.

At the lower end with a small bank of available cash many pro bettors will tell you that their hourly rate is less than they could earn in a job.

Who is a professional gambler?

A professional gambler is someone who earns their income from betting in one form or another, on this page we have listed some famous pro gamblers from the UK scene, but there are numerous under the radar bettors making a living.

Is it possible to gamble for a living?

It certainly is and the list above shows that it is possible, but it's not easy and many an ambitious gambler has fallen by the wayside.

We would recommend that you start betting for fun or as a side income and if you make that pay build up your stakes until you no longer need to work.

How often do professional gamblers win?

This depends on at what price point they bet. somebody who only bets at even money or odds on will win and need to win much more often than somebody betting big priced selections.

Some gamblers are happy to win just 10 or 20% of their bets others need to win 50% to be comfortable and there are traders on the sports market who win over 80% of the events they play in.

What is required to be a professional gambler?

Nothing is required to be a professional gambler, just the will and fortitude to succeed. Well that and a starting fund of money with which to bet.

Do pro gamblers pay tax?

In the UK no tax is paid on gambling profits

Can you get professional gambler horse racing tips?

The gamblers who are making big money don't tend to sell their tips and generally only share them with partner who can help them get on!

What does ‘get on' mean?

People who win big at betting are quickly closed down by the wimpy bookmakers in the UK, so they will often have a team of helpers that place bets for them.

Bookmakers betting ring at Musselburgh Racecourse” by is licensed under CC BY 2.0.