My edge? That I won't divulge, I still partly blame my blogging for losing my old one, regardless of the probable facts. But it was to do with an epiphany I had whilst on a jolly to Stratford races where I thought to myself, these prices are wrong and the bookies don't seem to mind. It's to do with uncompetitive races, that's all I will say.
Anyway, come the end of April, I was tootling along just great, and had even managed a couple of terrific festivals at Cheltenham and Aintree, (of which more later) and I thought to myself “a profit in every month, that would be good, no?” And so, this became the challenge for the year. Mainly because I'm fairly sure I never managed that in any of the eight years I was a full-time gambler. What I had in my favour this time around was the races I was betting on and the prices of the horses I was favouring. In the past my main focus was entirely on the better class, highly competitive races. Now I was mainly focusing on small races at small tracks, with uncompetitive fields.
So, to the stats:
I bet on 1244 races over the year.
I was profitable in 487 of them.
885 were what I would call small races (378 profitable).
Outside of the festivals I had never really bet on novice hurdles before.
This year I bet on 466 novice hurdles (201 profitable).
By comparison I bet on only 350 flat races – even in the summer my first port of call was novice hurdles at places like Worcester. And, of the 350 flat races, over half of them were maidens at places like Wolverhampton and Chelmsford.
Overall numbers show returns of 120% (ie 20% profit on turnover).
Back in the day I always used to aim for 10% profit on turnover.
This became progressively harder the bigger the bank. It should be stressed that my turnover in 2015 was a fraction of what it used to be, so 20% is a false figure. I am doing this without the large betting bank I had then, and am flying at a level I hoped would keep me below the bookies' radar. That said, several of them closed me down anyway, or limited me or took Best Odds Guaranteed away (the latter a definite contributor to the 20%). I am left with just four viable accounts.
Novice hurdles returned 111%
Novice chases 120%
and that formed the bread and butter.
However, interestingly, competitive races returned 142%
and each way bets in competitive races 124%.
Graded chases 122%
Most days I did a daily treble or a set of trainer doubles and they returned 178% (Gary Moore at Sandown helped!)
I say interestingly, because something happened this year worth sharing. At my most successful I used to mainly lose, which takes some getting used to. My graph used to slope slightly downwards, but with huge spikes upwards as it settled at a new high and so on. This is the fate of someone playing at longer odds. But this time around the line on my graph sloped slightly upwards, with an occasional slump. Not only was each month in profit, but measured over the year, each day of the week was profitable (Thursdays best, for no reason I know of.) I did not have a meaningful or hurtful losing run.
An unintended but welcome consequence of this was that when the big days and festivals arrived I was not playing against the collar, was not in the rough, or under the cosh, desperate or scared. I was loose and calm and it freed me up in such a way that I think I saw things more simply and clearer than has often been the case. Either way, things went well with the big days, an unexpected bonus as I was really only betting on these for fun and out of habit and love.
I did have some losing areas – Hunter chasers which I ditched pretty quickly, and 2 year old races. I thought I would be able to approach these as I did novice hurdles, but that proved untrue. I did have some success with 3yo+ maidens on the flat, 105% returns, enough for me to persevere, but the jury is out.
All in all, totalling up all the hours I spent on form, betting and watching, I reckon I ended up with a salary for a part-time job of around £12 an hour tax-free. Which I guess is somewhere between living the dream or a waste of time, depending on where you're starting from and where you're headed. It beats my hourly rate for writing that's for sure.
Whether it's a career choice, I'll leave others to decide. For those who know the Wallace Stevens' poem I don't deserve the disillusionment of 10 O'clock, but I doubt I'm catching tigers either. Whatever, I am proud of this year, back from the dead and back in the game.
Whether it's replicable in 2016, well, we'll see...