Profiling, as was discussed last month, works great when we are dealing with those handicaps providing plenty by way of prize money but, the run of the mill midweek racing, and the off-meetings we have of a Saturday, are best “handicapped” and since 1992, I have been working my socks off to get that side of my business right.
May 11th, 1994 and I’m sitting watching the racing from York with my father.
May 6th, LUH 55X, a Datsun Bluebird, was sitting on my drive in a sad state. Very driveable but the bodywork was typical early Japanese, in as much as it started to rust if the weather forecast suggested a slight drizzle.
Two weeks earlier I had seen fit to post it up for sale, no MOT, or road tax, £350, in our local rag, The Liverpool Echo.
On that Saturday morning, May 6th, 1994, a young Irish lad had knocked on my door to buy it.
Red hair, black leather bomber jacket. Tall as me, bit slimmer (even then!), he asked me to start it for him so he could make sure it was “a runner”.
It fired first time and he stood behind me, looking over my right shoulder.
“I’ll take it”. He pulled £350 out of his pocket and never even haggled. I gave him the keys, he got in and drove off.
I’d been devising my own handicapping method.
A couple of years before I said to myself that if a horse was officially handicapped on what it did last time out, then that had to be open to error as it may have been rock solid ground, over a shorter trip, ridden by someone who couldn’t and so I wrote a list of what I considered to be the most important criteria that could be used to determine the result of a horse race.
Plenty of mistakes made, wrong interpretation of certain things but eventually I got something I believed usable.
In the 20 intervening years I have honed them and they are as accurate as anything out there. I refer to them as my own private handicap figures and have several hundred people taking them each day that include professional punters, media pundits, the butcher, baker and candlestick maker.
May 11th, 1994, I’ve been explaining to my father (who loved his racing), how my ratings system worked.
In those days I was still mug punter enough to play accumulators and bets I now describe as “exotics”.
The York Dante meeting offered me (I thought), a good chance of going through the card and had applied my ratings system to the very last race, a 17 runner handicap.
First five selections had all won. Rambrino 8/15, Wijdan 8/11, Saddlehome 4/1, Erhaab 11/2, who beat Mister Baileys easily in the Dante, Soviet Line 7/2 and my own ratings had suggested that Flight Lieutenant would have a great chance in that 4-40pm race.
Televised coverage had finished and my father was about to visit the local betting shop to watch the last when a knock came on the door.
No, not the Witnesses of Jehovah. This time it was three plain clothed policemen.
They asked if they could come in. How could I refuse?
They told me they had been following me for a week and needed me to “accompany them to the station”…. honestly, they did!
One stayed with my father, the other two helped me into the back of an unmarked car and I was taken to headquarters in Liverpool City centre.
On the journey not a word was spoken. I was doing a lot of thinking but only regarding that last York race.
Lift to the 8th floor and I was shown to a room with a table and two chairs, one either side facing each other.
After about 20 minutes a bloke comes in with two cups of tea.
No introductions, he started asking me about the car. Told him what I’ve told you and asked what it was all about.
We batted words backwards and forwards for about 10 minutes and he then tells me, “We know this has nothing to do with you as we’ve been following you for a few days”.
What am I doing here then?
‘The Datsun you sold has been found in Walton. The boot was full of weapons, grenades and ammunition”.
I guess my jaw hits the floor at that point but I composed myself, relieved at both the knowledge that I was innocent and that the only possible trace of ammunition they might have ever found on me, would have been a King Edward bearing the puncture marks of a spud gun. I then asked, “any chance of finding out what won the last at York?”.
He didn’t even blink. I was then asked to produce a “photo fit” which was impossible, given the guy had been stood behind me all the time and the artist had so little to work with, Irish, red hair, black leather jacket, they scrapped it.
I was eventually taken home again and my father was sitting there with just over £280 on the table.
Flight Lieutenant had finished like a train to finish second at 7/1 and done us out of thousands.
How do the figures/ratings work?
My stock answer is (and you would not be the first to ask), that if I tell you, you then have to be killed.
I use 11 criteria for the flat and eight for the NH season, and award points for each.
Over the years I’ve learned how best to work with them. For the flat racing season 2013, between May 1st and September 30th using just the top rated horse to a level stake at BFSP, a profit of 370+ points was made before commissions.
This was achieved to a strike rate of 18% and whilst that kind of success was unsustainable (not least because small field sizes now produces winners at much shorter SP), a smaller profit using that top rated horse was gleaned again the flat season just finished.
The current NH season was slow to get started but recent results indicate a successful winter beckons.
This would be a good example but, of course, they do not all turn out this way:
DONCASTER 11-55 (December 13th 2014)
* – ROBBIE….+10 – WON 7/2
SHADOWS LENGTHEN….-5 – NR
* – GRANVILLE ISLAND….-12 – 3RD 8/1
* – GALWAY JACK….-14 – 2ND 8/1
T – ROC D’APSIS….-27
MY PLAY – My top rated is miles clear on the figures and I’ll go straight win. The dutch rated horses 1, 3 and 4, with exotics.
On the Post Racing website I have this one from a few years ago now as an “example”
Doncaster 1-55 Friday 9th September 2011
BOURNE….+12 – 3RD 6/1
NANTON….+9 – 2ND 25/1
OLD HUNDRED….+8 – WON 16/1
ADVICE – Long-ish distance affair so I will simply work with my top three, dutch, 20/80 BOURNE and combo exotics.
RESULT – An amazing 2651/1 tricast landed, a superb 347/1 CSF, a more than decent 315/1 Exacta, the dutch and the “80” all returned. An absolutely amazing result for Post Racing members and one that comes just in time for the Xmas expenses!
The car? Well, I was initially of a mind I’d been dealing with the IRA but no.
What had happened was a local Scallywag (made the “rich list), who was doing a very long stretch for drug smuggling, had done a deal with the then Home Secretary, Michael Howard QC, that went like this.
Scallywag….“Michael, I’ll tell you where you can find a car full of weapons for an early release”
Michael….”Sounds like a deal!”
Scallywag….”Put that in writing and the information is yours”.
In between times, the Scallywag had ordered someone to buy a car (my car!), big, huge boot on it, fill it with guns etc. and dump it in Walton.
Scallywag then gets his bit of paper, tells the clever QC where the car can be found.
My ex-car is found, Scallywag released and then, several years later, the penny dropped that the Government had been done up like kippers and they asked me if I could testify if called.
I never was.
Next month I’ll be inviting you to “T”.
Ron (Smartsigger Contributor)