Monday, 31 October 2011

1st November - Selection rationale

Evening Guys and welcome to the first ’live’ post from the TVB Early Bird blog.

Just in case any of you were wondering, TVB stands for TheValueBettor and is the name that I’ve chosen to front my racing/betting activities. I like to think that it sums up my ‘gambling’ principals quite neatly J

Provided time etc. permits, I intend to post on this blog every evening, until the middle of March.
Often the posts will just be short summaries of the rationale behind any selections for the following day; occasionally, they will be something more grand (assuming I have something more grand to say !).

Tonight, it is a bit of a combination of the two: a justification for tomorrow’s tip (incorporated in a brief race preview) – and this little pre-amble to set the scene.

If you have any comments/observations/questions on either the blog in general – or a specific selection, please feel free to post.
I’m monitoring comments, just to ensure that the blog doesn’t get filled with spam – but I promise that I will publish and reply to, all reasonable (non-abusive !) comments, regardless of whether I agree with them or not !
One of my prime objectives in creating this blog, is to try and create a virtual community – and this will only be possible if people contribute, so don’t be shy !!

Whilst I’m interested in flat racing and bet on it just as much as I do NH, I don’t have the time during the flat season to study to the depths that do during the winter. Consequently, I’ve made a decision that I will only cover the NH on this blog.

So, without further ado, on to tomorrow’s selection and a preview of the race it is running in.

Exeter 2:50

What a cracking race this is – I really would have struggled to find a better race to tip in, at this point in the season.
What makes it truly fascinating, is that 3 of the best 2 mile novice chasers from last season, are making their seasonal debuts in the race and taking on a couple of seasoned top class handicappers – and a very interesting horse from Ireland.

I find it very difficult to split the 3 second season chasers: Captain Chris, Ghizao and Medermit. Although Captain Chris finished the season as the best of the 3, he was beaten twice by Ghizao earlier in the year – and also by Medermit.
So much is going to depend on which one has improved most over the summer – and which one is most primed for tomorrow.
You can only guess on both counts – though I have a real concern that non of the trio will be cherry ripe tomorrow…
Of the 2 seasoned handicappers, I feel that Cornas should have the beating of Oiseau De Nuit. Cornas finished in front on the same terms when the 2 met at Sandown at the back end of last season – and he has also had a pipe-opener in France 3 weeks ago when he finished second in a listed chase.
I struggle to see why Cornas is the longer price of the 2 (I doubt he will be come the off) and I suspect he will come out on top in a match bet.
The final runner (of significance) is the Colm Murphy trained Zaarito. He is a horse of enormous ability – but with very definite jumping frailties.
In his novice season, the season before last, he ran 8 times – and managed to fall on 4 occasions ! 3 of the falls occurred late in his races, and on each occasion he looked sure to go very close to winning, if he had stood up.   
His novice form ties in very closely with Sizing Europe and Captain Cee Bee. Both of those horses were top class novices – and both made the transition to top class chasers finishing first and third in last year’s champion chase.

In summary, I think fitness is going to prove crucial – and there are concerns on that score for the top 3 in the market who will all have bigger targets later in the season. There is also the unknown of how their novice form will stack up against more established performers.
Collectively, they take nearly 75% out of the book – so I don’t find it too hard to look elsewhere !
Cornas is the default winner of the race – if non of the others are tuned up. He is too big at 12/1 and maybe worth a small saver.
However, I’m going to take a chance that Zaarito’s jumping holds up and am selecting him.
There is little doubt he has the class/form to win this and I think it is reasonable to assume that Colm Murphy wouldn’t be sending him over from Ireland if he needed the run.

1.5pt win Zaarito 8/1

Exeter 3:50

I was half tempted to tip Strongbows Legend in this.
He comes from the Charlie Longsdon stable which is absolutely flying at the moment and he ran a really sound race on his seasonal debut, splitting 2 horses which have subsequently franked the form.
However, he has been raised 3lb for that effort and now has to take on 16 rivals – a number of whom are unexposed and open to improvement.
Ultimately, it comes down to price (as it invariably does) and at 7/1, I felt there would be better bets in the forthcoming weeks/months.
I’ll be keeping a close eye on the race, all the same !

Fingers crossed we can get off to a good start.

Thursday, 27 October 2011


Computers are amazing things: and the internet is an amazing way of exploiting their capabilities…
The internet enables vast amounts of data to be made available in an instant – data which other aspects of a computer can then process and interpret.
All of this is great for solving complex puzzles, such as which horse will win a particular race.
The outcome of race can be more accurately predicted nowadays than has ever been the case in the past – so we should all be millionaires – but we’re not, because there is a sting in the tail…
The mountain of data is not just available to you and I, it is available to everyone – including fellow punters and odds compilers/bookmakers.
Consequently, what we actually end up with, is a market, which reflects the likely outcome of a race, with greater accuracy than ever before. Such market accuracy inevitably off-sets any improved ability we may have to predict the outcome of race meaning that making money from betting on horses is just as difficult as it has always been – if not more so !!.

However, there are occasions when the market isn’t quite as accurate. This occurs most often when it is newly formed. Early markets tend to reflect the opinion of an odds compiler – and no matter how good that individual is, they will occasionally miss or under-estimate a key variable. Even with the 20% or so over-round they build into their prices, there will be ricks – and sometimes quite big ones…

The key to successful betting, is to wager on horses at a price greater than their chances of winning. If this can be done consistently over a period of time, then a profit will be made. Therefore, identifying and betting on market ricks should be a way to make money on betting. 

The main purpose of the ‘Early Bird’ blog, will be to flag up occasions when I believe the odds compliers have got it wrong. Of course, mine is just a single opinion as well, so I won’t be right every time.
However, I do have the advantage of being able to assess the complete work of the odds compiler and simply pick out any mistakes I think they have made. This is a lot easier than trying to formulate a complete book from scratch.

The intention is to ‘tweet’ these ricks as tips. I will then use this blog to monitor the success of the tips (there will be other tips as well, but the ‘early bird’ tips will form the back-bone of the tipping). 
The blog will run from November 1st until the last day of the Cheltenham festival (March 16th).
That will be around 130 days of racing – and I would expect to tip around 150 horses in that time. At an average stake of 2pts, that is 300pts. Assuming £10 a point, £3000 will be staked.
I will be very disappointed if I can’t make £500 profit during this period, by backing the horses identified, at the best odds available, to the suggested stakes. Of course there can be no guarantees – it is a relatively short period of time and if luck intervenes in a big way, then anything is possible!!!

What’s in it for me

The modern world is a cynical place: and the internet is a particularly cynical corner of it…
‘So what’s in it for you ?’, I can hear you all asking…
I’m prepared to put time and effort into publishing my thoughts on a daily basis, with the expectation that they will be able to make any diligent reader £500 over a four month period – I must have an angle – right ?!?!
Well, not really…
Firstly. I will be watching the racing, keeping notes, assessing the form and backing the horses, regardless of whether or not I ‘publish’ on the net. Sure, it will take me a little extra time to do the publishing, but if that triggers a valuable dialogue with someone in cyber-space, then it’s a price I’m happy to pay. It is also likely to make me watch, note keep, assess form and bet, a little more diligently than I would otherwise do – and this is the main attraction for me.
As with a lot of punters, one of my major flaws is my indiscipline. I can find winners  - and great bets – but I will rarely have as much on them as I should, instead I’ll place bigger bets on a whim – on horses that catch my eye or are at a bigger price than I expected. This has the effect of greatly diluting my edge – and is something I am determined to eradicate.
If I am prepared to post a tip on a blog, I know I will have researched it thoroughly – and I have promised myself that I will stake the bet properly. That way, I should reap the rewards of my efforts, rather than be irritated that I ignored my own advice !
I’m sure I will continue to place bets on a whim – but if I can get the staking right, these shouldn’t matter too much, in the grand scheme of things….

How will it work ?

From next Monday evening (31/10) onwards, I will open up at around 5:00pm and see which races have been priced up for the following day.
I will then open up, and use that, in conjunction with my various other resources, to assess any early price races.
I will endeavour to identify the most likely winner of each race and quantify the chances of this happening, in percentage terms. I will do the same thing for any other horse which I deem to have a realistic chance of winning the race.
I will convert these percentages into odds – and then switch back to oddschecker and see if my view of the race varies significantly from that of the bookmakers who have priced up the race.
If there is a disagreement where I feel that a particular horse has a greater chance of winning a race than the bookmakers do: and this difference of opinion equates to me believing a horse has at least a 25% better chance (eg. quoted at 8/1 and I believe it should be 6/1) then that horse will become a bet for me and a tip for the blog.

The suggested stake for the bet/tip will depend on how far out I believe the odds compilers have set the price. I will use a scale from 0-5pts – though in reality, the vast majority of bets will be in the range 0-3pts.
The size/make-up of the field will determine whether the bet/tip is win only or each way. I have a strong, in-built tendency to bet win only – but losing runs, showered with near misses, have taught me that each way betting does have its place.

Once the horse has been identified and the stake decided upon, I will place my bet with the appropriate bookmaker.

I will then ‘tweet’ the tip to whoever may be interested via the twitter id. TVB_earlybird.

When I have some spare time (normally within the next couple of hours), I will create a blog post, confirming the tip and giving a brief justification for it.

When the race has been run, I will update the P&L for the month to reflect the result. I will operate monthly P&Ls so that the numbers involved can neither cause complacency or fear !

Not all tips will be tweeted exactly as described above. My main focus will be on the races priced up the night before, but there will be occasions when I fancy horses in races that are not priced up until the morning of the race. When this happens, I will tweet the tip as soon as a reasonable number of bookmakers have priced up the race.

Target Audience

The first thing I should make clear, is that these tips are not going to be of use to big punters…
People who bet in stakes of £50 or more, will find their bookmaker accounts being restricted/closed once they have placed just a handful of these kind of bets.

This blog will be best suited to people who like to bet £5 or £10 a race – and who have useable accounts with the majority of the bookmakers who appear on oddschecker.

In particular, it will be necessary to have working accounts with:

Victor Chandler
Paddy Power
William Hill

Additionally, it will be desirable to have working accounts with:

Stan James

If you haven’t got accounts with any of these bookmakers, I would suggest opening one. Links to all the bookmaker sites can be found on oddschecker.  

Stakes will need to be kept relatively small – and bets mixed in with ‘mug’ bets – in order to keep these accounts active. Bookmakers don’t like people who consistently beat the odds – as they know they will win in the long run !
Of course, the other option is to find a way to open multiple accounts with each of the bookmakers, so it doesn’t matter if they close some of them. If anyone knows how to achieve this, please email me ;)


So there you have it…
A summary of what I’m aiming to do; how I intend to go about it and who it will be of interest/benefit to.
The next step is for me to make my first ‘live’ post, which may well occur on Monday evening (there is a potentially interesting fixture at Exeter on Tuesday).
Hopefully, the blog will get plenty of followers – and it will provide education, entertainment and some financial benefit for those who do take the plunge.
I’ve no idea where this might all end up. All I know is that it will run until mid-March, with the objective of making me more money from this aspect of my betting, than I have in the past.
The winter months can sometimes be a bit of a struggle – I’m hopeful that this little venture will lessen the likelihood of that happening.
Good luck !