Monday, 21 March 2011

The calm after the storm.

It's been very quiet today, and after the frenzy of last week, it's felt a little strange to be honest. Details on performance further down.

On Friday I wrote:
"I do feel that tipsters, whether successful or unsuccessful, do change their style when it comes to Cheltenham. And as an "investor", such changes in approach are not what I particularly want to see. Qudos to Chasemaster this week, who have stuck to what they are good at and not been sucked in to the glamour of the Festival".

Matt of Football Elite picked me up on this, forming a persuasive argument that the nature of Cheltenham's festival racing can quite naturally lead a tipster to change their strategy for the four days and that the tipster is quite justified in doing so...
"To be fair to your racing services, personally I'd say you have to change your strategy for the really big meetings. I bet regularly in handicap hurdles and my strategy for run of the mill daily meetings is a lot different to my strategy come Cheltenham, Aintree etc as the make up of a race is totally different.

Personally I feel the big meetings are the ones that offer the biggest opportunities so I try and up my bet number and stakes.

Assuming the services you follow feel the same that may be why you have seen a difference from the norm."

I accept this point and Matt's comment got me thinking a little about how I reacted to events last week, and what my thought processes were when it was all happening.

The two services in which I noticed the biggest change in strategy from the norm were those adopted by Northern Monkey and On The Nose. As I have only been with each service from the beginning of this year, I think it fair to say that I have not had enough exposure to either of them to be even remotely qualified to pass comment on their strategy at all. However, the majority of my experience with NMP has been on the all weather and so to suddenly to see bets coming through for Cheltenham caused a raised eyebrow. What I would categorically say though is that at no time did I ever get the impression that Wayne was putting any less effort into his selections for the Festival than he does on any other 'normal' day. Actually, and I don't know this for a fact, but I wouldn't be surprised if he didn't devote more time than is usual to finding these selections. Whatever, he finished the Festival in profit and after all is said and done, it is the bottom line that matters.

Regarding On The Nose, the noticeable difference was in the number of points being wagered each day. Again, my eyebrows were raised at their being at least one tip in every race last week and staking between six and eight points per day was a new experience for me with this service. Well, I think I should inject Botox into my eyebrows to deny me of the ability to raise them! A quick look at OTN's Cheltenham Festival 2010 record (a fantastic level of profit) should have been enough in itself to prevent me querying their strategy.

So, what are the lessons to be learnt here? Firstly, that snap judgements are rarely the best type to make. Secondly, that it is long-term changes in strategy that should lead one to worry about the direction in which a service is heading, or perhaps a noticeable change that is implemented during an unprecedented losing run (which is not the situation for either NMP or OTN). Thirdly, I should think more before I speak. And finally, that perhaps as a gambler, you are more inclined to make snap judgements when things aren't going so well...would my gravity-defying eyebrows have spent any time at all at high altitude if the first day of the Festival had been a stormer? Probably not, if I'm being honest with myself.

It is this last point that I think is the most important one to learn from. It is so very easy to look for, and in your own mind find, reasons why things are not going as well as you would have hoped. I don't find myself constantly analysing services, roi achieved, staking, practicalities of following, etc, etc. when I'm doing well. When things are going well, I tend to find I go with the flow and do the appropriate analysis at the appropriate time, ie. at the end of the month. I should have realised last week that Cheltenham is different, that a tipster is, as Matt stated, fully justified in adapting their approach to the level of racing on offer. I should have realised that such racing can provide an increased number of value opportunities that can be exploited. Fortunately, I was actually (deep down) aware of this I believe - somewhere in the recesses of my mind was a small voice telling me forcefully not to do anything stupid (that would have been the voice of experience). Now that the dust has settled, I am pleased that I listened. This time last year, I'm not sure I would have done. I could easily imagine myself staking eight points on the OTN selections on the Tuesday, see all eight points go up in smoke, reduce stakes on the selections the following day and consequently have much less on Wednesday's 20/1 winner, Carlito Brigante, than I had on all the losers. And that would have been a right mess, all of my own making.

I have only been able to realise the above by engaging in some quiet contemplation over the weekend. Becalmed and less emotionally frazzled, I spent some time reflecting (not analyzing, you understand - there is a subtle difference) on how the week had gone and tried to rationalise my emotions at the time. I'll post tomorrow on what conclusions I came to. I think, judging from a comment that Jason of HCE submitted last week, they may be of particular interest to him.

Today's Action

Eerily quiet today. Only four bets all told.

Chasemaster came up with a nice winner from their only selection (Tartan Snow - Kelso - 11/2). Not using a BOG bookmaker bit me on the bum though with this one. When the bet came through, Sportingbet had 11/2 on offer which was the best available anywhere. The vast majority of Chasemaster's tips shorten in price and as this was a standout, I took the risk in the interest of helping protect the overused BOG accounts. Of course, before winning comfortably, the horse drifted on course to go off at 13/2.

Winning Racing Tips have so far this month (touch wood) been very consistent. Their tip today finished second (Cleaver - Lingfield - 12/1) and provided a return.

Still no winner from PJA NH and you know things are not going well when you get the odds on favourite beat but finish second to the 33/1 outsider of the field by less than a length (Duke Of Ormond - Lingfield - 7/1).

No returns from the one On The Nose selection.

PJA NH: Staked 0.75pts, -0.15pts.
On The Nose: Staked 1pt, -1pt.
Winning Racing Tips: Staked 0.4pts, +0.28pts.
Chasemaster: Staked 0.25pts, +0.825pts.
Total financial profit on the racing of £43.30.

Monday 21st March: Staked £74, +£43.30.
Week to date: Staked £74, +£43.30.
Month to date: Staked £11,578, +£413.35, roi 3.57%.

Likely to be a bit later tomorrow as there are a couple of bets on the footie.


  1. Hi Rowan,

    I will be interested, as I am always when reading your great blog. It is human nature to question when things go wrong - searching for answers to questions - but it is these moments which often bring out the best in individuals. It is fascinating how a day or two goes past and we can all reflect on the same problems with such a differing perspective. As long as we learn from such events and go forward such trials - however hard at the time - make for an easier passage to greater fortunes. I like your reflexivity - to me that is the difference between a good and bad bettor. The willingness to learn about others and ourselves is the foundation to winning.


  2. Hi Jason,

    Yeah it's good to reflect on things but I do feel there's a fine line between looking back and learning from experience and falling into what is known as analysis paralysis, ie. getting so stuck in the fine detail that it actually prevents you from getting on and doing what you need to be doing.

    Anyway, it all brought me round to the point you made last week about knowing when to quit with something (a service, in this context) and perhaps understand that sometimes it would help to have in place a simple set of guidelines, a black and white cut off point as it were.

    You must be getting busy gearing up to the start of the flat season, eh? Enough of this Cheltenham nonsense! (lol).


  3. Hi Rowan,

    It is too easy to get stuck in such a loop, hey. We have all done it to the point of distraction. I do think it is a good idea to have guidelines to keep things black and white as they do help (although those grey areas always crop up). I think the structure we put in place is very important. I find guidelines very helpful.

    Yes, I am getting ready for the new Flat season. It will give me something to focus upon rather than talking about Fox's Although - if anyone considers I have lost the plot - it does (amazingly) have a connection with a 2yo racing ( Yes, I will be enjoying the 2yo season. The start of the season is quiet so it gives me time to re-adjust, which is important. Looking forward to a great season.