Sunday, 16 December 2018

Thoroughbred Horse Racing: How to Train an Amazing Racehorse

An equine student, just like a human student, needs to learn the basics to excel in a sport. It is a fact that all horses know how to run. But in the wild, this is usually in relatively open spaces or straight lines. 

Thoroughbred horses are bred and shipped around the globe, and their race training differs widely depending on where they are residing. Regardless of the rate of training, each horse is different and will progress at its pace. 

Training a thoroughbred horse to become an excellent racehorse is a strenuous task. It requires an enormous amount of patience and skill to train a horse to race properly. Below are some ways to effectively training a racehorse. 

Lead Changes 

Horses running on a racecourse need to learn how to channel their energy effectively throughout the whole race and how to run in a circle. 

However, a vital part of that is changing leads. When a horse runs, the legs on one side of his body will extend, or lead, farther than the other side. Racing in North America takes place in a counter-clockwise motion, meaning a runner usually will be on his right lead during the straightaways and left edge rounding the turns. 

A horse will tire more quickly if he stays on the same lead for a prolonged amount of time, so teaching him to change on cue is essential. 

A runner is also being conditioned while he is learning to switch leads on command. Horses also slowly prepare for an event just like athletes. 

Horses will start with routine jogs and gallops in the wee hours of the morning. Majority of racehorses are stabled at tracks, be they a racecourse or training centre, and those venues will have a period in the mornings for horses to train. 


Basic conditioning of the equine athlete involves consideration of the level of competition that you expect the horse to achieve, the event in which the horse will be competing, then the time you have in which to condition the horse, and the horse's past conditioning for the game. 

The goal of any basic conditioning program is to enhance the physical and the psychological responses to exercise. 

Psychological responses with conditioning include greater desire and confidence to perform and minimized resentment and boredom. 

Physical responses include greater strength and endurance, enhanced skills (such as jumping and reining), and minimized soreness or injury due to exercise.

A conditioning program should be specific to the event to train appropriately for the type of exercise in the game. 

For example, Thoroughbred trainers would not want to strictly use an aerobic conditioning program for their 3-year-old Thoroughbreds because racing is mostly an anaerobic event.

The horse will gradually be asked for more in its exercise as it builds up conditioning. Finally, the runner will breeze or work, meaning he’ll run at a stronger pace for a specified distance. These are timed and can indicate a level of fitness and readiness for a race. Some trainers typically work their horses fast; others may let them start at a more moderate pace and finish fast. 

Gate Training

The starting gate is one other major component a newbie on track needs to become familiar with. It takes time for horses to acclimate to the small stall enclosure. 

Gate training will start by walking the horse in and out of the gates, build up to standing for periods in the space, both by themselves and besides other horses, and ultimately exit the stall at a run. 

Once horses have been trained to accept a rider and respond to initial requests, they learn to break from the starting gate, one of the more difficult aspects of training for some of them.

Just like what the Pegasus World Cup 2018 contenders displayed during the competition, a large amount of connection is needed between the rider and the horse to get through the gate with ease. Many breeders and trainers have their mini gates that they use for novice racers. First off, the horse is led to the gate and then gradually taught to enter the chute and remain there with the rear door closed. Horses are also taught to respond quickly to the gate opening at the start of a race and not to spook at the sound of the corresponding bell or buzzer. 

Accidents with nervous race horses do occur at the post, and they can be dangerous for the jockey and the horse, as well as for the gate workers who help the horses load at race time.


A good trainer can incorporate runners into a developed system. A great trainer will get to know the pupil, try to understand them, and design a training program around them. 

To become a great trainer, you need to focus your attention not just on training a horse to run well but on schooling the horse in all activities of the track to make the race enjoyable for the animal and to minimize anxiety. 

Saturday, 1 December 2018

How Much Do You Bet?

Dave Nevison
I guess if you like sports betting you bet? 

Football. Horse racing. Greyhounds. Roulette. 

The choice is yours.

The question which I'm interested: how much do you bet? It's your prerogative. Have you ever considered how much you bet on a daily, weekly, monthly or annual basis? 

For some it might be a few pounds. Easy come easy go. The strange thing is that you don't need to be a big earner to bet a lot of money. And visa-versa a high roller may have a pay packet of a few grand a week may bet once a year on the Grand National. 

But how much do you bet a week? £10. £50. £100. £1000? 

I have had weeks where I bet £10,000. It seems an astonishing sum of money and to be fair it was betting to lay horses - winning perhaps a few hundred pound a week. I worked out how much money I bet in one year and it was almost £400,000. It seems a crazy sum of money. But enough about that. 

Betting is all about confidence. That confidence is hard to find. It may take years to find that drop in the ocean. You may never beat your fears and bet with that understanding which sets you apart from the crowd. 

The old maxim: Bet what you can afford to lose is probably a fair measure of where most people should be. However, professional gambler Dave Nevison always lived by the rule of 'bet like a man'. 

I think people find their comfort zone. 

Betting isn't for the naive. But that is a starting point that we all begin. Perhaps that is why some people win, lose or draw. Those hurdles we meet along the journey may give us wisdom, frustration or prove to be an addiction which plagues the mind.

However you bet, do it with discipline. 

That is the strength of any gambler in learning when to bet what they can afford to lose. 

Thursday, 8 November 2018

Will Might Bite Win Again at the King George VI Chase?

Might Bite will be aiming to secure his second crown on the bounce in the King VI Chase at Kempton Park on Boxing Day, earning revenge over Native River in the process. The Irish horse was one of the leading competitors in the National Hunt over three miles in the 2017/18 campaign. He was considered the favourite for the Cheltenham Gold Cup due to his exploits over the course of the season, only to be beaten by his compatriot at the major event in March. Nicky Henderson’s charge now returns to action and will be looking for a similar run towards the Cheltenham Festival, beginning by competing at Kempton Park.

The Irish horse had a strong end to his 2016/17 term, which saw him triumph at Cheltenham in the RSA Chase and the Mildmay Novices' Chase at Aintree. He carried that form all the way to the King George VI Chase where he delivered on expectations to win by a length ahead of Double Shuffle to claim the title. The race has seen a number of horses win the event in back-to-back seasons. The greatest of them all at Kempton Park was Kauto Star, who won the meet four times in a row between 2006 and 2009 before adding a fifth crown in 2011. Silviniaco Conti was the last horse to win successive meets in the event, triumphing in 2013 and 2014. Since then, Cue Card, Thistlecrack and Might Bite have all been victorious. Henderson’s charge is backed in the horse racing betting odds at 2/1 to pull off the win for the second year on the spin, although he may have to dust off the rust before competing against a quality field.

Might Bite went straight from his victory at the King George VI Chase to Cheltenham Festival, resting for a period of seven weeks between the two events. He appeared to suffer as a result of his lack of action on the track as Nico de Boinville failed to get the best out of his charge. The Irish horse struggled for rhythm at Cheltenham in the Gold Cup. His quality started to emerge towards the end of the race where he took the lead for a short time, although the nine-year-old could not sustain his form, allowing Native River to surge past him down the stretch. Native River had the pace to close out the victory by four-and-a-half-lengths to take the Cup

Henderson’s charge responded with an emphatic performance at his next race in the Mildmay Novices' Chase. Although the Irish horse made an early mistake on the fourth fence, he was flawless for the rest of the meet, dominating his rivals to clinch the win by seven lengths. If he does not compete between now and the King George VI Chase, it will have been eight months since his last taste of the action. As proven at Cheltenham, too much can sometimes be a hindrance rather than a benefit. It’s certainly something to consider before backing Might Bite at Kempton Park on Boxing Day.

Thursday, 1 November 2018

19 Things About the Life of Legendary Pro Gambler Phil Bull

1) Born, West Yorkshire, 1910

2) Son of a coal miner and school teacher

3) Started betting as a schoolboy

4) 1931 Graduated from Leeds University reading Mathematics

5) Love of horse racing and maths helped create his own Timeform handicapping system

6) He gave up being a school teacher to become a professional gambler

7) In the 1940s, he sold his tips under the pseudonym of the Temple Time Test

8) He was friends with bookmaker William Hill 

9) His betting records show that from 1943 - 1974 he won £295,987 (about £5M in today's money)

10) After the second world war, Bull and Dick Whitford created Timeform in 1948 

11) Bull headed the company until his death in 1989.

12) Timeform is now owned by Betfair Exchange 

13) In 2012 Frankel received the highest ever rating

14) Phil Bull was a racehorse owner and breeder setting up Hollins Stud in Halifax in 1947. 

15) He bred top class horses including Romulus & Eudaemon.  In his own colours, he won with Sostenuto & Charicle.  

16) By 1980 his stud fell by the way and he owned individual horses.

17) 1980 he was made Chairman of the Horseracing Advisory Council. (He lasted just 4 months)

18) One of his legacies is the Racing Post Trophy, formerly known as the Timeform Gold Cup established in 1961. He wasn't happy with the limited number of one-mile two-year-old races.   

19) Three horses have won the Racing Post Trophy before winning the Epsom Derby: High Chaparral, Authorized and Camelot.  

Thursday, 25 October 2018

Pro Gambler: Betting Big Odds On

Odds On Loser Challenged by Clown
Pro gambler stores are always popular. To walk in the shoes of someone who puts their money down betting that they know a little more than the bookmaker who thinks they don't. A battle of wits, judgment and courage. 

I say courage because for some professional gamblers they have a lot more to lose than win. How come? 

When they bet huge odds on.   

Betting odds on takes a certain mentality. You find comfort in the fact that your horse is favourite, high-profile trainer, leading jockey takes the mount. All the money is on this beast so let's feel the safety in numbers. 

What could go wrong? 

Odds on winners are good news but odds on losers hit you hard. All that positivity comes back at you in the negative. You literally feel as though a clown is following you round the racecourse. He's pointing at you: smiling, laughing, sneering, mocking. You feel like your trousers are going to fall down at any moment and you can't remember if you put on boxers or not.

He shouts: ''Look at this chump, he backed an odds on loser!'' 

He gives you a couple of honks from his horn. Smiles. 


He delves into a bag and pulls out a cream pie and everyone on the racecourse is watching. Even the commentator [Tommo] is keeping the crowd informed to a point they missed the finish of the last race. Bookmakers price up whether you will get the cream pie within the next few minutes. 

You'd bet on it yourself, but fearful of what happened to this poor loser. 

Out of the corner of your eye you spot a line of clowns limbering up with their best stuff. One is scooting round the course in a clown car as parts fall off along the way. 

I remember a story detailed in Dave Nevison's book which he spoke of one pro who bet huge odds on and hardly dare watch fearing any moment his horse would be struggling or notice (somehow) it was being ridden by a real clown. He's laughing at  the crowd as he fires confetti into he air. He yells: ''You f****** losers!!!!'' 

Too many times that big, strong, colt returns to the paddock with cream pie all over his face. 

Strangely, they never called for a stewards' inquiry. 

The perils of betting big odds on.

Sunday, 7 October 2018

Gambling: Learned Helplessness

Seligman: Learned Helplessness
Lots of people gamble. 

If anything, there are more people gambling than ever. Men, women and children (given half a chance). This must have much to do with the increasing number of adverts pushed across the board. 

Football, darts, horse racing... At the commercial break you find you have been transported to a universe populated by Ray Winston and a variety of bets. Or some other geezer, who suggests you can boost your bet. That's trumped by a celebrity who says you can create your own bets. 

Planet Bet. A place where insurance brokers have fixed gadgets to zebra crossings so you can see the changing odds and likelihood that you may be run over or disabled by drunk driver or some old dear who is rushing home to check her Lotto. 

I wonder if adverts for gambling will go the same way as smoking? Every other sport was sponsored by Embassy or Benson & Hedges. You get the feeling that betting will follow suit as more and more people fall prey to what seems an innocent pastime. 

This post is about the more established gambler. The kind of gamblers who should know better. They love to bet. They win. They lose. But here's an interesting question. Do they ever learn?

It may seem a strange question to ask. However, has your approach to the way you bet changed with time? Have to become more successful? Have you stayed exactly where you started? 

If you went to evening school for five years, it would seem a touch different if you never progressed past basic mathematics. If someone asked how your studies were going and you said: ''I'm still taking basic maths'' you may get an odd look. 

''Wasn't you taking that class five years ago?''


If that is the case for your betting, then perhaps you need to stop for a moment and consider a rethink. 


Because what you've been doing doesn't make sense. 

Is the fact that people consider they cannot win at gambling the reason why they don't question an irrational behaviour? Perhaps, it is just an addicts mind? But I don't think so. In psychology there is a theory called learned helplessness. Where an animal receives an electric shock when it wanders to a certain part of its cage. Every time it goes there, it had a painful experience. Not surprisingly, after a while, it simply keeps away from this part. However, this behaviour remains even when the electricity is switched off. The dog, cat, rabbit, human has learned to be helpless.

Definition: Learned Helplessness

A condition in which a person suffers from a sense of powerlessness, arising from a traumatic event or persistent failure to succeed. It is thought to be one of the underlying causes of depression.

Is the fact that so many gamblers have resigned themselves to losing that they never progress to win?

Saturday, 29 September 2018

A Betting Strategy for Your Favourite Horse Trainers

Betting odds. 

Whether we are talking 6/4 of 1000/1 they mean something. Price to chance. The odds of winning or losing. At the end of the day, they detail one thing: an opinion. I guess unless you are betting in a vacuum, it is a consensus of opinions to form one opinion detailed in a fraction or decimal. 

This story is anecdotal rather than based on data. However, I could easily run a test on a given trainer to pinpoint an interesting fact about betting odds. I've noticed that certain horse trainers have an increased chance of winning when their runner is at a given price or within a certain range. 

I'm not just stating that the shorter the price a horse the better chance it has of winning. That isn't always the case. 

I remember years ago, and I'm talking a long time, when Ron Boss used to train in Newmarket. 

Ron was an astute trainer of two-year-olds. For the size of his string, he always found a decent horse. Very much in the mold of Paul Kelleway, he wasn't scared to contest the highest class even when others scratched their head.

 A few readers may remember Mon Tresor winning the Middle Park Stakes (Group 1). You need a long memory to remember 1988. It was the start of my interest in two-year-old horse racing. I had the Racing Post delivered every day. I could recall every horse, form line, winner to a point of being a potential candidate for Master Mind. Ron Boss was a character. He was a superb trainer. 

The funny thing I always noted about him was his knack at winning with two-year-old colts and fillies on their second start. They are very consistent when priced at certain odds. This may have been a coincidence, but every time he had a winner they seemed to win  second start at odds of 11/2. 

It was uncanny.

I have noticed similarities with other trainers. I'm not going to detail them here because I don't want to just give my best info away. 

However, I would suggest to those punters who follow a given trainer to take note of the horses that win on debut or second start and see if you can spot a pattern. 

I know I have found a number who remind me of the good old days.   

Where are they now? Read about Ron Boss.

Tuesday, 18 September 2018

Will Torcedor Make His Breakthrough At Melbourne Cup?

Torcedor has established himself as one of the leading competitors in the English flat season over two miles in 2018 and Jessica Harrington will be hopeful that her charge can end the term with a victory at the Melbourne Cup. 

The Irish horse rose to prominence in the 2017 season – notably with a victory over Order of St George in their clash at Navan in the Vintage Crop Stakes. Aidan O’Brien’s charge was the favourite for the event, but Torcedor produced the upset to win the race. It’s that sort of prowess on the track that makes the six-year-old one of the leading contenders in the bookmakers’ odds compiled by Oddschecker for the meet at Flemington Racecourse. 

Harrington’s charge was beaten at the end of the last campaign by Order of St George, who earned his revenge for the defeat at the British Champions Long Distance Cup. Colm O’Donoghue in the saddle got a fine performance out of the bay gelding, putting pressure down on his rival down the stretch. The two competitors battled down the final straight, but O’Brien’s charge proved to have the pace when it mattered at the crucial stage to clinch the Long Distance Cup

He returned to action for the start of the 2018 campaign in Meydan at the Dubai Gold Cup. However, Torcedor endured a miserable outing with the worst performance of his career, placing in last out of 16 competitors. The six-year-old needed a response to put the outing in Dubai behind him and O’Donoghue was able to bring out the best in his charge at Ascot in the Sagaro Stakes. 

The Irish horse was considered the favourite for the race and duly delivered on expectations with an accomplished display. He had a steady tempo throughout the meet after taking the lead six furlongs from the finish. Torcedor pulled away from the rest of the field to win by five lengths to get back to winning ways. The performance proved to be a fine warm-up for his next outing. Harrington put her charge forward for the Ascot Gold Cup. The bay gelding had competed in the event in 2017, only to finish off the pace of the leading group. Big Orange won the event ahead of Order of St George, with Torcedor placing down in fifth. He was an outsider with a starting price of 14/1 for the meet, but proved to be a true contender for the crown.

The six-year-old was able to match the pace of the leading group and was in with a shout of the victory with two furlongs remaining. His compatriot Stradivarius had the extra pace when need to pull ahead of Torcedor along with Vazirabad to take the crown. Torcedor did place in third ahead of Order of St George, highlighting the quality of the performance, although not quite good enough for the major victory. 

The Irish horse would collide with Stradivarius once again at the Goodwood Cup Stakes. John Gosden’s charge was the overwhelming favourite for the title considering his performance in the Ascot Gold Cup. O’Donoghue got a solid run out of Torcedor at Goodwood, but he could not close in on Stradivarius in the closing stages of the race as his rival had the speed to edge away from him, taking the race by half-a-length. Once again it proved that Harrington’s charge has the capability to compete at the major events, although the ultimate success evaded the bay gelding. 

The Melbourne Cup will give Torcedor a stronger opportunity to break his duck at a major event. The Irish horse does have five victories in the 19 races of his career, although the high point thus far has been his triumph over Order of St George at the Vintage Crop Stakes. 

He will face competition for the Melbourne Cup with Withhold being the leading contender among the bookies for the title following his win at the Stobart Rail & Civils Northumberland Plate Handicap. On the surface, Torcedor would appear to have a stronger calibre than Roger Charlton’s charge given the standard of competition he has faced over the season. Therefore the six-year-old could finally be ready to make his mark with a victory at Flemington at the beginning of November.

Friday, 7 September 2018

2:05 Ascot Racing Tips (7th September)

Betting at the races2:05 Ascot - 

7f Charbonnel Et Walker British EBF Maiden Stakes (Plus 10 Race) (Sire And Dam Restricted Race) (Class 3) (2yo)

Going: Good 

Runners: 11

Bangkok -

Ran great race on debut for Andrew Balding. Deserved favourite who will take some beating. 

Murray River - 

John Gosden has a wealth of talented two-year-olds. This Derby entrant has fair each-way claims if priced 13/2 & less SP. 

Prince Eiji - 

Cost 2,600,000 guineas at the yearling sales. Stable can win on debut but will need to be a talent to lower the colours of the hot favourite. 

Fox Vardy - 

Great to see Martyn Meade training a Frankel 2yo in the ownership of King Power Racing Co Ltd. Meade can ready a debutant. 

Gambon - 

Once raced for Eve Johnston-Houghton. Ran a nice debut but been off course for over two months. 

God Has Given - 

An expensive yearling purchase costing 350,000 guineas in the ownership of the China Horse Club International Ltd. Not fancied in the betting but worth noting in the market. 

El Picador - 

Not best fancied on debut when eighth. Needs to find improvement. Unless seriously backed, others look more likely. 

Felix The Poet - 

Archie Watson has been inspired in these last few seasons. However, this gelding doesn't look fancied here. 

L'Un Deux Trois - 

Michael Bell can win with debutantes and some at big prices. This 50,000 euro purchase may be best watched today. 

Red Armada - 

Interesting that Clive Cox gave this horse a Group entry. He didn't look that good on debut and needs to improve. Maybe better than see. 

Conclusion: Bangkok is a worthy favourite after a smart debut. Prince Eiji could have each-way claims for Roger Varian. Red Armada needs to improve considerably but interesting why Cox gave this horse a Group entry. May have a little more going for it than looks.