Today we have the first part of an interview with John Gibby the author of Well Handicapped Horses
We also have details of two of John's well handicapped horses running today.
This interview was conducted by Steve Carter of the Betting School Insiders Club.
INTERVIEW WITH JON GIBBY
When did you first get interested in horse racing and betting?
Whilst living in Hong Kong between 1979/1980. My father and two elder brothers were regular visitors to the two racecourses (Sha Tin and Happy Valley) and I remember being impressed on the couple of occasions that they returned home and emptied some quite large amounts of money onto the dining-room table!
My first visit to a racetrack came a few years later when I was nineteen. That was when I came to believe that there was money to be made from betting on horses.
Although I lost what little money I had that day, by betting on horses that I liked the look of in the paddock, my brothers had been studying the form and they proceeded to go through the card.
The last winner (if memory serves me correctly) was a horse called Taskforce Victory which landed them a six horse accumulator and the Placepot and combined winnings of over £2000.
It was soon after that that I began to take a keen interest in the contents of the Sporting Life paper that they regularly bought and to start listening to what they had to say about form analysis!
Did your betting activities bring instant success or did it take a while to learn the ropes?
There was certainly no instant success. It took years before I began to show regular profits.
Both myself and my brothers spent years trying to develop those illusive winning systems but most of them were unceremoniously binned after the first inevitable losing run. I had a few decent successes with Lucky 15 bets which helped to recoup some of my losses but overall, although I didn’t keep records of every bet, I was certainly in deficit to the bookies.
The great majority of punters will spend years losing money whilst learning the trade and the great majority will continue to lose money because they can’t or don’t want to learn from their experience!
Were there any early influences that shaped your approach to successful betting?
Yes, without a doubt the biggest influence was Nick Mordin’s ground breaking book Betting for a Living.
Nick’s work was outstanding, primarily because it was such a huge step up on previous British racing literature. It was this book that showed me how to work out my own draw statistics and also introduced me to pace analysis. More importantly, it also helped me to discover that there were numerous excellent American books waiting to be read and works by authors such as Andy Beyer, Tom Ainslie, William Quirin and Tom Brohammer completely transformed my understanding of form.
How would you best sum up your own style of betting?
Periodic and selective. I don’t bet professionally and I am still in the same full-time occupation that I joined twenty-five years ago. For me, betting has been, and always will be, a hobby that I aim to make a few thousand pounds out of each year, whether that be by writing books or by betting. Because of my job (which involves shift work) I don’t have the time or the energy to commit to the necessary amount of form study over long periods of time.
I tend to give it maximum effort from April through to July, betting exclusively on the Flat and then I will have just an occasional dabble during the rest of the year.
I also bet selectively. I identify horses that I believe to be well-handicapped (and therefore probable future winners) and I keep a list of them to follow. Most of them are lightly raced three-year-olds which I look to back in the first half of the season (whilst they remain well-handicapped).
Most of my analysis is done when looking at the results pages published in the Weekender every Wednesday. I scour the results looking for horses that have run well despite being disadvantaged by the various biases that are present to varying degrees in each and every race. I am also looking out for horses that have clocked fast times. For a fuller explanation of the methodology, readers will have to buy my latest book!
What led you to writing your first book “Betting on Flat Handicaps?”
I used to subscribe to the weekly publication Raceform Update and I particularly enjoyed reading the letters and systems submitted by readers to the Sports Forum page. About sixteen years ago I began sending in my own letters.
They seemed to be well received in the main and because I was making good profits at the time from the methodology I was using I decided to take it a step further and write a book. I sent in a couple of chapters to Raceform with an explanation of what would be in the remainder of the book and to my surprise they said ‘yes’!
How was your own P&L affected by the disclosure of the methods described in the book?
It is difficult to know. The method I used then was built around my knowledge of draw bias, which for a good few years gave me a significant edge over the majority of other punters.
That began to diminish as more and more people became aware of the power of the draw and the odds about the well-drawn runners started to tumble. Perhaps my book contributed to that to some extent, but I think that Graham Wheldon’s books about the draw, which were published around that time, were more influential in changing people’s perceptions.
More generally, I would say that it is a truism that winning methods normally have a limited lifetime because inevitably other people will catch on to them and they eventually become over bet as a consequence.
The game keeps slowly changing and you have to keep adapting your methods in an attempt to stay one step ahead of other punters. There is of course no guarantee that you can keep successfully doing that and that is why I have always been reluctant to risk packing up the day job in favour of full-time punting.
In your opinion where does the average every day punter go wrong given that the statistics generally quote that 98% make a loss?
They bet in too many races and on the wrong type of horse. Most people would improve their chance of success if they became a lot more selective and put more money on fewer bets. Another truism in my view is that you cannot construct good bets every time you open the Racing Post, but instead you have to wait for them to come along.
I am reminded of this most years during Royal Ascot week and the Cheltenham Festival. I meet up with one of my brothers and we treat the weeks as a bit of fun and try to find the winner of every race. More often than not we fail dismally!
In part two tomorrow John talks about his current methods for finding winners.
There are two of John's well handicapped horses running today…
Today's Selections courtesy of Well Handicapped Horses
4.00pm Nottingham – Future Security
Related to five winners and cost 160,000gns as a yearling. He was a relatively late foal (April 8) and will make a better 3yo once he matures and based on his 2yo form he gave the impression that he might make into Listed class.
This season he won a class 4 3yo handicap at Bath in early August and finished down the field next time out in the very hot class 2 Melrose Stakes at York. Last time out having been close up he weakened out of it on his first run on firm going and has been dropped a couple of pounds in the handicap. The forecast going today is good to soft and he drops back to a trip more in line with his two wins to date which were over 9f and 10f. Has proven form in the conditions and the ease in class may be able to bring out a return to form for this lightly raced colt should he take his chance.
13/2 Bet365 – win bet
8.30pm Kempton – Eraada
Related to no less than 12 winners including the 118 rated Almutawake so she has a lot to live up to. Being by Medician she is probably going to be suited by a sound surface. She won on her final start as a 2yo in a maiden at Catterick over 7f and did well from a poor draw. Hopefully she will get better with age and a rating of 73 looks manageable.
So far this season two runs have not shown much and she now runs off a mark of 69. Interestingly she is upped in trip to 11f for the first time having not into either of her starts over 7f and 8f as a 3yo and the trainer certainly knows the time of day when it comes to trip. This is her easiest assignment and given she stays then may have a lively chance.
14/1 Bet365 – each way bet