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John Gibby – Well Handicapped Horses

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

Nick Hardman Free Racing Tips

It's Friday and here's Nick Hardman from the Betting School Insiders Club.
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We had another terrific Friday last week courtesy of Nicky Henderson’s hurdlers and he rattled up a hat-trick across the cards with winners at 6/1, 4/1 and 9/4. With Chepstow abandoned and nothing making any appeal at Musselburgh, we turn out attention back to the AW and some qualifiers from the systems we are road testing over at the Betting School Insiders Club which are ticking over nicely.

There are no qualifiers from Lingfield but we have a few from the evening card at Wolverhampton below:

5.15pm Solar Deity & Linton
5.45pm Harwoods Star
6.15pm Little Lord Nelson
6.45 Go Packing Go & Sciustree

Solar Deity looks to have a good chance to get off the mark in 2015 after a string of placed efforts. He is rated 6lbs higher than his nearest rival on official ratings but is well-in under these weights. He rates a solid bet and I expect him to shorten so take the best morning price with a Best Odds Guaranteed bookmaker.

Stablemate Linton needs to recapture the form that saw him win plenty of races in Australia and compete in a pair of Listed races on the flat last year. I would be as surprised as anyone if Linton were to take this from his stablemate but he is one that may tempt the each-way backers at a price.

Harwoods Star got turned over at 4/9 on his last start but has a chance of making amends here back up in trip and with7lb claimer Aaron Jones back on board. The yard are in excellent form too so he is worth another chance.

The same trainer and jockey team up on Little Lord Nelson in the next and he also has decent chance on handicap debut. The final race will most likely see Charlie Appleby’s New Approach colt Symbolic Star go off a warm order. If he takes a chunk out of the market that could see our two qualifiers go off at an each-way price.

Sciustree is related to plenty of winners and was 6th of 12 on debut and should improve for that experience. Go Packing Go is also well related and makes her debut here.

Saturday’s feature race is the Clarence House Chase which sees the return of the mighty Sprinter Sacre. I for one will be hoping he doesn’t just win this, but wins in the manner of a horse that totally dismisses his rivals. Racing needs superstars and we want this one back. With that in mind it is a watching race and not a betting race for me.

For a selection on Saturday I have run the rule over the Peter Marsh Chase at Haydock from a trends perspective.

We have a shortlist of 4 qualifiers in Vintage Star, Benbens, Amigo and Toby Lerone. Benbens had Amigo some 20 lengths behind in the Welsh National and I cannot see any reason why Amigo should turn the tables here.

Toby Lerone put in a career best last time when finishing second to Broadway Buffalo in the Tommy Whittle Chase at this venue. He is up 6lbs for that and could still be improving. That was on heavy ground too, which he will likely get again on Saturday.

Vintage Star is 4lbs lower than when runner-up in this race last year. He is also back down to his last winning mark that saw him win a Graduation Chase at Carlisle on heavy ground over 3m 1f.

He has not performed that well in 3 starts this season but he has yet to see really testing ground which he may well get on Saturday. Trainer Suzy Smith has an excellent record in the race having trained 2 winners, a runner-up and two third placed finishers since 2000.

It’s a leap of faith but I am willing to make him one of my selections from the shortlist in the hope this is a true test of stamina.

I am torn between Benbens and Toby Lerone for my second selection but I will side with Benbens as the father & son Twiston-Davies combination has been in fine form recently. In addition he was travelling as well as anything in the Welsh National until running out of gas about three flights from home. Back down in trip I think he can go well.

Saturday Haydock 3.15pm
Vintage Star e/w
Benbens e/w

The one runner who does interest me on Saturday’s cards is super-tough mare Carole’s Spirit in the Mare’s Hurdle race at Ascot.

A winner of 4 of her 5 starts her only defeat came at the hands of Highland Retreat who has gone on to be an exciting novice chaser for Harry Fry.

Against her own sex and proven over track, trip and ground I expect her to go very close.

Saturday Ascot 1.50pm
Carole’s Spirit

Good Luck
Nick Hardman
Betting School Insiders Club

Epsom Derby Tips

Following on from yesterdays Oaks analysis today we have Nick Hardman's (Betting Insiders) Epsom Derby tips.

The Derby ante-post market has been all about Aiden O’Brien’s Australia and it is 5/4 the field right now. If he lives up to the hype he will win this comfortably and if you truly believe that then I would not put you off backing him.

However, I haven’t seen enough on the racecourse to be tempted by those odds and I am happy to take him on.

Similar to the Oaks, the Derby has some strong trends that are worth exploring.

Only 2 of the last 17 winners were priced 17/2 or higher and all of the last 15 winners returned odds of 7/1 or shorter.

With 16 of the last 17 winners coming from the top 4 in the market it has certainly paid not to look too far down the list. 16 of the last 17 winners either won or filled the runners up spot on their previous start (13 won and 3 were second).

Interestingly that would rule out the top three from the betting – Australia (3rd in 2000 Guineas), Geoffrey Chaucer (3rd in the Leopardstown Derby trial) and Kingston Hill (8th in the 2000 Guineas) as well as True Story (3rd in the Dante).

It would take a surprise winner to maintain that trend on Saturday afternoon. Finally, 12 of the last 17 winners had raced beyond 1 mile and all 10 previous winners had had no more than 5 runs.

With Australia at prohibitive odds for this particular punter, I will look at the 3 behind him in the market. Geoffrey Chaucer is second favourite having been backed in from 12s to around 7s. He was unlucky in the Leopardstown trial and was eased down into 3rd after being squeezed for room.

That was over 1m 2f and he appears versatile ground-wise. I think the money coming for him is significant and I’d be delighted to see Ryan Moore on board. The 8/1 with PaddyPower looks a solid bet and with only 3 runs under his belt there is surely more to come.

The horse who beat Geoffey Chaucer that day was Fascinating Rock and he is another one with solid place prospects. He has won his last 3 starts (all over 10f) with the last two being Group 3 races.

He will surely stay and has done all his winning on good-to-soft and soft so he won’t be inconvenienced by any rain.

At 14/1 he is definitely an each-way candidate.

True Story has a lot to prove after a disappointing run in the Dante and he may just be a different horse on good or quick ground. I would have to wait and see what the going was on the day before making a decision on this horse. Kieran Fallon is very keen on him and he says we will see a different horse on the day.

Kingston Hill was an emphatic winner of the Racing Post Trophy on soft ground on his final 2 year old start but has never raced beyond a mile. Western Hymn does get 10f as his last 2 victories have shown so stamina should not be an issue for John Gosden’s colt.

He was very impressive on his seasonal reappearance but was less than convincing on his next start in the Sandown trial, hanging badly left in the final furlong.

Snow Sky took the Lingfield Derby trial but looks held by Western Hymn on their Newbury running and was trounced by Kingston Hill in the Racing Post Trophy (albeit over 1 mile).

Of the remainder, Aiden O’Brien’s Orchestra is interesting after overcoming greenness to win the Chester Vase over the exact same trip as the Derby. After just 3 runs he is open to plenty of improvement and he showed that day that a mile and a half is within his reach.

This year’s renewal is a fascinating contest, especially with Australia taking a huge chunk out of the market. Clearly connections have seen enough at home to feel Australia is much better than Geoffrey Chaucer and Orchestra.

However, if he were to lose he would certainly not be the first Ballydoyle hot-pot to be turned over by the second or third string from that stable. At the prices I think the value lies with Geoffrey Chaucer.

Of those at bigger prices, Kingston Hill, Orchestra, Fascinating Rock and Western Hymn all make some each-way appeal. I make Orchestra the pick of the four having proven himself over a mile and a half on soft ground at Chester, but all of them are worthy of consideration for an upset.

Epsom Derby Selections:

Best value: Geoffrey Chaucer @8/1 (PaddyPower)
Each-way alternative: Orchestra @16/1

Victoria Cup Selections

Today we have a detailed analysis and selections for today's Victoria Cup from Nick Hardman who is a contributor at the Betting Insiders Club…

This Saturday sees a cracking renewal of the Victoria Cup run over a straight 7 furlongs at Ascot.

As you would expect from a big field handicap, this race has thrown up some decent priced winners including Excellent Guest @25/1 last year, Dandy Boy @16/1 in 2010 and Swift Gift @25/1 in 2009.

This is the type of race where there is no harm in taking a few against the field with several bookmakers paying 5 places.

It is also the kind of race that can take a great deal of deciphering so let’s take a look at the profiles of the typical winners from the last 15 renewals:

– Only 3 of the last 15 favourites have won (3 from 17 if you include joint favourites)
– 11 of the last 15 winners were aged 4 or 5 years old
– Only 1 of the last 15 winners had an official rating in the 100’s
– 8 of the last 15 winners had an official rating of 92 – 96 (6 winners were rated <90) - 11 of the last 15 winners had previously won at the distance - 10 of the last 15 winners came from the top 6 in the betting - 9 of the last 15 winners had last raced 8 – 30 days previously - Only 3 of the last 15 winners won after a break of 120 days or more If we are looking for a horse that ticks plenty of the boxes above then Luca Cumani’s 4 year old colt Ayaar @16/1 fits the bill quite nicely. Formerly trained by Mick Channon, Ayaar is a four time winner at 7f and was once rated 102. Now in the hands of Cumani he ran a decent race on his stable debut finishing 3rd behind re-opposing Georgian Bay and Glen Moss. I’m expecting him to come on for that run and racing here off 97 he may be well treated off his current mark. Others who have a similar profile include Brownsea Brink, Flyman and Purcell. Brownsea Brink may fare best of the three with Flyman yet to win beyond 6f and Purcell needing to show he is as good on turf as he is on the AW. One who could be very well handicapped at a big price is Don’t Call Me @33/1 for Dandy Nicholls. This horse has lots of good form over 7f to 1m. He also has course figures of 1433126469. Those last 4 runs at Ascot are hardly inspiring but we should take a closer look. In July 2010, Don’t Call Me won the Dubai Duty Free Handicap off a mark of 84. The following year he was 3rd of 30 in a Class 3 handicap off a mark of 88, a race won by Captain Ramius. In 2012 he was an excellent 3rd of 30 in the Royal Hunt Cup. He finished that year by winning a decent class 2 handicap at the course @25/1 off an official rating of 96. That was the last time he won a race. A month later he ran 2nd of 14 @16/1 in a heritage handicap off a mark of 102. A winter campaign in Meydan saw his rating rise to 107 and the best of his recent runs was when 4th of 28 in the Royal Hunt Cup (again at an unfancied 25/1) this time last year off a mark of 102. Since then his official rating has dropped to 95 and if recapturing some of his previous spark he could well outrun his massive odds. A slight negative is his age (7 years old). However, Excellent Guest won this race as a 6yo last year and Global Village won at the age of 7 in 2012. His best runs at the course have been in the Royal Hunt Cup over 1 mile. It may be he is better at that distance but he does have form at 7f including a win, a second and a third place finish at Ascot. He is also top of the Racing Post Ratings and also has the highest speed rating (although I am not sure when this was achieved). This could be a horse past his prime and his turf reappearance run at Haydock was well below par. However, he may also be a horse who has a decent run left in him back down to his last winning mark. I have had a couple of quid each-way @40/1 last night (clipped into 33’s following final declarations). Another couple from the older brigade who could run well at a price are last year’s winner Excellent Guest @20/1 and Belgian Bill @25/1. However they have to overcome absences of 203 and 224 days respectively and that is slightly off-putting. Excellent Guest won this race off 2lb higher on his seasonal reappearance and despite his woeful form figures since, it would be folly to dismiss him out of hand. Belgian Bill goes well here with a 4th in the Britannia in 2011, a creditable 7th in the Buckingham Palace Stakes in 2012 (having run 2 days earlier in the Royal Hunt Cup) and a win in the Royal Hunt Cup last year. It’s a tough ask on his seasonal debut but don’t be surprised to see him put in a bold bid. Selection: Ayaar @16/1 e/w (5places) Bet Victor Lively outsider: Don’t Call Me @33/1 e/w (5 places) Now 20/1 Bet 365
(Since we wrote this Pricewise have selected Don't Call Me and the price has crashed !)

Not to be underestimated: Belgian Bill @33/1 Bet Victor and Excellent Guest @25/1 Bet Victor

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