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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

Greyhounds – Is it fast enough

Once we have found a dog that looks like it will have a favourable position, ideally in front, at the first bend and will not get any trouble on the way to the bend then all you need to know now is whether it is fast enough to hold onto its lead.

It is very common to find a dog that will get a clear run around and will lead most of the way in a race only to lose in the closing stages.

These sprint type dogs just don’t have the stamina to hold on to the winning line and are a trap for anybody using the kind of strategy that we have discussed here.

The key clue to whether we are dealing with this kind of dog is its past race positions. If it has led previously all the way but still not won then you need to find a reason why it might hang on today. EG If in a previous race the positions are shown as 2111 but the dog didn’t win the race then this is a danger signal.

Maybe it is an easier race today maybe a lower grade. Maybe it is fitter today, if the last run came after rest or it is a puppy who is improving. If you can’t find a reason then maybe you should give this one a miss.

Because graded races are in theory constructed such that any dog could win, other than the types mentioned above, I tend to not pay too much attention to the previous times recorded by each dog. As long as my selection is not way slower than the opposition then I am likely to go with it.

The exceptions to this are where I can see a reason why one of the opposition might improve. These include…

Puppies. Young dogs that are just starting out on their careers which can improve in leaps and bounds.

Rested dogs. Dogs that have been off for a rest and are not yet running to their pre rest form. EG If they were running A4 grade before their rest but are now reappearing in an A6 then it is likely that at sometime soon they will return to the previous grade IE they are better than their opposition.

Bitches that have been in season. Bitches don’t run when they are in season. When they return they tend to find significant improvement at around 16 weeks after their season commenced. This tendency is significant enough to be a profitable strategy in itself.

One final point to keep in mind is that you don’t have to bet just one selection in a race. If you have narrowed a race down to two or three contenders then consider splitting your stakes between them.

Splitting stakes across multiple selections is a strategy I use a lot in greyhound racing. You can either bet the same stake on each dog or adjust your stake so you make the same profit whichever of your selections wins.

You can use our dutching tool that will help you determine the correct stakes for dutching selections.

And that is the method that I use to find winning greyhound selections. As with any betting method you are looking for a dog with a strong chance of winning and one that has a better chance than the available odds suggest. There is no clear cut selection ever, because if a dog is an obvious winner then the odds will reflect that.

But that said I have frequently found selections that I am sure will win, barring accidents, at 4/1 and 5/1.

Greyhound Baulking

So last time we looked at which dog had the fastest sectional times and was likely to lead.

But times don't tell the full story. There are other factors that effect the run up to the first bend and they can all be grouped together into one question.

That is will the dogs, or at least the one we are interested in, get a clear run to the bend and that's what we'll look at today.

Greyhounds run in a number of distinct styles and track positions.

There are those that want to run close to the rail and those (usually bigger dogs) that prefer to run out wide where the bends are easier to negotiate. Generally speaking when a dog leaves the trap he will aim to get in the position that he prefers.

This will be clearer if I use an extreme example.

If we have a dog that is too big to negotiate the bends near to the rail and needs to run wide around the bends then somewhere between the traps and the first bend he will want to get into the position that is most comfortable.

If that particular dog was starting in trap one then somewhere along the way he will cut in front of, or behind the dogs in traps two to six.

He will most likely bump into or impede some of these other dogs on his way to the bend.

This means that the sectional time that we expect from any other dog that is impeded will not be what we expect it to be. So for example in our screen shot from the last message our trap five may not have had an advantage if he was impeded by others along the way.

To assess the likelihood of any dog getting to the line as quickly as we expect we need to look at its previous races and those of the dogs around it to predict any problems.

Predicting likely trouble from the traps is more of an art than a science but there are clues a plenty in the race card.

First off you want to look for comments in the previous races of the runners. If a runner is slow or very slow away consistently then this is an advantage for the adjacent runners as they will have clear space around them.

Also look for comments regarding a dogs position at the start. You might find an indication that a dog heads for the rails at the start or heads wide at the start EG RlsStt would indicate that the dog in question headed for the inside rail at the start.

When you see comments like this you have to put them into the context of todays race. For example if a dog earns the comment RlsStt but is in trap one today then the comment is not relevant. However if he is in trap two then it may have negative consequences for trap one but be a positive sign for trap three.

Also look at what trap each dog has been running from if a dog is used to trap one but is today in trap three then it may be that he will head to his regular position near the rails.

Use all of the relevant comments and information to build a picture in your mind of how the run to the bend will pan out.

Greyhound Racing Videos

Before I get into the specifics of finding winning dogs by reading the form I want to just give a bit more background info and talk about a method I used to use when I was full time betting the greyhounds…

Finding the winning greyhound in a graded race is about a lot more than the times it has achieved in the past.

Graded racing is the greyhound equivalent of a handicap race except that greyhounds are not allocated any sort of handicap to slow them down.

Instead they selected to be as closely matched as possible.

The Racing Managers job is to put together races that are as closely matched as possible and to, if you like, create a puzzle for the punters.

On course bookmaking at greyhound tracks is notoriously hard, mainly because when money talks in a small market there are not the opportunities to balance out a book. This is the reason that on course overrounds are huge at greyhound tracks and the reason that the Racing Manager does his best to make the races as decipherable as possible.

Don’t let any of this put you off, though, because winners can be found if you are selective and if the meeting is covered by Betfair then fair prices can be obtained also.

As with any activity knowledge equals power or in this case the more you know the more profitable you can be. The ultimate level of knowledge is to have watched every race ever run by every dog in the race to hand and to know how each has been performing at home. (Many trainers these days have some sort of track at their own kennels).

It is unlikely that you can get inside info on every dog in a race but you can often get to see every race a dog has run. For some years now tracks have supplied videos of all races run to those prepared to pay for the privilege. And the backer who focuses on one particular track can, given time, watch every run of a particular animal. However this is an expensive, although ultimately profitable, approach.

I will briefly touch on the things to watch out for when race watching here and next time we'll get on to a more form based approach.

Racing Videos

When watching greyhound racing in the main what you are looking for is

• Dogs that have had a hard race (bumped and blocked) but still performed well indicating they are faster than the time recorded. They are likely faster than the bare form suggests. If you are in the bookies watching the BAGS racing and you see a dog that had a hard race make a note of it and check the results to see what tine it did and estimate what time you think it should have done,. It may be a good bet next time out.

• How a dog breaks from the traps EG do they run straight to the rail, which would cause trouble for the dog inside them but hand an advantage to the dog on their outside. This info can be useful in assessing the chances of the dog in question and other dogs.

• Are they on the bunny! IE doing everything in their power to get in front and win or did they give up easy & just follow the pack home. Chasers, who are not really up for it will win less than their share of races because they don't like to be in front.

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