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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

Green Up: How To Calculate Your Stakes

The first thing to say is that when this article was first written there was no cash out button on Betfair, so life is easier if you just want to lock in a profit and green up on a horse you've bet, no calculator required. But don't expect to get the best bet possible using the cash out button!

But you should know the maths and how to calculate your own stakes for greening up and that's what we cover on this page.

Yesterday Pete asked how do we calculate our stakes when we have made a trade and we want to green up.

So Pete has backed a horse that is shortening in price and he wants to green up on that selection. IE lock in a profit whatever the outcome.

If for example you were lucky or smart enough to get on Shaws Diamond yesterday morning you could have bet it at around 16.0.

This mare started with a Betfair SP of 6.64. (Easier to find these greening up opportunities in hindsight!!)

So let's say you had a back bet for £10 at 16.0 in the morning and it's just before the off and your horse is now trading at 6.8.

You want to lock in a profit on Shaw's Diamond and want to know what stake to lay at 6.8.

The calculation is to multiply your initial stake times your initial back odds (£10 x 16.0 = £160)

You then divide that by the lay price that you can get (£160/6.8 = £23.52)

Place your lay of £23.52 at 6.8 and your initial bet of £10 has now converted to a guaranteed payout of £12.84.

I mentioned a while back that a lot of serious backers don't wait for a selection to win these days.

Instead they lock in a profit once their horse trades down to a certain level and then lock in the profit.

This method is great for predetermined trades or for when you have time to calculate the stake.

When the pressure is on you might prefer to use lay calculator software that can make the bet in the click of a button 🙂

If you want to it the other way around. So say you have one that's drifting and you lay a tenner at 6.8 and now can back it at 16.0.

Multiply your lay price by your lay stake (£10 x 6.8 = £68) and then divide that by your new odds (£68/16.0 = £4.25).

Back your selection for £4.25 at 16.0 and lock in a £5.46 profit.

A final note: It's easier to find steamers just listen to the pundits and check out free tipsters. Also you risk less money in the initial bet and get a better profit on the green up.

(Green Up: Common parlance for a guaranteed profit on Betfair where every selection shows it will profit if that selection win)

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.

Tongue Tie Research

You'll remember that last week I mentioned the Geegeez article that talked about the use of tongue ties and how a horse needs a few runs with a tongue tie before they will let them self go.

The theory being that the horse still thinks that it's tongue will get in the way and is worried it won't be able to breathe and so doesnt give all.

But after a few runs with a tongue tie it starts to realise that it doenst have tongue problems anymore.

So I've been doing some research.

First off some facts. All horses wearing a tongue tie for the first time in 2013 & 2014 produces the following big losses.

Runs = 3959
Wins = 319
Strike Rate = 8.06%
Loss at iSP = -1335.24
ROI = – 33.73%

So it seems that wearing a tongue tie for the first time is a negative factor and the losing ROI is such that maybe it has the makings of a lay system.

Then it occurred to me that the reason that the horse doesnt perform well first time out with the tie is because it is still worried about a previous experience with breathing and doesn't realise it will be ok with the tie.

But surely there are some trainers that use the tie at home and get the horse used to it and trusting it before they ever go racing with the tie on and that maybe there are trainers that win first time-out with a tongue tie.

So I had a search for trainers who are profitable with first time tongue tie wearers.

And I found some.

For example Rebecca Curtis had 22 starts over the two year period that ran with a tongue tie for the first time.

Seven of those won for a 32% strike rate and they made an industry SP profit of 5.86 which is a 27% ROI.

Charlie Longsdon had 32 starts and 8 wins and an industry SP profit of 20.3. Which is a strike rate of 25% and an ROI of 63%.

I've selected the best performers from 2013/14 and checked their 2015 performance and a good profit has been made so I'm going to run this as a system live for a while and see if we have something worth following long term.

Today's Selection

2.30 Wolverhampton Kalimantan – win bet – 11/8 Bet 365, Paddy Power

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