Ask Boycie

Fri, May 14, 2010

Ask Boycie

I’ve decided to add an ‘Ask Boycie’ section to the blog.

It’s a chance for anyone to ask me…well, anything really. I don’t know that I’ll be able to answer every single question but I’m sure that if I can’t help then other members of the blog might be able to do so.

Maybe you’ve got a betting query, maybe you’ve got a topic you’d like to see covered on the blog. Maybe you want a different take on a bet, or on a horse, or on a ride?

Whatever it is, just let me know and I’ll see what I can do.

Either post your question here, or drop me an e mail if you prefer at

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38 Responses to “Ask Boycie”

  1. ken cambs Says:

    Thanks for that Sean, in which case I hope you don’t mind if I start the ball rolling…
    My question is about having the nerve to place a big bet. No matter how big my starting pot has been, my achilles heel has always been to bet in smallish stakes, win singles on say 8/1 and above, race after race, sometimes having that flash of inspiration which has resulted in a big priced winner but invariably the slow drip, drip feed to being wiped out. Then I’m left ruminating on the fact that I could have saved myself a lot of time and energy by just being bold enough to place the lot on just one short priced horse. Is it about having courage or is there way to overcome that mental block which prevents me from putting all my eggs in one basket? A bit of an Agony Aunt question!

  2. DenLon Says:

    Reminds me of my youth and Ask Aspel. Anyway Sean can you possibly tell me how the Cheltenham charity single did? I for one downloaded it, did it chart? How much was raised?

  3. seanboyce Says:

    Hi Ken,

    I think that’s a good question. In a way, it seems to me, what we might be looking at here is what type of betting are you most suited to. It is also of course primarily a question of bankroll management. I think this is a factor that we often underestimate as punters. Whether you bet short prices big or have smaller bets at long odds is in a way academic. The bottom line is the bottom line, your betting is either profitable or not but different approaches require different strengths and they certainly require different money management strategies. Which style suits you best is well worth considering.

    There’s nothing wrong with going for horses at longer prices. The issue is that you need to be able to withstand longer losing sequences and therefore your bank may need to be bigger relative to your stake. If you are betting at 8/1 or bigger then a losing sequence of 10 would be statistically very likely indeed and a losing sequence of 20 or 30 or even more would be by no means statistically unlikely or freakish.

    If you’re betting at an average price of say 10/1 then I would suggest a bank of 50 times your stake would be sensible. Many would favour a bank of 100 times. Personally I don’t think you need to have the money physically set aside but you do need to ‘ringfence’ that sum knowing you can draw upon it for your betting and that losing it won’t harm you unduly.

    If on the other hand you are looking at backing short priced horses you will have much shorter losing sequences and will require a smaller bank. Even if you are playing at an average price of around 6/4 I still think you should be looking at playing with a bank 20 times your stake.

    So the bet size is only relevant relative to your bank and your betting style. If you are playing on long priced horses because you don’t like lumping on short priced horses then that might be what you are most suited to temperament wise. There’s nothing wrong with that approach. It is the style used by the excellent Hugh Taylor on ATR. The upside is that you are looking beyond the obvious and are more likely to be playing angles that the bulk of the market has overlooked. The downside is that, rather like a camel, you need to be able to walk a long way through the desert between drinks!

    When I look at Cheltenham and Ascot I certainly look towards long priced horses and I’m hoping to hit one right in the middle of the bat at some point during the meeting. One is all that is needed to make it a very profitable meeting normally. I enjoy the fun and the challenge of betting that way.

    However, at times in my life when betting revenue has been important to me on a week by week basis I have tended to focus right at the front of the market. I’ll be looking for the 6/4 shot that I think is no bigger than evens, or the even money shot that should be 2s on. When winning and losing is significant in real terms I like to shorten the losing sequences and increase the frequency with which I win in order to maintain a positive frame of mind.

    One thing that I would be very wary of indeed is any attempt to put a lot of eggs (never mind all!) in one basket. Even if backing at short prices you should have many times your stake in reserve to stand any chance of maintaining mental equilibrium. There really is no such thing as a good thing. I remember many years ago a time when I used to travel to courses to place my bets to avoid the off course betting tax and to obtain best prices. I would have around 3 or 4 bets a week. One day I had four bets in one day, two were running at Lingfield and two at away meetings. I drove to Lingfield. The first bet was, for me at the time, a big price at around 5/2 and was beaten a neck. No great drama. The second bet was at the away meeting, Leicester I think. It was a novice chaser and was travelling great guns when inexplicably it jinked to run out at a fence and jumped through the wing at the side of the fence. A very unlucky reversal. The third horse ran at Lingfield and broke down badly half way round when cantering. The fourth horse ran at Leicester in a mares novice hurdle. It was a distance clear coming to the last, ran straight into the bottom of the flight and came down with a spectacular cartwheel.I was in shock for days afterwards and my confidence took a real battering even though what had happened was not that statistically unlikely.

    So in answer to your question all approaches require a degree of courage but lumping on horses with a disproportionately large amount of money is probably more reckless than courageous. A good bet is a good bet is a good bet. If it’s an even money shot it’s only really a good bet if you think it’s real chance is much greater than 50% and if it’s an 8/1 shot it’s only really a good bet if you think it’s chance is much greater than 11.11%. The rest is bankroll management. Does that make any sense?

  4. seanboyce Says:

    Denis, you’ve stumped me. Haven’t a clue and haven’t been able to find out with some rudimentary web searching. Does anyone out there no the answer?

  5. J McBride Says:

    How to get into Horse Racing journalism or presenting a Horse Racing channel and make it a career, like yourself?

  6. seanboyce Says:

    Hi Jordan,

    I think the best advice is to get on and do it. By which I mean do as much as you can for whoever you can whenever you can.

    So, crack on would be my advice. Use the available media to keep busy and keep developing your skills. If you want to write about the sport then start writing. Your work can appear online on forums and blogs or on your own website. You can submit your work to publishers etc.. At the same time you will be demonstrating a work ethic and developing your skills. If you want to commentate, then start commentating. Record your own commentaries live over ATR pictures. Listen to them back, develop your skills then start pitching to anyone and everyone who might be able to use you. If you want to present. Same thing, start practising. Video yourself,practice, read up on it, watch others etc..

    The next thing is to keep on trying and keep on pitching. I was turned down by Superform, Sporting Life, Coral and others before getting a job with Ladbrokes in their broadcast studio.I got that job partly because I had a cassette of work I’d already done, some of it I’d done free for local community radio and I’d done a couple of small bits for BBC radio too by then. That was my first break but it was a long while coming.

    Be flexible. Don’t set your heart on being chief sports writer for a national and turn everything else down. Working doing betting shop audio wasn’t my life’s desire but it was a great starting point and there are a large number of places that might need your skills and provide you with that first break that will give you a platform to build from. From shop audio for Ladbrokes I got into their PR dept which in turn was a big chance to meet a lot of people in the media and do a lot of live TV and radio.

    A couple of myths to dispel. ‘it’s all about who you know’. Bollocks. You won’t get to ‘know’ anyone if you sit at home bitching about how the media is a closed shop. People working in the media are just the same as anyone else. They like people who are personable, interested, engaged, hard working and fun. Yes, there are one or two spots currently occupied by people on the basis of their lucky connections but most people got there the same way, through effort. Make yourself available. Go the extra yard. Put yourself about. If you have the skills you’ll find a gap somewhere to get your first foothold and start going from there.

    Another myth is that working in the media is a glamorous and well rewarded career. The days of secure long term employment are gone. Most newspapers are cutting back savagely on staff. The new employers are TV and online media. They offer very few staff contracts. Most of us are freelancers. That means no holidays, no pension, no security of tenure and in many cases zero notice of your services no longer being required. Money is not spectacular, which is why you see many people doing lots of different jobs within the sport.

    I think you’ve already done some work experience at the Post, which is fantastic. You’re already really engaging with ATR and here and I’m sure elswhere too so I’d say you’re well on your way. Keep on going is the advice.

    Oh, and despite the downsides, I always say what I do for a living certainly beats working!

  7. ken cambs Says:

    ….They like people who are personable, interested, engaged, hard working and fun.

    Engaged, Sean?? The poor guy has got to find himself a girlfriend, has he?
    Sorry, I’m just having a bit of fun. I’m sure you meant engaging and it was just a typo.
    My next question is in the offing though I really appreciated your earlier response. I realise where I’ve been going wrong all these years and that one of the biggest hurdles seems to be with mindset and confidence. It’s so easy to get disheartened after an initial run of seconditus and to start convincing myself that “this is not going to be a good day”. Thereafter, the bets become less rational and ‘chasing’ sets in which, as most experts will confirm, is the fast lane to the ‘poor house’.
    Have a good week ahead.

  8. seanboyce Says:

    It’s easy to talk about discipline Ken but it’s hard to do. It’s human nature that makes sure the bookies come out on top in the end. I remember being at a racing ‘do’ once and at one point there were three of our best known ‘pro punter/pundits’ around the table. They all admitted to regularly breaking all of their own golden rules and all of them were guilty of chasing and of tilting. So, us mortal punters shouldn’t be too hard on ourselves.

  9. J McBride Says:

    Hi Sean,

    Thanks for the advice top stuff, also a few months ago, probably before Christmas, I sent an E-mail to Matt during Get On asking if ATR offer work experience. He gave me an E-mail address as he wasn’t sure, but I can’t remember the mans name and unfortunately about 3 months ago my whole inbox on my E-mail wiped.

    I was hoping you would have an idea of the person who’s e-mail he would of given me?

  10. seanboyce Says:

    drop me a line Jordan at and I’ll get back to you, I’m in ATR tomorrow (Tues). Cheers

  11. steve Says:

    Hi Sean (and all on here)

    Firstly may I say what an excellent website you have, with regards to the intelligent comments and thoughtful opinions expressed. It is a refreshing change from a lot of other racing and betting forums that I have read.

    I wanted to post a comment on here with regards to UK bookmakers and their apparent unwillingness to accept a bet. Having just watched you on “Get On” on ATR, you were discussing the fact that bookmakers slash their prices on Hugh Taylor’s selections, literally as soon as they are released. This is obviously not due to weight of money or the need to balance a book, as I have seen prices halved within 10 seconds of the page being uploaded on the ATR website! Surely, there must be one bookmaker out there who would be prepared to at least take a bet of some amount, for at least a short period of time?

    Having only been back in England for the last 6 months (been overseas for 7 years), I am quite frankly amazed at how difficult it is to get a bet on with bookmakers these days. I got knocked back by the biggest UK bookmaker the other day for £400 for a novice chaser at 13-8 !! I nearly fell off my chair. Within 3 months, my accounts have been restricted to stupid amounts and now Betfair are getting in on the act by charging a “Premium Charge.” I am £3000 down with one particular bookmaker and have been limited to about £20 on any selection. It was £1 the other day. I really do not understand their business decisions against a losing account and I am wondering if anybody on here knows of any proper bookmakers, one that will actually stand a bet at the prices they offer? After all, isn’t that what bookmakers are supposed to do?!!! I am not going to start accepting 5-1 for a 10-1 shot for any amount of money and the exchanges sometimes do not have the liquidity / price that I require.

    Sean, you are in a privileged position to get to speak directly to these bookmakers on ATR, so can you respectfully request of them as to why they are ALL so quick to restrict their customers to such small stakes and as to why they advertise prices that they do not honour. You can by all means use Hugh Taylor’s selections as an example, as I know that you have set them that challenge to actually lay a bet. Please do not keep letting them off the hook (like the chap from Bet £3.65 today, as they are one of the worst for ridiculous restrictions), as a man of your integrity has no reason to be complicit with these chaps who portray themselves as “bookmakers.” Us punters deserve some sort of explanation I believe, as after all, “it is all about the betting” !!

    Thank you Sean. Keep up the good work and I look forward to your reply at your earliest convenience.

    Best wishes

  12. seanboyce Says:

    Hi Steve,
    Thanks for the kind comments about the site and glad you’re enjoying it.
    I can well understand your dismay, returning to the UK to find that bookmakers are no longer in the business of taking bets!
    My take on it all is that the entire landscape of betting has changed. When it comes to getting a bet at early prices I think it’s partly an issue of bookies pricing up every single event but not having the confidence or the resources to bet properly on every event. Consequently no one can get on ‘live’ ones at the wrong prices or indeed any horse for a decent sum at early prices. When bookies priced up fewer races we had a lot less choice but we had more chance of getting on I think.
    This has been exacerbated by a generally lower margin (see the pieces with odds compiler Peter Michael and the on course bookie Ben Johnson for more detail on that) and by the fact that many bookies are simply following the market rather than their own views and they are unwilling to take a view and bet on it.
    Then there is the business of closing winners down. This has always gone on but there seems to be no doubt the situation is much worse than it used to be. Like you, I do not understand the business logic of what many firms are doing.
    In terms of taking firms to task on this, their response is that these are trading decisions, all decisions are taken on their own merits etc. And when it comes to tipsters they have a point. ATR’s website is enormous in terms of traffic and many firms just do not want the business they’d get on one of Hugh’s selections as they have no chance of ‘betting up to it’ and filling up on other horses in the race.
    I’ve made the point elsewhere on the blog that organisations that rely heavily on bookmaker revenue are unlikely to be particularly aggressive in their questioning of those firms.
    I do intend to use the blog to discuss some of these issues and I’ve already run pieces that hopefully will start to flesh out for people how the markets work these days and I’ll be doing more along those lines. I’ll also be looking at other aspects of how punters are protected, or not.
    Welcome aboard

  13. steve Says:

    Hi Boycie,

    Thanks for your response. Yes I hear “trading decisions” all the time when I ask bookmakers why they are restricting me so much, but I can never actually get to speak to a trader !! I do understand all your points of course and it is something that I will have to accept. It is DEFINITELY worse than it was a decade ago, as I never recall having so many problems getting a bet on….although maybe that is looking at the past with rose tinted glasses!

    It is so frustrating to try to get a decent bet on, at a price they advertise and then be knocked back for ridiculously small stakes or offered a much lower price. One of the major bookmakers did have the courtesy to ring me back the other night and he explained that I had been restricted because I was backing too many “live” horses. I said that might be the case, but I am over £3000 down with you in 3 months, so my info is not that sharp!!! I lay a lot of it off with the exchanges when odds dictate it prudent to do so, but as far as the bookies are concerned, I am a loser with them and I really should be expecting a gold watch or something, not “account closed Sir” !!! lol !

    Anyway Boycie, we shall all keep plugging away and if you do ever hear of an old fashioned type bookmaker that will lay a bet, please do advertise it tous accordingly.

    Thanks a million and all the best

  14. ken cambs Says:

    Welcome back to dear old blighty, Steve. Can’t say I’ve ever been in the rarefied atmosphere of having an account closed though, in the past, one or two bank managers have threatened to do so!
    However, your post and the enforced staking limits set by modern day bookmakers reminded me of the only time I’ve had a restriction placed on my bet.
    It was one glorious night at Wembley dogs many, many years ago when I had a hunch about the outsider in the penultimate race at odds of 100/6. It’s form suggested it would be leading at the first bend so I thought I’d take a chance on trouble behind.
    There must have been about a dozen bookies’ pitches and so I sauntered up to the first with a twenty pound note in my hand to be told that I could only have a tenner on. I then proceeded next door with the other ten pounds by which time the price had quickly been wiped and replaced with 100/8. By now, the adrenalin was kicking in because I was getting a buzz from thinking that my money was influencing the market. So I moved on down the line having a tenner or a fiver with each though on each occasion the price was shortening. Eventually, I didn’t dare risk any more money but by my last bet the only price on offer was down to 8/1.
    Suffice to say that the initial part of the race went according to plan though my choice was tiring badly on the home straight, and was being caught with every last stride. It ended up in a photo finish and I raced over to the winning line asking everyone for their opinion as to what won. Most seemed to think mine had been pipped and even the bookies had the fast finisher at 2/1 on to win. The Gods were with me though and it was an amazing feeling going from bookie to bookie collecting my winnings. I was relatively young in those days and just visiting London so I had visions of the bookies sending their heavies to mug me on the way out of the stadium so rather than hang around for the last race I scarpered down Wembley Way, into my car and drove hell for leather up the motorway, only to feel safe once I’d hit the M6. Oh, happy days.
    I don’t know what the answer is to your dilemma Steve other than buying shares in the companies concerned and asking questions at their AGM’s.
    I agree with your comments that Boycie’s Blog is developing into an excellent user-friendly vehicle for the more discernible reader and contributor.

  15. Santiburi Says:

    Sean/Steve, it’s taken me a while to catch up with the various discussions and articles on this site and have only just seen the ‘getting a decent bet on’ theme. For my sins, I’ve sat on both sides of this debate and I don’t believe there is a problem getting a decent bet on if you’re known. The issue is getting known.
    Outside of the exchanges where, as identified, there is often insufficient liquidity at any juncture than immediately prior to the off, there will always be an issue IMHO with getting a bet placed online and, increasingly, ‘online’ doesn’t mean only through a website but also via a mobile app or in a shop.
    I think Sean is right that the need to price up every race, every day is part of the problem for bookies. However, they also have far greater visibility than was ever previously the case to ‘live ones’, whether that be a horse or a tipster and anyone, on any given day, could be caught in the system for trying to get a bet on their own pick but be placing it when other ‘faces’ have tried to back the same selection.
    There are very few top notch traders around and they talk to each other on official and unofficial channels. They know not only the sharps but the acolytes of sharps and can move to change risk limits far quicker than two people can pass a bet onto each other and try to get an early price before it’s gone.
    As I’ve suggested in another thread elsewhere on this excellent site, racing is an account generator. It’s not really a serious market other than where the bookie wants to engage in some proprietary trading or where they’re happy to service known clients.
    The trade-off I’ve accepted in the last 5 years or so is to understand where the best price might be but to have my own price in mind and to only trade with a limited number of bookies who I know ‘know me’. Some I’ve got to know by going on track or to their office to meet them. Most, however, I’ve got to know but ‘talking’ to them: albeit virtually through email, online chat sessions and the like.
    I give that set of what is now only three bookies every bet I ever place: small, large, for fun or serious. If I have multiple single bets on any one day, I always place them all with the same bookie on that day and also place a few combos of all the selections. Their systems are always more accommodating of multiples than big singles. I don’t take prices that are below my mark, which means that I sometimes miss out on a winner but my returns have actually improved for (1) the discipline, (2) the knowledge that someone can see whether I’m a winner or loser (and I don’t like losing!) and (3) the fact that I’ve managed to get 3 or 4 big multiples up each year and no bookie seems to mind paying out on a multiple.
    As the song goes, the times they are a-changing. The bookies have changed their approach to betting, particularly on racing, and punters have to change too or find another outlet for their desire to bet. It is pointless to want the world to stand still. It won’t happen.

  16. Santiburi Says:

    BTW, there are alternative approaches. There are agents out there still who will get bets on for you for a price. You can build a network of people who put on for you but from looking at a couple of networks, they have to be pretty large in numbers to be effective. You really have to be a serious player though to go to such lengths.

  17. seanboyce Says:

    All good points Santiburi. I think you’re right that a good bookmaker knows his clients and trades accordingly. Multiple business is generally to be welcomed by a layer, although if your multiples were being aimed at a selection of the day’s worst each way races you might not be so popular! I do think that traditionally a bookie would be happy to take on even a good punter if what they are clearly backing is there own good judgement.
    The thing about online systems is that they also facilitate ‘auto trading’. That is the computer will make a decision for a bookmaker. This can mean severely limited stakes due to demand on a particular selection and the software will also remember any punter who appears to be backing only ‘live’ selections.
    Consistently beating the price is going to be much more of a red flag these days than it ever used to be with bookies keen to limit the activities of arbers. If all a punter ever backs is a horse that’s about to shorten (in fact probably already has shortened on the machine and or on course) then bookies don’t won’t to know them. Again, on high liquidity robustly traded markets that’s not such a problem. There was an interesting thread on Betfair Forum (not often i say that any more!) about how the exchange market compared unfavourably with the best bookie odds for the Derby pretty much all day long on the day of the race. This illustrates that bookies will take their own view, make their own odds and lay their prices when the volume is there but they are extremely defensive when it’s not there. On the one hand it’s their own fault for pricing up every micky mouse race every day, on the other I guess they’d argue that’s a service for their ordinary joe punters that they want to provide. Overall though it looks to me like bookies have overdone the defensiveness and a lot of ‘innocent civilians’ are getting caught in their crossfire. Partly down to their results over the last couple of years too of course.

  18. Santiburi Says:

    Sean, all good points: well argued. I wonder if I should be changing my view on the amount of racing that we have today? I’m not a great fan of the premier stuff for betting purposes but maybe I’m in the minority there.

  19. fawwon Says:

    What’s everyone’s take on Harry Findlay claiming he has some form of exemption so he could lay runners from yards he pays training fees to, and Paul Roy’s statement to the effect that Harry is lying!

  20. Santiburi Says:

    What’s everyone’s take on ‘reserves’ in the races at Windsor today? I hadn’t read about them previously so I guessed I missed an announcement explaining the decision.
    For my part, an increase in the number of races with reserves would almost certainly reduce the number of bets I make. I bet mostly in early markets and accept that I might get a rule 4 against me, which is only fair. However, in the two races that interest me today, one is OK as I have the same pick whether the field stays as it is or either or both of the reserves run. In the other race, I’d most likely favour one of the reserves if it got to run but would favour an existing runner if no reserve ran. I won’t be around at race time so there’s no bet where I would have bet.
    I also dislike the notion of reserves for bets like the Scoop6, Jackpot and Placepot: all of which attract my custom but wouldn’t if reserves were to be a regular feature of racing.
    Can anyone point me to an announcement so that I can try and understand the logic proposed?

  21. Santiburi Says:

    OK, I’ve worked it out. Horse racing in football team’s colours. Hope it works out in terms of crowds attending the races. Otherwise, doesn’t work for me!

  22. R Hills is God Says:


    I’m worried that I might be breaking some rules of racing and thought that someone with your encyclopedic knowledge of the rule book would be the man to ask.

    I read on the front page of today’s Post that the only people The Pauls will listen to wrt an exclusively BETTING matter are owners, breeders, trainers, jockeys, stable staff (‘the horsemen’) and bookies (RFC).

    If you’re not an insider, it seems that your betting is regarded as illegitimate.

    My question is: is it now also against the rules? If Scotney catches me backing or laying a horse, and I am unable to furnish him of any insider crudentials, do I risk getting warned off Newmarket Heath? Should I seek a beard who owns a leg in the horse to funnel all my bets through from now on?

  23. seanboyce Says:

    Ah yes you seem to have fallen foul of a little understood aspect of the rules.

    If you were a gentleman bookmaker it would be perfectly permissible for you to own racehorses and to take bets on those racehorses, you would also of course be free to back your own racehorses and other horses at that yard,using inside information you have garnered from your relationship with your trainer(s). It would be much appreciated though if you did not use any of that inside information to frame your own odds on horseraces or to trade more effec tively on specific races (taking bets on horses you know won’t be running, use your ownership to cultivate relationships with trainers and jockeys etc etc) as that wouldn’t be entirely sporting but since you’re a good chap we trust you not to do that.

    If you were an owner of a horse you would indeed be free to back your horse and others in the care of your trainers on the basis of privileged inside information. We do ask that you refrain from laying horses on the basis of inside information and we do require that you don’t lay your own horses under any circumstances. Obviously we rely on those good chaps at the betting exchanges to inform us of when you break those rules. There have been obvious high profile examples of them failing to do this recently but as they’re good chaps we’re happy with that set up too.

    Now we come to your predicament. You, in common with many so called ‘punters’, seem to be under the mistaken impression that anyone within the world of racing is even acquainted with your existence. I can assure you that, in the interests of integrity and of maintaining the squeaky clean image of the sport, that is emphatically not the case. I would suggest that you immediately cease and desist from this anti social behaviour and leave the professionals to get on with it.

  24. fawwon Says:

    If I didn’t know who Paul Roy was I would say that he is a big gambling owner who has horses with big gambling trainers. Many years ago our fellow traveller Dave Nevison used to have a wealth warning in his RFO column concerning Noseeda shorties.

  25. ken cambs Says:

    Just for a moment, Boycie, imagine yourself having a huge lottery win and your accountant suggests you ‘invest’ £250,000 in the purchase and training costs of horses.
    What kind of horse(s) would you buy, where would you prefer them to run and would you have a preferable trainer? Finally, would you back them?

  26. seanboyce Says:

    You obviously haven’t met my accountant Ken!
    I’d love to own horses. A quarter of a million sounds a lot but of course it would train only about ten horses for a year, or two horses for five and so on…assuming they didn’t cost anything to start with!
    Getting into a few Highclere syndicates would probably be a smart use of a reasonable amount of money given their track record.
    Otherwise, I’d look to buy cheap and I’d look to put horses with young up and coming trainers who have a high strike rate and a profitable record in terms of actual returns against expectations for their horses.
    Winning a claimer would give me a kick never mind winning a good race. I would have no qualms whatsoever about seeking to get a horse well handicapped, provided it was done within the rules and without simply stopping, and I’d sure as hell back them when I felt the odds were in our favour. Most of all though I’d just enjoy the fun of having horses with people I like and would get on with. It’s top of my list of things to do when I make my first million!

  27. ken cambs Says:

    Thanks for your reply Sean.

    I can just picture the scene in the year 2015 with Clare Balding announcing over the tannoy:

    “Your Highness, Ladies and Gentlemen, here to receive the ‘Harry Findlay Ascot Gold Cup’ for the second year in succession is Mr Sean Boyce followed by his trainer Mr.Barney Curley and champion jockey elect Dean McKeown.
    This was a remarkable performance by Sean’s horse ‘Get On’ who has been performing like a selling plater all season though Sean informs us that the improvement is probably due to the Clerk of the Course’s judicious watering policy here on the new all-weather surface.”

    The stuff of dreams or nightmares, I wonder.

  28. seanboyce Says:

    That’s very good Ken!

  29. ken cambs Says:

    Hi Sean,

    Unfortunately because I was watching The Pope’s Beatification of Cardinal Newman Mass I only caught the tail-end of your ‘Get On’ programme with Claude and Alan.

    However, I always find it interesting to study Presenters’ interviewing techniques and whereas some tend to interject as often as their egos desire, yours tend to enable interviewees time to formulate thoughtful responses.

    Have you ever undergone any particular course of ‘listening skills’ study or is your ’style’ just something that you’ve acquired over the years and which comes naturally?

    Which leads on to a second question, please? Does your thespian talent play any part in how you perform on television? Have you ever played the part of Richard 3rd…”My Kingdom for a horse…”?

  30. seanboyce Says:

    Hi Ken, like many people in the industry I’ve had no formal training at all and that shows in some respects of course.
    How you interact depends on the context. In a Sunday Forum type situation I personally think my role is to bring as much as possible from the guests and to encourage them to put forward their views, my views are entirely secondary. It’s one of the reasons I enjoy blogging because that’s all about my views! I’d love to be a guest on a show like that one day and get my own chance to spout off!
    As for Richard III, funnily enough seeing Anthony Sher in the role at Stratford as a youngster was a terrific inspiration to me. I used to give the opening speech to an empty school hall when no one was around. Never played Dick the Shit myself but did play a few supporting roles in a couple of productions funnily enough and always secretly hoped the lead would fall ill as I knew most of the lines! Truth is I didn’t cut it as an actor and never formally trained either so it wasn’t the trade for me and I don’t think there’s much crossover with the TV stuff I do now except of course a pathological willingness to put myself in the line of criticism for no good reason!

  31. ken cambs Says:

    Thanks to yourself and other correspondents here Sean, I took note of much of the advice given recently and decided to pursue my betting ‘duties’ with renewed optimism and a more determined approach.

    I had intended adopting a system that allowed for five bets per week to be placed at five different levels of price ranging from evens to 20/1+ outsiders, with the hope that the shortest price would serve as a confidence restorer. Yet, somehow, I think there’s a ‘touch of the negativity’ about that approach don’t you think?

    However, this system was quickly abandoned as it just didn’t suit my long-established style of betting. I find it very difficult to look at a screen of runners whilst waiting for the ‘right’ race and not be tempted into thinking “there’s a potentially good thing at a decent price” going in this race.

    There are times when common sense prevails and nothing strikes my fancy whatsoever or I have another more pressing engagement but generally, if I’m in betting mode then a whole afternoon of constant internet bets is not unusual.

    I appreciate that a ‘professional’ would find this scatter-gun approach ludricous and an impossible ambition but I really do enjoy having my ‘fix’ which is made even better if the damage is minimal and pure ecstasy if I miraculously end up in front on the day.

    Anyway, following a ‘fresh start’ and a new bank last Friday I reverted to my old ways though very quickly my losses had eaten into three-quarters of the monthly betting budget. As you quite rightly pointed out, Sean, this is the “lonely” hour when that little voice enters the head and starts berating you and saying “here we go again, another bad day at the office.”

    But, undeterred, and remembering Boycie’s advice to have faith in our ability to turn things around I refused to panic and stuck to my usual selection process.

    Fortunately, come the first race on Saturday, a last-minute decision to press the key to bet AspectofLove turned things around and so filled with that sense of relief and confidence one gets when you pull back from the precipe I proceeded to have a reasonably profitable day.

    It might smack of being ultra-cautious but as soon as I’m ahead I tend to transfer the original ‘pot’ back to my bank account and thereafter just use my winnings as my betting monies. At least even if I lose those winnings it still allows me some breathing space and time for reflection before deciding whether or not to deposit fresh funds into the betting account or just call a temporary truce in my battle with the bookie and be grateful that I broke even and had a good day’s entertainment. After all, I’ve been at this for so many years I can be patient for one more day before I really hit the big-time and take the bookie to the cleaners, can’t I?

    Sunday, was a day of rest and for visiting the aircraft museum at Duxford and enjoying the added attraction of a vintage bus rally. I was really surprised how confined the seating was on Concorde with just two seats either side of the aisle. But then I suppose Sean, you were well used to travelling Concorde first class over the years?

    Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday have been up, level and up so I’m now in the comfortable position of having almost doubled last week’s opening budget. This has mainly been due to one or two inspired choices but moreso the change of going which has allowed for some horses to be quickly discarded. The one time I decided to double my normal stake on a short priced favourite the bet went astray but generally, I’ve looked for what I consider ‘value’ bets without being overly-ambitious.

    As for today, I’m not sure what to do. There’s a certain trepidation in my thinking and I’m reluctant to push my luck too far, so I’m in two minds as to whether I should just enjoy spending my winnings or while I seem to be ‘on a roll’ just carry on regardless.

    Does anyone here, please, ever have days when their sixth sense tells them that despite the fact that they might be winning it would be sensible to take some time out and re-charge the batteries?

  32. ken cambs Says:

    Well, the end of week two and I’m pleased to report that though down on last week I’m still ahead on the fortnight.

    From being 90% in front for week one, profit on my orginal ‘bank’ is now just 45%. In other words, my winnings have been halved over the past seven days.

    The good thing is that by keeping track of the budget I’m not dispirited. Far from it; because instead of chasing losses after the last losing bet I’m taking a more long-term approach and following the advice on here I now realise that my style of betting will inevitably have peaks and troughs. I just approach each bet using exactly the same selection format I feel comfortable using.

    The stats are as follows:-
    Total number of bets over 14 days = 194
    Total number of winning bets = 26

    You’ll see from my post above that I was expressing some caution about having a bet that day. I ignored my sixth sense and proceeded to go against my better judgement which almost wiped me out. Fortunately, I held my nerve and recovered the lost ground the following day.

    Since then, I’ve only had a bet when I’ve been in the right frame of mind and on a couple of days I’ve chosen to stop after just a handful of bets, mainly because I’ve been in front and decided I prefer to call time on a positive note rather than to be left ruminating on a losing session.

    Tomorrow I’m taking advantage of this Indian Summer so I’ll avoid looking at the runners and just get stuck into some chores in the garden. Who knows, I might even just dig up some buried treasure under my leeks.

  33. ken cambs Says:

    Hi Sean,

    Sorry if some of the above seems to suggest I’m abusing your blog by describing my own betting dilemmas but it’s certainly helped me to focus on my method/madness by sharing it with others.

    I do have a question though please:
    Am I correct in thinking that the professional/serious gambler assiduously keeps track of their ‘investments’ on a regular basis in much the same way as any business person would? The reason I ask is at what stage would you look at the bottom line and decide that the profit for a particular period is now taken out of the betting accounts and used for non-gambling purposes? Or does it not work like that? Is it a case that all profits are ploughed back into the mix? I’m just confused as to what I should do if by the end of my four-weekly experiment I’m still ahead on the month. Do I start the next month from scratch or do I keep playing with the winnings? Thanks.

  34. fawwon Says:


    Might I suggest that you try the Betfair Forum. It is absolutely choca with fellow travellers and there have been stacks of discussions on your particular queries. There is also a good forum here with a suitable thread for you:

    Hope this is of assistance to you.

  35. ken cambs Says:

    Thanks for that Fawwon though, on second thoughts, my optimism has probably got the better of me and I first need to ensure I’m still in front by the end of the month before I start to plan how I’m going to ‘invest’ my new-found wealth.

    Incidentally, I browsed both the forums you suggested and I notice we share a common perception of a certain ‘marginal’ racing personality. So much so, that you even quoted me in one of your threads on Betfair.

    I’ll say no more on here because it wouldn’t be fair on Boycie’s Blog.


  36. seanboyce Says:

    HI Ken,
    Fawwon is right that there are places with well established debates and conversations on these themes. I’m very happy for you to keep posting yoru thoughts here too if it helps.
    One observation I would make is that. given the number of bets you’re making, you should expect large amounts of variance or swings in success and some very long losing sequences will be likely. This is not an issue provided your bankroll management is sound. You mention that you have ‘halved’ your profit. You could halve it again and still be in very good shape in terms of your real profit on turnover. Realistic expectations of what can be made are helpful and I don’t know of any pro’s who expect to make big double digit percentages on turnover and the majority would be looking at probably high single figures at best.

  37. ken cambs Says:

    Well well, Sean, how prophetic your words have proven to be. The pendulum swung in the opposite direction. Within a short space of time my profits had been wiped out and over the next week my ‘bank’ for the month was ebbing away.

    A halving of my usual stake coupled with a severely restricted daily ration of bets just about prevented a complete wipe-out though, as I write, I’m now in a minus 25% situation with just four days left before this monthly experiment ends.

    Whether or not I can make up the deficit remains to be seen. It would be good if I can assume a break even position and even better if I could reach single figure profit. However, I can’t see me having the nerve to go for broke with a one-off big bet so it’s back-to-the-wall time for the next few days.

    Anyway Sean, get well wrapped-up over the next few days. We don’t want you catching a cold now, do we?


  38. hayden Says:

    Hi Sean is there an excepted “industry” benchmark annual ROI fig for backers?.I ask as i read a comment on another forum which was said to come from harry saying “nobody does better than 8%”.

    I understand some of his wagers are on non racing events where the margins may be lower,but i am asking explicitly concerning betting on horse racing.

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