Sean Boyce Q and A

Tue, Mar 23, 2010

Betting People

Sean Boyce Q and A

My Sporting Life

WHEN AND WHY DID YOU HAVE YOUR FIRST BET?

I think the first bet I remember with real excitement was one that my Granny placed for me on Red Rum in the 1977 Grand National. I won about three quid I think but that was the start for me. Grand National day was a big day in our house and we all sat down together throughout the whole build up. My grandparents on my mothers side were both regular punters on racing and by the time I was ten we were living in Faringdon, down the road from Lambourn and home to several jockeys.

I didn’t bet regularly until my late teens, early twenties and Amenable’s Lincoln win was a big moment for me as it showed me that having a strong view could be profitable. I was hooked.

WHY DO YOU BET NOW?

Lots of reasons really. Most of the time at the moment I bet for fun and enjoyment and for the satisfaction of being right. I also love trying different betting strategies and methods. I’ve messed around with bookmaking, market-making, trading, laying, backing and all sorts. I just find it all fascinating.

There have been times in my life though where income from betting has been absolutely vital and there is nearly always a way to make your betting pay if and when you really need to. As I always say though, it’s a bloody hard way to make an easy living.

MOST IMPORTANT LESSON YOU’VE LEARNED WHEN BETTING?

Discipline is everything. Discipline in choosing when and how to bet, discipline in sticking to your strategy and discipline in money management. Anyone can back a winner. Only a few people have the mental and emotional strength required to win consistently.

BEST BET YOU EVER HAD?

There’s a lot of runners for this prize. To be brutally cynical the best bets are where someone has made the biggest rick. Some of the biggest ricks I’ve been able to exploit come in entertainment markets. I had a good spread betting touch once on the number of technical Oscars Titanic would win. Whoever made the line hadn’t done the homework. I’ve won good amounts on TV shows where I’ve had a bit of access as a guest and got an inside line.

Nothing beats a good racing bet though. This year’s Cheltenham was pretty good. I had Sizing Europe, Ballabriggs, Pedlers Cross, Imperial Commander, Pause and Clause and of course Berties Dream at 50s! My all time favourite though was War of Attrition’s Gold Cup.

I’d first backed the horse for Cheltenham the previous Autumn and I’d stuck with him all through the campaign despite one or two hiccups along the way. It was really special though because I was there in the grandstand with a good mate I’ve known since school. He knew what was riding on it, I’d put it up on the At The Races website and given it to all of Betfair’s Cheltenham punters on the course all week long. The race went like clockwork and he dotted up. I screamed the place down. There’s no buzz like it.

LOWEST POINT IN YOUR PUNTING LIFE?

I’m lucky that my punting has never got out of control and that money that was needed elsewhere has never ended up in the bookies hod. There have been numerous occasions though when my confidence has taken a hammering. It’s really tough to go through those spells where you can’t seem to do anything right and to keep your chin up.

GOLDEN RULES YOU FOLLOW WHEN BETTING?

I like to bet enough that it’s going to be fun if I win and going to smart if I lose but not enough that it’s going to harm me or my family.

ONE PIECE OF ADVICE FOR ANYONE WANTING TO TAKE THEIR BETTING SERIOUSLY?

Work at it. There really is no substitute. Personally on a day to day basis I have most success when I price up races blind before I’ve seen anyone else’s tissue or any markets. Put the work in and trust your judgement. The market can and does get it spectacularly wrong sometimes.

FUNNIEST BETTING STORY?

It’s not really a betting story more a racing presenting story. A few years back now I was doing some racing bulletin shifts for Sky Sports News. I would join the presenters at the desk once every hour for four slots during the morning to do the latest news, give a selection etc.

When you’re on and off the set like that throughout the morning you tend to keep your microphone connected to you and your earpiece with you too. When you get to the desk you simply plug your earpiece into a jack socket under the desk and you’re plugged in and ready to go.

One morning I climbed up to the desk, sat myself down and for reasons unknown forgot to plug in my earpiece. About ten or fifteen minutes passed before I was due to do my slot. During that time I was sitting at the end of the desk to the side of the presenters. I became rather engrossed in my Racing Post while they were going through a roster of stories that I’d heard the previous hour.

It was only when I looked up to see Matthew Lorenzo staring at me in amused bewilderment that I realised something was wrong. I looked from Matt to the camera across the studio, my camera. The red ‘live’ light was shining brightly and my stomach dropped through the floor as I realised that I was ‘on’. My face must have been a picture.

In the gallery the director was screaming ‘cue Boycie! cue Boycie!’ but of course I couldn’t hear a thing. After a few seconds that felt like hours it finally clicked that I’d better start talking…fast.

I ad libbed my way through the bulletin whilst scrambling under the desk to plug in the earpiece plug. I got the plug in just as I finished my slot and all I could hear was the entire gallery falling about the place laughing as we went off air for an ad break.

I was mortified but my humiliation was not complete. Former footballer Tony Gale was the next guest up and he’d witnessed the whole thing. He absolutely slaughtered me with merciless micky taking and to this day whenever I bump into Galey I’m greeted with ‘cue Boycie!, cue Boycie, CUE BOYCIE!!!’

DO YOU TELL YOUR OTHER HALF WHAT YOU’VE WON OR LOST?

Yes.

WHAT WOULD MAKE YOU STOP BETTING?

If betting rendered you impotent.

WHY DO SOME OF US BET AND OTHERS NOT AT ALL?

I think there must be some genetic element to this. It would make a great PHd subject! I have friends who I have given big price tips to that have won and the people concerned are delighted but it wouldn’t make them go and have another bet tomorrow. For me, once I had my first winning bet I was hooked but others seem to be able to take it or leave it. It has to be in the genes!

IF YOU COULD CHANGE ONE THING ABOUT YOUR BETTING WHAT WOULD IT BE?

I’d like a much bigger bankroll and unlimited time for study.

CASINOS YES OR NO?

Not for me no, they just don’t do anything for me.

POKER YES OR NO?

I really enjoy a social game of poker and also think that the skill set you need to do well at poker is so similar to what you need to be a good punter that it’s well worth playing poker as well as you can when you can.

FIXED ODDS , SPREADS, EXCHANGES?

I’ve loved them all. 99% of my betting now is on exchanges and I love the flexibility that gives me. I have spread bet in the past but you do need to be careful with that type of betting. You really must consider what is the worst thing that can happen in any scenario because if you play long enough, it will certainly happen. At Cheltenham this year, especially on the Friday I did bet cash and it was a big buzz. I didn’t realise how much I’d missed it and there’s nothing like returning home with a wedge of the folding stuff. Figures on a screen don’t ever quite give the same feeling.

BEST BETTING FOOD?

After a cold day out at a jumps meeting something warm and rich and gamey always works well. Bit of venison or maybe some rabbit? At chez Boycie a nice bit of steak is often the preferred celebration choice and I will knock up a mean béarnaise sauce to go with it.

BEST BETTING DRINK?

I do love a Guinness when the mood is right. Champagne is required when celebrating at home with Mrs Boycie. Goes without saying though that no drink taken until after punting decisions have been taken. Talking of celebration a real treat is a really good Havana cigar. Cohiba for preference, as I’ve never ever had one that was anything less than excellent.

OI OI OR DIGNIFIED SILENCE?

I know some people frown upon outward displays of emotion but if you’ve had a big bet come off, particularly one you’ve worked hard at or waited a long time for I think it’s the best thing in the world to let off steam with a full set of ‘oi oi’, ‘call a copper’, ‘get on my cocker’ etc…

Life’s too short to be po-faced about winning. Winning is bloody good fun and should be celebrated. One of the things I love to see (and it has to be said the Irish are better at this than the English) is big groups of owners going absolutely Radio Rental when they win a race.

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2 Responses to “Sean Boyce Q and A”

  1. Anthoney Says:

    What One Horse Did You Have Affection For? Mine Was Young Hustler.

  2. seanboyce Says:

    Hi Anthoney, sorry only just seen this one. If you check out the presenters section on the ATR website I think you’ll see that I’ve put down Young Hustler as my favourite horse. Spooky!
    He is one of my all time favourties. I’ve had soft spots for a few over the years. Brave Inca, Youmzain and of course Dessie spring to mind too.

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