Wayne Bailey: Get the new year off to a cracking start with Yorkhill
Published 02/01/2016 | 02:30
I love a few pints and a takeaway at the weekend, so I'm certainly no health fanatic, although I manage to keep myself in reasonably good shape by running a couple of times a week.
Pounding the pavements in January can be quite amusing as you'll see plenty of people out and about in brand-new gear, full of good intentions and resolutions for the new year.
Sometimes, they'll give a nod as they pass as if to show some camaraderie - but I just grin to myself as I know that come December, I'll probably be the only sinner still out and about on those lonely roads.
Speaking of good intentions, I usually get a couple of emails each January from punters who are looking to take their betting a bit more seriously, and if there's one piece of advice I can give for 2016, it's to record every single wager you make.
Over 95pc of people lose money long term when betting, but very few have the discipline to make a note of each bet and review regularly.
I thought it would be worthwhile keeping a log of the selections I put up in this column during 2015.
Newspaper tipsters often get a bit of stick and rightly so, but you can never keep everyone happy and you have to be thick-skinned in this game.
If you pick shorter-priced horses, you'll be criticised for pointing out the obvious, and if you tip long shots, painful losing runs can be expected.
But for the most part, genuine racing fans are decent and bar the odd nasty email or Twitter comment, I enjoy the banter.
In total, this column put up 310 selections in 2015, and 69 of those won (22pc).
Shopping around for prices made all the difference and my records show that 86pc of the time, the best odds were found on the exchanges.
To traditional SP, the profit on the 310 bets was just 4.26 points, whereas the profit to Betfair SP was 38.93 points.
It's a hell of a difference in a business where margins are extremely tight, and while most people are loyal to a single bookie, you really need to have a few accounts with various bookmakers and exchanges if you take your betting seriously.
The highest-priced winner for the column in 2015 was Paul Nicholls' Qualando in the Fred Winter at 25/1 (30.59 on Betfair); the shortest priced loser was Charlie Appleby's Magical Effect, beaten in a Wolverhampton maiden at 1/4. Brutal stuff!
All told, I'm happy with a profit of just under 39 points, which is a return on investment of 12.5pc, although you can never rest on your laurels and I'll continue to go through last year's results to see if there are certain bets which need culling.
Getting back to matters at hand, the Tolworth Novices' Hurdle (2.25 Sandown) is the feature race of the day and I reckon Yorkhill can get 2016 off to a good start at odds of 11/10 or thereabouts.
Unbeaten in two bumpers last term, Willie Mullins' charge got his hurdling career off to a flyer in a maiden hurdle at Punchestown last month and he's definitely one to keep in mind for Cheltenham.
At Chelmsford City, Lancelot Du Lac makes plenty of appeal in the Totepoolliveinfo.com Conditions Stakes (2.15). Some of his best form comes on the all-weather and his handicap success at Kempton last time was arguably a career best.
The Venetia Williams-trained Relax has put in a couple of poor runs lately but deep down the 11-year-old has talent and should have at least another win in him before he calls it a day.
He's back in action for the 2redsport.com Veterans' Handicap Chase Final at Sandown (3.0), and the course and distance winner can go close now that the handicapper has eased him a couple of pounds in the ratings, priced around 10/1.
12.40 Sandown: Gitane Du Berlais
1.25 Southwell: Captain Lars
2.15 Chelmsford: Lancelot Du Lac
2.25 Sandown: Yorkhill
3.0 Sandown: Relax (e/w)