Best not miss the Blue Point profit train
I've often tipped up horses on these pages, particularly in jumps racing, based on the fact that they are making a very quick return to the track.
I've often tipped up horses on these pages, particularly in jumps racing, based on the fact that they are making a very quick return to the track.
We have a somewhat quiet Saturday in store with Listed and handicap races the best on offer as all the top horses are waiting around for Royal Ascot which kicks off on Tuesday.
The English musician Benjamin Ambrose, who found fame in the 1930s during the big band and jazz era as 'Bert Ambrose & His Orchestra', once said: "You don't gamble to win. You gamble so you can...
With seven of the 13 Epsom Derby (4.30) runners trained by Aidan O'Brien, there's a very good chance the Ballydoyle supremo can add his name to the list of leading trainers in the race.
As a punter, there'll always be certain horses which you continuously end up with on the wrong side of the betting, and I'm hoping Aidan O'Brien's Magna Grecia doesn't become one of those for me.
I read a story this week about an Australian man who won the lottery twice, having accidentally bought two tickets for the same draw, using identical numbers.
Some of the earliest known horse races took place at the Curragh, a few of which involved the Celts with their chariots - and it won't be long until we see the crowds back at Irish racing HQ to keep the ancient tradition going.
"Pat Fox has it on his hurl and is motoring well now... but here comes Joe Rabbitte hot on his tail... I've seen it all now, a Rabbitte chasing a Fox around Croke Park!" (Mícheál Ó Muircheartaigh)
Serendipity, the word used to describe a chance occurrence that's happy or beneficial, was coined by the English writer Horace Walpole in 1754, who based it on an ancient fairytale called 'The Three Princes of Serendip'.
When Gordon Elliott won the Grand National with Silver Birch in 2007, he was the youngest trainer to win, aged 29, and he'd yet to even train a winner in Ireland at that stage.
The Delaware Native Americans, known as the Lenape, had a word 'wisameckham', which loosely translates as 'catfish stream'.
Get your ducks in a row, blue-sky thinking, going forward . . . Is there anything more annoying than corporate jargon?
There were no Grade One races last Saturday, and I mentioned how Grade Twos can often be tricky to bet on - but we've no such concerns this weekend.
We've no Grade One races in Britain or Ireland today, but between Cheltenham and Doncaster we have some decent action nonetheless with seven Grade Two contests.
There's been a few notable extremely short-priced horses down through the years, the first of which was probably Eclipse, priced 1/70 when beating a horse named Corsican for a 150-Guineas plate...
Backing horses with Ruby Walsh on board has earned plenty of money for the Betting Ring column down through the years, so I simply must start off this week's article with a thank you to Walsh and all the other jockeys who put their bodies on the line every day.
The British National Hunt season came to a close at Sandown on Saturday, but Irish racing fans still have five days of jumps action at Punchestown to enjoy from tomorrow.
At one time, Latin was one of the most important subjects on the Irish curriculum but for a variety of reasons, it has fallen out of favour in the past few decades in this country and elsewhere, and has almost disappeared.
"I hope to break even at the track today, I need the money." (Joe Frisco, American actor, dancer and comedian (1889-1958)
Well, my woeful betting record in the Grand National continued last week, but no-one can begrudge Tiger Roll's connections his historic victory.
For a few years running, there was a fool-proof strategy to get back in the game if you were having a bad Cheltenham Festival. That was to simply lump on Big Buck's in the Stayers' Hurdle (3.30) on the Thursday. Trained by Paul Nicholls' he won the race four years straight from 2009 to 2012.
You don't hear the words waxing and waning much in English anymore - but one means to grow, and the other means to fade.
I've mentioned the American writer and philosopher Elbert Hubbard on these pages before, him being the author of the quote "the only man who makes money following the races is one who does it with a broom and shovel".
There's an important castle in Dorset named Corfe Castle, which was built by the first Norman King of England, William the Conqueror, in the 11th century.
All-weather racing is sometimes seen as a third-class product behind the flat turf and jump codes, and that feeling is especially strong as we approach the greatest racing week of all; Cheltenham.
A good chunk of my form study relies on statistics, and it's always somewhat comforting when the bet you are about to place fits in with the profitable stats and trends.
Between the TV, radio, newspapers and social media, it's impossible to get away from people offering advice and inspiration during the month of January.
The week between Christmas and the New Year is always a strange one, and in Norway, they have a name for it: Romjul.
Known as the father of philosophy, the ancient Greek Aristotle once said: "There is no genius without some touch of madness".
Back in 1894, a bloke by the name of Arthur Agrapart set up a vineyard in the Cote des Blancs village of Avize, in the north-east of France.
Terrence Murphy, an American poker writer, also known as VP Pappy, once said: "A gambler never makes the same mistake twice. It's usually three or more times."
Some older readers will remember the horse Tingle Creek, which died aged 30 in the mid 1990s. I was reading through some old newspaper reports and watching a few videos of the chaser from the 1970s and he was a determined front-runner, known for his bold jumping displays.
It says a lot about the class of Apple's Jade that Gordon Elliott's mare is bidding for a hat-trick of victories in the baroneracing.com Hatton's Grace Hurdle (2.40) at Fairyhouse tomorrow despite her tender age of six.
Rated 169, Buveur D'Air went off as the 1/6 favourite in last year's Fighting Fifth Hurdle, and duly obliged without breaking a sweat; as you'd expect at that price.
The Gowran Park card kicks off today with three big-field maiden hurdles, but all three are very difficult to predict and I'm finding it hard to price them up in my head - so I'm going to enjoy those races without a bet.
You rarely hear about 'milk stout' these days, a drink containing lactose which is a type of sugar derived from milk - although perhaps those involved in the craft-beer circles would know a bit about it.
Studies have shown that humans are comfortable with familiar faces and surroundings.
Down Royal racecourse has been in the news for all the wrong reasons with the management company's lease soon to run out, putting the future of racing there in some doubt. But there's still talks going on to sort it out, which have been described as positive.
The Breeders' Cup, the nearest thing to a world championship for racehorses, takes place at Churchill Downs today and, as dusk falls on Kentucky, racing's spiritual home in America, it will conclude with the $6 million (€5.25m) Classic - a race which has established itself as the most important all-age dirt race on the planet.
While Ireland has only a handful of commercial vineyards due to our climate, this country has a long association with wine which is often overlooked.
The late Henry Cecil holds the record for the most wins in the Group One Racing Post Trophy, now known as the Vertem Futurity Trophy Stakes (4.05 Doncaster) at 10, but Aidan O'Brien isn't too far behind with eight.
Following its redevelopment, it took me a while to get to grips with the Ascot course which was relaid in 2005, but generally speaking, I find it a reasonably fair track to bet at on the Flat. Despite the bends, it can be somewhat galloping in nature and if the best horses can keep out of trouble, they usually run to form there.
The Christian calendar, or Gregorian calendar as it's also known, is the most widely used calendar in the world today and the one we all recognise - although there's still a few places such as Ethiopia, Afghanistan and Iran which use other traditional calendars.
In Victorian times, some of the more respectable homes were built with lengthy, straight driveways meaning the dwelling could be seen from the main road.
We've a couple of decent jumps races at Gowran Park today, and I'm hoping to get a double-figure price about the Willie Mullins-trained Hey Little Boy in the Grade B Kilkenny Racing Festival Handicap Hurdle (3.05) under Danny Mullins.
Well, the results are in, and it's there in black and white in front of me: females are less reliable then males. You heard it here first folks.
"Swift as a bird I flew down many a course. Princes, Lords, Commoners all sang my praise.
We all love to complain in this country when a British personality or media outlet claims an Irish person as one of their own.
In the November 4, 1967 edition of the Irish Independent, the 'Capt. Keen' racing column tipped the three-year-old Be Friendly in the Vernon's November Sprint Cup, a horse owned at the time by the late great racing commentator Peter O'Sullevan.
Known to the taxman as Michael Lee Aday, the American singer famous to you and me as Meat Loaf, once sang that "two out of three ain't bad".
Aidan O'Brien has said the respiratory bug in his yard, which he described as the worst they've ever had, may finally be lifting - but he also warned that a lot of his horses are not as fit as they'd normally be at this stage of the season.
While there are various records of raffles and competitions going back thousands of years, the first known official lottery in a country was set up in England by Queen Elizabeth I in the 1560s.
The Shergar Cup takes place at Ascot today and for those readers unfamiliar with the concept, it's basically a competition in which jockeys join teams and compete for their region, similar to golf's Ryder Cup.
On the face of it, a four-runner race should be fairly easy to figure out as there's less homework to do on each horse. But finding the likely winner of a race is one thing, making a long-term profit backing them is another. To do that, you've to try find ones which are a bigger price than they should be, which is no easy task.
By their very nature, handicaps are among the most tricky type of race to figure out, with the better horses carrying more weight to give every animal an equal chance.
Ruby Walsh knows better than most not to take anything for granted in the racing game, but it seemed his luck was changing for the better when he made a winning return to race riding on board Lareena at Thurles on March 8.
It's been argued that the King George (3.40 Ascot) is not the same race as years gone by, but I reckon we have a great contest in store this afternoon, especially in the unlikely event that Cracksman, which is rated 125, makes the final line-up.
In ancient Greek culture, one of the more interesting figures is Dionysus, who was the god of various things including wine, euphoria and fertility.
Michael Stoute holds the record for most wins in the Irish Oaks at six, but Aidan O'Brien will equal that this evening should one of his three entries win the feature at the Curragh (5.30), which has attracted just seven fillies.
The phrase "nothing is certain, except death and taxes" is usually attributed to one of the founding fathers of the United States, Benjamin Franklin, and he did pen something similar in a 1789 letter regarding the new Constitution.
The Coral Eclipse is the race that allows the Classic generation to take on their elders, and that usually makes for some great storylines as the old take on the young. Youth or experience? The champion or the pretender?
Born in Denbighshire, North Wales in 1777, Charles James Apperley became a well-known sports writer in his time, usually published under the pseudonym Nimrod.
Betting on horses is not simply about finding the most likely winner of a race - anyone can do that quite easily, with the favourite being the obvious place to start.
It's a relatively quiet day on the racing front with a couple of Listed races at York and Sandown as the features - although you could say it's the calm before the storm with plenty of top-class action in store at Royal Ascot, which kicks off on Tuesday.
There are many types of Derby around the world, from a local rival football match to a type of bowler hat - and plenty of races too with that name in their title.
A German poet and philosopher by the name of Friedrich Schlegel (1772-1829) once said that "the historian is a prophet looking backwards".
Most Irish people, and certainly the good people of Kinsale, will be aware of the Lusitania which was torpedoed by the Germans off the Old Head of Kinsale during World War I in 1915.
I once read somewhere that a well-tailored suit to women is what lingerie is to men.
Redevelopment continues at the Curragh, but so too does the all-important racing and I'm looking forward to seeing more from the Dermot Weld-trained JAEGA, which looks overpriced around 5/1 in the Group Three Fillies' Plusvital Irish EBF Blue Wind Stakes (4.30).
While all the top weekend racing takes place across the water, there are decent betting opportunities at home, most notably Jessica Harrington's WHIRLING DERVISH, which is forecast to go off at 11/8 in the Cork Racecourse Rated Race (4.15).
There's a very old saying in racing that the fittest horse wins the Guineas, the luckiest horse the Derby, and the best horse the St Leger.
Although mostly worn by men, the Trilby hat, which has a narrower brim than a Fedora hat, was made popular by a woman.
Well, Aintree is out of the way and the final big jumps festival of the season, Punchestown, is almost here.
A chap by the name of Pitirim Sorokin, who was a Russian-born American sociologist, coined the phrase quantophrenia in the 1950s. It means having an obsessive reliance on statistics and figures.
The Aintree Grand National Festival begins on Thursday, and while we have some great racing to look forward to, punters should take a cautious approach and be aware that it's usually one that favours the bookmakers.
Regular readers will know that I'm very cautious about backing old horses in chases, as they are generally unlikely to have any improving to do near the end of their careers.
It's always much easier to review your betting records after the Cheltenham Festival if you are well in the black, and following a reasonably good week, Paul Nicholls' Pacha Du Polder ensured it would be a great Festival for this corner with a 25/1 win in the Foxhunters.
During the industrial revolution, the early clothing mills became very important as they were able to produce material on a factory system - which was obviously much faster than hand-produced clothing.
Having owned some small shares in a couple of horses down through the years, it's definitely true to say that they are like humans, and all have their own personality.
The Ryanair Chase was introduced in 2005 and for the first ten years, it was seen by many as a race for those not good enough to get into the Gold Cup or the Champion Chase.
In 1968, an experiment was published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology with the rather complicated title 'Postdecision dissonance at post time'.
They reckon the wheelbarrow was invented in China around 100 years before the birth of Christ, and while Chinese wheelbarrows were designed to carry big loads over long distances, the first European wheelbarrows were designed to carry smaller loads over shorter distances.
Well, the earth has travelled 584 million miles around the sun over the past 365 and-quarter-days, and, once again, we find ourselves in that glorious position just before the Cheltenham Festival kicks off.
In a recent biography, Harry Findlay, the legendary gambler and part-owner of the equally legendary Gold Cup winner Denman, said that Cheltenham is like nowhere else on earth. Not just for the buzz or all the great horses - the unique Cheltenham atmosphere, he reckons, is because it has the most knowledgeable crowd on the planet.
During the first half of March, everything we do in racing and betting somehow seems to relate to Cheltenham and in that context, I was glad to see last Saturday's main bet Headway claim the Spring Cup Stakes on the all-weather at Lingfield.
At the time of writing, racing is scheduled to take place at Lingfield, Chelmsford and Newcastle although in this weather, nothing is guaranteed.
Considering it's held in the middle of the National Hunt season and is the first Group race of the calendar year, you'd imagine the Winter Derby (3.15 Lingfield) might be a good race for the bookmakers. Most serious punters are, after all, putting their effort and study time right now into the big jumps races and upcoming Cheltenham Festival.
Racing: Alan King has said that the Grade Two Adonis Juvenile Hurdle (2.25 Kempton) has been the target for Redicean for quite some time, and the Triumph Hurdle hopeful can reward his trainer with a victory here priced around 4/5. A useful sort on the flat in his time, the four-year-old has won his two starts over hurdles, both at Kempton, and is said to be schooling really well at home.
Cue Card will attempt to bounce back from two second places and two falls in his last four outings in the Betfair Ascot Chase today (3.35), a race he won last year priced 4/9.
One of my favourite betting strategies in National Hunt handicaps involves backing horses which are making a quick return after a win or place.
The Willie Mullins horses are sure to be popular in the market for the Grade Three Solerina Mares Novice Hurdle at Fairyhouse today (2.45).
I hope people won't feel I'm being self-congratulatory, and regular readers will know I don't hide behind the couch when I've had a stinker of a day with the bookmakers.
I was never really one for taking an interest in the British Royal Family, but I must admit that I've become hooked on the Netflix drama 'The Crown'.
Punters looking to get off to a good start at Navan this afternoon should consider backing SPADES ARE TRUMPS, Barry Geraghty's choice of the two JP McManus horses in the 2018 Navan Membership Rated Novice Hurdle (12.25). Gavin Cromwell's gelding looked a little green on his debut in a novice hurdle at Wexford in October, but surprised the market with a placing at 50/1.
The Greek physician and so-called 'father of medicine' Hippocrates, who died around 375 BC, described what is thought to be the first recorded case of someone pulling their own hair out in an essay entitled 'Epidemics III'.
With the exception of Mall Dini, all of the entries for the seven-runner Grade Three Total Event Rental (Kildare) Novice Chase at Punchestown today (1.0) come from the Willie Mullins or Gordon Elliott stable, highlighting how the top two are dominating all of the big races.
The opening McCarthy Insurance Group Rated Novice Hurdle at Cork today (12.20) has a number of interesting entries including The Birdie Crowe, a Jessica Harrington-trained mare which won a maiden hurdle at Limerick in July.
As has become the norm in my first column of the year, I'll do a quick round-up of the past 12 months and report on the profit and loss for the Betting Ring column.
Back in 1492, the Fitzgeralds of Kildare and the Butlers of Ormonde were involved in a bitter dispute over which family would have the position of Lord Deputy.
Willie Mullins had a very tough week at Leopardstown with the death of Nichols Canyon, and there was more cause for concern yesterday when Faugheen didn't fire and was pulled up, priced 2/11.
The much-anticipated return of 2015 Champion Hurdle winner Faugheen, who had been off the track for 665 days, went as smooth as everyone hoped in the Morgiana Unibet Hurdle at Punchestown in November, propelling him to the top of the 2018 Champion Hurdle betting.
There was plenty of drama at Leopardstown yesterday with a number of fallers in the novice hurdle, leaving Whiskey Sour clear at 9/1.
Day two of the great Dublin bonanza resumes today with a couple of Grade Ones in store.
The great Dublin tradition of getting away from the house to swap the hustle and bustle of presents, in-laws and too much food in favour of binoculars, the betting ring and a couple of pints too many resumes today.
While I was obviously happy to collect a decent few bob at 9/1 on last week's main selection Guitar Pete, (won the Caspian Caviar Gold Cup Handicap at Cheltenham), the success felt a bit hollow as he won only because Starchitect sadly broke down, sustaining a fatal injury.
You'd think it ought to be easy to explain why Aidan O'Brien was last night named the Irish Independent Sportstar of the Year.
If you spend a day in any bookie shop or pub showing racing, you will hear all sorts of theories - some of them sensible, some of them half-baked, relating to betting.
Retirement plans were put on hold for Bless The Wings after he revived his hopes of an outing in the Grand National with victory in the Glenfarclas Cross Country Handicap Chase at Cheltenham.
With 21 winners from 111 bets in the year 2017, Gordon Elliott (right) is well worth following in beginners' chases - and had you put €1 on each of those runners since January, you'd be €33 better off to SP, or €208 better off to Betfair SP.
The Irish Stallion Farms EBF Klairon Davis Novice Chase (2.0 Navan) has attracted just four runners and it's hard to see past the Gordon Elliott-trained TOMBSTONE, which will most likely be an odds-on price.
The perils of ante-post betting were evident again this week when Willie Mullins' Douvan and Un De Sceaux were left out of Thursday's declarations for this afternoon's Tingle Creek Chase at Sandown (2.55).
At the time of writing, Nicky Henderson's Buveur D'Air is bouncing between 1/4 and 1/5 for the Grade One Fighting Fifth Hurdle at Newcastle (2.10), which is not surprising considering he's rated 15lbs clear of nearest rival Irving in today's five-runner field.
There are a number of interesting entries for this afternoon's Grade B EasyFix Handicap Chase at Fairyhouse (1.25), but the one that catches the eye most is the Elizabeth Doyle-trained La Bella Vida, which was available at 16/1 and higher yesterday evening.
You'd think it ought to be easy to come up with reasons why Aidan O'Brien should be named the Irish Independent Sportstar of the Year and, if it were purely about listing his achievements, it would. I could simply copy and paste a results table onto this page and let it speak for itself.
Kauto Star was one of those horses I rarely backed on the right days, and when he returned as an 11-year-old to try win the Betfair Chase at Haydock for a fourth time in 2011, I offered the view that he was past it.