Sun can shine for Cloudy Too at Sandown
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.
I think it's good to be held accountable, not just those of us who write about horses - anyone who takes their betting seriously should record their profit and loss.
Yes, it's a bit of a pain, but so too is losing money and if you don't track where you do well or poorly, you can never expect to come out on top against the bookmakers and exchange layers. You are competing with some of the best betting brains and accountants in the business.
In the past few years, I've found the margins are getting very tight in this game and I've learned to focus on getting the best price.
As an extreme example on the topic of odds, take Killahara Castle, which was celebrated recently as the biggest-priced winner ever in Ireland with an industry SP of 200/1. On the exchanges, that horse was available at the maximum price of 1000 (999/1).
At the very short end of the market, prices are reasonably similar between the bookies and exchanges but on the outsiders, you are almost always better shopping around on the exchanges or elsewhere.
The results for my own column this year reflect this trend. I'll exclude the festivals such as Cheltenham, Galway, Goodwood and Leopardstown as they were essentially separate pieces to the regular weekly column - but I'll briefly mention that I was disappointed with the festivals as I'd done well in 2016.
A loss of 20pts to SP and about 14pts to Betfair SP (BSP) was shown in all festivals combined, although I'd a couple of near misses which could have made all the difference.
I'll also exclude my Irish racing columns from the results today, as I've taken that piece on only since October and I'm still building data.
Overall, though, it was a reasonable year for the regular Betting Ring column. In total, there were 208 straight win bets published, of which 69 won (33pc).
The profit to a 1pt level stake at SP was 9pts, or 24pts to BSP. I'm happy enough with that, although it's less than 2016.
As for the each-way bets, I posted 92 of those and 24 either won or placed, a strike-rate of 26pc. At SP, a loss of 10pts was shown using a 1pt each-way stake (the total cost of each bet being 2pts).
On the exchanges, you can't do each-way bets as such, but had you placed a win and a place bet on each, the return would have been a profit of 26pts.
Some of those came from my weekly 'Each-Way' box where I highlight what I feel is the best each-way bet of the day. Such horses worked out well with a profit of 6pts to SP, or 29pts win and place on the exchanges.
The Do The Double box proved disappointing this year with a loss of 5pts, having posted a healthy profit of 20pts in 2016.
Interestingly, the horse part of the double was in the black, but the sports bet was in the red, so my non-racing betting is something I'm going to look at more deeply to see if changes are needed.
The worst bet of the year is always the shortest-priced loser! That came on January 28 when I put up Ceyhan in a maiden at Lingfield.
To my eternal shame, it was beaten at 4/11 although in my defence, it had a forecast price of 11/8 when I wrote the column.
The biggest-priced winner came in my first column of 2017 when Pete The Feat won the veterans' handicap chase at Sandown at 20/1 SP, or 27/1 BSP.
The one that got away was Cote D'Azur in the Cambridgeshire Handicap in September.
Although a profit was returned as I'd put it up each-way, it came home third at 50/1, or 198/1 on the exchanges, having traded near 3/1 in-running at one stage. That had me pulling out what little hair I have.
Anyway, I think that about sums it up and I hope readers will appreciate that the profit and loss for the column is published, as it's not generally common practice.
Having landed a big one this time last year, it would be nice to kick off 2018 win a decent win in the Veterans Handicap Chase (3.0 Sandown) and I'm quite keen on Sue Smith's Cloudy Too, which is now down to a realistic 129 in the ratings, having struggled with marks in the 130s in 2017.
The 12-year-old is not the force of old but he did win the Peter Marsh Chase back in 2016. And although beaten by a long way, he wasn't disgraced when third of eight in a handicap chase at Haydock last time. The aforementioned Pete The Feat is back but is the oldest in the race aged 14, and up 6lbs on last year.
In the Grade One Tolworth Novices' Hurdle, Western Ryder is tipped around 7/4. Warren Greatrex's gelding beat some promising sorts at Cheltenham last time and remains open to improvement. Amy Murphy's unbeaten Kalashnikov is another for the shortlist.
Priced around 10/1, Vintage Clouds is my idea of an each-way steal in the rescheduled Welsh Grand National at Chepstow (2.05). He ran well when second to Clan des Obeaux in a graduation chase at Haydock last time even though the trip was a little short, but the eight-year-old looked a decent stayer in the making when winning a novice handicap chase at Aintree previously.
12.45 Sandown: Dusky Legend
1.35 Chepstow: We Have A Dream
2.05 Chepstow: Vintage Clouds (e/w)
2.25 Sandown: Western Ryder
3.0 Sandown: Cloudy Too
Do the double
Soccer: I reckon the draw is a good bet around 13/5 as Shrewsbury Town welcome West Ham for tomorrow’s FA Cup third round clash. The Shrews are flying high in League One at the moment, with four wins in their last five games, and their defence has been particularly good.
The Hammers go into the match on the back of two league games this week and might be a little weary, but will no doubt put up a good fight.
Racing: Trained by Nicky Henderson, We Have A Dream should prove hard to beat in the Grade One Coral Future Champions Finale Juvenile Hurdle (1.35 Chepstow), although he’s likely to be short enough at odds of 5/6 or thereabouts. A ten-length winner from City Dreamer last time out in a Grade Two juvenile hurdle at Doncaster, he’s now two out of two for his trainer and is one to keep onside for the future, although we don’t yet know if testing ground will be an issue. Sussex Ranger can follow him home.