Wayne Bailey: 'Grand Sancy looks the value bet in Tolworth'
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.
You can get cynical, so I'm reluctant to start dishing out betting advice in my first column of 2019. Despite the fact that it sounds like one of those lame Facebook posts you see, I do like one quote I've seen as we enter the new year: "We learn from failure, not from success."
That's not from some modern self-help guru; it's from the 1897 book Dracula by Dublin's very own Bram Stoker, who was obviously ahead of the curve.
It could well apply to betting on horses and the full quote, by the character Professor Abraham Van Helsing, makes even more sense: "I counsel you, put down in record even your doubts and surmises. Hereafter it may be of interest to you to see how true you guess. We learn from failure, not from success!"
On that note, as has become customary, I'm going to use my first column in January to look at the highs and lows for the Betting Ring column in the year just gone. If there's one thing I've learned through the years, it's to keep good records.
If you don't record every bet, to show you where you go right, and, more importantly, where you go wrong, then you don't take your betting seriously. And if you don't take betting seriously, you've no right to complain that the "bookie always wins".
The overall figures once again prove that a big difference can be made if you look for the best prices. For me, the best prices in 2018 have mostly been on the exchanges and if you are loyal to one bookmaker, it's hard to make a profit.
In total, there were 338 bets posted here with 102 winners (30pc). The profit to Betfair SP (assuming the backer was on full 5pc commission) was 18.11 points - while the profit to traditional SP was just 1.35 points. It's a big difference.
The weekly 'Each-Way' bet had 16 wins/placed horses from 48 bets, and produced a profit of 5.07 points (an each-way bet costing 2 points). You can't bet each-way on the exchanges, but a win and place bet on each produced a profit of 12.23 points. The 'Do the Double' was disappointing, although I've often highlighted how multiple bets increase the over-round (margin) for the bookmaker, so stakes are kept fun-size. It finished the year about 15 points in the red, so I'll have to analyse those. At one time, it was a profitable section of the column.
The biggest winner was Pacha Du Polder at Cheltenham (25/1), which was a relief having lost a packet on the Gold Cup earlier that day. Overall, the Cheltenham Festival was good, producing a profit of 29 points to SP, but Goodwood and Galway were not so kind with a loss of 4 points and 7 points respectively.
The one I'd like to forget, the shortest-priced loser of the year, was Apple's Jade in the Mares' Hurdle at Cheltenham at 1/2. And the one that got away in 2018 was Dakota Gold, which was second in the Great St Wilfrid at 33/1. Pure frustration!
A friend of mine never bets odd-on, but it worked for me in 2018 with 36 odds-on winners from 48 bets, and a profit of 11.60 points to SP. That's interesting because back in 2017, they were unprofitable.
Getting back to the negatives, I showed a bad loss of 14 points on my Irish racing selections, with 5 winners from 35 bets. I know I mostly concentrate on UK racing for this paper, but it's food for thought.
I've often said that the form stands up in the best quality races, and a decent profit of 11 points to SP was shown on Group races with 33 winners from 88 bets (40pc).
Graded races showed a small loss yet the positive I'm taking from those are Grade One chases. They produced 28 winners from 91 bets (31pc) and a profit of 19 points to Betfair SP - or 14 points to traditional SP.
All told, it was a somewhat satisfactory year although there's a lot I can learn from both the successful bets, and of course, the mistakes. Anyway, I'd better get back to today before I run out of space and I reckon the Paul Nicholls-trained Grand Sancy looks overpriced around 9/1 in the Grade One Unibet Tolworth Novices' Hurdle at Sandown (2.25).
The five-year-old is one of those that seems to be getting better with every race - he's now won three and also placed in three of his nine hurdle races to date, and caught the eye when fourth of 21 runners in a Group Three handicap at Ascot just before Christmas.
He finished ahead of some good horses on that occasion, some of which had a lot more experience - and that came on the back of wins in a novice and a Listed race this season. It's a big step up, but that's factored into his price.