Friday, 30 May 2014

The times they are a-changin'

Far too long between my industry updates so buckle up, this will take a while to read.....


Stan James have announced they will making a series of redundancies in their trading department as they move further towards automated trading. As I tweeted yesterday, my only surprise to this news was that they hadn't fully automated their trading operations already. Every firm uses automation these days in varying degrees. Do you honestly think they manage 100+ live events manually? The prices will be generated by an algorithmic model (and/or external feed) and the trader will monitor the feeds and bet ticker to check everything is in order. These guys (SJ) are top of the pile when it comes to restricting clients/shutting 'unviable' accounts, it would suck to be a trader there. Controlled by beancounters, laying very little genuine action, and now Stan James, one of the original offshore rogues, will have to pay tax on all bets from the UK like everyone else.

Will they go the same way as BetVictor, the original offshore rogue, who last week announced Michael Tabor upping his share from minority shareholder to full ownership and Victor Chandler was stepping down after 40yrs at the helm? It might have been Victor is ready to retire after so many decades at the helm and being in those ridiculous TV ads but you have to think it is closely linked to the impending tax changes.

The Scoop6 has provided a massive boost in interest in British racing recently. I ran a jackpot-chasing syndicate where roughly half of our £12k pot last week came from abroad - nations where totes are very strong. If Totepool's new owners Betfred focused their efforts on improving the technology behind the Tote - opening major race pools the day before so demand was able to be spread; focusing on boosting race-to-race pools to generate far higher churn (there's only one Scoop6 per week and it ties up your money - that doesn't help turnover); being able to place more than single line or box trifectas on their website (only Betfair and BetVictor let you bet multi-combinations, the standard international way. You're never going to grow a pool restricting punters to a handful of lines); integration of international pools; integration of Betfred and Tote technology on track (currently hopeless despite being right next to each other); guaranteed pools on certain events to keep people interested (our syndicate was set up purely because of the huge pool, wouldn't touch it again until it was in the millions with so much 'dead' money in the pool)..... who knows how successful they could be. So much for them to do, the concern is whether Fred has the desire to invest heavily in it to fight a battle that they might not win. They tell me a lot is going on in the background, we shall see...

Speaking of racing, my regular target Peter V'Landys, CEO/Grand Emperor of Racing NSW is crying about the NSW Government no longer being willing to hand over $10m for prizemoney to boost Sydney's newly-resuscitated autumn racing carnival, The Championships which made a total difference of bodies through the gate of zero. (Actually that's a bit harsh, there probably was an increase, but you could still drive a bus through the place without many casualties. Try that in Melbourne at a proper racing carnival!). Governments in Australia are hell-bent on slashing costs and telling everyone there's a debt crisis (there isn't, Australia's debt is very conservative as a measure of GDP, and expecting anything less than that is like expecting the public to all pay for their houses fully, in cash, before they move in), so with far greater concerns to the public such as health, science and education budgets being slashed, would racing ever be exempt? Not a chance. Oh, and he's still moaning about the NSW Govt taking more from TAB taxes than Victoria. Cry me a river, try getting some people through the gate for a change and stop blaming corporate bookmakers for your poor accounting and business foresight! V'Landys completely disregards the punter's right to a more competitive tax rate (TAB takeouts are the same as originally set back in the 60s, without the benefit of computerisation, digital platforms etc), so why should he get any more to piss up against a wall in prizemoney, attracting largely the same horses which would have been there anyway? (True, it was year one, on very short notice, but you're still stuck with the same old problems - Sydney weather in April, fitting in with international racing calendars and competing against the winter football codes).

Ladbrokes' acquisition run in Australia continues, adding the BetStar brand to their range, a firm founded by Alan and Michael Eskander. Paddy Power and William Hill regularly eschew the strength of the Australian market in their market announcements, Ladbrokes will undoubtedly be next. And a little surprisingly given their long-running poor performance in the digital sector, innovation has been their USP in Australia, launching a debit card for quick withdrawals, the first of its kind.

As mentioned recently, Betfair Australia appears to be on its last legs. Rising cash grabs from racing authorities and an offer from 50% shareholder James 'the beach boy brawler' Packer to buy Betfair Ltd out seem likely to seal the deal. Sad times for Aussie punters if you like having more control of your betting.

The UK Gambling Commission has been accused of being utterly useless in a scathing letter printed in the Racing Post this week.



The Canbet debacle was the prime example - a UK licensed firm goes bust, continues to trade/makes promises to pay/lame excuses about technical issues preventing payment etc. and all the UKGC did was correspond by email. No visit from any of their 200-odd staff, no cease and desist order, nothing. So much for being a body empowered to protect punters and the reputation of the industry, it's obviously far more important to ensure the right brand of biscuits are in stock for their no-doubt endless number of internal meetings. And then there are the farces of Bodugi, BetButler.... All that bookies have seen from them are higher compliance costs, precious little else.

An Irish judge has slammed Boylesports and Paddy Power for their sloppiness in a case of staff theft. A Boylesports betting shop manager helped himself to almost €600k over 22 months and then blew most of it with Paddy Power online. How on earth a staff member can pilfer €600k at an average of nearly €3k a time is baffling.

An Arizona man has been told to stop being a sook and admit that he lost in a lawsuit claiming to get back the money he lost to online sportsbooks based in Costa Rica. This isn't problem gambling, this is a man not prepared to take responsibility for his own actions. Toughen up princess.

In a scene which is likely to be repeated numerous times through south-east Asia in the coming weeks, Singaporean police have been raiding illegal sports betting operations. Be very careful if betting with the black market bookies on big events, it happens every World Cup.

The National Crime Authority (UK) went on the front foot this week, putting all football nations on notice ahead of the World Cup, by putting the spotlight on the Nigeria-Scotland friendly at Craven Cottage. This ticked all the boxes as a match which could potentially be corrupted - one team experimenting before the World Cup, many players unlikely to give 100% in case they got injured, a manager who could test various formations, a side with a history of suspicious matches and a FA which has long been acknowledged as corrupt. Opposing them were a side with nothing to play for bar planning for the future. As I told Sky Sports News in an interview, you wouldn't be surprised if this match was 0-0 or had five goals in it, but once it was leaked to the press, there was no chance anything was going to be fixed, despite the slow-mo Vine clip going around of a keeper losing control of the ball in a challenge and seemingly throwing into his own net. You try holding onto a ball when someone's head smacks you on the elbow. The 'goal' was disallowed anyway.

Thursday, 29 May 2014

Inside the Shadowy World of High Speed Tennis Betting

Following on from my article back in January about the ridiculous arrest of Daniel Dobson at the Australian Open, ESPN/FiveThirtyEight Sports has probed deeper into the world of tennis courtsiding to understand more on what it's all about. I've been quoted in it so I might as well share it around...

Inside the Shadowy World of High-Speed Tennis Betting

By CARL BIALIK

In January, Daniel Dobson was two months into a new job that allowed him the opportunity to travel overseas and watch live sports. It had a downside, though: It got him arrested in an incident that drew media coverage around the world.

Dobson’s job was to sit courtside at the Australian Open in Melbourne and use his cell phone to transmit the outcome of each point of the match he was watching. The faster he worked, the greater the edge his employers at Sporting Data Ltd. would have in the betting market.

Police charged Dobson, 22, with violating a law protecting integrity in sport.


Read more where it was originally published...

French Open match previews - Thursday

The French Open at Roland Garros is well under way for another year, I've not had time to do much analysis so I've resorted to the expert, Dan from TennisRatings. Follow him on Twitter @tennisratings and visit his website to see more of his services.

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29th MAY 2014 MATCH PREVIEWS

Juan Monaco's match with Andreas Seppi has the potential to be an epic match for trading...

Current ATP 5 set winners still in the tournament:-

(For more information please check out the Implications of winning a 5 set match article.

Radek Stepanek - 5 sets vs Arguello, 4 sets vs Youzhny
Thomaz Bellucci - 5 sets vs Becker
Axel Michon - 5 sets vs Klahn
Andreas Haider-Maurer - 5 sets vs Brands
Steve Johnson - 5 sets vs Lokoli
Martin Klizan - 3 sets vs Nishikori, 5 sets vs Haase
Marcel Granollers - 1 set vs Dodig, 5 sets vs Dolgopolov

Already eliminated after a 5 set win:-

Jarkko Nieminen
Facundo Bagnis
Mikhail Youzhny

There are 32 matches today at Roland Garros as the second round of the French Open reaches its conclusion. Action starts at 10am UK time today - as has been the case all week.

Four men's matches and six women's matches take place at 10am and there aren't too many trading highlights in the opening ATP clashes, with three matches featuring 'big servers' and the other a very heavy favourite.

In one of the matches featuring big servers, I do like the chances of Andreas Haider-Maurer at around 3.10 against Ivo Karlovic but my worry would be the edge that the Croat has in a tie-break situation, which are highly likely here.

In line with previous days, live matches have tended to feature the heavy favourite 'household name' and this is no different in the early men's live match - David Ferrer, who starts at 1.04 against Simone Bolelli.

I don't have any recent in-play stats on the Italian so it's tough to recommend an in-play avenue but as discussed many times previously, Ferrer is often vulnerable when a break up - he's lost this lead 34.9% in the last 12 months to get back on serve and this is not only above the top 100 mean of 31.9%, it's very poor indeed for a top 5 player.

Three more matches commence following these, and it will be very interesting to see how the prospect with great potential, Dominic Thiem, fares against the king of clay, Rafael Nadal. Nadal starts at 1.05 and because of the Spaniard's superb 40.5% percentage for breaking opponents on clay in the last 12 months, Thiem's projected hold is low here.

Furthermore, with the young Austrian conceding a break lead 34.4% in the last 12 months, and Nadal's deficit recovery consistently excellent at 53.7%, the combined score when Thiem is a break up is 88.4 - easily enough to warrant opposing Thiem a break up here. However, realistically the price won't be viable to do that unless he is a set and break up at least.

Starting at a similar time is the on-form Guillermo Garcia-Lopez who takes on Adrian Mannarino. Garcia-Lopez is short at 1.19 against Mannarino, who isn't adept on the surface and took out a fellow clay hater, Yen-Hsun Lu, in the previous round.

Stats indicate there could be breaks here with Mannarino's serve very vulnerable with a pre-match projected hold of 60.4% - well below the 75.7% ATP mean.

In addition to this, the combined scores when either player is a break up are over the required 75 to lay an ATP player a break up - with both players losing a break lead over 40% of the time.

This is also the case for the match between Juan Monaco and Andreas Seppi, which has the potential to be the best match for trading today.

Both players have been far from their best in 2014 and Monaco starts as favourite at around 1.70. That looks pretty reasonable as his return stats - breaking opponents 33.6% to Seppi's 28.5% - are better, with Seppi having a very slight edge on serve.

This leads to two low projected holds and should either player have some difficulty holding (holds to 30 or worse, or gets broken) then opposing their serve when the match is on serve should be a move with positive long-term expectation.

As mentioned, the combined scores are above the required 75 here too - both players give up break leads much more than average (Seppi 47.9%, Monaco 39.0%) and recover deficits well too (Seppi 43.8%, Monaco 51.9%). It's worth making the point that despite a trying year, Monaco's break back stats have been very consistent and indicates serve problems as opposed to anything return related.

There are few ATP players around that love a five set match more than Seppi. The Italian has played an incredible 13 out of 23 Grand Slam matches in five sets since January 2012 with seven being decided in straight sets and three in four sets. Opposing the set leader in this should be a worthwhile strategy.

Another ATP match of interest is the clash between Thomaz Bellucci and Fabio Fognini, with both being most comfortable on clay. I feel the volatile Italian is a little short at 1.22 against a competent opponent and I'd expect these two to have more than their fair share of breaks of serve today.

With Bellucci losing a break lead 50.0% and Fognini 40.0% - which illustrates how often the talented but carefree Fognini loses focus and concentration - and both players able to recover deficits over 40%, this is easily enough to take combined scores well over the required 75 to lay either player a break up here.

There's less edges in WTA action today, but I like the chances of Polona Hercog against Sloane Stephens in a match that's been priced up at around evens apiece - certainly the Slovenian is happier on clay and has better hold/break stats.

My plan for this is to lay Stephens if she goes a set up - when priced between 1.70 and 2.30 she has only won 3/15 in straight sets in the last 12 months. With Hercog having a strong record at winning at least a set in the same price range, this seems a very strong statistical play.

I feel that the clash between Jelena Jankovic and Kurumi Nara could be closer than the odds suggest although - quite surprisingly - Jankovic has a solid record at winning in straight sets when priced under 1.20.

Both players are excellent at recovering break deficits and have combined scores in excess of the 105 required in the WTA to lay the player a break up. Nara in particular impresses with a 60.5% break deficit recovery stat.

There could also be break leads lost in the match between Teliana Pereira and Sorana Cirstea with the Romanian looking vulnerable at 1.44 here against an opponent who favours the surface much more.

Pereira's matches tend to feature a lot of breaks and as a player that is stronger on return than serve, she has lost a break lead 58.3% and recovered a break deficit 60.0% - both well above the tour mean.

As far as upsets go, perhaps Sara Errani is a little short at 1.10 against Dinah Pfizenmaier, considering the Italian's injury issues, but I'd be surprised if the similarly priced Andrea Petkovic (against Stefanie Voegele) found herself knocked out today. I also can't see a story for the British public and Heather Watson against the consistently impressive Simona Halep, who justifiably finds herself as the tournament second favourite after the shock exit of Serena Williams yesterday.

Friday, 23 May 2014

Scoop 6 first leg preview

I regularly tell my writers that penning a preview is a great way to collect your thoughts and analyse a race more effectively. So about time I practised what I preach again... here's the first leg in the £15m Scoop6 tomorrow.

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Haydock 2.05

Barkston Ash

Looked to be labouring in the pack then kicked on to win clearly. Goes from C3 0-90 to C3 75-90, up 8lb but no issue lumping big weights. Flying of late, but rotten record here, one placing from seven starts.

Out Do

Two wins off 81, has been thereabouts in five runs off 91 without winning. Squeezed up when making his run last time at York, perhaps disadvantaged by low draw there. Gets the 'right' side this time. Third run in quick succession for new stable, must be a chance here.

Polski Max

Ignore if dry, start taking a closer look if the track comes up soft. Jockey 0/24 this season.

Discussiontofollow

Yet to win on turf, but at the same time, yet to miss a place in six starts on any surface. Appeared to have every chance last time at Windsor when went off favourite. Drawn the right side, is he as good on turf?

Bear Behind

Run of 10L defeats broken by a Thirsk selling handicap win last start. Drops to 88 off a best of 104, but still can't get excited about this one.

Gabbiano

Bad traveller or just poorly placed when travelling north? Loves Ascot and Kempton, hasn't performed north of the midlands in the past. Fitness petered out last time at Ascot, could improve with a senior jockey taking over.

Muthmir

Lightly raced, nine months off the track, but trainer in great form. Disappointed last time out, was it the soft track or he needed a spell? Drawn on the far side which might be an issue.

Grissom

Veteran running consistently in the mid 80s. Drawn 'wrong' side of track and best results on wet tracks. Take a look again in the morning.

Shore Step

Course and distance winner and has also won in a large field. Finished alongside Gabbiano in his seasonal debut at Ascot recently. Jockey rode a double for Mick Channon last week.

Trader Jack

This will be his fifth run in May, last week at Newbury arguably his best of this campaign from 2lb out of the handicap. Ryan Moore climbs aboard BUT has only won once from 25 starts. Fast track to the poor house backing horses like this!

Baby Strange

Comes up well on the ATR Formscan figures but is now 10 and has won only twice in three years and 40-odd starts. Can't have.

Al Mukhdam

Disappointing in two runs this season when well supported for new trainer Ed de Giles. Trainer's form has turned around sharply since last defeat though, winning seven races with his last 18 runners so it's worth giving him a chance as he continues to work this horse out. First-up run at Leicester has proven quite strong but it seems a little odd he is back to 6f for the first time.

Cruise Tothelimit

Multiple winner here and has the wonderkid Oisin Murphy on board. Well beaten at Ascot last time but was unfancied at 40/1. Drops in rating and grade here, won't mind it wet, not the worst.

Run With Pride Class 5 maiden winner on debut, pitched into a much tougher task here. Was 33/1 that day, so why are we suddenly being asked to take 8/1 in a much stronger grade?

Go Far

Non-winner on turf from five starts, three from 18 on AW, but rated very similar. Has only ever run on Good-Firm ground on the grass, guesswork about how he'll handle a bit of rain. Decent run at Newmarket, leading a small group down the middle and drops in class here. Not the worst, especially with 5lb claimer aboard who has a 14% strike rate on turf. Might just be underestimated here.

Upavon

2lb out of the handicap and yet to be placed on turf from four starts. Rated 14lb higher on AW, showed little last time at Lingfield. Not likely.

Selections:
Go Far and Shore Step will give a decent run for your money at good odds.

Likely inclusions in Scoop6 perms

At least one of my perms will have the field in this leg. It's clearly the hardest of the day. First ones I'd start dropping out would be - Upavon, Baby Strange, Trader Jack, Bear Behind, Run With Pride, Polski Max, Discussiontofollow....

Doomben Ten Thousand preview

In a week tinged by sadness around the sudden death of Guy Walter, Australian feature racing continues this weekend at Doomben for Queensland's feature WFA sprint, the 10,000. Manny Galouzis @mannygalouzis returns to preview this great race.

The honour roll for this race includes greats such as Apache Cat, Takeover Target, Falvelon, Chief de Beers, Campaign King, Manikato, Maybe Mahal and way back to the legendary Bernborough in 1946!

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The Doomben 10,000

Just before we get stuck into things, I’d like to extend my condolences to the Walter family. Guy Walter was a terrific trainer, who in recent times had won multiple Group 1s with horses like Appearance and Streama (who won as recently as last Saturday in the Doomben Cup). By all reports he was an absolute gentleman and he will certainly be missed by all involved in the racing game.

The Doomben 10,000 holds a special place in my heart. As a broke 19 year old punter, I stood in the TAB of the Tower Hotel in Hawthorn (Victoria, Australia for the overseas readers) and was amazed that the great Takeover Target had come up at odds of 5/2. The wonder filly Gold Edition was all the rage, just under even money. One of the more astute punters in the TAB agreed with me and said “How is he $3.50, it’s like the World Champion taking on the Australian Champion?!?” I nodded and quickly rushed over to the terminal and had $10 on the nose of the mighty gelding (a fortune for me back in those days). The rest as they say, is history. Takeover Target went on to beat Gold Edition by half a length and I probably went straight to the cigarette machine to buy a pack of Winfield Blues with my hard-earned winnings.

This year’s edition doesn’t have the same stock as it did in 2007, but with the likes of Buffering, Rebel Dane and Spirit of Boom, it’s shaping up to be a great race.

1. Buffering

Didn’t quite look himself last start in the BTC Cup. He failed to show that bulldog-like fighting quality that we are so used to seeing out of him. Wilted late to finish third beaten 1.3L. He is obviously the class horse of the race, but with a fair amount of speed here it might prove to much for him. Definitely a winning chance, but I think he is under the odds.

2. Spirit of Boom

Just got too far back last start. Made up a stack of ground late but by then the bird had flown. He really seems to have gone to another level this prep. Second in both the Oakleigh Plate and Newmarket, he finally got his Group 1 in the William Reid Stakes. If he can sit about midfield, he should be getting a good crack at them in the straight. $5.50 is about his right price. Winning chance.

3. Temple of Boom

Up until two starts ago, I was prepared to chuck this bloke in with the likes of Secret Admirer and Phelan Ready as the biggest pack chasers in Australia. He went on to make fools of us all as he beat out his stable mate at the handy price of 40/1. Just got nosed out for third in the BTC Cup with an honest enough run. Should park himself in the 1x1 and get a lovely run into the race. I do think he is a grade-below this lot, but I couldn’t rule him out as a rough place chance.

4. Rebel Dane

It really looked like he was in for a massive prep after running 2nd to the best sprinter in the world (Lankan Rupee) in the TJ Smith Stakes. Perhaps the heavy track took a bit out of him as he seemed a bit flat in the All Aged. He has had a small freshen up and has trialled since that race and he should be cherry ripe here. Barrier 10 is a slight cause for concern, not sure whether he is going to try and slot in midfield or get dragged back to the tail of the field. If he can find cover in running, he’ll be very hard to beat. I’ve got him on top in a race with many chances.

5. Hot Snitzel

Very ordinary last start but you probably have to forgive that considering he was caught 3wide with no cover and he was over-racing, however he might also struggle to slot in from Barrier 9. I can’t see him beating this lot but it wouldn’t shock to see him run a place.

6. Conservatorium

Should be going straight to the lead from Barrier 11 but I really don’t think he is Group 1 class. Not for me.

7. Famous Seamus

Got the job done very nicely in the BTC Cup and it is hard to make excuses for any other runner except maybe Spirit of Boom. Should sit midfield and get a nice run into the race. If he brings the same form here as he did last start, he is in this up to his ears. I’ve got him marked $6, which represents a bit of value considering there is as much as $8 available. Can do the double.

8. Knoydart

He has progressed quite nicely through the grades with placings behind Lankan Rupee and Spirit of Boom in both the Oakleigh Plate and the Newmarket. He did seem a bit flat last start though. If he brings his best he is a winning chance, but even then I still think he’s under the odds. Not here.

9. Scream Machine

Third in a BM95 to winning a G1 WFA? No thanks.

10. Driefontein

Beat out Platelet in the G1 Robert Sangster like a good horse, but was under pressure a long way out in the Goodwood. Could put that down to the track conditions though. She should be heading straight for the lead, but as mentioned there is a fair amount of pace here. Probably a class below this field; $15 is the right price.

11. Peron

A fairly honest effort in the BTC Cup but again she is probably not good enough. Pass.

The 1350m start comes out of a chute and there is a decent run to the turn, so although the horses like Buffering and Conservatorium may have to burn a little petrol early to get across, they shouldn’t be caught wide with any luck. Driefontein and Hot Snitzel should also sit on the speed; Rebel Dane might get a drag across and find cover or Bossy may elect to snag him back. Horses most benefited in transit will be those about midfield such as Famous Seamus and the two Boom horses.

A fairly open edition of the Doomben 10,000. I’m 4/1 the field with Rebel Dane on top. Buffering and Spirit of Boom equal second picks at 9/2 and Famous Seamus 5/1. He is probably the only horse that represents any value by my ratings, so you could do worse than have a small each-way bet on him. Otherwise, maybe play some exotics and hope for a rough result.

Recommended Bet:

Back FAMOUS SEAMUS each-way.

Good luck punters and remember, there is no such thing as the last race.

Old lay the field article

Originally posted on betting.betfair many years ago, no longer displayed, so I thought I'd repost it for the benefit of those who regularly ask about it. All images from the old interface, the principles remain the same!

Horse Racing - now with video clip

One trade you may consider on horse racing markets is to 'lay the field at odds-on'. Take a look at how many horses get beaten these days at odds-on in-running - it means punters are over-reacting and losing, so why not be on the other side of that and profit from it?

Objective
To create a profitable book based upon laying a number of horses at a pre-determined price during the race.

How to do this
To have a profitable book your combined lay bets need to exceed 100%. Therefore if you lay 2 horses at 1.8 (55%) you would be a winner. Should you decide to lay @ 3.0 (33.33%) you will need to lay at least 3.1 horses at that price during the race.

The price you choose will vary depending on your research or testing (keep liability small). Factor you may want to consider include distance of the race, flat or jumps, hurdles or fences, ground or size of field.

Below are three easy steps, using an example of a race at Brighton in which orders were entered to lay the whole field should any of them trade at 1.8 in running.

Step 1
Go to a horse race. Click on the 'Place Bets' tab on the right of the market and select 'Lay All'.



Step 2
Enter the price you want to lay each of the selections and then click 'liability' - the word NOT the dot.



Enter the amount you are prepared to lose on the market (in this instance £10) and click 'Ok'. This will automatically calculate how much you need to lay each selection to risk your liability. Remember you will only pay out on one horse, therefore the worst result is £10 (if two horses dead-heat your loss would be £5 x 2 as winnings are halved).



Step 3
Before placing your bet just check that your liability for each selection is £10. Having submitted the bet, if placing the orders before the race has started, you will need to click 'keep' and submit to ensure they are not erased when the market suspends at the beginning of the race.



So what will happen next?
There are a number of different scenarios that may occur.

Scenario 1 - The winner is the only horse to trade through 1.8 in running and you had laid it to lose £10. In this instance, Fairly Honest.

LOSS ON MARKET is £10



Scenario 2 - What actually happened in this race was two horses traded through the price during the race. Fairly Honest looked the likely winner two furlongs out but got tired in the closing stages and was collared by Lancaster Lad. You have now laid two horses to lose £10, with stakes of £12.50 on each one from the backer. As the stake from the other bet (£12.50) was greater than the risk (£10), it makes no difference which of the two horses won – either way you profit £2.50.
PROFIT ON MARKET is £2.50 less commission (a return against your worst result of 25% - comm.)





Scenario 3 - Even better, three horses trade through the price during the race. On the winner you will lose £10. On the two beaten horses you will win £25 (£12.50 x 2).
PROFIT ON MARKET is £15 less commission

And so on.......the more that trade through the price the more you will profit from the market.

Pulling your orders

Another angle on this trade is to cancel all the remaining lay bets when one has been matched. Taking the above example your maximum profit on the race is limited to £12.50 (the 1st to trade through 1.8 is beaten) while your maximum loss would be £10 (if it goes onto win).

Now that you've read the article, try watching the video clip.

Other examples on my blog - My favourite trading strategy and another. Read the comments section, plenty of good shared material in there from others who have done a lot more with it.

Friday, 16 May 2014

Is it the last hurrah for Betfair Australia?

Despite a promising start and a lucrative market, it appears that Betfair's time in Australia might be up. They've not made a profit in Australia since day one and racing authorities, led by Dr Evil in NSW, the self-proclaimed Emperor of all things equine north of the Murray, Peter V'Landys, have done everything they can to make Australian racing unviable for them.

The new set of race fields fees for Victorian racing, the best in the land, will inevitably be followed by other states when their next opportunity to revise their structure comes around.

Racing Victoria announces revised race field fees to be applied from 1 July, 2014

An excerpt: A scale of rates will also apply for all other betting types (non pari-mutuel bets), with a higher rate for premium race days. All other betting types will be charged the greater of, for:

Standard race meetings (440 meetings) – 1.5% of turnover or 15% of gross revenue
Meetings containing a Group or Listed race (45 meetings) – 2.0% of turnover or 20% of gross revenue
Premium Group 1 meetings (10 meetings) – 3.0% of turnover or 30% of gross revenue

Fees for all operators go up - TABs, corporate bookies and Betfair, but it is the exchange that gets screwed the most because there simply isn't any fat in the exchange model when punters only pay commission on their profit per market. Change that model and it dies. They've already raised base commission rates to 6.5% on Aus racing, and warned off all the traders, there's not much hope left for them. And that Federal legislation change to allow in-play betting online like the rest of the civilised world? Richmond might win an AFL Premiership before that happens.

It has already been strongly rumoured that James Packer's 50% share via Crown Resorts Ltd would buy out the parent company and take full control of Betfair Australia. The UK operation has been shedding costs left, right and centre and Australia has been in the firing line for sometime. There's only so long you can wait for laws to change. If that sell-off went ahead, I couldn't imagine them retaining the exchange part, at least for Australian racing. They may just retire the brand in Australia, send it all back to the UK and let punters bet on sports via the main exchange. It has never been Betfair's style to break laws, and as a listed company it certainly won't be now so I couldn't see them offering Aussie racing from abroad in defiance of local legislation. It wouldn't stop them betting on Aussie sport though, those fees aren't draconian enough to defy them or drop local sport altogether. There's always the sportsbook section, but there's no need, or even point, retaining the Betfair brand to operate that.

Rich blokes tend to know rich blokes, and it would not surprise me at all if James Packer teamed up with Matt Tripp to revive the business, in whatever form that may take. After all, Tripp is on public record as saying he wanted to acquire a few brands and work his magic on the Australian punting public again. He's already taken over BetEzy (now BetEasy), rest assured there will be more to come - he has plenty of financial backing behind him.

There will be one hell of a party behind closed doors for Australian racing authorities if and when Betfair shuts up shop, with V'Landys happily pissing away thousands in the process. British bookies and racing authorities need not bother getting excited about this - those copyright laws that were struck down in 1997 in the case of British Horseracing Board v William Hill means the same laws do not apply in the UK/EU and thus that avenue of shutting out betting exchanges isn't available. William Hill might regret fighting that case now....

Disclaimer - this is all speculation on my part, I do not have any inside knowledge of Betfair in Australia these days, understandably inside sources have clammed up.

Saturday, 10 May 2014

Eurovision preview

It's Eurovision time, when normally sane people go a tad crazy watching a plethora of cheesy performances backed up by political voting pacts and soemtimes witty banter from Graham Norton (he's not Terry Wogan by a long stretch....).

Eurovision tragic Andrew Hawkins @AndrewNJHawkins has done the form intensively and produced this gem of work.

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Eurovision

Ah, Eurovision. That annual wacky celebration of kitsch is upon us again.

As a straight Eurovision fan - yes, they do exist - I've spent weeks and months listening to the songs and trying to frame a book.

This year has been fascinating as the markets have fluctuated wildly. And anyone who believes they have found the winner cannot be entirely sure. I think we have a close vote on our hands.

I drew up a top 10 before the week started, which looked something like this:

1. Sweden
2. United Kingdom
3. Spain
4. Austria
5. Norway
6. The Netherlands
7. Hungary
8. Denmark
9. Armenia
10. Israel (already eliminated)

So all along, I've been wanting to take on the early favourite Armenia, who was as short as evens last week. He is now out to 9/1 and drifting, but I still think something can be made out of opposing him. More on that later.

Sweden is a deserved favourite, although she may still be eclipsed by Austria's bearded drag queen Conchita Wurst. I still remember hearing Sanna Nielsen sing Undo for the first time in a Melodifestivalen heat, and you knew right away it was going to be a contender for the title. She is in a very awkward position in the running order, though.

Unfortunately, much of the value is gone in straight-out betting, as you'd expect. You could have got as much as 250/1 about the Netherlands last week - I know because I almost took it. But one further look at their dark and dull music video turned me off with the thought it wasn't "Eurovisiony" enough. Of course, they are now as short as 3/1 after a terrific performance in the first semi-final.

If you do want to bet straight out, you would only be backing those countries that automatically qualified and so have not been seen officially. Of those six countries, the United Kingdom (10/1), Denmark (33/1) and Spain (66/1) have drawn the best.

Many Brits are still gun shy, believing there is an anti-UK bias at Eurovision. If they look at some of the acts sent recently, and then at Molly Smitten-Downs, they'd realise they have a real shot this year. Her song is strong, it's anthemic, and it's drawn well as the final song of the night. At 10/1, she's well worth a flutter.

Denmark is a Bruno Mars clone that is catchy, but you wouldn't think they would be overly keen about winning back-to-back. Still, it will attract the young vote.

And Spain, represented by a soaring bilingual ballad from former X Factor contestant Ruth Lorenzo, looks the best value still left. She's drawn the plum position of 19th to perform, and she's surrounded by unmemorable songs with no hope - Slovenia and Finland precede, while Switzerland is straight afterwards. 66/1 is ridiculous.

You can also get 7/1 about her to finish top four and 5/2 about her finishing top 10. Perhaps they are smarter bets, particularly the 5/2 about finishing in the top 10. That looks a gift.

Indeed, it is the specials where the value lies now. It's just about identifying it.

It looks a very close contest this year, much more open than in recent years where there has been an odds-on favourite. The 9/4 about the winning margin being 20 points or less may well be worth a throw at the stumps.

As always, the Origin of Winner market throws up overs. 9/1 is freely available about the winner being pre-qualified - a package which includes all three countries above, as well as longshots Italy (150/1), France (250/1) and Germany (250/1).

Sky Bet is offering dual forecast odds for those that think they can get the quinella. I still think the big value lies with the United Kingdom, so I'd probably back three with the UK - Sweden/UK (12/1), Austria/UK (16/1) and Netherlands/UK (16/1).

Ladbrokes is offering head to head markets, and I think someone had forgotten to update them earlier today. They had Austria at 11/10 against the Netherlands at 4/6, despite the fact Austria was at 5/2 in the overall winner market against the Netherlands at 4/1. Perhaps worth something if it is still there, although I must admit I'm a bit hesitant about taking on the Dutch...

Again, the anti-UK sentiment is mindboggling. Ladbrokes have the United Kingdom at 7/4 against Ukraine at 2/5. Ukraine has to sing first, and besides the song is not outstanding - it's alright, but not brilliant. It's unlikely to stick in people's minds and is a real risk. The only thing that could get Ukraine near the United Kingdom are sympathy votes due to their current political woes. Otherwise, that 7/4 is the best value of the night.

If anyone is able to find head to head markets with Armenia, I'd be taking them on for sure.

One at odds that I could entertain in the top 10 market is Montenegro (6/1), which is a good song but which is likely to get lost in its early position.

At the other end of the spectrum, who will finish last? Germany had major problems with their jury final performance, including getting caught up in streamers. It was a song that needed jury points if it was going to score at all, as it doesn't seem the type of song that will get much love from televoters. At 5/1, happy to be on Germany.

So, it looks like I'm relying on a good night for the United Kingdom. Otherwise, it could be a long, long night!

My predicted finishing order:

1. United Kingdom
2. The Netherlands
3. Austria
4. Sweden
5. Spain
6. Hungary
7. Denmark
8. Greece
9. Armenia
10. Montenegro

Summary

Winner: United Kingdom (10/1), Denmark (33/1), Spain (66/1)
Top 4: Spain (7/1)
Top 10: Spain (5/2), Montenegro (6/1)
Winning Margin: 20 points or less (9/4)
Origin of Winner: Pre-qualified (9/1)
Dual Forecast: Sweden/United Kingdom (12/1), Austria/United Kingdom (16/1), Netherlands/United Kingdom (16/1)
Head to Head: Austria, v Netherlands (11/10); United Kingdom, v Ukraine (7/4)
Last Place: Germany (5/1)


Saturday, 3 May 2014

Kentucky Derby preview

It's America's big day of racing, where 90% of them will be there to be seen and most won't have a clue what difference Churchill Downs Inc's latest takeout hike does to shaft them on every bet placed. Throw in the standard arguments about race-day medication in the US and the recent New York Times/PETA expose on yesterday's Oaks-winning trainer Steve Asmussen, and racing in North America could be in better health.

Still, it's one of the elite races and great occasions of the world, and stepping up to the plate is Jon da Silva again, @creamontop, with his preview in a very American style. (No I don't understand Brisnet figures either...)

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The Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum Brands

They say you should avoid food additive E-numbers which you can’t with Yum Brands…

Yum! Brands, Inc. or Yum! is a United States-based Fortune 500 corporation. Yum! operates or licenses Taco Bell, KFC, Pizza Hut, and WingStreet restaurants worldwide.

There are dangerous E numbers in the race too, lots of em …. E means Early Pace horse - see Wildcat Red's write up and General a Rod's too for more on the subject. I worry that the best horse and 2/1 favourite in this race California Chrome may get hurt by them.

If the race is a burn up for the lead given the pronounced forward running styles it will take a really strong pace horse to win. It has happened and of course if all jockeys/public expect pace you often see one get loose on the front as everyone takes a pull. Last two runnings have seen a very fast early pace but Bodemeister nearly held on after blasting hard early two years ago. Last year despite the points system ensuring horses at least had run well in two turn routes to qualify Palace Malice lobbed in a 45 and change first four furlong bomb which led to about seven horses dying on the final turn and chaos ensuing with what turned out to be the best horse subsequently Will Take Charge being baulked by the retreating rump of latest Aiden O’Brien "he’s so much speed" horse Verrazano.

Can You Excuse A Bad Last Run?

I often like to excuse performances but a bad final trial in a series of races as horses work towards stepping up in trip and class and handling the chaos of a 20 runner Derby field probably should be seen as fatal to a horse’s chances. Partly due to the need to earn a place nothing comes here off less than 2 preps. Also most horses ran no more than 5 weeks ago so recovery is harder to imagine.

The Main Players for me

California Chrome Last three Brisnet speed ratings (most recent first) 106 102 94
The horse who has California dreaming (sorry) after straight wins. Has had 10 starts so is experienced in a way we in Europe will be surprised at. After putting seven lengths into a Grade 2 field he then pumped five into a solid Grade 1 field in the Santa Anita Derby. This is on what evidence we have the best horse in the race and deserved favourite. He has the pace to get on or near the lead whatever lines up here. I suspect he will see off the other pace and then can something run him down?

Vicar's in Trouble 104 92 88
Has had five runs and another with a progressive profile. Beaten two starts back in the Risen Star before bouncing back to win in the Gr2 Louisiana Derby. All three wins have come from on the pace, two with 11111 as the pace line and the other off 22111 - those being the position out of gate, 2F, 4F, Last Call (varies with distance) and at the finish. In his defeats 73333 and 76423. Danger is therefore he might get sucked into a likely hard pace, faster horses early or a slow break. Gets the 1 post to power to the lead I just think it’ll be too hot for him.

Wicked Strong 103 89 80
Stepped up big time in the Wood Memorial Gr1 after passing tired horses to grab fourth in an Optional Claimer to Constitution after a striping in the Holy Bull Gr2. The Wood and his 2yo run in the Remsen show a horse who entered the straight erratically before finishing hard. Will experience in what will his seventh race mean he will be running from further? Big thing looks set to relish the distance having taken five lengths from the last call most of it in the final ninth furlong of the Wood. Can he run outside New York? Draws Wide.

Samraat 99 99 99 99
I put four speed figures up for this horse to show a lack of progression. Went off favourite for the Wood before being run down late by Wicked Strong. Will be close to the pace but probably not on it.

Danza 104 87 96
Surprise winner of the Arkansas Derby Gr1 and it was said he was by a sprinter out of a sprinter. Nonetheless dismissed his field and leave out one run off a break and his record looks better albeit only four runs - like Wicked Strong another with a poor run in Florida where the constant refrain was the track favoured speed. Got a perfect trip in his win going shortest route and bursting up the rail. Hard to weigh up. The Marmite or Vegemite horse depending on your hemisphere. Drawn four so could get a nice sit behind Vicar’s in Trouble with California Chrome in gate five.

Intense Holiday 100 99 91
Closer who stayed on remorselessly to win Gr2 Risen Star. Well beaten in the Holy Bull where Wicked Strong was even worse. Fourth, one place behind Wicked Strong in the Remsen as a two year old. The type who if he won this would be worth opposing with your own money in the shorter smaller field Preakness. Beaten 3.5L in the Louisiana Derby by front running Vicar's in Trouble.

Chitu 103 96 89
Won three of four and captured the Gr 3 Sunland Derby last time. Prior beaten by Candy Boy who was later assassinated by California Chrome. Another who shows E/P8 (more below) which means he has outstanding early toe but can rate (press) just behind the pace.

Commanding Curve 98 89 91
Stone closer who made progress in the Louisana Derby off a wide trip. As said I think this sets up for a closer and he is a closer. Numbers just good enough to make the shortlist for me plus off two starts this year maybe can improve.

Also Running or Long Shots

Dance With Fate 99 89 88
Closer who has the third highest points by dint of winning the Bluegrass Stakes on Keeneland's Synthetic surface (Synthetic so much better a label than All Weather IMO). Two races on dirt include an eighth of 13 in the Breeders Cup juvenile. Needs to improve for dirt and that seems unlikely.

Wildcat Red 97 100 97
The Speed of the Speed. Gets an E8 from Brisnet which means Early Speed lead horse and the maximum speed is defined as E8 with E7 next. Has fought General A Rod three times finishing in front twice each beat the other by a head before both beaten by Constitution in the Florida Derby. The longer distance of that race at least providing separation of a 1.75L over General A Rod. Flat our speed unlikely to get the distance.

General A Rod 96 100 95
Like Wildcat Red as said above. He's an E/P8 which is an E8 who can press pace and does not have to be on the lead. These two should prevent California Chrome dominating and contribute to an on paper burn up.

We Miss Artie 94 80 93
Closer who just got up in the Spiral on synths. Speed figures shy. The 80 is a dirt score when beaten by Wildcat Red and General A Rod. The 93 a turf start. Seventh in the Breeders Cup Juvenile (ran to 88). Line through job frankly.

Ride On Curlin 99 98 87
Well beaten by Danza in the Arkansas Derby. Prior to that a length behind Hopportunity in the Rebel. Has been run away from late in his last three starts. Albeit some tough trips and by monster dirt horse Curlin. Only won a maiden and entry level allowance.

Tapiture 96 99 99
Second in the Rebel to Hopportunity before a no show in the Arkansas Derby. By Tapit which gives him a half chance of being madder than Angela Merkel when she found out Obama was listening to her phone calls and he reminded her of the videocall in her negligee with the cocker spaniel. A good winner of the Gr3 Southwest prior. Not progressing essentially and is better than many marginal contenders but no reason to see much more improvement.

Medal Count 97 94 89
Earned his place on Synths after a nine length loss in the Fountain of Youth behind Wildcat Red. Another who needs to improve again for Dirt and a big field. Come from behind type. Beaten 17L in the BC Juvenile. Two chances, none and just none, zero.

Candy Boy 96 97 94
Took on the monster California Chrome and got leathered hanging on for third which got him in here. On screen he looked a massive beast and negotiating 20 runners here might not be ideal if he was good enough. Prior had beaten Chitu in the Gr 2 R B Lewis. However has also been handed spankings by headcase Tap it Rich and Über but injured Shared Belief. In short Müllered by top performers so is not likely to turn into one here?

Uncle Sigh 94 99 98
Traded paint with Samraat in the Withers and Gotham coming out a narrow 2nd twice before being blown away by Wicked Strong in the Wood Memorial. Another whose run style is E, E5, but with no obvious reason for his slipping back for his first try at 9 furlongs (2 turns) hard to fancy to step forward.

Vinceremos 67 93 92
Flopped on Synths last start before that respectable but hardly in the context of this win threatening stuff on dirt at Tampa. Theoretical win odds in that a million Black Swan events can happen at once but they’re unlikely.

Harry’s Holiday 67 93 81
Another to flopperooney in the Bluegrass on synths. Last four runs on synths so connections will be taking the comp’ed day out as they do not seem so convinced either. He is another biggish E number E6.

Pablo Del Monte 95 89 91
The late addition with defection of Hopportunity. Adds an E6 to the mixture but has been beaten in Florida by General A Rod and Dance With Fate and since I don’t fancy them…

Conclusion

If you're brave, flood the exotics with closers and at least you'll know your fate quickly if something walks the dog in 47 and change to the 2nd call... Put the kettle on relax always next year.

The speed is all over this but again these are horses who have qualified over routes with no sprinter spoilers like Trinniberg who probably caused Bodemeister's loss forcing him through hard fractions. I'd love to see a true star here but suspect it sets up for the Grinders and will be looking very exotically at Intense Holiday and Commanding Curve but the best of the closers for me is Wicked Strong with his wide draw. I have doubts, such as his form away from NY, but last year for instance Orb had the widest trip in the race and it's not necessarily a huge disadvantage to a closer to be wide.

1pt Wicked Strong WHill 10/1
1/2 pt Commanding Curve general 40/1


Friday, 2 May 2014

Kentucky Oaks preview

It's Run to the Roses week in the US at the classic but controversial Churchill Downs. Classic because of the time-honoured great races this weekend, controversial because of the recent takeout hike by arrogant racetrack owners who have defied all economic lessons of the past where increasing the price equates to less business. And punters aren't happy about it, boycotting the most famous racecourse in North America. Find out more at playersboycott.org

Ignoring the politics and the local tote, it's still a great weekend and Friday's meeting is headlined by the Kentucky Oaks. Regular US racing contributor Jon da Silva, @creamontop saddles up for the preview.

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Kentucky Oaks
9 Furlongs


Nine furlongs is a Route in US racing. That is pronounced as in 'rout' as in 'Man United fans have been discovering routs can happen more than once a year'. In the UK of course a Route is pronounced 'Root' and many Aussie men have been known to 'Cop a Root'. Which leads us nicely on to a three year old fillies race. Nine furlongs or a mile and an eighth as the US calls it. Nine may seem odd (literally and figuratively) but really having almost all big races be an even number of furlongs is equally odd. What it does do is make obvious throw outs mildly less obvious than say the 10 furlong Kentucky Derby. Nonetheless we are likely to have a big field so stamina of a degree will likely be a factor. Most here are stepping up only an extra sixteenth from the really odd trip of a mile and a sixteenth.

Untapable last three Brisnet speed figures, latest first 107 100 87
Has the numbers to be competitive in the Derby itself. Has leathered her last two fields grabbing the lead after the second call (four furlongs) and just extending. Her work shown in a brief Vine showed her killing a gallop mate. Main blemish was a Lasix-free shocker in the Breeders Cup Juvenile Fillies beaten 68 lengths Breeders Cup the only time she faced a strong early pace and was beaten hollow. Only other defeat on Synths. Draws widest of 13 with plenty of speed wide so how Napravnik uses her early and how wide her trip is could be decisive. As a fully paid up member of the 'Whole Lotta' Rosie Napravnik's Appreciation Society she'd be a welcome winner. Trained by recently in the news for alleged horse abuse Steve Asmussen so the reception could be mixed - Andy Beyer wrote that singling Asmussen out for doing what most US trainers do is absurd and I agree with him, the issue is the drugs culture not an individual.

Sugar Shock 93 92 88 90
Pace horse who can rate. Won last four at Oaklawn Park including two Gr3s. Could grab a decent pitch from post three with early speed and ability to rate. A bit behind some in terms of rating.

Fashion Plate 92 91 97
Has led at every call (from go to whoa) in three victories. Note her best figure came in a maiden where she would have dominated. Even that number has her needing an off day from Untapable. Has a chance at the lead from her draw but likely to be contested.

My Miss Sophia 97 94 98
Only had three starts and was beaten on her debut but that was over 5.5F and note a big figure [98]. Brisnet have her as an 'on the lead' horse. Has run nine furlongs in a seven-length rout of the Gr2 Gazelle. Draws 11 of 13 so may need to be heavily used early outside Fashion Plate.

Rosalind 100 87 87
Banged out a big number in the Gr1 1/16th Ashland at Keeneland on Polytrack dead heating with Room Service. A closer, sustainer if you prefer, which means she may get a favourable pace scenario with the burners outside. Closed dourly in the Breeders Cup Juvenile in third to record a 93 on dirt. Contender and gets another 1/16th here to close into.

Got Lucky 88 89 90
To be glib dropped a point in speed rating for each extra 1/16th. My Miss Sophia's 7 length victim in the Gazelle. Beaten 9.5L by Untapable prior to that. No obvious reason to improve. Drawn wide in 12 of 13.

Aurelia's Belle 91 86 86
Stepped up on last start breaking her maiden in a Gr3 but that was on Synths and at a mile as well. Probably not good enough on dirt.

Ria Antonia 91 83 94 -> 94 was BCJuvFil last season
Breeders Cup Juvenile Winner who will press the pace and close. Two runs this year have seen progress notably when second to Fashion Plate in the Santa Anita Oaks. Type seems right and profile is upward off two preps even if comeback was being dissed 14 wickets by Untapable. Winner in the Breeders Cup Juvenile Fillies ahead of Rosalind.

Kiss Moon 92 90 72
Clashed with Sugar Shock last two getting closer on the second start. Lacks the zip of some of the other prominent runners to get a solid position.

Unbridled Forever 96 85 100
Two runs this year and some progress but was a way's back behind Untapable. Figures to press the early pace. Another drawn wide with some speed in barrier eight.

Thank You Mary Lou 92 98 87
Who calls anyone Mary Lou? The mysteries of Americana I guess. This Mary Lou appears to be a sprinter. Third to Rosalind and Room Service last time closing till final call then being drawn off on.

Please Explain 82 91 81
Beaten last two times by Sugar Shock last time by 10 long. Although in an 11 runner race with more pace on such as here did get within a narrowing neck of Sugar Shock. Likely best chance to affect the result is a plodding on third or fourth in the exotics if there is a pace collapse (fast, fast, glacial, walking home). Those who handicap a meltdown may find her a big odds play there.

Empress of Midway 84 78 81
Has some early toe but only a maiden to her name. Main effect could be drawn 10 to helps force Untapable wide. In only her fourth start as well and surrounded by speed.

Conclusion
Untapable looks solid but has drawn the outside post 13. My Miss Sophia has 11 and Fashion Plate gate seven with three speedsters in 8,9 and 10 so I can see a wide trip for Untapable. I think Rosalind is the best of the closers and with Untapable unlikely to be much more than 5/4 in the UK and 3/5 in the USA I'll take her on given the speed in this race. Untapable is the potential star but the Breeders Cup and her odds enough to put me off.

1pt Rosalind 7/1 or more.