David Jenkins, a very kind Betting Gods member has taken the time to share his own personal history and experience of Horse Racing from a betting perspective.
David can be found on Twitter at https://twitter.com/HubUK
It all started back in 1967. Those were the days of the stereotype betting shop, full of smoke and not a TV screen in site. There would be a board man writing up prices and results and a tinny sounding race commentary from a wall mounted speaker. Very much a male dominated world. There would always be the two old blokes who would back in pennies, never really losing or winning, then the local loud mouth who would always be boasting about his last big win, not mentioning what he had lost before or since. There would inevitably be a few drunks blowing their money, especially on a Saturday after payday. Then there was the ubiquitous Chinese, who could not speak a word of English, placing large bets and seemingly collecting on a regular basis as if they knew something the rest of us didn’t!
Coming from the background I did I would never have gone into a betting shop had it not been for one of my best friends, now sadly long dead. When in the sixth form at school we used to go into the betting shop at lunchtime and place small bets. I don’t remember having any great success but it was exciting and of course we were too young to be in a betting shop. I had got the bug.
When I finished school I went to work for my father. Talk about being bored out of my skull. So the start of each working day ( we also worked Saturday mornings back then) I would buy a copy of the Sun and study the day’s racing for an hour, drawing up a short list of possibles to back. Then when my father was busy I would have a look at what the Daily Mail (his newspaper) had to say and then the Daily Express (we bought that for my grandfather). From all that “in depth” information I would select two horses to back in a double.
My daily double would be done six days a week. Stake was 5 shillings / 25p and most weeks I would get two or three doubles up. My weekly take home wage was £6.00 of which my mother took £2.00 so these doubles were providing me with a nice additional income of around £2 to £3 a week. Life looked so simple, all I needed to do was increase my stakes to 10 shillings / 50p a time and I would quite naturally double my earnings! Wrong! The loss of 25p in relation to what I earned was affordable but psychologically the loss of 50p caused me all sorts of problems. Suddenly I was losing. Eventually I worked out that because I was worrying about losing 50p I was following tipsters instead of using my own judgement. I dropped back to 25p bets but I was never as good as I had been before.
Somewhere along the line I lost interest in the horses and it wasn’t until around the latter half of the 70s that I started betting again. By this time I had a good friend who was a fanatical racing fan, and for the first time I started going to the race meetings – Ludlow was my first. We talked racing all the time and would often spend an hour or two on the phone in the evening going through the next day’s racing, making a short list of potential bets. We both felt if we could build up a big enough bank we could be backing for a living.
So putting pen to paper I write to Alex Bird for some timely advice on how to get started. Amazingly he replied (sadly I lost the letter many years ago) with the advice that he would never recommend anyone should turn professional.
But I did try. Circumstances meant my businesses could still run while I went racing three or four days a week. I did all right but the returns in relation to what I could afford to bet were not enough to cover the costs of going racing that often, nor provide an income to live off. So my first attempt came to an end and I stepped away from racing again.
It was a good few years before I got involved again and during that period I didn’t have a bet or follow any horse racing. I had moved to work in London, eventually setting up my own successful business. Unfortunately a bad error of judgement on my part killed the business so I sold out leaving me with a small lump sum in the bank and no job! What to do?
This was 1991 and premium rate telephone numbers had become a very popular way for many businesses to generate high incomes, especially tipping services and the sex industry. Having no experience of the sex industry my thoughts turned to setting up a tipping service. I had no contacts and no inside information so the service would initially rely on my own ability to find winners. After proofing selections to the racing press for a couple of months I was then able to advertise, publishing my successes.
With the racing business starting to thrive it was time to up sticks and move to the Cotswolds. Apart from being a nice place to live I thought it would enhance the image of my service and show my success. I didn’t actually publish my home address but did make the area I lived in known.
I had a wonderful five years with the money rolling in from my tipping services and backing the horses myself. I felt I had found El Dorado but like all good things . . . I found my ex-wife with one of my racing contacts and that was the end of my marriage, I went completely to pieces and blew all my money!
I tried to start up again but the following year I remarried taking on several younger children and felt the life of a racing tipster was just too dodgy for a family. So that was that and out to work I went again! No more bets and no more following the horses . . . until April of last year.
During my years as a tipster the premium rate lines died, largely because BT introduced itemised billing which meant a lot of wives were finding out what their husbands were up to. I turned my service into an annual subscription service.
One of the most exciting things I did was obtain permission from Nigel Twiston-Davies to be on his gallops every morning from September through to the end of the 92/93 season. At that time Peter Scudamore and his family lived in a house across the road from Grange Hill Farm, regularly riding out. The stable jockeys at the time were Carl Llewellyn and David Bridgwater. Everyone was very open and happy to answer questions. It was an amazing few months and gave me tremendous satisfaction. As for inside information . . . sadly no-one seemed to have a clue which horses would win. Or perhaps they just led me up the garden path. Nigel Twiston-Davies when asked about whether a particular horse would win would nearly always reply that was why he was running it!
Whilst there was no such thing as inside information, spending every day on the gallops, I did get to know what the horses were capable of and how fit they were. My greatest tipping success from my time on the gallops was Gaelstrom winning the Cheltenham 1993 Sun Alliance Novices’ Hurdle at 16/1 (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2eAWa_EcICE).
There are many more anecdotes and stories from the tipping years but some are probably best kept to myself for now.
My last bet was in July 1995, the day before I remarried, when one of the racing services I knew gave me a 10/1 winner as a wedding present. From then until April last year I did not have a bet and the only time I watched a race was to see Frankel’s final race.
So why have I gone back to racing after all these years? I know why although I now wonder why I didn’t go back to it many years earlier. The kids have all grown up and left home and my wife trusts me to be sensible. It’s quite simply that I need to increase my earnings, especially if I want to retire and be able to maintain a reasonable lifestyle. Nothing exciting. I do not want to go back to tipping or running any kind of racing service. It creates too much pressure or at least it always did for me.
I reached retirement age a couple of years ago and because we rent our home I suddenly realised I could not afford to retire. To retire I would need to find another source of income that did not involve me going out to work. That’s when the penny dropped! I had made money from betting once before so why not again.
I have always hated to lose and hate taking risks and the one thing you need to learn to do if you are going to make money from racing is learn to lose. The difference this time around is that I was unable to give up my job to concentrate on studying form. I therefore have to rely on the opinion of others.
I started on 6th April 2017 with a betting bank of £200. In the June I took up an offer from Bet365 – deposit £200 and they would match it (provided I turnover £1,200 in 90 days). By the end of July my betting bank totalled £1,000.27 (of which I had contributed £400) – I was back, this was easy! But as they say pride comes before a fall. By the end of December my betting bank stood at £981.35 . . . five months of getting nowhere.
So at the start of the year I moved to plan B. I split the bank with £500 allocated to backing information from one source. Needless to say this years figures for this source don’t resemble anything like those of previous years but I am in profit. That £500 now stands at £876 (until the next loser or two tomorrow) but I have withdrawn £550 so all in all that bank is up £876 after almost nine and a half months.
What does the future hold? Certainly hope and the journey continues. Watch this space.