|24th November 2011 - A tipping service in need of serious overhaul|
|17th November 2011 - Reporting on the not-so 'Specials'...|
|10th November 2011 - Customer Service - the Totesport way...|
|3rd November 2011 - The Judge rounds-up on a busy few days|
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Good afternoon, friends,
In this issue of Punters' Verdict....
We've been on the general theme of 'inside information' for a couple
of weeks. And tipsters are a breed that - almost to a man - want to
let you know how well connected they are with insiders. But more
often than not their attempts to drop names and position themselves
within elite inner circles don't help with building credibility in
the marketplace. Instead they often make themselves look ridiculous.
Take last Saturday, for example. For the past couple of weeks I've
been monitoring a horse-tipping service on a free-trial basis. I've
got to be honest - the tipster is pulling up trees at the moment. He
had a profitable October and, he's already 30+ points up for
November having latched onto a 20/1 winner yesterday.
I'm going to spare him any blushes this week by allowing him to
preserve his anonymity - one, because I'm feeling charitable and
two, because I'm going to review him in these pages in an upcoming
issue - his tipping performance, for the moment, merits it.
But on Saturday afternoon - at 1pm to be precise - he sent an email.
His man on the 'inside' had, some six hours earlier, been given
instruction (from who we can't say) that Diamond Harry - race
favourite at the time - was going to win the Charlie Hall Chase.
Why the tipster waited 6 hours to get this urgent information out to
his public is beyond me?
What is also beyond me is that an insider boasting such close and
obvious links to connections was completely unaware that the horse
had been found cast in his box at Wetherby on Saturday morning after
overnighting in a stone box as opposed to the wooden one he
ordinarily inhabits back at home?
There is of course, another way of reading the events and how they
transpired. One, there is no insider and there never was. Two, the
tipster fancied impressing his audience with some contrived
'insider' advice and, in an attempt to do so successfully, focused
on a horse that large swathes of the market believed would win
readily. Three, connections kept the horse's early-morning condition
to themselves - inadvertently setting our tipster up to look faintly
ridiculous when the truth emerged in the hour and a half leading up
to the off time.
Maybe I'm a cynic. Maybe not. But one thing is for sure, tipsters
would do well not to try and get too clever. It often has the
opposite effect to the one intended.
Diamond Harry's withdrawal from the race created a situation that
highlights the importance for punters of closely watching events and
the markets unfold - and latching onto the decent opportunities to
profit as they arise.
On Saturday morning with 8 runners still in the Charlie Hall Chase
the majority of the bookmaking fraternity went 1/5 1-2-3 with their
each-way place terms. Bet365, Skybet, Stan James and, (strangely),
Corals and Ladbrokes should be commended for giving the punters a
cherry and offering enhanced terms of 1/4 1-2-3. Where the latter
two are concerned maybe some of the criticism this column has
directed their way is having a positive effect?
When Diamond Harry withdrew that left 7 runners in the race and
bookmakers adjusted their place terms accordingly - going 1/4 1-2.
All with the exception of Coral where the powers-that-be must have
been in generous mood. They went 1/4 1-2-3 - paying out on an extra
I know... I know... I've been very quick in the past to criticize
Coral for some of their many failings. But credit where it's due -
on Saturday Coral carried the lamp and showed the way for the rest
of the betting industry. I'm just glad I wasn't smoking a cigar at
the time - I'd probably have swallowed it such was my surprise at
their uncharacteristic largesse.
You don't get the opportunity to bet 1/4 1-2-3 in a 7 runner race
too often and I was on the blower pretty quickly to my inner-circle
betting mates. One went so far as to email Coral to ask if it was a
genuine concession or a mistake. It's now Thursday morning and he
hasn't had the courtesy of a reply. Either he has very few friends
in Barking or the silence is a damning indictment on Coral's wider
attitude to the nuances of good customer service.
I wasn't the only one watching this strange and unexpected turn of
events. Characters at Ladbrokes clearly watch what the bods at Coral
are up to very closely - and if Coral try to steal an advantage then
the Ladbrokes lackeys are quick to take steps to nullify it.
Within 20 minutes of Coral advertising their stand-out place terms,
Ladbrokes revised their own terms again and matched the Coral offer
- going from 1/4 1-2 to 1/4 1-2-3.
You see what a bit of competition in the marketplace does for the
punters? It's one reason why we should all - always and without fail
- hunt round and capitalize on the best deal in the jungle. It makes
the bookmakers fight for business. It encourages them to buy into
the idea that they have to give in order to get - something that can
only do us punters a power of good.
Speaking of Ladbrokes - or Badcrooks, as they are referred to in
some quarters - if you haven't already read my piece on them last
week - on their suspicious relationship with key figures at the
Ballydoyle/Coolmore operation in Ireland - then you should do so.
You can check it out here.
Last week's article focused on shenanigans in the Racing Trophy
markets at Doncaster a fortnight ago - centering on the Aidan
O'Brien trained horse, Camelot.
Given that the relationship between Ladbrokes and Ballydoyle -
whatever it consists of and however it works - is not likely to
alter any time soon, punters should at the very least be looking to
use it to their advantage. And, where next season's running plans
for Camelot are concerned Ladbrokes currently offers punters an
In the 2000 Guineas market Ladbrokes are the biggest price in the
jungle about Camelot - marking him up at a stand-out 6/1.
In the Derby market Camelot is as big as 7/2. But Ladbrokes don't
look like they want to attract money on the horse in that race. They
go 3/1. Only Victor Chandler is shorter. Maybe he has connections to
the Ballydoyle yard too?
Whatever you think about ante-post betting in general and whatever
you think about those specific prices about Camelot, the message is
very clear when viewed through the lens of the Ladbrokes/Ballydoyle
association: Camelot will swerve next year's 2000 Guineas and will
head straight to Epsom for the Derby instead. You heard it here
The market ripest for insider abuse?
Finally, it seems to me that no market is more exposed to 'insider'
abuse than the 'Next Manager' football markets.
Time after time in recent years football clubs have had no need to
actually hold a press conference and announce the appointment of a
new manager. It simply hasn't been necessary. The markets have made
the announcement for them - with the new incumbent having attracted
a welter of money from those insiders in the know and bookmakers
forced to close the market because it's become clear the result is
already out in the public domain.
The latest example of this phenomenon occurred a little earlier this
week when Stan James - the only bookmaker offering prices - had to
close the market on the 'Next Darlington Manager' after receiving an
avalanche of money on caretaker manager, Steve Liddle, from punters
in the West Yorkshire area.
Last night's 3-0 FA Cup replay defeat against Hinckley has done
little to aid Liddle's chances of taking charge permanently. The
market may have to be reopened after all. It's a case of wait and
see, with several applications having been received by the board.
You might feel sorry for the bookmaker in instances such as these.
And I can see where you are coming from. But hold onto your
sympathies. The fact is the bookie has played a big part in bringing
these kinds of difficulties on himself.
The drive to be seen to be betting on more markets than the next
firm has seen the bookmaker wander into territory where he is
vulnerable to punters who know more than he does - and where the
bookmaker probably shouldn't be offering markets.
If the desire for market advantage leads the bookie into choppy
waters then he probably deserves to be capsized - and he shouldn't
expect too much in the way of sympathy when the boat overturns.
I'll be back with the Verdict next week.