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Mardigras


karrotsishere
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1. How did you get involved in the racing game?

Probably as with many of my generation, racing came about from going to the races with my parents. We used to go to Awapuni nearly every boxing day and a few Trentham meetings. And I used to sneak out of school when I was at Intermediate and head down to Levin for their race days. Some classic encounters there with the likes of Grey Way and Copper Belt. 

2. You seem to have a strong knowledge about the TAB, how has this come about?

It probably isn’t so much a knowledge of the TAB as such, but having done a lot of analysis on betting markets, it’s about an understanding of how they operate and how they can’t be looked at in isolation (which is what the TAB tries to do). And I have been involved in assisting business with making decisions based on data, not on whims. That understanding combined with business skills have allowed me to gain an understanding of the issues around many of the decisions the TAB makes.

3. How long have you been involved in the industry?

To be fair, my involvement is really only as a punter. I’ve never been involved with training aspects (and very limited ownership). And I’ve been putting money on horses since I was about 8 (through my parents). When I was around 14 and my parents went away for the Cup carnival in Christchurch (which they did nearly every year), I used to go down to the TAB with my list of bets, and stand outside to try and get someone to put my bets on. Someone usually did. 

4. Have you had any Harness experience or involvement?

I actually enjoy harness racing – well I did more in the past than I do now. I always used to bet on things like the Addington cup carnival and have been to Addington on a holiday down there. When I lived in Wellington, I used to go to Hutt Park for a night out quite regularly. Loved it. And was at Moonee Valley for Shakamaker’s win in the Interdominion, and made a few bucks off the series that year.  

5. What is the biggest win on the punt?

I spent about 10 years as a bookmaker, so not really punting in the same way most do. Oddly enough my biggest win wasn’t even on horse racing. I was a bookie on the Rugby World Cup in the early 2000’s. I made around 25k which actually isn’t that flash a result – since I took in excess of $5m in bets.

On backing horses, I made over $10k a few times  - the Melbourne Cup has been good to me. I have had a share in a couple of Melbourne Cup trifectas, one time taking Makybe Diva / field / field. I had her being right in the Melbourne Cup from the day she won the Werribee Cup pretty early in her career. I don’t take trifectas unless having a fun day out at the track.

But in punting, I’m not a big punter. Usually around the $20 - $50 to win. Biggest single bet win or place I’ve ever had would only be $1,000. Bookmaking exposure was always a lot bigger but I would always be aiming to manage the risk. 

And prior to around the year 2000, I was a very typical punter. Losing money overall, following things like form/placings/jockeys/trainers/barriers/weight etc. As I became more involved in data analytics, I came to the realisation that those things are not strong factors in profiting. Those are the things that are known by everyone – and lead into their assessment of chance. But their assessment of chance is not a truly efficient market (as per below question on my book contribution).

6. Why did you stop bookmaking?

I still do the odd Australian event, but they are generally the higher liquidity events.

I stopped being a bookmaker generally, because the stress was starting to cause the odd issue here and there. I used to do a lot of bookmaking on UK racing which was overnight. It was hugely scary where I lived when the power would go out. No internet and even mobile coverage was poor. My laptop would set off an alarm when the power went off, but even then it just added to the stress.

That meant, all my markets were exposed at whatever levels I had set up at the time. And I was unable to change anything. I had a few power cuts in a short while, and decided the stress was too much. You don’t have the same issue with straight punting since you are putting up what you are prepared to risk. With bookmaking, it usually involved adjusting prices over time to attract betting (at the prices you are comfortable with), in order to manage your overall position/risk. No power meant no ability to change anything.

When I had power cuts, my results would be wild – either big wins or big losses. And the risks were unacceptable to me. When I’d been living in a more stable situation, I was able to win every week for years, ultimately leading me to having to pay premium charges through Betfair. (They are charges essentially for using their service but where you don’t pay them what they consider to be enough commission based on your betting).

7. You wrote a book I believe I have read on a forum, is this true? Are you willing to give any slight bits of info about it?

I was asked to help write a chapter in a book to be published by a professor from Nottingham Trent university in the UK. I didn’t get to pick the subject matter, and it isn’t the greatest piece of literary work. A friend from Melbourne Uni asked if I would assist.

Essentially it was a study aimed at trying to identify the level of insider knowledge involved in betting on horse racing. The book was about market efficiency – and this chapter was trying to identify the degree to which insider knowledge was potentially changing the prices late, to a point where they were effectively more efficient.

Being efficient relates to all the information required to formulate chance is known – and therefore a fully efficient market will more closely correlate with chance (over time).

Pretty hard reading for most I would say. And not the greatest contribution. I think the piece Curious put together to NZTR (with some input from me), was probably more robust. 

8. How long did it take to write the book?

Not 100% sure, not that long, probably around 4 months – but largely part time. I was writing it with a Melbourne Uni lecturer. 

9. What is your fav gallops track?

Flemington. A track that typically handles rain well. And the surface can generally be relied on to be consistent. I’ve made more money there than any track. It’s one of the few tracks I repeatedly attend – have been there around 100 times.

When I go there, I am always on the grass, on the rail with full view of all the horses. At the cup carnival, I arrive on the first train and we have a spot that has been the same for 20+ years. We stay out there even when the weather turns to shit. We set up a bivouac and shelter when it gets bad. One year, it was torrential. Hopped out of the bivouac – and there was no one on the grass from the clocktower to the 350m mark – except the group I was with. Probably quite normal at a NZ track 😊 but not on Melbourne Cup day.

As an aside, I’ve been interviewed 3 times by the TV stations at Flemington. Twice on Australia Cup day after Makybe Diva won, and once on Cup day (which was a random interview)

I used to love going to the Levin races – although it was so long ago, I’m not sure whether that had anything to do with the track itself 😊 Just good times at meetings like the Bayer where I used to return to Levin to attend when they held it.  

10. What is your most vivid memory in industry?  

Being at Ellerslie with a cousin who owned a horse running. Winning that race and the celebrations afterwards. Funnily enough, the horse was ridden by Chris Dell at 20s (who gets the odd mention here).

Possibly interesting snippet about that horse, he was sold not that long after and went to Mr Pitman. Horse went on and won another 8 races! 

11. What is a happy or sad memory or both re industry?  

Sad – to see the extent to which the industry has been taken in the wrong direction here. Poor business decisions and a lack of understanding of how to sustain real interest in NZ racing.

Happy – the increased awareness of animal welfare and hopefully the progression of severely restricting whip use

12. What is the best horse you have seen or who is your fav horse?

Best would probably be Sunline. Thought she was a champ.

Favourite horse might be considered a little odd – Rocky Tryax. A pacer, no huge achiever but did manage a couple of placings in the NZ Cup (from memory). 

13. What do you enjoy on this chat forum?

The generally relaxed nature of it. Most of the posters refrain from changing the discussion to be about the person. It makes for a happier read.

14. Have you owned a horse or had any type of connection with a horse, if Yes do you watch replays of any wins over & over?

I’ve had shares in a couple of horses – they couldn’t run a lot faster than me. One thing I believe I’m not too bad at is assessing ability of horses. The last one I had a share in, I told them she was no good. They wanted to persevere and even switched trainers. About 3 runs further on, they stopped racing her. That’s not too bad, but in reality, that’s another $3-5k down the tubes. 

15. Have you done or seen any other exciting things in racing around the world?

I’ve been fortunate to have travelled quite a lot and at times, I combine those travels with going to the races. I’ve been to Royal Ascot and a Dubai World Cup meeting. And attended races in the USA and Argentina.

Royal Ascot was an awesome experience – but it is harder to actually see the horses close up there (which I like to do). And the Queen did the Royal Parade when I attended 😊

I went To Dubai and that was pre Meydan days – at Nad Al Sheba. What a day. Amazing crowd, no actual betting facilities at the track, and awesome viewing. Had booked a full dining experience with brilliant views of the track.

Another cool thing they did there – you could do a tour of the racing facility. So one morning about 5am, I got up and went out to Nad Al Sheba. I was greeted with a drink etc, and a brief intro before doing an amazing tour. It included

-        Using golf carts as the means of travelling around the facility

-        Going out to watch the morning gallops (this was in the lead up to the World Cup meeting I attended)

-        Going through the internal facilities, visiting the jockeys room, the silks such as those for Dettori, the Godolphin silks. Going through the various stands/public facilities to see the range of options, looking at the stewards areas etc for interviews.

-        Visiting the nearby stables of Godolphin and one other trainer. In with the actual horses stabled there. Talking with the trainers about the horses racing on the weekend.

-        Back to one of the restaurants for a full breakfast and socialising etc.

This is the type of thing I’ve not seen done in NZ racing. Bring people in to experience some of this first hand - make it an experience. Racing is not just about punting. If it becomes only punting, there are plenty of other choices.

I’ve done this sort of thing at the MCG and Principality Stadium (ex Millennium Stadium) in Wales etc. Tours which allow you a close up experience of the facilities to get people a little more excited.

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3 hours ago, karrotsishere said:

Hi Mardi was just wonder re Q5, you mention in your answer, being a lil cheeky asking but would you possibly be able to share with us ... what the formula you use now, that gets you better than results prior 2000 ? 😄

Hey karrots, the answer is a little bit more cryptic than just being a formula.

Many have discussed this on this site - it is mainly about identifying something that most other punters aren't really considering - that has a bearing on outcome, but because punters don't consider it, it doesn't get related into price.

So some key things I do are

  • identify what factors are largely considered by the public - and determine whether they affect price generally more than they affect outcome
    • e.g does the barrier affect the price in harness racing more than it effects the outcome (or vice versa).
  • Have a method of assessing chance (since if you don't know how to assess the chance something has, how can you know whether certain factors increase/decrease that chance).
  • Record your bets and assumptions as to why you bet on it (so you can learn and improve over long timeframes)
  • Bet when you are getting a price that is to your advantage.

Doing all of those things, won't necessarily allow you to win, but if you bet on what you think will win all the time, there is a strong likelihood that you will get a lot of winners and still lose money. The more you ignore the factors that are massively overbet, the easier it will be to find runners that have a higher chance than their price suggests. The hardest part is betting on the horses you don't think are the most likely to win. Most punters find that very hard to do.

I've said it heaps of times previously, when I bet, I'm not even trying to find the winner. But when I do find the winner, I expect that I have received more money for it than I should have.

My factors for gallops that I ignore are weight, barriers, gear changes, form, class of race raced in, jockey, trainer. All of those things are considered by many punters when determining what horse they think will win. But all of those things are heavily used by punters in their assessments - and punters are ultimately setting the price.

And I'm looking for horses that have shown they can perform at a certain level where they are racing a set of competitors that suggest they are closer to (or above) that level, than their form/weight/barrier etc suggest. So then the horse will be largely neglected by the betting public, and I will have assessed its chances as being higher than they do, and therefore be likely to back it.

Ultimately, such a strategy relies on your ability to assess the chance of horses in a race - and that assessment has to be reasonably sound in the long term. 

It's the standard piece of advice - bet when you are getting value - and value is the horse is paying more than its chance. And be disciplined.

A few others can certainly add to this. 

 

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14 minutes ago, brown fox said:

Assessing chance is the hard part Mardy. I think most of us tend more to instinct than anything else.In form Jockeys are a big tick once I've found a likely

bet and a wide draw in a sprint is a no no.

It is - and you also have to remember that if you have decided a jockey is a big tick, then punters generally have probably decided that, and the price adjusted because of that - the same for the barrier. 

So you have to decide whether the price change (down) because of the jockey is less/more than the advantage the jockey is supposedly providing. Or whether the price change (up) due to the barrier is more/less than the disadvantage the barrier is supposedly causing.

Generally, jockeys, weight and barrier are overbet. i.e. the advantage or disadvantage has a lesser impact on chance than on price. So many would argue (including me), that if you've found a likely bet, if the jockey is not a favoured jockey and the horse has drawn wide, you are more likely to be obtaining value for the runner based on the predispositions of the other punters deciding the horses chance is less because of those things (more than the chances have actually been reduced).

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15 hours ago, karrotsishere said:

Many thanks for contributing & also answering your technique.

Might have to give it a crack in Sir G's next round of our Harness Selections Comp.

Here's a little bit on what I see as punter behaviour. 

Most punters are trying to identify what will win. Some punters are looking at a price point (because they don't like backing favourites etc). Some punters are going to look just outside the favourite because the favourite price is very short, and very few punters are going to analyse the full field to identify where their opportunity is to make money long term.

So if we have a field, and using a pretty simple method of rating the runners and deriving chance (I don't do this, but it is at least a start), we may have a race that looks like this. (The Score is divided by the total of all scores in this example to get a Chance%)

Barrier

Score

Chance%

Odds to Chance

Odds

Market%

1

20

45.5%

$2.20

$1.95

51.3%

2

2

4.5%

$22.00

$16.00

6.3%

3

3

6.8%

$14.67

$12.00

8.3%

4

5

11.4%

$8.80

$8.60

11.6%

5

6

13.6%

$7.33

$9.00

11.1%

6

1

2.3%

$44.00

$36.00

2.8%

7

2

4.5%

$22.00

$16.50

6.1%

8

5

11.4%

$8.80

$5.20

19.2%

 

44

     

116.7%

  • Most punters aren't going to assess all the horses, and they will identify barrier 1 as the likely winner and back it
  • Some punters are going to look for a price they like, and back that (likely any of barriers 2 - 7)
  • Some punters are going to identify barrier 1 as the likely winner, don't like the price, so may opt for barrier 8 as the next most likely (according to the punters)

But on the basis the chance is a decent reflection of the actual chances, there is only one horse that should be backed, barrier 5. The only one where you are getting odds higher than the odds should be, based on your chance assessment. 

Do that 1000 times, you expect to win 136 times. And get $1,224 for every $1,000 bet. And you have leeway in regards your chance assessment being a little out. So you only need to win 112 times to break even giving you a reasonable margin for error. 

Backing barrier 1, you have to have under assessed the chance for you to make money long term. Since the horse has to win more than 50% of the time, and the assessment has it winning only 45.5 % of the time. You are going to get a lot of winners, which is what makes a lot of punters think they are doing OK. But you would be slowly losing money.

Of course, the difficulty is in deriving the chance of all of the runners as brown fox stated. If that can't be achieved, then ultimately it is likely that a punter will carry on in the same way as always, and their betting habits will stay the same.

As an aside, that market is the kind of thing that might occur due to barrier. Barrier one might be considered a supposed advantage, and therefore punters would increase their view of its chances and over bet it.

 

 

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14 minutes ago, mardigras said:

Here's a little bit on what I see as punter behaviour. 

Most punters are trying to identify what will win. Some punters are looking at a price point (because they don't like backing favourites etc). Some punters are going to look just outside the favourite because the favourite price is very short, and very few punters are going to analyse the full field to identify where their opportunity is to make money long term.

So if we have a field, and using a pretty simple method of rating the runners and deriving chance (I don't do this, but it is at least a start), we may have a race that looks like this. (The Score is divided by the total of all scores in this example to get a Chance%)

Barrier

Score

Chance%

Odds to Chance

Odds

Market%

1

20

45.5%

$2.20

$1.95

51.3%

2

2

4.5%

$22.00

$16.00

6.3%

3

3

6.8%

$14.67

$12.00

8.3%

4

5

11.4%

$8.80

$8.60

11.6%

5

6

13.6%

$7.33

$9.00

11.1%

6

1

2.3%

$44.00

$36.00

2.8%

7

2

4.5%

$22.00

$16.50

6.1%

8

5

11.4%

$8.80

$5.20

19.2%

 

44

     

116.7%

  • Most punters aren't going to assess all the horses, and they will identify barrier 1 as the likely winner and back it
  • Some punters are going to look for a price they like, and back that (likely any of barriers 2 - 7)
  • Some punters are going to identify barrier 1 as the likely winner, don't like the price, so may opt for barrier 8 as the next most likely (according to the punters)

But on the basis the chance is a decent reflection of the actual chances, there is only one horse that should be backed, barrier 5. The only one where you are getting odds higher than the odds should be, based on your chance assessment. 

Do that 1000 times, you expect to win 136 times. And get $1,224 for every $1,000 bet. And you have leeway in regards your chance assessment being a little out. So you only need to win 112 times to break even giving you a reasonable margin for error. 

Backing barrier 1, you have to have under assessed the chance for you to make money long term. Since the horse has to win more than 50% of the time, and the assessment has it winning only 45.5 % of the time. You are going to get a lot of winners, which is what makes a lot of punters think they are doing OK. But you would be slowly losing money.

Of course, the difficulty is in deriving the chance of all of the runners as brown fox stated. If that can't be achieved, then ultimately it is likely that a punter will carry on in the same way as always, and their betting habits will stay the same.

As an aside, that market is the kind of thing that might occur due to barrier. Barrier one might be considered a supposed advantage, and therefore punters would increase their view of its chances and over bet it.

 

 

Hi Mardi.

As a non punter, but enter competitions on here, so I guess my focus is more on the chances of horses that will win. In doing that, I have a formula that I always stick too, and I do get chuckled at sometimes, which is given with friendly intent, as when the competition races are put up, I look at the fields, and can generally see the best horse in the race, and post my selections immediately. I disregard, barrier draws, trainers, jockeys, or prospective track conditions, as a good horse will be able to overcome minor interference in a race, and still be good enough to win.

Do you read stipes and track work reports, to source other information?

Cheers.

Robert.

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11 minutes ago, Double R said:

Hi Mardi.

As a non punter, but enter competitions on here, so I guess my focus is more on the chances of horses that will win. In doing that, I have a formula that I always stick too, and I do get chuckled at sometimes, which is given with friendly intent, as when the competition races are put up, I look at the fields, and can generally see the best horse in the race, and post my selections immediately. I disregard, barrier draws, trainers, jockeys, or prospective track conditions, as a good horse will be able to overcome minor interference in a race, and still be good enough to win.

Do you read stipes and track work reports, to source other information?

Cheers.

Robert.

I do things a bit different to many. My approach is based around an assessment I do of a horse's ability. So in respect of a horse that was unlucky or suffered some issue during a race, I'm likely to underassess the performance - and if that was the only start the horse has had, I would be likely to underassess the horse's ability. So if it wins next up, I will have assessed it as less chance than it probably should have been. 

But over time, horses run a number of times, and I use the information from all of their starts to formulate that assessment of ability, so hopefully the unlucky runs are not having as detrimental effect over time. I use the ability as the primary basis for my assessment of chance.

So as a short answer, no, I don't look at stewards reports or track work. But that doesn't mean punters can't use whatever info they can get to give them an advantage. Especially information that many punters may not have (and it contributes to chance).

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6 minutes ago, Hesi said:

I see the punters went crazy on Time Flies(first starter) at Pukekohe yesterday, shortened into $1.20, and finished second.  Probably a good example of not doing what the other 98% of punters do

 

I do find it incredible that a horse can be that hyped up (and with trainer/jockey combo well loved), to start at those odds first start - and all the punters follow them in. Of course they win often, but not for me. 

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22 minutes ago, mardigras said:

I do things a bit different to many. My approach is based around an assessment I do of a horse's ability. So in respect of a horse that was unlucky or suffered some issue during a race, I'm likely to underassess the performance - and if that was the only start the horse has had, I would be likely to underassess the horse's ability. So if it wins next up, I will have assessed it as less chance than it probably should have been. 

But over time, horses run a number of times, and I use the information from all of their starts to formulate that assessment of ability, so hopefully the unlucky runs are not having as detrimental effect over time. I use the ability as the primary basis for my assessment of chance.

So as a short answer, no, I don't look at stewards reports or track work. But that doesn't mean punters can't use whatever info they can get to give them an advantage. Especially information that many punters may not have (and it contributes to chance).

I think you and I know when we see a horse, and how it performs , if in our eyes, and assessment we see it has ability, we can give it a tick of confidence in the future. Class is permanent, and form can be temporary, as the old saying goes.

I think the trick is to be aware of all the horses in the race, and be able know their capabilities, or not, as the case maybe.

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15 hours ago, Globederby19 said:

Lol . Classic. Remember doing the same outside the TAB in Kilbirnie as a youngster. Fifty cent doubles on a yellow bit of paper. Priceless. 

I seem to remember if I was travelling home to Auckland and stopped to place a bet in Hamilton I had to post a winning yellow slip

back to Hamilton to collect.

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3 hours ago, brown fox said:

I seem to remember if I was travelling home to Auckland and stopped to place a bet in Hamilton I had to post a winning yellow slip

back to Hamilton to collect.

Hi Rees and Brownie.

When you get to the Harness Hall Of Fame in Auckland next, you will see examples of those yellow tickets, along with the long multiple double tickets, on course tickets, and also the machines that were used to punch out the on course tickets.

Cheers.

Robert.

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