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Wednesday 17 January 2024

Ruth Norman: Betting On Little Green Men

I’m not sure whether Ladbrokes have many bets placed on the existence of alien life on Earth but back in the 1970s the bets kept pouring in with over £300,000 wagered in a decade.


This was down the Unarius Group from Califiornia.


The spiritualist group was run by Ruth Norman who contacted Ron Pollard asking if he Ladbrokes would take bets on the arrival of alien life on Earth.


He said: ‘500/1’.


This would be for aliens crashing or landing, dead or alive, within a year of the bet being placed.


At the same time each and every year a cheque for £30,000 would arrive.


The Unarius Group was set up by Ernest Norman in 1954, based in El Cajon a city in San Diego County, California. The Universal Articulate Interdimensional Understanding of Science are dedicated to helping the evolution of the human race to be free from ‘mental frustrations to enjoy a peaceful life and achieve physic liberation.’


Their membership in unknown.


Mrs Ruth Norman continued the group following the passing of her husband in 1971.


The group proclaimed they had spoken to people from 52 planets. They believed they had found a peaceful solution to world problems and the advancement of medical advancement.


Ron Pollard said: ‘Mrs Norman never struck me as being nuts. We never met but we often spoke on the telephone and had many chats via radio hook-up. I thought she was a very nice lady…’


Norman said she was the reincarnation of Mona Lisa and she was in contact with eminent people who had passed including Winston Churchill, President Kennedy & Calvin Coolidge to name a few. In fact, they recorded the conversations and transcribed them into books which were sold.


The bets continued which saw liabilities of millions of pounds that alien life would be found on Earth.


A few years went past and the bets dwindled.


However, Pollard said to Mrs Norman that if their bet won he would have an alien present the cheque to her for £15 million pounds.


She accepted his promise.


Pollard continued: ‘I asked her when she come to Britain I would meet her at Heathrow and arrange for her to stay at one of our hotels.’


She replied: ‘Don’t be silly! When I arrive I shall be coming in on one of their spacecraft.’


Considering William Hill offered 1000/1 that someone wouldn’t set foot on the moon before 1970 the Uranius still may have their day.


Ruth Norman passed away in 1993, aged 92.


The Unarius Group is still in existence to this day.

Tuesday 5 December 2023

Betting Big Odds On

The shorter the price, the better chance of winning.


Statistically that is correct but what about value?


Phil Bull, the founder of Timeform, said that an odds-on shot could be value. He made his betting pay as a professional gambler in the late 1930s. By all accounts Bull was one of the most influential gamblers we have ever seen in the United Kingdom.


I think every gambler has bet odds on. It seems a good idea at the time. That’s betting odds against, meaning your stake is bigger than your potential win. Obviously you get your stake back. For example, you bet 4/6f. Let’s set the scene. You wander up to Honest John Turf Accountant at Great Yarmouth who loves to shout: ‘Money without work!’


You say: ‘£600 to win £400’.


When it wins, you walk away with £1,000.


A Cockney Geezer shouts: ‘A bag of sand!’


I remember years ago when my brother and I first started to bet. We specialised in the niche of two-year-old horse racing and compared to most of the population we were exceptional. There is no replacement for hard work and we put in the hours to know the form book inside out, had insight to the best unraced horses in training and were a couple of anoraks if you had ever met a pair.


We went for a day’s racing at Great Yarmouth.


Always a lucky track.


It was back in 1989. We were just nineteen years old. I say we, because my brother and I are twins.


It was 19th July.


The first race on the card: 2:15 Yarmouth – EBF Cotman Madan Fillies Stakes over 7f. Going: Firm.


We had our eyes on the two-year-old race.


That was the day we’d dip our toe into backing odds on.


Henry Cecil (pre knighthood) trained a filly in the old maroon and white silks of Sheik Mohammed, called Wajna. Not only was she priced 1/2f but it was her debut. Never mind, we had Steve Cauthen in the saddle.


We’d heard he had a stopwatch inside his brain.


‘It bloody needed to be decent at 1/2f.’


Tony went up to some random bookie and bet £100 to win £50. We felt very confident before placing the bet but as soon after we questioned whether it was a good idea at all. In fact, if we could have sidled up to the bookie and asked politely for our money back we would have done!


It was too late.


At that time, £100 was a lot of money to us. Thinking all these years on, I can safely say I would never have placed that bet now. Was it value at those prohibitive odds? You can make your own mind up.


I know what you are saying: ‘It depends on whether the horse won or lost.’


Too right.


We had seven horses in opposition. Half of the field were priced at odds of 25/1 or bigger. The second favourite priced 9/2 was another debutante called Varnish, trained by Lord Huntingdon, in the ownership of The Queen. Ben Hanbury had the third favourite named Lady Wishing Well (the name itself made me think I was tempting fate) priced 7/1. While Sir Michael Stoute had the last of the half fancied horses priced 10/1.


It was minutes before the off.


I felt slightly ill. Thoughts kept flickering through my mind from our horse winning impressively to getting stuck in the stalls. Back in the day, TV adverts promoted Hamlet cigars, where someone in a moment of peril or impending disaster would find comforted enjoying a pleasant smoke. I had visions of either Steve Cauthen or Wajna emerging from the starting stalls in a cloud of smoke.


Cigar smoke.


‘Happiness is a cigar called Hamlet. The mild cigar...’


Before we knew it, the race had started in earnest and Wajna was leading. Every moment a horse you backed is leading is pure pleasure. The sun is shining, the seagulls are calling your name, and the ice cream man is even offering an extra flake in your 99. Visions of Sir Winston Churchill with his victory v.


Honest John is shouting: ‘Money without work!’


However, that winning feeling was threatened at the two-furlong pole as Varnish, under an inspired ride from Tony Ives, threw down a challenge. I’m not sure if my brother looked at me first or me him but we both had a panicked look and pale complexion. This was in the days before the big screens and without binoculars 400m looked a long way in the distance. I’m not sure who the commentator was that day but I suspects they had bet on Varnish as they gave the impression it was very close.


Coming into the final furlong we could see Wajna held a length advantage but ridden quite vigorously by Cauthen. We were shouting like a couple of girls. The crowd was screaming. And I’m pretty sure I saw Henry Cecil shout in triumph as Wajna crossed the line to win by a length.


To be honest, I was just pleased the race was over.


If the race had been one mile six furlongs I think one of us would have been calling for the St John’s Ambulance or a dose of Ketamine (horse tranquilliser, or, at least, a couple of mild cigars).


Tony went to the bookmaker and collected £150.


We looked at each other and said: ‘Never again.’


Talk about ‘buying money’.


As it turned out Wajna (just like Phil Bull would have said...) was a value bet!


Thank the Lord that day went to plan.


Monday 6 November 2023

A look at Opulence Thoroughbreds

You may be wondering what does this Opulence relate to. Well, it is about a new horse racing syndicate called Opulence Thoroughbreds. There are many horse racing syndicates (in fact several hundred) who give horse racing fans an opportunity to have a share in a race horse. Syndicates have grown in popularity in recent years because it is a less expensive (dare I say cheap) way of ‘owning’ a horse.


Opulence Thoroughbreds started in 2020 and have a variety of syndicated horses at differing price points.


With my niche being two-year-old horse racing, I’ve take a particular interest in their juveniles over the last few seasons.


Opulence Thoroughbreds is a more branded outfit with a high level of media coverage advised by Cornelius Lysaght. This British journalist and broadcaster has a wealth of experience and was the BBC’s horse racing correspondent from 2001 – 2020.


Other ambassadors for Opulence include, Luisa Zissman. She is an English retail entrepreneur. Also, the runner-up on the 9th series of The Apprentice. She has a great passion for horse racing.


What do you get from your purchase?


  • Visiting your horse at the stables

  • The thrill of race day experience

  • Share of prize winning and sales proceeds


As you may imagine, Opulent Thoroughbred have a select number of high-profile trainers including: Andrew Balding, William Haggas, Roger Varian, Stuart Williams, Ed Walker, Paul & Oliver Cole, Charlie Fellowes, Michael Bell, George Scott, Jack Channon, Dr Richard Newland, Clive Cox, Harry Fry, Evan Williams & George Boughey.


All syndicates are kept small from 10 -20 people. Also, tailored to your interest and affordability.


Throughout the year there will be opportunities to visit your trainer’s yard and enjoy the spectacle of seeing your horse run on the gallops. It’s brilliant insight to appreciate the preparation before race day.


The thrill of going to the races. Your owner’s badge allows you and your guest full access to the parade ring and winners enclosure. You can also get complimentary food and drinks in the lounge.


Taking a look at the horses in training for the 2023 season:


Being interested in the two-year-old horse racing niche, I see Opulent Thoroughbreds had 20 juveniles in training this season


They had 7 three-year-olds.


They had 6 older horses aged from four to six years old.


Three National Hunt horses (aged five and six)


And two broodmares.


Opulent Thoroughbred are predominantly interested in two-year-old horse racing, which is the most exciting age group and offers the chance of training a high-class talent that races at pattern class.


If you are interested in being part of a forward-thinking horse racing syndicate then you will have to go a long way to better Opulent Thoroughbreds.


Tuesday 17 October 2023

Mildmay Novices' Chase


The Mildmay Novices' Chase is a Grade 1 novices' steeplechase run over 3 miles and 210 yards on the Mildmay Course at Aintree in early April. As the title indicates, the race is restricted to horses, aged five years and upwards, who, at the start of the current season, have yet to win a race over regulation fences. Both the race and the course on which it is run are named after Anthony Anthony Bingham Mildmay, second Lord Mildmay of Flete, a popular amateur jockey, who rode in – and came agonisingly close to winning – the Grand National either side of the Second World War.


The Mildmay Novices' Chase was inaugurated in 1981 and boasts an impressive roll of honour, which includes future Cheltenham Gold Cup winners Bregawn, Burrough Hill Lad and Native River and future Grand National winners Rhyme 'N' Reason and Royal Athlete. The race was awarded Grade 2 status following the revision of the National Hunt Pattern in 1989 and upgraded to Grade 1 status in 2014.


The Mildmay Novices' Chase often features horses that previously contested the three-mile novice steeplechasing 'championship' at the Cheltenham Festival, the Brown Advisory Novices' Chase. The last horse to complete the double was Might Bite in 2017. Nicky Henderson, trainer of Might Bite, also saddled Sparkling Flame (1991), Irish Hussar (2003), Burton Port (2010), Terrefort (2018) and Chantry House (2021) for a total of six winners and is the most successful handler in the history of the Mildmay Novices' Chase.


The 2023 renewal of the Mildmay Novices' Chase is scheduled for 2.50pm on Friday, April 15 – the second day of the Grand National Festival, a.k.a. Ladies' Day – and, at this still early stage, it is hard to look far beyond the likes of The Nice Guy and Minella Cocooner, who feature prominently in the ante-post betting for the Brown Advisory Novices' Chase.