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Friday 18 December 2020

How to Pick an Outsider

‘A difference of opinion is what makes horse racing and missionaries’, or so said American entertainer Will Rogers. He was right insofar as bookmakers’ odds are, after all, just an opinion of the likely outcome of a horse race. Bookmakers have an effective ‘jungle telegraph’ and are likely to be at least as well informed as the average punter but, even so, outsiders do win, and win fairly often.

In the absence of information that is not in the public domain, a.k.a. ‘inside’ information, from a jockey, owner or trainer, picking an outsider with a winning chance typically involves thinking ‘outside the box’ a little. Horses with recent winning, or placed, form, especially those that are attempting little or nothing more than they have achieved in the past, in terms of class, course, distance and going, are always likely to be at the forefront of the betting market for an upcoming race.

The other end of the market, where likely outsiders are to be found, is typically dominated by horses that have disappointed, for whatever reason, on recent starts. The trick, therefore, is to find a horse that has previously shown itself capable of winning the race under consideration and is undergoing a favourable change of circumstances. For example, a horse with winning form on good going may struggle to reproduce that form on soft, or heavy, going during the winter, but does not become devoid of ability, and may be capable of winning again under its preferred conditions.

Similar comments apply to the characteristics of the course, or courses, on which a horse has been running recently, the class in, and the distance over, which it has been competing and so on. In simple terms, look for a horse that is trying something ‘different’ from its recent races, which is likely to show it in a more favourable light. This could, say, extend to young horse making its handicap debut after showing signs of promise in ‘weight-for-age’ races. In this scenario, and others, speed ratings, such as those published under the ‘Topspeed’ banner in the Racing Post, can often provide insight into the value of previous form before it becomes obvious to the bookmakers.

Tuesday 10 November 2020

Mon Mome

Mon Mome, the 100/1 winner of the 2009 Grand National, was the latest of small, select band of horses – in fact, just five since 1839 – to win the celebrated steeplechase at treble-figure odds. However, bearing in mind that, a little over three months earlier, Venetia Williams’ nine-year-old had been sent off 9/2 favourite for the Welsh National at Chepstow, it can be argued that the bookmakers, for once, erred on the side of generosity by offering such long odds.

Mon Mome had completed the National Course once before, when finishing a distant tenth in 2008 but, in fairness, appeared to have little chance of reversing the form with the winner, Comply Or Die, who reopposed on just 8lb worse terms for 58 lengths. His most recent form, a similarly distant last of eight finishers in the Midlands Grand National at Uttoxeter, offered little cause for encouragement and, with exactly 11 stone to carry, he looked to have plenty of weight.

Nevertheless, those who kept faith in the Passing Sale gelding were in for a pleasant, and lucrative, surprise. Patiently ridden by Liam Treadwell, Mon Mome made steady headway from the rear of the field towards the end of the first circuit and crossing the Melling Road for the final time was on the heels of the leaders. Second favourite My Will led over the second-last fence, but was headed by Comply Or Die on the run to the final obstacle. Mon Mome jumped the last upsides the defending champion and soon asserted, stretching clear on the run-in to win by 12 lengths.

Wednesday 14 October 2020

Billesdon Brook

The winner of seven of her twenty starts, including two at Group One level, and with an official handicap rating of 116, Billesdon Brook is not a horse that would typically fall into the ‘outsider’ category. However, Richard Hannon’s Champs Elysees mare will always be best remembered for her shock victory in the 1,000 Guineas at Newmarket in 2018, for which she started rank outsider of the fifteen-strong field at 66/1, making her the longest-priced winner in the history of the fillies’ Classic.

After a successful juvenile season, in which she won three times, including the Group Three Prestige Stakes, over 7 furlongs, at Goodwood, Billesdon Brook made her three-year-old debut in the Group Three Nell Gwyn Stakes, also over 7 furlongs, at Newmarket. Sent off at 9/1, she could find no extra in the final furlong and eventually finished fourth, beaten 5½ lengths, behind comfortable winner Soliloquy, trained by Charlie Appleby.

Soliloquy reopposed, on identical terms, in the 1,000 Guineas, but Billesdon Brook clearly improved out of all recognition at Newmarket – in fact, to the tune of 19lb, according to Timeform – and won with authority, in a decent time. She travelled well throughout, made rapid headway from the rear of the field with three furlongs to run and, after striking the front inside the final quarter of a mile, stayed on well to beat Laurens by 1¾ lengths, with favourite Happily a further half a length further back in third. According to winning jockey, Sean Levey, Billesdon Brook, who was racing over a mile for just the second time in her career, ‘sailed all the way to the line’.

Saturday 19 September 2020


In the history of the Grand National, first run, officially, in 1839, five winners have been returned at a starting price of 100/1. However, the most famous of that celebrated quintet is undoubtedly Foinavon, the winner of the 1967 renewal under truly extraordinary circumstances. Having been turned down by three other jockeys, unheralded no-hoper Foinavon eventually became the mount of John Buckingham, but his trainer, John Kempton – who was still combining riding with training at the time – headed not to Aintree, but to Worcester, where he rode the winner of the opening race.

In the National, though, a dramatic series of events began when a loose horse, the aptly-named Popham Down, ran down the twenty-third fence – ironically, the smallest fence on the course at just 4’ 6” – and initiated what commentator Michael O’Hehir called ‘a right pile-up’. Popham Down cannoned into his nearest rival, Rutherfords, causing him to unseat his jockey and, in the ensuing mêlée, all bar one of the horses still standing fell, unseated rider or were otherwise brought to a standstill.

The notable exception, of course, was Foinavon, who was steered wide on the course and jumped into a clear lead. Michael O’Hehir was not exaggerating when he said, ‘And now, with all this mayhem, Foinavon has gone off on his own! He’s about fifty, a hundred yards in front of everything else’. Indeed, John Buckingham later admitted that he looked around, disbelieving, at the 30-length lead Foinavon held over his nearest pursuer when he reached the twenty-fourth fence, the Canal Turn.

Many of the jockeys who came to grief at the twenty-third fence – which, since 1984, has officially been known as ‘Foinavon’ – remounted and set off in vain pursuit. However, Foinavon had stolen a march on his rivals and, although favourite Honey End, ridden by Josh Gifford, made significant headway over the final half a dozen fences, he was still 15 lengths behind at the winning post.

Wednesday 19 August 2020

How to Get an Accumulator Odds Boost

While it’s important to shop around for the best betting odds to ensure you get the value, it’s also great if you can find a bookmaker where you can enjoy an odds boost. Odds boosts can come in many form and are also known as price boosts, with a particular betting selection going bigger in price and allowing customers to enjoy a bigger return.

The bookmakers regularly provide odds boosts when it comes to the big sporting events. They want to give punters a decent chance of winning and that includes accumulator bets which are trickier to profit from due to the fact that you need a certain number of selections to win in order to claim a return.

Some bookmakers such as bet365 have acca boosts available whenever a customer puts together an accumulator with a certain number of selections. The acca generally has to be particular football teams rather than selections from betting markets such as Both Teams to Score and Over/Under 2.5 Goals.

The acca boost that you can get on your football accumulator primarily depends on the number of selections that you make. So you might get a small bonus for a winning treble on your footy acca, although a winning six-fold can expect to yield a large bonus.

The great thing about an accumulator betting boost is that not only can you land the expected winnings from this wager, you can also earn a little bit extra on top. It’s a great incentive to bet an acca and these are fun types of bets to enjoy in the first place.

You might also find there is acca insurance available with a particular bookmaker. This means you can get money back on an acca if it comes narrowly close to winning, with most bookies saying that one leg letting you down will lead to a refund.

Sometimes, there are odds boosts available as single bets and many bookies showcase these on the homepage. You might find yourself betting with a bookmaker such as William Hill and finding on the bet slip that they’re willing to bump up the price when it comes to your selection.

Take your accumulator betting to the next level by taking advantage of acca boosts. You don’t need to overstretch yourself when it comes to this sort of betting and we always recommend a certain number of selections along the way.

Sunday 12 July 2020

Biggest priced winners of 2017

An intriguing list of the biggest outsider wins from 2017, which includes both Betfair and Industry / Bookmaker SP (starting price) odds. Oh to have popped £100 on Kilahara Castle!!

Wednesday 24 June 2020

Biggest Grand National Underdog Wins (100-1 winners)

We all dream of getting that big outsider win, but truly huge odds winners can be few and far between. Below is a list of the four 100-1 winners in Grand National history. Considering the first Grand National ever held was in 1839, it's clear that there is a needle in a haystack aspect to picking 100-1 shots in such a competitive race..

  • Tipperary Tim – 100/1. (1928)
  • Gregalach – 100/1. (1929)
  • Caughoo – 100/1. (1947)
  • Foinavon – 100/1. (1967)
  • Mon Mome – 100/1 (2009)

  • The 1927 and 1928 Grand Nationals were quite the combo, price-wise and of course mention has to go to Liam Treadwell, whose sad passing will in no way diminish his amazing achievement of riding rank outsider Mom Mome to victory in the 2009 Grand National.

    Sadly the 2020 Grand National was cancellation due to the ever depressing coronavirus, but if you're one for the long odds selections, I'm sure there will be one or two outsiders worth having a punt on in 2021. Just be aware that the more ambitious the selection, the longer you might be waiting the result you're looking for!

    Thursday 21 May 2020


    Statistical analysis of British horse racing results reveals that roughly one-third of races, of any denomination, are won by the market leader, or favourite, while roughly two-thirds are won by one of the first three in the betting market. However, American humorist Will Rogers’ assertion that, ‘A difference of opinion is what makes horse racing and missionaries’, is certainly as true today – at least with regard to the ‘Sport of Kings’ – as it always was. Bookmakers’ odds reflect subjective opinions – firstly, of the bookmaker and, secondly, of the betting public – on horses’ chances of winning races.

    On the whole, the betting public is pretty shrewd when it comes to assessing the relative chances of horses, so it should come as no surprise that, every year, strike rate is inversely proportional to starting price. Of course, outsiders can and do win, often at generous odds. However, backing an outsider, by definition, involves taking an equally subjective, but contrary, view and running against the ‘herd’, which many punters are loath to do. Nevertheless, while punters looking beyond the obvious, popular selections must accept that they will be wrong more often not, the more accurate they become in assessing races the more often they will find to bet for the important, but elusive, commodity known as ‘value’ and increase their chances of making money in the long term.

    Notwithstanding newcomers from powerful stables and the like, the betting market for any horse race is likely to be dominated by runners that have displayed recent proven, progressive or promising form, that act, or are likely to act, over the course and distance on the prevailing going and – in terms of class, value and weight – are attempting little, or nothing, more than they have achieved in the past. By contrast, outsiders invariably have question marks against them, for one reason or another, so require more educated guesswork, perhaps even a ‘leap of faith’, on the part of the punter.

    That said, a change of circumstances, in terms of course, distance, going, headgear or even trainer form, can often bring about a revival in the form of horses that have proved themselves capable of winning in the past. Punters must, of course, look at the ‘bigger picture’, perhaps stretching back months, or even years but, in so doing, may uncover valuable betting opportunities.

    Thursday 16 April 2020

    Horse Humour

    A pony went to the doctor complaining about having a sore throat. The doctor said: “It’s OK, you’re just a little horse.”

    A racehorse owner takes his horse to the vet. “Will I be able to race this horse again?,” he asks
    The vet replies: “Of course you will, and you’ll probably win!”

    Why should you never be rude to a jump jockey? In case he takes offence.

    A talking horse walks into a bar and approaches the manager. “Excuse me, good sir,” the horse says, “are you hiring?”
    The manager looks the horse up and down and says, “Sorry, pal. Why don’t you try the circus?”

    A Desperado rides into town and downs a few drinks at the saloon. When he steps outside again, he finds his horse has been stolen. The Desperado swears, steps back into the bar, and fires a round into the piano. The room goes dead silent. “I’m gonna have one more beer,” the Desperado bellows to the terrified crowd, “and if my horse ain’t back where I left him when I’m done, I’ll do here what I had to do in Houston.”
    The locals murmur uneasily as the Desperado sips his drink. Lucky for them all, when he steps outside again his horse has been returned. As the Desperado saddles up, a local can’t help but ask, “Sir, what exactly was it you had to do in Houston?”
    The Desperado narrows his eyes and hisses at the man, “I had to walk home.”

    George said to Fred, 'I put $20 on a horse last week and he came in at twenty five to one.', 'Wow! you must be loaded', said Fred. 'Not really' said George, 'the rest of the field came in at twelve thirty.'

    A wealthy racehorse owner gets very attached to his champion horse. It has a very successful racing career and is then retired to stud duties, where it is again very successful. Earning a fortune in stud duties. Sadly one day the champion dies and the owner decides to give it a proper burial. He approaches the local Anglican minister who tells him that he is only interested in saving human souls. He then approaches the Catholic priest who tells him the same thing. As a last resort he asks a Rabbi who gives him the same sermon. As he is about to leave he says that he was going to donate $100,000 to the Synagogue. Hold on, says the Rabbi, you never told me it was a Jewish horse.

    Tuesday 17 March 2020

    Grand National Outsiders Over The Years

    The Grand National was first run, as the Grand Liverpool Steeplechase, in 1839 and has produced five winners at 100/1, the most famous of which must be Foinavon. In 1967, at the twenty-third fence, which now bears his name, Foinavon was the only horse to avoid a mêlée caused by the riderless Popham Down, which brought everything else in the race to a standstill. Gifted a lead of 30 lengths or so, Foinavon and jockey John Buckingham made the best of their way home and, although hotly pursued by the favourite, Honey End, who had been remounted, they crossed the line 15 lengths ahead for an unlikely success.

    Of course, 42 years later, Mon Mome emulated Foinavon by winning the 2009 Grand National at 100/1 and did so in rather more orthodox circumstances. In fact, Mon Mome had finished tenth in the National, albeit beaten 58 lengths, the previous year and, earlier in the 2008/09 season, had started favourite for the Welsh National at Chepstow. Nevertheless, after a series of indifferent efforts, he was considered to have little or no chance, but returned to form with a vengeance, sweeping clear on the run-in to beat the 2008 winner, Comply Or Die by 12 lengths. Of course, his win made trainer Venetia Williams just the second woman, after Jenny Pitman, to saddle a National winner.

    Speaking of which, four years later, in 2013, along came another horse with little or no chance, according to the layers, Auroras Encore, to carve his name into Grand National history at 66/1. Coincidentally, trained by another woman, Sue Smith, Auroras Encore had no previous experience of the National fences, but had shown himself well suited by a test of stamina when just touched off in the Scottish Grand National, over 4 miles, at Ayr the previous season. However, he had failed to trouble the judge in seven subsequent starts, including three non-completions, so despite being 6lb lower in the weights than at Ayr, he lined up at Aintree as a largely unconsidered ‘rag’. However, he gave his supporters few anxious moments and, having taken up the running at the final fence, stayed on well to win by 9 lengths.

    So as we see illustrated here, depending on your perspective, an outsider winning the Grand National can be viewed to be anything from panning for gold and a real freak event, to something more akin to a golden opportunity. It could certainly be something you keep in mind as you decide who to bet on in Grand National 2020 and are able to spot the diamond in the rough from the many 'also rans'. This can be especially fruitful on the exchanges where outsider odds reach mind boggling proportions. Some however, will consider the likelihood to be a little too few and far between, instead prefering to opt for a favourite or at least a proven selection. It's 'horses for courses'  and there's always an aspect of luck to an event with so many variables. Good luck to you whatever your individual approach may be!

    Friday 24 January 2020

    You Can’t Win If You Don’t Enter: Cheltenham Gold Cup Outsiders

    The Cheltenham Gold Cup was first run, as a steeplechase, in 1924 and, with the exception of five cancellations – two during World War II and three more for frost, flooding and foot-and-mouth disease – has been run every year since. However, in the long, illustrious history of the most prestigious steeplechase in Britain the winner has been returned at odds of 33/1, or longer, just three times.

    The first ‘shock’ winner of the ‘Blue Riband’ event was Gay Donald, trained by Jim Ford and ridden by Tony Grantham, at 33/1 in 1955. Gay Donald cost £225 as a unbroken four-year-old and had not previous shown himself to be a top-class steeplechaser but, on difficult ground, he soon poached a long lead, which he never surrendered, despite blundering his way through the final two fences.

    Also sent off at ‘double carpet’ was the 1970 winner, L’Escargot, although to his credit he also won the Cheltenham Gold Cup again in 1971, when sent off 7/2 joint-favourite. On the first occasion, though, despite showing decent form beforehand, he started an unconsidered outsider. His cause was helped, in no small part, by the fall of hot favourite Kinloe Brae at the third-last fence, but he stayed on stoutly up the hill to beat French Tan by 1½ lengths.

    Next up, in the chronicle of Cheltenham Gold Cup outsiders, is the ‘daddy of them all’, Norton’s Coin who, at 100/1, was the longest-priced winner in the history of the race. Unfashionably bred, and one of just three horses trained by Carmarthen permit-holder Sirrell Griffths, Norton’s Coin was originally intended to run in the Cathcart Challenge Cup, but by the time Griffiths realised he wasn’t qualified entries for the Mildmay of Flete, his second choice, had already closed. Despite an early mistake, Norton’s Coin was always travelling well under Graham McCourt and led on the run-in to beat Toby Tobias and odds-on-favourite Desert Orchid by three-quarters of a length and four lengths, smashing the course record in the process.