I’d been trying to think of the right word to describe that period of time during the National Hunt season when the quality of racing on offer is sadly lacking. It falls twice. First after Boxing Day and before the Cheltenham Festival. Secondly after the Festival and prior to the Aintree Grand National meeting, which begins on Thursday.
Here is a link to that interview.
But we’re here now. At what is effectively the end of the jump season and we await the most punted horse race of any the world over. The Grand National is on Saturday. The bookies will make plenty of money (unless AP McCoy wins on Shutthefrontdoor) and some lucky punters will pick the right horse. The lucky horse.
For luck never comes into the equation more than in the Grand National. Perhaps a little less so than it did back in 1967 when 100/1 shot Foinavon avoided the chaos at one fence and found himself with a clear run to the line.
The book ‘Foinavon’ is a good read and I spoke on camera to the author David Owen about that memorable Grand National and asked him how many bets were paid out on Foinavon. Here is a link to that interview.
Since the 1970’s I have backed a few winners of the Grand National. But much more often than not I’ve made profit on one or two who finished in the first five. I backed them each way at double figure prices. My plan for the 2015 running of the Crabbies Grand National will be the same.
I confess it’s not a race I like to watch. I hate seeing horses fall badly. Over the many decades that I have watched the race, I’ve seen too much of that. The race is safer these days and I hope all the horses come home safe and sound on Saturday. For me, that will be the best result of all.
But the Aintree meeting is about much more than one race on one day. It begins on Thursday and, at the time of writing; I’m studying form for some of the very good races staged on that day. As ever, I am keeping an eye on the weather and the Aintree Racecourse social media feed. I want to see how much water they are putting on the course used on Thursday and Friday. And, of course, if they choose to water the Grand National course itself before Saturday. With largely dry weather forecast, I expect they will.
The Grand National is the race non punters have a punt in. For many, it is their one bet of the year. Ironically, it is the time friends and family over the world get in touch with me to ask what I fancy. Daft. They should be asking that question for races that are far more predictable. Horses racing well in the Grand National can fall through no fault of their own. They can be brought down by another faller. Or impeded by a horse that has already parted company with its jockey. That can happen at any time of the season, for sure. But it tends to happen more often in the National.
It’s great when you pick the winner of the Grand National. You feel superior. A know all. But you’re not. Chances are that you picked a good horse, with proven form over that distance, over the big Aintree fences and, above all else, your horse got lucky in running.
My tips for the Grand National?
- Try to find one that has been trained specifically with this race as the target.
- Try to find one proven over the distance and, ideally, over the obstacles at Aintree.
- Try to find one from a stable in form and a yard that has experience of training a winner of this race.
- And try to make sure the bookies are offering a double figure price.
That’s all you have to do. Easy, peasy, lemon, squeezy!
I shall be offering my selections in the Grand National to members of VG TIPS on Friday evening. And before that they will receive tips for racing in Liverpool on Thursday and Friday.
And then, of course, there’s the football…
What’s going on with the football? That’s what I was asked by a younger member the other day.
The same that always goes on in April and May.
Some footballers awake and smell the coffee. Others are mentally on the beach.
Cristian Benteke has, as I predicted when Aston Villa replaced Paul Lambert as their manager, decided that he does, after all, know where the goal is. Amazing, isn’t it?
Strikers who can strike opt not to under one manager, only to re-acquaint themselves with the so called ‘onion bag’ once the manager they didn’t like has been sacked.
The teams have something else in common. They are each in danger of being relegated out of the Premier League. Some player contracts are up in the summer. Perhaps their agents are struggling to find them a new club for August. Or, just maybe, those players have realised which side their bread is buttered and – a little late in the day – have decided to put a shift in. If not for the sake of their current club, then for the supporters or, more likely, for the sake of their own careers.
As a punter you get strange results at this time of the season. Players in teams that have nothing to play for are already packing their suitcases for their summer holidays. If they come up against opposition who need three points to steer clear of relegation, then the chances are you will get a result which, based on their league positions at least, is a surprise. Even a shock result.
My tip for football in April and May? Expect the unexpected.
No Punting Comment
In many ways I wish the world of punting stood still. I wish bookies and those who run racing didn’t move the goalposts on us. But they have. They continue to do so.
I am conscious of the fact that we as punters must adjust our betting patterns as a consequence. Believe me; it was easier to make a handsome annual profit only a handful of years ago than it is now. Make a profit each year I still do. But it’s a tougher challenge, for sure.
So it is that I must take a little time out to consider how best I can tweak my service to ensure members continue to make a good annual profit overall. And that I do!
In recent times past it was easy to spot the race meetings to avoid. They stood out. You could smell them a mile off, like horse manure.
Now there are too many such race meetings. Stinkers! Races put on for the bookies benevolent fund. We must learn to avoid them.
For years I have banged on about patience being the best friend a punter can have. Never more has that been the case than in 2015.
To that I now add moderation.
What is the biggest mistake a punter makes? That’s a question I have often been asked. The answer is this: they bet too often. They bet in too many races.
Followers of mine, those who have been with me for several years, wonder why I no longer offer selections at up to seven meetings a day. The answer is simple. There are now far more horses racing that will never win a race than there were even as recently as 2012.
Officially there are now far few thoroughbred racehorses in training than five years ago. Trainers are quitting the game. Owners are investing their considerable loose change in other sports. It’s sad, but the statistics do not lie. Racing now has fewer well bred racehorses.
So it is that we see more races containing anything between two and five horses. So it is that we see more meetings containing horses that are one up from the donkeys on the beach. So it is that we see yet more all weather racing. Dross attended by few spectators.
For every well attended Lingfield meeting on a Good Friday, there are hundreds of all weather meetings throughout the year that are utter rubbish. Race meetings staged by racecourses that don’t care if any spectators turn up. Don’t take my word for it. With the help of trainer Mark Johnston, I wrote about that dilemma here
Now you may not care if the quality of the racing is good. But you should. For low grade racing is a graveyard for punters. Horses that have never previously shown any form suddenly win a race. After which they revert to type and never again repeat their unexpected victory. For punters who rely on the form book, that’s a nightmare.
The days when I regularly delivered 6, 7, 10 and even 12 winners a day have long gone. Not because I’ve lost my touch (I’ll be sure to retire when I know for sure that has happened).
But because the opportunities for that quantity of profitable punting no longer exist. It’s a shame. I miss those days as much as my long term, loyal followers. But there’s little I can do about it.
All I can do is adjust my tipping and punting patterns to match the fewer number of races in which I think there is a bet worth having.
Over the years many members of VG TIPS have said to me: “Vernon, I’d rather you offered one bet a day, or one bet a week, if that’s all you consider is worth betting on, rather than you feeling obliged to send us selections each and every day.”
That’s both kind and sensible of them to say so. But I’ve always felt that, even though I’m only charging a token £10 fee for all the work I put in, I should be offering tips on at least five days of the week. And, over many years, I have done exactly that.
But there are many weeks now in which I – and many other punters – know there is nothing worth backing on anything up to five days of each week. How times have changed!
Racing concentrates so much on Saturday that what is on offer to us in the first part of each week is ‘trappy’ racing. It’s a trap door that is there for us punters to fall through. We must learn to avoid it.
Of course, be it the flat season or the National Hunt time of year, there are still many splendid festivals that attract us. Be it Aintree, Cheltenham, Newmarket, Ascot, Goodwood, Chester… there are top quality race meetings which I love to bet in and enjoy studying the form. Long may such high grade meetings continue.
It’s the other stuff I must learn to avoid. We all must.
I have decided to concentrate much more on finding myself and members of VG TIPS winners and profitable each way selections at the feature meetings.
Class 5 and 6 races (along with sellers and claiming races) bit the dust for me some time ago. While I like the challenge of trying to find a profitable punt in Class 4 and 3 races, the opportunities for a bet that represents value are few and far between these days.
Less can be more. So it is that existing and new members may receive fewer tips in the course of one twelve month period, but I promise to deliver quality instead of quantity.
I only wish the British Horseracing Authority would do the same.
Time for you to sign up to VG TIPS for just £10 a month.
April and May have long been very profitable months for me and I anticipate that remaining the case in 2015.
We have the early flat season meetings to enjoy, including the May meeting on the Roodee course at Chester.
And, of course, we have the culmination to the football season.
Enjoy the Grand National.
Plenty of reasons for you to sign up to VG TIPS here