Tom O’Brien


Day I Jan 1st.

This journal follows me for the next 365 days, giving horse-racing selections daily. The twist is that I shall be looking for losers rather than winners. In other words I will be laying them. To make it feasible I shall only be selecting 1st or 2nd forecast favourites, at odds of 4/1 or less. I shall be using one simple rule, which I am calling my GOLDEN RULE. This rule will be known only to myself for the duration of the experiment, and if I show a profit it will then be revealed to the world!
I am commencing with a bank of £40 and will lay to £2 units initially. As the bank increases, I will increase the units to a maximum of £20. That’s it folks! Wish me luck.

Resplendant Alpha 1.50 Wol. lost + 2 £42


Day 2 Jan 2nd

c/f £42
Talkin Sence 1.50 Ayr lost +2 £44
Lastking of scotland 5.20 Kem. lost +2 £46

A new year and a new TV racing scene. Some new faces too, including the almost ‘royal’ Claire Balding. She has got to be better than the likes of McCrirrick and Derek Thompson, to my my the most obnoxious presenters in racing. As the song says, ‘Thank God and Greyhound they’re gone’.

Words of wisdom from Ernest Hemingway, the greatest writer of the 20th century; ‘I never back any animal that can talk – except myself’.

The first horse I ever backed was Kilmore in the Grand National of 1962. It had been bred and trained nearby and had then been sold to be trained by Fred Winter, and everybody in the neighbourhood seemed to know it was going to win the National. When it romped in at 28/1 the returns from my shilling each way seemed like untold riches to a 12yr old boy. That was the start of the longest losing run in history; at 50 years it shows no sign of ending!

The king of the tipsters (ha ha ha ha), Pricewise, has just named Prince De Beauchene as his first Grand National choice. Guaranteed to be half the price it should be when all the lemmings who follow him have dived in! With a wonderful 11% strike rate he is another tipster who is past his sell-by date!


Day 3 Jan 3rd

c/f £46

Kathy Spirit 1.50 Ling lost +2 £48
Bussa 3.50 Ling won -2 £46
Lord Paget 4.35 Wolv. lost +2 £48

To lay these horses you need access to a Betfair account and to the Racing Post website. All the horses put up will be either 1st or 2nd forecast favourites on the RP website. They shouldn’t be laid at bigger than 4/1.

Can Flemenstar win the Gold Cup? My first impression watching the race was no because it looked like he didn’t stay. Now, having watched it again – and again! – I have changed my mind. It didn’t not stay, it just didn’t stay fast enough, and I think it was the boggy ground that slowed it down rather than anything else. He was cantering over the field jumping the last, and even halfway up the run-in, and I believe that on better ground it would have quickened away from the lot of them. We shall see, but 14/1 is a hell of a big price.

So Jim Davidson has been arrested. It should have happened years ago; he was a terrible comedian! Seriously though, what is it with crap comedians like Davidson, Bernard Manning, Freddie Starr etc, that makes them so mysogonistic? And their modern counterparts – Frankie Boyle, Jimmy Carr, Russell Brand et al – do they all hate their mothers – or is it something more sinister?

When I was growing up – we lived near Tramore – and my mother took me shopping on a Saturday, I was fascinated by one shop in the town more than any other. It had the name TURF ACCOUNTANT over the doorway and it always puzzled me that all the people going in there – it was mostly men – never brought anything out. I expected them to be coming out with sacks of turf on their shoulders, but it never happened. Such innocence had long since gone when I departed for London shortly after my eighteenth birthday!



Day 4 Jan 4th

        c/f £48
  De rigueur 1.30 Wol w @ 1/1 -2 £46
  Miss Bunter 2.30 Wol w @ 6/4 -3 £43
  Sandy Lane 2.30 Wol lost +2 £45
  Majuro 4.00 Wol lost +2 £47
  Isla Pearl Fisher 3.10 Mus lost +2 £49
  Here are my 3 against the field in the Welsh National tomorrow;
  Master Overseer
  Giles Cross
  I probably won’t back anything in the race, but I don’t think I will be   laying anything either. The fav is very short, but it is not laying material   in my book. Moonbeg Dude is layable but is not short enough for my purposes.   Perhaps it might be viable in running. We shall see.
  Well done to Kevin Prince Boatang and the entire AC Milan team for walking   off the pitch after being racially abused by some of the crowd. It should   happen here, preferrably in a Premier League game, then some of the   apologists for racism, and who merely pay lip service to the anti racism   campaign, might open their eyes and do something about this dispicable   behaviour.

Day 5 Jan 5th

c/f £49
  1.35 C Swynmor lost +2 £51
  2.10 C Shoegazer lost +2 £53
  2.35 L Whaileyy lost +2 £55
  3.45 L Flavius Victor lost +2 £57
  12.05 N Madam Lilibet won @ 1/1 -2 £55
  12.45 S Une Artist won @ 2/1 -4 £51
  2.55 S Melodic Rendesvous won @ 3/1 -6 £45
  2.05 W Gevrey Chambertin won @ 1/1 -2 £43
  Lots of qualifiers today!
  Turned out to be a poor day for lays. 50% strike rate, usually it is around   80%. Historically it has been that, checking for over 5 years. Ah well,   better days ahead.

Day 6 Jan 6th

c/f £43
  Vulcanite 1.25 Plum lost + 2 £45
  Aureate 2.25 Plum lost + 2 £47
  Join The Navy 3.30 Plum. lost + 2 £49
  That’s more like it.
  When I started I thought this was going to be mostly about racing, but the   more I ponder it the less likely I think this will be. I think it is going to   be about anything I feel like writing about. I mean, writing about racing   exclusively would get very boring eventually – if not for me then for some of   those who may chance to read this. Of course it will follow my efforts to   make money out of racing by backing horses to lose, something I have never   managed to do in fifty years of backing horses to win. A fifty year losing   streak…hands up anybody who can beat that!
  But it will follow other paths too.
  I am a literary man; by that I mean I read a lot and write a little. I love   reading great writers; Ernest Hemingway – Papa – is one of my favourites. He   cut his own life short at the age of sixty one, when one morning he pointed a   loaded shotgun at his head and blew his own brains out. The Hemingways, it   has to be said, have form when it comes to suicides. To date there have been   five; Ernest; his own father Clarence; his sister Ursula; his brother   Leicester; and his granddaughter Margaux. And the jury is out on Ernest’s   son,Gregory, who died in strange circumstances in 2001. By that time Gregory   was living as a transsexual called Gloria. As a betting man, it is tempting   to calculate the odds of there being an official sixth victim in the   foreseeable future.
  My ‘little writing’ consists of a number of low-selling novels (very low) and   about twenty stage plays, of which roughly 50% have managed to get low-key   productions. Some performances were so low-key that the cast outnumbered the   audience! However, my latest offering – KATHY KIRBY- ICON – may be about to   change all that. Watch this space!
  excerpt from Lorian Hemingway’s memoir on her grandfather Ernest;
  I had visited my grandfather’s grave in Ketchum the summer I had caught the   marlin, arriving at the small hillside cemetery on a scalding July day, a   half-finished fifth of vodka in one hand, a filter-tip cigar in the other.   I’d made my way to the simple marble slab marked by a white cross, and stood   swaying over the marker for a long time, expecting epiphany, resolution, a   crashing, blinding flash of insight…. I wanted to say something of value to   the old man, perhaps that I had met a dare he had set forth by example, but   nothing came. The neck of the bottle grew hot in my hand. I tipped it to my   mouth, taking a long swig, then poured the rest, a stream of booze, clear as   Caribbean waters, at the head of the marker. “Here,” I said,   “have this,” and walked away.

Day 7 Jan 7th

        c/f £49
  Wildomar 3.30 Kemp lost + 2 £51
  Cantlow 2.40 Taun won @ 1/2 -1 £50
  Spark of Genius 2.20 Wol. won @ 1/1 – 2 £48
  Has anybody seen Frankie Dettori on CBB? I confess I haven’t – it’s not my   cup of tea – but knowing Frankie he has probably talked them all into   submission by now. Frankie probably talk in his sleep – all night!
  He was never going to disappear into the wilderness for six months, was he?   He needs that buzz, the adrenalin, his daily fix of adulation and public   adoration. That’s his drug – the thing he can’t do without – not the cocaine   or whatever it was he was caught with. When his stint on CBB is finished,   expect an appearance in a musical or two in the West End. Something   outrageous anyway!
  So far there have been 24 selections and 15 have lost. Historically 19 should   have lost – approx 80% – so you can say my system is performing a bit below   par at present. We are still ahead though and I expect we will get back on   track in the next week or so.
  Am reading Edna O’Brien’s memoirs, Country Girl, at present. Edna was the   wild child of Ireland of the 1950’s and scandalised the country by running   off with a married man. They fled to the Isle of Man, pursued by her father,   brother, and a local priest in a helicopter, where there were all sorts of   ructions, including a fist fight. She mixed with all the literary giants of   Dublin of that period, including Patrick Kavanagh, John Ryan, Flann O’Brien (no   relation) and then moved to London and found instant fame with the   publication of her first book ‘The Country Girls. It was the beginning of a   literary career that has spanned over fifty years and is still going strong.








Day 8 Jan 8th


c/f £58
    Uimhir a Seact 1.20 Chep won @ 6/4 – 3 £55
    Laflammedeglorie 1.55Chep lost +2 £57
    To Live 3.15 Leic lost +2 £59
    Mr Knightley 2.20 Wolv lost + 2 £61
    I see Betfred were going 12/1 Flemenstar for the Gold Cup this morning –     non runner no bet. It didn’t last long – it is now 9/1!
    Ziggy Stardust is back! Well, Bowie is back with a new record. Be nice if     he slaps on a bit of the old warpaint again, but I expect his Glamrock days     are behind him now. You never know though; He is only 66, and Jagger is     still pouting about at 71.
    I was involved briefly in the music business myself back in the 1960’s in     Ireland; bass player in a band called the Royal Dukes. We wanted to call     ourselves the Yound Devils but the parish priest put the kybosh on that     name. We were a group of seven, from two neighbouring towns who hated each     other. Local football matches were wars of attrition, so it was quite a     surprise to everyone when we formed our band. I wasn’t much of a bass     player so it was just as well the others were competent musicians. Well,     all of them except our trombone player, who couldn’t play a note. He was     our lead singer but he spent much of the time twiddling his thumbs when he     wasn’t singing so we bought him a trombone. His efforts sound like a bull     with a wellington down its throat! In the end we had him mime playing it.     We had an excellent trumpet and saxophone player,and he soon became an     expert at miming. I don’t think anybody ever noticed the deception.


Day 9 Jan 9th


c/f £61
    Onewayoranother 12.30 Ling. won 6/4 – 3 £58


Day 10 Jan 10th


c/f £58
    Pentiffic 2.15 C lost + 2 £60
    Highrate 3.15 C lost + 2 £62
    Neige Nantan 3.05 C lost + 2 £62
    Llamadas 5.45 K lost +2 £64
    So McCrirrick is sueing C4 for 3 million for agism and loss of earnings!     What an over-inflated ego that man has!
    My latest project is writing a play about the Pecker Dunne. Never heard of     him? Pecker, who died last year, was one of last of the travelling     musicians, that band of singers and traditional instrument players who     travelled the length and breadth of Ireland busking for a living. Peckers     people were Travellers, tinkers as they were known in Ireland, and were     marginalised by Irish society just as the Romanies were here in England.     Pecker was a fine musician, playing the banjo and fiddle, and a singer and     songwriter who wrote such great songs as Sullivan John, Wexford Town and     Last of the Travellin People, among others. He performed all over the     world, sang with many top groups including The Dubliners, and appeared on     TV on numerous occasions. He also appeared in several films, including in     Trojan Eddie with Richard Harris.
    I remember seeing him busking at all the big hurling and football matches     around Cork, Waterford and Thurles when I was growing up in the 1950/60’s,     cycling the countryside with his banjo strapped on his back.


Day 11 Jan 11th


              c/f £64
    Harlestone Wood 1.30 L lost + 2 £66
    Flying Power 6.30 W lost +2 £68
    Icy Quiet 7.30 W lost +2 £70.
    Oh you doubting Thomas, Phil! You have made it to my blog. You will be     famous yet!
    That is how it is done!!!!!!


Day 12 Jan 12th


c/f £70
    Kie 12.55 K lost + 3 £73
    Hand the Prize Over 3.15 K lost +3 £76
    Forgotten Voice 3.50 K lost +3 £79
    Tresor De Bontree 12.40 W lost +3 £82
    Rocky Creek 1.50 W won @ 6/4 – 4.5 £77.5
    The New One 3.00 W won @1/2 – 1.5 £76
    Many Clouds 12.30 Weth lost + 3 £79
    stakes increased to £3 today.
    A good day considering, though we are still down on our predicted 80%     strike rate. 41 lays – 31 losers – 10 winners. Approx 75% strike rate…so     not too bad. All these bets are triggered by my ‘Golden Rule’ application –     which is very simple …. but very effective.
    So much for the revamped C4 racing coverage. Claire Balding was trumpeted     as the greatest thing since deep fried Mars bars, but she has hardly been     sighted apart from a couple of filmed interviews at racing stables. If     that’s to be her main contribution they need not have bothered!


Day 13 Jan 13th


              c/f £79
    Woodpole Academy 12.50 K lost +3 £82
    Corrin Wood 1.50 K lost +3 £85
    Emirate Isle 2.20 K lost +3 £88
    Cottage Oak 3.50 K won @ 3/1 -9 £79
    Red Dragon 2.30 W won @3/1 -9 £70
    Definition of a literary movement; five or six people who live in the same     town and hate each other cordially.
    Detroit; Once home to the US car industry; Ford, Chrysler etc; Now almost a     ghost town. Where once 1.8 million people lived, now only 700,000     reside…where have the other 1.1 million gone? Vast stretches of empty,     dilapidated spaces; so empty that a plan to plant a commercial forest n the     city centre has been approved. Soon they won’t be able to see the city for     the trees!


Day 14 Jan 14th


c/f £70
    Sinchiroko 2.00 Lin lost +3 £73
    Pairumani Prince 3.30 Lin lost +3 £76
    Quartz Du Monteau 2.10 P won @ 2/1 -6 £70


Day 15 Jan 15th


              c/f £70
    Liberty Ship 2.20 W lost +3 £73
    Sunrise Dance 2.55 W lost +3 £76
    Golden Shear 3.25 W lost +3 £79
    Thought Pricewise was putting up his Champion Chase ante post sel. today,     but no mention on RP online. Maybe he sneaked it in on the q. t. Difficult     to see what he can put up against Sprinter Sacre; it would have to be an     each way bet at best. Unless he puts up SS @ current 1/2!! Mind you his     selections have been so diabolical lately that it wouldn’t surprise me. If     he doesn’t improve drastically all the lemmings will have gone over the     cliff – and all their dosh with them!
    The picture above is of the boxer Jack Doyle, who fought for the British     heavyweight title and was disqualified for a low blow. He also fought Buddy     Bear in the USA for a title eliminator, and was stopped by a low blow – or     so he claimed. A handsome man, he married the Mexican movie star, Movita –     she later married Marlon Brando – and went to Hollywood to make his fortune     as an actor. He made a few crap films, but couldn’t act his way out of a     paper bag, and turned to singing. He could sing, and toured England and     Ireland with great success. It all turned sour however; by the time he was     thirty he had made and blown three quarters of a million – a big fortune in     the 1940’s – and by the time he was sixty he was living rough in Shepherds     Bush, singing in dingy pubs for his supper. I met him quite frequently- he     was a regular at White City dog track – and whenever he was asked what caused     his downfall he replied ‘fast women and slow horses’.


Day 16 Jan 16th


c/f £79
    La Estrella 12.30 Ling lost + 3 £82
    Uxizandre 1.55 NB lost +3 £85
    Hurricane Spirit 4.45 K won @ 6/4 – 4.5 £80.5
    An Gharrafa 6.45 K lost +3 £83.5
    stakes increased to £4
    total lays 60 – 46 losers – 14 winners


Day 17 Jan 17th


              c/f £83.5
    Masterofthe sea 1.50 Win won @ 5/2 – 10 £73.5
    Brick Red 3.20 Win won @ 1/2 -2 £71.5
    Nonocharlie 3.30 Ling lost +4 £75.5
    Shuthefrontdoor 4.20 Win won @ 1/4 -1 £74.5
    Dubawi Island 7.00 Wol lost +4 £78.5
    A couple of very short- priced among them today. Be interesting to see if     we can get one beat. Like La Estrella yesterday!
    I believe Pricewise has tipped up both Punjabi and Cotton Mill for the     Betfair Hurdle on 9th Feb. (the old Swcheppes Hurdle to you oldies – the     one where Ryan Price’s Hill House manufactured its own dope the year it won     – apparently!) I remember Hill House was beaten at odds-on in a mickey     mouse race a week or so before the Schweppes, yet came to the second last     in the big race with the jockey swinging off him trying to hold him from     running away. It won in a canter needless to say. And Price had the cheek     to say he hadn’t a penny on it! ‘Haven’t put a bet on for twenty years’, he     said. Probably true – he got somebody else to put the bet on for him!
    Punjabi, an ex Champion Hurdle winner, is 10 yrs old now, and although down     nearly 20 lbs in h/cap from its peak, it has run only once in almost 3 yrs     – beaten 30l by Darlan at Xmas. Hardly the ideal prep for a competitive h/cap     like this, which is usually won by progressive, improving types. Punjabi     hardly fits that bill
    Cotton Mill is a different kettle of fish; still leading when run out at     2nd last in Simonsig’s race at Chel last year. Probably wouldn’t have won,     but even 2nd would have been an excellent result. Still, it’s very open and     I don’t think its chance is any greater than the likes of Pearl Swan or     Ronaldo De Mottes.
    The above photo is of Hastings, taken earlier today. Lovely and sunny – who     needs the Riviera! Hard to believe we are forecast lots of snow here     tonight!


Day 18 Jan 18th


c/f £78.5
    Not a great day yesterday. 3 winners, which is very unusual. However, no     great harm done as they were all short prices.
    Today I am going to include the Irish meeting at Dundalk to see what     happens. It should work on the same principle.
    Jumbo Prado 2.35 Lin NR
    Dangerous Age 3.45 Lin NR
    The Ducking Stool 4.15 Ling NR
    Beat The Ballot 7.20 Dun lost +4 £82.5
    Shake The Bucket 7.20 Dun lost +4 £86.5
    Days Ahead 9.20 Dun won @ 6/4 – 6 £80.5
    We are just limbering up here in Hastings for the coming snow. If the     forecasts are to be believed we should get lots of it over the weekend. I     am looking forward to it -NOT! The way things are shaping up tomorrow could     be a blank day. I expect the bookies will get in some reindeer racing from     Lapland or somewhere!


Day 19 Jan 19th


c/f £80.5
    Matsukazi 3.20 Naas lost +4 £84.5
    Popaflora 3.50 Naas lost +4 £88.5
    No UK selections, so will stick with Irish for a while and see how they go.
    One to note for Chel.
    Utopie Des Bordes. Now with N Henderson, ex French trained who beat Fago     easily lto in GI chase over 2m 6f in Autueil. And Fago hacked up at Newbury     for Nichols the other aday. Not sure what race it will run in yet, or what     races it is qualified for, whether it is still a novice or what, but it is     definitely a horse of some class.


Day 20 Jan 20th


              c/f £88.5
    No racing today. Thank God, some might say!
    Who am I, some of you may be wondering. Below, for the curious is the     unvarnished truth.
    It may not be the whole truth and nothing but the truth, but what writer     ever told the truth! All writing is fiction – as the great American writer     Mark Twain said; I find the further back I go, the better I remember     things, whether they happened or not.
    Here is a (true) story.


Most of us in the packing room at Flahavan’s     played soccer, and every lunchtime we participated in full-blooded games in     a nearby field. The packing room made up the bulk of the Kilmac minor team,     and because I displayed some skill in the kick-a-bouts I was soon in     contention for a place. For days leading up to a game all the speculation     concerned the likely make-up of the team. Teams were picked, lists were
    written out and taped to the walls – all futile exercises because the team     proper was never picked until the morning of the game, and was mostly     dependant on who turned up.


At the top of Currabaha hill stood our pitch,     Alaska Park, which the team shared with a herd of cattle. Our first task on     arrival was to clear the cowshit from the pitch. After the shit had been     cleared away, the pitch had to be lined, and the goalposts and nets put up.     The lining was done by spreading lime by hand from a bucket, a task     rendered hazardous by the icy winds that invariably blew in from the     Comeragh Mountains in the background.


For my first game I had been picked to play on     the left wing, and I wasn’t doing very well. The Johnville defender was     kicking lumps off me every time I tried to go past him, and in an effort to     escape his attentions I moved into the centre. Nearing the end of the game,     with the score level, I found myself unmarked in the six yard box when a     high cross from John Kiersey came towards me. Heading was not one of my     strong points so I just stood there hopefully. The ball landed on my head     and shot into the roof of the net.. I was a hero for days afterwards; we     had beaten Johnville, one of the top teams in town.


That was as good as it got. In and out of the     team, I was tried in various positions – even goal-keeping – but I never     managed to secure a permanent place. Marginalised by my talent – or lack of     it – I minimised my chances even more the day my dog ran on to the field of     play and scored a goal for the opposition. The ball struck him and was     deflected into our goal. It wasn’t the humiliation of being beaten by a     goal scored by a dog that my team-mates found hard to take, but the fact     that the dog was owned by their own sub!


Football at Alaska Park was warfare, not     sport. Before ever a ball was kicked the bleakness of the place demoralised     opponents. Then there were the cattle, guaranteed to put in an appearance     at some point during the game, their arses working overtime. This was the     cue for the shovel brigade to dash onto the pitch. Naturally, the     occasional green pile was overlooked, and if an opposing player went into a     sliding tackle and came up looking a sickly shade of green…well, it was     just too bad. He should have familiarised himself with the terrain before     making the tackle. These townies just shook their head in disbelief; they     had never before played at a place where the cows outnumbered the     spectators.


If this didn’t demoralise them then the     spectators themselves did. Partisan to a man, they were vociferous in their     support. Every decision against the team was greeted with hoots of derision     and torrents of abuse. It was so bad that some referees refused to     officiate there. One supporter in particular – on of the team selectors –     stalked the touchline throughout the game, a hurley or blackthorn stick     clenched in his hand, berating the official continuously.


On Sundays that we didn’t have a game we went     to Kilcohan Park to watch Waterford play in a League of Ireland game. It     wasn’t unusual to hear the same supporters screaming the same abuse from     the depths of the stand.


extract from THE SHINY RED HONDA, published by     Smashwords as an ebook






Day 21 Jan 21st


              c/f £88.5
    No bets today.
    Headline in the Mail today reads; Illegal emigrants being smuggled OUT of     Britain. Apparently some illegal eimgrants are paying up to £1500 to be     smuggled out of the country to France in the back of lorries. A sign of the     times, I guess!
    The photo above, of Hastings ,was taken earlier today. What a difference a     few days make.


Day 22 Jan 22nd


c/f £88.5
    Where’s Reiley 12.50 L won@ 2/1 – 8 £80.5
    Abhaath 12.50 L lost +4 £84.5
    Cayuga 1.20 L lost + 4 £88.5
    Sewn Up 4.10 W lost +4 £92.5
    Presburg 4.40W lost +4 £96.5
    Hi Jay, Glad you enjoyed the blog. I generally put my best on pre-race,     though sometimes I do it in-running if I can’t get a price. Befair sp     prices are okay, but whether they would be better or worse I don’t know as     I don’t check. Back to normal today, 4 from 5, 80% strike rate.
    Football without referees, that’s the way forward. Well, referees are     useless, arent they? All the top managers and players think so – and they     should know. A klaxon will sound when a TV pundit spots a foul and an     announcement made over the loudspeaker ‘Free kick to Man Utd for tackle on     no 9’ ; ‘Penalty to Man Utd for foul on no 2’ etc. Alan – you can’t win     anything with children or dogs – Hanson to be chief decision maker. The     geriatrics – the likes of Ferguson, can stand on the touchline chewing the     cud, looking at their watches, waving their hands in the air – with     impunity then. Wenger can kick a water- bottle, but not a linesman because     there will be no linesman either, Hawkeye having taken over that role; and     the likes of Martin O’Neil can takes a running jump every time Sunderland     score without fear of being booked.
    The game might take five hours instead of an hour and a half, but that’s a     small price to pay for keeping the managers/ players happy.
    Referees, who needs them!










23 Jan 23rd


                    c/f £96.5
      Paphos 1.00 Ling won @ 6/4 – 6 £90.5
      Not Rigg 1.30 Ling lost + 4 £94.5
      Comedy Hour 2.30 Ling lost + 4 £98.5
      Fair Dilemma 2.15 Lim lost + 4 £102.5
      Harry The Lemon 3.40 Ayr lost +4 £106.5
      4 from 5 today. Stakes increased to £5






Tom O’Brien






I like to       kid myself that my current losing streak began back in 1973, the year       Crisp got mugged in the Grand National by Red Rum. I stood to win a small       fortune, having backed him at price at up to 20/1 from Christmas onwards.       Instead I lost a small fortune, which increased somewhat when my rented       telly sailed through the open window and disintegrated in the back garden       shortly after Red Rum passed Crisp yards from the winning post.


In truth,       the rot had set in well before then. Probably in 1962, the year Kilmore       won the National, and I had a shilling each way at 28/1. Kilmore had been       bred and trained in the area before being sold to England, and everyone       in the county seemed to know it was going to win.


In       hindsight, I should have quit then while I was ahead.!


The rot       had well and truly taken hold by 1968. By now I had followed Kilmore’s       hooves to England. The land of small shovels and big money, as I was led       to believe. I fetched up in London, where a stint as a painter at       Highbury Stadium convinced the foreman that a dog wagging his tail could       do a better job. Still, jobs were ten a penny in those days, and I       decided to try my luck as a barman.


Barmen       work long hours, but there was always free time in the afternoons – and       where better to while away an afternoon than my friendly local bookies?       Barry Brogan, David Mould, Ron Hutchinson, I cursed them all – and the       three-legged nags they rode when my money was down. And pretty soon not       just my money but the pub’s as well. It wasn’t very difficult to divert some       of the takings from the till to my pockets.


The       surprise was that they made it so easy for me. One obliging manager even       gave me the weekend’s takings to bank for him: I got on a bus and didn’t       stop till I was in Soho!


That       became my modus operandi; gain their trust till they let you near the       money – and then disappear.


One       particular Derby meeting was very profitable for me. I managed to land a       job at the Tattenham Corner House, which overlooked the course, in the       week leading up to the Derby. The weather was warm and the punters       thirsty, and by the time the meeting was over everyone was knackered. At       closing time, the manager decided to dispense with the usual ‘reckoning       up’ of the tills, and to treat the staff to a party instead. And guess       who was given the job of locking the tills away in the safe?


I       couldn’t believe how much money was in that safe. I stuffed bundles in       every conceivable carrying place, locked the safe, and then excused       myself from the party, feigning a migraine. I then slipped out a side       door, walked to the nearest bus stop, and was in central London in less       than an hour.


I had fun       while the money lasted, but this was tempered by the sense of shock I       felt when I was eventually caught and sentenced to eighteen months in       goal. It was a salutary lesson, but it didn’t stop my gambling. I found       it quite easy to gamble in prison; the only difference that the currency       was tobacco not money. I soon discovered that losing ‘snout’ was just as       easy as losing money.


And when       I finished my sentence and was deported, I found my losing streak just as       easy to maintain back in Ireland. Not that I hung around there too long;       London was a great place for those with little inclination to get out of       bed in the morning, and as the time of the first race usually dictated       when I got up, I was soon back there. When I was really desperate, there       was always a day’s work to be had digging holes for some Irish subby,       with cash in your hand at the end of the shift and no questions asked.


Monday       mornings were a sight to behold; bleary-eyed and broke we gathered, at       the Crown in Cricklewood or the Nags Head in Camden Town, our only trait       in common that we were looking for a ‘start’ – and, more importantly, a       sub. In my case, enough to tide me over until the next win came along.       With others it was the drink – the ‘Diesel’.


Maybe you       think I should have tried the dogs? I did. Hendon, WhiteCity, Hackney, I       tried them all, and came out poorer but no wiser.


I       occasionally bumped into Jack Doyle at the WhiteCity, usually with some       old ‘duchess’ on his arm. Jack had come a long way down in the world       since his heyday at the same venue, when 90,000 came to see him fight       Eddie Philips. And another 100,000 outside, if you believed Jack!


Asked       what his downfall was it was always the same reply; ‘fast women and slow       horses’.


Park       Royal was my favourite dog track. It was there that I almost made my       fortune. When I couldn’t afford the admission I watched the racing from       the roof of a nearby disused factory which overlooked the track, and that       was how I discovered that fast starters were seldom caught. A dog a       couple of lengths clear at halfway invariably won. I also discovered       something else; the commentaries in the nearby betting shop were at least       half a minute behind the real thing. Most dog races were nearly over in       30 seconds!


The       answer of course was walkie-talkies. My friend – let’s call him Larry –       and I acquired a couple of these gadgets from a store in Marble Arch and       soon the money was rolling in.


Of course       not all selections won; but at least half of them did – which was more       than enough for us to be rolling in it. I proceeded to give most of it       back again to William Hill and Co, until Larry suggested we go in for       ‘furniture removals’.


It was a       brilliant scheme; we invested in a van, Larry inspected empty properties       on the pretext of buying them, then we had keys cut. We then proceeded to       order furniture and kitchen equipment on the never-never – which we were       never-never going to pay for – and promptly removed it again. Unfortunately       for us, two things happened almost simultaneously: Larry crashed the van       and broke his leg in several places, and Park Royal dog track was sold       for re-development. End of dream.


I am much       better these days. Oh, I still have this desire to give money to William       Hill and Ladbrokes – but not as much and not as often.




                                                                                    ©       Tom O’Brien




Day 24 Jan 24th


c/f £106.5
      Bog Warrior 2.25 Gow won @ 4/5 – 4 £102.5
      Barneys Honour 2.55 Gow lost +5 £107.5
      Bari Sheen 4.00 Kem lost +5 £112.5
      TomSegal may have got it right today for a change with his 2 Pricewise       sels. Outlaw Pete & Panther Claw. They have a lot going for them in       that they are both progressive, are at the right end of the h/cap, and       have a lot of stats in their favour. They are 1 & 2 in the betting       f/cast, which provides 50% of all winners – ie there is a 50% chance of       one of them being the winner, so if you can back both of them at around       7/2 then it is a value bet. (1st & 2nd favs are usually much shorter       in the betting, which makes it uneconomic to dutch them normally)
      The only drawback with Segal is that betting 7/2 shots put up by him will       not make you money in the long run with his appalling strike rate of       around 12%. You may be kissing his backside this afternoon, but remember       his next winner needs to be nearer 16/1 to compensate
      Hmmmh! I think he needs a bunch of 20/1 shots to redeem himself now!             


Day 25 Jan 25th


c/f £112.5
      total to date 83 lays – 62 losers – 21 winners … 75% strike rate
      The highest winner laid was 3/1, the lowest 1/4. The average win price       was about 6/4. Returns to win £20 on each lay were £1240. (62×20) Losses       on the 21 winners were £630
      Black Dave 2.30 Ling NR
      Dali’s Corner 3.40 Ling lost + 5 £117.5
      Outbid 4.10 Ling lost + 5 £122.5
      Fastidious 6.50 Dun lost + 5 £127.5
      Tocata Blue 7.20 Dun lost + 5 £132.5
      stakes increased to £7
      Reading Joseph Wambaugh’s latest book NOCTURNE at the moment. An Xmas       pressie that I just got round to reading. An ex LA cop he writes about       the underbelly of LA and is one of the finest crime writers around. He is       Lee Child’s favourite writer – that’s good enough for me!


Day 26 Jan 26th


                    c/f £132.5
      Rajdhani Express 12.40 C lost + 7 £139.5
      Katenko 1.15 C won @ 7/2 – £24.5 £115.0
      The New One 3.00 C lost + 7 £122.0
      Oscar Whiskey 3.35 C lost – 7 + £135.0
      Buy Art 3.45 W lost + 7 £142.0
      Tarooq 2.15 W no bet, price too big
      Anaconda 3.25W won@ 2/1 – 14 £128.0
      Jumbo Prado 5.00 W lost + 7 £135.00
      Foxrock 3.50 Leop lost + 7 £142.0
      A lot today – one of those days that throws up a lot of selections – and       a few strongly fancied ones too! We shall see…
      Well, a strange day, 3 winners from 9 bets but no damage done as one,       Tarooq, wasn’t laid because the price was too big. That”s why it is       important to lay at 4 or less on betfair – it keeps losses to a minimum.
      Strange story on the news today about a Ladbroke betting shop in Plymouth       which had an attempted armed robbery yesterday. A man armed with a gun       and wearing a gas mask entered the shop but was overpowered by several       customers who sat on him until the police arrived. However, he was then       found to be unconscious and the ambulance was called, but he was       pronounced dead in the shop. Nobody has been charged in connection with       his death – yet. I have had some bad experiences in LADBROKES myself in       the past, but nothing as drastic as that.
      What struck me when seeing the TV images of the inside of the shop was       the bank of FOTB’s down along one wall. It looked more like a slot       machine arcade than a betting shop. But that’s what they all look like       these days; there’s more money taken in those machines than over the       counter in actual bets in most shops I believe. I think most shops would       have gone to the wall by now if the last Labour government hadn’t       deregulated the gaming machines laws and allowed betting shops to have       these money guzzlers in the shops. I honestly don’t think the high street       shops give a shit about racing these days; give them their cartoon       racing, their gaming machines, and their football punters and they are       content. The bookmaking fraternity are a parasitical organisation; the       put the minimum they can get away with back into racing, either via taxes       or sponsorship.
      The photo above is of the cast from my play CROMWELL’S TOUR OF IRELAND (a       musical!)


Day 27 Jan 27th


c/f £142
      Karazahan 3.15 W won @ 4/6 – 5 £137
      Trying a new discipline today- these relatively new NH flat races. There       haven’t been many of them over the years for any detailed data, but       mymethodology is still the same so I expect it to work in a similar way.
      Just to make things clear. This is my own personal log, based on my own       laying, and if there are any inconsistancies it is due to my own       idiosyncratic ways. I suggest laying at not bigger than 4/1, though some       of the sp’s included are bigger than that. This means one of two things;       I was either able to get the required price before the race, or I laid it       in running to the required price. The vast majority of my bets are laid       pre-race, but occasionally I will lay in running. I could of course lay       every horse ‘in-running’ mechanically, but that is too formulaic for me.       I like to have some element of judgement in certain races!
      I set the initial stakes at £2 to show how you can start off with a small       bank and build up. My own bets are to a stake of £20, or multiples of it,       and I suggest a bank of 20 times your stake to cover losing runs (which       are usually short 1-3 )
      I hope this clarifies things.


Day 28 Jan 28th


                    c/f £137
      Great Ormond 3.50 K lost + 7 £144
      Hidden Coin 2.40 W won @ 6/4 – 10.5 £133.5
      Hepworht 5.10 W won @ 2/1 – 14 £119.5
      going through a sticky patch the last few days. Too many winners! It does       happen, but I am sure it will level out soon.
      When I saw that Imperial Commander @ 50/1 for the GC on Sat morning I       knew it was way too big so had my small investment. I also backed it Sats       race. Tbh, I think Saturday might have been its gold cup; it was primed       to win, had everything in its favour, including getting weight, and was       bloody unlucky not to collect. Twiston Davis reckons it should now be a       10/1 shot for the GC and I think he is probably right. It might find one       or two of the younger brigade too good in the GC, but at 50/1 I can lay       the bet off at less than half those odds and have a free bet in GC. I       have also backed Flemenstar in the race; @ 12/1 NRNB with Betfred, the       reasoning being that if it wins the Irish Hennessey in two weeks time,       for which it is 6/4 fav, it will almost certainly run in GC and will       probably be less than half those odds. So again, a bet to nothing if it       wins, and I lay off for GC – and my money back if it doesn’t run. With 2       free bets running for me I can afford to back Bobs Worth and possibly       Silvianaco Conti on the day
      The picture above is of my new ebook THE MISSING POSTMAN AND OTHER       STORIES. available on smashwords.com for $0.99!


Day 29 Jan 29th


c/f £119.5
      No bets today. A short story instead!








It was       with some amusement – tinged with sadness – that I read Gerry Molumby’s       article about Brendan O’Brien. (no relation) I hadn’t realized Brendan       was dead; he was, as Gerry pointed out, one of the superstars of the       Irish showband scene in the 1960’s.


Brendan       O’Brien and the Dixies were up there with Brendan Bowyer and the Royal       Showband, The Clipper Carlton, (the best in my humble opinion) The       Plattermen, Joe Dolan, Dickie Rock and The Miami, and had legions of       followers prepared to travel the length and breadth of Ireland just to       watch them perform.


My       amusement came about with Gerry’s description of them ‘threading the       boards’; prompting visions of showbands furiously at work on stage with       giant needles and thread! They certainly treaded them Gerry, but ne’er a       one ever ‘threaded’ them in my dancehall days!


Learning       of Brendan’s death brought back long forgotten memories of the night we       understudied the Dixies at the Olympia Ballroom in Waterford city. It was       sometime in the mid 1960’s. For yes, I treaded the boards briefly myself       with a band called the Royal Dukes in those far-of days. And one of our       first gigs was to play as relief band in the Olympia, while Brendan and       his band had their ‘tae and sandwiches’ backstage. To watch Brendan belt       out all the Buddy Holly classics, Peggy Sue etc, backed up by the demonic       Joe Mac was indeed memorable.


Our own       efforts in the Royal Dukes were more forgettable than memorable. I was       the bass player for my sins; the other six comprised lead/rhythm guitar,       saxophonist, drummer, trumpet, and trombone player.


Derived       almost equally from two neighbouring towns, Kilmacthomas and Portlaw, it       was a miracle that we formed an alliance at all, as most of the two towns       get-togethers were usually wars of attrition on the football and hurling       fields. I suppose it helped that two of us ‘Kilmacians’ worked in the       tannery in Portlaw alongside our brass section.


We used       to practice at the Rainbow Hall in Kilmac during week nights; weekends       the hall doubled as a cinema/dancehall. One weekend you might hear The       Cossacks or The Davitt Brothers, filling the air with the sounds of Lets       Twist Again, or The Hucklebuck, the next it would be Audie Murphy or       Randolph Scot chasing Indians across the Kansas prairie. I dread to think       what sound we filled the night with on our practice nights!


Practice       makes perfect they say, but I don’t think the word ‘perfect’ every       entered the vocabulary in the same sentence as ‘Royal Dukes’. I was       certainly no musician; I don’t think I had a note in my body, and my bass       playing depended on which chord our lead guitarist was playing at any       given time. I just followed him; if he was out of key then so was I!


However,       our biggest problem was our trombone player; every note he blew sounded       like a jackass braying. In the end we decided he should mime it. (He was       our lead singer so we couldn’t dump him!) However, we had a competent       trumpeter and saxophonist and reasonably concluded that his miming       wouldn’t be noticed.


Despite       these handicaps we had several things going for us; we were young, we       looked good, and we moved well on stage. And we looked even better when       we got our new jackets. Christ they were beautiful, those jackets. Beatle       style, they were rich blue with broad grey stripes running down them,       with their gold buttons standing out like mushrooms. You could die happy       in them!


The Rainbow       Hall was bursting on that first night. Curiosity I suppose. The Davitt       Bros, who we were supporting, seemed bemused by it all. They were a       competent band, who had been around the Munster circuit for years, and       were, I suppose, used to sedate crowds of Macra Na Feirme and Muinter Na       Tire supporters. Nothing like the high excitement that was in evidence       here. As the dance began, and we listened to them play, we realized how       much better than us they were.


It didn’t       seem to matter. As they took their break and we replaced them, the crowd       went wild. You would think we were the Beatles; they had solidified into       one heaving mass, and were packing the dance area. It was obvious there       would be no dancing; they just wanted to watch and listen.


Looking       into the sea of faces I could see many I recognized; Jim Kiersey, his       black hair slicked back, with a crease so sharp it could split timber;       Vince Power, giving me the thumbs-up sign; Shirley Mulcahy, on shoes so       tall she must have used a step-ladder to climb into them; Tony Casey,       Elvis quaff dripping oil. I closed my eyes briefly and said a prayer.


We       needn’t have worried. We could have banged tin cans together and they       would have cheered. ‘I Can Get No Satisfaction’ was our opening number,       and it nearly brought the house down. (The following Sunday our Parish       Priest denounced the song from the pulpit, and tried to ban us from       playing it again. At our next gig we played it several times, so I think       he got the message)


Nothing       ever quite matched that first night – though the gig with the Dixies       wasn’t far behind! Soon we were playing regularly, once maybe twice a       week, before dashing home in the early hours to snatch a few hours sleep,       then dashing out again to work.


Something       had to give – and with me it did. I crashed my Honda motorbike on my way       to the Tannery one morning and woke up in hospital with severe head       injuries. It took me months to recover. And by then the Royal Dukes had       found another bass player. A proper musician this time.


Over the       years the band metamorphosed into other groups; some of them became       full-time musicians; some are still playing after all this time.


As for       me, within a few months I had swapped the ‘wilds’ of County Waterford for       the concrete sprawl of County Kilburn. I can honestly say that I have       never played the bass guitar since.




                                                            (c)       Tom O’Brien




Day 30 Jan 30th


                    c/f £119.5       (adjusted due to errors in calculation)
      Buddy Bolero 3.30 Leic won @1/1 – 7 £112.5
      Cool Touch 4.30 Leic NR
      Arthurs Touch 4.30 Leic won @ 6/4 – 10.5 £101
      Brockwell Park 2.40 Lud lost +7 £108
      Centasia 4.40 Lud won@ 6/4 – 10.5 £97.5
      Prophets Pride 7.50 K won @ 4/6 – 5 £92.5
      Poor results lately. This is as poor a sequence as I can remember in the       5 years I have been using it. Still, keep the faith!


Day 31 Jan 31st


c/f £92.5
      stakes reduced to £5
      Mick Dundee 2.00 Lin won @ 1/1 – 5 £87.5
      Secret Millionaire 2.30 Lin lost +5 £92.5
      Loxendor 3.20 Tow lost + 5 £97.5
      Noble Witness 3.50 Tow lost +5 £102.5
      Ballyallia Man 2.40 Win lost + 5 £107.5
      Taxiformissbyron 7.50 Wol won @ 4/5 – 4 £103.5
      Bit better today.
      I see that the ‘world’s greatest tipster’, Pricewise, (allegedly) has       been putting up his Cheltenham ante post bets recently. So far we have;       Flemenstar GC, Cotton Mill CH, Fago Arkle NC, Williams Wishes CC, Solwit       WH. Williams Wishes has already bit the dust – injured. The perils of       ante post betting. Wonder how many more fail to make it on the day?






Day 32  Feb Ist

c/f £103.5

Gebayl  1.30 Lin                            lost    + 5  £108.5

Marie des Anges  2.10 Cat           lost     +5  £113.5

Tell Me Y  2.45 Cat                      lost     + 5  118.5

Ferryview Place 4.50 Wol                   NR

Cardinal 7.30 Wol                        lost      +5  £123.5


Totals: 119 runners – 32 winners – 83 losers…performing at around 73%

Day 33 Feb 2nd

c/f 123.5

Mister WK 130 Fos   lost   +5    £128.5

The Bear Trap  Fos    lost    + 5  £133.5

Captain Conan    won @½      – 2.5   £131

O’Callaghan Strand    lost  + 5  £136

Dammam 1.35 Wet   lost   + 5 £141

Farmer Matt   2.45 Wet     lost   + 5  £146

Colourbearer/Rich Again 2.20L  lost/lost  + 10  £156

Harry Buckle 4.05 L       lost  + 5   £161

128 runners – 33 winners – 95 losers….74% strike rate

That’s better!


Day 34 Feb 3rd

c/f  £161       stakes raised to £8

Tetlami   1.00 Mus    lost    +8  £169

Tap Night  2.00 Mus  lost  + 8  £177

Brick Red  3.30 Mus won @ 2/1 – 16  £161

Smadymium 4.30 Mus lost  + 8  £169

Litmus   3.40 Ling     lost   + 8   £177

Day 35  Feb 4th

Call Me A Star  1.20 Donc   lost  +8  £185

Saharia    3.50 Wol     lost     + 8   £193

I don’t think Huricane Fly is anywhere near a certainty for CH. I think it’s terrible value @ 13/8. It’s a 9yr old now and I don’t believe it will be any better this year than it was last, when it was beaten over 5l by Rock On Ruby, with the 5 yr old Zarkandar only a length behind it. HF has got nothing in hand of those two, with the possibility that Z will improve significantly for being a year older. Then there is Granduet, giving Zarkandar 4 lbs lto and beaten only 2l – with ROR 6l further behind. No horse, apart from Comedy of Errors, has managed to regain the CH and I don’t think HF will. I wouldn’t back it with monopoly money.

Very sad to see the death of Darlan. A good, young, horse, with all the possibilities of becoming a great one.  Would it have won had it not fallen at the last? Difficult to say; when they fall at that stage it is usually because of tiredness. Rock On Ruby is a hard horse to pass and it might have held on.

Day  36   Feb 5th

Stop The Clock 3.50 Wol

Stand Guard 2.40 S

Lady Malet 3.10 S

Black Rider 3.10 S


One thought on “365 DAYS LAYING HORSES

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s