#OffTheBridle with J.T McCoy Part 2 - The Bet
Speculate to accumulate?
As one betting company so shrewdly points out, “it matters more when there’s money on it”. Many fans of horse racing would argue that they don’t need to bet on racing to enjoy it,and indeed I fall into that grouping, but a little nibble often makes things extra interesting.
Everyone’s seen the ‘gamble responsibly’ campaigns and it’s not my place to patronise anyone in this regard. You either do or you don’t – your choice. One thing’s for sure though, betting underpins the sport of horse-racing and can’t be ignored.
Here’s a look back at an emotional roller-coaster of a betting journey I went on some years ago, which shows just what a funny old game racing can be.
Let me take you back to Sunday 2nd November 2008 and set the scene. At the time, I had an enjoyable job, had just moved into a nice flat in south-west London with my girlfriend, had a 5-minute drive to work and was hitting the gym and the pub with equal ferocity. Life was good.
One Saturday night the gym didn’t get a look in and the pub was well and truly smashed up. A world of pain loomed on the Sunday, but with the bride away for work, the day was mine – junk food, newspapers, TV, more junk food and a few cans of lager once the nausea had subsided – it was going to be a great day.
I’m always partial to a bet when hungover, not sure why (is it just me?).
Looking at the cards that day, there were a few horses I’d heard of running and so, for some reason, I decided to put some of them in an accumulator. Three horses were unknown to me, a couple even running in Ireland and I didn’t, at that time, follow Irish racing. Eight horses in total, the bet covering seven-folds out of eight, each way. £1.87 per line, a total stake of £15. Selections were a mixture of flat and jumps. It was a ridiculous bet, a waste of money surely. Ah well, something to help pass the time and keep the day interesting.
Having polished off some MSG-laden Chinese food for lunch (never would have been allowed if mission control was at home), my focus shifted to following the selections. I didn’t have ATR and I don’t think Racing UK was a thing back then, and I was definitely too ill to survive a trip to the local bookies. So, I took to ‘watching’ the races through looking at the in-play prices on Betfair. I really wouldn’t recommend this method of ‘viewing’ if you have hypertension or other coronary issues. Took years off my life.
We started off with Ice Bellini in the 2.00 at Southwell. Eager to get a big price winner to kick the acca off, I put my full support behind horse and rider. “DRIVE PROBERT, FUCKING DRIVE!!” I shrieked as the price dropped to below evens in running, galloping round my lounge, imaginary whip in hand. 1 down, 7 to go. A quick-fire Jamie Spencer double helped things along, as did the good old boy Tidal Bay at long-odds on at Carlisle.
A few more obliged and before I knew it, the first 7 horses had won. 7 out of 7! I was guaranteed £8,871. This was life-changing.
And so, to the final race. Elusive Warrior, 15/8 favourite in the 4.05 at Southwell. If Elusive Warrior wins under James Doyle, I walk away with £20k. Squeaky bum time as Sir Alex would say. But wait, what’s this? The stalls won’t open. Power cut at Southwell says the RP live feed.
A power cut? A POWER CUT? WHAT THE FUCK IS THIS? IT’S A CONSPIRACY! PADDY POWER HAVE ENGINEERED THIS TO MESS WITH ELUSIVE WARRIOR AND DERAIL MY ACCA! PHONE THE FUCKING POLICE! CALL THE FBI! GET JACK BAUER HERE, PRONTO!
By the time these irrational thoughts had left my head, the power was back on at Southwell and the race started, around 15 minutes later than scheduled. Not a huge drama, apparently. Elusive Warrior, my banker for the day, finished 3rd . Crushing disappointment was soon displaced with rational thought and ecstasy. I’d won just short of £9k, for a £15 stake. I had to tell someone;
I phoned my girlfriend first, she wasn’t overly impressed. “Fine by me, you’ll see none of it”, I said. I phoned my best mate. He was overcome with jealousy - I enjoyed that for a while, but I was in the chair all night for the next gathering of Thursday Night Drinking Club.
The moral of the tale? Not sure really. ‘Accas’ are fun, but low percentage. Possibly best kept to football bets and nailed on favs on the turf – I know, there’s no such thing as a dead cert. This was before the days of ‘cashing out’ and various other ‘acca’ embellishments dreamt up by the clever folk in the bookmaking industry, so I had to ride it out to the bitter end. Character building stuff, made me who I am today(!).
You might be wondering if I have tried such a ridiculous bet since. Of course I have, and failed miserably on most occasions. But I’ll spare you (and me) the trauma of re-living the day that Niche Market got beaten by a neck and deprived me of another c. £9k win. The highs and lows of horse racing. Love it.