Crazy Systems for Crazy Times
Sometimes the temptation to let someone else do the thinking can be overwhelming. Confronted by a list of runners and the heaps of information that comes with race-solving, it’s sometimes appealing to abandon all forms of rationality and pick the horse with the zaniest name, best coloured silks or some other unscientific nonsense. But is backing a horse because you like the sound of its name any crazier than doing so because the sequence of numbers to the left of its name is choked with 1s? Let’s be honest, it’s all a gamble, and the chances are you will lose. Alternatively, you can rely on a system, which is a bit like saying I’m going to lose anyway, so I’ll just cut out the middleman that is rationality. If you do look towards systems, here are some that have caught my eye over the years.
First, a bizarre way of perming called Coining Money. Let’s give it a spin.
Tossing a coin to predict the outcome of an event is possibly the purest system in existence. Heads you win, tails you lose. Simple. But it’s not the only system involving a coin. Many years ago, a national newspaper ran one which involved taking a coin from your pocket. You examined the date on the coin, noting the last two digits. Let’s say coin was 1998 vintage. A list of selections was published each day with a corresponding number (0-9), so, in this case, you backed horses nine and eight. If the last two numbers were the same (1988, for instance) you would back horse number eight with a double stake.
If all the selections ran in the same ten-runner race, then somebody would be bound to win. That’s the basis of many scam systems (and a famous TV dupe a few years back), but in the Coining Money system, the selections ran in different events. No records exist for the success or failure of the scheme, but it was quietly dropped after a few months.
In the pre-internet days, junk mail was equally as prevalent as today’s spam. If you ever sent off for ‘betting information’, rest assured much unsolicited dross would follow. Most went in the bin, but occasionally something would catch the eye. One such example was a greyhound system that required access to a BAGS card, then printed in most tabloid papers. The idea was to start with race one, back the favourite in dual forecasts with the hounds in the two adjacent traps. Favourite in trap one or six? No bet. There were the usual caveats: stop after a winner; double your stake after a loss; watch the profits roll in. Don’t know why but this appealed (the favourite must be so fast it will bring the adjacent runners along in his/her slipstream). With a similarly naïve friend we took the plunge. Bank set up, ready to go:
Day One – we won.
Day two – loss followed by a win (another profit on the day). Wow.
Day three – loss followed by a loss. Hmm. Let’s take a raincheck.
There followed a series of paper trials over the next couple of weeks. Hypothetical losses quickly engulfed us. We bailed out a few quid up, thanks only to beginner’s luck.
Finally, I know of someone who swears by this system which is simplicity itself. In big handicaps, back numbers three and five on the racecard. The logic here is that you are avoiding the top weighted horse. You have two selections that are carrying a bit less poundage, but are still highly regarded.
There are no bigger handicaps than those at Cheltenham so I had a peep at the last two years’ results. 2019 was a big winner – four winners from 10 qualifying races, including this belter. 32 points up over the four days. Granted, the 2020 festival failed to produce a winner (for the sake of transparency that equals a 20-point loss), but there might just be something to this one.
Knock them if you will, but the one small advantage I believe systematic betting has over the more intuitive approach is that you will win some of the time. Sometimes, that’s enough.