My father and grandmother punted every weekend and I caught the horse racing bug.
My father often took me to the races and I was hooked by the atmosphere of the huge crowds, especially in the betting rings.
I loved the competition between horses and got a real buzz watching the champions of the sport. These were the days when broadcaster/showman Bill Collins and the legendary jockey Roy Higgins were household names.
I was only seven or eight and on Saturday mornings, I would go through The Sun form guide and pick my horses to bet on. I’d either bet win/each way or the extra/daily double which my grandmother put on for me at the local TAB.
My grandmother was a big follower of jockeys, especially New Zealanders Midge Didham and Brian Andrews.
I had plenty of good luck in the early days with many doubles, but as the years rolled by, I started to bet bigger. I found myself losing occasionally, so I realised I needed a staking plan to continue to punt. I could find winners, but I needed some discipline.
Only when I started working in the media did I become much more serious about punting. I had some excellent mentors along the way, and they all worked extremely hard on the form—no shortcuts for these guys.
To this day, I still ask questions from these people I respect and continue to learn from. I worked for all the metropolitan race clubs casually and for The Truth and Best Bets for a few years. In 1999, I started at Sky Racing as a form analyst/presenter and was there for over 20 years.
On the weekends, I started pricing the horses for each race, which helped my punting.
WHAT ARE THE MAIN THINGS YOU CONSIDER IN PICKING A WINNER?
Many factors. The speed map helps see the race shape, but the horse’s current form is ultra important. I go into a meeting with an idea of how the track will play and then watch from race 1 to see if there is a distinct pattern.
Watching the races live or watching videos to profile each horse is essential. I will check the horse’s statistics including sectionals, once I’ve watched its videos.
I’ll assess my race to 100 per cent when pricing the field.
Good trainers and jockeys are crucial when selecting a winner. Once I’ve worked out my selections for a particular race, I will then check the market.
I’m always learning new elements that assist in my preparation for race day. How we did it in the ’80s and ’90s is very different from how it’s done today, and it’ll keep changing (technology, etc.).
HOW DO YOU STAKE A RACE/WHAT STYLE OF BETS DO YOU OPT FOR?
I keep it simple. Usually, I’ll stake 10 per cent of my bank if I’m placing a win bet. Generally, I’m not one to bet on horses under $2. I like to exploit value and I’ll sometimes take a first four when I feel the favourite is vulnerable.
I also enjoy taking a quadrella on the city meetings.
IF YOU STARTED WITH $1000 HOW WOULD YOU BUILD YOUR BANK?
By being disciplined and living by the creed “there is never a last race”. It’s about playing the long game. You may lose today, but it’s how you’re placed in 12 months time. The name of the game is to stay in it!
MOST MEMORABLE ON THE PUNT?
It was Werribee Cup Day 1991. Pat Carey trained a horse called Zast. Its previous run was at Geelong where it worked to the line nicely. The night before Werribee (the Wednesday before the Melbourne Cup), I told a few mates to back Zast and they laughed at me because it had 0000 (four duck eggs) next to its name in the form guide.
It won and paid $131, which helped fund my trip to the 1992 Barcelona Olympics. Unfortunately, my friends didn’t get to Barcelona!
I’ve managed a few decent quaddies including one a few years ago at Caulfield which paid over $200k. I only had a small share, but a few bills were paid!