Horsing Around At The Races

The clueless guide to Cheltenham.

Race season is officially here and as I had a pretty class winner on the football last weekend, obviously that qualifies me as a semi-pro informant (not sure that’s the correct phrase but I’m watching re-runs of The Bill whilst writing this so I’ve got informants on the brain!) I’m ready to help (more to hinder) anyone who’ll listen.

First thing I must say is, do not listen to any of these “tips” because they are in no way helpful, in no way thought out and in no way going to win you any money!

Secondly, If you are over 18 please gamble responsibly and if you are under 18 please be responsible, don’t gamble and have a butchers at some of the other nonsense I’ve written instead of this one, please – nice one.

And finally (get all the paperwork out the way first) if you are looking for serious tips on Cheltenham then have a poke about all the usual outlets. You can usually find John McCririck outside any paddock or on Sunday’s picking up litter on Wimbledon common… He does look a bit like a womble but the man is a legend so no offence intended.

Here we go then, we are racing.

Bet You Already Knew This…
So, you’re in front of that mouthy bloke with a board, beside the horses, there’s so many numbers and heaps of tweed knocking about you become a bit dizzy and bottle it. Next thing you know the horse you fancied the name of, canters away and wins by a furlong (it’s a racing term for the distance, not the QPR fullback).

I know it can look confusing but betting is pretty straightforward once it’s simplified. If the odds state 3/1, that means put £1 on and win £3. (You always get your stake money back though so you’d actually get £4) The second number after the / always indicates how much you would place and the first number is the return from that stake.

Be clever with your betting, set yourself a limit and don’t go over it, no matter what. Even if one horse looks like Shirley Carter off EastEnders and you once shared a Jaegerbomb in Yates with her, that isn’t a good enough excuse to break your barrier – stay strong. If that’s £10 for three days racing then pick and chose your races at a lower stake, don’t blow the whole tenner on the very first race.

You Dun’alf pick’em
Don’t ever Always base your bets on instinct. Ignore the form, ignore the fact there is one horse running with a two-ton chariot attached or that the jockey is afraid of heights – just back the one with the funny name.

It doesn’t always work, granted (In fact it never works), Hoof Hearted is a blinding name but a terrible racehorse, so be aware.

If you’re really looking for how to pick them, watching to see which horse goes for a slash just before bolting into the race doesn’t help either, yes it will be lighter but It’s a horse, not a camel and it might even run quicker because it’s desperate to finish and go to the toilet… Did you think of that?

If you want to do a quick home experiment, give your younger sibling a large glass of water (this can vary depending on who you live with) then go for a shower… Watch how quick they sprint to the bathroom once you’re out. Compare that with a usual waltz to the loo and you have your answer.

I also heard that they always place a 100/1 winner in the very first race to hook you in. Well, that’s what the shifty bloke outside Subway said in town the other week, and he looked like he’d spent the night in a stable so he must be on to something!

You’re a Winner!!!
Well, that’s what everyone always tells the group chat regardless of their horse finishing 6th. The amount of time I’ve heard “Yeah, Yeah I had him at 14/1”, course you did pal, course you did.

It’s okay, everyone stretches the truth from time to time but don’t be that guy that aaaalways has a winner yet never pulls out his wallet for a round!

The favorite doesn’t always win and if you want more chance of actually winning then you can select a horse to place (varying on which service you are betting with some will payout if the horse finishes 1st to 4th).

Unless you’re a jockey, owner or professional undercover scam artist don’t take it too seriously, it should always be a bit of fun so just enjoy it… I enjoy winning though so I’d like to once again remind you that nothing in this article will ever help you win a race.

Ready For The Photo-Finish?
If, like me, half of your life is spent on social media you’ll know many of those who go to the races only go for the glam. Outfits, hats, tweed suits and the odd glass of champers make it into the caption and it’s an essential part of the game.

Everyone goes looking sharp in a clean suit or a swanky dress so why not up your game and take home the spoils?

Dive into a fancy dress shop, grab you and your lot some smurf costumes and really up the anti! You’ve seen the darts; those who dress up get the camera time. Time for you to steal the show!

… Originally I’d left out this last line but I thought on the off chance someone is reading this that may be off to the races, I better clarify, above everything else in this article, please, please, please do not dress up as a smurf. You won’t be let in, you’ll have wasted a lot of money on a ticket and transport and as funny as it would be, I don’t want that on my conscience!!

Having A Mare
The races aren’t for everyone. You may be allergic to tweed or physically gag everytime to hear someone say the word “Yar” … (More VIP terms but still made me nauseous even typing it out) so don’t feel pressured into joining the hype.

Unless you’re Jay from the Inbetweeners saying that you “won too much money last year so are banned from ever going again” won’t hold up. It’s alright – nothing can last forever, unless you’re Arsene Wenger’s deluded faith in Mesut Ozil, so swerving the races isn’t uncommon.

If this is based on a previous failing, dig deep and say it how it is “I had a torrid, I didn’t win a bean and I’d rather waste my money in the boozer” – simple way out!

Or, if you’re avoiding the races because you simply don’t like the sport, again, say it how it is, but avoid lambasting those who do enjoy it, it’s all legal, everything is above board and the horses are well looked after.

For the record, all of the above goes out the window when it comes to the Grand National, you’re on your own there, smash out the sweepstake, find one named after your second cousin who now lives in Bermuda (because that’s obviously a sign) and cross your fingers.

All in all the races can be a right laugh so ignore everything stated above, enjoy it and be sensible.

Stay clever,

Thanks for reading,

Take it easy.


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