DAVE NEVISON DIARY OF A PROFESSIONAL GAMBLER: Jag all set to make a point; GAMBLER'S DIARY: The only surprise about the programme is that I wasn't in it.
WATCHING the Kenyon programme on Tuesday night was a lot easier than it might have been as I had found out about a week before that I wasn't going to be in it!
Not that I wasn't a candidate - in fact I suspect I was first on their list. As I wrote for the Outlook this week I was approached by two suspicious characters on two occasions.
They said they wanted to send a horse to John Best and I was quizzed about landing gambles and giving horses something that might improve their chances.
It seems I didn't impress them as being shady enough to warrant inclusion in their programme.
This probably wasn't a surprise as I spent most of the "interview" telling them that what they were wanting to do was Dick Francis stuff and doesn't really happen in real life.
I did warn them, however, that other people might say it is possible and to be careful.
The public perception of the scale of skulduggery in horseracing has always been overly high. It was therefore no surprise to see several punters appearing on the programme horrified about races being "fixed" on a regular basis.
If those punters had thought things through they probably wouldn't be so quick to condemn horseracing and those in it.
At my meeting with the would be owners and gamblers I explained to them how their thinking was wrong and that the economics of plotting gambles simply did not add up.
I will explain the same here and hopefully you will see what a pointless exercise stopping horses is.
The first and probably the biggest obstacle to landing a "touch" is finding a horse capable of doing the job.
For a gamble you need a horse with ability and one that is not exposed which is a very difficult combination to acquire. Anyone who tells you otherwise probably has a different agenda.
Unfortunately no matter how much money you spend you can't guarantee that you will acquire a talented animal but if you were to spend say pounds 10,000 you might have a chance.
The second expensive step is the training and running of the horse which will set you back about the same again if you just have the minimum three runs to get the handicap mark.
You are therefore at least pounds 20,000 down on the deal before the big day so you obviously need a big price to get your head in front.
The next problem is that the chosen race will be a low class affair because you have got your horse so well handicapped.
This presents the third problem as backing a horse to win pounds 50,000 in low grade races is nigh on impossible.
Just ask yourself why any bookie worth his salt would wish to lay a huge bet about an unknown horse in a Mickey Mouse race.
You could attempt to spread the bet out but this involves huge logistics and probably extra cost to get others to put it on.
The other problem is that racing has very few people in it that can keep a secret.
Unfortunately we are not allowed to imprison stable lads or jockeys during their non working hours and they do talk.
If the horse is going well at home then word will get around. There is a very good chance the information will be picked up by a bookie somewhere which means he will be ready for you when you decided to go for it.
Running your horse down the field in preparation for a touch means at least one jockey needs to be in on the sting.
He is taking a risk with his licence and will obviously want to be rewarded.
If you're lucky you get to the big day and your fixed costs are pounds 20,000 with the bungs on top.
If you have managed to keep things quiet you might get 10-1 about your "good thing".
I don't believe it's now possible to get pounds 5000 on a horse at those odds without the price collapsing but let's assume you do a brilliant job and the price holds.
You are probably quite chuffed with yourself at this stage but what you have actually done is risked pounds 25,000 to win pounds 50,000 - that is taken even money about a 10-1 shot which is probably the worst value bet you will ever make!
The final piece of the jigsaw is the rest of the runners in your race.
Unfortunately their owners have also spent fortunes entering, training and travelling and the horses may not be aware that you are supposed to win this one.
Even worse, somebody might actually have the same plan as you for the day!
Racing is a competitive game and the results are not decided in advance despite what Mr Kenyon might say.
Hopefully I have convinced you that plotting horses up is too expensive to be considered on a regular basis and as a result racing is much straighter than you might think.
That doesn't mean to say the odd one doesn't slip through the net and the game would be poorer if it didn't.
Plots, coups and scams are a part of racing folklore and I believe strongly that racing is much more exciting as a result.
I for one would hate racing to be sanitised to such an extent that no one could get away with the odd touch along the way and I applaud anyone who can do it.
My grandfather used to tell me about horses painted different colours, weightcloths being switched over, horses jumping in the race halfway and all sorts of other things and I thought these were fantastic as well as highly amusing.
The perpetrators of these acts were also interesting if unsavoury characters but all added to the theatre which is the racing game.
I go racing every day and meet people from all walks of life. Some have become terrific friends and some I would not trust as far as I could throw.
But I am glad they are all there and doubt whether there is another environment that attracts such a wide variety of social classes and personalites.
I would hate to think that programmes like Kenyon's would mean that racing becomes stifled and the gamesmanship is taken out of it.
No-one is forced to bet on races.Those who like dull games should play the Lotto.
At York this afternoon, Fayr Jag can turn the tables on Just James in the William Hill Trophy.
WINNERS ON CALL
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0906 911 0239
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|Publication:||Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)|
|Date:||Jun 15, 2002|
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