8-1 DAQMAN WINNER WAS 12.5 ON BETDAQ: Daqman yet again spotted Betdaq value when he yesterday named Trumpington Street (WON 8-1) at 12.5 on the Daq at morning prices before the evening meeting at Kempton Park, where Betdaq sponsored four races.
Phil Bull didn’t suffer fools gladly. Obsolescent Jockey Club members and careless journalists who crossed his path were witness to that.
If you went for an interview for a job at Timeform without knowing the antecedents to the eighth generation of every Derby winner in history, you were likely to come out feeling you were one of those fools.
But one little episode that I recall suggests a character mix which was both generous and disdainful and sums up the two sides of the man, I think fairly typical of the Yorkshire schoolmaster he had been.
All punters worth the word owe to Bull, who is featured in the Racing Post today, an enormous debt as one of racing’s educators and for breaking down barriers; perhaps the most important – after a long and fierce campaign – was to force rescindment of the rule that a horse be automatically disqualifed after the rider’s infringement.
It’s when we see France still applying such rules that we realize how lucky we are to have left such an absurdity behind us.
The scene for my little story is set in his Timeform office in Halifax. Picture a diminutive bearded Yorkshireman, eyes peeled like a watchmaker, peering at you across his desk (had you done your homework?)
I was there to introduce to him one of Australia’s shrewdest gamblers, Murray Dwyer, himself a match for anyone in the quick wit and mathematic skills required to make money at betting.
The tension was broken by the telephone: it was one of the office girls, perhaps his secretary. ‘Yes,’ snapped Bull, ‘I asked you to get me Will Hill on the line. You got me Hills’ offices. I don’t want the office boys. I want the man. I only deal with him.’ Pause.
‘Will HILL!’ boomed Mr Bull down the mouthpiece, after she had presumably asked for the name to be repeated. You could almost hear the swish of the cane, as he limbered up to dispose of another idiot from the back of the class. He put the phone down.
For a few moments there was silence, as Bull shook his head, exasperated. ‘Are you going to sack her?’ Dwyer asked, tentatively. ‘Certainly not,’ said Bull. ‘She’s an important reminder.’
He looked at Murray, then at me. ‘If you are going to make a profit at betting on horses you start with this great luxury: most of the punters out there are following straws in the wind.
‘They don’t have the intelligence or the wit to examine a race properly. Once you realise that, you know you are streets ahead. If anyone can win, you can.
‘And you will have learned the greatest lesson in gambling: you may not be able to beat the bookmaker, but you can take a large share of the money those careless punters have put in his satchel.
‘So, no, I won’t be sacking her. She and countless others suffer from what passes for education in this country.’
As you scan the paper form at Redcar today – one of Bull’s home tracks – imagine a man so meticulous about form study that he would ring the local met station to check on the wind velocity and direction so as to adjust his time figures for the afternoon’s meeting.
I admit that it is for the first time today that I am reading the Redcar race-header in the Racing Post: ‘Wind SSE 10 km/h.” Did you even know it was there?
Topspeed will tell you that Charlie Cool (3.40) has put up the best speed rating in the feature race of the day, but note that the going is good to soft, that ‘Charlie’ is eight now and has won only one of his last 22 races.
As Mr Bull told me: ‘It’s like a game of chess. Only move to a bet after careful study when you have all your pieces on the board and can see the weakness in the opposition.’
Phil Bull, and Murray Dwyer come to that, would always be banging on about ‘the improver’. Which horse in the race is on the upgrade? Which ones – bound to be the younger horses, isn’t it – have the potential to improve?
‘Charlie’ hasn’t but he has dropped a few pounds in the handicap and he has won on good to soft. Kiwi Bay can say that, too; he’s rated level with or lower than his last two wins, both at Redcar, and one of them on good to soft.
The last time they met, in October over today’s CD on that very good to soft, Kiwi Bay gave Charlie Cool a pound and beat him half a length. Today Kiwi Bay is giving 2lb, which means that old enemy, the handicapper, has got it spot on again. He would make it hard for us, wouldn’t he.
The improver must come from among Huntingfortreasure (not much worthwhile form but Hanagan booked), Koo And The Gang (a Redcar winner on good to soft over 7f in a grade higher race), Munsarim (seemingly a firm-ground horse and held by Charlie Cool on Goodwood form) and Regimental (also a CD winner but high in the weights after a good summer).
Plenty of worries for Charlie Cool there but the big black mark against him is that his stable is just about the only one in the race out of form: Ruth Carr is struggling on the ‘cold trainers’ list with 28 losers in the last 25 racing days.
I’m choosing between Kiwi Bay – he’s the track specialist with form figures there of 1424110 – and Koo And The Gang, as potentially best of the improvers.
The clincher is that ‘Koo’ has won both times Paul Pickard has been in the saddle and he’s back on board today. But, if ‘Charlie’ wins, I’m Cool about it. It’s not a race in which all my pieces are in play.
BET 4.6pts win KOO AND THE GANG and 5pts win KIWI BAY (3.40 Redcar)
BET 2.6pts win SAJWAH and 1pt win (stakes saver) DREAMWRITER (3.50 Salisbury)
BET 3.2pts win HIGHLAND CASTLE and 1.2pts win (stakes saver) COLOUR VISION (5.30 Salisbury)
BET 2.2pts win and place PRICE OF RETRIEVAL (8.10 Kempton)
BET 5.4pts win SINGLE LADY (8.40 Kempton)
DAQ MULTIPLES: 2pts win double Russian War (2.50 Newton Abbot) and Zefooha (5.20 Redcar)