Last year we lost -35 pts in the first six months of the 2017 service and won +39 pts in the second half. The same thing has happened this year - we lost -30.77 pts in the first six months and then won +27.87 pts in the second half.
We had a great start to the 2018 service last November, landing some nice jumps multiples, but the New Year was a bit of a nightmare and we had two bad months before a fantastic Cheltenham.
With regards to the Flat season - the bread and butter for the service - the wet spring was a hindrance this year, and when I listen around and hear other services have struggled this year, I suspect this may be one of the reasons why. I certainly think it was one of the reasons why NMP started this turf season slowly and we were unable to kick on properly after Cheltenham.
The start of the season is renowned for funny results, anyway, but we lost quite a few meetings due to abandonments and then had the issues in trying to weigh up how fit some horses were when returning from breaks. Some missed pieces of work at home.
When we were on the back foot we had to tread that bit more carefully before the recovery began to happen, which is likely why our turnover is down this year (less was also staked on the multiples this year).
It took a long time to get going.
The turning point in our year was July. We lost up to -62.79 pts lost to the end of June but won +59.89 points from July onwards once the better ground arrived and form settled down. We had a recovery spell that yielded over 85 pts worth of profit, before we handed back about 20 pts in the final six weeks of the season or so.
With regards to next year, I don't think the current set up of betting every day all year round suits the service anymore. I will be looking to make some changes to the service to shake things up in 2019 and that will involve taking a break after Christmas.
We'll look to resume in good time for Cheltenham but the thought of going into winter hibernation is very appealing - the aim being to avoid giving ourselves another 60 pt handicap for when the proper racing starts.
Last year the singles made +25 pts profit and the multiples lost -20 pts. This year the opposite has been true.
A recurring theme in this e-mail will be how the service's policy of sending out multiples, along with singles, for the big weekend selections, blurs the respective profit and loss totals.
The performance of the singles has dropped off this year but that is due, in part, to the success of the multiples this year - if we have 3 pts rolling up onto our main weekend pick in a double then we will rarely need to stake anything else on the horse in a single. If that horse does win at the weekend, the resulting profit will end up being recorded in the multiple column, not as a winning single (unless the double is sunk at the first leg in which case we may then back the single anyway).
This has had the effect of ramping up the profit of the multiples this year and taking some level of profit away from the singles. It has also had implications for the P/L for the different stake strengths and odds ranges - as we will get onto later in this e-mail.
It is pleasing to see the multiples fare so well this year. I said last year we had been unlucky with some near misses for big returns and it was only a matter of time until we landed a couple on record.
We've had some good days this year when multiples weren't advised - the Tuesday of Cheltenham (6 out of 7 winners) and World Cup night in Dubai (3/3 winners) spring to mind but, more importantly, we'e had some big multiple returns on record with the likes of Sam Spinner, Foxtrot Lady and Ripp Orf.
Last year those sorts were just getting touched off. Remember Growl (worth 40-50 pts), Jumira Bridge (worth 20 pts) and Home Of The Brave (worth 20 pts) etc?
I was doing myself out of lots of profit with the multiples last year by settling many of them at SP as well. This year I have settled the doubles at realistic advised prices.
Based on the feedback I have been getting, however, even settling the doubles at lowest advised prices doesn't tell the full story as to how profitable these bets have been this year.
With the multiples if you beat the lowest advised prices on both legs of the bet then the multiplier effect can be massive. For example, if two horses are advised at 10/1 to 8/1 and 9/4 to 15/8, the difference in profit (from a 0.5 pt win stake) between taking top prices and bottom prices for both is 4.94 pts - nice! Even if able to take 9/1 and 2/1 you are are beating the profit from taking lowest odds by +2.88 pts extra.
Cumulatively over the period of a season, those extra gains can add up nicely. We had 12 winning doubles this year (full wins only - not placers).
The performance of the singles per se is disappointing given they made 25 pts profit last year. I have thus looked into the performance of the singles further.....
Profit breakdown by odds range (singles only):
Odds of 10/3 or less
201.38 pts staked
-40.45 pts lost (-20 % ROI)
Odds between 7/2 and 10/1:
425.75 pts staked
-16.65 pts loss (-4 % ROI)
Odds of 11/1 and bigger
70.12 pts staked
+6.44 pts profit (+9 % ROI)
Last year the bets at odds of 10/3 or less produced +41 pts profit from 264 pts staked, the 7/2 to 10/1 bets yielded +2 pts from 555 pts staked and the 11/1+ bets recorded a -18.53 pt loss from 152 pts staked. This year the results have shown the opposite and the short-priced picks have been a notable drain on profit, while the picks at longer odds have fared best.
Again, however, we come back to the fact the horses I fancied at short odds were often sent out in multiples, rather than solely as singles. The aim with multiples is to get a roll-up off a winning first leg to get funds rolling onto something in the second leg at a big price, so short-priced picks are ideal for the first leg - they stand more chance of winning and keeping the double alive.
For example, the reason Foxtrot Lady paid so handsomely in July was because we had her doubled with Great Return and Kalagia in 0.75 pt doubles at 15/8 and 11/8 and then Foxtrot Lady at 10/1 or 8/1. We ended up with over 36 pts profit back from those doubles, rather than just faffing about with two singles on Great Return and Kalagia to win 2.4 pts off 1.5 pts staked.
This year we have backed the following selections, all of whom won their leg of the double at odds of 10/3 or less but formed part of what was ultimately a losing double.....
3/1, 5/2, 11/4, 2/1, 6/4, 6/4, 9/4 (-20p R4), 4/6, 5/4, 9/4, evs, 8/11, 5/2, 15/8, 11/8, 5/4, 5/4, 4/7, 7/4, 4/6, 4/5, 4/5, 3/1, 15/8, 7/4, 10/11, 3/1, 3/1, evs, 10/11, 7/2 and, most recently, Island of Life at 2/1.
All that said, it is clear the shorter priced picks have still underperformed compared overall compared to last year. Ultimately, I just think it is harder to make a profit backing selections at shorter odds due to the higher strike rate needed to sustain a profit. There is less room for error.
It gives us some food for thought going into the new year, though it isn't quite as simple as just ditching short prices and backing big prices every time to get things back on track - big prices get cut quicker if betting midweek in weaker betting markets, which then opens up a can of worms in terms of everyone getting on.
With the TV and weekend races, however, the ante post markets are better formed and can absorb more money.
It is good to see the performance of the higher-priced selections improve from last year (even if the resulting profit is small). You only need a couple of extra winners in this column and the profit can swing from the loss it showed last year, to the profit it shows this year, due to the fact your potential returns off such bets is often higher than when backing selections at short odds (obviously dependent on stake size).
Profit breakdown by stake strength (singles only):
The average stake this year has been 0.83 pt (down from 0.90 pt in 2017 and back closer to the 2016 average of 0.82 pts).
Stakes of < 1 pt
298.87 pts staked
-25.67 pts lost (-9 % ROI)
Stakes of 1 pt
204 pts staked
-19.51 pts lost (-10 % ROI)
Stakes > 1 pt
194.38 pts staked
-5.48 pts profit (-3 % ROI)
Turnover has been down on last year in all categories - we placed 396 x 1 pt win bets last year, by comparison. We staked 264 pts on > 1 pt bets last year and 313 on < 1 pt bets last year.
As referenced earlier, part of the reason for the reduced turnover is the losing run we were on in the first half of this year.
As is traditionally the case, the stronger fancied bets have performed better than the weakly fancied bets - many of which are filler bets to keep us ticking over but which often have a concern over them, whether it be ground, trip or draw etc.
Long term, I think we need to scrap the filler bets/half-fancies/interest bets (or whatever else we can call them) in run-of-the-mill races and stick to the strong fancies. This will mean more 'no bet' days in the week, but the best racing is generally later in the week and at the weekends, so that is where I feel we need to focus.
For the purposes of this analysis I have not grouped horses together if they were backed twice. For example, if we had 1 pt EW on a horse one day and then topped up with 0.5 pt EW the next day (perhaps if enhanced place terms were later available), they would be listed as two separate bets here - one being 2 pt and the other being 1 pt, rather than being a 3 pt MAX bet.
As a result, we have only had two 'traditional' MAX bets this year - Muthmir (1.5 pt EW) and Kynren (2 pt win/1 pt place) - both finished just out of the frame. However, if you had grouped together bets and/or those accounted for selections we've involved in multiples, we have had more bets than this with a total 3 pt liability attached. Foxtrot Knight at Newmarket, just to name one (1.5 pt on the single and 2 x 0.75 pt doubles) - that chopped off close to 50 pts from the bets combined.
The reason for approaching races with a smaller single and additional multiples these days, rather than with one big single, is because it is easier to get bets on in the current climate via multiples. I have many restricted accounts but even firms like Betfred let me combine selections in multiples and give you the opportunity to win big. It is just the way the game has gone - I've had to adapt my betting, as I am sure many of you have had to too.
A comparison of win only vs advised stakes (singles only)
Advised stakes (i.e singles exactly as sent out)
697.25 pts staked
-50.66 pts lost
-7 % ROI
697.25 pts staked
-37.39 pts lost
-5 % ROI
It is usual for win only betting to improve the profitability of selections and that has been the case again this year.
If anyone converted all stakes to win only on the singles (so 0.5 pt win/0.25 place would become 0.75 pt win and 0.75 pt EW would become 1.5 pt win etc) the losses were reduced from -50 to -36 pts - that is assuming you were able to get full stakes matched at the same price.
The advantage of going win only on the singles wasn't anything like as pronounced as last year, though, as going win only boosted the profit of the singles from 25 to 77 pts last year. Having seen how much more efficient win only staking was last year I have deliberately advised more top-heavy each way bets (with more staked on the win than the place) this year, though, so maybe that is partly responsible.
I don't think moving to win only betting is an easy get out of jail card and it requires a lot of patience and perseverance - a temperament that does not suit everybody.
I have also compared the performance of the doubles win only compared to how they were sent out. Most of the doubles were sent out win only anyway to be honest, though we did have a couple of winning lines and several doubles where horses had both placed but not win.
The profit of the multiples this year was boosted slightly to +50.9 pts from +47.76 pts by going win only.
If you'd backed singles and multiples win only over the course of the year you'll likely be +13.5 pts up to lowest advised prices - potentially closer to 70 pts up* if you get top advised odds each time (the latter figure is based on member feedback*).
When staking win only, however, you need a bigger betting bank to withstand much longer losing runs. Results are more volatile. You'd have in theory been +55 pts up in December following such an approach, yet -70 pts down at one point in July (assuming lowest advised odds were taken on all winners).
In reality, if beating lowest advised odds, things wouldn't have quite been so bad, but you get the gist.....you perhaps need a betting bank in the region of 120 pts if backing win only.
Breakdown of performance by field size (singles only)
For this analysis I discounted the singles sent out which turned out to be ante post non runners.Field sizes of 7 runners or less
Staked: 115.38 pts
Profit/loss: -26.02 pts lost
ROI: -23 %
Field sizes of 8-15 runners
Staked: 420 pts
Profit/loss: -32.57 pts
ROI: -8 %
Field sizes of 16+ runners
Staked: 155.12 pts
Profit/loss: +14.68 pts
ROI: +9 %
For me, this is one of the more interesting bits of info to come out of the e-mail. I regularly feel uncomfortable about backing in small fields due to pace concerns. It can work in your favour if you are on the front runner and want them to dominate a small field, but for the majority of selections, who come from further back in the field, you are (generally speaking) more likely to get a truly run race in a bigger field than a small field.
I've looked at the performance of the singles by field size and split them up into 7 runners or less (2 places paid EW), 8 to 15 runners (3 places paid EW) and 16+ runners (4 places+ paid EW). The big weekend handicaps are where we have enjoyed our best results this year. They have shown a profit of +14.68 pts this year, whereas the singles in smaller fields have both lost money. I attribute that to there being more falsely run races in smaller fields.
The other advantage of betting in bigger fields is better places terms and more competitive betting markets.
I intend to focus on the larger field races next year (the exceptions being when backing front runner, when I'll back irrespective of field size).