Betting on a horse race, always check the Tote price of your fancy before making the bet. Cases abound where the joy of backing a long-priced winner is shattered by the realisation that a simple glance at the Tote odds might have brought a much bigger return. Imagine this: you’re at Cheltenham in March 2008 and you fancy a small fl utter on Mister McGoldrick for the Racing Post Plate; you have a tenner with a course bookmaker at 66-1, which turns out to be Mister McGoldrick’s starting price; he wins unchallenged; you’re on Cloud Nine as you trouser the £670 – then plummet through the cloud when you see that the Tote win return is £147, or 146-1, fully 80 points – 80 points! – better than SP.


Always give due consideration to a horse which has won the race in question before, whatever his recent form – and especially if the race has an unusual feature. For example, the Gold Cup at Ascot is the only top-flight contest of the Flat season in Britain run over 21⁄2 miles, and given its extreme long distance it is no surprise that the race has produced plenty of dual winners and, in the great Sagaro and Yeats, two triple winners.


Royal Rebel, 8-1 winner of the Gold Cup in 2001, seemed to have lost his form on the run- up to the following year’s renewal, but there was obviously something about this eccentric contest which brought out the best in him, and he beat the great Vinnie Roe a neck at 16-1.