Saturday 6 June 2009

The Timelessness Of Derby Day

Thirty years ago, I attended my second, and the 200th ever, Derby. Back then of course, it was always on a Wednesday, requiring a day off work, and one could get a spot on the rails as close as a furlong out for free. Troy was the winner that day, and I remember making some money on him although the main reason for attending was simply to experience a Derby Day. Epsom Downs were only a few miles from my home and Tattenham Corner just six stops from my local station. Half a million people attended in those days, and it was one of the best things in life that actually WAS free. Then sometime in the early to mid 80s I think, someone decided to start charging money to attend, and I stopped going. I couldn't bring myself to start paying for something that was formerly free. Anyway, I was over it by then.

I seldom bet on horse-racing for reasons explained here before many times, but my daughter told me today's winner. A customer in her coffee shop told her, but she didn't have any money on it, much to her annoyance. My son was there though, and when he reappears I'm hoping he will have made enough money to be able to put down a deposit on a small house. Or at least have made enough to buy a beer or two.

These big sporting events are seldom good for the serious investor. With so much interest, value is impossible to find. The Derby might be a big deal for the owners, jockeys, trainers, but for the sports investor a winner is a winner whether it be in a maiden race at Cartmel (I've been there too) or the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe. It might not sound so good in the pub that you didn't have a bet on the Derby but that you had the winner (Breeze Out) in the 2:10 at Hexham, but then why bother? No one except you really cares anyway!


PhilipH said...

Hi Cass,
My actual birthplace was Epsom, according to my birth certificate, but I only remember living in Croydon. However, I went to many Derby days on the Downs where there were plenty of bookie stands, most of dubious standing!

I was about 14 or so and just left school when I went to one Derby meeting and had a bet in every race! OK, only 1/- each, and all at ludicrously high odds, 33-1 or so. I kept all the bookie tickets with the horse name and odds which I'd written on the back. All were losers of course. I got home and told my Dad where I'd been and what I'd done. He was absolutely furious as I'd lost what was then a fair bit of money (six shillings). I argued my case by saying that I stood to win a lot of money as the odds were so big! He gave me a lesson in betting probabilities there and then.

It's a truism that 99% of ordinary punters always lose; it is only the occasional "win" that keeps their interest in horse-racing alive. If the losing run is long enough, (and this varies with the individual of course) then the interest will die.

I've never completely lost my interest in horse-racing ever since a "traveller" for Marshall Taplows, the wines and spirits arm of Charringtons the brewers for whom I once worked gave us a tip for a nag called Bahktapeace, which I backed with the local bookie for 1/- each way. It won at 33-1 no less! However, having worked in the game between 1956-1972 for various bookies I have always kept my punting to a very small level. If I have a £5 bet then it has to be something special, and these are very few and far between. I had £2 on Sea the Stars yesterday, and that was a big bet for me!

PhilipH said...

Why have you switched to "comment moderation" Cass? I have replied to a couple or three of your posts but nothing has appeared. Are you getting some dodgy comments, or what?

Regards, Phil

Cassini said...

Sorry Phil - interseting stuff as always from you. I turned the moderation on because some twat was smamming some stock market scheme and commented twice on here and it was annoying.