Betting 360 Podcast - Betting From All AnglesDave continues his talk with the highly respected punter, bookmaker and form analyst Dominic Beirne.

Punting Insights You’ll Find

  • What you can learn from last minute odds movements.
  • The importance of speed maps and how to keep your inputs objective.
  • Dominic’s most successful type of races.
  • How to get the most value out of being a Betfair client.
  • Comparing your assessments to the odds available and how to factor in the public opinion.
  • Betting for place vs betting for a win.
  • Dominic’s early recommendations for the 2013 Melbourne Cup

Today’s Guest:

Dominic’s Closing Tip:

“I’ve got to say that it’s hard not to be impressed by Fiorente, and I’ve got to say that at the moment I think he’s the horse that would be very hard to beat in the cup “

Episode 007: Dave Talks To Legendary Bookmaker Dominic Beirne – Part 2

Welcome to Betting 360, your number one source for horse racing and sports betting insights. Coming around the bend is your host David Duffield, with another expert view to give you the winning edge.

David: Hello and welcome to Betting 360. I’m your host David Duffield, and each week I bring a special guest onto the podcast, to look at punting from all different angles. This is part two of an interview we did with Dominic Beirne, he was the biggest bookmaker in Australia when he was still in his twenties and he’s had a long and very successful career, a lot of that comes down to what I suppose you’d call a super computer. But we want to delve into that some more, and also just find out what the everyday punter can learn from someone as successful as Dom.

David: What about horses, either last start or recent starting prices? I know a lot of the bigger players are of the view that you know the race is run once and luck in running and other factors can come into it, so what the market assessment of a horse is can be a good guide. Are you of the same belief?

Dominic: Particularly with babies. I think it’s a very good indicator to know that the public like a horse considerably, particularly if it lost. So yeah, there was something to inform the public to that view when you didn’t have the information. Let’s say it was a first starter, or a second starter, so early on it’s valuable, the trouble with it later on is that you know, you can’t always easily measure the factors that went into its most recent price. So last start it might of had a whole bunch of favourable things that made it a 3/1 chance, where if it didn’t have all those favourable things it might’ve been a 12/1 chance. So you know the most recent price as a factor, in my opinion, loses significance with..proportionally to the number of starts.

David: Okay.  Does breeding play any part in your analysis?

Dominic: No it doesn’t. I mean I would’ve like to of…I remember early on when I was betting heavily in the 1980’s when I had a big start on the barrier trials, and I used to have a colleague who was very clever at analysing pedigrees. So you know I would hear him more, and he would analyse the pedigrees for me on the basis that you know, who had a two year-old pedigree, who had a first start pedigree, etcetera. And from that perspective it was quite valuable, I’m pretty sure it’s probably still valuable, but it’s not something that I’ve considered myself expert enough. But there’s plenty of data out there, and plenty of information out there about different ratings on, and that you can then multiply you know…the sire by the dam and come up with a figure, and you know a proportion of first starters to win by this sire and etcetera. So there’s plenty of data out there, I don’t know how much gets into the public I’ll have to say, I haven’t tested it.

David: Something I know you believe is valuable is speed maps. I know the importance of them myself. But how do you incorporate something like that, that you know in many ways is subjective, I suppose interpreting it anyway, into what’s otherwise a quantitative model?

Dominic: Okay well my speed maps aren’t subjective.

David: Oh sorry, I mean the interpretation of them…

Dominic: Yes yes okay. Well neither’s my interpretation of them…

David: Okay

Dominic: So it is a valuable input. And you know I’ve been drawing them, I drew them manually for a long long period. I remember the first ones I drew, I actually did in prosaic form, I wrote them as a phantom call. So I would write a phantom call with maybe half a page, which I sort of talk about…I write, physically write you know, oh I think Tontem will go to the front from so, so , so so, so and so, and he’ll be fifth on the fence. And I did that for quite a while before it dawned on me, I know it probably sounds quite dumb right, like sliced bread I guess. I made loads for a long time, before it dawned on me that I should just be drawing them.

So it’s then that I discovered that you know, drawing them was really quite valuable. And then I put them into grids and advanced a bit more, and ultimately I ended up writing algorithms that do it for me. So…but your question was not just about that, it’s about you know, how do you find the…well you’re thinking that the inputs should be subjective, well they don’t have to be. But I think if you were doing speed maps, and it is a subjective input that you do have to put in, because you haven’t got the algorithm. Then it becomes pretty apparent with practice which horses are advantaged and disadvantaged, and which ones that you know if they are disadvantaged.

I mean I’m always price conscious when it comes to this, I’m not too scared to bet a horse that’s a good price, if it looks significantly disadvantaged on the map, because things can unfold differently, naturally. Because you know let’s say it looks like it’s going to be a really slow speed, well you’ll also get four or five horses ridden out of their comfort zone, and they put a pen through themselves. So whatever probability they added up to, you know is available for the rest of the horses. So you were backing something that was going to be sitting back and looked significantly disadvantaged, you can bet you’re going to get a good price about it. But I’m very price conscious as I say, and you know a horse that’s hard in the market, I’m very critical of, if I don’t like it’s map I don’t back it.

David: You’re right about how things can turn out a little bit differently than what you expect, I mean all the trainers, owners, jockeys, they’re all doing their speed maps or buying them. And yeah, everything points to one thing happening, often the opposite can occur. Just talking about I suppose, selecting a race that you’re interested in, or you know filtering out the ones that you’re not, what types of races get you really excited, and you do want to get involved?

Dominic: Oh okay, so I can probably answer that question secondly. The first sort of would be the difference between my price and the public price, that’s always the first guide. You know I would sort of fairly regularly just roll over a race pretty quickly, if my market just looks you know, identical to the publics. Because you know all I’d be doing is sort of like, subjectively fiddling around with this or that, and I don’t like to make too many subjective decisions. I mean in fact I rarely like to make a subjective decision. But…what was the other part of your question?

David: What type of races, is it where you want to take on the favourite, is it certain distances, states?

Dominic: Well okay. Easily the most successful races for us are the top grade, you know for some reason the computer seems to be pretty good at the top Group 1  and Group 2 races. And I suspect touch wood, that the people who read my articles on Betfair would of found, that we are accurate for quite a lot of the big races. We get some wrong of course, but you know over a period I think the people who have followed the Betfair are a fair way in front.

David: Yeah an example was Green Moon in the Melbourne Cup, obviously that went around at a good price pre-post, but also on the day. Do you focus on you know, a certain part of the market? Do you mind being on one that is short but is still value in your eyes, or are you looking at the longer shots?

Dominic: Well you know, it’s pretty regular that we gravitate to the favourite in big races. I think often in big races, you know people will find a lot of reasons to promote20/1 to 40/1 chances in a couple percent. Well they all add up to getting you 9/4 on a 6/4 chance, and I think that, at the top end of the market is probably where the best value sits.

David: Alright. So when you have identified an overlay, how do you then calculate your staking or maybe how would you suggest a punter calculates their staking? Because you know if you’ve got a horse that’s assessed at say $4 and you can get $8, how do you determine your bet, especially considering I know you value what the markets telling you or the wisdom of the crowd?

Dominic: Yes, see I do take the wisdom of the crowd into account and…but if I had a horse that was 4/1 I would put more on a horse I had 4/1 which is 8/1, then one which is 4/1 and the public’s offering 4/1. So you know the big spread in an advantage should always be you know taken advantage of, by advantage I mean expectation. So if they were paying you double what you think you should be getting you really should be betting quite confidently.

David: What about on the other side then. If you’ve assessed the horse at $8 and the market has it at $4, how quickly do you want to take that on, or I suppose on the other side, how much do you want to look into it to see if there’s something that the computer has missed, or just you know a certain factor in the race where you wouldn’t look to get involved at all?

Dominic: Oh well you know in a circumstance like that, there might still be a bet. Because I’d like to…. I used to do a very harsh market, but I think round 93% is probably a reasonable percentage to do a market to, because the public’s has gotten so much smarter, I used to do them to 83%. When I was betting quite heavily, and I found that you know, because there was a pretty big difference between my prices and the public’s prices, you know I was looking for the really good overlays, and betting very well on them.

But now that the public has got closer to my price or vice versa, that if you’ve got say, one turn of the board longer than your price, I think that’s good enough to have a bet. So I think that, if you find that your market disagrees with one horse significantly, and you end up having to bet a lot of runners in a race, well that’s okay if the favourites you know, 2/1 on and you can sort of like…kind of justify it. Well if the favourites 2/1 on you should just march ahead and do it. But if it’s a more open race and you’ve got to outlay a fair bit of the percentage, you know I always like to have a little bit of a second look to see, because the computer cant factor everything of course right.

So, well let’s say you had you know a horse that was ’10/1 and it was 2/1. And it was first up from a spell, and you know it might be that you look at it and you find, well you know there are reasons why, I can see why, this is that price. And when I mix it with the public and I turn it from 10/1 to 3/1, then you know all of my overlays have disappeared proportionally. And I could stay out of that race so…betting blindly to the probabilities is a little dangerous, but you know I still come back to the point that if they’re marginal, I still come back to the point that if there’s a significant overlay, don’t look too hard into why you’re wrong, because you know you’re going to regret it over a period if you’re doing good probabilities.

David: Alright. What are your thoughts on each way betting?

Dominic: Oh well each way betting’s enormous if you can get set right (laughs). Does anyone bet each way anymore these days? For a quarter of the odds in plenty of races is you know, two hundred and forty, or two hundred and fifty precent, but nobody does that anymore do they? Or are you referring to…or are you just referring to win and betting for a place as well as a win with the bookmakers?

David: Yeah I mean, in some of the races that we’ll target, you know we’ll have… we might bet, two or three horses in a race, and we often get the question why wouldn’t you just back your top rider each way?

Dominic: Oh I see okay. You know traditionally an each way bet is just where bookmakers put up his sign and you’ve got a quarter of the odds to place, well you know that was money for jam right. I remember all the surveys I ever did, we won much more for a place than we did for a win, but that was when bookies were betting on a quarter, but now they bet like a fifth or a sixth or a tenth sometimes. You know depending upon the spread of the market probabilities in the public.

You know it’s all about, it’s all about value once again, and betting for a place is a particularly interesting animal because, I don’t think all horses should be fractionalised equally. You know, so there would be punters who look at a race and say, well here’s a horse that’s got three wins and zero placing’s out of twenty starts, and has drawn barrier thirteen in a field of eighteen, and it’s 10/1. Well you don’t really want to be taking five to two for a place, but it might win at the rate of ten to one. And then there’s another horse that’s got you know, two wins and seven placings, with the same number of starts, and it’s drawn barrier one, and it’s 10/1. Well you know you’ll find if you went on to Betfair place market on those two horses, one’s likely to be twos and one’s likely to be threes. Which reflects probably more accurately, their prospect of running one two three.

David: Okay. So you’ve worked closely with Betfair in recent times and put a lot of previews and reviews out there. What suggestions would you have for the everyday punter to help them get the most value out of being a Betfair client?

Dominic: I like to think that…not in a smart ass way, I’d like to think though, that I’m you know informing the general public about ways to improve the way that they do form. And the new…an eye-opener to new approaches. So you know, we focus mainly on the main races because they’re the identifiable horses and the ones that the punters are going to open up the form guide and want to get engaged in. And so I think that the work I’m doing at Betfair is not that many races a year, I don’t know, probably might be about one hundred races a year I suppose.

It does open up people’s eyes, I guess from a Betfair marketing perspective, Betfair would like the punter to read my article and then go straight over to the Betfair site. Which is, I believe what they’re doing, because they can open up my article and then refer immediately into the market, and see that the prices I’ve got up are reasonably close to, and how they may have moved recently, and weather it’s time to put a bet on. You know my markers goes out on a Friday, so it’s pretty often that the market moves in the direction that we’ve indicated, so some people are playing it as an arbitrage game to get overs, some people just like to get it and put their bets on the following day with Betfair. So yeah I think that Betfair’s doing well out of the arrangement.

David: And you see when you’re on course all the on course bookmakers how much notice they take of Betfair and the price movements. What clues do you take from you know, say if a horse is drifting on Betfair rather dramatically late, is that a real concern for you?

Dominic: Okay Yeah. You wouldn’t like to see it, you don’t like to see it really. So I think last minute movements are really quite valuable for punters, I mean you know if you’ve got the patience to wait till really quite late, you can get some pretty good information watching the disparity of the prices. I remember there was one at Christmas over in Western Australia, where I think he came $4.20 into $4 at the track, and it was $8 or $9 on Betfair.

David: And it ran like an $8 chance?

Dominic: Sure (laughs) Yeah it did. And you know it was a Group 1 race I think, Group 1 or a Group 2 race. And I thought that’s just crazy overs you know, so I don’t know what investigation was made by authorities into that race, into that runner, but you know that would be scary if you just took the $4.20 each way right (laughs)

David: Well you don’t have to watch the race really (laughs)

David: We’ll just finish up with a little bit of talk about the Cups if that’s alright. And we’re not strong proponents of betting a long way out, but you know if there’s some good value there, I don’t mind mentioning it to people and they can make up their own mind. Is there a horse that you think is a stand out at all at this stage? We’ll start out with the Melbourne Cup, the big one.

Dominic: Well you know at the moment, it’s not a stand out of course but we did amplify it over the radio just before Puissance De Lune won at Flemington. And I said that I think this is the Cup horse for next year, and it was 25/1 at the time, so if you had a ticket on that it would be okay. I might say is there a Japanese horse coming down here this year? Is there talk of you know, if there is one coming down here I’d be particularly quite interested.

David: Yeah as far as I know there is one Japanese horse. I think it went around the favourite in a Group 1 a couple of weeks back and didn’t do much, but they are planning to bring it down.

Dominic: Yes. Okay so you know there’s a lot of water to go under the bridge. Betting early as you said earlier, I was tipping Green Moon five months before the race, and it was 20/1 and 25/1, well it was 55/1 on Betfair one week before the race. So (laughs) you know for all your brilliance you didn’t even get to the..and it paid$22 on the day. So you know it’s hard to get overs, but I’ve got a lot of work to do in the meantime but there are some factors that I’ve written up before, I write them up every year for the public that look at, and know positive outcomes to you know, regressing Melbourne Cup winners, and coming up with some positive factors.

And one of the most valuable ones I’ve found, I’ve been talking about it since Makybe Diva when I was on TV, back ten, nine years ago, I think ten years ago. They have an abbreviated very very short number of runs in their Autumn campaign. Increasingly, trainers have cottoned on to this, and you know there’s more each year, but there’s still only really a reasonable small number each year. But there’s a couple that have been, well you’ve got Puissance De Lune and Fiorente, who are the two at the top of the markets, they certainly will qualify on that factor. And I’ve got to say that you know it was hard not to be impressed by Fiorente, you’d have to say that at the moment he’s probably the horse that I think would be very hard to beat in a cup.

David: And if you owned It’s A Dundeel which races would you aim him for?

Dominic: Oh I think I’d aim for the Cox Plate and I’d aim for it fourth up, I think. I actually wrote something to this impact, to this effect for Betfair. Maybe third up in the Cox Plate  and fourth up in MacKinnon. I wouldn’t be going for the Cups, if you want to go for the Cups wait another year. But by which time of course the horse would probably be at stud, which is another shame in stride horse racing for this year. But he’s going to be mighty hard to beat with the absence of Pierro and All Too Hard, he’s going to be extremely hard to beat, It’s a Dundeel in races next year.

David: And if you were lucky enough to own Fiveandahalf Star, where would you aim him?

Dominic: Oh for the Cups. And I’d give him as many runs as you could possibly get into him. He just keeps getting better with the more and more runs he has. And yeah he’s a definitely gifted stayer, and he’ll just keep going I think, keep running, running, and running.

David: Excellent. Alright we’ll leave it there for now Dom. There’s plenty of other questions I could ask you but we’ll leave that for another time. I really appreciate your time today, and definitely opened us as well. I’m sure a lot of guys will get a lot out of it.

Dominic: Okay, thank you.

Thanks for tuning in to Betting 360.  Get more in depth analysis, tips and that betting edge by heading over to where you’ll find a full transcript of this episode.  If you liked the show, share us with a fellow punter or drop by iTunes to leave us your thoughts.  Betting 360, punting from all angles.

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