Cameron O’Brien is a genuine racing lifer.
While plenty are introduced young thanks to a keen dad, Cam’s old man wasn’t your regular Saturday TAB punter.
O’Brien Sr was one of Australia’s pioneers of weight ratings, getting the jump on the rest of the market by many years – or even decades. Using a primitive (though then cutting edge!) Apple computer – complete with closets packed with 5¼ floppy disks, full of horse data – O’Brien produced a ratings newsletter for Victorian racing, which was soon distributed through news agencies.
So it’s not surprising that Cam caught not only the racing bug, but also the measured, objective approach toward finding winners.
Like many others, the love affair was sealed with an early trip to the Melbourne Cup. With a few dollars’ allowance from the old man, Cam successfully found At Talaq in 1986, and was on his way as a punter.
Recognising his son’s keen interest, Dad set about ensuring Cam had the right education, and he was nose-deep in Don Scott’s punting bibles by age 16.
Indeed, one of Cam’s prized possessions to this day is a signed copy of Scott’s seminal book Winning, in which his dad’s name is printed as one of the key acknowledgements – he helped Scott with the Victorian content for the book.
After school, Cam could begin the punting journey full-time, and he found a job in Darwin under legendary bookmaker Mark Read. He did the form and traded his bread and butter, Victorian racing, but was also introduced to South Australian and Western Australian racing. The latter would become a long-term staple of his punting diet.
Following his time with Read, Cam got to work doing his own thing. Starting in 2002, he set about building his proprietary ratings database to keep him ahead of the market… and sixteen years later, he’s still here.
With his Key Bets package, Cam now supplies subscribers with the same ratings-derived bets he places himself. A little like the old man many years ago, though the technology has certainly changed!
Victoria remains the key focus, along with the aforementioned Western Australia, as well as Queensland, which comes alive in the colder months when the Winter Carnival is up and rolling.
But despite his background, racing is much more than hard numbers and business to Cam.
“Honestly, I got a bit emotional watching the Cox Plate the other day,” he says. “I realised I still do really love the sport, even after all these years. It was just such a pure racing moment. I loved that she was able to do it again.
“I just love this time of year.”
And unlike some punters, he’s no fazed by arrival of internationals at the time of year.
“I like it, especially in the Cups because all their form’s exposed. It really suits the way I do things and the ratings tie in really well.
“I’ve always gone fairly well in the Cups.”
Readers will get the benefit of this soon, when Cam hosts some race previews via webinar – be sure to tune in.
As the man himself said, Cam has always done particularly well in the Cups.
The last 12 months have been no exception with Rekindling (2017 Melbourne Cup) and Best Solution (2018 Caulfield Cup) both found at double-figure prices.
He loves the Spring racing season and there is still time to cash in on that yourself, with a massive Melbourne Cup week ahead.
Don’t get left behind – make this Flemington Carnival a winning one.