Racing Retirement Plan

"At only a tenner I think the book represents good value. It is well presented and well written. It’s structure allows it to be dipped into or read cover to cover. Recommended."

The summer quickly passed by and we are already into the autumn. It may only be early October but Christmas isn’t too far away. I haven’t yet spotted the first Christmas related advertisement on television but my local superstore already has a plentiful supply of Christmas puddings and other festive offerings. I’m just starting to think about what presents people will want or, if I were more honest, the things I wouldn’t mind seeing in my Xmas stocking.

In my view The Racing Retirement Plan by Bernard Hibbert would be a good stocking filler for any punter who wants to know more or wants to refresh their ideas about betting on systems. It is basically a short book divided into two parts. The first half of the book covers ten chapters on different subjects related to betting systems, while the second details a number of systems that the author claims to be highly profitable.

The book starts with a short introduction on the psychology of betting. This basically explains why it is really important to have a positive attitude towards betting and to actually believe that you will win before you strike a bet. I think that this is an important point and I have witnessed many fellow punters sink into a pit of despair following a sustained losing run. They then start to do things that they wouldn’t normally do, as they become more and more desperate for a winner. I recall one punting colleague who had clocked up seven consequtive losers and had lost all confidence in his abilities, and abandoned methods that had worked well for him in the past. He placed a very big bet on a short priced favourite (I think it went off at 5 to 1 on) simply to back a winner and to get him back into the black. Needless to say the horse lost and another lesson was learnt the hard way. Positive thinking is therefore important, and is especially important in the face of a losing run. However, if I’m picky I think the author could have spent a bit more time on this aspect of betting and on systems betting in particular. For instance, I think there is plenty to be said from a psychological point of view of betting only on systems. In their purest form a system protects us from ourselves and takes the human element out of betting. Systems do not make mistakes or panic when on a losing run.

There is a very useful Chapter on establishing a betting bank and it is full of sound advice about setting up a betting bank and betting to proportional stakes. Advice like “you are a professional operating a business” and so “keep your betting records up to date” is good advice that far too many ignore.

In a later Chapter there is a discussion on the need for a selective approach to betting. Again this is very good advice in my view. The quickest way to the poor house is to attempt to pick the winner of every race.

The book contains a number of pointers about how to be selective, with lots of supporting statistics. The author draws heavily on the type of race (handicap or non-handicap) and the ratings and betting forecasts in the Racing Post in order to narrow down a field to a few possible contenders. Again I can see very little wrong in this approach and my own data tells me that the betting market is a particularly important factor in picking winners.

For those of you familiar with the approach of the legendary C Van Der Wheil there is a good summary contained in the book that will also help others to become aware of the approach. The methods of other systems ‘pioneers’ are also detailed, including Nick Mordin and Tom Ainslie. There is lots of useful information contained in this Chapter, although it would have been nice to read about a few more of the pioneers (Andy Beyer, William Querin, etc).

The other Chapters in this half of the books are full of statistics on trainers, courses, and other form factors that should help the reader to think about factors for building their own successful betting systems.

The second half of the book is dedicated to “The racing investment programme: a collection of proven systems”. I counted seven listed systems divided between flat and National Hunt racing. In fairness to the author I can’t reveal the details here but all the systems use only a handful of factors and look simple to use using the Racing Post newspaper. They all appear to be sensible to me and are based on proven winning factors. The statistical returns for the systems are listed and include information on strike rate, number of selections, profit loss and also winning and losing runs. However, I’m not sure about the “Fallon’s Flyers” system! This system is all about backing the mounts of Kieren Fallon when he is not riding the favourite. This system perhaps reveals the fact that the book was originally written in 2004 before Fallon was banned from riding in Great Britain!

The whole book can probably be read in a couple of sittings because it is fairly short at just 80 pages. There is probably not anything terribly original in the methods described and I’m sure that I’ve read about some of them before in other books. However, the really nice thing about the Racing Retirement Plan is that it pulls together some of the main betting system literature into one place.

The author clearly knows what he is talking about and the booked is packed full of tips that, if you followed them all, would undoubtedly improve your betting. The systems described in the second half of the book are also well worth a look and, even if you do not follow them blindly, they might help you to think about new systems of your own.

At only a tenner I think the book represents good value. It is well presented and well written. It’s structure allows it to be dipped into or read cover to cover. Recommended.