One of the ‘golden rules’ espoused by legendary racehorse trainer Barry Hills was, ‘Never bet odds-on. If you could buy money they would sell it at a shop down the road.’ Granted that Barry Hills funded the establishment of his first training yard, South Bank Stables in Lambourn, Berkshire, with his winnings from a bet on Frankincense in the Lincoln Handicap in 1968 and in his heyday, in the Nineties, fully expected to supplement his training fees by winning £50,000, or £60,000, a year from the bookmakers, his words are worth taking seriously.

What professional punter Clive Holt dubbed the ‘glorious uncertainty’ of horse racing is what keeps bookmakers in business and the history of the sport is awash with prohibitively long odds-on chances that could have, and perhaps should have, won, but did not. Even in the real show-piece events like the Grand National and Cheltenham Gold Cup where prices are typically more generous due to the size of the field, favourites have been known to come a cropper. That’s why, in my view, it’s a wise move to use betting offer sites such as to scour through some bigger odds selections and free bet offers. It’s important to try to have as much going for you as possible when you’re gambling.

When it comes to short-priced losers, the notoriously fickle racing gods are no respecters of reputation. The shortest-priced loser in the history of British racing was Royal Forest, who finished second of four, at odds of 1/25, in the Clarence House Stakes at Ascot in September, 1948, and was ridden by none other than Sir Gordon Richards, arguably the greatest jockey of all time. The previous June, at Chepstow, Sir Gordon suffered another mishap when Glendower, sent off at 1/20 in a match for the Chepstow Stakes, whipped ‘round at the start, dumping the 26-time Champion Jockey on the ground and leaving his solitary opponent, Markwell, to finish alone.

In the sphere of National Hunt racing, Jerry M, better known for winning the 1912 Grand National under Ernest ‘Ernie’ Piggott, grandfather of Lester Piggott, had earlier suffered the ignominy of being ‘turned over’ at odds of 1/20. In another match, the Open Steeplechase, at Newbury in 1909, Jerry M fell and was remounted to complete the course. Over a century later, in 2018, Tree Of Liberty, trained by Kerry Lee, equalled that unenviable record when finishing second, beaten 2½ lengths, in the three-runner Alfa Aggregate Novices’ Chase at Ludlow.

So with all of this firmly in mind, don’t always see favourites as sure things. Instead take the time to seek out value bets and combine that with the numerous betting offers that are available right now. A good starting point for this fresh approach would be the upcoming Cheltenham Festival. ‘Sure things’, like only the other day, Native River being withdrawn from the Gold Cup, can’t escape physical limitations. So get your thinking cap on instead of going for the obvious options. In the long term your banking bank may well thank you for it.

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