Paul Cooper: Warming Up

“Everyone is Equal on the Turf and Under It” goes the poignant remark. Others call it a mug’s game!


Whatever your opinion about racing, it has fascinated generations. A steeplechase was so called because the race was to see which horse would run between the steeples of two churches the fastest. Racing has a wonderful heritage.


Racegoers attend meetings for different reasons, including social ones. They usually like the party atmosphere. They can eat, drink and be merry (though heavy boozing and betting are not a good combo!). They also like to dress up. One goes to Chester or York in May and the abundance of ladies’ hats would suggest that the milliner’s trade looks much healthier than the sub prime Minnesota mortgage market!

Horses are beautiful animals and they create much debate. This is where opinion and betting come in…

Betting and racing are fundamentally interlinked. They both need each other. Betting to many seems a complicated subject. ‘Win’ or ‘each-way’ may be easy but Heinz, Hedging, Laying, Yankees, Selling the Favourite or Going Long on Distances or Finishers is harder to grapple. (They are tactics I will explain later in this series.)

First-time or infrequent bettors often rely on familiarity or blind optimism to select a horse on which to wager. Backing on names, numbers or blindly on Frankie Dettori in the longer term is, however, a losing strategy.

This is where you have an advantage by attending the race meeting itself. Going to the paddock where the horses circulate before each race is a charming opportunity. Picking and backing a horse with a bright coat that walks well and wins gives greater satisfaction than blind wagering.

If you prefer to become more scientific in your choices, follow this column and I will guide you through the options…

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