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From The Guardian Dec 6 repo ter Chris Cook.
Harry Findlay, a flamboyant and highly succesful gambler gives the impression that he can hardly beleive his luck in owning a horse as Good as Denman, arguably the most exiting novice chaser around. ‘He’s got that sort of thing about him, people either want to take him on or they like him, and thats the sort of person I am. There’s no middle, grey area with Denman, there’s no grey araea with me. It’s a horse that suits my type of character.’
The Paul Nichols trained six year old, unbeaten in three runs over fences, is a beat priced 4-1 favourite for teh Royal & Sun Alliance Chase next March and Fidlay is in the happy position of having backed him at all rates down from 10-1. The last of the 5-1 disapperaed a fortnight ago after a Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â£50,000 cash bet was staked in a Ladbrokes shop in Doncaster.<br>’I thought he was the wrong price at 5-1′ says Findlay, adding that ‘a lot of the ones atthe front of the market might not run’
Denman goes to Cheltenham on Saturday for what is expected to behis lastrun for two months, before a final Festival prep at Newbury in February.
His proud owner is in very upbeat mood. ‘until he gets beat he’s a tank’ he syas ‘I personally think that Paul Barber beleives he might have a horse he’s always dreamed of’
Barber, who is Nicholl’s landlord and has the other half-share in Denman. seems an unlikely partner for Findlay. The Somerste diary farmer is the older man by 20 years, generally weras a lot of green tweed at the races and is very reserved in his dealings with the media – in short, he is exactly the kind of old-school type that might beexpected to bridle at the presence in his yard of a plain-speaking, high rolling punter.
‘ I can honestly say that but for a chance meeting through a mutual friend with Paul Barber at Doncaster Sales about five years ago, I doubt if I ever would have owned a horse’ syas Findlay. ‘We’ve since become good friends and his advice and knowledge have been great.
‘Some of the firts horses I bought with Paul for a miminal outlay have turned out to be such value. It was only after the success of those of horses I decided to take a chance with Desert Quest.
Even that Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â£100,000 purchase now apperas a bargain-Desert Quest has already won it back in prize money alone and there is liitle doubt that Findlay has made a substancial profit from his bets on the hurdler.
Almost all his gambling is done through the leading betting exchange Betfair, for whom Findlay has given plenty of plugs in a stringof interviews over the years, whilst refering to traditional bookmakers as ‘vermin’.
‘Most people believe I’m a walking advert for Betfair’ says the 44 yera old and his expensive home near Bath would indeed seem to be evidence for the proposition that there is a serious money to be made from his favourite website.
But he is tired of all this unpaid PR work. In fact, he has a major reservation about the waythe exchange works and now, for the first time his is happy to say so in public.
‘I believe that Betfair have a moral obligation to get everyone down to a 2% commission’ he says, referring to the rake which the website takes from succesful bets.
As a valued customer responsible fora consistenly high turnover, Findlay himself pays just 2%, but the avst majority of users pay more, with most paying the standard rate fof 5%.
Betfair’s principal seeling point is that they offer better odds than can be found with the High Street bookmakers, but Findlay feels strongly that this is undermined by the high rate of commission that they charge.
‘ I talk about bookmakers not taking bets- well let me tell younow on Betfair, no one can make a long trem profit paying 5% commission. I believe that it’s nearly impossible to do it paying 4%.
‘One of the main raesons why I’m pro exchanges is because ofthe moral argument. You can check how much you’re losing, it stops the lies, there is no credit. But Betfair lets itself down by charging people between % and 2%, depending on howmuch they bet- which encourages them to bet more than they otherwisw would.
‘I have paid them so far this year, to the start of this month,Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â£714,000 commission, and I’m on 2%. I would rather pay 2.5% and have everyone pay 2.5% and give ordinary punters a chance.
‘Betfairs been stagnant for years and they’ve ost the heart of what they were trying to do. They are starting to lose liquidity in many markets and they need to increase the percentage of people who win on the exchange.<br>’Bringing everyone down to 2% is the only option and eventually it will be to Betfair’s financial advantage’.
[bFindlay’s guide to winning and losing.
On Gambling<br>’If you look up gamblingin the dictionary. it does’nt say ‘this means a sure way to make a steady profitover a period of time’ it syas ‘gambling: a form of interest that can either ruin you or makeyou a fortune’, and thats the way it is.
On his wife Kay<br>’Kay and I have been together for 18 yeras and she’s never ever moaned, including when we’ve sold the house, the car and, many yeras ago pawned the jewellery. Thats been a massive help to me. She comes from a tough part of Sheefield. Shes the third of three kids, always had hand me downs, never had ****
all, never cares.<br>If we lost everything, she would’nt care a ****
‘Theres no difference between getting 1-2 about a 1-4 chance and getting 4-1 about a 2-1 chance. People who say ‘I won’t back odds on’ they’re just idiots. When you want to bet an odds-on shot, you can get on- when you want to bet a big priced one you can’t.
On whyyou should’nt hedge<br>’When you pick a 20-1 shot to win the Grand National, don’t have Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â£200 at 20’s and then go and lay Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â£600 at 5-2 and, when it wins get Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â£2,500. If you beleive that 20-1, have Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â£200 at 20s and then go and have another 300 at 14’s and then Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â£400 at 10’s and then, when it goes off 5-2 or 11-4 don’t hedge if you still fancy it@<br>On backing odds on<br>