Mark Coton and David Myers Q&A

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    • Total Posts 8767

    I’m delighted to offer the opportunity for everyone to pitch questions to Mark Coton and David Myers.

    Mark and David have combined to launch a new betting advisory service for which details are available at That service has just been launched this week so it seemed like an opportune time to approach the pair about doing a Q&A to which they agreed.

    Mark Coton will be familiar to most of you as the founding ‘PRICEWISE’ columnist in the Racing Post. It was his rem,arkable success that set that column on its way and, of course, it remains one of the most influential tipping columns in racing.

    Mark worked at Trainers Record and Ladbrokes before joining the Racing Post prior to its launch in 1986. Within a year he had devised and launched the Pricewise tipping column in the paper.

    He left the Racing Post at the end of 1989 to pursue other interests, though continued to work for the paper on a freelance basis.

    He was editor of Raceform on Saturday for two years from 2000.
    For the last nine years he has answered a long-held call to live in west Cornwall, though has retained a keen interest in the sport, latterly writing a monthly column for Racing Ahead magazine.

    He is currently planning to relocate and return to racecourse betting.

    David Myers started out at the Racing Post in 1996 before fulfilling an ambition to bet for a living in 1999.

    Those experiences were shared with readers of Racing Ahead magazine from 2004, while a year later, he pulled up a chair at the Guardian racing desk until 2009.

    During an enjoyable five-year stay at the Guardian, he also penned three Racing Trends books.

    He is currently a freelance writer, and produces columns for both the Racing & Football Outlook and At The Races.

    All questions welcome, I’m sure there will be lots of aspects of the experiences of these two that will be of interest.

    Just post your Q’s on this thread and, in a week’s time, we’ll close the questions and send them to the two lads for a response.

    • Total Posts 5008


    No prizes for the originality of my question but: on your emergence from exile do you still pray at the feet of the great god ‘value betting’ and if so will a search for this be a cornerstone of both your own strategy on returning to the betting fray and that of your proposed advisory service with Mr Myers

    I note from Cormack’s introduction above that you are planning "a return to


    betting". Am I correct in concluding that means on-course betting in preference to off-course, and if so why?


    We will not be seeking what can be termed "Pricewise value" on the service.
    We might say Pricewise value was once a beautiful, quiet beach and now it’s overrun with revellers and worshippers.
    Of course you should always satisfy yourself you are getting an appropriate price for your horse but when it comes down it, to the bets which make a difference, you don’t back a horse because it’s value you back it because you believe in it.
    The prospect of backing it awakens something positive inside you.
    Hope, expectation, momentum.
    This is what interests me and always did.

    Why on-course betting?
    Why not?
    The open air. Being in among the horses. Familiar faces.
    You do your homework beforehand, then choose a betting zone: office/computer, shop, racetrack.
    Fancy the latter again, though will continue to work and bet off-course too.

    • Total Posts 8767

    My questions is similar to Drone’s.

    It is for Mark – I wondered how much you’ve modified your approach since the early Pricewise days? Is your strategy the same or have you introduced new elements to your analysis?

    It took some time.
    No longer interested in the stressful chase after phantom prices, knock-backs etc.
    Approach now might be summarised as Substance + Quality = Confidence.
    Searching for horses with maximum bet potential.
    You go to watch them run expecting them to just about win.

    • Total Posts 1801

    Good luck with the new venture.

    Q1 – I’m sure you agree with the age old racing saying that if anybody had a route to profit, they wouldn’t share it for any money and if you don’t you’ll surely tell us so and why, so what are you trying to achieve with your new tipping service and why?

    Q2 – It’s good to see that the old chestnut of "this service makes a profit at advised prices, not that you can find them" is being discarded and you state you’re looking at SP betting only, is this how you’ll be advertising your results?

    Q3 – Seems like there’s no history of results to this new service so can you say how you’ll be proofing the tips and if you won’t be is there a reason why?

    Again, good luck and see you at the racetracks (around London) in the new year, seeing as I’ll be having lots of spare time too from January, if you need help with setting up some cheap websites in 2012, I may be able to help.

    2) Bets to starting price. No "2pts win at X-1 with Knockback & Son".

    3) If a relevant organisation requests results, we will gladly provide them.

    2) When our results are given (see answer below), they are worked out to industry SP, though 90% of the winners we’ve given so far could have easily been backed to ‘proper’ money at bigger prices. The reason we give our results to industry SP is simple – if we can do it, then so can subscribers. No request to try and get money down in the morning to non-existent prices & limited stakes – those who failed to get their anticipated bet at the advertised price on ‘public gamble’ Ciceron at Sandown recently take note.

    3) When putting our ‘no sparks’ website together, I looked around the internet to see how other ‘tipster’ services were set up, purely because I didn’t want to be like them. Seeing as the majority had a results section, I decided not to, as we’re not looking to impress anyone, though we do report our results in the blog section. Additionally, anyone who shows enough interest in what we’re doing can simply email us and we’ll send them our results.

    • Total Posts 148

    Mark – Following your love/hate relationship with the placepot was one of the highlights of your pieces for Odds On back in the day. Do you think the bet has any merit these days?

    It would also be interesting to read your thoughts on the ‘cult of Pricewise’ that has grown up around Tom Segal. How would you have coped/reacted to the hype?

    David – Given that our old friend draw analysis has been done to death, do you think there any other areas that are under-exposed when it comes to form study or interpreting past performances of runners?

    Interesting phrase, the "cult of Pricewise"; a cult suggesting something irrational, unstable. Tom Segal’s tipping has been world class so why this need to mock him up in silly hats and costumes ahead of big meetings? Why can’t his work be left to speak for itself?
    How would I have coped with the hype? Would have tried to turn my back on it. Thankfully, it was muted in my day, not least by the withering stare of the chief sub. Hype and over-excitement were fine for children’s parties but not for the serious business of journalism. So much has changed.

    I intend putting in extra hours with the formbook this summer too, as there are traditionally good prices about evening runners that may have had their form boosted by afternoon events, while a horse winning the 8.30 at Windsor may frank a horse’s chances in the first race at Folkestone the next day. Such factors can’t be built into the Racing Post’s betting forecast, plus, with Euro 2012 and the Olympics taking place, a large majority of punters and bookmakers watching Rooney & co fail once more could get caught napping by those doing the evening hours with a formbook.

    A good example of how ‘live’ form can present good opportunities could be seen on Sunday 8 January at Southwell when Bird Dog won the 12.50 having finished 4l behind Beachwood Bay 10 days prior. Beachwood Bay then won three hours later at a generous 4/1.

    Another angle punters can exploit is finding a trainer who is about to hit form – which isn’t easy. I reiterate ‘about to hit form’, not when a racing pundit tells us that a particular yard’s runners have finished 2113011331 with their last 10 runners, as that’s usually a lazy way of identifying when a good run is about to end. To my knowledge there has never been a computer programme or newspaper/web column that has predicted when a yard is about to blow hot, not yet anyway…

    • Total Posts 1977


    Big fan here. Who could forget

    Value Betting

    ? The holy silks on the cover and inside… the keys to the safe, The genesis of racing literature in this country, from which Potts, Nevison, Mordin, Wilkins et al all followed.

    So my first question, for both of you, seems fairly obvious:

    Potts or Nevison?

    Second question regards ‘Hint 25: Satisfy yourself that your selection will be trying’. I satisfy myself that I’m getting ‘value’, after which the stewards satisfy themselves that my selection has tried (even in most subsequent enquiries where such niceies as bets against the horse by family members come to light). It’s the bit inbetween that isn’t wholly satisfactory. So my second question is:

    How can I get some satisfaction? Any pointers a decade on from the hint?

    Is there any need to choose between Potts and Nevision? Surely both have much to offer.
    Your observation re obtaining satisfaction gets right to the heart of the matter. You never have enough on a winner, after all. So easy to bet with the needle.
    Arguably, what we are seeking is not just value for money, which can be left to the grinders and traders, as value in the racing and betting experience.
    How that is to be found, well, it’s a journey, sometimes through desolate country. Can you still love the game in spite of everything?

    Alan Potts – no contest. I’ve learned about finding winners via the former through his work over the last 15 years, namely his books and columns in Odds On.

    • Total Posts 26354

    Hi Mark and David,

    Presumably your SP betting is going to be advised as near off time as possible, to know roughly whether a horse is going to be "value" or not?

    Am surprised you’re returning to on course betting, as a lot of the on course pro gamblers have disappeard. With better value found elsewhere. I am a value punter and most of my bets are placed late the night before racing, or at early prices. Rarely do on course betting nowadays, as there seems less value to be had with over-rounds. Also, markets near the off seem to be more accurate than they once were, being nearer to the "true" odds. Even with poor prices which lengthen to a what I’d consider "good" or even excellant "value", I am reluctant to make them main bets as they rarely (in terms of percentages/probability) come in. Someone somewhere seems to know more about the fitness or ability to run well of such bets – than me, even with paddock inspection.

    Have you any advice on the practicalities of being a professional gambler for someone just starting out?

    Have you both always had another source of income while being a "professional"?

    Am very naive on these things.

    Presumably I’ll have to keep a record of every bet I have?

    If so it’ll take forever, with so many top up and saver bets. I’m going to have to pay a voluntary National Insurance etc too.

    Gambling is already my main source of income and will be giving up part time work soon. Am not on any benifits and have savings / a fair betting bank. Although if a long losing run comes along at the start of upping stakes it could wipe me out. :lol:
    By studying Timeform and my own racing knowledge I’ve made 100% books for many years. Although don’t do so many "books" these days, with value bets shouting at me to be backed. Have very few overheads (own the house without a mortgage) and am not in it to make a fortune. However, some bookmakers are severely limiting my bets. Some go through their traders to accept, restrict or decline. Am told it is because my average bet beats SP by over 20%. Convinced one on line bookie only keeps me on to tip them off for who’s going to be backed. As every bet with that particular bookie seems to be shortened within seconds of my wager.

    Is there anything I can do (that is not dishonest) to prolong my bookie shelf life?

    My record on the exchanges does not seem to be as good for some reason.

    If you want to take a look at my record, I have a couple of tipping threads in the Daily Lays And Plays section of this forum. It shows the price at time of bet and how that compares to SP, strike rates and percentage profit on stakes. Made 12.5% last flat season and around 60% up over jumps. Expect that last figure to be nowhere near as good come April. Best season so far is 23%, and have had losing seasons / years. My greatest concern is that I won’t have the bottle to put enough money on. £300 is currently a big bet for me and most aren’t near that size.

    Best of luck with your new venture and thanks for doing this Q & A. Any other comments you’d like to make on my suitability for my chosen job would be gratefully recieved. Positive or negative.


    As regards setting out on the great adventure of betting for real, well, there’s no manual. You have to make it up as you go along. This is the glory and the terror of it at the same time.
    You vividly describe the frustrations, as well as the rewards, of Pricewise value betting. Important to remember it evolved as a tipping concept for a national newspaper. When on a losing run you might get a sharp word or two in your ear from the editor, but you’ll be cushioned by your salary. You can wait for it to turn.
    If you need to win to put food on the table, it gets hairy. That 20-1 shot which could put you back on track finds a way to get beat in the final furlong. You start to wonder where the next winner is coming from. Other sources of income help during these times.
    It is one thing to imagine yourself making it as a pro gambler when you’re winning betting recreationally, quite another to get the job done when it’s for real, arguably equivalent to the difference between being able to knock in a century break in snooker practice and under lights.
    Important to have an outlet to put it all into perspective eg music, a walk in the fresh air; favourite writers and thinkers.
    If a bet is too tiresome or trivial to record, why strike it?
    Otherwise, if you’re backing yourself to come through all this, based on your excellent results, you’ll be fine.

    On a personal note, after years of scratching around trying to get best prices etc, I would prefer to spend more time with my family than losing sleep over backing a winner at 5/2 when 3/1 was available. Some of you may curse me for that, but I honestly feel the majority of punters have all been ‘hypnotized’ over the years into lumping on 10/1 shots that go off at 5/1, which may impress their mates if they’ve “got the value then laying off for a small profit”. I never got into betting to ‘lay off’ or have my bets restricted, so I’m happy to get what I want on when I want as it suits me. That doesn’t mean that I’ll back a horse at 5/4 to win the Grand National or Cambridgeshire before the off, it’s just my view that punters concentrate too much on finding ‘value’ instead of winners.
    The only time I punted for a living was for a few years back in 1999-2000 following a five-figure payout. I put half in the ‘real’ bank and half in my betting bank. I kept myself going for a few years, but several ‘break even’ months saw me looking over my shoulder with a return to work and ‘normal life’ imminent. It sounds obvious, but a very big bank is required, enough to provide all your living costs for a year, and enough to cater for 70-80 bets to be extra safe. If you bet around £200 per bet, then around £15k is obviously required just for a betting bank to see off not just one losing run, but two losing runs either side of one or two ‘red-herring’ winners, which happened to me several times when doing it for real.

    value is everything
    • Total Posts 305

    Hi Guys,

    Hopefully not too late with my questions…..

    1) Cheltenham on Gold Cup day OR Bath on a summer Monday – Do you have a preference, from an enjoyment and/or betting perspective? Simarly do you focus on the top class racing (say Classes 1-3) or do you find betting opportunities in the lowest grades easier to come across?

    2) Who do you think are the up and coming individuals in racing to look out for in 2012 and beyond? (Trainers/Jockeys etc)

    3) Name one positive/one negative in racing compared to say 10-15 years ago?

    4) Do you feel that some Flat courses overwater and does this impact on where/when you bet?

    5) I place a high importance on trainer form when studying the form for a future race. Are there one or two particular factors you feel are critical to a selection’s chances (e.g ground conditions)?

    6) Do you bet each way or prefer win only?

    7) Can you give 2 horses from 2011 (1 flat/1 jumps) you would have liked to have owned (apart from Frankel). Name 2 horses to follow in 2012, again 1 flat horse and 1 jumps horse.


    2) Brendan Powell jnr.

    3) Positive: Breadth of television coverage.
    Negative: Drink/binge culture on racecourses at big meetings.

    4) Wish they didn’t water so much and so haphazardly, but nothing which can be done about it so don’t worry about it.

    5) Has the horse momentum behind it? Is it a potential big improver, in the right grade?

    6) Win only, but it’s a personal thing. If each-way suits you, go ahead. You have to tailor your betting to innate personal preferences not to those of others.

    7) To own: Cue Card; To follow: Cinders And Ashes.

    I was beginning to find that all I did was queue at the busier meetings – at the paddock, at the bookies, in the stands, at the bar and then the toilet. Repeat that every 30 minutes and there is no enjoyment. Plus, the big meetings have now fallen foul of the lads’ day out; 10-strong armies pumped up and pissed – try standing next to those mobs when they’ve not backed any winners by the fifth race. Having said that, I do go occasionally attend Newmarket Nights, which attracts more families and women.

    4) Yes, some racecourses do overwater, but it doesn’t have an impact on my betting, I just make sure to check early results/times at meetings to gauge the state of the ground (assuming my bet runs later in the card). On a slightly separate note, I have little confidence in any bets on the Rowley Mile at Newmarket these days, (a shame granted the quality of racing), as they split into two, three and even four groups on a regular basis. It may be time to erect a further rail to stop runners from wandering to the other side of the track, which I know would be difficult to execute, but something needs to be done from preventing three races in one. It’s difficult enough finding the best horse, let alone the best ground.

    5) For me, a horse needs to show a recent example in it’s form line that is capable of winning, and wants to get his head in front, so not many of my bets would see a horse with form figures of 04630. On a similar note, I prefer to follow improvers that are capable of keeping ahead of their handicap marks.

    6) I’ve done both, along with win and place, but stick to win bets as they are more profitable in the long run. To me, each-way betting is a way of protecting a betting bank.

    7) The Flat horse I would’ve liked to own was James Fanshawe’s Deacon Blues, with Hurricane Fly over the sticks.
    As I prefer the Flat to jumps, I’ll put forward two to follow on the level. Rivas Rhapsody is unbeaten in three outings, has a very good turn of foot and will be well treated when returning to turf, while Ed Dunlop’s Kanaf is one for the big sprint handicaps.

    • Total Posts 8767

    Top questions everyone. I’ll send these away to Mark and David this evening. Given time of year it may be a couple of weeks before we have the response to all the Q’s.

    • Total Posts 8767

    These additional questions were put on another thread –


    Professor Tubshawe

    1) why did mark coton appear to ‘drop out’ of the racing scene?

    2) Apart from the obvious changes brought about by time, is there anything Mark would remove from a 2012 revision of Value Betting and 100 Tips?

    3) As per Radio 4’s I’m Sorry, I Haven’t a Clue, Mark Coton, you have two minutes to hold forth on Betfair, good and bad. . .

    4) How long will your advisory service last if it is successful?

    1) Fancied living by the sea. Never really dropped out, just kept a very low profile.

    2) No revisions intended, from books published two decades ago. Let’s move on.

    3) BOTFAIR: A Mission Statement

    "Like all bookmakers we promise not to like you very much if you win off us.
    We don’t like rogue bots.
    We promise to get to the bottom of these rogue bots.
    If necessary, we will employ robots to root out these rogue bots.
    We like the palpable error rule very much and would like to inform all customers that if you press the wrong button and accidentally lay that winner at 999-1 instead of backing it there is a Forum available where you can be verbally ripped to shreds for your stupidity!!!!"

    (WARNING: The value of your investment in our company can go down as well as very quickly down).

    (PS: Our Human Resources Director would like it to go on record that those exciting opportunities for young, would-be traders to undermine the entire financial position of the company within half an hour of being taken on are currently on hold but could arise again at any moment!!!!)

    4) Who knows?

    (To return to Betfair, what impressed me was how they hit the ground running a dozen or more years ago. Everything worked. The software was in order. Anybody who has ever had to deal with "innovations" from IT departments will know how rare that is.
    The on-line provision now often strikes me as a kind of wonderful playground. It’s not for me, fearing slavery to the machine, but can certainly understand the appeal.)

    • Total Posts 8767

    And from


    Then of course the unforgettable Mark Coton,
    unforgettable for me not for his undoubted prowess as
    a tipster but for the public way he dealt with
    was it a 24 or a 28 losing run ? I thought it was
    an admirable decision to defect away from racing.
    and your comment that there is more to life than
    horse racing seemed such a breath of fresh air
    back then.

    Well of course my question Mark is was it 24 or 28 ?
    and despite Betfair’s old figure of 0.71% earning over 15k
    (forgetting to add most were probably traders)
    my supplementary is -and particularly now that Betfair have moved the goalposts -…Would you advise anyone to spend serious time seriously trying to find an angle in the jungle of information out there, or is their time better employed in finding an easier earning stream, or possibly going down the route yourself and David have of setting up a service ?

    It was 28 if recalled. What was surely exposed was the gaping fault-line in Pricewise value as a betting strategy, when it’s for real. As Bruce Millington noted in the "Post" the other day, Pricewise is basically for fun (and beware those losing runs). Nothing wrong with that, but what was introduced as an experimental alternative to a tired orthodoxy 25 years ago (that of slide-rule form calculations) has itself become the norm.
    As for betting strategies, with Betfair or elsewhere, it has always struck me that if you’re a natural trader and after the money you might as well go to work in the City and draw a huge salary.
    There are many ways to make serious money in this turbulent world but you’ll need to sweat white beads to do so in the betting game. It’s always been the case and guess it always will.
    Yet is there a better, more challenging, game?
    Haven’t found it.

    • Total Posts 1977

    Thanks Gents.

    As someone who has become a little jaded with racing punditry in recent years these replies are like a breath of fresh air.

    Yet is there a better, more challenging, game?

    Now there’s a call to arms that I haven’t heard for a long long time.

    • Total Posts 5008

    Yes, a good read and it’s comforting to discover that Mr Coton hasn’t lost his trademark cerebral, slightly tortured way with existential sentences despite excessive exposure to those soft sou’westers down Sennen way

    I was rather hoping my query regarding "a return to racecourse betting" would have been answered with an unequivocal ‘we place great imporatnce on paddock inspection’ but I suspect that goes unsaid anyway

    I wish you both the very best of luck getting your lumpies laid on-course at erm…value

    Peak oil, peak phosphorus, peak betfair?

    Is that distant speck I spy through battered 10x40s a wandering, lost phoenix snuggled in a threadbare camel coat?

    • Total Posts 2617

    An airy open feel
    about all the replies
    and I liked it 8)

    • Total Posts 26354

    Thanks for the Answers David and Mark.

    Must say though, David’s answer to my question seems to suggest he does not truly understand value betting.

    value is everything
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