Betting on tri-casts seems an improbable means to punting profit, but professional backer Paul Cooper used it to win nearly £400,000 on a series of bets at Thirsk.
Cooper was one of the first to capitalize on the fact that horses drawn high seemed to have a pronounced advantage over the straight sprint course at Thirsk. There are a number of tracks around the country where, in soft ground, a particular draw can prove an enormous asset, but at Thirsk the same was true on fast going. It appears that the inadequacies of the course watering system left a strip of ground under the stand rails ‘un-sprinkled’ which was significantly faster than the rest of the track. By betting the five or six highest draw numbers – those most likely to grab the favoured ground – Cooper was able to pull off a series of major coups.
‘I was hooked on betting at a very young age,’ admits Cooper. ‘But even then I knew that you had to be in control of it – otherwise it would control you.’
During the 1970’s, the ITV Seven was introduced. It immediately caught Cooper’s eye. ‘One of my first wagers was a £1.90 bet which won over £800. I was in business! A couple of years later, I collected £13,365 on a £3 accumulator and I was really on my way.’ Cooper is still fascinated by multiple bets – the prospect of huge returns for a small outlay – and believes serious punters should not treat them in such a cavalier fashion.
‘The Lucky 15 is a value bet.- it is a Yankee that also has four win singles, and the different bookies offer a variety of bonuses and consolations. For instance, if only one of your selections wins, you may get double the odds. So just one 7/1 winner virtually guarantees your money back.’
Cooper’s penchant for what Barney Curley calls ‘miracle bets’ is not his only apparent similarity with the man in the street. Like all betting shop regulars, he is irresistibly drawn to competitive handicaps where they bet 6/1 the field – but he hits the target far more often.
Cooper insists that studying trainers is the key to his whole business operation. The fact that, as an owner, he has chosen to have horses trained by Barry Hills, Jimmy Fitzgerald and Robert Williams gives a clue to the men he most respects in the game.’ ‘There are certainly some trainers I much prefer to back,’ he says. ‘What I really look for is someone who is perhaps underestimated and as a result their horses start at bigger prices than they should do.’
So what can we learn from the fastidious, immaculately turned-out Mr Cooper? Well, here are his 7 great Do’s and Don’ts, known as “Cooper’s Law!”
Cooper’s Law – Dos
1: Do stay cool, calm and collected when making a selection, and don’t go in head down. Weigh up all the possibilities and then have the nerve to go through with it.
2: Do bet only when you are getting good value and shop around for the best early prices.
3: Do back horses that have winning form. Shy away from maidens – the form is unpredictable and unproven.
4: Do bet in sprints. The form is often more reliable than in longer distance flat races.
5: Do find a small, competent yard to follow; because it isn’t fashionable, you’ll almost certainly get a value price on their horses.
6: Do look at horses in the paddock, especially in the spring and autumn. You can usually discard quite a few which are obviously not ready or are showing all the signs of a hard season.
7: Do bet within your means. Reduce your stakes when having a bad run – and increase them when things are going well.
Cooper’s Law – Avoid
1: Don’t get drunk or mix alcohol with betting. You need your wits about you to pick winners and to deal objectively with losing.
2: Don’t back short-priced favorites. The returns simply isn’t good enough, and let’s face it, they often get turned over anyway.
3: Don’t chase your losses. There’s always another day.
4: Don’t bet heavily when there’s been a sudden change in the going.
5: Don’t back out of form trainers or stables or jockeys carrying overweight.
6: Don’t back heavily at Chester. The tight track is a law unto itself.
7: Don’t bet in races over 18 runners. This is when the horses will split into two or more groups, effectively making it two or three different races.