A very good friend of mine that I have written about many times was also one of the most patient people I’ve ever met. I wish that I could say I have the same degree of patience that he enjoyed, but unfortunately that would be a fib. It doesn’t mean that I am an impatient punter. You can’t survive if you are. As they say, patience is a virtue.

Never was this more true than in our world. You wouldn’t believe the number of races I’ve sat out and still, even at this stage, agonised about. But there is no greater truth in racing than the one that says the impatient punter will die on his sword.

Knowing this and observing it is what identifies the successful punter, long term, I stress: you cannot win if you are not a patient punter. I’ll give you a recent example. It doesn’t sit well, so far as my reputation is concerned, and it wasn’t a very pleasant result for me.

However, if the only result that matters is the long-term result, and it is, then I’ll be okay following the same pattern when I tally up my investments and dividends at the end of the season.

My story relates to the Lightning Stakes at Flemington. I thought Gold Edition was probably over the line, but a close on-course acquaintance, whose opinion I have great respect for, told me that Apache Cat was, in his view, an absolute good thing each way, and that he really believed the horse would swamp the field in the final hundred metres. I had rated Apache Cat very highly, as I always do, and I gave it the most serious consideration at the fantastic odds on offer.

The bottom line was, according to my friend, that Gold Edition was going to be pressured all the way, and from the barrier draw she would not find the outside rail where she had to be to win. I really looked hard at it and I finally decided that I would watch Apache Cat on this occasion, with the intention of backing him in the Newmarket at what I believed were likely to be even better odds, and under conditions which would be more favourable to the big baldy-faced horse.

The result is of course history, and my odds for the Newmarket went out the window as fast as Apache Cat completed his demolition job on the Lightning field. It happens. What’s patience got to do with it? I’ll tell you.
Most of the time when I do that kind of thing, I avoid backing a loser. I was as angry as all-out with myself for not even having a token investment on Apache Cat, given the enormous respect I have for the man who spoke about it to me.

However, I’ve been in the business too long to make rash decisions and the truth was that I had already decided that this was Gold Edition’s race. With her at odds on, my money was staying in my pocket.

I’d considered trying to unravel a multiple, but if I had done that, even with Apache Cat on top, I would not have collected the bikkies. I’d have been wrong. Swings and roundabouts.

Patience. I’ll tell you another story, related to me at a local TAB by Roger, a very pleasant fellow whom I see now and then. He asked me if I’d ever heard of the “stop at a best winner” plan. So much has been written about stopping at a winner in the past 50 years or  so. But he said he’d placed a somewhat different twist on it.

What he does with the system he has, is to identify its best bet, in his view, for the day. This system apparently identifies an average of 12 horses, Australia-wide, on a Saturday. Each Saturday morning he checks three leading bookmakers’ websites and the three TABs that he has deposits with, and he seeks an early price on that “best bet”.

He has $20 on each of his system selections all at once with his favourite service and that $50 on his best bet of the day, so long as he can get more than $5 about the horse. His twist on the “stop at a winner” is that if his “best” bet comes in at $5.50 or so, he collects $275 or more. On average he has invested $270 absolute total. (If he cannot get $5.50, he simply has his usual $20 on it, along with the rest of the bets).

You’ll note that he doesn’t have another $20 on his best bet if he can get that $5.50, so his experience is that he averages eleven other bets at $20 each. His idea, and I like it very much, is that while his total outlay average is around $270, he seeks to virtually cover everything with that one “best bet”. The rest is gravy. Patience comes into play if his best bet loses. Two other winners at $7, or three at about $4.50 will still clear his day. He does not have another bet regardless, but he enjoys his racing.

By The Optimist