My first outing to a racetrack was at Worcester when I was twelve years old, although I had been betting since I was nine with illegal street runners. I had a good betting record, I used to buy the Sporting Chronicle Handicap book and I studied form when I should have been studying history and geography.
On arrival at the course I saw a dwarf stood in the centre of the Silver Ring with a saddle. He was a retired jockey. He threw the saddle on the floor and proclaimed that he had ridden 80 winners, one of which was in the Cesarewitch at Newmarket. He had a great sales patter and one that convinced this twelve-year-old to part with his hard-earned pocket money to hear this former jockey’s winning tips.
I followed him in every race and backed six losers. The horses I had picked from my own form study would have resulted in two good priced winners. I was very annoyed. In fact the whole experience made me really fed up for two weeks. It had not occurred to me that if this tipster really had six ‘good things’ he would be busy putting money on with the bookmakers himself, rather than selling tips to schoolboys.
Ironically, in spite of all that, the industry is likely to get by as the economy improves up to the general election in 2015. House prices are on the up for the first time since 2007 and so is business sentiment. Corporate investment intentions are at a six year high, new houses are up 7% and new orders for the service sector are growing at the fastest rate since 1997, and Ed Balls, Labour’s shadow chancellor, is nowhere to be seen. The only thing lagging is wages but they too must surely catch up and when that money hits people’s pockets the gambling industry will prosper.
The new Bank of England Governor Mark Carney has promised to keep interest rates low and is now focussing not on inflation but unemployment.
But wait. Things are not as they first appear. The banks are currently paying the depositors a derisory one percent interest as Mr Carney keeps the bank rate low. But if you lend the money to the UK Government for 10 years you get three percent. Could it be that the bank rate is being kept low so that investors will pile into Gilts to help fund the government’s debt burden? The disconnect between bank rate and gilts will not last forever and bank rate must at sometime go up, so enjoy it for as long as it lasts.