Mick Bartley: Australian Punter

If there were a Hall of Fame for punters, certainly one of the inaugural inductees would have to be Melbourne Mick Bartley.

Even though he was a qualified electrician, Bartley had little use for wires, bolts and ohms. In fact, he is credited with saying, “Never tackle something electronically designed to beat you.” Somewhat ironic an utterance from an electrician, but perhaps, who better to know.

According to Bartley, he never went to school. Coming from a large family of nine, he used to sell empty beer bottles to scrounge up money to bet with the local SPs as a boy of 10. Apparently the moral and legal implications of this activity were not adequate to discourage him from participating.

By the time he retired in 1977 he had amassed a considerable fortune. He is perhaps, among big-time punters such as Eric Connolly, Felipe Ysmael and Hollywood George Edser, the best for aspiring punters to emulate. He was not as colorful or flamboyant as these others, treated punting in a very businesslike fashion, and was able to accept losses rather than chasing them until totally broke.

Along with knowing when to pack it in, it also helps to have a big bank. Barkley was helped in this regard by his 1960 Opera House lottery win which fetched him almost $200,000. He claimed to have a system for even this type of gambling, always buying 50 tickets at a time.

This concept of spreading his risks contributed to his developing a large and lucrative SP network with big businessmen and politicians for clients.

He was the mastermind behind the 1971 syndicate of a small group of punters who cracked the jackpot in Canberra for $400,000 earning as much as $265,000 for himself.

In the late 60s and early 70s it has been established through audits that Melbourne Mick was annually betting sums in the neighborhood of $5 million through the TAB.

His arrival at the racecourse during his prime was typically accompanied by hordes of fans eager to see which horses Bartley intended to back so that they could ride his coattails. Bookmakers trembled at his approach and other big punters experienced considerable apprehension regarding what impact his moves would have on their odds.

This type of attention was not conducive to Bartley getting his desired odds, so he frequently used agents to put his bets on.

One prime example of this tactic took place on the occasion when Bartley wanted to make a substantial plunge on a race at Randwick Racecourse. He devised a signal system with his agents, employing a red ladies’ umbrella. He had instructed them to wait until he opened the umbrella before placing any bets. Prior to the start of the race, Bartley’s horse blew from 7-1 to 10-1, Bartley’s umbrella went up and his agents backed the horse down to a 5-2 favourite. It surely was a cause for comment to see a highly respected punter of Bartley’s stature carrying a womans’ umbrella, a red one nonetheless, but Bartley’s horse won and brought him a substantial windfall.

Bartley was a proponent of seeking value. He attempted whenever possible to find horses to back at longer odds than form would dictate. He also was adept at picking daily doubles which contributed substantially to his fortune.

The story of Melbourne Mick Barkley is certainly inspirational from the perspective of impoverished boy rising above all obstacles to succeed, but it also could be viewed as educational from the point of view of how to control your emotions at the track, not chase losers, and keep a calm head on your shoulders. He knew how to accept losses without letting them undermine his confidence. All punters, regardless of bank size, would be wise to study his example.

Three Methods to Identify Horse Racing Long Shots

One of the biggest kicks in life may be backing a long shot and seeing it cross the finish line first. making a big score is good for the spirits, not to mention the wallet. However, as any experienced horse racing handicapper can tell you, trying to cash tickets on longshots is a one way ticket to the poor house.

Long priced horses are usually considered the bait for gamblers who want a shot at a big price for a little investment. Their greed is usually rewarded with the usual payoff for greed, poverty. They have a low probability and high risk which inflates the pools, but most handicappers stick to the more consistent racers. If you want to succeed as a handicapper you better learn the difference between handicapping and gambling because there is a difference. You must consider each bet an investment and estimate the rate of return compared to the risk. Of course, like a lot of good advice you will receive in life, it sounds good but is a little more difficult to implement and stick with.

But if you do consider it an investment and compare the amount of risk to the rate of return, you will have to have an idea about how likely the horse is to win. Here are 3 situations that will afford you that opportunity to assess longshots.

1. The Phony Phavorite. The first place to look for wagering opportunities is the favorite because that is where the biggest single concentration of money is found. If your handicapping indicates that the favorite is not worthy of being the favorite then the other more likely contenders should be considered. I am talking about the horses that are going to go off at fairly low odds because they look like they could win the race. These types are not long shots.

If you eliminate those horses then the longshots are worth considering as possible winners. Try to find a longshot who has actually won at that level and on the surface and distance that it is going in the current race. Believe it or not it does happen that the only horse who has ever done what is being asked of it in the race is a long shot. It is a very under rated angle in horse racing handicapping.

2. Familiar trainer moves often produce big winners. Each trainer has his or her own favorite moves for winning. Familiarize yourself with trainer moves and then look for them in connection with longshots. Here is an example of a trainer move that paid $87 for every two dollars bet to win on his horse.

Apple Talk raced in the 2nd race at Tampa Bay Downs on February ninth of 2008. There were some indications that the horse might fare better in the race than he did in his previous races. A mutuel pool evaluation method showed that there was inside money wagered on the runner, probably from the stable. That is an obvious sign that the stable and trainer had determined that he was ready to score.

The racer was entered in a Maiden Claiming sprint event after two races in Maiden Special Weight races. The class drop off two long conditioning races at a higher grade were also an indication. It is a familiar trainer move. One important thing to bear in mind is that in any maiden race, a horse is being asked to win at a distance and surface that it has never won at before. So all maiden racers meet the requirements of case one, a phony phavorite, but many maiden favorites actually do score.

3. Equipment changes can improve a racer’s performance in a big way. The addition of a Cornell Collar, tongue tie, blinker’s or some other equipment as well as the addition of lasix can make a big difference. Of course, it is always a good idea to confirm your suspicions by checking the mutuel pools for inside money.

One of the best situations to identify is an event with a phony phavorite and find a horse who meets the requirements mentioned previously, i.e., an equipment change with action in the pools and a good trainer move.

Adding it all up, the first place to start is with the favorite. If it is a phony then check out the likely contenders. After going through all of these you may find a longshot is actually the best bet.