Next in our series of interviews with real-life layers, Mark talks to James "Winning Furlong McFarlane" from Scotland about his Laying experience for Donkeyites
Good morning James, so too kick off - Why be a Layer?
The joy of gambling is picking a winner; lay betting puts a different perspective on winning, you the punter need to find a loser, instead of trying to beat the bookie you can become one yourself, if you stake £20 pounds on a horse to lose at 3/1 in a 10 runner race you have 90% of the field running in your favour, you are trying to win £20 less 5% deduction (the commission you pay on exchanges as an average) so what you have is 9 even money bets running in your favour.
Do you remember your first lay?
I first got into gambling when I bet the Grand National winner Ben Nevis at 40/1, I was only a youngster [Mark – not too young we hope!] at the time but this definitely set the wheels in motion.
I first became a pro-gambler when I was made redundant 3 years ago, I didn’t get into
this lightly as I have been trawling through the form books for years and trying different betting strategies before finally realising that I could make a living from
gambling. The arrival of the betting exchanges was a revolution for me, with better odds on offer, more variety, the exchanges have improved, they used to be quite complex now a child could place a bet. I don’t think they could improve much more, but with technology as it is you never know, so laying has made my profits increase. The exchanges have made laying a whole lot easier to make a sustainable profit.
What was your bet ever lay?
The best lay bet to date has to be Kaateb, this horse was never an odds-on shot, so I had it down as a 6/4 shot in my own book, so I laid the horse and this was my biggest bet of the year. I had £500 matched instantly as many ‘backers’ fancied the horse. My heart was in my mouth watching the race, especially when Kaateb was leading in the final furlong, until Envisage (the eventual winner) came from the clouds to win going away!
And what was your worst?
My worst lay was Wenger who cost me £360 on the exchanges, I shouldn’t have laid this horse as I had estimated it at around 5/1 so to lay at 12/1 was pretty stupid, this is how you learn getting your fingers burnt keeps you grounded.
Would you lay anything?
When I’m looking for a lay bet I usually concentrate on Handicaps, usually 8-12 runner races, I concentrate on the first four in the betting, I prefer horse racing because the odds seem to be more in my favour, and I think it depends on your preference. There is no guarantees when laying, but there are certain horses, that
you know have so many negatives against that it would be an impossibility for them to win. Sometimes if I’m laying a horse that I feel has a bit of a squeak and someone’s offering a crazy price on the horse I might be tempted to back the horse as
well, thus guaranteeing a win whatever the result.
What is your Golden rule of laying?
My golden rules to laying are to find enough negatives or factors too suggest the lay bet will get turned over, such as ground concerns, bad draw, poor jockey booking trainer form, whether the race will be run to suit, trainer form, race class and so on. These are just some factors, but these are very important ones.
I never lay horses dropping down in class if they’ve been placed on their last engagement.
And finally, have you any advice for Donkeyites?
Betting is like any endeavour in life you need a bit of luck, but the main factor in becoming a winner at gambling or a winner in life is all down to hard work and self belief.