Golden Miller  Comparing steeplechasers from different generations, in an effort to determine which was the ‘greatest’ of all time, is a popular, but ultimately, futile activity. However, although he raced long before the advent of Timeform ratings or any other empirical measure that would allow comparisons to be made, Golden Miller must surely be considered, at least, one of the greatest.

Owned by Dorothy Paget – an extremely wealthy, but plain, hefty woman, with a reputation as fearsome as the horse himself – and trained, initially, by Basil Briscoe, Golden Miller won the Cheltenham Gold Cup five consecutive times between 1932 and 1936. Even allowing for the fact that the Cheltenham Gold Cup, at that time, was not the ‘Blue Riband’ event it later became, no other horse – not even the mighty Arkle – has won the race more than three times.

Of course, following his third win in the Cheltenham Gold Cup, in 1934, as a seven-year-old, Golden Miller went on to win the Grand National under top weight of 12st 2lb. Not only did he beat Delaneige by 5 lengths but, in so doing, he beat the previous course record, which had stood for 72 years, by 9.6 seconds. In fact, his winning time of 9 minutes 20.4 seconds wouldn’t be beaten for 40 years and, even then, it took the legendary Red Rum to do so. Golden Miller remains the only horse ever to have won the Cheltenham Gold Cup and the Grand National in the same season.

Despite being described by one racing journalist as ‘a god on four legs’, Golden Miller fared less well on subsequent attempts in the Grand National. In fact, his refusal on the first circuit in 1935, when sent off the shortest-priced favourite in National history, caused Paget to fall out with Briscoe and transfer Golden Miller to Owen Anthony. Anthony saddled the horse to win a fifth, and final, Cheltenham Gold Cup in 1936, but Golden Miller failed to complete the National Course again in 1936 and 1937.

Lessons Learned from Betting  Perhaps the first lesson to be learned from betting, especially on horse racing, is that, no matter how encyclopedic your knowledge or how sharp your betting skills, you cannot hope to win every bet. Of course, you may experience periods when your judgement appears nigh on perfect and you back winner after winner but, equally, you will almost certainly experience periods when, as the result of ill-judged selections, or just plain bad luck, you cannot ‘buy a winner’. So being realistic, and perhaps combining your picks with free bet opportunities on YesBets and the like is step one.

The subject of losing runs, which are an ‘occupational hazard’ for any punter, leads quite nicely to the second lesson, which involves the establishment of a betting bank, or ‘tank’.  A betting tank is, quite simply, an adequate sum of money set aside solely for the purpose of betting on horses. Calculating the size of your betting tank, based on your strike rate and average winning odds, is a straightforward process. Establishing a betting tank guarantees that you always bet within your means and, consequently, are less likely to experience the negative emotions, such as anger, despair or guilt, associated with losing money, which can lead to chasing losses and, potentially, financial disaster.

Lesson three is that any staking plan that advocates increasing or decreasing stakes in response to a series of results simply perpetuates the so-called ‘Gambler’s Fallacy’ and is bound to fail in its objective. A previous series of results, good or bad, has no effect, whatsoever, on the probability of a win or loss occurring in the future, and no juggling of stakes can produce any beneficial effect on profit or loss when compared with level stakes.

The fourth, and final, lesson in this short ‘parable’ on the dangers of betting faced by the recreational punter starts with a quote from the venerable Barrington William ‘Barry’ Hills. The former Lambourn trainer, who reached the top of his profession largely through astute punting, once said, ‘If you could buy money they would sell it in a shop down the road’. Of course, ‘buying money’ refers to betting odds-on, where winnings are a fraction of the initial stake. As Hills quite rightly pointed out, a punter who places a bet of £700 on a winning selection at odds of 4/7 is more likely to experience relief at not losing £700 than euphoria at winning £400.