Life's a gamble

My father was a senior civil servant, also a dedicated betting man. He owed greyhounds at the White City and we lived in Newmarket - 'Headquarters' as the racing folk knew it. He would entertain trainers and jockeys at home. I remember in particular one guy, one of the few truly professional gamblers. It was said he was able to recognise any of the 2000 horses then in training on the early morning gallops without benefit of saddle cloth. He was never without his trusty stop watch.
Father told me this fellow took a team up to Ayr in Scotland to bet on one horse at certain odds, say 9/4. In the event they could only obtain 2/1, at best, so he brought everyone home without placing a bet or even watching the race. The horse won. One time, when home from school I overheard this man giving my dad a tip on a horse called Palestine so I got myself into the Silver Ring and put all my savings on it. Of course it lost.
It was also said that on race days in Newmarket you could get yourself a pint at lunchtime in the Rising Sun on the High Street and if you listened carefully enough could overhear an insider tip (stable boys etc) on almost every horse in a given race. 'Chicken one day, feathers the next' was the saying.
Dad had a secret system supported by reams of beautifully codified historical results etc. He would bet on the third favourite in any non-handicap horse race with twelve or more runners. Dad didn't leave much behind, barring memories. Good on him, I'm sure he is resting in peace.

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