The late Clive Holt was a legend in horse racing circles. He was a punter who started from virtually nothing and eventually made it big time and enjoying the luxuries most of us dream about: exotic holidays, luxury cars, and even a country mansion with stables and many acres of parkland where he lived with his wife and four children. It was undoubtedly a huge step up from his early career with the electricity board.
Gambling came to Clive almost by accident. His father owned a couple of greyhounds which he would race. He introduced Clive to gambling and taught him a few tricks; however his early betting tended to be more than a little haphazard. He rarely kept track of his bets, though he did have a reasonable amount of luck. Back in the 1960s sometimes he would win as much as £1,000 – that is equivalent to around £18,000 in today’s money. But it was win one day, lose the next day. There was no strategy to the way he bet.
But that was all to change. He decided there was far more to the sport than picking winners and more to money management than counting the difference between what he went to the racecourse with and with how much he came away. He decided there must be more logic to it than that and began analysing races in more detail. Eventually, he was able to work out which kinds of bets worked for him and those that were likely to fail.
The more effort he put into his analysis, the more successful he became. Now able to control his bankroll, he was able to survive losing runs and capitalise when he hit a winning streak. Overall, he began to turn a regular profit. During the mid-1970s he enjoyed considerable success, earning more money from gambling in a few months than he did in two years at his day job with the electricity Board.
That was the point he decided to become a full-time professional gambler. He quit his job to devote all his time to horse racing. Success followed success. He never made huge bets, and it was rare for him to win more than £1,000 on a race, but he won relatively small amounts consistently. He said that he was making 50% profit on his outlay.
Such was his luck that major bookmakers became concerned. In 1978 both Coral and William Hill closed his accounts as he was too successful. This forced him to do all his betting at the racecourse, and typically he would go racing around four times a week.
Holt is known for his famous Fineform racing system, which he developed and used successfully, eventually publishing it as a booklet and later refining it in his book “Be a Successful Punter” published in 1988. In the book, he advocated that “One vital ingredient for successful punting is that you’ve got to be confident that your selection can win.”
He went on to say that “Horses with good winning form when at their peak or improving win most of their races throughout the year and are a source of winners anyone can exploit.” Perhaps surprisingly, Holt didn’t really enjoy betting on horses. He did it purely for the money it made for him. He often said that if he could find any job that paid as well, he would take it and wouldn’t miss betting at all. We are not quite sure we believe him.
The Fineform Ratings System
This system assigns a rating to runners based entirely on their last two races:
- – First place = 5 points
- – Second place = 3 points
- – Third place = 2 points
- – Fourth place = 1 point
- – Course and distance success = 3 points
- – Distance success = 3 points
- – Course success = 1 point
You simply bet on the horse with the highest score. Although back then it proved a reasonably successful strategy, recent changes to the sport mean that today it is mainly irrelevant. However, it certainly worked for Holt, and according to reports, for many other punters too.
In addition to “The Fine Form Winners Guide” and “Be a Successful Punter”, other books by Clive Holt include “Winners back “Winners”, published in 1994; “Profitable Betting Strategies” published in 1989; and “Trading Inside”, published in 1996.