Tic-Tac The Bookies Secret Code

Tic-Tac The Bookies Secret Code
It used to be a familiar practice at racecourses up and down the country. Tic-Tac, a non-verbal system to communicate betting around the racecourse, so bookmakers could keep up to date with betting moves, especially if a big bet had been placed. 

In 1999 there were only three practitioners left: Micky ''Hokey'' Stuart, Billie Brown & Rocky Roberts. 

These days of Tic-Tac have long gone. With the introduction of Betfair, a betting exchange, founded in 2000, the way people bet and how information was used changed dramatically. Not only did bookmakers use this platform to hedge their bets but the information made Tic-Tac obsolete. 

Who needed a man with white gloves and a secret code when the betting was in front of their eyes? However, the image of the Tic-Tac man (or woman) is a nostalgic reminder of times gone by and a sign that technology never stops. 

A Guide to Bookie Hand Signals: 

  • Tic-Tac Odds of 9/4 ("top of the head") – both hands touching the top of the head. 
  •  Odds of 10/1 ("cockle" or "net") – fists together with the right-hand thumb protruding upwards, to resemble the number 10. 
  •  Odds of 11/10 ("tips") – hands together and touching all fingers on both hands together.
  • Odds of 5/4 ("wrist") – the right hand is moved to touch the left wrist. 
  • Odds of 33/1 ("double carpet") – arms crossed, hands flat against the chest

Photo Finishes Aren't Always Correct!

Photo Finishes Aren't Always Correct!
Unfortunately, not for the first time in recent history, the photo finish hit the headlines for all the wrong reasons at Sandown Park in March 2019. In the latest of a series of embarrassing blunders, Judge Paul Champion called the result of a two-and-a-half-mile hurdle race based on a photo finish print from a camera incorrectly trained on the first, rather than the second, of the two winning posts at the Esher course. The mistake was noticed before the ‘weigh in’ and, after a lengthy delay, the result was reversed, but not before some bookmakers had already paid out on the original ‘winner’. 

This time, the gaffe was quickly attributed to a human error by photo finish operator Racetech, which should have aimed both its digital cameras at the second winning post, rather than one at each winning post. Nevertheless, the judge is responsible for giving the correct result of each race and, along with the photo finish operator, for ensuring that equipment is set up correctly to provide accurate pictorial evidence of the result. 

The current generation of photo finish cameras, known as Scan ‘O’ Vision, no longer rely on a roll of film in constant motion, but on digital technology. Two digital cameras, mounted in an elevated position in the stand, close to the judge’s box, are focussed on the winning post. The winning is fitted with a strip of mirror so that in the event of a blanket, or bunch, finish, the judge can obtain a clear view of horses from the far side of the course, which might otherwise be concealed. 

The basic principle of the photo finish, known as ‘strip photography’, is the same as it has always been. The image produced by a digital camera consists of millions of tiny dots called ‘picture elements’, or ‘pixels’ for short. Photo finish cameras take continuous, but very narrow – usually just a single pixel wide – images of the finish line as the horses pass through. The image frames so created are positioned side-by-side in chronological order and blended to create the final photo finish ‘print’, which is typically made available to the judge within seconds of the last horse crossing the line. Nowadays, photo finish software also calculates distances between finishers, based on the time intervals between them and a ‘lengths per second’ parameter, which varies according to the code of racing taking place, the surface or the prevailing going. 

If the distance between two placed horses in a race appears, to the naked eye, to be a nose, a short head or a head, the judge will call for photographic evidence from the photo finish operator to determine the correct result. A vertical timeline is superimposed on the foremost part of each horse, usually the tip of its muzzle – although not including its tongue – to enable quick, efficient interpretation. Clearly, the system is not foolproof and probably never will be while human beings are involved, but the photo finish is an integral and indispensable part of modern horse racing.

Amazing Six Way Photo Finish

Five Tips for the 2019 Cheltenham Festival

We are just weeks away from the 2019 Cheltenham Festival, the biggest meeting of the season in National Hunt racing. With the entries for each race now starting to become clear, here are the best tips if you are looking to have a bet across the week. 

Le Richebourg To Win Arkle Trophy 

Irish trainer Joseph O’Brien has a strong squad of horses set for the Cheltenham Festival this year but his best chance could come on the opening day of the meeting with Le Richebourg, who looks to be the one they all have to beat in the Arkle Trophy.

Le Richebourg first became an Arkle contender when he landed the Grade One Racing Post Novice Chase at Leopardstown. Earlier this month he built on that success to seal another Grade One race at the same track in comfortable fashion. 

Unlike the last few runnings of the novice chase contest over 2m, this year’s Arkle looks to have a more competitive look about it, with Le Richebourg topping the betting at 3/1. It could be a big meeting for Irish horses in the novice races as Battleoverdoyen has been tipped by Oddschecker to win the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle where he is looking to follow in the footsteps of his stablemate Samcro who won the same race in 2018.

Apple’s Jade To win Champion Hurdle

Following her success in the Irish Champion Hurdle at Leopardstown, trainer Gordon Elliot has revealed news that the Champion Hurdle will now be Apple’s Jade most likely target at the Festival this year which sets up a mouth-watering clash against the defending champion Buveur D’Air. Apple’s Jade has shown fantastic versatility from 2m up to 3m but it could be the lower distance which suits her best. The mare produced a fantastic turn of foot to stretch away from a strong field in the closing stages of the Irish Champion Hurdle. 

The real advantage Apple’s Jade will have in the premier hurdle contest at the Festival is that she will receive a seven-pound advantage against the opposite sex. The weight allowance for mares worked in Annie Power’s favour when she won the race in 2016 and Elliot’s runner is more than good enough to take advantage of it to stop Buveur D’Air from completing a hat-trick of wins in the feature race on day one of the meeting. 

Defi Du Seuil To Win JLT Novices’ Chase 

Defi Du Seuil was triumphant at the Festival in 2018 and he could be set for another success at the meeting this year in the JLT Novices’ Chase. Philip Hobbs’ horse has now had four starts over the bigger obstacles and on the evidence of his last outing in the Grade One Scilly Isle Novices’ Chase, he is improving with every run. 

The six-year-old beat a strong field at Sandown which included Lostintranslation and Vinndication. He tracked the leaders in the early stages of that contest and once his jockey Barry Geraghty asked his runner to quicken, he picked up with great pace. 

Defi Du Seuil has had a lot of success at Cheltenham so far in his career. Therefore, it is a racecourse he knows very well. The JLT Novices’ Chase looks like it is going to be his preferred option by his connections rather than the Arkle and from what we saw at Sandown, he is the worthy favourite. 

Josies Orders To Win Cross Country Chase

The Cross Country Chase is the most unique race of the 28 at the Cheltenham Festival and it definitely pays to back horses which have lots of experience in this type of contest. Josies Orders won this race in 2016 and looked right back to his best this season; therefore, he stands out the most. Trainer Enda Bolger has prevailed in the Cross Country Chase five times since it was added to the schedule in 2005. The Irishman will have an excellent chance of improving his record even further in March with Josies Orders who is already a winner around this course this season

Josies Orders had to settle for sixth place in the Cross Country Chase in 2018 but he made up for that disappointing showing to score in the equivalent of this race at the Punchestown Festival. At 6/1 in the betting, he offers great value if you fancy a punt in this rollercoaster of a contest. 

Native River To Win Cheltenham Gold Cup 

Native River is bidding to do what no horse has done since 2004 by retaining his crown in the Cheltenham Gold Cup this year and although Colin Tizzard’s runner has yet to get into the winner’s enclosure so far this season, he can reign supreme again in the biggest race in the sport.

The 3m2f distance of the Gold Cup is a strong test of stamina, especially when you have the hill to contend with after the last fence. Native River is a horse who will relish this race far more than Haydock or Kempton where he featured earlier in the campaign in the opening two legs of the Chase Triple Crown. 

Any rain in the ground during the meeting will help Native River’s chances even further as the former Welsh Grand National winner will have no problem slugging it out if it comes to it. The defending champion has to be considered over many of the younger horses in the race as last season’s novices have yet to prove that they have the ability to win a Gold Cup so, at 5/1 in the latest Gold Cup betting, the nine-year-old is a great price to repeat his feat of 2018. 

The 2019 Cheltenham Festival begins on March 12, with the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle kicking off the meeting.

The Grand National: Betting Odds for Life

I wonder how you got interested in horse racing?

My father, Colin, was my inspiration. If it hadn't been for him, the odds of me writing this post would be 1000/1. Life and our relationships make us who we are today. 

My childhood was everything it should be. I didn't realise at the time I had a wonderful mother, father, brothers, relatives and friends. I got lucky at the game of life. Sure, there have been a few lessons to learn. You often hear how gambling is a derogatory word. It is akin to dicing with the devil. He can throw six six six without any fuss. You feel the heat of the situation as another bet crashes and burns.

I wonder if you like a bet? 

Because we all need to be philosophical when considering the best betting odds for any given horse race. It may be the Grand National or the Nunthorpe Stakes over a flying five furlongs at York. There will always be winners and losers. But sometimes there is no logic to the result. 

If your life was defined by a winner of the Grand National which horse would you be? 

Be honest. 

I guess everyone wants to be Red Rum. The three-time winner of the Grand National in days where the fences were hard, deceiving and cruel. You needed to be as cunning as a fox, as strong as a bear and jump like a gazelle. Red Rum raced over both codes: Flat & National Hunt. Funny how he was ridden by Lester Piggott at Aintree over five-furlong and dead-heated. It doesn't sound possible, hey? Then we went on to run in 100 national hunt races and never fell. 

I'm sure in those days, if we had colour television we would have noticed he wore a red cape and pants over his trousers. That's Red Rum, not Lester Piggott, although I'm pretty sure they both came from the same primordial soup. A mixture of stardust and long-tailed comets that caught the eye. 

While some are known for greatness others just got lucky. Which is better? I guess it depends on your perspective. A winner is a winner, hey. So many times life is about circumstance. The odds of you or me being born to our parents more remote than anything we could imagine. As fascinating as it is mundane. It simply happened. 

I always watch the Grand National. My first thoughts being that all horses return home safe and sound. 

This year's Grand National will be a year for many to remember. If anyone has ever backed a winner in the greatest steeplechase in the world they are likely to remember the horse's name. For some, it was Red Rum. Others it was Foinavon. Many taken their answers to their graves or told in stories by future generations. 

How Flo, down the street, won £100 when Red Alligator romped home in 1968, with the song In The Year 2525 sang by Zager And Evans playing in the background. 

The Rail to the HorseStory of Belmont Stakes

Belmont Stakes 2019
Not only American but a lot of people from many places around the world, specifically those who are drawn to horses or horse racing, consider Belmont Stakes as one of the most exciting races in the United States. Curious about its popularity? Let’s change rein and look up this quick horsestory of Belmont Stakes. 

The Name “Belmont” 

The name Belmont Stakes was originally named in honor of its German-born American major financier named August Schönberg, commonly known as August Belmont. He was known to be one of the richest figures of his day. 

Belmont was a diplomat who served at The Hague in the United States as the chargĂ© d’affaires from 1853 to 1855 and resident minister from 1855 to 1857. He also became the Democratic National Committee chairman from 1860 to 1872.

He was a banker as well. In fact, before the making of his own banking house named August Belmont & Company, he initially worked in the banking house of the Rothschilds at Frankfurt am Main at the age of 14. More importantly, Belmont was into horse racing. He invested a lot of money in it and eventually Belmont stakes existed. 


In 1867 until 1889, the inaugural running of Belmont Stakes happened in a newly-opened Jerome Park Racetrack in New York with an admission fee of 200 bucks. This was financed by Belmont. 

Moreover, it had been relocated for a couple of times due to renovations and restorations. It was moved from Jerome Park to Morris Park from 1890 to 1904, then to Aqueduct Racetracks in 1963-1967. 

The race initially run at a mile and five furlongs from 1867 to 1873; a mile and a quarter during the years 1890, 1892, 1895, 1904 and 1905; a mile and a furlong (or 220 yards) during the years 1893 and 1894; and a mile and three furlongs (or 660 yards) from 1896 to 1903 and from 1906 to 1925. 

Besides, Belmont Stakes is the fourth oldest race in North America. The oldest was the Phoenix Stakes in Keeneland which started to run in 1831, followed by Canada’s Queen's Plate in 1860 and Saratoga’s Travers in 1864.

Third Gem of Triple Crown Race

Belmont Skates is the oldest race of the so-called Triple Crown Race, predating Preakness by six years and Kentucky Derby by eight years. It was initially used when the racehorse named Gallant Fox won the three races in 1930. 

You can get more history information of the Triple Crown of Thoroughbred Racing in the United States at the Kentucky Derby Museum in Louisville, Kentucky. In it, you might also have a peek of the Triple Crown Trophy. It’s a work of art that represents the zenith achievement in horse racing and awarded to the winner of the Triple Crown of Thoroughbred Racing. 


The first race happened in 1867 and was won by filly racehorse named Ruthless. Since then, there were already approximately 1,094 horses who started the race. The winners were different in sex and even in color such ranging from bay, chestnut, dark bay or brown, black, gray and roan. They also came from different places such as in Kentucky, Maryland, Texas, Montana, New York, and even from England and Ireland. 

Additionally, during its inaugural running in 1867 to 1918, geldings were allowed to join the race but were prohibited from 1919 to 1956. Then in 1985, after allowing them again to join the race, Creme Fraiche was the first gelding to win the race. 

Going back to 1919, a horse named Sir Baton was the first winner of the Triple Crown. In this most exceptional of American sporting titles, there were only 13 horses that have won it. There were 34 horses, however, who have been eligible to try, though.

In 1920, another horse named Man o’ War was the first set a new stake and American record by winning the race at 20 lengths. In fact, Man o’War was one of the fourteen Belmont Stakes winner, which sired three subsequent winners namely American Flag, Crusader, and Triple Crown winner War Admiral. 


So far, a horse named Secretariat is the fastest. It won the race at 2:24 in 1973, setting a world record for 1 ½ miles on the dirt. What’s more, even after many decades, no one has even beat Secretariat’s title as the fastest 1/2 mile, 3/4 mile, 1 mile and 1 1/4-mile fraction in any Belmont’s races yet.

They Loved Their Racing

Two old men at the bar
Time doesn't stop for anything. Not man nor beast. The day comes when all we have left are memories. Those images of days we once took for granted. Now appreciated. I so wish we could go back in time, just for a moment, to sit with old friends, family and strangers with a common voice: horse racing. 

My love of horse racing came from my late father, Colin. He loved going to Great Yarmouth every September to the Eastern Festival, which is still going strong and very popular. That week brings a lot of people and business to the Norfolk coast. 

Dad used to go to his regular public house called the Lord Nelson, in March, Cambs. It had a long history with land lords and ladies changing infrequently from Joe and Ivy Case at al. A small gathering of friends to chat over a pint. 

I remember sitting at the table with my dad, Jack Allen & Mick Kean. They knew each other well. Jack was a lovely Irishman who had lived in March from a very young age after a childhood in Waterford. He loved his racing. Telling his stories of betting, winning and losing. By all account him and my uncle Keith used to lose most of their wages going to the casino at the old Cellar Club in March. He told of the day when he saw a trainer at the course trying to light a cigar, so Jack rushed over and obliged. Then asked of the chances of the runner in the next race. A nod and a wink. Bet placed. It won!

I often think of all those innocent days and wish I could go back in time and sit at that same table. I'm sure they would wonder why I sat quietly, listened and upon saying good bye I had tears in my eyes.

A Winning Day At The Races

So, the four of us went to Great Yarmouth races. That's me, Tony, Gareth & Danny. It was Danny's idea. 

He said: ''Are you interested in going to Yarmouth on the 31st July?'' 

We didn't take much convincing although Tony had intended to work. As it tuned out, it was a good idea. 

Travelling by train, we got the 8:34 from March, the heart of the Fens. I wouldn't call myself a carrot cruncher but we did chat to a bloke later in the day who mentioned webbed feet!

A change at Ely, Norwich, then about a 30 minute journey to a place associated with the great man himself Lord Nelson (he actually lived up the road in Burnham Thorpe). The train went quicker than the traffic on the Acle straight. The whole journey took about two hours. With good company, it seemed much quicker. There is no rush. Smiles, laughter and talking tips, prices...red hot favourites.

''It's a favourites track.'' 

It's a short walk from the railway station to the market place. Danny didn't realise and suggested we got a taxi. The taxi man politely explained it was a short walk, clearly finding reason to get rid of a very cheap fare. I couldn't blame him. Not much to be gained from a £5 trip when waiting in the taxi rank for far too long. 

A short walk to the Feathers public house. A friendly place, clean, tidy and inexpensive beer. Different from the racecourse where a round is getting on for £20. 

The market was busy and the lady on the hat stand sold Danny something that resembled a Panama. It was as much to keep the sun at bay as being a style guru. He looked the part.

We got a taxi to the course. This bloke shared his tips for the day and didn't inform us it was only ''two miles'' to walk. I've walked along the front but it's a long, long walk – an endless straight. Plenty of furlongs if you want to look at it in that way. Good to firm going, if not hard. Ten minutes drive and stops at the wrong gate. Walked half a furlong to the members enclosure. Almost £30. Scandalous. 

I love the course. 

So many memories. A family tradition. A happy pilgrimage. Remembering family and friends who did the same. I remember the stories. We were part of the stories. Holidays to Caister-on-sea. Love you, Dad. That's where the sport of kings whispered in my ear that one day you will bet like a pro. I certainly have. Many times one, two, three grand. But not today. 

Time passes so quickly. Ten minutes to the first race. I was interested in the second – a two-year-old novice stakes. 

The first race come and gone. An easy 10/1 winner. No joy. Danny bet on the favourite. Tony chances his luck on an outsider.

We walked to one of the stands. Sausage and chips, fishcake and chips twice, while Dan had fish and chips. A decent meal for the price. Not so scandalous. Hunger making any price seem palatable. 

The two-year-old race had a couple of horses I fancied. Karl Burke's Lonely Boy and Beryl The Petal who I thought had sound each-way claims. I would have rather backed Lonely Boy each-way but the price was 7/4. Had a win bet on both and each-way bet on Beryl at 4/1. I don't think there was much value floating about. 

Tony had his eye on Taylormade, trained by Mohamed Moubarak. This son of Archipenko had raced once back in May, running down the field. Ninth of thirteen. He fancied the 25/1 shot. It was 30s on Betfair. 

Tony has won some huge money for small stakes in his time. £20 to £4000 when Puggy won on debut. She went on the compete in the 1000 Guineas. He's had many similar bets often simply because he likes the look of a horse. Well, Taylormade registered on his radar. 

He walked up to one bookie with a few £20 pound notes, another with a smaller bet. A few quid on Betfair. 

I felt pretty confident my two horses would be there about. 

''They're off!'' shouted commentator, Thommo, a regular at the course. 

Lonely Boy and Beryl The Petal leading. Soon battling with the pack. This wasn't going to be so easy. Losing. Fighting for the lead. 

Taylormade mentioned. Tony getting more animated. 

''Go on, Taylor...'' 

I looked to see what I was shouting for sensing Tony had much more to win than me to lose. 

It was close. Very close. 


An anxious wait. Tony saying he thought Taylormade had just got up but you can never be sure. The announcement of the photo. Silence before the a merry bunch cheered. Number 4. Taylormade 1st. Tony looking happy. Danny sitting in the grandstand unaware of any winner, as yet. 

One bookie paid £400. Another the same. Money ready. ''I've counted it twice.'' Tony took the bundle with a thank you. Taylormade had won him well over a grand with the Betfair wager struck, too. A wallet bulging at the seams. 

Walking across the grass, climbing the steps to a hatted Danny, racing paper in hand. Looking up, seeing smiles, and listening to a story of winning. ''I had a feeling you bet on that!'' Danny telling everyone he met Tony had won over a grand. 

A great day.


This is the best horse we have in training...

How many times have to heard those words uttered from a trainer's mouth - after it has won! Just imagine if you had the inside info to detail the best horses before the crowd. Trainers like Nicky Henderson,Paul Nicholls. Willie Mullins & Gorgon Elliot (in fact every stable large or small). We make it our business to detail this privileged information so you get it first. Our expert race analysis, stories and more mean you bet like a pro. Learn about the future stars of racing today. 

We often name horses before they have even made their National Hunt debut. Exceptions to the rule. 

Be Part of the In Crowd 

The greatest part of Cheltenham Racing Tips is that you know something that most people don't. Take your interest in horse racing to another level and bet with confidence. 


Top-notch racing insight for those who value more

I created Cheltenham Festival Tips to help racing enthusiasts pinpoint the best horses in training. You will not find more comprehensive information. It gives real opportunity to access the dark horses of racing which trainers would rather you didn't know.

- Jason Coote 

Did you know that Cheltenham Racing Tips is part of HCE Media. They run lots of sport, gambling and horse racing related websites. You may have heard of a few of their best websites:

Eric Winner
Horse Trainer Directory
Group Horse