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Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Bank shares

Had an interesting discussion with the missus the other night about buying/selling bank shares - and that discussion has become more interesting with today's events.

The missus was asking how low could Bank of Ireland shares go and if they are worth a punt. At the moment, they are around 22 cent but they have been lower. It's my own opinion that they are too risky to buy as the state may well step in further and that could render them pretty useless.

I suggested that Permanent TSB might be worth short selling as the shit will hit the fan when people start defaulting on their mortgages - I should have bloody took my own advice (!) as low and behold, they drop 45% yesterday in anticipation of Thursday's 'stress tests' results on the banks.

We didn't buy or sell in the end as I reckon it's best to wait until after the reports are published but I read tonight that Permanent TSB, Bank of Ireland and Allied Irish Bank shares have all been suspended on the Irish stock exchange. Obviously, they want to stop people trading on inside info (or rumours) but it will be interesting to see where it all goes when the shares go back on the market.

Bank of Ireland monthly chart:

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Something new

Excluding the very odd US race, I haven't really traded non UK or Irish races much but I'm having a play around with Meydan (Dubai) today since it's a big meeting. Have to say, I'm pleasantly surprised and found it easy to trade.

In the screenshot for example, I turned over 1K on both the back and lay sides in about four trades on JJ The Jet Plane - around 3 mins before the off. There was plenty of activity and is was handy enough to trade. Not going to go to town with my stakes but it's interesting to try something new.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Back to normality

It's been a long week!

Well, Cheltenham has come and gone – it was an extremely busy week for me as I had a lot of writing on but it was great to be able to pull in a nice few quid from newspapers etc as I didn’t make money from punting. 
 I’ve quite a few things coming up that are going to cost a few quid – the missus’ 30th, a trip to Oslo and also a cousin’s wedding so Cheltenham is a big week of the year for those of us involved with racing and it’s a good chance to earn some decent bread. 

Punting wise, day one and two were horrendous and I was well down but a decent bet on Big Buck’s on day three got me out of a hole and a couple of wins on Friday at Cheltenham and elsewhere saw me get out alive – just about. 

I didn’t really get to trade that much but I sometimes find the really big meetings tricky in some ways as your money is always at the end of a big queue. It’s good to see the liquidity in the markets obviously but there also comes a point where it gets difficult to get matched outside of the available prices. 

I read on Peter Webb’s blog that Betdaq was providing some nice opportunities so I’ll have to keep an eye on that over the summer for the likes of Royal Ascot etc. 

The flat racing returned today at the Curragh and this is something I welcome. It may not be as exciting for some people but my own betting records show that I’m better at backing on the flat so I’m looking forward to the upcoming season. 

Didn’t get out running much this week with the Festival so I went for a jog today. Have to say, it felt great as the sun was shining. It’s great to see some good weather and it was lovely to go running in the sun for a change. I was out a bit socialising over the weekend too so it’s good to sweat some of that out of the system!
I see that Leopardstown is on next week - I haven’t been out racing in quite a while so I think I’ll try my best to get up. My daughter is six and a half now and often asks me to bring her so I may just see how she likes it. She went up before when she was four but I don’t think she remembers. There’s a trials day on so there’s one or two reasonable races on the card.

It’s been a long but productive week and I’m looking forward to chilling out tonight and just sitting back and reading the Sunday papers.

Thursday, March 17, 2011


For the second year running, Big Buck's saved my bacon at the Cheltenham Festival. I had my biggest bet of the Festival on him  and if he had lost, it would have been absolute curtains for me as I've had a torrid time and plenty of bad luck. Was unlucky with Wishful Thinking today in the first, he hit 1/3 in running but got beat. But sin é. I had hoped to get some trading done during the day but I got caught up with writing work.

Happy St Patrick's Day to one and all.

Tomorrow's race-by-race guide for the Indo:

The JCB Triumph Hurdle is open to four-year-old novices only so it can be a bit of a scrum at the start as the inexperienced horses jostle for position. Sam Winner can be forgiven for his odds-on defeat at Chepstow last time because of the ground, and 6/1 looks big.
Alarazi will pick up a £75,000 bonus from Paddy Power if he wins any race at Cheltenham following victory in the Imperial Cup on Saturday. He ran well at this course before, and looks well treated under a 5lb penalty.
Did you know that Albert Bartlett is Britain's leading grower and packer of potatoes? I didn’t either until I looked him up on the Interweb! Anyhow, the race they sponsor is an exhausting test for staying hurdlers and it takes a tough sort to win. Bobs Worth has been powering home over shorter distances and should appreciate the step up to three miles.
The last time a horse over the age of ten won the Gold Cup, Peter Sarstedt was singing “
Where do you go to my lovely” in the charts. Yes, it’s was 1969 when What A Myth won at the age of twelve but Denman may be able to take it this year at the grand old age of eleven. He deserves huge credit for managing third place in the Hennessy considering he was giving some two stone two the field. It’s his last crack at this and 6/1 is a great each-way price.
Last year’s winner Baby Run is the one to beat. He’s a fine jumper and seems to be improving with age. Enda Bolger’s On The Fringe will give him the most to worry about.
Another one of the newer races, the first two runnings have gone to outsiders. Only 14lbs cover the field and this looks extremely tricky for punters. My money will stay safe in the wallet.
It may be the ‘great get-out stakes’ but the last race of the Festival is not one for heavy punting. Nicky Henderson’s Anquetta is a smart, lightly raced sort and will be suited by the stiff two-mile distance.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

When's the flat season begin!! ?

 Money down the drain

Another losing day for me at Cheltenham - it's been pretty tough going on the bank! I hope Big Buck's and Poquelin can do the business on Paddy's Day as they are my biggest bets thus far.

At least it was a good day for the Irish but I can help longing a little for the flat, as I find it much better for punting. I'm probably only saying that because I'm losing though and a good day tomorrow will have me loving Cheltenham again. Here's my Irish Independent race guide for Thursday...

The Jewson Novices’ Chase is new race for the festival and is not to be confused with the old Jewson Novices' Handicap Chase. Wishful Thinking is a useful sort that is on the up; and his previous course experience should prove useful. 
A horrible race for backers where the favourite rarely performs. Unless you are into laying favourites on the exchanges, this contest should be avoided.
It’s hard to get away from Paul Nicholls’ Poquelin. He found plenty when it mattered in the Vote A. P. Gold Cup at this course in December and looks the one to beat.
Will this end up as a match between Big Buck’s and Grands Crus? It’s a mouth-watering prospect as both horses are in cracking form and are the best in their division. It could be tight but Big Buck’s should have a couple of pounds in hand… for now!
A big field handicap, and not a race for heavy punting. Aigle D´Or may still have more to come before the handicapper catches up. 
Any market moves for Ferdy Murphy’s Galant Nuit would be interesting but if you’re in the red by this stage of the day, keep your money for tomorrow as it’s definitely not a race for chasing losses.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011


Feeling tired and deflated after today. Cheltenham was very tough and I lost quite a bit of money. I've a load to do this evening too so I'll probably be up until the small hours. Not only that, Oil and Gold took a dive today and while I haven't traded out yet, at the moment my holdings are in the red to the tune of around €200.

So I'm feeling pretty glum tonight  :-(

You've got to take the good days with the bad I guess and here's hoping for some better luck on Wednesday.

My race-by-race guide for the Irish Independent:

An amateur jockeys race which has turned into a bookmakers’ benefit fund over the years. If a gun were put to the head, Charles Byrnes’ Alpha Beat would get the nod but favourites have a poor record in this and it’s a race best watched.
Some good animals have come out of this over the years and the list of previous winners include Danoli, Istabraq and Hardy Eustace. Even in poor ground, Jessica Harrington’s Oscars Well has a great turn of foot and has the ability to go one better than the Willie Mullins trained So Young.
The formbook says Time For Rupert will win this with a little bit in hand but the lack of a run this year is of some concern.
Aiteen Thirtythree, Jessies Dream, Wymott and Mikael D'haguenet can’t be scratched for the list either so it might be best to sit this one out.
Master Minded make hard work of the Victor Chandler Chase but Tony McCoy admitted afterward that he gave him a poor ride. Bib Zeb will probably go off as favourite but he’s been taking on the same horses in small fields in Ireland so I’m not convinced we’ve learned anything new. If both horses run to form, Master Minded should just about edge it.
Some big gambles have been ruined by outsiders in this race over the years so be careful if following the money. It’s hard to find the winner in such a big field but Howard Johnson’s Arcalis is a reliable enough sort and could be worth a few pence each-way around 16/1.
A race for four-year-old novices only. The word on the street is that Venetia Williams has been preparing Tenor Nivernais for this all season and at 6/1, he can be taken each-way.
The Irish have a great record in the bumper winning 14 for the last 18 renewals; although Cue Card was a surprise winner for Colin Tizzard at 40/1 last year. I’ve a feeling the prizemoney will stay in Britain again this year and based on his Newbury form, the progressive Ericht (Nicky Henderson) is worth a punt around 6/1.

Monday, March 14, 2011

The wait is over

Well, it's that time of the year again - can't believe it's been a year already. Really looking forward to the racing this week - I'll have an article in the Indo each day which keeps me well busy. Not going mad on day one but here's my quick newspaper summary of tomorrow's racing:



Cue Card is the one to beat but he’s just too short at 7/4. Paddy Power have a money-back offer if he wins so with that safety net in mind, I’m going dutch (back both) Zaidpour and Spirit Son at an overall price of 12/5.
Medermit has a good record at Cheltenham and although most of those races were over sticks, he can jump well at a fast pace which is an essential skill for the Irish Independent Arkle Chase. This is Alan King’s best hope of a winner at the Festival and is definitely the one to beat at 11/4.
The JP McManus owned Sunnyhillboy (6/1) has been laid out for this race and slots in nicely in the weights off 139. Adams Island (16/1) has place claims now back at his favoured distance.
Hurricane Fly is hugely exciting in Ireland but will he handle Cheltenham? Menorah has an obvious chance too but Khyber Kim has the form in the book and could be the each-way bet of the day at 10/1.
This used to be the Enda Bolger benefit race but the form of old stalwarts Garde Champetre and L’Ami has been up and down of late and it may be time to look elsewhere. Oscar Bay is the absolute outsider of the field but he’s a tough old sort and could be worth a couple of pennies in the place market on the machine. 
Willie Mullins’ Quevega is considered the banker of the festival for many; but she’s now gone odds-on and it’s not worth the risk. Banjaxed Girl is a fluent jumper and could spring a surprise at 16/1.
Not a race for heavy punting, but David Pipe’s Swing Bill is of interest at a double figure price. A quick return to racing after ten days is not ideal but he’s held in high regard at the yard and is in with an outside chance. 

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Betfair down / Skint

The Betfair site seems to be up and down (again) today so I don't want to risk trading in case it crashes while I'm exposed. It's getting quite annoying at this stage. You can expect outages now and again, but it seems to be getting worse. I've been stung before when the site went down mid-trade and I done a load of dough so it's just not worth the risk.

On a positive  note, I tipped a 10/1 winner for the Irish Independent today which was great, just before Cheltenham. I've also put up The Betchworth Kid e/w for the Imperial Cup which is off in a few mins so fingers crossed.
   Going to take it easy for the rest of the day then and have a beer and watch Wales v Ireland in the rugby. Then it's off into town tonight for a mates 30th so a good day overall, despite Betfair being down. 

External sites:


Friday, March 11, 2011

Tricky day

Felt quite tired today and I think that manifested itself in my trading. It was pretty rough going for some reason and I just couldn't get 'into the zone' so to speak. A small profit was made but nothing to write home about. Just one of those days I guess.

But looking at the events in Japan puts things into perspective and I'm not going to start complaining about a tricky day of trading - it's unreal watching cars being swept along like toys and once again, I feel so lucky to live in a country like Ireland where we don't really get extreme weather.

I mentioned yesterday that I was going to buy some platinum with Delta Index as it can be quite volatile and I was looking for a swing. Well, that swing came - in the wrong direction!  It's recovered somewhat but I'm still down about one large on the trade so far. I'm holding out for a recovery however so we'll see how it goes.

On  a positive note, some gold I bought with Delta Index today is currently in profit of about €1000 so I'm pretty pleased with that. No-where near the prize positions however.

But I bought gold in my actual marketspreads account so I'm pretty pleased.

Gold is by far my favourite commodity and I've rarely made a bad trade on it so it's probably something I should concentrate on more.

Delta Index Open Positions:

Wednesday, March 9, 2011


Bought some platinum with Delta Index today - hope to get a big swing on it as it can be quite volatile at times.

I traded this commodity before and it can be a bit of a crazy ride at times. The problem with trading competitions is that you kinda have to be wreckless if you want to be in with a chance of winning. There's no point in turning your 20K into 25K as there's bound to be someone who took a punt and trebled or quadrupled their bank or whatever. In reality, earning 5K would be great but it wouldn't win you the competition so you kinda have to stake heavy and hope for the best.

Had a great day on the football markets with Spurs qualifying although I can't really claim credit for that. A friend of mine is good on football so we pool some resources together along with another guy who is good on horses. We'll split the money in the account if it ends up successful at the end of the year but so far we are just keeping the head above water. A nice boost of around €130 each today though.

Platinum weekly chart:

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Delta Index

I'm always on the lookout for free competitions and I spotted an ad for one for Delta Index in the Business section of the Sunday Indo.

I'm sure there will be plenty of competition but I've signed up anyway for the craic (and also to learn). The prize is a trip to Wall Street which would be nice!

It's pretty easy to sign up and start trading thankfully and you basically do the best you can with €20,000.

Going to stick with commodities for the moment but may diversify later on.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Lessons in loneliness

I read an article in the Irish Times the other day and it kinda struck a chord with me.
It basically discusses how working life can be often lonely for entrepreneurs – and I reckon the same can be said for traders.
I spend quite a lot of time on my own with trading/writing, and I’m very happy in my own skin - but sometimes it’s difficult as you don’t have that banter and interaction with others that you would find in a traditional job. Don’t get me wrong – I’m a confident and generally happy person so I wouldn’t be going around lonely and sad or anything but I do find that the problem with trading is that not many people really understand it. So most of my business, and a large chunk of what goes on in my head is kept to myself.
Entrepreneurs (and traders) have a certain tunnel-vision which keeps them going towards their goal and quite often, you end up totally consumed by it all. Often, others don’t understand this drive (or obsession!) and therefore, you don’t often get a chance to talk and chat about your work to others. 
Even my wife doesn’t really understand trading and betting so after a long day, I generally don’t bother discussing it much. This can be hard sometimes, especially after a bad day. You can have so much going on in your head when it comes to trading but very few outlets for discussion.
To make a comparison – about 12 years ago, I worked in a supermarket. Packing shelves wasn’t exactly the greatest job in the world but there was great camaraderie and we all used to have a few pints in the local after work. We’d moan, talk and joke about work and looking back, it was great craic even though the wages were poor and we were skint most of the time. Perhaps I’m looking back with rose-tinted glasses but I  kinda miss that type of thing sometimes.
The (Irish) Dragon’s Den star Bobby Kerr was spot on when he said that in business;
“Loneliness is absolutely part and parcel of the entrepreneurial experience….And it’s one of those things: If you don’t know it’s coming, it will hit you hard.”
I don’t really mean that I’m lonely in the traditional sense of the word – I have a family, great friends, a great social life etc. But when you are focused on something that the general population don’t really understand or care about, it can become somewhat isolating.
I guess the same thing happens to women (or men) who stay at home with kids all day. I know some people who love it and wouldn’t change a thing – but I also know others who get quite down and miss the interaction of the workplace or whatever. As much as people love their kids, sometimes it’s very hard to be alone with just them all day long without much other adult contact, or outlet for intelligent conversation.
There are times when I’ve been in the house alone all day trading and I just have to get out for a pint afterwards just to meet other people and wind down – but as I say, it can be tricky too as you can’t really offload your worries and ups and downs of the day to Joe Soap in the local - as they generally wont understand what I do.
Plus, I don’t like discussing money, figures and turnover in case I come across as boasting. I could turn over thousands in a day (and only make a small profit, or even lose money) but if you tell someone that who doesn’t understand trading, they might think you are a cocky so-and-so who goes and gambles thousands on the nags. It’s not like that at all but it’s hard to explain that to someone who has had 14 pints of stout. So generally speaking, I don’t discuss it much with anyone, bar one or two friends who have a general idea what I do.
Interaction on forums and blogs etc help to an extent but that’s not the ‘real’ world as such, so it’s not really the same.
At the end of the day, you have to learn to like your own company and be comfortable in your own skin. I don’t mind spending time on my own but it certainly doesn’t suit everyone and I can see why people can struggle at times.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

My so called mates!

 My mates

Got cleaned out by my so-called mates last night in poker!

The beginners’ luck that I had last week has well and truly run out – that’s for sure. With friends like Rob and Owen, who needs enemies eh?  Another mate was with us but Paul didn’t get great hands and probably lost out too. Like vultures, they swarmed around and took advantage of my inexperience and showed no mercy. 
Seriously though, it was a very good lesson for me and looking back, I should have folded way more than I should and kept my pot somewhat intact. 

Had a great evening and I want to keep it going and keep on learning. We were only playing for a couple of quid so I only lost €23 overall which wasn’t too bad. Besides, I think there’s around twenty quid’s worth of drink left in my house so it’s all good!

I’m finally getting my head around all the rules and after a few more games, I can start working on strategy. It’s a great way to spend a few hours and it’s cheap too if you don’t get carried away of course. 

Trading wise, I earned €70.93 today but that isn’t too bad as I only started at 3:50pm and finished at 5:10pm as I went for a run today and then cooked the roast.

That’s an hour and twenty minutes work so it translates to around €53 per hour which is grand. 

Not sure if I’ll get to trade much next week – herself is away in England for a couple of days so I’m not sure what sort of free time I’ll get. 

Friday, March 4, 2011

Exposing a large one!

Racing trading

It was a pretty good day on paper with a profit shown in each of the ten races that I traded (not going to bother with the evening stuff) although I can’t really feel happy with myself as I took a couple of risks today that I know deep down I shouldn’t. 
In one race, it went in-running before I could trade out and I was staring at a red book of fifty quid. Instead of trading out for a loss, I left my order there and it eventually got matched. All well and good you might think, but for about half a minute, I had the guts of one large (€1000) exposed and if the price had have kept moving away, I would have been screwed. Not sure why I did it really and I should know better. Thankfully, I got away with it but it’s not good practice really. 
I had quite a bit to do today and I only started trading late - so the overall profit of €112.13 is most welcome, even though I was a little bold in getting it. 


I’ve been doing well predicting the price of oil on paper lately so I went ahead and bought some at $116. It’s not much, only a couple of quid and I have set a stop loss for if it drops to $99. Why do I think the price will rise? Well, I just think that people have under-estimated how long this whole business in Libya and the middle east could last. 
It was funny, because a few days ago when it looked like Gadaffi was about to fall, the Americans were throwing a few shapes and talked about helping out the rebels. Now, however, he’s hung on longer than expected and they’ve went quiet on the issue.

Although they obviously have an interest in oil, there’s no way they want to get into another Afghanistan or Iraq situation where they have to oversee a new administration (while being attacked) and I think they are best advised to stay out of this one for now. I see the price of US crude rose again today to a two year high and although I haven’t yet traded that, I’m keeping a close eye on it.

Brent Crude daily chart:


Having the lads around tomorrow night for another poker session. Very much looking forward to that as I haven’t played since the night that I learned. I’m still very much at a learning stage and have to have a print-off of the hands beside me but I’m getting the hang of it. We keep stakes to a fun level and it’s a great way to have a cheap-ish evening in.

Going to head out for a run shortly as I woke up late (I wasn't hungover, honest ) and didn't go out this morning. 

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Gold hits record high

I see that gold hit $1,434 today which is a record high price for the commodity.

I'm a little jealous of those traders that held their positions as I sold all mine some time back but I still made some money on it and think I can do in the future. The price rise is pretty simple really as far as I can see and stems from two reasons. Firstly, the middle-east is looking dodgy again so investors are looking to safe, solid investments. Secondly, the Feds in the US seem to want to continue with the quantitative easing programme (printing money) so again, people like to invest in something more solid instead of bonds etc.

I'm reading a book at the moment by a guy called Mark Shipman - it's called 'The next big investment boom' and it was written around - 2006-2007:

It's a pity I didn't read it a couple of years back as the author recommends buying commodities, particularly, gold and oil!

He was absolutely spot on. This is the second book I've read by him - he has another one Big Money, Little Effort which is quite good too - it's basically a system for trading the Indices using moving averages and I've used it with some success.

It's hard to say how high oil and gold will go this year. Some analysts are predicting that oil could even go near $200 per barrel - this would surely bring the western world back into recession and God knows how Ireland would manage to deal with that!

Gold weekly chart: