Mel Gee: The big interview

Black Friday/Cyber Monday may have been and gone but here at the Bet Chat the good news just keeps on coming…

You see, after a period of time spent monitoring the effect the service was having on bookmaker odds, I’m happy to announce that as of today, doors to Mel Gee’s popular Elite Racing service are back… OPEN!

If you’re not already on board, you can grab your spot here.

To celebrate, I thought today would be the perfect time to re-publish an interview with the man himself that was originally commissioned for the free On Course Profits magazine.

If you’d like to sign up to receive the magazine you can do so here. Otherwise, let’s get stuck in…

Hi Mel, and many thanks for joining us this month. First off, would you start by telling our readers a little about yourself and your background?

Hello, and thank you for the opportunity to talk about the sport I love, which has been a passion of mine for over 50 years.

I am from humble beginnings, an unskilled family background, with a basic state secondary modern education. I am from a council estate upbringing, one parent family from the age of 7 with little or no money and even fewer prospects. I remain proud of my roots and forever grateful to my mum for keeping me fed, watered, clothed, and knowing right from wrong. 

What attracted you to the world of horse racing and what do you enjoy most about the sport?

My earliest recollection of horse racing would have been my dad telling everyone to shush whilst he was watching and listening to another horse race on TV. Another loser, another ill afforded “half crown” or shilling each way gone “down the pan” as he would say. 

As with most of the country, The Derby and Grand National were household names and for me it was only a watching brief, as money was neither owned nor therefore risked on either event. I chose names only. 

For no other reason, other than re engaging with my dad when I was about 15, did I get involved in racing. He was still betting, still losing, and I followed him into betting shops on the Saturdays that we met. Fortunately, I would have pence only in my pocket, so the thought of betting was never evoked.

A year later of this regular Saturday “treat,” I knew the name of Lester Piggott above all others and in 1969 along came Nijinsky, in 1970 came the Triple Crown and along came Mill Reef whose year was to be 1971 winning the Derby and the Arc among other Group 1 victories. 

It was Mill Reef with whom I fell in love, my racing passion had been lit and it burns as bright today as it ever did. My journey had started. 

I began to learn all I could about horses, jockeys, trainers, owners, and racecourses and the industry itself. Once again, thankfully with hindsight, having no money meant that my passion was never blighted by betting. My interest to this day is increased even more so by watching the best horses win the best races at the best racecourses. 

Never has betting been the driving force to enjoying the sport. I absolutely love it!

So, what brought you in to the world of racing tipsters, and what led you to specialising in Class 1 races only? What do you feel you can offer racing enthusiasts and punters that other tipsters can’t?

I first went public in 2012 joining a racing forum. I have met many racing tipsters personally and it was evident early doors that most of whom I met knew less than I did about the horse race industry. Theirs was an opportunity to make money from those who needed “inside information.” As the computer age grew, so did the growth of the so called knowledgeable tipster. Ha! It’s been a field day for many shyster tipsters and to some extent it still is. 

In 2012, I decided to try my own hand at being a tipster but always insisting to me it would be honest, transparent, and accountable. I would never offer a bet for the sake of betting. Only bets that carried my money were given to my clients. 

Over the past few years, much has changed with the flat racing calendar. The introduction of all-weather racing since Southwell in 1989, quickly followed by Wolverhampton and Lingfield, changed the landscape. That landscape has changed again with the addition of Kempton, Newcastle, and Chelmsford City as all-weather venues… 

More recently, over the past three or four seasons, the maiden race has almost disappeared in favour of the novice race; more races have been introduced for fillies and mares only, and the number of distance races (14–16 furlongs) has been increased to accommodate the wishes of breeders. 

Similar changes have taken place in National Hunt spheres, particularly with mares only races for example.

I have never read other tipsters giving notice to the above.

Thankfully, Class 1 races are not affected, simply because the breed is paramount in the industry and the Pattern agenda is rarely tinkered with. Pattern races establish the best that racing has to offer and in particular the Classic generation. The best on offer is always in the Class 1 races. We run the same races each year, but mostly with a different cast. I was almost cornered into specialising in Class 1 races by the overall changes to the sport.

If you know how to interpret the form book, and I do, then you have an edge that no systemite has and all purveyors of so called “inside information” can only dream of. 

I sincerely believe that systems have a shelf life for lots of differing reasons, although systems can work provided the starting bank is big enough to cater for the long term. Such is the size of the bank needed, it is consequential that the stake is lower, making it difficult to make worthwhile gains. 

My advantage to clients is that I suggest a 20 point bank (this is way more than enough) which allows for larger stakes and larger gains. E.G. for the systemites, a 150 point bank at £50 a point would mean a bank of £7500 (not many takers, I feel). With me at £50 a point it would be a £1000 bank which I feel is much more readily acceptable. 

Obviously, stakes and banks could be less, but the expectant profits of overall returns would be less too.

It would be prudent to add here, that not all systemites and tipsters fall into the category of charlatan/n’er do well/crook/scamster. I’ve met good people too! 

My experience of all things betting is many fold but I concluded that the form book is the way to consistent profit.

You offer selections in both UK, Irish and French racing. What differences do you see if any between the way each region approaches its racing? Do you have a preference of one region over another? 

The big difference between each region is prize money. Each region has Class 1 races and there is inter-region competition. My job is to be able to assess each race on its own merits. My job is not to try to pick a selection in every Class 1 race, irrespective of region. I am relaxed about missing the occasional winner knowing that I have missed many more losers. 

The best horse in the race often shows itself, wherever the region may be. One has to wait patiently sometimes.

As a tipster do you have a typical “working” day and if so, how would you describe it?

Yes, I do have a typical working day. I plan ahead and that is a big advantage to my days. Because of the aforementioned changes to the racing calendar, I rarely bet day to day. If I did, I would lose money, along with 98% of the betting public. 

Nowadays, I concentrate my time on Class 1 races and some days I have a selection two or three days before the off.

The selection can sometimes be so obvious. This approach has freed up my time considerably. I read a lot each day, I watch replays of races and I make sure I have sufficient knowledge of upcoming races and race meetings. 

Wednesday is my busiest day as I also have a lot of success in betting on golf. My Wednesday morning is taken up with a selection process and bets are placed in readiness for tournaments which usually starts Thursday, but that’s for another day…

Do you regularly bet yourself? What style of approach do you take to your betting? What do you think of staking plans, loss retrieval systems etc?

I regularly bet on Class 1 races. It does depend what is on offer in a given month. I may have up to 12 bets in one month, sometimes considerably less. It does depend on the meetings available and whether or not I think there is a clear standout selection. 

My approach is level stakes for the win bets and I also stake slightly higher for a place if I feel it is necessary. The place bet is an insurance should things not go to plan and usually it can reduce the loss to close on ½ point only. This both protects and maintains the bank.

If your readers look back to the race at Leopardstown on 11th September, they will see how Mother Earth, advised @ 11/8, came to win her race but was badly hampered to finish 3rd. We lost a small amount rather than the whole bet.

As for staking plans and loss retrieval systems, such as Fibonacci, or worse, doubling up, my honest opinion is that if level stakes cannot give you a profit, forget your selection process with any other form of staking. If you are asked to cobble together a 100 point, or 150 point, or 500 point bank by a tipster, then you are being asked to expect a lot of losers and the dreaded long losing run is nigh!! 

For sure, if you invite a losing run, it will come knocking at your door!

What do you think of the world of sports tipping in general and what do you think people are in search of when it comes to their hunt for a successful tipster?

The world of sports tipping in general is tainted by those who are many in being dishonest! It’s a fact, I’m afraid and I have seldom met a tipster who makes a worthwhile income from his own betting.

I was once told by a very good friend of mine, many years ago, not to ask the success of a person but to look at the house he lives in, the clothes he wears, the car he drives and the company he keeps. That will give all the answers you need… 

I feel if every so called tipster was appraised in the same way; the answer would be that most have a full time job away from the tipster industry or are reliant on the income from the client subscriptions. Few, I feel, would be successful bettors from their own endeavours.

People in search of a successful tipster are entitled to believe they are getting a professional who is doing it for himself. You have a leaky tap, get a plumber. House needs rewiring? Get an electrician. Car won’t start? Get a car mechanic. For me it’s the same deal. 

Again, in my early days of searching for success, I made a point of meeting and/or interacting with every person connected to the tipster service I thought might help me on my way. What an eye opener!!

What traits do you think a good racing tipster should possess and what do you think the average punter is looking for from a tipping service?

Personally, I try to be honest and transparent in my dealings with clients. It is important to be accountable too. I think that is the least a client should expect from his chosen tipster. Unfortunately, the average punter loses money. 

He/she wants to bet, will follow blindly 3 points on this 5 points on that until the “I’ve lost enough” flag goes up and will promptly join another service. There is no punter discipline and discipline is a prerequisite for success. 

New and old punters alike can struggle to make a success of their betting. If you could give them just one piece of advice to improve their profitability, what would it be?

I couldn’t give one piece of advice because winning regularly to a worthwhile amount takes several components to make the whole. Referring back to the plumber, electrician etc above, they will have had an apprenticeship to get to “success” stage and it won’t have relied on just one piece of advice. Becoming a successful bettor also has an apprenticeship, unfortunately, there is no manual!

What would you consider to be a highlight of your racing experience to date? Do you have any personal racing/betting experiences which on reflection brings a smile, or for that matter any which bring a grimace; you can share with our readers?

WOW!! How long have you got! I could write a book, in fact several books, ha!

I suppose, firstly, I should say that in my very early days of loving this sport, I was in awe of everyone and everything. It was all far above my standing, my knowledge, my experience, and my aspirations.

Buying my first horse (100%) and watching her win at Chepstow with my wife was definitely a big high! Watching her another day at Chepstow, but this time finishing second, and then being interviewed by Luke Harvey live on Attheraces wasn’t bad either.

My heroes within the sport are firstly Mill Reef, my raison d’etre, and meeting him at the National Stud. I still have two hairs from his forehead placed safely within the book, Mill Reef, something to brighten the morning. 

My next hero is Lester Piggott. I had the pleasure of a short telephone conversation with him, followed by meeting him at his home in Newmarket. Yep, it was just me, Lester and his wife, Susan. There’s an hour’s story there! I’m happy to say I have met Lester on two other occasions. 

And finally, I can say Henry (without the Sir) Cecil as I was on his coat tails long before he became public property and I got to say the things I wanted to say to him before his death some six months or so later. The privilege has been all mine. I am humbled to have been so up close and personal to greatness.

My worst moment was at Epsom, Derby Day 1977, The Minstrel. I came out of the course looking for the coach that had brought me when I saw a hub bub of people gathered around a “find the lady” card table. I was “Mr Green as Grass” and I only wanted to look but I got hustled to the front. A fellow next to me was cheating by looking at the cards on the table and turning one up and telling me to put my money on the card. I had no reason not to believe him; this was all new to me! 

Suffice to say, I lost £16 which was a lot of money to me at the time and I was most upset at my naivety and stupidity. Next day, however, I placed a 5p win Yankee, 55p, and all four horses won to return £24. It’s not very often you get a free lesson in this game!

What about the gambling industry, is there anything you’d like to see changed there? There is plenty of criticism of the bookmakers and their treatment of their customers on website forums. Is this something you have an opinion on?

I do have an opinion, but much like those who air their views on forums or to the Gambling Commission, it is a total waste of breath! 

The bookmakers are run by faceless accountants and not as in days gone by; proper bookmakers such as Joe Coral or William Hill, for example. The bookmakers are businesses and are there to make as much profit as is humanly possible out of you and I. They care not a jot for you and I and this breath-taking ruse of “responsible gambling” so readily promoted is shameful and should be exposed as such – but of course it won’t be. 

My example is this… I know exactly what I am doing when placing a bet and why I am doing so. It is a portion of my overall bankroll, it is money that is completely devoid of any other callings, and there is likelihood that over time, I will make a profit. My reward for this responsible gambling is to have my accounts closed or reduced to such low levels that the account might as well be closed. 

A newbie, however, betting for fun having been lured into gambling by the bookmaker with a bet of £5 @ 10/1 that Manchester United will have a corner in 90 minutes is welcomed with open arms. The newbie is hooked but he can’t have his winnings until it has been rolled over several times and consequently continues to bet and probably loses more than his original £5 bet. 

We know people chase losses! 

The newbie will lose until whenever, but the offers to entice to bet will keep coming to him. Of course, if the newbie is a success and looks like being successful in the future – it’s curtains along with the rest of us! It’s shameful practice; it goes on daily. Worst of all, of course, the tens of millions of pounds made by the bookmakers does not find its way back into the industry in the amounts it ought to. 

Again, another can of worms for a later day.

What does Mel Gee do to relax and unwind? What interests do you have outside of the world of horse racing?

My main interests away from the sport are walking holidays with friends. I try to take several two and three day holidays each year walking in and around the UK countryside. A nice hotel, a nice meal, and a beer and wine to follow away from it all helps keep the mind and body in a good place. 

That said, I never stop reading the Racing Post and other publications online or replying to clients whilst on holiday! I’m not proud to say it, but I do work at my sport in one way or another every day of the year. I always have done.

Also, I’m fortunate to live in a very nice village with a great community. My wife and I are a big part of that community and contribute to it in several ways. 

To finish, I would like to dedicate this interview to my very best friend, sadly passed, who was a mentor, collaborator, and the greatest supporter of me.

With every best wish, missed every day, RIP, Bob Safford. 

I do hope you enjoyed that interview with Mel as much as I did. If you’d like to join his service, Elite Racing, you can do so by clicking this link.

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