THE A-Z OF BETTING

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J is for . . .

Jackpot: Tote bet which requires punters to find the first six winners at a meeting, a formidable task only slightly eased by the tactic of nominating two or more horses in any leg. The problem with this approach is that just two choices in each race - hardly a guarantee of success - leaves you with 64 separate bets, but unlike the Placepot, only one can be a winner. Even then, the dividend depends on how many other people got it right too, and could be nothing like the life-changing return that such an achievement merits. The exception is when the pool has gone unclaimed for days, and a hefty sum has been rolled over, but essentially the Jackpot is no different from other small-stake, high-potential bets like accumulators or even the Lottery - rank bad value.

Japan: Seen by some as a model for racing administration which Britain would do well to emulate; the "some" in question generally being those who would stand to become even richer as a result. In Japan, you can bet only with the Tote, and all the profits stay in the sport, meaning that the minimum prize for a Flat race is a lip-smacking pounds 25,000, and their stud farms can afford to hoover up the best stallion prospects from around the world. Best of all for those lucky enough to own a Japanese racehorse (they can actually expect to make a profit from their hobby), it is the punters who pick up the whole tab, for the simple reason that they have no choice but to do so. Quite why the relatively poor should subsidise the pastimes of the extremely rich, or why the introduction of such a system in Britain would be in any way progressive, is anyone's guess.

Job: If the tipsters' adverts which infest the racing Teletext pages on Channel 4 and Sky are to believed, jobs - ie. betting coups - are plotted at the rate of at least a dozen each day. This in turn implies that British racing is so hopelessly riddled with cheating that even The Queen is probably slipping thick wads of notes to her jockeys to stop her horses when they are not "wanted". In truth, the ads in question are aimed solely at the gullible and the desperate, and could be ignored by any sensible punter, were it not for the number that are shoved at you as you try to find even the smallest snippet of news. Thankfully, as thousands have no doubt discovered, the BBC's pages do not suffer from the same disease.

Jockey Club: Formed shortly before the rest of the dinosaurs died out, and until just five years ago, the last remaining defender of Jurassic values. Following the transfer of power in racing to the British Horseracing Board in 1993, archaeologists are still sifting through the layers of sediment at the Club's headquarters. Notable discoveries unearthed include one former Senior Steward whose last memory is of nipping in off the street to shelter from the Zeppelins, and another still clutching an ante-post slip for an also-ran in Gladiateur's Derby. These days, of course, Britain's punters can rest easy in the knowledge that the "jobs for the aristos" culture is no more, and the sport is in the hands of young, modern, forward- thinking administrators. Like, er, Lord Wakeham.

Jockeys: Can be divided neatly into two categories: brave, skilful and professional, or short, thick and illegitimate, depending on the success of your latest bet. Neither is exclusive, and some riders will flit gaily from one to the other and back again several times in the course of an afternoon. There is always more bile flying around for a losing jockey then there is praise for a winning one, since punters assume that a successful bet is down to exceptional prescience on their part ("it stood out a mile, steering job"), but instinctively shift the blame when their judgement turns out to be flawed. Good jockeys do make a huge difference though, the only problem being that comparing riders is as subjective as weighing up their mounts. The most detached analysis is probably that carried out each year by John Whitley (Racing Research, 01484 710 979), which is based on computerised comparisons of how horses perform when ridden by different jockeys. Kieren Fallon's regular appearance near the top of Whitley's end-of-year Flat report was apparently a significant factor in his appointment as stable jockey to Lynda Ramsden, from where he swiftly graduated to Henry Cecil and the championship. His latest study of jump jockeys, more to the point, indicates that Barry Fenton is a man to look out for this winter.

Jolly, The: Slang expression for the favourite, which on average proves accurate in barely one race in three. The remaining 66 per cent of market leaders would be better described as The Miserable.

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