THE A-Z OF BETTING: K is for . . .

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The Independent Online
K is for . . .

Kelleway, Gay: Young, upwardly mobile trainer who seems to have inherited all of her father's aptitude for preparing horses, but fortunately rather less of his optimism. Paul K was famous for setting his charges apparently impossible tasks, in the certain knowledge that every once in a while, one of them would pop up at 33-1. Gay, by contrast, appears to run a punting stable in the old tradition, based not only on a realistic assessment of a runner's chance, but also a desire to ensure that no winner goes unbacked. This commendable attitude, combined with a rare talent for coaxing improvement from other trainers' cast-offs, will make Kelleway's stable one to keep an eye on for years to come.

Kieren. As in, "Goowon, Kieren", the cry of satisfied punters for most of the last eight months. Strangely enough, one of the best moments of the year for Mr Fallon's army of fans was the bizarre aberration which saw the new champion jockey trying to force Bosra Sham up the inside in the Eclipse Stakes at Sandown Park. Even punters who were all of three thousand miles away, in the beach bars-cum-betting shops which take the SIS feed into the West Indies, could see perfectly well that Kieren did not have the space on the rail to swing so much as a kitten, but he, for whatever reason, carried on regardless and ended up narrowly beaten. The fallout which followed - not least from Henry Cecil - no doubt persuaded a number of punters that he was unreliable, and thus ensured that there will still be at least a few mugs next year whose scepticism could allow Fallon's mounts to start at backable prices. A level-stakes return for the 1998 season to match this year's incredible pounds 118 may be asking too much, but the Irishman is still any punter's best friend in the weighing room.

Knock-out: Dubious practice which was (allegedly) a favourite trick of certain on-course bookmakers in the early 1980s. Taking advantage of the pitifully weak markets at many midweek meetings, a small group of bookies would find a horse they fancied and lay it at greatly inflated prices (4-1, say, about a solid 6-4 chance). This was not quite as suicidal as might first appear, for the bookies knew that while they would still only take pennies for it on course, their own thick wads of pounds were on the nose with off-course bookmakers, at starting price. They would yell their odds as loudly as possible, and the SP reporters from the Sporting Life and Press Association had no choice but to adjust the starting price accordingly. No-one was ever found guilty of conspiring to pull off a knock-out coup, but the suspicion that such shenanigans might be taking place was all the excuse the major bookies needed to begin blowing serious money back to the course, to ensure that starting prices conformed to their own grand plan.

Knowledge, inside: Would you buy a used car from John de Lorean? Or a burglar alarm from Group 4? Of course you wouldn't. So why is it that normal, rational people lose all grasp of their senses when it seems that someone is letting them in on a racing secret? About 10 years ago, for instance, I was standing in a London pub one Saturday night when a dishevelled and wild-eyed drunk wandered past and, for no obvious reason, tipped everyone an "absholute shertainty", which was due to run in a race at Leicester, of all places, the following Wednesday. Amazingly enough, the beast in question did indeed appear among the runners there four days later, and your correspondent - purely out of academic interest, of course - just happened to stop by a betting shop 10 minutes before the off. The opening show came through at 9-1, which was available for all of five seconds, after which an incredible run developed. It shortened to 8-1, then 7s, 6s, 5s and all odds down to 9-4 in no more than 60 seconds - so quickly, in fact, that the man on the Tannoy could not keep up. The tipster, it appeared, had rather more than one regular watering hole, and wherever he was that Wednesday afternoon, he was probably still so plastered that, when the horse crawled home 12th, he could see the funny side of it all. Hundreds, perhaps thousands, of people in shops across the capital just felt very, very stupid.

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