Racing has always attracted tricksters and conmen

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The Independent Online

Who would be foolish enough to subscribe to a tipping service? Surely, any tipster who could rake in the winnings at the rate that D&E Associates claimed in its advertisements should be bronzing themselves in the Bahamas and not flogging "inside information" to the public.

That rather obvious warning signal did not shine brightly enough for those who subscribed. There are plenty of people desperate enough to take the risk. For those tempted to exploit the vulnerable, where better to start than with punters, who are willing to gamble and want to get something for nothing, to get rich quick.

The needy and the greedy will always take risks and in these straitened times there are plenty who fall into the former category. In recession, when the public's confidence in banks, shares and pension funds has been sapped, why not go for a gilt-edged investment on the gee-gees?

Of course, racing has always attracted tricksters and conmen. When trains were the means by which the masses went to the races, every carriage would have its own card sharps, enticing the gullible to "find the lady", or selling big-race tips in sealed envelopes, not to be opened until its vendor was out of range. They are still there, hanging around the Epsom and Cheltenham gates, combining the three-card trick with ticket-touting.

Then there are the advertisements that ask only for a percentage of the winnings. They, of course, recommend every runner in a race to guarantee a return.

There are genuine tipsters too, who because of excellent contacts or skill can offer punters a better chance of winning than if they made their own selections. But where is the fun in that? Work out the form, stick to a sport you know, make up your own mind and keep the stakes small. There is at least some satisfaction when you get it right and that is just about the only certainty on offer.