Harry Findlay estimates winning $1 million punting on Black Caviar
- by:Andrew Webster
- From:The Daily Telegraph
- April 20, 2013 12:00am
Professional punter Harry Findlay estimates winning more than $1 million betting on Black Caviar and Frankel. Picture: Mark EvansSource: The Daily Telegraph
HARRY Findlay – one of the most publicised and prolific punters in the world – has endless memories of Black Caviar, but his most vivid resides in a sweaty betting shop in Sri Lanka two years ago.
“She was racing at Moonee Valley, and I was in a betting shop in Colombo, and all the local guys from outside had come in to watch this horse – even the beggars,” Findlay tells The Daily Telegraph.
“I had $370,000 on her – about 75 per cent of my equity – but I knew she was about to absolutely shit in and I made everyone watch. That’s one of my best memories of Black Caviar. That betting shop in Colombo. She was a punter’s dream. I’ll miss her.”
Forget about Peter Moody and Luke Nolen and the doting owners and adoring public and the schoolkids resplendent in the salmon and black dots.
Spare a thought for the poor old short-priced professional punters who have made fortunes backing a horse that never lost. The ones who took $1.20 and $1.18 and even $1.06 and invested six figures – as much as half a million in Findlay’s case – to make the bet worthwhile.
What about them?
When leading Sydney bookmaker Shane Filipek broke the news to Findlay on Wednesday, the colourful Englishman was stunned.
“He didn’t believe me,” Filipek laughed. “He was in shock.”
Findlay understands the punt like few others.
He grew up in Brighton, a town on England’s south coast, where the population of 100,000 shared four casinos, a racecourse and dog track.
Lifelong friends have known him to have nothing but lint in his pockets one day, then placing half a million on a horse the next.
But Findlay has never seen anything like Black Caviar, and the other unbeaten horse in his life, English champion Frankel.
“It just goes to show when you’re a true punter and you really follow a horse, it’s just like owning the horse anyway,” Findlay says.
“It’s no different. I remember being in the boardroom at Randwick where there’s a picture of Ajax (Australia’s champion horse from the 1930s). He won 18 straight and then got beaten at $1.02.
“They all got beat. All the superstars have been beaten. But for these two to come along when they have and to do what they’ve done is just amazing. Black Caviar and Frankel have been absolute friends to me.”
Friends with benefits.
Findlay is reluctant to give up how much he’s won on the pair, but he estimates about “a million pounds”.
The first time he saw Black Caviar was just before her third start when he noticed how laid-back she was in the Moonee Valley mounting yard.
“And her big fat arse,” he says. When he says fat, he means powerful.
“I was at her second ever race,” he says. “I was behind the blackball at Moonee Valley, and I had a little bit more than I should’ve, but she was so impressive.
“When you get a fortune out of someone like a Tiger Woods or Roger Federer or Black Caviar, it gives you such an advantage from a punting point of view. You can afford to be brave. If I hadn’t been there at Moonee Valley that night, who knows.”
Filipek says there were plenty of punters who were prepared to wager large sums whenever Black Caviar was returning about $1.20, but they dropped off when the price fell below that.
He backed her every start, even when he knew the $1.17 she was fetching when she raced at Ascot in the Diamond Jubilee Stakes was far too short because of the enormity of the task.
He says on a handful of occasions, those bets were more than $500,000.
Did he ever feel the heat, the fear, that she would let him down at some stage?
“I can honestly say, with hand on my heart, I never once considered defeat for Black Caviar would be a possibility,” he says.
“At the same time, I had a lot of bets on a horse called Big Buck’s, who won me a lot of money over the hurdles. With Big Buck’s, you could always imagine something going wrong. Not Black Caviar.”
As a short-odds punter, you’re always told 10-on or 6-on for a filly was risky. With Black Caviar, you never had to worry about that. She was bomb-proof.”
So is Findlay filthy now that the guaranteed return is over?
“I’m gutted, but I’m not angry,” he says.
“I don’t want to say I’m a clever horse punter because I’m not. In my lifetime, I’m not in front.”
Backing a horse that never lost? That sounds clever enough.