Unless you’ve been in a coma for the last week, you might have noticed one or two mentions of the Scoop6! What’s that, you ask? Let me tell you.
If you don’t already know how it works, the Scoop6 is a placepot pari-mutuel type bet operated in the UK by the Tote. Six, usually televised, races are nominated each Saturday with the punter having the simple task of selecting the winner in each race. Each ticket costs £2, which, after the ‘vig’ or ‘topslice’ is taken by the operator, is divided into two funds – the Prize Fund and the Bonus Fund. The prize fund is rolled over each week until such time as a punter(s) selects all six winners of the allotted races. The prize fund pays an equal dividend to all winning tickets. The winner of the weekly Scoop6 event can then attempt to pick the winner of the most difficult race in the following week's Scoop6 to win the Bonus Fund. This is also rolled over until won and divided between any winning tickets.
What follows is an account of how TGT came to decide to enter the Scoop6 and how the day unfolded. This is exactly how it happened, and I absolutely haven’t used any poetic licence here at all!
So, Pokergod was sat at his PC a week last Thursday, musing over the meaning of life and how the TGT community simply don’t have enough things to bet on. He then notices that the Scoop6 prize fund has grown to a decent amount following a few weeks of it being rolled over. What was more important was that the races selected had relatively fewer runners than usual. “We won’t win it”, he thinks, but it might be a bit of a laugh and a talking point in the chatbox.
Poker laid down some basic theories of syndication and a message was duly posted, calling the good folk of TGT to arms and inviting them to join the syndicate. Eager punters quickly showed their interest with the number of syndicate members swelling to an impressive 87, before resident PC Jon astutely enquired as to the method of payment.
Andy steps forward, thinking “we won’t win it” so the logistics will be nice and easy, cue the hungry hoards sending just shy of £1.5k to fund our inaugural foray into the world of the Scoop6 syndicate. Some well versed in the Scoop6 concepts, other just along for the ride, and a surprising few just because they couldn’t bear the unbridled gloating should we win (not bad foresight that!). Cut off time for participation was set at 9am, Saturday, although there were a few disappointed Rip Van Winkles out there who missed the boat through oversleeping.
Next up, the sticky issue of how to pick our four-legged friends. Armed with caffeine, alcohol, back copies of the Racing Post, and various books on Scoop6 strategies, our selection committee of Pokergod, golfkec, rogsmith, wndllll, and (the aptly named) horsekeeper retired to a seedy motel off the M25 to deliberate and cogitate over how to tackle this gargantuan task. Emerging bleary-eyed on Saturday morning after little sleep and clambering over mounds of takeout pizza boxes and empty beer bottles, our 19 equine heroes had been selected to do the business. The strategy was to front load our selections in the first couple of larger-field races to get us in the game and then hope that the favourites could deliver later on. As a result, we had the following:
- Leg 1 – 4 selections of 11 runners
- Leg 2 – 5 selections of 14 runners
- Leg 3 – 3 selections of 9 runners
- Leg 4 – 3 selections of 13 runners
- Leg 5 – 2 selections of 10 runners
- Leg 6 – 2 selections of 8 runners
A few different strategies were put forward, but for reasons of simplicity, all selections were ‘permed’ meaning all eventualities were covered, so 4x5x3x3x2x2 = 720 lines at £2-a-pop, with a total gamble of £1,440. To put our chances into perspective, the total number of permutations was 1,441,440, so we’d covered less than 1/20th of 1% of the options.
Our 87 members purchased a total of 300 £5 shares in the syndicate, so that left us with a nice £60 spare maybe to buy a some tubes of Polos, the odd apple, and a few sugar lumps as a reward for the horses if they did the business.
Andy kindly allayed any fears of a mishap in placing the bet, by posting a screenshot of our selections, as well as consoling Moocher on missing out by saying “you’ve probably just saved yourself £5 there”. Not such a good prediction that one, in retrospect.
With everything in place, all that was now left to do was sit back and watch the fun unfold.
Race 1 - Lingfield 14:25
First race was a dusty affair from Lingfield with Lotte's tip, Gutso, producing the goods to score by a length out of our four picks. Moderate celebrations in the chatbox with a job well done in the first.
Despite the fact that 540 of our lines went down in one fell swoop and £1,080 with them, everyone was quite chipper, as we had another 180 left out of the 80,759 across the country.
Race 2 - Newbury 14:40
Second up was an interesting one, as we had a non-runner. A quick check of the rulebook confirmed that our money would shift to the SP favourite. With hopes that this might be Cue for Cue, whom we didn't have, a late surge of money for Tante Sissi thwarted those ideas. It did, however, mean that we were doubled up on Tante Sissi having already selected it.
Despite losing another of our horses early on to a fall, Tante ran a blinder to be first past the post, only for more worry to fill the chatbox, as the stewards decided to cast their beady eye over affairs. The replay showed ‘Choc’ Thornton had allowed his mount to drift badly right on the run-in, but, thankfully, with one swish of his golden mane, he managed to sweet-talk the judges into letting the result stand.
Another 108 of our tickets down, but it turned out quite well, as we now had two tickets left for each of our 36 remaining permutations, leaving 72 tickets left, out of the 35,991 punters still alive.
Race 3 - Lingfield 14:55
This was one of those crazy 5f sprints where it was anyone's guess who'd win. Having gone for three picks, we had the two market leaders and a relative outsider, Fratellino. Despite his in-running odds matching as high as 40 on Betfair, Fratellino came strong at the end to score by half a length in a blanket finish.
This was getting interesting now with all four at the head of the market going down, which was shown in the dramatic fall in the number of winning tickets going forward, down to 681, of which we had 24. Surely a win wasn't on the cards, was it?
Race 4 - Lingfield 15:25
There was some rapid punching of calculators before Lingfield's biggest race of the year, the Winter Derby, with folk trying to work out if we were onto a good thing. The common consensus was that it could be a lot worse! And living up to his name, Premio Loco, after steaming in the betting, careered to the winning line. Bloody hell, this was on now.
Four from four is some going and what was more, we had the two favourites in the betting in the last two races. Remaining tickets were again whittled down to 79, of which we had 8.
Race 5 - Newbury 15:40
Serious stuff now and it was beginning to show in the chatbox, which more resembled a gaggle of giddy schoolgirls in the playground instead of the usual cold and calculating APing scourge of bookmakers.
Hot favourite, Mon Parrain, ridden by the mercurial Ruby Walsh, was showing well in both the market and race, but ultimately it was Ikorodu Road who, despite being under pressure four out, ran on gamely to notch by four and a half length. Sanity had also prevailed in the chatbox too, to a certain extent, with a couple of cheeky lays on Mon Pararin, who touched 1.6 in running, netting some savvy members a nice little additional profit.
Unbelievably, the TGT massive had a fifth of the 20 remaining tickets going into the last race.
Race 6 - Lingfield 16:00
Wowza, the quite unbelievable was unfolding before our very eyes. A little prematurely, perhaps with one race to go, our potential winnings were being calculated, and what share we might get, but it was all shaping up very nicely. Our fate rested with Kingscroft and George Guru, and with a few ‘gl’ and ‘1tg’ floating about, a serene calm descended over TGT.
The race unfolded as if in slow motion until George Guru rounded the final bend and powered down the home straight leaving all in his wake, as a 13/8 shot should. Pandemonium ensued amongst syndicate members and even others just caught up in the action. The usually restrained language in the chatbox had turned suddenly blue with exclamations of disbelief. It was indeed ‘mental’ to say the least. A monstrous effort to win the Scoop6, let alone at our first attempt.
Champagne corks could be heard popping across the land with the TGT faithful toasting what was truly a magnificent win!
There were nine winning tickets of the Scoop6 on 24 March 2012 (mark that day people), sharing the prize fund of £332,679 and paying a dividend of £36,964.40 per share. Because of the earlier quirk of fate from the non-runner, the TGT syndicate had two winning lines and so netted £73,928.80. The six horse accumulator returned at odds of 16,891 to 1.
Amazingly, despite registering six winners, we didn't have a single other placed horse from our other 12 runners, which meant that we 'only' had two winning shares of the placepot for an additional £854. Not a bad afternoon's work really! I doff my cap to you, Pokergod et al, for a job well done.
When the joy of winning began to settle, the masses noted Andy was conspicuous by his absence. Suspicions were heightened when a rumour began circulating that he was last seen heading for the International Terminal at Heathrow. However, he was tracked down to be sharing a tipple with Delia and Co down at Carrow Road. The Canaries had even come up with the goods against Wolves too. Andy returned after the game and posted a screen shot of his Betfair account showing near 75 thousand big ones sitting in there, in addition to winnings from his speculative Blackburn lay!
All-in-all a fantastic day and the process went remarkably smoothly given it was our first venture into the Scoop6. Testament, I feel, to those involved in organising things, even if Andy had the odd anxious moment in dishing out winnings.
But the fun doesn’t end there. Winners of the Scoop6 get to make a selection in a race the following weekend for a chance to win the Bonus Fund, which currently stands at £535,193. With two winning lines, we get to make two choices, so it'll be down to the Wise Council to convene once more with the simple task of selecting what is going to win this week, but that’s another story...
01/04/12 EDIT: As an update to this, unfortunately we didn't go on to win any part of the bonus fund mentioned above - we were on the two pre race favourites and neither came very close although they were there-or-thereabouts throughout the race. (munk)