Thursday, 13 March 2014

The Cheltenham & Cartmel Pension Plan

As per normal for the month of March, I’ve invested every available penny on the horses at Cheltenham. Now it’s time to invest every penny that isn’t available too. 

As you’ll be aware by now, the Government is keen to ensure that every person in Britain prepares for old-age by paying into a personal pension plan. I won’t be able to get my hands on this money until Cheltenham 2034 - and my pension provider tells me that there is no way to put it all on Morning Royalty in the County Hurdle on Friday either.  

So I’m going to use a SIPP (Self Invested Personal Pension) as a vehicle to purchase shares in the betting industry instead. Shares in the high-street chains have been hit recently due to a combination of political factors. While they will soon have to pay a point-of-consumption tax on bets taken outside the shops from punters using their phones and internet devices, they are also under significant pressure to deal with “problem gambling” - particularly to ameliorate the risk of individuals becoming addicted to casino-type gaming machines.

I’ve visited virtually every flavour of betting shop within the last seven days and it is impossible not to notice the posters telling us to “Stay In Control” – even though every punter I know is getting over-excited and yelling “It’s Cheltenham – time to let go!” There are also pleasant ladies strolling the shop-floor to give helpful advice and spot potential problems. 

I’d like to think that, if I had walked into a shop on Tuesday with a carrier bag containing £10,000 to place on Hurricane Fly, one of those nice ladies might have taken me to one side and asked “Are you sure that is a good idea?” As it is, I didn’t try – I followed Arthur Moore’s advice from the Cartmel Preview Panel and had £3 on Jezki instead.

While bookmakers expect to accept £250 million of bets on Cheltenham this week, they are evidently taking their social responsibilities seriously. I suspect the results are going their way too – which makes Ladbrokes seriously undervalued at £1.60 a share (they were 50% higher at £2.40 a share this time last year) and William Hill good value at £3.83, more than £1 off their highest point in the last 12 months. 

I’ll be using the cash in my pocket to  back Knockara Beau at 66/1 each way in the Gold Cup. I love this horse and there’s no point in backing anything else if every strand of your heart wants to see him in front at the line. If he wins, the bookies will be laughing as he’s probably the least fancied horse in the race. And if he loses – well at least the pension gets a boost.  

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