Watching the horses: Mike Futter – betting’s answer to Zen and Andre Agassi.

However, when it comes to racing, his approach is rather more clinical.

Futter is quite simply the most consistently successful backer of horses I have met in over three decades of racing.


A Zen master once said: “We all cling to the past, and because we cling to the past we become unavailable to the present.”

David Hood saw trainers and owners at close quarters in his days as a jockey. More recently, as head of public relations with William Hill, he has got to know some of the game’s major players.


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Staggering sums. I can personally vouch for the painstaking care he puts into keeping accurate records of every bet struck – win or lose. This year the tally reads 13 from 13.

Two monks, on the way home to their monastery, came to a ford where they found a young girl hesitant to cross for fear of spoiling her clothes.

One of the monks, without so much as a word, just picked her up and carried her over. And that’s not all.

Yet that alone is not enough. Yet, by the end of the afternoon Futter had won in excess of pounds 70,000.

“I have no problem after a bad day,” he says. The horse lost. All rights reserved.

There is much to learn from the man. The other monk remonstrated for the rest of the journey home while the first, wrapped in meditation, made no reply.

It seems to me that it’s the ability to disassociate oneself from the fallacy that the sun must not be allowed to set on a losing day that is one of the distinguishing characteristics of the successful backer.

That’s on top of the pounds 214,000 he’d already won over the previous ten days.

Byline: Marten Julian

Last weekend, Mike Futter went to Newcastle races to watch his horse, What Odds, run in the Tote Eider Chase. He won at 65 of them. “In fact I think that’s a characteristic that can reap rewards in any line of business.”

Last year he attended 72 meetings. He even makes note of the bookmaker with whom the bet was struck.

“Some of the ladies collected their small change in a jar and, after four weeks, it had built up to EUR6,000,” he recalls. Those who `chase’, or refer to the last race of the day as the `getting-out stakes’, have much to learn.

Mike Futter: “I know I can’t win every day, but that doesn’t stop me approaching each new day with the expectation of winning”

I was with Futter when he placed bets that won and I was with him when he placed bets that lost. He is probably one of the most altruistic men I’ve met in racing, as illustrated by the pleasure he still derives from telling the tale of the money won on Monty’s Pass by the elderly women who patronise his 11 bingo clubs north and south of the Irish border.

“If I have a losing spell I tend to go away for a few days and lie on a beach. “They had it all on the nose!”

Futter has ended up on the right side every year since 1976, notably when hitting the headlines outside our own industry – no mean achievement in itself – on the day that Monty’s Pass landed him over pounds 1 million in winning bets in last season’s Grand National.

What does become clear, from talking to Futter and those who work closely alongside punters, is that the successful backer must treat each race as an individual event. They’re prepared not to bet, even if it means missing a winner.”

Watch the great Andre Agassi play tennis. Next week I’ll discuss

Should we assume from these findings that the consistently successful backer has an ability to distance themselves from the occasion? Views vary.

Futter could never be described as emotionally `detached’. I can always come back to it later,” he tells me.

Simon Clare, Coral’s director of communications, says the same: “Yes, the good ones can take it on the chin if things go against them. During our time together, I was constantly reminded of a story from a Zen master that perfectly illustrates one of the most important psychological attributes of the successful punter – the ability to let go.

“It’s that ability to walk away that makes the difference,” he says. “I know I can’t win all the time, but that doesn’t stop me from approaching each new day with the expectation of winning.”

Furthermore, this isn’t just hyped-up hogwash. Up he would get up and shuffle off, either to another part of the room or outside.. After every shot, win or lose, he turns and walks away with those funny little steps.

He looked over to his angry colleague and replied quietly, “Are you still burdened by that girl? I put her down on the other side of the ford.”

Copyright 2004 Gale, Cengage Learning. How can you act in such a way?”

I had an opportunity to spend a few days with Futter earlier this year, well away from the hustle and bustle of the racecourse.

self-discipline – perhaps the single most important attribute of all.

Futter accepts that things don’t always work out.

After every race, win or lose, he walked away – quite literally. Some of the stakes involved were quite large – more than enough to pay the annual mortgage on a favourably located detached house.

As they approached the monastery, he heard his colleague mutter, “You – a monk – and a girl in your arms

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