The Grand National is the most prominent race in British culture, watched by many people who do not normally watch or bet on horse racing at other times of the year. Many of the sport's greatest jockeys, most notably Sir Gordon Richards, have been British. The sport is regulated by the British Horseracing Authority. The BHA's authority does not extend to Northern Ireland; racing in Ireland is governed on an All-Ireland basis.
Organized racing in North America began with the British occupation of New Amsterdam (now New York City) in 1664. Col. Richard Nicolls, commander of the British troops, established organized racing in the colonies by laying out a 2-mile (3.2-km) course on the plains of Long Island (called Newmarket after the British racecourse) and offering a silver cup to the best horses in the spring and fall seasons. From the beginning, and continuing until the Civil War, the hallmark of excellence for the American Thoroughbred was stamina, rather than speed. After the Civil War, speed became the goal and the British system the model.
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Now let’s say I’m tired of flipping coins, and want to quit, but while begging me to stay you offer me a better deal. This new deal pays me $1.10 for every heads, and I still pay you $1.00 for every tails. What happens now is half the time I win $1.10 and half the time I lose $1.00. If we flip 100 times I should average 50 wins of $1.10 ($55) and 50 losses of $1 ($50). Every flip of the coin I have a positive expectation (+EV) of 5 cents. As the one offering me this proposition you have the opposite, every flip of the coin is 5 cents –EV for you.
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The paper argued that a horse’s success or failure was the result of factors that could be quantified probabilistically. Take variables—straight-line speed, size, winning record, the skill of the jockey—weight them, and presto! Out comes a prediction of the horse’s chances. More variables, better variables, and finer weightings improve the predictions. The authors weren’t sure it was possible to make money using the strategy and, being mostly interested in statistical models, didn’t try hard to find out. “There appears to be room for some optimism,” they concluded.
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