The Game of Chance

REACHING NIRVANA

How can it be that two adolescents with no connection to horse racing at the time, and, let’s call it a healthy respect for large animals, soon have devoted a half life each to the sport?


Aksel was, is, and has always been an original character, not one to fear venturing his own way, often in the wrong direction. Curious-minded, and always on the lookout for new skills and knowledge to adopt. One night, and completely by chance, he got introduced to American horse racing after stumbling over some interesting horse racing markets one night, on a foreign exchange. He found some fascinating form information products to analyse them with, and soon he’d spent some evenings hunting for winners at the American horse racing scene. The decisions were based primarily upon some magical numbers called speed figures. The joy, the excitement, the despair and the adrenaline of horse racing, was something it became harder and harder to imagine living without. Wasn’t there a racetrack in Norway as well? To Øvrevoll he went, the only track for thoroughbred racing in Norway where we live, only to disappointingly discover that there were neither performance figures to be found, nor any good form products of the sort he had got used to from USA. It felt like wild guessing to even attempt to find some winners without them, and probably it was. The great sport, reduced to a meaningless casino game. They had never appealed much. But the sport itself was at least as good at Øvrevoll, if not better. It was exactly the same, only cleaner, closer, more honest and beautiful than across the pond. Why can’t we just make what we need, our own performance figures, for these races? The process of creating performance figures was underway, and you can read more about that journey here.


One spring day back in 2010, Gard was finally allowed to accompany his older brother to the race track. No betting on his part of course, we promised our father, as Gard was still underaged. Our performance figures too, were also only in their infancy, but still, something seemed to be in the making. Aksel was constantly referring to numbers,, east and west, with incomprehensible clutter in the race programme and big circle markings around the horses’ names. Aksel owed his little brother a tenner from a bet they had made earlier, and Gard agreed to take his reward in the form of some percentages of a horizontal wager. We were ready for a pick 5! Race after race went underway, and every time the race was finished, we had the horse finishing first on our coupon. The single pick was introduced already in the first race, TICMOTOR was the name. He did the job. Race 2. DUBAI SAMURAI, Race 3. DESERT FUSE. Race 4. RAPPONGHI. All winners. The last one despite behavior before the race that did nothing to diminish our healthy respect for large animals. At this point, it could even look like racetrack director Hans Petter Eriksen had began to sense that something was up. It certainly couldn’t have been an ordinary sight, what he witnessed. There was now only one race left. The small-budget wager wasn’t more expensive than it had to be, so the last race was quite thinly populated when it came to live horses working in our favour. But we had REACHING NIRVANA. Okay, so he hadn’t won in 13 starts and the jockey was of the really low percentage variety, but our numbers were crystal clear. The victory was just around the corner! This should be a pure steering job. With a nostril, they held off a fiercely closing competitor we no longer remember the name of. We had won! This unregistered, piece of paper that minutes ago was worth absolutely nothing, was now worth more money than we had ever seen. And the first thing that came to mind was how in the h*ll we could possibly explain this to our father. It was, after all, just beginners luck. Weeks later we even discovered formulas that were completely reversed at certain distances. But it did not matter. After such an experience, it was impossible to lay it down. Gard got involved in the production of the performance figures, and has since 2011 been responsible for all the video analysis. 15,000 races and 150,000 turns have been analyzed, at the latest count.


The betting turnover at Øvrevoll has now fallen so dramatically that it’s almost unplayable at the time being, and our focus have shifted from just playing the races, to do what we can to participate in saving it. So here we are. Two young adults who love Scandinavian horse racing, with some thought about how we could help in saving it. That will need many people heading in the same direction, as us.