Focus Ratings is a Uk and Irish Horse Racing ratings service designed to aid you and help you narrow the field so that you can concentrate on the real contenders. Our completely computerised analysis system selects the top three rated horses from each race and sends out the ratings every day at 10:00 a.m.  Wonderful results and an excellent strike rate.  Use Focus Ratings to win more money and make more profits from British and Irish Horse Racing.  The only horse racing system you'll ever need.

Interview with Paul Whelan!

About 6 months before I started Focus Ratings I also started a small blog which detailed my learning curve with all things Horse Racing.

Once Focus Ratings was under way though, I found that I didn't have time to do both and so I stopped updating the blog.

I am now shutting down the blog and have decided to move some of the content over here - purely for your amusement only.

I recently did a quick review of
and was so bowled over with the immense amount of great content that was there just for the grabbing...

That I asked the site's owner, Paul Whelan if I could interview him.


Strangely enough...

For a man who should have known better....

He agreed!

The interview starts here!

1). Paul, how did you first become interested in Horse Racing?

Paul - Actually, once upon a time I used to think horse racing was about as interesting as watching paint dry; a complete waste of BBC Sport airtime.

Then I spotted an advert in the back of a Sunday newspaper, advertising this software program that could predict the outcome of a horse race.

This was in 1995. I sent off for a brochure and when it arrived a couple days later it had all these fancy profit projection graphs and testimonials.

Some things never change, eh?

I went to see a demonstration up in some swanky London offices (no, it wasn’t Brimardon), and entered the form data into the program myself on three races running that afternoon.

Two of the three predicted horses won, and utterly convinced, I sent off a cheque for £1,800 that same day.

The allure of picking winners got me hooked on horse racing.

2). Paul, I know that there are people all over Europe (if not the world) who are dying for me to ask you this question.

What on earth made you choose SkyBlueKangaroo as the name for your horse racing site?

Is there a logical reason for it, which should be immediately apparent to me, or....

Was it a flashback as a result of an interesting mushroom dish at a strange student party in your younger and slightly less respectable days?

Paul - SkyBlueKangaroo wasn't originally about horse racing. When I set it up back in 2004 with Scott Daniels, it was a sort of portal web-site about many subjects.

We wanted the name of the site to be easy to remember, and I'd read somewhere that people find it easier to remember things, if they can form a mental picture.

And colour, and rhyming words also help. Green Tangerine was an option, as was Indigo Pig.

I think we made a good choice going with the Kangaroo, because people still ask about the name 8 years down the line, mostly Australians.

3). I get the feeling from that you are very keen to train people, or show them the way, in order to help them enjoy more betting success.

Is the reasoning behind this or are you genuinely keen to teach?

Paul - When I first started betting I followed a tipster called Isiris, who actually made me a fair few quid for a couple of months at first.

But it didn't take me long to realise that any gains I made were pretty much always going to be decimated by shelling out on subscriptions fees.

So I made a decision to get good at the game myself, and live or die by my own methods. If someone wants to make their betting pay, or at least stop losing so much, then I think I can offer some sensible advice.

I can share nearly 20 years of experience to give someone a bit of a headstart over other punters. Besides, it's a helluvva lot more fun when you pick those big priced winners using your own skills, rather than following someone else's advice blindly. That's the big idea behind

4). I understand that you've got a new edition of your excellent book, Patterns in the Sand out now.

You describe the book as...

"My aim when compiling this book is first to show you how to produce your own speed ratings, but then more importantly to show you how to use these figures effectively in your betting strategy….

I want to show you how to read those “patterns in the sand”."

Do you have a special interest in All Weather Racing?

And, if so, what's the primary attraction?

Paul - All weather racing doesn't have the same grandeur as Royal Ascot, nor does it get the blood pumping in the same way as hearing the Cheltenham Roar as the tape goes up on the Supreme Novices Hurdle.

All weather racing appeals to me because I've found it a fruitful place to find winners, and particularly when I'm applying speed figures to handicap races.

I put this down to the Standard going, and a smaller pool of horses from which to pick. That said, and I don't want to do the all-weather venues any disservice here, but from a ‘Day-At-The-Races’ point of view, I'd have to say that for me a bad day at Sandown beats a good day at Wolverhampton.

Affiliate Alert!

Just so that you know, I am not an affiliate of Paul's - if you decide to Patterns in the sand then I'll make the grand total of... "Nothing at all/Not a Penny (not even a centime!)" out of it!

And, if I can endorse something that doesn't earn me a penny then...

What greater recommendation is there than that?

5). Moving slightly away from horse racing just for a moment...

I understand from my sources that you are interested in cycling.

Is it the sporting aspect that entices you or more the fitness side of things?

Or, as many, including myself, suspect (and bear in mind that I live in a country where every man from the age of 16 to 60 poodles round on expensive racing bikes wearing very tight shorts), that it's just the appeal of getting your head down and your bum up in the air whilst wearing tight fitting lycra shorts?

Paul - I started cycling regularly about 5 years ago, purely because I needed to shift a few pounds.

For those who know the difference, I began as an off-roader on a mountain bike, but crossed the divide to become a roadie with an all-carbon race-bike.

For all their perceived faults, I have to doff my cycling cap to the French when it comes to the respect and courtesy they show to their cyclists on the road, compared to moronic White Van Man here in Blighty. I'm very lucky to have the rolling Chiltern Hills as a playground, so what better way to enjoy the local scenery, and keep fit.

And Keith, if you haven't felt the comfort of a well-creamed chamois on your backside, you just haven't lived.

6). Back to racing and this is a question (and the next one, come to think of it), that I seem to ask everyone.

I'm a long time fan of the Isle of Man TT and I love watching the races from the point of view of the on-helmet or on-bike cameras.

Do you think that we'll ever have on-horse cameras and, if so, would it add to, or detract from, the sport?

Paul - Good question, and I'm surprised it hasn't been trialled. But would it be a good thing?

I'm not so sure.

When it comes to trying to "sexy up" horse racing,

I've got two words for you - "Shergar Cup". Need I say more? Well maybe two more words, what about "Gary Wiltshire".

7). And, on a technology note; I am constantly amazed that we, in the UK, don't have sectional timing on our UK horse races.

Do you think that we should do or, would our variable weather make a mockery of the results?

Paul - Well, there's the argument you can never have too much information, if you want an edge over other punters.

And didn't Turftrax offer the service at some point on some courses?

If Turftrax are no longer in business, that might answer your question.

8). If you had just one tip to give to new arrivals to horse racing, what would it be?

Paul - Do you mean new arrivals to horse racing, or new arrivals to horse racing and betting?

If it's the former - take the time to really have a look around when you visit the race-course.

Don't just stand in the bar and watch the races on the TV's.

Get over to the paddock and watch the pre-parade. Wander round the betting ring, and take in the sights and sounds amongst the bookies.

Get down to the course itself, right on the barrier, and cheer your horse as he thunders past, only a few feet away.

If you're a newbie to betting, first and foremost, expect to have fun, and don't expect to win, not at first.

Then, get your head around the concept of Value Betting . Once you've learned to pick prices rather than horses, you'll edge towards making your betting pay.

9). National Hunt Jumps, The Flat or All Weather - what is your preference, and why?

Or do your feel that all codes have something to offer?

Paul - I do think each code brings something to the party, but it would be a dull interview if I didn't go out on a limb a few times.

Watching horses jump fences is awesome. Period.

10). Paul, just for the record...

What was your best ever betting day?

And it could be your biggest win, your cleverest win or even...

Your luckiest win?

Paul - My best ever betting day has to be put into context, so here’s the lead-up story ... I'd been away for a romantic few days with my wife Sarah, down in Arundel.

On the spur of the moment, I suggested we spend our last day, at the Races at Goodwood, only a few miles up the road.

We had a fab day, won a few bets, and lost a few bets. We were about to make tracks for home, when Sarah remembered she had been to the Tote kiosk to have a go for the Placepot. She reeled off her horses, and lo! and behold, she had won.

The dividend was 85 quid and change for each pound staked. Sarah then announced she had put a tenner on. Happy Days!

We collected, then went straight back to the hotel we had checked out of earlier that day, for an extra night, and a steak dinner.

Oh, those boundless days before kids....

11). Trying to be serious here...

I've been reading worrying things about Fixed Odds Betting Terminals. We don't have them, here in France - but then, we are about 50 years behind the times (but that's why I like living here!)

Are they as dangerous as some people seem to think?

Or about the same risks as Internet Poker, for example?

Paul - I put this question to the manager in my local Betfred.

She said, "most definitely! People will sit at those machines for hours at a stretch, come up to the counter, hand over their debit card, and say - just another twenty pounds on machine number two please, but this is definitely the last go, definitely, over and over again. And often they'll go til their card gets declined. Its scary."

Those machines are dangerous because they make it easy and inconspicuous to keep pumping money in.

12). You started a few years ago...

Could you explain how that works and what was the thinking behind it?

Do you enjoy helping people make money from the bookies?

Paul - In a nutshell as the name suggests, uses trends analysis to identify the most likely winner of a horse race. Those interested to know more can visit the site for more details.

But my aim when I launched HRT as a paid-for service in 2010 was to provide subscribers with a valuable resource, and not simply spoon-feed them with the names of horses to bet.

I wanted to provide a service that treated members like adults, and yes, I do like the idea I might be helping punters make money at the bookmakers' expense. Blimey!

That sounded a bit cheesy didn't it? Can we move to the next question please?

13). Your review of Grey Samuels and his Auto Bet System XIV-XXX-ABCX X123 really impressed me!

I don't know how many words long the review was (and I'm not inclined to count them myself), but if you include the comments as well - well, it's rather a lot!

And they were all well thought out and pertinent.

Do you feel that it's vitally important to be subjective and rigorous when reviewing a tipping service or a betting system?

Paul - At the end of the day, a review of anything, be it a betting system, or a theatre production, is only the opinion of the writer.

Always do your own home-work and due diligence before spending money on and into a new system.

14). Paul, almost there...

I've got to ask this question...

Do you think that the average man in the street can earn a living (or, at least, a sizeable portion of his living) from gambling on horses?

If so, how should he go about it and are there any things to avoid?

Paul - No. The average man in the street needs the security of a 9-5 job.

The average man in the street wants betting to be easy, involving little work, and even less time. The average man in the street wants instant success, and cannot stomach losing runs.

Making your betting pay is possible, and earning a living from gambling on horses is possible.

But the average man in the street will rarely be a successful bettor.

Take time to invest in your own education, and read as much as you can about betting for profit. I’ll take the opportunity to be self-indulgent, seeing as this is my interview, and suggest you read some of the free articles posted at SkyBlueKangaroo and this is a good place to start

15). Paul, this is almost the last question...

Those of us who live in France (the 700,000 Brits and the 65 million Froggies) generally agree that Johnny Hallyday is, in fact, the greatest rockstar that you've never heard of and...

That his greatest hit, Que Je t'aime is, in fact the best rock tune that you've never heard and should really be the new French National Anthem.

Would you care to comment?

And do you really think that the great Johnny should be the new French President?

And could you explain why he is virtually unknown in Britain?

Or, are you, like practically everyone else in the UK, pitifully unaware of the guy who taught Elvis Presley how to roll and who showed the Beatles how to roll?

Paul - [stereotyped French accent] Keith, I can see you are eeetching to write at length about zees Monsieur Jonnie 'Alliday. On another (dedicated) blog, peut-etre?

16). And finally, Paul....

And I wasn't going to ask this question but...

I've had phone calls and emails from all over the world (and even one that claimed to come from the International Space Station!) all asking me to ask you...

The same question.

So, here goes...

Why the beard?

Is it something to do with aerodynamic efficiency and your bicycling?

Or is it a nasty fungal growth caused by a hopeless addiction to caffeine?

Or, as many have suggested (in fact when I say many, we're talking thousands here), have you been offered the role of Gollum in the new Andrew Lloyd Webber production of The Hobbit - The Musical (and, if so, what are the chances of getting some free tickets?)

Paul - I'm afraid I'm going to have to disappoint you. I'm not going to be appearing in the West End any time soon.

And of course, we cyclists only shave our legs to achieve a better 'aero'.

And indeed full facial hair is a violation of Rule Number 50 of the Velo Club Tring Charter (see below).

The facts of the matter are these …I grew a pair of side-burns in homage to our Bradley, and ahead of a cycling trip to the Pyrennees in September. This necessitated growing the beard first.

Your readers will be pleased to know I've since forgone the David Bellamy look, and I'm clean shaven once again.

Paul, thank so very much (or, merci beaucoup, as we say in France!) for your time and patience and...

For being so much of a sport!

I'd love it if some of the readers of this blog would head over to or and have a look round.

I'm sure that if anyone has any other questions that they want to ask you they can post them as comments here and you'll do your best to reply?

Once again, thank you very much, Paul Whelan, for being such a willing and open victim willing interviewee here at

keith-eckstein  the horse racing scholar



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What did you think of Paul Whelan?

Were you as super impressed (or super impressé as we say in France) as me?

Feel free to leave a comment if you have something to say.

Your opinion is valued!


Links and further study...

1). Frankel: The Wonder Horse - Champions Day, Ascot 20 October 2012, saw Frankel win his 14th race, a 100 per cent win record, and a truly outstanding performance confirming his status as a superstar. Frankel: The Wonder Horse is the complete illustrated story of the world's best racehorse. The book charts the superstar's career from his birth through each of his races to his 'retirement' at Banstead Manor Stud. Frankel set the bar higher than any horse has ever done through utterly memorable performances and the book relives these races and the incredible training feat by Sir Henry Cecil. Assembled from the archives of the Racing Post, the book includes contributions from all his connections as well as a complete record of all his races and full statistics of his phenomenal career. Fully illustrated with stunning photographs from the Racing Post's archives.

Get the book here... Frankel: The Wonder Horse.

2). Kauto Star: A Steeplechasing Legend - It is widely accepted in the world of jump racing that Kauto Star is the best steeplechaser since the immortal Arkle half a century ago. The only horse ever to have regained the Cheltenham Gold Cup crown, and a scarcely credible five-time winner of the other classic of the jumps season, the King George VI Chase at Kempton Park, Kauto Star has posted an extraordinary record during eight seasons racing in Britain. But it is what lies behind the statistics which make the Kauto Star story so compelling: the rivalry with stable companion Denman, his next-door neighbour in the Somerset yard of trainer Paul Nicholls; the fallibility expressed in his earlier chasing years by the heart-stopping habit of making at least one major blunder in a big race; the apparently terminal slump in his form as he reached veteran status, which only made the resurrection more glorious. Kauto Star: A Steeplechasing Legend tells that uplifting story as it unfolded through the pages of the Racing Post and the incomparable photographic skills of the Post's photographers, to make a worthy celebration of the life and career of one of jump racing's all-time greats.

Get the book here... Kauto Star: A Steeplechasing Legend

3). Precision: Statistical and Mathematical Methods in Horse Racing - "Precision ... Statistical and Mathematical Methods in Horse Racing" thoroughly discusses the mathematical and statistical methods in handicapping and betting techniques. Differentiations, combinatorics, normal distribution, kernel smoothing and other mathematical and statistical tools are introduced. The jargons and equations are kept to a minimum so that it is easy to understand for most readers. More than 20 professional programs are freely available to download, which can allow readers to easily apply the methodology introduced in the book.

Get the book here... Precision: Statistical and Mathematical Methods in Horse Racing

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