Picking Donkeys is a new to market horse racing tipster service which has been released by Jim Sidebottom. It is built around generating a profit through lay betting.
Introduction to Picking Donkeys
Make no mistake, if there is one thing that I have come to abhor it is an unnecessarily long piece of copywriting. In this line of work, you see so many websites in which the same information is thrown at you over and over. Here is a ridiculous claim of profit with a picture of a mansion, here is the same claim next to a picture of a Ferrari. And so on and so forth. All whilst ultimately telling you nothing.
At the other end of the spectrum, you have things like Picking Donkeys. Jim Sidebottom lays out his entire sales pitch in just a few hundred words. Inevitably, this does mean that some things end up being missed out. Things that ultimately are actually quite important. This raises a lot of questions. But I’ll talk about all this in greater detail over the course of this review. What Jim Sidebottom does do a very good job of is selling a service on the back of the numbers.
So, what you end up with in Picking Donkeys is… Well, it’s all a bit conflicted. In some respects, it could be argued that Jim Sidebottom gives you everything that you need to know. However, I like to go that extra mile. And there are things that I’ve learned to spot that are what I often consider to be red flags. Unfortunately, there are a fair few here. So, let’s jump in and see if this is worth it.
What Does Picking Donkeys Offer?
As far as tipster services go, there isn’t too much room to be creative in terms of how you are running things. There are some exceptions, but these are typically highly specialised and aren’t a typical experience. And probably not all that surprisingly, Picking Donkeys also falls into that category of tipster.
What does this mean for you as a subscriber? Well, the most obvious place to start is the logistical elements. Not least of which is down to the fact that by Jim Sidebottom’s own admission, this is all pretty straight forward.
He says that “all you have to do is open [his] email, place the lay bets that day and then repeat each day”. Sounds simple enough, right? And in theory it really is. Sure, there is at least some nuance to it, but the fundamentals of what you are doing here is all easy enough to follow along with.
With that said, there are a few considerations. First things first, Jim Sidebottom doesn’t really go into too much in the way of detail about placing your bets. Honestly, this is something that is quite interesting to me. Specifically mentioned in terms of betting exchanges are Smarkets and Betfair. Both of these are viable options, but the fact that it is skipped over despite being a key part of how Picking Donkeys works… Well, it’s slightly concerning.
Now, for those of you who may not be familiar with the term lay bets, you might be wondering why it is important to pick a betting exchange, well, it all comes down to the fact that Picking Donkeys is a lay betting service. That is to say, betting on a horse not to win. Something that very few bookies offer.
As such, when you use a betting exchange, you are making those bets, but with other people. This means that it is incredibly important to ensure that there are plenty of people betting on the same exchange as you. This is called liquidity, and as the biggest exchange, Betfair typically carry more of this. Which is a good thing.
One of the most important considerations with lay betting are the odds that you can get. Now where this is different to backing a horse is that the odds you lay at aren’t what you get if your bet win, rather, the amount that you pay out if your bet loses.
Naturally, this means that bank management and odds are amongst the most important elements when you are looking at a lay betting tipster service. Unfortunately, they are areas that Jim Sidebottom seems to skip over with Picking Donkeys. With that said, the rather limited proofing that is provided shows that bets aren’t typically advised to be layed at more than 10.0. So, there is something to go off there.
When this is combined with a level staking plan of 1 point per bet, it means that your theoretical limit in terms of your liability is some 9 points. At 0.95 points of profit per bet, that can take some time to make up if you lose out at this. Keep in mind that Jim Sidebottom recommends a betting bank of just 50 points and… well, this starts to look a little vulnerable.
The fact of the matter is that based off the proofing, the highest draw-down came in at some 9 points over 2 bets. With the kind of odds involved, there is potential for this to be higher as well. But this kind of number isn’t something that you should expect to see often. At least that is, going off the strike rate which is claimed for Picking Donkeys.
Jim Sidebottom says that in June, his strike rate came in at some 85.9%. July slightly improved on this with a strike rate of 89.1%. Both of these numbers are backed up by some proofing, however, there isn’t a particularly large sample size for Picking Donkeys. In actual fact, all that you really have are those two months and updates that are currently happening for August.
How Does Picking Donkeys Work?
Lay betting in and of itself isn’t a betting strategy. Simply jumping into it on the grounds that it is much easier to pick one horse to lose, than it is to pick a horse to win… Well, let’s just say that I’ve seen a lot of tipster services fail by taking this approach. Why am I starting out by talking about this?
Well, the short answer is that Jim Sidebottom doesn’t really do a whole lot to talk about what his selection process for Picking Donkeys involves. In actual fact he doesn’t mention anything. This is massively concerning to me. Quite literally, the closest we get to insight is a throwaway claim in a marketing email that states “Jim is very knowledgeable”. That is your lot.
Now, I can fully appreciate why a tipster wouldn’t necessarily want to give away their system. Especially for free. But I don’t think it is unreasonable as a consumer to have at least some insight into what the selection process involves. Even if this is “only” to show that Jim Sidebottom knows what he is doing and that Picking Donkeys is based on a genuine system and has a genuine understanding of this.
Unfortunately, the closest that we really get to evidence from Picking Donkeys is the proofing that is provided. This is comprehensive, however, it is for such a small sample size that I am somewhat loathe to put too much emphasis on this as an indicator of what you can expect for the future.
What is the Initial Investment?
There are two options available if you want to sign up to Picking Donkeys. The first of these is a “reduced monthly cost”. Jim Sidebottom says that he typically charges £30 per month, however, at the time of writing you can get the rest of August for just £20. Interestingly, we are told that the future price will be £30 per month yet the subscription doesn’t renew.
Alternatively, Jim Sidebottom gives says that you can pay a one time payment of £90 for which you get access to selections for the rest of 2020. We are told that this represents a saving of £50 over 4 months.
Whichever option you choose, Picking Donkeys does come with a full 30 day money back guarantee. However, Jim Sidebottom doesn’t actually mention this anywhere in his sales material. Given that this money back guarantee is backed up by Clickbank (who handle the payment) who typically offer this as standard, it concerns me that you aren’t told about it.
What is the Rate of Return?
By and large, most of the reason, that any of us are involved in betting is the income potential. In the case of Picking Donkeys, this is somewhat modest, however, the suggestion is that it is also consistent. For June, Jim Sidebottom says that he made 20.9 points of profit. For July, this number increased to 25.6 points of profit. Both these numbers are respectable.
August is currently performing well and at the time of writing, Picking Donkeys is up nearly 15 points. Given that it is still pretty early in the month there is seemingly a lot of potential for this to be higher.
Conclusion for Picking Donkeys
On the surface of things, I’ll entirely admit that Picking Donkeys looks pretty good. Maybe the results aren’t necessarily mind-blowingly good, but they are definitely good enough. Especially if Jim Sidebottom can hit those results month in month out. And based off the admittedly limited evidence, there is no reason to suspect that this shouldn’t be the case.
However, that limited evidence is also the biggest problem that I have with Picking Donkeys. I know that I talked about this a little earlier when I said that simply guessing horses isn’t a viable strategy with lay betting. I stand by this. However, what you can do with lay betting is guess for the shorter term.
This is important because whilst Jim Sidebottom is actively updating his proofing, the previous 2 months are “past results”. Which kind of brings me round to the red flags I mentioned all the way back at the start of this review.
It is possible to guess horses to lay for about a month. You could probably do this simply by looking at which horses are tipped by tipsters from the big daily papers, and laying other horses in those races. It wouldn’t be a long term strategy, but it could buy you 30 days. A period that is slightly longer than Jim Sidebottom’s initial offering is.
Now I might be very cynical here but that is noteworthy for me. You see, I am in a somewhat unique position of looking at literally thousands of betting systems. And from this, I see wider patterns. One of the main ones is offering a subscription for just long enough to get past a money back guarantee.
Once this is over, you can slowly start to wrap up your tipster service. And I have seen this happen a lot of times. Now I will concede that this doesn’t necessarily mean that Jim Sidebottom is going to do this. However, there are a fair few similarities.
For example, it is rather disconcerting to me that Jim Sidebottom doesn’t actually mention the money back guarantee in the sales material. I see no reason why a genuine tipster wouldn’t want to talk about this. If you can really perform, something like this only helps to offer consumers piece of mind.
On top of this, there is absolutely no information provided that might suggest that there is a decent underpinning to Picking Donkeys. Jim Sidebottom’s whole schtick seems to be that… Well, laying bets is an easy way to make money.
This brings me to my final red flag, which is the proofing. A statement that almost seems contradictory. The fact that Jim Sidebottom provides it is welcome, however, as mentioned earlier it is a very small sample size. But there is seemingly no reason why this should be the case. You see, Jim Sidebottom says “I’ve been a lay tipster for as long as I can remember”.
That statement there suggests that there should be much more than 2 months of proofing available. So why isn’t it provided? Any experienced tipster knows the importance of keeping records. Which only leaves two options in my book.
Firstly, Jim Sidebottom categorically isn’t who he says he is. That previous proofing doesn’t exist because the service is of a questionable nature, and is unlikely to be around longer term. Alternatively, Jim Sidebottom is genuine and it is above board, but he has actively chosen not to share his proofing. There exist only two reasons for this in my mind. Either he hasn’t kept results (which is indicative of a bad tipster) or the results aren’t nearly as great as the last two months happen to suggest.
With all of this in mind, would I really recommend Picking Donkeys? It probably shouldn’t come as a surprise to learn that I wouldn’t. It is very clear to me what the appeal is here. It’s cheap, it is profitable, and it sounds reasonable. But honestly, I just don’t see how Picking Donkeys stands up to even basic scrutiny. That concerns me greatly, and in the longer term, I just don’t really see this being a thing that will still be around.