The late Clive Holt has one of the most interesting backstories of any
professional horse racing bettor.
Rather than having a well-crafted plan at the track like many future
successes, Holt was a total amateur with no concept of bankroll management.
Through a stroke of luck, he managed to keep winning and turn his hobby into
a lucrative career.
But as much as Holt won on the tracks, he became an even bigger success as an
author and betting expert.
That being said, let’s discuss Holt’s story further, beginning with his early
life, how he became a pro gambler, his legendary Fineform system, and the
various books he wrote.
Clive Holt’s Early Life
Little is known about Clive Holt’s early life. But before becoming a
professional gambler, he worked at the Electricity Board in England.
He was introduced to gambling by his father, who used to bet on greyhounds in
the 1960s. Intrigued, Holt started visiting racetracks in the early 1960s and
experienced moderate success for a beginner.
Unlike more tactical gamblers like Phil Bull, Holt was looser with his
bankroll management and didn’t even keep track of his records. Later on, Holt
would admit that he initially had no strategy and instead bet whatever was in
Nevertheless, Holt continued winning – including sums worth as much as
Learning Bankroll Management
While Lady Luck may have been on Holt’s side in the first few years, he began
developing acumen for horse racing betting.
But the same bad habits that plagued Holt in his early betting continued to
surface in the 1970s. Namely, he refused to keep proper records on his betting,
with his only tracking method being how much he came to and left the race course
After a string of mediocre results, Holt decided to start keeping better
track of how he was doing.
“It probably had the greatest influence on my future success,” he recalled.
“As the figures and the percentages built up before me, it was clear that I was
becoming more and more analytical.”
Thanks to his analytics, Holt was able to determine what types of bets were
most profitable for him. This allowed him to better manage his bankroll, survive
losing streaks, and eventually become a long term winner.
Clive Holt Becomes a Pro Gambler
No longer coming to the track without a plan and betting whatever was in his
pocket, Holt started feeling more confident in his skills.
By the mid-1970s, he experienced a strong run over several weeks that earned
him more money than he could make in two years working at the Electricity Board.
This convinced Holt to quit his day job and pursue a professional gambling
career. Years after first walking into Merseyside’s Haydock Park as an amateur,
he was now betting for a living.
“I set off for Chester on the 6th May 1975 in a new Ford Ghia Capri, in a new
suit and in a new job,” he recalled. “My first bet was £67 to £30 on Western
Jewel with Roy Christie on the rails down to a ticket number. The horse won by
two lengths and was never in any danger.”
Long gone was the man who would bet everything he had at once in pursuit of
big scores. In fact, even as a professional, Holt never won more than £1,000 at
a time, thanks to his disciplined approach and moderate bets.
Unfortunately for Holt, he became too successful at wagering on horses, and
both William Hill and Coral closed his accounts in 1978.
It wasn’t uncommon for UK betting shops to close the accounts of successful
bettors. But this made it harder for Holt to find action and forced him to do
the majority of his betting at race tracks.
A Life of Luxury Cars and Vacations
Perhaps more than any other bettor, Holt enjoyed talking about all the
material possessions that professional betting afforded him.
He claimed to have purchased luxury and classic cars like a BMW, De Tomaso
Pantera, Jaguar, and Lotus.
Holt also boasted of taking his wife and four children on holidays to Africa,
America, Australia, the Canaries, Caribbean, Hong Kong, Israel, Mediterranean
Coast Singapore, and the United States.
He also purchased a family home in the country that featured stables,
numerous acres, and quick access to a training center for his horses.
Holt was quick to state that had he still been working his job with the
Electricity Board, he never would’ve been able to live this lifestyle. He also
claimed that he could’ve quit betting on horses at any time if a more lucrative
Considering that Holt sold books, it’s unclear whether or not he boasted of
his luxury cars, exotic vacations, and large house as a means of driving up
sales. But given his success as an author, Holt’s image of driving Jaguars and
vacationing in the Caribbean didn’t hurt his cause.
General Betting Advice from Holt
Holt was well known for making at least four visits to the track personally
every week, usually from midweek until Saturday. This differs from some
successful bettors, who send others to the track to place wagers for them.
Holt not only felt that these personal visits made it easier for him to see
the horses’ form, but he also enjoyed the atmosphere while betting.
He was adamant that you know the recent form of a horse and only bet on ones
who are running at their peak.
“One vital ingredient for successful punting is that you’ve got to be
confident that your selection can win,” Holt explained. “Horses with good recent
form, preferably winning form, running against limited opposition within their
class, when at their peak, progressing or improving – do win the majority of
races, all year round.”
He added, “They are a constant source of winners for anyone to exploit.
Almost every winner worth backing falls into this category which is broadened
even further by the four pros: proven, progressive, promising, and profitable.”
Holt’s Fineform Ratings System
Holt’s most famous betting strategy is the Fineform Ratings system. This
system was originally sold as a small book with 28 pages, this work deals in
both general advice and how to effectively use the system.
The first part of the book discusses the lofty expectations that many bettors
set for themselves when starting out. Later, Holt dives into how one can
effectively use his system to rate horses on both flat and hurdle courses.
To begin discussing Fineform Ratings, let’s start by looking at the scoring
system that Holt used to rate horses:
Last 2 Races in the Current Season
Course and Distance Success
Course and Distance
All horses are assigned points based on their last two races, with the
maximum possible score being 12 points. The horse that finishes with the most
points is the one that you’re supposed to bet on.
If two runners tie for the top spot, then you should award an extra point to
a distance winner.
In the book, Holt stresses that this is a proven system that will produce
winners when done right. He supports this theory with stats and results showing
the importance of good form, the course, and distance.
Points to consider with the Fineform Ratings strategy is that there was no
all-weather category when this strategy was published, and the flat and national
Hunt seasons have off seasons.
For all weather racing, January represents the off season, meaning a horse
could go a couple of months or more between races. If you see a situation like
this, it’s harder to use the Fineform Ratings system to predict good form.
Although considered a unique and valuable system when it was released over
two decades ago, Fineform is considered an antique strategy by today’s
First off, it lacks the complex statistics that are made available to bettors
today through databases and software programs. These days, there are much more
analytical and refined betting systems for horse racing.
Another problem is that virtually anybody can use Fineform because it’s such
an easy method. As is the case with any betting strategy, it’s hard to find a
winning angle when any amateur can use the same system.
But given the age of Fineform, it’s possible that many overlook it today,
meaning you could revisit it and perhaps add your own twist to experience
Clive Holt Books
Holt wrote several books, including the following:
Profitable Betting Strategies – Published in 1993
Be a Successful Punter: Win with Fineform as Your Guide – Published in
Profitable Winners Always Back Value Winners – Published in 1994
Fineform Winners Guide – Published in 1997
As you can see, Holt’s author career spread out over decades. Given that he
was just getting started in the early 1960s, it’s unlikely that he had any
profound gambling advice back then.
But Holt’s later works are / were highly regarded for both their general
betting advice and unique systems.
The Fineform Winners Guide would serve as his latest and most famous work.
But Be a Successful Punter and Profitable Winners Always Back Value Winners were
also big sellers too.
Despite Holt’s books and advice being decades old, many still read and
discuss his advice on forums.
Many people dream of quitting their day jobs to pursue a gambling career
because it offers the ability to earn a substantial income while betting on
races / games. But few ever achieve this dream because it takes considerable
time and skill.
This makes Clive Holt a rare breed since he eventually made enough money to
quit his day job and chase a dream.
Holt originally suffered from common beginner’s mistakes, such as having no
bankroll management plan and betting whatever amount he felt like in the
beginning. But after becoming fed up with mediocrity, he finally decided to take
things more seriously and develop a bankroll management plan.
The result was a success, as he identified what bets were most profitable and
put his money towards singles wagers, rather than multi bets.
According to Holt, his betting success allowed him to live a comfortable life
that also included the finer things like luxury cars and exotic vacations. But
it also got him banned at prominent betting shops like Coral and William Hill.
His combination of betting success and a lavish lifestyle served him well in
the publishing industry as he sold numerous books over the years.
By the time Holt died in the mid-2000s, he’d established himself as a legend
whose advice was worth following. As a testament to his visionary strategies,
Holt’s Fineform Ratings system is still used by gamblers today.
The information found on Gamblingsites.org is for entertainment purposes only. It is a purely informational website that does not accept wagers of any kind. Although certain pages within Gamblingsites.org feature or promote other online websites where users are able to place wagers, we encourage all visitors to confirm the wagering and/or gambling regulations that are applicable in their local jurisdiction (as gambling laws may vary in different states, countries and provinces).
Gamblingsites.org uses affiliates links from some of the sportsbooks/casinos it promotes and reviews, and we may receive compensation from those particular sportsbooks/casinos in certain circumstances. Gamblingsites.org does not promote or endorse any form of wagering or gambling to users under the age of 18. If you believe you have a gambling problem, please visit BeGambleAware or GAMCARE for information and help.