The retirement of Brisbane bookmaker – and ringleader – Brian Ogilvie had it’s sequel in a “Tribute Night” held at Tattersalls’ Club last Tuesday night.
The evening, hosted by Radio TAB sports breakfast announcer John McCoy saw a crowd or around 300 attend the $100 a head function. Some serious moments were intermingled with many humourous interludes.
Ogilvie, who spent 46 years in the Brisbane betting ring, spoke of how he borrowed his first 200 pounds ($400) to go bookmaking, telling the person he borrowed it from he’d pay him back in two weeks – and he did. Being interviewed by Wayne Wilson and Bart Sinclair, Ogilvie spoke of having to cash his (then) wife’s insurance policy in at one point in the early days “to be able to go to work” (with some money in his bag) and spoke of “laying the favourite in the next” (so as to get the money in the bag to pay the previous winning tickets) - continuing by saying that “in those days there was a comradeship between bookies and punters” and if the bookie owed the punter or vice versa they’d (amicably) work it out.
In response to Wayne Wilson’s question that “your operation was always different” (in that you didn’t make a book), Ogilvie confirmed he’d “lay the hell out of the favourite which not many bookies did at that time, but over a period of time I sort of came out on top I guess.”
Questioned by Bart Sinclair as to whether Divide and Rule (winning the 1970 Stradbroke) was the worst result he ever had in bookmaking, Ogilvie said his worst result was “Grey Ghost, Jim Barker’s horse, it was 10’s into 5’s in the Stradbroke (1959). The amount of money they won then was quite incredible. In those days when big money came for a horse, bookmakers wouldn’t wind it off immediately, they’d be fair and so it would go 10’s into 9’s, 8’s, 7’s, 6’s. In those days the commission agents were putting a fortune on that horse in ten pound notes and the bookies would just let them on – they (bookies) were gamer people in those days.”
Brian Ogilvie rated Brisbane punters Frankie Scarborough and Billy Unwin as the best punters he did battle with as a bookmaker. “Frankie Scarborough, he was the best punter in this way – he’d back 8-1 chances instead of favourites, so he was dangerous. Scarborough could win a lot more off you than the favourite punter. I consider Billy Unwin the smartest punter I saw, he was very difficult to beat.”
On different punters, Ogilvie said of Eskimo Prince’s owner Perc Galea that “Galea was a sort of a loser as a punter, he really backed favourites, so if they won he’d win a lot and if they lost, he’d lose a lot – so he did (lose a lot!).
Ogilvie said of Filipino industrialist Felipe Ysmael that “whilst he didn’t come to Brisbane his money did. He was the biggest punter ever been known in the world. He put as much on as he could get on”, but Ogilvie described him ultimately as “a loser.”
Brian Ogilvie concluded the evening by thanking his family and stated he enjoyed “good health” and said that racing is “never out of my mind.” He confirmed he’d had a bet since he retired – and lost – but considered it “better to be a bookmaker than a punter.”
There is a lesson for punters in the wealth Brian Ogilvie accumulated in his lifetime. That wealth is living testament that if punters intend to back favourites during their betting life they are on a one way ticket to losing, as Ogilvie’s wealth is almost solely attributable to taking a bookmakers stand at a race track with the intended purpose being to lay the favourite “over the gap.” Pick up any Sunday newspaper and have a look how many favourites won on the previous days racing and it’s not rocket science to work out why he finished up ahead........by a country mile after 46 years.
A full video of the night’s activities is available from Global Television in Brisbane on 07-32570440. The audio is ordinary in places but the price has been kept low to offset that.