With more than 10 000 hours spent punting I should be able to levitate above my Computaform

My accumulation of horseracing knowledge paid off for me this week.

It was the English-born Canadian author Malcolm Gladwell who postulated the “10 000 hour rule” in his 2008 book Outliers.

Gladwell argued that for someone to become an expert in a chosen field they would be required to practice the skill correctly for those many hours.

The non-fiction work was an instant hit, entering the New York Times Best Seller list at no.1 and staying there for 11 weeks.

Whether you debunk Gladwell’s argument based on its shortage of scientific research or what critic Steven Pinker called its “false dichotomies”, there can be no doubting that, having sold in excess of 1.6 million copies, the book and the theory it promulgated have entrenched themselves in 21st century pop-psychology.

I did some math.

If one argues that a working day is eight hours, then 10 000 hours amounts to 1 250 days. Also, on average, there are 250 working days in a calendar year.

This means that if Gladwellian reasoning is to be believed we would need to put in a full and uninterrupted five years of practice to attain the high levels of success achieved by some of the individuals examples quoted in the book – the likes of Bill Gates, The Beatles and the father of the atom bomb, theoretical physicist J. Robert Oppenheimer.

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If I then apply these numbers to my own life and my passion for horseracing, it clarifies the arithmetic even further.

I was eight years old when I had my first wager – 50p each way on Crisp in the 1973 Aintree Grand National. The fact that some 40 years later my dear departed mother, a devout Catholic, confessed “of course I never put that bet on, I prayed that your horse would run unplaced and you would learn your lesson”, is irrelevant.

For the record, Crisp ran a gallant second under top weight, caught and passed in the shadow of the post by none other than Red Rum.

Red Rum would go on to win again the next year and then run back to back second placings in 1975 and 1976 before tasting victory for the third time in 1977. Red Rum lived to the ripe old age of 30 and when he died in 1995 he was buried beside the Aintree winning post.

It will be the 51st anniversary of “Rummies” inaugural National win when this year’s renewal is run on Saturday April 13, but as it stands I have been punting for a half a century.

In those 50 years there is absolutely no doubt in my mind that 10% of my time (at the very least) has been afforded to the pursuit of horseracing knowledge.

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Whether it be colouring in an owners racing silks, memorising a pedigree, researching results of bloodstock sales or consuming a Computaform, I reckon I went past Malcolm’s 10 000 hours with a double handful many moons ago.

Horseracing or otherwise, I suspect that a good many of you reading this article can lay claim to having put in those 10 000 hard yards in whatever skill you’ve mastered.

Knowledge is all very well but it’s the practical application of that knowledge that effects change.

My friend, motivational speaker Robin Banks, has taught me that applied knowledge is power. One of his affirmations, “I am a genius, a master of my craft and I apply my wisdom” reinforces this truth.

I put that to work this week Thursday.

Popping in to Soccershop headquarters to catch up with Lance Michael and watch some of Day 3 action from Cheltenham, I calibrated some of that 10 000 hour cognition and backed Vava Vegas to win Turffontein race 5.

Vava Vegas was the rank outsider in the field and returned R32.30 a Tote Win and R9.50 a Place

Even Lance’s father Uncle Les – who to be fair must be on his third lap of Gladwell’s 10 000 hour cycle – was impressed.

The calculated success got me to thinking. What happens when humans hit 20 000 hours practice or beyond?

If I keep practicing and harnessing the accumulated knowledge perhaps when I reach the age of Uncle Les I’ll be able to transcend knowledge and levitate above my Computaform.

Alas, for now, any aspirations of astral projection will have to wait. I have to take the children to school.

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