Mick Bartley: Racing Personality

Mick Bartley Punter

Melbourne Mick Bartley, one of the most colorful racing personalities in Australian racehorse punting.

From selling beer bottles to setting up one of the largest betting networks, Mick Bartley set examples for other punters who were always keen to follow his ways while giving bookmakers a run for their money.

Electrician Mick Bartley never used wires to 'shock' Aussie bookmakers at the racetrack.

From the tender age of 10, Bartley gathered money selling beer bottles to place bets with local SP bookies in Melbourne, moving on to Sydney in 1946 to get into big time gambling.

In spite of becoming a qualified electrician after leaving school, Mick found more money in gambling, eventually building up a large clientele of politicians and businessmen along with the largest SP networks in Australia.

As a punter, Mick Bartley's opinion was well respected as he was considered among the best judges of horse racing during his time. When it came to betting, he was second only to Kerry Packer, considering a bet of $6,000 to be mere toilet paper.

Mick Bartley became the focus of attention every time he entered the betting ring, with many punters playing 'follow the leader' and bookies losing plenty of sweat. Along with a syndicate of punters in Canberra in 1970, Bartley hit a jackpot of $400,000, making as much as $265,000 for himself.

Not surprisingly, he made $5 million in 1969 through the TAB. To add to that, Melbourne Mick Bartley, as he was fondly known in racing circles, won an Opera House lottery of $200,000.

Mick Bartley used his team of commission agents to place his wagers since everyone kept an eye on him at the race tracks. That didn't stop him from communicating with his agents even at the last minute at the race track. On one occasion at Randwick Racecourse he signaled to his agents to begin betting on a 10-1 horse with an umbrella, making the horse a favorite at 5-2, on whom Bartley ultimately made a killing.

For decades, Bartley spent time inventing new ways to break through in punting. However, he never put his money on poker machines, leaving him enough to spread out on the race tracks, which is also the reason why he probably died a wealthy man.

For many, Mick Bartley was the equivalent of Pittsburgh Phil although Melbourne Mick was known for his expertise on a personal level while Phil was known for his maxims. According to Bartley, all he did was study value, which he probably meant was to get longer odds on a horse than it should be.

Most often, he focused on the daily double, which was probably what brought him to become the owner of a Rolls Royce. Nor did he lose any sleep when he lost as much as $300,000 in the 1976 Newmarket Handicap at Flemington Racecourse on runner-up Leica Show.

Mick Bartley's warning to punters was, "The secret to big punting is to never chase your money." For him, the right to bet was when you have a chance of winning. Never would he bet on a horse that looked a loser.

For many, Mick Bartley's is a rags to riches story where he and his brother were removed as young kids from their family home in Fitzroy to an orphanage in Geelong. As the family was living below the poverty line, Mick ran back to the streets of Fitzroy, determined to make it big one day

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