ACCORDING to Greek mythology, when Pandora opened her box, out flew all of the evils that plague mankind: sickness, death, turmoil, jealousy, hatred, famine, passion and fixed odds betting terminals. On replacing the lid, only one stayed inside – hope.

Pandora was the first mortal woman created by the gods - out of clay and water apparently, which would have marked her out as a slippery character in anyone’s book. She was given a number of gifts from the gods, the two most significant of which were curiosity (from the Goddess Hera) and the fabled box of tricks (more correctly a jar of tricks) from Zeus. As it turned out, it was a bit of a duff deal, as Zeus knew that curiosity would lead to Pandora opening the box – thereby inflicting evil on mankind for all time, notwithstanding the fact that the minimum stake on FOBTs will now been reduced to £2 in April.

Putting aside the fact that immortality might have been a worse curse than death, and that lethargy might be a worse character trait than passion, the issue that most perplexes theologians and philosophers is why hope was left inside the box – and is hope a good thing or an evil thing?

Some suggest that, if hope is all we have then we’re simply prolonging our torment and deepening our disappointment.

For others, notably the Apostle Paul in his letter to the Corinthians, hope is a virtue – along with faith and love. Without hope, life would be dreary and insufferable – but maybe not quite as bad as a life without love.

Of course, none of this will be news to anyone who has spent a reasonable length of time gambling. Hope is part of the fun. We place our bet on Bristol De Mai, our selection in Haydock’s Betfair Chase today, and we the hope he can deal with the ground – which will be appreciably quicker than when he romped away with the same race last year. We hope that he comes home in front because, at odds of 7/1, we’ll win enough money from a £5 stake to buy a Chinese takeaway for the family and a bottle of wine.

You see: greed and hope go hand in hand – and they’re excellent, life enhancing partners. I wouldn’t be without either – in moderation.

But if you’re hoping that Might Bite wins the Betfair Chase, because you need to double your money in order to pay the rent, well then you’ve run into problem gambling territory – trapped by unrealistic dreams that hinder the clear-eyed realisation that it’s more important to retain hard-earned cash in order to provide for loved ones.

Hope can be good, hope can be bad. Horseracing is always good – but betting on it is only intended to be a bit of fun.