Trackdata suggests that trying to make a profit from odds-on favourites is one of the most difficult punting paths to take. It requires a large bank, a strong heart, and huge amount of self discipline, and despite what our media experts will advise, it requires a great deal of work to come up with the right selections. There are certainly many punters making a regular profit from betting in the red, but they are certainly a special breed, and obviously accept less enjoyment in winning than normal successful punters.
Last Saturday, El Segundo was labelled a racing certainty by most media pundits. Steve Moran commented on TVN before the race that he lacked the courage to back a horse like El Segundo at odds of $1.40, but Trackdata suggests that it was Steve's wisdom and not any missing "intestinal fortitude" that brought about that statement.
Trackdata has a love affair with short-priced favourites that get beaten, who often provide outstanding value at their next race, when the general punting public find it hard to forgive a recent "flaw". Super Impose finished last in the Tancred Stakes in 1991 beaten 15 lengths at odds of $1.50, before winning the Doncaster one week later at odds of 10/1 (20/1 available). At Sea finished last in the Expressway Stakes in 1986 beaten 17 lengths at $1.80, before winning the Star Kingdom Stakes without raising a sweat at $2.50 three weeks later.
And who was the last long odds-on favourite to be beaten in the Caulfield Stakes? That honour goes to Rubiton, who was also beaten into 3rd place at odds of 1/3 ($1.33) in 1987. Rubiton went on to win the Cox Plate at his very next start at 7/4 ($2.75), although 5/2 ($3.50) was freely available on raceday. Another case of Deja Vu about to happen?
For those who still wish to bet odds-on, Trackdata suggests the following rules should be followed very closely:
Avoid backmarkers - ALWAYS. Super Impose started odds-on favourite ten times in his metropolitan career, and only won four times. A champion handicapper, he was continually beaten in WFA contests where the different pace scenario constantly backfired against his racing pattern.
Avoid any runners having the first run at a new distance. There are hundreds of example of quality sprinters getting beaten at their first attempt at a mile, or top-class sprinter-milers getting beaten at their first distance attempt. The Gloaming Stakes during the Sydney Spring Carnival is a perfect example, where most runners are jumping up from 1400m to 1800m for the first time, with a number of sprinting types meeting defeat at skinny odds, including Flying Spur at 2/5 ($1.40). Bookies love them.
Avoid any runner having their first start on a wet track. Unbeaten 2YO star Show County couldn't run a place at his first race on a slow track at odds of 4/1 on ($1.25).
Avoid any runner not having raced for more than 21 days, especially stayers.
Avoid any runner that has suffered any sort of injury or setback, no matter how minor. Ignore any public declaration by the trainer that their horse is 100% fit. Keep a close eye on the gear changes for problems that have not been mentioned in the media.
Avoid any runner first up, with the sole exception of proven top class fresh performers, where you have expert independent knowledge that the horse has returned in excellent condition. This rule cannot be overstated. Do not rely on racing presenters suggesting that "such a horse has returned in fine fettle", even though the horse in question has done nothing more than beat a Class 1 galloper by an eyelash in gallop between races, proving absolutely nothing. Do not be dazzled by comments such as "has run his last 600m in a tick under 34 seconds in a recent trial", which is a meaningless statement on its own, as most horses can run under 34 seconds over 600m if that is the only distance that they are tested.
Avoid runners handicapped with more than 4.0kg over the bottom weight, UNLESS you can verify that he has the measure of EVERY horse in the event on his recent past peak performance, by giving each improving runner a one length (or 2kg) positive adjustment. Do not compensate an odds-on favourite with rate of improvement adjustment if you intend to support him.
AND REMEMBER, most short-priced favourites are at that price because they put in a career high performance at their most recent race. Most horses either go up or go down in their performance rating at their next race after a career high performance. In which direction is your "good thing" about to jump?
These rules should, in most cases, be strictly enforced before jumping onto any odds-on favourites, but are NOT to be used for general betting. Finding value in punting means usually betting against the herd mentality, and you will not have everything in your favour when you invest on runners over odds of 8/1. However, those who intend to make money from short priced favourites should want EVERYTHING in their favour before the race, as there are already a thousand and one external reasons stopping the best horse from winning during a race.
Kevin Skene, TRACKDATA, 16/10/2006?xml:namespace>