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4/6/2005 edition

Winning Form is Good Form

How often are you told to ignore a horse's last run because that wasn't its true form? We suggest you do that with a lot of caution, particularly if the run was an absolute shocker.

The following example is a good lesson. Don't forget it. So let's have a look at what happened at Flemington racetrack on Derby Day, 2000.

Sky Heights was sent out as the $3.50 favourite in the Group 1 Mackinnon Stakes over 2000 metres. One week earlier in the W.S.Cox Plate at Moonee Valley racetrack over 2040 metres Sky Heights started second favourite at $5.00 and finished a dismal 26 lengths behind champion mare Sunline. That's right. 26 lengths.

There was a huge amount of pre race publicity. That was the race where Sky Heights was really going to apply the pressure to Sunline, really test her out and make sure she didn't have a cosy run in the lead. So what happened? Sky Heights missed the start and never got into the race, putting in an absolutely appalling run.

All sorts of theories were put forward. We even heard that the poor horse had a dizzy spell. Did the horse tell his connections that after the race?

But come Derby Day there was one consistent theme from tipsters everywhere. Forget Sky Heights went around only seven days earlier. The true Sky Heights' form was shown by his brilliant win the start before. 

I was discussing that theory with a very successful punter named David. Basically David couldn't help laughing. Here is a rough summary of some of the points he made.

"Isn't it amazing what theories people come up with? When a horse considered to be a champion by many  is beaten by 26 lengths then something is seriously amiss. It will take much more than one week for the horse to recover. You cannot possibly ignore such a terrible run. It goes against all sensible form analysis. 

Consider a horse with ordinary form that comes out and wins brilliantly. Would those same tipsters who were telling you to forgive Sky Heights' 26 lengths defeat only seven days earlier also tell you to forget that horses's brilliant last start win? Would they tell you to look for its true form the start before? Of course not. They'd all be pushing it next start as an absolute certainty. Well, you can't have it both ways.

If you want to give yourself a chance at the punt you don't go around taking short odds on horses beaten 26 lengths."

By the way on Derby Day Sky Heights finished twelfth in the field of 16, beaten by eight lengths. But at least that was an 18 lengths improvement!  
Based on Punt to Win, November 10, 2000

This edition of Punt to Win:
Winning form is good form
Get those betting odds
Betting favourites in small fields
Betting tips from the track: Rosehill and Flemington
Handicapping tips - weight and class
Future winners - unlucky horses
Punt to Win 28/5/2005
Punt to Win index

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