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7/5/2005 edition

Betting First Up Horses

Consistently taking short odds about horses resuming from a spell is a guaranteed way to the betting poor house. Last Saturday in the $300,000 Brisbane Turf Club Cup, Takeover Target resumed from a spell of six months. The 5YO gelding was sent out a short priced $3.00 favourite in the 15 horse field. He was up against quality opposition which included Group 1 winners such as Spark Of Life, Yell and Regimental Gal.

Takeover Target finished fourth, with the racefit Spark Of Life winning. Horses resuming from a spell are always a betting risk, no matter what their previous first up form.

We wrote the following three years ago. It is just as relevant today.

"Despite the fine weather last Friday, heavy overnight dew left the Moonee Valley track on Saturday with a virtually unchanged penetrometer reading of 5.14, indicating a genuine Slow rated track.

Connections were undecided about running this year's Blue Diamond Stakes winner, Bel Esprit, first up on a Slow track. In his six starts the colt had never raced on a track rated worse than Dead. But after the decision was made to start, Bel Esprit toyed with his opposition in the 3YO Colts and Geldings Listed Mitchell McKenzie Stakes over 1000 metres. Carrying top weight of 57.5kg. he led throughout for the softest of three lengths wins.

The time of 59.04 run by Bel Esprit was very impressive. It was 0.85 of a second faster than Innovation Girl, who won the fillies' version of the race carrying one kilo less. Innovation Girl is no slouch. She has now won five races from only six starts.

What we found interesting was the generally held media view that Bel Esprit should be odds on. For example, Shane Templeton wrote in his column "The Pocket Talking":

"...punters could not have dreamed of getting the $2.10 that was eventually bet by bookmakers on track." (Herald Sun, Monday, August 19, 2002, p45).

After any horse has demolished the other runners $2.10 looks very good odds. But in our opinion $2.10 was not good odds for Bel Esprit. The race was a trap race with punters taking the short odds escaping - this time. Consider just these points:

1. Bel Esprit was first up and also had no disclosed Slow or Heavy track form.
2. Able Choice was first up. The gelding had won each of his three starts in Hong Kong by over two lengths.
3. The John Hawkes trained Yell, who had very impressive form, was also first up.
4. The unbeaten Titanic Jack was resuming from a break of nearly two months. Two of the gelding's wins were at Moonee Valley, including on a Slow rated track.

We suspect the main reason many "punters could not have dreamed of getting the $2.10 that was eventually bet by bookmakers on track" was because they accepted what they were told by most tipsters - that the colt was a "certainty" and should be odds on. If you check media tipsters past tips you will see that they generally have a poor track record when it comes to tipping favourites that actually return a profit long term.

Another interesting point was the bookmakers' starting price market percentage was 111.6 % and at top official fluctuation 109.34%. That sure beats the tote which is around 120%. That goes a long way to also explaining why Bel Esprit paid tote punters the very poor dividend of $1.70 on Tabcorp, the New South Wales tote and Unitab.

Another point worth noting is that punters who took $2.10 with the bookmakers and then lost their next level stakes bet still made a 5% profit on turnover. Tote punters who got $1.70 and then lost their next level stakes bet would made a 15% loss on turnover. (For example, a $50 win bet at $1.70 returned $85 for a profit of $35. If the next $50 bet lost there was an overall loss of $15 on turnover of $100). A long term loss is just about guaranteed for anyone who backs short priced tote favourites at big unders.
Based on Punt to Win, 23rd. August, 2002.

This edition of Punt to Win:
Betting first up horses
Pom Pom horse racing betting system
Get those betting odds
Betting favourites in small fields
Betting tips from the track: Rosehill and Sandown Hillside
Handicapping tips - weight and class
Future winners - unlucky horses
Punt to Win 30/4/2005
Punt to Win index


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