|Horse racing and
Punt to Win
"This Horse Can't Win Because of the Barrier"
Wide barriers - the betting myth
A wide barrier is often given as the reason why a horse has little chance in a race or used as an excuse to explain a poor run. This is generally not correct.
Some time ago an acquaintance who regularly loses on the punt was trying to convince me to back a horse that had the horrendous form of 13 out of 14 and 12 out of 13 at its previous two starts. He told me to ignore those runs by the gelding, putting the blame entirely on the wide barriers it started from, confidently adding, in a tone that indicated he thought he was giving me some winning inside information, "It's got barrier one today."
He even added, "If you've found a consistent horse nine out of 10 times when it runs a bad race it is because of a wide barrier!"
I politely told him that he didn't know what he was talking about and that barriers are generally not that relevant at all.
Only a few months earlier Port Call had finished 13 out of 15 at Doomben, not from a wide barrier but from barrier one. It had missed the start and raced erratically. The fact of the matter was that when Port Call ran 12 out of 13, beaten by nearly 10 lengths, from a wide barrier, it also raced erratically. That result had absolutely nothing to do with the wide barrier but more to do with the gelding's racing manners.
If you're going to find good bets you must know what to look for. Blaming bad runs on wide barriers and expecting substantial improvement because of a supposed good barrier does not work. It is just too simplistic.
The barrier is just one of many factors to be taken into account. Because so many punters automatically dismiss horses with wide barriers it can give you the opportunity to get on some good bets at good value.
To win at racing you must be different from the herd. Sure, take barriers into consideration. But don't refuse to back a horse just because it has a wide barrier.
This edition of Punt to Win:
2006 Melbourne Cup Carnival Winners
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