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10/11/2000 edition

Poor Form is Losing Form

On Derby Day at Flemington racetrack Sky Heights was sent out as the 5/2 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 4/1 and finished a dismal 26 lengths behind champion mare Sunline. You might recall  the 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. Well, 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, say Last In, with ordinary form that comes out and wins absolutely 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 Last In's brilliant 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 that was an 18 lengths improvement. 

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