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20/8/2004 edition

Apprentice Jockeys

Horse racing handicapping:
Is a horse better handicapped with an apprentice jockey who has a claim compared to having a senior jockey without a claim?

There is a good reason why apprentice jockeys are able to claim up to three kilos. They are usually not as competent as experienced senior jockeys. With the occasional really outstanding apprentice the claim is a luxury. But apprentice jockeys are still learning their trade, just like apprentices elsewehere. We all know apprentices make mistakes and should learn from their mistakes. Most apprentice jockeys need the claim to help them compete on more equal terms with good experienced jockeys.

It follows then that it is a mistake when doing form to assume that a horse comes in well at the weights just because it has a three kilos claiming youngster aboard. Nothing beats experience.

Madame Plume appeared to come in very well on the weights at 55 kilos in a Mares Open at Caulfield after allowing for Dale Smith's three kilos claim. But she would probably have done better carrying the full 58 kilos with a top senior hoop aboard.

Dale Smith led on Madame Plume and set too slow a pace for too long. The first things experienced jockeys tell you about leading is to go just fast enough so that no one is prepared to take you on. That was not the case with Dale Smith. Well before the home turn some of the experienced jockeys, fed up with the slow pace, simultaneously made a move and the sprint home was on. Dale Smith was probably surprised.

Top jockeys like Patrick Payne and John Marshall were not going to lose the race by letting Dale Smith continue to control it. Before he knew it, Dale Smith found himself no longer leading, but on the rails behind the leading horses, surrounded by horseflesh and unable to get a run the entire straight.

The race was a very fast sprint home. The last 600 of the 1600 metres race was run in 33.62 seconds. That was 1.28 seconds faster or approximately eight lengths faster than the last 600 in the Group 1 handicap won by Testa Rossa over a shorter distance, 1400 metres. That is indicative of how slow a pace had been set.

Madame Plume
the $3.80 favourite was the best of things beaten. Dale Smith will learn from the race if he is going to make a top career for himself. As for the punters on Madame Plume, they can just lament about their bad luck and tear up their tickets. They were on the best horse in the race. It was just unfortunate that on that day the inexperienced jockey put in a very average ride. But that is after all why they have three kilos claims.
Based on an article in Punt to Win, September 29, 2000

This edition of Punt to Win:
Apprentice jockeys - and horse racing handicapping
Get those betting odds
Betting favourites in small fields
Money talks - Rosehill, Moonee Valley betting tips from the track
Handicapping tips - weight and class
Future winners - unlucky horses
Punt to Win 13/8/2004
Punt to Win index


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