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27/9/2002 edition

Bel Esprit Loses Again

Will connections now sack Damien Oliver?

In last week's Punt to Win we wrote about the sacking of leading jockey Scott Seamer after the defeat of boom 3YO colt Bel Esprit in the $350,000 Group 1 Weight For Age Manikato Stakes over 1200 metres at Moonee Valley. Bel Esprit finished second and collected $70,000.

Eight days later at Caulfield, Bel Esprit, sent out at big unders with Damien Oliver as the jockey, only finished second in the $350,000 Group 1 Dubai Racing Club Handicap run over 1400 metres. For that defeat Bel Esprit collected $70,000. Will connections now want to sack Damien Oliver? (Mind you in the real world, where most people work hard for a year and don't even earn $50,000 for that year's work, people would be thrilled with two $70,000 collects in eight days.)

Unlike eight days earlier where Bel Esprit led and set a hectic pace, Oliver settled Bel Esprit second. However, there were similarities to Seamer's ride. Bel Esprit hit the lead early in the straight and with blistering acceleration quickly led the field of 18 by three to four lengths and looked to have the race shot to pieces just like at Moonee Valley. Bel Esprit was then run down near the finishing line just like at Moonee Valley

Should Oliver be blamed for going too early on Bel Esprit? Should Oliver, like Seamer, be blamed for opening up too big a lead too soon and not having anything in reserve? Or was the real culprit both times not the jockey but the horse?

In our opinion Bel Esprit was sent out at poor value odds both races and met a better horse on the day each time. The jockeys were not to blame for Bel Esprit's losses.

It is important in horse racing to be objective. Successful punters don't talk through their pockets. It is quite possible they once did as unsuccessful punters and realised it was a major reason for losing money. All successful punters know they must take responsibility for the bets they place and the odds they get. When horses they back lose they find the correct reasons, which could even include underestimating the ability of the winner.

When punters talk through their pockets, the reality of the race and their bets go out the window. The responsibility for poor bets at poor odds has been shifted onto someone else, not where it belongs.

It's no different with trainers and owners who often have an inability to accept that more than one horse can win the race, no matter how much of a "good thing" their horse appears to be. It's very easy to blame the jockey when a boom horse loses. Just go to a racetrack and hear the abuse from disgruntled punters.

This edition of Punt to Win:
Bel Esprit beaten again
Jockey Watch - Kerrin McEvoy
"Jockey heroes"
Handicapping tips - apprentice jockeys
Handicapping tips - weight and class
Money talks - Rosehill plunge horses
Money talks - Sandown plunge horses
Future winners - unlucky horses
Punt to Win 20/9/2002
Punt to Win index

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