Punt to Win
Have you ever fallen into the trap of taking short odds about a horse after it won by lengths at its previous start? I think we all have at some time .
When a horse wins by four lengths or more you do really have to query the quality of the opposition and carefully assess the merits of the win. Otherwise it is only too easy to back that horse next start at a short price and do your money.
One way of assessing the merits of the win is to look at the horse's winning time. If the horse ran a fast time, even a track record, you do not need to know who the opposition were! The win becomes even more meritorious if the horse carried a bit of weight.
Let us look at some past racing examples from our archives. A few years ago at Moonee Valley the John Hawkes' trained three year old gelding, Leather Lane, was sent out as $1.40 favourite in a 3YO Open over the Cox Plate distance of 2040 metres following his 10 lengths' win in a restricted race over 2000 metres at Flemington two weeks earlier. His winning time was quite good but it was still approximately 15 lengths slower than Northerly's track record.
At Moonee Valley Leather Lane was up in class and also had the widest barrier, nine. However he had the same jockey and same weight (effectively an increase due to the class rise) - a solid 56kg. after apprentice Brendan Fenech's two kilos' claim.
Punters who took the $1.40 about Leather Lane saw him lead comfortably. He looked home when he appeared to be traveling well within himself and led by two lengths entering the short straight. But appearances can be deceptive. Over the last 50 metres his strides shortened and he just held on to beat both Monroe and The Creature who were rapidly gaining on him.
Now that was hard work. Judging by that race Leather Lane would not have won five out of every seven times (over 70%) which was needed to break even long term. Leather Lane was clearly under the odds.
At Rosehill in a restricted three year old fillies race over 1200 metres the Gai Waterhouse trained Autumn Night was all the rage. At her second start she won a Gosford maiden 12 days earlier over the same distance by more than seven lengths. But did that justify her being backed into $1.75 favourite? There were a number of fillies in the race with good city form.
Autumn Night was a little slow out. Jockey Chris Munce worked her early to get a position. She settled fourth of nine but folded badly at the business end and finished a well beaten seventh. Fleecing, a last start city winner won starting at $13.00. Those odds were far better value than $1.75.
This edition of Punt to Win:
2005 Melbourne Cup Carnival Winners
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