I was intrigued listening to champion trainer Chris Waller on Sky Radio last Saturday, when he was asked about leading with his horses.
He told listeners: “I hate it. Gai’s horses, that’s the way she likes to ride them. I’d like to do the same. You get ‘out of luck’ going back all the time … going forward you make your own luck. But the horse that’s at least hitting the line with a ‘hard luck story’ is at least one that you can train on. No good for the punters, but you seem to get longevity for the preparation. They take some patching up when they go forward and they hit that brick wall at the 300-metre mark.”
Like most bettors, I love being on leaders – they win more! But Mr Waller raises an interesting question – do leaders have fewer career starts? Is leading a poor tactic from an owners’ perspective?
I intuitively don’t accept leading is too hard on horses. I concede there could be other factors at work affecting longevity: leaders are more likely to be precocious, bigger horses – whom I would expect to have shorter “working lives”. Moreover, I would expect them to go through their classes quicker, rising to their “level of competence” faster, reducing their number of starts a bit.
So is Mr Waller right?
Now with the help of punter/statistician, Len Loveday (and with great respect to Mr Waller), I can declare this myth debunked. Indeed, the reverse is true. In Len’s sample of more than 100,000 horses, he found leaders in fact had more career starts.
As Len explains: “Contrary to your suspicion, Rob, there is an increase in career runs and wins from backmarkers to front runners. Better horses tend to race nearer the lead (certainly leaders win more, and that’s for me the main criterion for “better”) and hence keep racing longer.”
Looking forward to Guineas day
I’m excited to be fielding at the Guineas meeting at Caulfield on Saturday. Coming from last Saturday’s Epsom-Metrop day, I need a change of environment. It was a black day. My 93-year-old dad, retired bookie (but still a keen racing student)youtu.be/coMPUHNXYSs, Bill Waterhouse, declared: “In my 75 years of racing [he started clerking for his father in the 1930s], I’ve never seen a streak of favourites, on a big day, like last Saturday.”
I won’t be losing on the Guineas. Sydney horse Press Statement is a good thing in it. I have marked him very short. Happily for punters, the Victorians will underestimate the Stan Fox and Golden Rose form and he will be value.
Spring Champion suspicions
Randwick looks a very good card with lots of depth and opportunities for backers. The Spring Champion Stakes is an interesting race. Form students might make the error of assuming it is a rerun of the group 3 Gloaming Stakes two weeks ago. On that, Vanbrugh should beat his local rivals again and so he’ll be short odds.
But I’m not convinced. I’m a bit suspicious of this Gloaming form – both the time and collateral form are suspect. I notice there are two “shippers” entered, both trained by the very astute Eagle Farm trainer Desleigh Forster – Too Good To Refuse and I’m Belucci (part-owned by Australia’s one-time biggest punter Doug Forbes). There is a lot to like about Too Good To Refuse’s form – he is on the rise (at his last start at Doomben, when 1/3 in the betting, he defied a slow pace and blew them away in a fast sectional).
So I think the winner will come from either short-priced Vanbrugh or Too Good To Refuse, with the raider being great value for punters.
In other Randwick races: Bachelor Heir (race 2), took my eye with his impressive Newcastle win at their recent carnival. He’ll be over his “real” odds. And then there is the lightly raced Kasiano Lad (race 3), which has come back from a 15-month spell a much-improved horse. I think he will be too good for his rivals and is also a betting opportunity. His trainer Jason Coyle does an excellent job – you can win just backing all his horses.
The Sydney Morning Herald: October 8th 2015