"This week I will mostly be wagering at Punchestown", as The Fast Show character Jesse might have said.
And here are my five Punchestown pointers programmed to pull more profit power from your punting. That's easy (P-easy) for me to say!
5. Keep an eye on the weather
I was 'lucky' enough to go over to the Punchestown a couple of years ago for the Festival. It should have been a great day's racing. It absolutely teemed down with rain and the card should surely have been abandoned. We're talking horses aquaplaning after falling, and the like.
My point? They get more weather in Punchestown than we tend to get here in Blighty, and it obviously impacts the going. So if you had a bet on Tuesday on good ground, don't make an assumption about it still being good on Thursday. And don't trust the official going either. Rather, do whatever you can to establish your own version of the meteorological and turfological (made up word) truth.
Twitter is a great medium for this, as there are plenty of clued up punters sharing their views on such matters.
4. Choose your battles
There are 38 races spread over five days. That's an average of 7.6 races a day. Some of them are top quality. Some of them are extremely moderate. Unless you have a view - or need to get through a heat in a multi-race bet - tread carefully.
As much as that's a statement of the obvious, it can be tempting to bet race to race at the big meetings. My point here is that Punchestown's best races stand comparison with other late season 'finales'. But the majority of the races do not. Choose your battles accordingly.
3. Exactly how far is three miles?!
Some aspects of Irish racing don't suit the punting pseudo-scientists. Going descriptions are one, as they can be wildly inaccurate or simply very tardily updated. Another can be race distances. Here's a quote from the Punchestown website:
Fresh ground each day on hurdle course. Fresh ground provided where necessary on chase track.
Think about that for a second. Unless the ground staff are going to be re-laying new turf each evening - hint, they're not! - that means they must be moving the running rails.
Now, while it is theoretically possible to rearrange the rails in such a topological fashion as to maintain race distances and ensure fresh ground, it would be an extremely exacting task. In short, that ain't gonna happen. Race distances will be on the approximate side, and one might allow a bit of leeway when considering whether a 2m6f horse will get the advertised three mile trip, as it could be a few hundred yards further - or shorter - in actuality.
2. Course form counts for plenty
According to horseracebase, the average win strike rate for horses that have not previously won at today's track is 9%. That's based on a sample of 1.2 million runners in 131,000 races. The average win strike rate for horses that have won once or more before at today's track is 12%.
At Punchestown, those without a previous track win have a strike rate of 6%. Those with one or more course wins to their name have a 13% strike rate.
What does that all mean? Simply that horses with winning track form can be marked up, though it is not - of course - enough in itself to be a profitable angle.
If everything else fits, a horse with winning course form is more of a plus here than at most tracks.
1. Swim in the right pools to be a big fish
You've heard me banging on about Tote Ireland, right? Well, if you haven't already, you NEED to be playing these pools this week. Why? Because they smash the living sh... daylights (ahem) out of starting price, and that's actually guaranteed.
Yesterday (Sunday), the jackpot at Gowran Park was pretty easy to catch. I was on family duty, so missed playing, but I can tell you I would almost certainly have held a winning ticket.
The winners were 6/4, 5/2, 7/1 and 8/1. A €1 bookie bet on those four would have paid €630. Quite nice... until you see that the jackpot dividend (remember, the Tote Ireland jackpot is a four leg bet, not six like in UK) was a whopping €3,500.
That means the dividend was 5.55 times BIGGER than the SP accumulator.
Honestly, if you don't get that, and the value concept that underpins it, then I give up!
This week the pools will be bigger, and the guarantees will be bigger too. I will personally be playing the jackpot and placepot each day, and will be looking at the rollover scenario on the Pick 6 front.
|Tue||29||Punchestown||€ 25,000||€ 40,000||€ 50,000|
|Wed||30||Punchestown||€ 25,000||€ 40,000||€ 50,000|
|Thurs||1||Punchestown||€ 25,000||€ 40,000||€ 50,000|
|Fri||2||Punchestown||€ 25,000||€ 40,000||€ 50,000|
|Sat||3||Punchestown||€ 10,000||€ 40,000||€ 50,000|
Here are a couple more reasons why you should a) have an account with Tote Ireland, and b) be using it!
Reason 1: If you bet in the win pool, your bet is guaranteed to beat SP. If it doesn't, you will be paid out at SP irrespective of the tote dividend. This is on bets between €20 and €100.
Example: I back Jiggy Joggy, a 6/1 shot in the bookmakers, and showing at €8.40 on the tote (7.4/1), for €20.
Jiggy Joggy wins. However, late pool support for Jiggy Joggy reduces his win dividend to €5.80 (4.8/1). Whereas on the UK tote, I'd be mumbling and cursing the late move and the crap dividend, here I'm paid out at 6/1 - €140 including my stake - and am happy that at least I didn't do worse than SP.
This happens all the time in UK, and sometimes in Ireland. So the SP insurance is a very solid option.
Reason 2: At Festival meetings, there is a lot of uninformed 'holiday crowd' money swelling the pools. That means that for anyone with even half a clue, there is value to be had. Using the Race Analysis Reports will give you real leverage in understanding the chance of horses in some of the bigger field races, but do keep in mind that there are plots aplenty in the handicaps, so the RAR alone may not be enough to net you a scoop.
The presence of 'mug money' in the pools means value returns for those shrewd/lucky enough to call a bet correctly. And with the swollen coffers this week, that means there's plenty to go round!
Reason 3: Tote Ireland pays a lot better than bookie bets. Tote win bets in Ireland pay out on average more than 25% higher than the returned SP. Exacta bets in Ireland pay out on average more than 75% (!!) better than the computer straight forecast. And multi-race bets pay out much more on average than SP equivalents.
My favourite bet, the jackpot, pays on average 170% higher than the SP accumulator equivalent. You don't have to be that smart over the long term with those sort of odds in your favour!
And for those clever/ambitious/lucky enough to play and win the Pick6 (as the name suggests, pick six consecutive winners), the average return is 234% higher than SP. That's two-and-a-third times more money for the same bet!
Let me put it another way: if you could bet even money shots at 7/4, would you? That's the exacta scenario. If you could bet even money shots at 11/4, would you? That's the jackpot scenario. And if you could bet even money shots at 10/3, would you? That's the Pick6 scenario.
I am NOT saying these are even money shots - of course I'm not. What I'm highlighting (again!) is the enormity of the price advantage in these pools.
There are actually even more reasons to be playing these bets, and I highlighted them here. They include free bets, race tickets and various other incentives alongside the unequivocal value edge in the pools.
Get registered today, and let's get ready for the fun to begin tomorrow. I'll be blogging all week around Punchestown and will hope to offer some assistance in taking down some of the tastier exotics!