For all those glory-seeking souls who are attempting the jackpot at Newmarket today, I have a few pieces of advice. Firstly, I'm going to assume you'll ignore my overarching suggestion, which is not to play unless you have Â£2,000 or more to invest, as you're unlikely to have sufficient coverage.
Obviously, this suggestion is somewhat contradicted by that amazingly lucky chap, Mr Whitely, who copped Â£1.4 million at Exeter off a two quid perm!
OK, so the sensible option out of the way, here's what you need to know:
1. Favourites at Newmarket in September have a terrible record, winning just 23.38% of the time since 2007 (compared with normal winning favourites' percentages of around 30-33%)
2. The front three in the betting have fared little better, winning 57% of races in the same time frame, compared with 66% of flat races generally.
3. The above stats mean that, on average, you'd hope to get between one and two winning favourites; and about the same number of winning second and/or third favourites. This means that if you went three deep in every race on that basis, your permutation would already by 729 bets (which, at the minimum stake of 50p is Â£364.50), and you can only hope to have located half of the winners!
4. There are lies, damned lies, and statistics. Clearly, some favourites have a better chance than others. There have been only two winning favourites in the 3.20 Listed fillies contest, and only one winning joint favourite in the 3.55 Somerville Tattersalls Stakes in the last ten years. If you're still alive come the last leg, well done! And note that there have been three winning jollies, but also three winners at double figure odds.
5. Four year olds do well, relative to their numbers, in that 'lucky last'.
6. The opening maiden has been run twice, and won by a Godolphin horse both times, one with a favourite. Unhelpfully, the boys in blue have three entries this time, including the likely favourite.
7. Pay attention to non-runners. If horses come out it can have a profound bearing on the shape of your bet. (For instance, Stature is already out in the first and he would have made some of my tickets).
8. The combination of winning horses' market positions is likely to be something like this: one or two favourites; one or two second or third favourites; one or two in the fourth to sixth market slots; and a 'surprise'. Construct your tickets around that notion.
9. Yes, I did say tickets. Anyone who simply places all their fancies on the same ticket in a single perm is mad, even if they win. Quite simply, this is a terrible way to bet placepot, jackpots and any other wager where you cannot possibly have the same faith in all of the selections you're using!
10. My ticket builder software will help to construct optimal tickets. It's available here free to members of Horse Racing Experts.
For the record, I'm still undecided about getting involved today. Obviously, I'm tempted by the size of the pot, and of course I have the ticket builder to help me optimize my staking. But... But... it looks fiendishly difficult, so I might just do the cop out of covering the top three or four in each race across different perms and hope that the jackpot pays low, but high relative to the cumulative odds.
I know, I know, that's pathetic. 🙂
The very best of luck if you're playing today - you'll need it!!!