Having guided us through the importance of note taking and showing us how he analyses his notes to help him pick his bets, Tony Keenan now offers his advice in how to make the most of your work by placing some bets in-running in this latest edition of...
...The Punting Confessional – December 5th, 2012
Having done your work on pace and such like, it would be foolish not to apply what you have learned to in-running punting; I don’t do an awful lot of this myself but it can be a useful tool in your repertoire. Of course, one is fighting against those with fast pictures and you only need to go to a meeting live and see how far the attheraces channel is behind the on-course feed; there can be as much at seven or eight seconds in the difference.
That said, I still believe there is a an edge for reading the race right as some of the fast picture boys aren’t the most diligent race readers and are merely playing their time edge.
It is inevitable that one will get sickeners playing in-running, marginally missing a price because your fingers were too slow but the rewards are out there and last year’s James Nicholson Chase at Down Royal is a good if extreme example. In the race, the strong-travelling Sizing Europe was always likely to come into the race going well with the strong possibility his stamina would fail as the slow Quito De La Roque came off the bridle early and found plenty in the closing stages; so it transpired as the former hit a low of 1.32 while the latter traded at 280 before winning.
A lot of how a horse’s price moves in-running has to do with race position; as a general rule, hold-up horses will drift (out of sight, out of mind perhaps?) while the price of a pacesetter will contract. How a horse travels also plays a big part; if it is one that tends to come off the bridle early then you can invariably hit it at a bigger price in-play though the trip and pace play a big part in this as the horse that can travel smoothly over a longer distance may find things happening too quickly over shorter.
It’s the opposite with strong travellers who tend to shorten in the run and they can provide the opportunity to lay off in-running; the merits and otherwise of doing this have been debated by much smarter people than me and the argument can be made that by laying off you are taking a bad value price but it’s probably best to judge each horse on an individual basis.
It depends on your temperament too if you want to insure against narrow defeats but either way is something that is worth bearing in mind with horses that are suspect stayers, likely to race on the pace or may be ungenuine. If taking such an approach, it could be worth adding a little extra to your initial stake to allow for the loss you’ll be facing if your lay gets matched though this can be more costly should things not turn out as planned.
It’s taken me a while to get onto jockeys and one thing to bear in mind is that they are all fallible, most are competent when given the right horse but some more than others and you learn who over time. The most obvious thing punters cop with a jockey is when a horse is given too much to do and comes with a late rattle but as we have seen pace can play its part in this and it is way overdone as an angle anyway; the aim is avoiding rather than spotting the obvious.
With jockeys there are a few things I’m looking out for that may not be quite so well reflected in the market. Premature or midrace moves are one and by this I mean when a jockey moves his mount through the field at a time when his rivals are content to sit in position; such a decision is invariably costly as these moves are hard to sustain. Hitting the front too soon – a much better guide to future winners than looking for the fast finisher – is a variation on this.
Pace duels is another notable aspect of jockeyship, i.e. when two or more frontrunners get into a battle for the lead and go too hard, too early; in such cases, all involved are likely to be better than the bare form and keep a particular eye for horses that set a strong pace and still got involved in the finish. Some riders have a tendency to take a pull at the wrong time or not kick on early enough; this is not a contradiction of my earlier point about giving a horse too much to do but must be judged on an individual basis; if you’ve got a horse that needs a relative stamina test over an insufficient trip the jockey needs to be kicking early.
There may also be jockeys that lack aggression in terms of going for gaps and their timidity can be costly; this should not simply be confused with hold-up types that cannot get a run and don’t fall into the trap of blaming every troubled run of a patiently ridden sort on the jockey; the very nature of how such horses are ridden means some trouble is inevitable. Finally, I don’t deny that horses can get a soft ride now and then and it can be profitable to spot one but don’t hang your hat on this as it happens a lot less frequently than most think.
Trouble-in-running is another thing to look out for though I acknowledge that this can be overdone in the market; it is certainly one of the most obvious video angles and these are just the sort of horses that tend to be backed next time as not getting a clear run tends to be clear to jockeys and connections. Some horses are more vulnerable to trouble than others – hold-up types, obviously – and the same is true of jockeys, a number of whom seem magnets for bad luck in running though perhaps that’s my pocket talking.
With those meeting traffic, there are a few things to look for. I particularly like a horse that makes late progress after trouble, indicating that they still had running to give, it may only be running on from eighth into sixth but it’s enough to be significant. If the horse’s effort stalls totally after trouble, I am less inclined to mark it up. There are times when you simply don’t know what a horse had to give, especially if the jockey eases down on them, and in cases like this you really need to be let prices and their overall profile dictate having a bet.
The daddy of them all in terms of bad luck in running however is shuffling, the situation where a horse tracking the pace is caught behind one of the leaders falling back through the field. This is significant on a couple of levels; not only is the horse losing ground at a crucial stage and allowing others have first run on it, but it is also costing momentum just when it is needed. Horses like this don’t come along too often but when they get up to win you are almost certainly onto something, a horse well ahead of its mark as they are likely to be raised off the bare form.
Goldplated was a brilliant example of this when winning at Limerick early in 2011 and duly went on to climb the weights and it’s just the sort of angle missed by the market.