Place only betting, unique considerations....

Okay - ever wondered why the Champion Hurdle Sps so often look like this?:

1st 4/1f
2nd 16/1
3rd 33/1

This is because the price in the market is more relevant to the chance of a horse winning than it's chance of placing. I.e You can't calculate a horses chance of placing just by using a fraction of it's win odds. 

Below are the factors I will analyse when considering a place bet. Needless to say a horse who is consistent under the conditions, in form and top rated in a race would usually place but you get substandard odds. A 1/4 shot is low but the incidence of risk to reward is too high for me.

So below are the situations I am wary of when backing horses at short place odds.

1) What is the basic pace of the race? Frequently a race becomes a war of attrition. The market leaders duke it up front and as a result one or two will often fade towards the end of the race to be picked up by sub standard horses. Alternatively a horse may need a fast pace if it is held up. In a race with no front runners he may find himself ging along for fourth place, unable to pick up. Alternatively a slow pace would be bad for a hard puller as he'll waste his energy early. 

So I would avoid a 2nd or 3rd clear rated front runner if he is likely to have stiff competition for the lead and the pace is likely to be fast. If a better horse is comepting for the lead the 2nd rated will often drop off the back.

2) The same concept can be extended to the jumps regarding the way jockeys attack the fences. An unfancied horse will often potter round the back jumping safely whereas the jockeys on the lead horses will be more aggressive at the head of the affairs. The net effect is more chance of mistake and more chance of tiring at the end. 

3) Beware of classy horses being prepared for big races. These will often not be given a hard time. To the big owners ther is little difference between a 4th and a 3rd if they have their eyes on a big prize. Don't expect them to be as desperate to place as horses who are racing for their big chance.

4) Trip / ground / headgear doubts. These are obvious but are 3 main reasons that horses that are priced to win should not have the same price to place. How many times have you heard he'll win if he handles the ground / gets the trip / takes to blinkers? These are horses to be avoided - you have to be confident that your selection is effective under the conditions. You may not want to lay a 2/1 shot who is the best in the race because you don't think it will get the trip - but in a race where a fast pace is expected a 1.35 place lay could be considered value! 

Whether it's place or win betting - the price determines the value of the bet.

5) Trainer form. Look out for viruses / trainers out of form. They will often have a disproportionate number of unplaced horses. Horses with viruses do not finish races well. 


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*A note about trainer form. Trainer form is relative to both the stable and the horses chances. If Martin Pipe had a winner yesterday it does not necessarily mean he is in form. It may have been a 1/6 shot which scraped home. However another stable may have had 30 runners without a win but they could have all been 100/1 shots because they are poor horses. But if 5 of them had placed - they could be in great form.

6) Course - turning courses, left handed over jumps. Make sure the horse handles the course. This is especially true of chasers and sprinters. Sprinters in big fields that are effective over a mile are frequently unplaced around tight turns.

7) Track bias. Don't have time to go into this but this is an American concept I am investigating.....

8) Draw bias - this is obvious really. Lots of chances to back / lay horses for a place after early races have revealed a draw bias...

All of the above may be obvious - sorry if it is.

How do I use this? If I am place betting I will consider all these factors for each horse. That way I can root out the backs and the lays. I will then frame my handicap:

Horse 1: Linford Christie 3/1 rtd 100 - place odds 1.6
Horse 2: Likes it hard 3/1 rtd 97 place odds 1.6
Horse 3: I'm blind 9/2 rtd 94 place odds 1.79
Horse 4: Solid bugger 7/1 rtd 91 place odds 2.2
Horses 5 - 8 : rtd 84 and below...

Here you can see solid bugger is rtd the lowest of all 3 horses. 4th best chance of a place. But he is effective under conditions and in form. Linford is the best but has doubts at this trip, Likes it hard is doubtful on this soft ground plus he is a front runner as is I'm blind and they could grinfd each other into the ground, I'm blind is in first time blinkers and will probably oull hard and has to compete with Linford for the lead.

THERE IS VERY LITTLE CHANCE OF ALL 3 RUNNING UP TO FORM. BY backing Solid bugger you are effectively getting over evens on ojne of the first 3 horses running a few pounds below form. This is a great bet which is not immediately apparent from the win odds.

This is fairly common. The top rated horses will usually top the market despite the concerns mentioned above. The thing is if they get the trip / if they handle the ground / if blinkers improve them the odds accurately reflect ehir chance of WINNING. However the odds on all 3 running up to form are quite low. 

Andrew Moraghan
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