Any seasoned punter knows that horserace betting isn't an exact science and, in all honestly, that is half the fun. Ultimately, the thrill is in the risk. The knowledge that fate can lift you up or slam down is intrinsic to the excitement of the whole enterprise. However, equally, nobody is going to go around saying you should leave everything to chance. Nobody ever became a successful better by being reckless and impulsive.
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No, when it comes to being profitable when betting, one needs to mix instinct and fearlessness with experience and knowledge. Research really is key, and the more you do, the better your chances will be. Now, anyone could tell you that knowing current odds and being aware of recent withdrawals – such as Carlingford Lough’s recent ruling-out - should be your first port of call, for any potential bet. But, when it comes to picking the most likely winner, there is so much further down the rabbit hole you can, and should, go. So, here are some more intricate, and unusual, things to research about both horse and jockey before you put your money on the table.
Whilst a horse having a winning pedigree is no guarantee to its success, it certainly isn't detrimental to that very same stallion having winning DNA in its blood. Often, punters are so focused on jockeys, trainers and breeders, they discount the importance of a rich bloodline. However, whilst these professionals are integral to sculpting the animal, their success is somewhat dependent on the clay – so to speak – they have to work with.
For example, Welsh National winner Dream Alliance was bred by a pub landlady, who previously had only raised Whippets, and was trained in a slag heap allotment. However, Dream Alliance came from a long line of champions with his sire and grandsire, Bien Bien and Manila respectively, both being extremely successful Grade 1 steeplechaser in America.
A Match Made In Heaven
Factoring in the dual achievements of jockey and horse is a natural part of betting. Every punter worth his salt knows that the horse is only as good as the jockey that rides them and, almost, vice-versa. However, just because a successful jockey and a tried-and-tested champion horse join forces, does not always mean that victory is assured.
It is wise, when contemplating betting on a new partnership, to see how the jockey has performed with a horse of this breed, age and temperament before. It is all well and good having a world-class jockey who has had great successes riding young mares, but how is he going do with a more mature grey?
A Clean Bill Of Health
Long Run was one of the outside favourites for this year's Grand National, with odds of 25/1, having had a successful 2014 season. However, it was announced this month that Long Run would not be competing, this year, due to him not yet recovering from injuries sustained a year ago, whilst being transported back to France.
Horses may be imposing and strong animals but that doesn't mean they are infallible. Whilst professional athletes can often comeback from injury and return to form, when it comes to horses this is a much more tricky proposition. Trainers cannot regulate their horses behaviour to the point that they can maximise the animal's chances of recovery. Simply put, horses don't know that they shouldn't move or act in a certain way to avoid inflaming an injury, so they are much more likely to relapse.
Moreover, owners and promoters are unlikely to want to acknowledge the extent of a horses injury, for various reasons, so it is wise to be careful when considering betting on a horse that has had injuries either recently or repeatedly.
On The Right Side Of History
Although there may sometimes be no rhyme or reason as to why more often than not a certain type of horse or jockey wins more frequently at a certain event, this shouldn't mean that a punter can't roll with it. If, historically, there has been some statistically or logistically proven element at play which means a horse is more or less likely to win, consider it in your decision-making.
For example, since the Grand Nationals' inception in 1839 only 12 mares have won the event, and the last of them was in the 1950s. So, if you're planning to bet on a long-shot outsider – hoping for a big payoff for the risk – maybe it is best to, at least, pick one whose bread has been victorious at the event in the last half a decade.