Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Price oddities

Here's a good trivia question to get our brains working. It's obviously rare to have two horses go off at odds-on in a race, although this will naturally happen in an evenly-matched two horse race. It could also happen in a three-horse race in which one horse appears to have no chance, while the other two runners seem equally well placed. One would not expect to see it happen, though, in a field of more than three horses. Question one, then: is this week the first week ever in which we have had two races which have each included two odds-on shots; and, if not, when has it happened previously? And now for question two. While one of the races this week to have included two odds-on shots was, unsurprisingly, a two-horse race (the 5.15 at Leicester yesterday had two runners who each started 10/11 joint-favourite), the other was, amazingly, a six-horse race (the 5.00 at Wolverhampton on Monday in which the runner-up Sim Sala Bim and the 3rd-placed Black Pond each started 10/11 joint-favourite, and which was won by the 50/1 joint-fourth favourite Needwood Ridge) - and so the question is whether this is the biggest field ever to have included two odds-on shots? If not, when was there one bigger? Compared to this, unearthing the fact that Denman and Kauto Star both won steeplechases on the same Newbury card a few years ago was a piece of cake!

My personal price oddity of recent times has been backing a 15/8 shot each-way, which likewise probably isn't something done very often. I very rarely have a bet, but I was watching television one Saturday afternoon shortly before Christmas and noticed that the consistent grey sprinter Secret Asset was shortly to be running in an uncompetitive handicap at Lingfield. The Racing Post SP forecast had him in at 6/1, which seemed to me a gift bearing in mind that he'd run very well (when wide throughout) when finishing a close sixth in a much more competitive handicap at Wolverhampton (pictured here cantering back after the race) on his previous start, and that the king of Lingfield, the Head Waiter George Baker, was now on board for the first time, a booking which I thought would be tailor-made to see the horse ridden to best advantage in this particular race. So I picked up the telephone, placed a small each-way bet - and then did a double-take when the betting came up on the TV, showing the horse to be at 7/4. (He subsequently drifted an eighth of a point). It had, of course, never crossed my mind that the Racing Post could have got the price so badly wrong about a five-year-old having his 14th start of the year in an older horses' handicap, so I hadn't asked his odds when placing the bet. Had I known his true price, I obviously wouldn't have backed him each-way - but wouldn't have backed him for a win either, so all was well that ended well when he won easily. And the moral of the story, of course, is that one can occasionally profit from doing something stupid.

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