In a desperate effort to locate spots where money can be made, I started looking into tracks where results seemed more favourable. Not necessarily where lots of favourites win, because on average they are over-bet and so by the end of the day you might get a few winners but make no profits.
I did the opposite and sought out places where favourites lost and bolters got up, reasoning they would be good to avoid.
To do that I identified races where the winner paid more than $10 or the First Four more than $500. In each case the ultra-high dividends must necessarily be a function of a long shot being involved. Quinellas and Trifectas were ignored because they are victims of the Mystery Bet bug which distorts dividends (having the favourite in your successful Trifecta automatically means the dividend will be “unders”).
This involved 500 races for the month of August at four major tracks (Albion Park, Wentworth Park, Sandown Park and The Meadows) and six provincial tracks, four in Victoria and two in NSW. Results were fascinating.
In total, 14% of winners paid more than $10 and a further 34% of races involved a $500-plus First Four dividend. That makes 48% overall which saw a bolter somewhere between first and fourth.
Big priced winners were pretty well spread around, although they were slightly more common at the provincials than in the city. Probably the class difference would do that.
The surprise was that the major tracks were a huge risk for First Four bets. In town, 53% of successful combinations involved bolters but only 43% did so at the provincials. Of the city tracks, Wentworth Park and Sandown, in that order, were by far the biggest risks.
Of course, five of the six provincial tracks were of the one-turn type (Richmond being the other), which lends support to those being better propositions than the circles. Still, that is a theoretical statement as pool sizes at the provincials do not lend themselves to bigger betting. Or, alternatively, they push punters towards online bookmakers
On the other hand, other measures re-enforce the findings in this survey. Average Win dividends, falls and race interference figures are also high at Sandown, in particular, and at Wentworth Park. In both cases, there are obvious disruptions during many races, most caused by some feature of the layout.
TABs will not worry too much about this information as they seem to take delight in trumpeting about high dividends: SKY presenters, for example, talk about a long shot “putting value in the Trifecta” which is a patently ridiculous statement. Spruiking a high figure has nothing to do with value but everything to do with TABs trying to encourage mug gamblers to invest in lottery style outcomes.
At the end of the day, is there a message for racing authorities and clubs? Well, if they are content with a future dominated by mug gamblers, keep doing what you are doing. But if you want high standards and relatively trouble free racing, then pay much more attention to the source of race interference. That alone offers the potential to make improvements and bring back big betting fans.
Mind you, a good track and a scrappy range of dogs is not a good combination either. Unfortunately, current policies are preventing the development of both good tracks and good fields. Both are essential for good racing, and therefore good punting. Race quality is a man-made deal. As are full fields – a good 1 in 5 races are short these days.
As for counting winners – when GRV used to publish track by track tipping results the Watchdog was usually flat out picking 1 in 3. The figure for winning favourites was always slightly higher. In NSW, published figures (in the Recorder) showed that 30% to 40% of favourites won, depending on the track. For some reason, neither of these is printed any more. However, my other checks suggest that the tea lady could readily achieve 1 in 3. Whatever the system, a dollar on each top selection will never make a profit.
It’s not the number of winners that count but the dividends they pay. Value, in other words.