The table above shows you the fate of the Festival SP favourites since the foot and mouth gap year in 2001. The data collected on those 3/1 and under suggests that when the price reaches that level, value usually needs to be re-assessed. Level stake laying at SP of all 157 SP favs priced 3/1 and under since 2001 would have given you, as the bookie, a profit of +26 units. Not a great return. It is becoming value to back short priced favs. '09, '13, '14, '15 ,'16 would all have yielded a punter's profit. Last year's bookmakers' heaven/short priced punter carnage was +3 in favour of those punters who love shorties (8 from 15 won). Un De Sceaux the only odds on shot of four not to oblige. It was worse for bookies in 2015 if you check those 2/1 and under. 6 from 7 won and none of them were 'drifters'. I look forward to hearing what Ronan Graham is offering on the Belfast Preview Night. Last year 3/1 Vautour Ryanair NRNB. In 2015 it was Evens Un De Sceaux and 2/1 Faugheen to £50. Grahams offers always worth contemplating. The W Mullins shorties are paying. 15 of his last 21 sent off at 15/8 or shorter have won for a £1 level stake profit of £9. 13 horses sent out by him over the past 10 Festivals have started evens or shorter ranging from Vautour to Douvan. 3 losers, Hurricane Fly and Un De Sceaux at 4/6, Annie Power in that £40 million fall at 1/2 in the Mares Hurdle 2015 became the 'shortest shortie' to fail in the last 20 Festivals. Douvan
However in each of the last three Festivals, backing 28 favs blind would give the bookies a win of +2.5 last year, +1 2015 and +5 in 2014 on level £1 stakes. As every clerk knows, 70% of all money on every horse race goes on the favourite so it is sometimes difficult to get a true picture. I think that the trade may have lost last year. Gold Cup day is when turnover is greatest. Three winnings favs, Ivanovich Gorbatov, Don Cossack, and specifically On The Fringe were all well found. Plunges did go west on Cue Card 5/2 from 4s and Squouateur 9/4 in the Martin Pipe and 4 shorties lost on Queen Mother Day.
2016 narrowly outstrips 2012 and 2013 as the best performing year for favourites since 2003. Nine winning favs and a co fav from the 28 races. 2013 was different again in that all 9 favourites that won were 3/1 and under. Even all three of the odds on shots were successful. Unheard of. And 4 favourites won on Gold Cup day. But even backing all favourites blindly in 2013 would still have cost you 3.5 units. In 2012 the favourites profit for punters would have been +8. That year the 4 miler was won by the 5/1 fav and three of the handicap chases were won by favourites priced 13/2 twice and 9/2.
Overrounds - Always controversial stuff. In 2016 the 14 G1s had an average overround of 120%. That's pretty good for bookmakers as in Ireland on a Friday at Downpatrick for a non handicap you might struggle to get percentages above 112-113. The biggest overround for a G1 was, believe it or not, the bumper at 130. Plus ca change, plus c'est la meme chose in the big betting heat at the end of the day. The best race for punters on each day was in order Arkle 115, RSA 116, JLT 115, Gold Cup 115. The average for the 10 handicaps was 134% which no bookmaker would turn their nose up. As a clerk, I think it sometimes unfair to concentrate on handicap overrounds in big fields. If everyone is backing everything, there doesn't tend to be time to push things out to bigger pries. I never seen any general conspiracies especially in these times of exchange trading. Gold Cup Day had the biggest average race overround at 129% which is handy for bookies as yes, that is the day they take the most money.
Other betting stats. 3/1 and shorter favourite winners in handicaps since 2002 are 2 from 25 (2016 Aloomomo 3s, Josies Orders 15/8, Squouateur 9/4 all lost. 2015 Roi Des Francs beat, 2014 Big Shu beaten in X Country). In amateur rider races they are 4 from 15 (On The Fringe 15/8 winner, 2015 Paint The Clouds 11/4 in Foxhunters, 4th). The Fringe, Back in Focus, Salsify (lucky) and Alderwood in 2013 were the first favourites 3/1 and under to win outside G1 or G2 company since Heads on the Ground in the 2007 Cross Country (23 others have tried). In the last 21 Festivals 13 of 32 odds on shots have been beat.
So far the 2017 shorties include Altior, Apples Jade, Douvan, Cantlow, Yorkhill, Vroom Vroom Mag, Yanworth, Un De Seaux, Unowhatimeanharry, Airlie Beach, Death Duty, On The Fringe. In previous years I have said here that it would be a major surprise if even half of those 13 won. With recent trends, I'm not so sure. On-course bookmakers will however once again fight bare knuckle in the car park for a pitch (but not for one in Tatts, I hear). And with the huge expenses involved, it must work for them. 'We are there to lay the shorties' (Brian and Ronan Graham, Europa Preview Night, Belfast, every year).
Last year I tipped the following - "On good ground I would take on Yanworth, No More Heroes, Josies Orders, Bristol De Mai and On The Fringe." That wasn't bad. My 2017 prediction is - 7 winning favourites throughout the meeting. And at least four of the above shorties to get turned over. Identity? Ok, I'll give it a go. Take on Yanworth (again), On The Fringe, Unowhatimeanharry, Un De Sceaux and Death Duty. But, like all clerks, although I help to pay out, its not my money. As Dan, my employer always like to say, 'We are playing with live bullets here.'
WHICH FAVOURITES ARE DUE? Probably the Coral Cup (Only Xenophon '03 and one joint fav since inception in '93). No County Hurdle winning fav since Desert Quest in 2006. Surprisingly, since the same horses tend to be involved, the Cross Country fav hasn't won in 9 yrs. No Fred Winter fav in six. In 2012 Salut Flo takes the Mildmay being the second winning favourite in 27 yrs after Majadou in 1999. Wichita Lineman '09 only winning fav in Tues 3m hcap Chase since Antonin '94. The Pertemps Final has had two winning favourites since 1998 including Fingal Bay 2014. Bumper favourite went in in 2015, first since 2005. The second fav won last year. Hunt Ball 2012 only nov hcap chase winning fav in 10. Ivanovich Gorbatov follows Peace and Co first Triumph winning favourites in nine. Don Poli first RSA fav in six. Sir Des Champs only ever winning Martin Pipe fav in 7 runnings. Alderwood only winning Grand Annual fav in twelve races.
WHICH FAVOUITE MAY HAVE WON TOO OFTEN RECENTLY? The race with the current best rate for favourites is the Arkle with four from the last five obliging and both 11/4 jt favs placed in the other. Altior The Champion Hurdle is 4 from the last 6. Buveur D'Air Gold Cup has 8 from the last 15 winning. 7 of the last 15 World Hurdle jollies have gone in but Thistlecrack was the first in four to do it. Unowhatimeanharry It should will be a few years before the Mildmay and Kim Muir favourites once again both win on the same day like in 2012. Quevega won the Mares a lot followed by Vroom Vroom. Apples Jade. Ryanair has had three winning favs in the last five. The 4 mile Chase hadn't had a winning favourite since 1992 then from 2011 to 2013 Chicago Grey, Teaforthree and Back In Focus come together, like buses. None since. Two from the last four Queen Mother winners were favourite. Douvan. Nothing bigger than 10s since Newmill 2006. Neptune hasn't had a winner bigger than 7/1 in the past nine years.
BEATEN FAVOURITES LAST TIME - Its always difficult when you see a friend go so I was disappointed when I realised how bad a hit this, one of my favourite stats, had taken in the 2016 Festival. (That's what happens when you rely on these fecking things too much). 55 beaten favourites last time out came to Prestbury Park last year and the following six won. Un Temps Pour Tout, Any Currency, Diego Du Charmil, Black Hercules, Ivanovich Gorbatov and On the Fringe. I can console myself with the knowledge that level stakes on all 55 would still have cost you 16 pts but its just not the same any more.
Since the turn of the century, 715 horses have run at the Festival having been beaten favourite last time out. 27 winners or a 3.6% strike rate. About 28/1. In 2015, a total of 64 ran having been beaten favourite last time out. No one believed me but none of them won. Since 2000 on £1 stakes you will only show a profit of £21.50 in the RSA and £30 in the County Hurdle. No other race in profit. Backing all beaten favs blindly to £1 would leave you £357.25 adrift. It is suggested by the great James Pyman in the comic that the three RSA winning 'beaten favs', Lord Noelie, Hussard Collonges and Trabolgan were beaten either at 'sharp' tracks or at a distance less than 3 miles. At least six of the 26 winners had been beaten at evens or shorter (Black Hercules at 4/11), eight were Irish trained, five Nicholls, three Henderson. Fantastic stuff. This is the Olympics. Do you get a second chance to disappoint? Maybe. Those that may be involved in this poser in 2017 include Bellshill, Bapaume, Don Poli, Bristol De Mai,
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