You will often hear TV pundits scoff when the owner or trainer say they have had nothing to do with a successful gamble on one of their horses. I believe that shows an ignorance of how markets work these days and, in fact, have done for years.
The thought struck me when looking at the Cambridgeshire betting on Betfair near the off on Saturday, when horses that were market leaders in the ante-post betting earlier in the week were trading at nearly twice the price on the exchange.
The most obvious example was 9-1 midweek favourite Kynren, although he did shorten back in to 16s, from 25s, just before the stalls opened.
Of course, there are gambling stables and owners, and one or two of them even admit it (some may even be connected to racing TV channels), but the Betfair market near the off dictates the late price moves, not whether some owner has had £500 each-way on his horse with a fixed-odds firm (if he was very lucky).
Again, there is nothing to say that connections are not betting into the exchange and affecting the horse’s price there – and if they are shrewd and winners that is where their money will be going - but, in my experience, I would say the majority of gambles come from big-staking punters betting to their opinion, rather than punters connected to the yard.
Indeed, I know some big exchange players who just bet to their own figures and tissue (or rather those of their programmers), and have a very limited knowledge of horses.
Anyway, let’s crack on.
I’ll admit I had never heard of Kate Leahy until I saw the video of her getting a good tune out of Major Valentine in success at Chepstow, and not for the first time, too.
This can be a very tricky track to ride for inexperienced jockeys, especially in hands and heels races such as this, but at least the horse is uncomplicated and likes to go from the front, and he is a ground-versatile, course winner to boot.
He has gone up only 2lb for that Chepstow win, and he strikes me a solid bet on another tricky Monday.
Edge is a seven-year-old in pretty modest form – though he did meet trouble here last time - but he has been dropped 2lb for his past two starts, and I like the angle of him stepping back to a mile.
Don’t get me wrong, he stays 1m2f, and one of his better efforts this season came over that trip when just beaten a head off this mark at Ffos Las in July.
It was also the same mark as when he looked unlucky not to go close over course and distance in June when denied a straight run to the line on two or three occasions in the final stages after getting too far back.
He is better ridden more prominently over this trip.
That wasn’t his only good start here, in the context of this 0-60 grade obviously, and he is worth a small interest.
Mark Usher is having a decent 2018 - his tally of 15 winners is already better than the totals in any of his previous three seasons - and he has landed some quiet punts into the bargain.
As above, I am not saying it was necessarily stable money, but his Padura Brave netted a late 33-1 to 14-1 punt on the show prices alone here a fortnight ago.
The horse was running in first-time cheekpieces that day, as is Roodeparis here, and a bit of digging has unearthed a pretty amazing little stat.
Usher has tried this specific headgear switch just five times this year and his horses’ form figures are 31311.
That is impressive enough, but when you consider their SPs have been 20-1, 22-1, 50-1, 20-1 and 14-1, it becomes jaw-droppingly good. The winners have been 22s, 20s and 14s.
He may have somewhat shown his hand here by booking Jason Watson, who is five from 24 for the stable (with another seven placed) but I have to be with Roodeparis on the stats alone.
Indeed, Watson is an even better 4 from 8 for Usher when you just narrow it down to the all-weather (form figures of 71112210).
The form angle for the horse is admittedly less convincing, and being drawn 14 of 14 is not ideal either, but it certainly is not without hope.
He has started at 50-1 in much better maiden and novice company than this in all his three starts, and has been gelded and been given a wind op in his short career, but he ran his best race yet when fifth over a mile here last time.
That has earned him a rating of 60 for his handicap debut and, although that is by no means generous on what he has achieved, it gives Usher some wriggle room.
The horse is related to some good horses, including a three-time Grade Two winner in the States, though most of them have been sprinters and milers.
However, he is by strong stamina influence Champs Elysees (sire of the likes of Withhold and Trip To Paris), and he has one sibling that has won over 2m, so I am happy to give him a chance over this 1m3f trip.
I considered dutching him with the more obvious Carvelas in there, but I will trust in the “stats”and rely on just the one play.
Tony's top trio: