As with every form of gamble, horse racing has it’s own misconceptions that punters rely on to justify their betting decisions.
This article examines the three most prevailing myths in horse racing.
Myth 1. Back the top or bottom weight
Sounds good doesn’t it. The sad thing about this myth is that it is satisfied just often enough to keep it alive but few punters actually understand where it comes from.
The top weight in any race is top weight because he/she has the highest BHA rating.
They have the highest rating because presumably, they have achieved more in their races than the other horses in the race.
This means that if they were in top form they would have a cracking chance of winning again.
But here is the kicker, they are not always in the best form, nor are they always well handicapped, sometimes they are handicapped on old form and they have regressed, or they are running on soft or heavy ground which is a difficult task at best.
The bottom line is that top weights should never be ignored but at the same time they should never be backed blind either.
On the opposite end of the scale is the bottom weight. The idea behind backing the bottom weight is that they are firstly carrying less weight and therefore in a tight finish it is supposed that they have an advantage.
But the thing is this, a bottom weight can be one of two things, either they are an improving horse and they are stepping up in class or they are a poor plater and they are at the bottom of the handicap because they are no good.
With a horse stepping up in class, you have to take into consideration that they are tackling better quality horses for the first time. They may have an advantage on slow or heavy going but realistically they need to be on top of their game to win under ordinary conditions.
The poor plater will always have difficulty winning. Being bottom weight means that they have achieved less than the other horses in the race. Being either a top or bottom weight does not confer an automatic winning chance. Horse racing is just not that simple.
Myth 2. Horses for courses
This is one myth that actually seems to stand up. The idea is that horses require certain track conditions or indeed a certain track in order to win.
This is certainly true for some horses. They seem incapable of winning away from their favourite track. But is it that simple. Or is there more to this myth than meets the eye.
We all know some horses that only win at certain tracks. But are they the majority or the minority. Well I would have to say the minority.
Most horses are able to win under a variety of conditions and tracks. They may prefer certain track characteristics, ground conditions and certain distances but they are still capable of winning under less than optimum conditions.
But is it fair to say that matching a horse with its preferred conditions is the quickest way to get that horse to win. Actually yes it is. Most of the time anyway. But that is not always a guarantee that the horse will win.
So why do trainers continuously run horses under less than optimum conditions?
Well probably for several reasons. Lack of suitable opportunities or possibly pressure from owners to run the horse.
The simple fact is that most of the horses in training today will never win a race either because they are simply not good enough or because they will never get the optimum conditions they need to be seen at their best.
The simple fact is that there are horses for courses, just not as many as you would think. Most horses can and do act under a variety of conditions.
A good horse will win under less than optimum conditions against weaker opposition but will need conditions to be closer to the required optimum when racing against opposition comparable in ability.
There is often too much emphasis placed on horses with previous course form sometimes to the exclusion of potential challengers. A fact that can often be exploited to good advantage.
Remember some horses do only act on certain courses, but the majority of horses can and do act on a variety of courses, only requiring optimum conditions when competing against horses of equal ability.
Myth 3. A top class horse will act on any ground and distance.
I think we can throw this one firmly into the bin. The idea here is that a top class horse is capable of performing to its best on any ground or distance.
A top-class horse can win on almost any type of ground if it is running against inferior opposition. When that same horse runs up against horses of equal ability then he will need to have his optimum conditions.
If he requires good ground there is no point racing him on soft ground against soft ground specialists. He is just going to lose.
The same applies to distance. Against weak opposition they will win even when running over less than optimum distances but when tackling opposition of equal talent.
They just cannot win over distances that are either too long or too short against distance specialists.
Class will take a horse a long way but there is a limit. To run to their absolute best they need their optimum conditions. It’s up to you to find out what those conditions are.
In conclusion, it has to be said that while myths are part and parcel of the racing world, we must strive to understand where they come from and how to make good use of them.
There will always be a time and a place for racing myths, just don’t let them drain money from your wallet. That is for the weak-minded.