The Victoria metro tracks have been playing fair for the most part of the year (Moonee Valley is the most prone to a leader bias), but this Spring we have seen two tracks in-particular with leader-biased rails that haven’t been moved between meetings. The four meets in question were Oaks and Stakes day at Flemington and the Caulfield Cup meeting and last weekends Sandown meeting both held at Caulfield.
I’d like to start by suggesting that bias doesn’t affect staying races as much as the 1000-1600m races, but if a clear lane does appear, it can be worth 2-3 lengths to a horse even in these longer races. Let’s take a look at the two days at Caulfield.
Both events saw the rail out 6M. The first event, Caulfield Cup day saw a clear advantage to any horse who was able to travel on the rail to 3 horses out (1-2 was the sweet spot), especially in the straight. Last weekend’s Sandown meeting was moved to Caulfield with the same rail and we saw a track where making up ground from the back (even harder if wide) was VERY hard if the tempo out front was anything less than extreme.
The adjustment to be made on Caulfield Cup day weren’t as clear as last Saturday, but horses such as Spurtonic and Red Tracer were always going to be ridden in the sweet spot while the main treats were going to have to be ridden differently to match them. Both won with ease.
The leader bias was easier to spot last week at Sandown. I would suggest that the bias wasn’t just based in the straight, but was from about the 800m mark. The run of Mouro is almost unbelievable if you watch it on replay. Oliver knew he had to get the horse close to the front and being positioned 3-wide didn’t matter too much to the horse who won well. Race 4 onwards on Saturday was when I was starting to make my adjustments to the bias. I had noted in my write-up that I expected there to be a similar bias to what was presented at Caulfield in the previous meeting, but it did present a different kind of bias on Saturday. The top four favourites in race 4 didn’t manage to finish inside the top 4, instead, it was a fairly leader biased race with the front two ending 1 and 2 with a $40 winner in Mezeray Miss two beat a fairly handy horse in Minaj.
So what do you do when you notice such a bias? You adjust. I immediately went back to my form and back to the speed map. My two tweets sent out post R4 were “Price form Mahisara in next won’t last”. Surprisingly, Mahisara didn’t drift, instead, remained firm at around the $5 price. The second was “Lady of Harrods halved in price due to track bias and ‘potential”. Lady of Harrods looked the winner at the 200m and was $46 into $22 from the end of R4 into the start of R5. Lady traded into $2s in-play on Betfair as well. Mahisara surprisingly took a sit, which was actually the place you wanted your horse to be and ended up winning well. While my two website picks stormed home for 2nd and 3rd, the adjustment was made in the race so that Mahisara was a profitable play.
The adjustment for R5 was a little harder to make. If I had known Sertorious was going to be ridden for a sit and not to lead like maps suggested, he would have been the change. His weight disadvantage against Precedence was a big turn off. As I said before though, longer races mean the bias has less to do with it. Sertorious got a dream run and won with ease. Precedence was a forgive run either way, but the correct bet was to go with Queenstown or Sertorious on mapping.
Race 7 was already working in our favour. We had got the early odds for Paximadia as one of our best of the day and he was always going to be close to the speed. The mapping also gave another horse I didn’t fancy too much, Equator, a genuine chance, while it disadvantaged Apollo’s Choice who I saw as the main danger. The race panned out perfectly and as long as you didn’t watch the run (Paximadia looked gone around the turn), it wasn’t a sweat.
The trend continued for Race 8 with poorly weighted Lankan Rupee jumping from barrier 4, taking a sit and hugging that rail to victory. Platelet was given the opposite ride to what you would have hoped. Hot Snitzel improved significantly with a forward ride. One might say the bias helped.
I’m not sure how much to make of it, but the run in the last of Wistful was as good as Mouro’s. 3-wide the WHOLE race, the bias and a very strong horse allowed McEvoy to get his mount in for third. Another on-pace dominated race excluding Hi Belle who did make up ground.. but once again, another swooper who went ‘close’ but couldn’t get it done.
Oaks and Stakes day saw another strange call from the Track Managers. The rail was kept at +3 metres the entire track. Oaks day saw a leader bias emerging, especially late in the day. It all started in R5 when Black Cash was out the front (taking a sit) and surprised with a big win. After that, the Oaks was very on-pace dominated and the front 3 were out the front for the final 400m. Surge Ahead then led from start to finish in the 7th while the 8th was a Lankan Rupee/Snitzerland 1-2 from out the front. The final race of the day saw a horse taking a sit in the top 4 winning. Either way you look at it, the front was playing out much better than any of the 4 carnival race days last year.
On Stakes day it was clear early that there was an advantage to be out the front where in R1 down the straight Boomwaa who does look a good thing won with ease. In the next, we saw Xavi improve significantly to run 2nd by 0.5L from out the front. Up to the 2000m, once again, you can try and ignore the bias a little more if there is a solid horse and Bel Thor was primed to win. Race 4 saw Dothraki out the front the whole way beat our Best Bet of the day (protest dismissed). Race 5 saw the front runners given favours again with Queenstown losing in a photo to Girl Gone Rockin while Keep De Rose boxed on well also. Buffering went all the way out the front down the straight (that was two from 2 for the day out the front). The Emirates was ran a little too fast with early sectionals hurting the leaders (this will happen at least once a meet) and the swoopers got home late to take it out. Mull of Killough boxed on well though and was only 0.6L off the win. Race 8 saw another leader go close with Sertorious losing in a photo to Precedence while Longport and Henwood contested the final race with Longport leading start to finish to win well.
So why is this so surprising with Flemington? I’m a big believer in having a horse in a position to win, but I have not been working to this over the past 6 months at Flemington. This strategy, while working at MV, Caulfield and Sandown, it doesn’t apply on most meetings at Flemington with the bias generally suiting swoopers or giving the horses taking a sit and further back best suited. The rail meant the front runners had a better chance that normal and presented some good odds.
– You can and should adjust for bias when doing your form
– If a bias becomes clear after four races (it is very hard to be confident until this far in), adjust all of your tips (this is why I am very much against promoting multibets on my website – as an example, Galah would have been in some of my multis if I did them on the weekend, but there was no way the horse was winning that race on mapping due to bias).
– Get your money on front runners early when a leader bias forms. Paximadia was one of the biggest goes of the day and Sertorious was very well backed as well. At worst, these horses will hold their value in the market as other punters will have noted the bias also.
– NEVER put a Quaddie on at the start of the day. Bias ruins hopes of your Quaddie cashing.
– Get social. Asking if anyone else is seeing a speed bias on Twitter or asking a friend at the track can’t hurt. I do this every weekend to confirm what I am seeing is correct. The more information you have, the better.
– Get back on track. The one advantage of being on track is that you can go find the horses stall and try get some information from the attendee. If you know the trainer, then even better. Strike up a chat and then try and extract some tactical race data. You can go off speedmaps all you want, but inside knowledge is key in this game.
Do you watch each race closely and adjust for bias? Does this article make you rethink placing all your bets prior to the race day begins?