Odds-On, Look On

It’s probably logical that in greyhound fields of six, seven or eight, lots of favourites will be at a short price. But how short is reasonable? The quality of runners is one thing, but the uncertainty of racing is a huge factor which is often forgotten.

Consider, for example, how odds-on favourites fare at the four major tracks in Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne.

More than one in five of all races have such a favourite. But you will never make money out of them. A survey of the last 100 races at each track tells a consistent story (covers major meetings only).

 

Track

Races

Odd-on Favs

Winners

Wentworth Park

100

17

9

100

26

15

100

18

10

100

26

15

Total

400

90

49

So, of the 90 odds-on pops barely half succeeded. Assuming an even dollar on each, an average dividend of over $1.80 is needed to break even. In practice, many are much shorter than that so you would have to be very patient to hang on long enough to get that result – if ever.

Of course, there is not much point betting furiously just to break even. And making a profit would be almost impossible in the long run, even if you try to second guess the market.

So why does this happen?  Two factors depress prices. First, mug gamblers may be inclined to look for the “better than bank interest” outcome, thereby providing some cash for the next round of drinks. Second, a dinkum punter may well be caught by a drop in the price as the late money flows through the system. This is particularly difficult to anticipate when multiple race clashes are scheduled by TAB’s and racing authorities.

And why do they lose half the time? Most often because the betting market gets too worked up about certain indicators. A last start winner is always popular, yet the circumstances of the race may well be different this time around – a worse box, for example (eg Shifty Sticka or Ozzie Bale at The Meadows last Saturday). Following a popular tipster is another common habit – the less people work out the form for themselves, the more often they will take someone else’s word for it. The related problem here is that in a small market – as in most greyhound races – a higher proportion of investors are checking what the main tipster is putting up and following his lead. Even when he is right, the price will still be wrong, so you lose in the long run.

(An aside – at the above Meadows meeting seven of twelve selections started at what I would rate under the odds. The other five were short but not far off the right price. None of the twelve won).

In other words, if you want profits, forget about WIN betting on odds-on favourites. You may have a much better chance with one of the exotic options (but never Trifectas, as Mystery bets have ruined the value there). Indeed, many punters have already gone down that road, which would be one reason that WIN betting has been declining in importance over recent years. Seeking a better deal from Fixed Odds is seldom wise either, with the house taking out about twice as much there as for normal tote betting.

Of course, the reverse also applies. If the favourite is at “unders” – which is very often – then other dogs will be at “overs”. The trick then is to identify races where the prices are unrealistic and back the dog that offers genuine value.

One such race came up the other day – the Cup – where I suggested that Phenomenal at an average price of $1.50 was poor value in the circumstances, yet at $6 or so was over the odds. If you ran that race a hundred times I daresay both these dogs would win a big share of them. On declared form, the actual winner, Dyna Nalin, would seldom succeed, so was poor value at $8 (although it did put in an improved run in the final). To put it another way, at those prices you would have a lot more chance of making profits by backing Dyna Willow rather than Phenomenal.

This brings up another factor which affects price setting. Phenomenal gained his short price because of two previous good runs, one a track record at Horsham (570m) and the other it’s smart heat run at Sale. Everyone therefore expected a repeat in the Cup final. Yet, although this is a top galloper, only about 15% of dogs manage to win two in a row.  Three in a row is much rarer, especially as the standard is usually improving and dogs that can do that are almost always brilliant beginners.

There was a huge rise in class from Horsham, in a small field, to the heat at Sale and another big rise in the final. The Horsham record was a terrific run, but was recorded in an all-the-way win against very ordinary dogs which it beat by half the length of the straight. In effect, it was like a solo trial. In the Sale heat, the dog was pretty much on its own for most of the race. So the odds were that Phenomenal was due to traffic problems, which was exactly what happened in the final.

The message is that dogs are not machines and cannot be expected to keep repeating top runs. Indeed, it is often wiser to ignore record-breaking runs and judge a dog on its overall performances as well as the circumstances in the race in question. Doubly so if it is not a smart beginner – like Lucy Wires or Xylia Allen, to name just two, which also are frequently well under the odds.

(Xylia Allen and Phenomenal both missed out in the heats last night and both were at odds-on. And that is a track which suits them much better. Weak dogs never feature in the finish there, and there is usually room to come from behind, providing you can get through the ferocious first turn).

In passing, one big change would ease the problems mentioned here. Combining all Australian pools would not only make prices more stable but it would also introduce a greater variety of opinions, thereby reducing the impact of the donkey vote, so to speak. With quantity would come an increase in quality.

 

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Todman1957
Todman1957
7 years ago

Combine all Australian pools this is a no brainer, I am not going to $1000 on a dog when that is often 20% of the pool, that’s suicide, now ian average pool was $80000 then my bet is only 1.25 % of the pool, simple logic but too simple for administrators

John Tracey
John Tracey
7 years ago

Hi  Everyone,
Do you know how fractions round down TAB dividends percentage difference relation odds on and to the longer price winners on the TAB. For Example a 1.64 dividend gets paid at a $1.60 (is this right) which is a substantial percentage difference. of a 100 to one winner with the fraction wound down from $100.04. Also is percentage take on place betting actually much higher than the advertised take out due to fraction potential on the three dividends.?. ie place betting involves a lot of odds on wagers.

Todman1957
Todman1957
7 years ago

Combine all Australian pools this is a no brainer, I am not going to on a dog when that is often 20% of the pool, that’s suicide, now ian average pool was then my bet is only 1.25 % of the pool, simple logic but too simple for administrators

John Tracey
John Tracey
7 years ago

Hi  Everyone,

Do you know how fractions round down TAB dividends percentage difference relation odds on and to the longer price winners on the TAB. For Example a 1.64 dividend gets paid at a .60 (is this right) which is a substantial percentage difference. of a 100 to one winner with the fraction wound down from .04. Also is percentage take on place betting actually much higher than the advertised take out due to fraction potential on the three dividends.?. ie place betting involves a lot of odds on wagers.