Horse Racing Secrets: Do Owners Have Insider Knowledge?
There are usually at least one or two cases a year of owners who’ve engaged in activity that isn’t befitting of a licensed individual. They invariably end up before a BHA panel and we find out the ins and outs in the subsequent reports.
Some inside information exploits go better than others from a punting perspective but the fact the ones we hear about end up where they do should tell you all you need to know about the risks and rewards attached.
The question remains do owners and trainers have insider knowledge which can heavily influence the outcome of any given race?
Author Background: Martin Pennington (@quevega) is a racing odds complier and part owner of Ididandididn’t & Alfa Wolfa.
Owning Horses: My Background
My own personal experience of ownership started while at University when a friend who was working in a small yard in Wiltshire spoke to me about buying shares in a filly. Sadly the filly in question got loose on the gallops and suffered a fatal injury but we found a suitable replacement in the shape of a two-year-old who had been bought cheaply.
By an unfashionable sire she made her debut on a Kempton banded card in the spring of 2006. The yard had two runners on the card and our filly was duly slowly away and finished last, though I’m told she clocked the quickest quarter mile fractions of the race in closing up in the final two furlongs.
Her career lasted another eight runs, all of which were for new owners and I hope she is having a long and happy retirement given she hasn’t raced since March 2008.
Regardless that got me started and I’ve now accumulated 10 years of perspective in the sport.
Insider Knowledge: Do Owners & Trainers Keep Secrets?
Of more interest to readers is likely the exploits of my first filly’s stablemate who ran in a handicap on the same card.
She finished a promising fourth place and it was decided a change of tactics were in order for her next start, which duly came just over a week later and in a much better race than the all-weather at Kempton.
While it’s generally advisable not to race your horse from out of the handicap the filly in question was 8lb “wrong” at the weights and stepping up in distance switched from banded racing to handicaps.
With little to inspire from a form perspective she opened up 33/1 early on with a finishing SP of 50’s.
Proof Of Insider Information…?
Is that inside information? Was I privy to anything that the man on the street wouldn’t have been told had he asked?
There was no major gamble landed, I’m unsure who else backed the horse but being a student with finals, a dissertation to hand in and the like I had a fair bet as nobody had ever said they thought she was slow or useless and the yard had a couple of fair handicappers on the all-weather at around that time.
As far as I’m concerned that was just a combination of things falling right for a fair filly and although I was privy to the situation, given my involvement in the yard, it’s hard to say there was anything really secret about this punt.
It was a right place, right time, situation.
Point To Point: Aim For The Stars
The first point-to-point horse I was involved with was a gelding named Aim For The Stars.
Henry Daly had him for a few runs under Rules and he showed ability but looked likely to struggle.
Point-to-point on course markets are much different to their Rules equivalents, for starters there’s plenty of cash flying around, at least at the early meetings where there’s talk of X having his horses well forward and Y being aimed at other targets further down the line.
We’d been told…
…the horse was working well at home and had looked good working with some of the horses in the Rules yard and certainly should be up to winning an early season maiden contest.
On the back of that insight those involved obviously planned to get on it.
Aim For The Stars opened up around the 7/2 mark eventually ending up with a starting price of Evs after some decent action on course.
Things looked promising when the main danger unseated (both horse and rider were fine) and our lad went on before two out with the commentator remarking that “the money looks well placed here”.
A mistake late on cost us however and we were overhauled by a newcomer to UK point-to-pointing who had placed in Ireland and was rated 87 over hurdles.
Something of a surprise result given he started 8/1 and was held up for much of the race.
At the time I hadn’t heard of the trainer or the rider. The former happened to be the best friend of a prominent Newmarket-based bloodstock agent and the latter went on to ride on the Flat under Rules until retiring a few years ago.
So.. What’s My Take On Racing Secrets & Inside Knowledge
In conclusion it’s fairly obvious that there’s a lot of inside information in the sport, be it stable staff telling friends in the pub that X works the house down at home or probably to a far lesser extent a trainer telling an owner that he fancies one.
The key will all be in siphoning the good stuff from the bad, and there is most definitely far more of the latter than the former.
I have my doubts with regards to what a syndicate owner in a large Newmarket yard finds out about the stable stars or any other possible plots that the ordinary man on the street wouldn’t know or be able to work out for himself.
I think in small yards if you have a share in something it would probably prove more lucrative though obviously I wouldn’t advise anyone buying shares in a racehorse on the basis that punting stable information will pay for it.