Thursday, 17 October 2019

Do You Bet Odds-On?


It's an interesting question. 

In some respects, you need to be a brave soul to bet odds-on. Or is that a lot of mumbo jumbo? 

Let's think for a moment about backing the jolly at short odds. What do you have on your side? For starters, there is a lot of confidence in your selection. Does the might of the populous bolster your opinion? It's a walk in the park. A sure-fire certainty. I'm not buying money. Honest!

From my experience, those odds-on winners seem to happen when I'm watching the box in the corner of the room. Tommo shouting the commentary like a man possessed. I say that, slightly, with tongue in cheek. But, you know what I mean. The odds-on shot has just one stumbling block. 

That's the six-foot wall in your head which means you have to go round Will's Aunts to persuade yourself it's ok to bet. 

If you are like me, that six-foot wall is more like an obstacle that literally touches the sky. Even if you could climb to its peak, the closer you get to the top, the sun burns your money to a crisp as you pass your wedge to a bronzed bookmaker, satchel in hand, with a sign detailing Honest Joe.  

I remember going to Great Yarmouth with my brother. We were in our teens. We decided to bet on the odds-on favourite Wajna trained by Henry Cecil (before his knighthood). It was back in 1989. 

To be fair, we knew our two-year-old horse racing at that age. I can imagine Wajna received a few Group entries, so we come to the conclusion it was a ''certainty''. We bet £100 to win £50, which amounted to a lot of money for us at the time. My brother and I couldn't afford to lose that bet and, by all accounts, it was a way of making some ''easy money''. 

There's a bookmaker at Great Yarmouth who always shouts: ''Money without work!''

I'm pretty sure he took our bet that day...

Anyway, we were like the classic odds-on punter. One side of the coin: confident by the odds-on tag; while half traumatised by the fear of losing a significant sum of money with little to gain. 

We placed the bet. There was no going back. I had a bad feeling about the bet but the deal was done: win, lose or draw. 

If you want to put yourself out of your misery, you can see the result here. 

Did Wajna win or lose?

As it happened, Wajna won by a length and proved to be a fair horse in her five career starts including a Listed race victory, by an easy six lengths. A loss at Group 1 saw her finish 6th when competing at Longchamp, France in the Prix Marcel Boussac, losing by just over three lengths. 

Watching her first victory on debut at Great Yarmouth was an enjoyable experience at the finishing line. But in my mind, it was a real battle with the second, Varnish, trained by Lord Huntingdon, in the ownership of the Queen. The pair was eight lengths clear of the third. Wajna led from start to finish but never far enough clear of the second to feel comfortable at any part bar crossing the line. 

We were pleased with the result. The money added a little padding to our pocket. However, I can tell you, I was more happy to just get my money back than the addition which seemed hard work. 

That was one of the first odds-on bets I ever placed (to decent money). I think - even though winning - it put me off betting short odds. 

Over the years, I have seldom bet odd-on. I find it hard to justify such bets when I can see other options that look better value. 

The negative to not betting odds-on, even selectively, is that you see a good few easy winners go by the way unbacked. I frown at those bets which win. Then, smile, at those which lose, making me appreciate, fleetingly, that my ''opinion is correct''. 

So would I bet odds-on to decent money?

I do struggle to justify betting short/short odds simply that the win rate needs to be so high. A couple of losers would be a problem. However, I wouldn't knock anyone who bets short prices. In ways, I applaud their bravery. 

I remember reading Dave Nevison's gripping autobiography: A Bloody Good Winner. He detailed a renowned odds-on backer who lumped on thousands at a time. The shorter the price the more confident of victory. When the bet was placed, the bloke looked as pale as a ghost, hardly able to watch the race in fear of a loss. I'm not sure what happened to him...

But I can imagine every penny in his pocket was hard-earned. 

If you venture to Great Yarmouth and hear a bookmaker shouting: ''Money without work...'' 

Walk away...

Fast.