I read a newspaper article only last Sunday about the dangers of modern betting, particularly sports betting, which stated in part, “We are breeding the next generation of problem gamblers: young men with a smartphone and a reckless urge to win. Aggressive TV advertising and sponsorship deals with sporting codes have turned sports gambling into the fastest growing type of gambling in Australia.” The article which appeared on Page 13 of The Sunday Mail of 20/10/13 which was attributed to “Jessica Irvine, National Economics Editor” went on to say in part, “Aussies punted 160 billion on gambling in 2009-10 – more than they spent on food. Of this, we lost 18.5 billion – or 12 per cent of all money bet. We lost 10 billion on the pokies, 3.5 billion in casinos, 2.6 billion on horse racing, $1.3 billion on lotto and $300 million on sports betting.”

I’ve written stories on this very subject before – and what I find most abhorrent in sports betting is that apart from the fact that it’s virtually impossible to pick the winner of a two-horse race as in say a game of NRL football on a Friday night, the people who bet on this sports betting are obviously totally oblivious to the fact that regularly both teams that are playing are odds-on, so the “young men” referred to in this newspaper article, don’t seem to be able to grasp hold of the fact that if you go through life habitually backing odds-on chances you are simply on a one way ticket to financial oblivion. Even “a shade of odds-on”, say $1.95, is a no-go zone. The modern day astute punter has had that fact drummed into his (I refer to the male gender only here as women wouldn’t be stupid enough to “buy money” by backing odds-on chances) head for decades, so if he chooses to ignore the advice he’s really beyond help.

Although it’s a simple fact of life that Ajax got beaten at 40/1 on when going for 19 wins straight in a three horse race – and champions like Blacks A Fake also bit the dust during their illustrious career at 10/1 on – some punters simply cannot see the forest for the trees.

Last Saturday at Doomben in Brisbane, punters launched into the long odds-on favourite Totally Sure in the opening race at $1.30, backing her into officially start at $1.26. I accept she got home, but on the day luck was on her side, as had I’m Alone – in front of her on straightening – not moved off the fence, Totally Sure’s jockey, Ric McMahon, would have still been looking for a run right now. Yes, she would have been stiff to get beaten, but that’s why there are fat and/or wealthy retired and present bookmakers all over the joint – they are laughing all the way to the bank, when the likes of Totally Sure don’t get a run.

There was just one other long odds-on favourite on the Doomben card and he came along in the last race in the shape of Cape Kidnappers. On paper he looked classes better than the rubbish that he was racing and to be honest I couldn’t understand how he opened up at $1.80, but then I’ve publicly stated many times before that I’d make a lousy price assessor. I’d have had him about $1.33. Again punters launched into Cape Kidnappers and backed him into $1.65. The same jockey as had got lucky with a run on Totally Sure in the first race – Ric McMahon – had the sit. Like most people I’ve seen tens of thousands of thoroughbred races but as young Ric McMahon was up the leaders backside Leealan in the straight, I was actually moved to say aloud, “Oh don’t go in there Ric you’ll fall.” Honestly I’m sick of bloody fundraisers in life. Everyone has a fundraiser. Some get a fortune, some get virtually nothing. In my opinion it’s truly the most pathetic side of the racing industry. Anyway, back to the score at the Test and I still look at that replay and find it unfathomable how Cape Kidnappers didn’t clip heels and fall. I did a frame-by-frame slow motion of the incident off Sky Channel and that is the associated photo with this story. I deem it “more good luck than good management” that we aren’t organizing a fundraiser for Ric McMahon, but I’m glad we’re not, as I’ve always liked the affable young man and in the past he’s ridden a horse that my wife part owned. It’s history now that Cape Kidnappers went on to win the race, so that the end result of the devotees taking the tomato sauce odds was that they had two bets at Doomben for two winners. But truly I hope they remember just how lucky they were to collect on both of them. Both Totally Sure and Cape Kidnappers were lucky in that 1) they each got a lucky run when they may not have been entitled to the run, 2) they had a fearless jockey on board (McMahon) as Munce who rode the second horse in the opening race told stewards at an enquiry that he didn’t believe there was even a run where McMahon went, and 3) each winner only had to gun down an ordinary horse to get home, as Race 1 leader I’m Alone is obviously limited and had blown in betting from $5.50 to $9, so the debut 2YO may have been short of a run, whilst Cape Kidnappers only had to run down Sinister Prince and he hasn’t won a race since soon after Cookie discovered the place – 19 months ago to be exact.

So whilst Brisbane had two odds on favourites from two salute – punters in Sydney didn’t share the same success rate. And so it came to pass that Randwick Race 3, the Brian Crowley Stakes, came along. It’s obviously named after a chap Brian Crowley who famously bought a horse at a sale for 60 guineas, which equated to 60 pounds and sixty shillings in that era, or $132 in today’s currency. The horse turned out to be the champion mare Flight. Upon her retirement it was a fact that she was “the highest stakes-winning mare in history”. At stud she had a daughter that grew up to be called Flight’s Daughter and Flight’s Daughter produced two worldbeaters that were full brothers by Star Kingdom – they raced as Skyline and Sky High. Brian Crowley was for some years Chairman of the AJC – he passed away in 1982, hence Saturday’s race was named in his honour.

Anyway in the Brian Crowley Stakes, punters only had eyes for the Peter Snowden trained Barbed. Bookies opened the horse up at $1.40 and he drifted to $1.70 before “the boys” got itchy feet and just couldn’t resist parting with their hard earned. They backed him from $1.70 into $1.60. I wonder how many of the dills that backed the horse at the $1.70 understood the horse was racing in glue on shoes? Probably none I suspect. I’d specifically written that gear up for website readers 14 days earlier in my preview of the Roman Consul Stakes on Friday evening 4/10/13, which can be read again HERE. So on Saturday Barbed blundered on jumping and never looked likely to win. On the line he’d even missed a place in a five horse field. Some say he was unlucky – I’m not so sure. Just because a horse misses the start by 1.5 lengths and gets beaten half a length doesn’t automatically mean that horse is unlucky as many horses are better chasers. In the case of Barbed if you watch the replay Mr Jackman clearly comes from behind him at the 150 to beat him home, so Barbed must have hit the wall, condition wise, late, for that event to happen? And Mr Jackman beat him home comfortably on the line, so whatever you do – don’t automatically conclude that Barbed “should have won”.

But Barbed was only one of a plethora of odds-on favourites that went over last Saturday. In fact I was amazed at the number of odds-on favourites that went over around just Queensland last Saturday. Check this list out. At the five-race Wondai meeting, the $1.80 favourite Belwina ran third in Race 3 and the $1.85 favourite Frenardi got rolled easily in Race 4. At Mount Isa, Cardiff Arms at $1.90 ran second in the opener. At Innisfail, the aptly named Greedy went over in the opener there at $1.70. All that suggests four odds-on favourites went over across three Queensland country meetings last Saturday alone.

To be continued ……..tomorrow.

Today on www.brisbaneracing.com.au there’s the story of the passing of a well-known harness man. On www.sydneyracing.com.au David Clarkson looks at the international raiders targeting the Melbourne Cup, whilst on www.melbourneracing.com.au Brad Bishop looks at Cox Plate hero Fields of Omagh.

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