When it comes to betting, we like to think of odds and markets as following a logical path. The best team, player, horse, etc., is backed as favourite because there seems to be an overwhelming sense that it is the most likely to win. It’s the reason you would know – without looking at the odds – that Man City and Bayern are favourites for the Champions League. Or that the odds will drop for the LA Lakers when there is news of a Lebron James injury.
But when it comes to horse racing, the markets can be a little more unorthodox and sensitive. Often, it is a case of the betting markets following the money.
Horse Racing Market Movers
A good example of a market mover was in the 2016 Gold Cup, when the odds for Don Cossack started to plummet overnight, and the Gigginstown horse eventually went off as a 9/4 hot-favourite. In this case, punters were right and the price was evidently justified, as Don Cossack romped home with Bryan Cooper in the saddle.
However, these market movers don’t always come off. Often the markets get it wrong, and follow the crowd onto a selection that’s somewhat overhyped. That might be the case with next week’s Grand National Betting.
Cloth Cap Is Clear Favourite
Minella Times was available at 40/1 in late February, and the horse is now trending somewhere between 10/1-12/1 in the ante-post markets for the race. Minella Times is still not the favourite – that honour goes to Cloth Cap – but to see the odds slashed so dramatically is intriguing. The question is, why?
The most obvious answer seems to be the combination of Minella Times’ trainer Henry de Bromhead and (potential) rider Rachael Blackmore. If you follow racing, you will know that the pair had a tremendous Cheltenham Festival, with de Bromhead becoming the first trainer to land the Champion Hurdle, Champion Chase and Gold Cup and Blackmore becoming the first woman to win the former and be leading jockey at the festival.
So, after that dominant showing at Cheltenham, punters started to look at de Bromhead’s Grand National chances: Chris’s Dream, Plan of Attack, Balko des Flos and Minella Times. The consensus from punters is that Blackmore will choose the latter, and thus the money started coming in. While the market is not dictated by cash alone, the bookmakers would have surely reacted to some large bets.
Unexposed Minella Times Has Potential
Have punters erred? Minella Times is, by all accounts, a decent horse. Unexposed, there have been a few hints to say that Minella Times might one day step up in stature and become a force.
On the other hand, the horse lacks all the ‘box ticks’ that usually defines a Grand National-winning horse: winning over 3m, having Aintree experience, appearing in another National (Welsh, Irish, Scottish). Minella Times has none of those on its resume. So we’re considering just two things – potential and the Blackmore/de Bromhead effect.
Of course, Minella Times’ underexposure meant that the horse got a light touch from the handicapper.
When the initial list of runners was announced in February, Minella Times got 10st 3lbs, 58th overall from the handicapper. With Santini’s withdrawal on the last weekend of March, it was only then that Minella Times moved into the top 40 positions, i.e., was guaranteed a place in the race.
In the end, some scepticism is required.
Yes, we are talking about a trainer and jockey in incredible form. But unless you have seen something in Minella Times to suggest the odds have not yet shortened enough, you might consider placing your money elsewhere. No doubt a lot of punters will take a chance on Minella regardless.