Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Bloopers, Blunders and Stacks of Statistics

My Dad, who was a bookmaker in the NSW country town of Moree, once told me that he thought owners, trainers and jockeys were the 'worst' judges. Rightly or wrongly he believed they were 'too close' to the action and prone to let emotions rule their racing decisions. They too easily seriously believe 'their' horse will win every race, every time...particularly the big races.

I have to say as a part owner of several horses over the years I certainly have to agree with my Dad. I certainly was 'too emotional.' Every time our horse started I was quite sure it would win. I tipped it to everyone. And I was quite sure it was only a matter of time before our steed would win the Melbourne Cup. (Yeah…right!)

And here are some examples to back up my Dad's supposition.

Blooper – Jockey Jack Purtell in 1950

Jack Purtell usually rode Comic Court but he rejected the offer from Bart Cummings Dad, Jim, to ride the 1950 Cup winner Comic Court. Instead he chose to ride the favourite Alister. Pat Glennon was the lucky jockey to pick up the winning ride on Comic Court.

Blooper – Owner Rex White 1956

Mr and Mrs Rex White, the first husband and wife team to win the Cup, was quite sure their horse Evening Peel would win the Caulfield Cup and Redcraze would win the Melbourne Cup. They backed the double at 160/1. They were wrong…. the reverse happened!

Blooper – Jockey Ron Hutchinson 1959

Ron Hutchinson, in 1959, chose to ride Trellios even thought he was the usual rider for the winner Macdougall. Pat Glennon was the lucky jockey to pick up the winning ride on Macdougall.

Blooper – Jockey Les Coles 1963

Les Coles (winner on Even Stevens in 1962) rode Gatum Gatum to win the Moonee Valley Cup that year. However he chose to ride Conference in the Cup. The ride on the winner Gatum Gatum was picked up by Jim Johnson (Who rode Rain Lover in ‘68 & ‘69)

Blooper – Trainer Bart Cummings 1974

Cummings bought Think Big for $10,000 and sold to Mr Tan Chin Nam a banker and property developer from Kuala Lumper and Australian Rick O’Sullivan for $20,000. TB went on to win $262,720 in two seasons.

Blooper – Trainer Bart Cummings 1974

Prior to the running of the 1974 Cup Bat Cummings supposedly confided in a friend that Leilani was an ‘absolute certainty’. When his second string horse the 12/1 Think Big beat the 7/2 favourite Cummings was heard to say “I beat myself!”

Blooper(almost)– Jockey Harry White 1974

Harry White wanted to switch from Think Big to Leilani (usual rider Roy Higgins had been suspended and Cummings had replaced him with Peter Cook) Cummings told him to stick to TB and he did. Cummings also trained Leilan

Blooper – Owner Pat O’Sullivan – 1975

Think Big’s other owner O’Sullivan visited course with friend on Monday. Number (TB’s Cup no) was in judges frame. Friend said this was good omen! O’Sullivan did not back horse. He backed another of Cummings horses Holiday Wagon!

Blooper – Trainer George Hanlon – 1978

In 1978, George told the owners (one of them Eddie Doon an ex jockey) of Arwon they would be wasting time if they paid their Cup acceptance fee. Having total faith in George’s ability they said “George, we’ll pay the money and leave the rest to you.” (And Arwon won!)

Blooper – Jockey Roy Higgins – 1979

Roy Higgins chose 2nd place getter Salamander ahead of Hyperno the winner.

Blooper – Trainer Bart Cummings – 1979

The owners of Hyperno asked Bart Cummings if he would take over the training of Hyperno early in 1979 he said “ Hyperno is finished. I don’t want to take on broken down horses. It’s hard enough to win when the horse is sound.” Then Bart did an about turn and trained him to win the 1979 Melbourne Cup.

Blooper – Trainer Tom Smith 1981

In 1981, Tommy Smith was totally convinced Kingston Town would win the Cup. Even though he had been allocated 60.5 kgs. On the eve of the Cup he declared him a certainty and said it “won’t be a race!” The winner was Just a Dash – the trainer was none other than Tommy Smith! Kingston Town finished 3rd last.

Blooper – Jockey Robert Heffernen 1984

In 1984, jockey Robert Heffernan was the stable rider for George Hanlon and had won the Werribee Cup on Martian’s Son. George’s other horse in the event was Black Knight. With a bit of nudging from George, Heffernen chose to ride Martian’s Son. This gave Peter Cook the chance to ride Black Knight
who won and Martian’s Son finished 17th.

Blooper – Jockeys Griffiths & Dye 1994

I n 1994, after Jeune failed in the Cox Plate, jockey Robbie Griffiths declared Jeune could not win and switched to Air Seattle in the Cup. Shane Dye also was offered the opportunity to ride Jeune, but, after riding him in the McKinnon Stakes, he chose to ride Coachwood as his Melbourne Cup mount. Finally Wayne Harris was asked and accepted the ride on Jeune. Good decision Wayne!

Blooper – Jockey Chris Munce 2000

After winning the Saab Quality Handicap, on Brew, three days before the Cup Chris Munce chose to ride Coco Cabanna in the Cup. Brett Prebble said he could not make the weight and several senior jockeys knocked back the ride on Brew. Kerrin McEvoy jumped at the opportunity to ride in his first Melbourne Cup. And what a good decision that was!


Stacks of Statistics

Tip on Sex: Far more males have won the Melbourne Cup than mares. In the last 50 years 28 Geldings and 12 horses have won while mares have only won 10 times. (And Makybe Diva accounted for three of these)

Tip on early betting: The Melbourne Cup usually has 24 starters. (I say usually because sometimes there are scratching on the morning of the Cup. In 2007 there were only 21starters with three horses being scratched between 8am and 11 am on the morning of the Cup. So, don’t bet too early.

Tip on Age (1):
Whilst 3 yr olds featured as winners in the first seventy years of the Cup no 3 yr old has won since 1941.

Tip on Age (2):
14 x 4yr olds; 19 x 5yr olds and 13 x 6 yr olds have won in the last 50 years

Tip on Age (3): Only 3 x 7 yr olds have won in the last 50 years.

Tip on Barriers (1):
Barriers are important. The most successful barrier in the last 50 years has been Barrier #11. It has had six wins. Barrier #22 has had three wins. It is as well to mention that Barrier #9 has had two wins...but these have been in consecutive years. 2007 & 2008. So if you believe in the ‘three theory’ then maybe you should be aware of this.

Tip on Barriers (2): You should also be aware that no horse has ever won from Barrier #18 since barriers came into use in 1924. And barrier 12 has not won since 1949 when Foxami won. The inside barrier can be a bit of a handicap as Barrier #1 has only had 2 winners since 1924 – Dalray in 1952 Kingston Rule in 1990. Whist 11 horses have won from Barrier #22 or more The last one was Brew in 2000 from #22.

Tip on Horse No: In the last 50 years the ‘luckiest’ or most successful number carried by the winning horse has been #6. It has had 8 wins. Followed by #2 with 6 wins; followed by #8 with 4 wins and #15 with 3 wins.

Tip on Names: Since 1861 No horses with names beginning with I, Q, U, X have ever won the Melbourne Cup. Only one horse beginning with O (Old Rowley 1940) and one beginning with Z (Zulu in 1881) have won the Cup. The most popular initial for the winners name to begin with is T. Fifteen of these have won. The last one being Tawrrific in 1989. M is the next most successful with 12 winners since 1861. The last one was Makybe Diva

Tip on backing long shots:
Whilst it would be wonderful to back 100/1 winner of the Melbourne Cup the data shows this rarely happens. It happened in 1871 and again in 1936. But in the last 50 years the longest priced winner was Hi Jinx in 1960. She started at 50/1. But I should also point out that Viewed (in 2008) was the next longest price at 45/1.

Tip on backing favourites:
In the last 50 years favourites have won on 10 times. That’s once every five years. Makybe Diva was the last favourite to win in 2005.

Tip on backing 50/1 horses:
In the last 50 years only one horse has won at 50/1 or over. This was Hi Jinx in 1960.

Tip on backing 40/1 – 50/1 horses: In the last 50 years only two horses has won at odds between 40/1 – 50/1. These were Piping Lane in 1972 and Viewed in 2008

Tip on backing 30/1 - 40/1 horses:
In the last 50 years only two horses has won at odds between 30/1 - 40/1. These were Thin Big (1975) and Tawrrific (1989)

Tip on weight (1): Too much weight can ‘kill’ your horse’s chances. Indeed in the last 50 years only two horses have carried 57 kgs or more and won the race – Galilee (1966) carried 57kgs and Makybe Diva in in 2005 carried 58kg.

Tip on weight (1): One would think if the ‘top weights’ don’t win that often then the ‘bottom weights’ must have all the successes. Not so! In the last 50 years only five horses have carried 50kgs or less to win the race.

Tip on Omens: If you believe in the oft repeated quote “History repeats itself” you might want to endeavour to connect a horse in the 2009 Melbourne Cup with the horse that won in 1909. And that horse was Prince Foote.

So, "Where to from here?" you might ask. You may now need human intervention to make some sense of all this information. Can I recommend you check out my e-book www.PickTheCupWinner.com.au. My Melbourne Cup tipping record is good. I have picked 12 out of the last 21 winners and 6 out of the last 10. Not perfect...but not bad!

The e-book cost $9.95...and how is this for a deal. If you buy the e-book you get the opportunity to download $150 worth of complimentary food and beverage at some of the best pubs around Australia where you can celebrate or commiserate after the 2009 Melbourne Cup!

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