Monday, May. 12, 2014

How To Profit from Jump Racing

The Jumpers are out and winter profits are on the way! David Keeldar takes an expert look at National Hunt racing and gives tips on how to profit from the sport:

One of the great compensations of the chillier days of autumn and winter is that the jump race season swings into top gear once more.

Brave horses. Brave men. And great sport for us to savour.
Jump racing is a terrific betting medium too - so long as you dont try to treat it like flat racing with obstacles thrown in. That’s a mistake quite a few backers are inclined to make and they are overlooking some of the best betting opportunities you’ll ever see on a racecourse.

Over the years, I’ve complied a list of betting rules for myself, to help take advantage of the unique sport of jump racing. They’ve stood me in good (and profitable) stead, and I’d like to share them with you.

What are the Important Factors?

Firstly, the qualities needed to win a jump race are usually quite different from those needed to land your average flat contest. A high cruising rate and the ability to ‘kick on’ at the business end of a race will see a horse first past the post in most flat affairs, but neither of these qualities are essential over jumps.

In the winter game good jumping and a liking for the conditions are what usually win the day.

That’s because in jump racing everything is much more extreme. If the horse doesn’t like the ‘going’ he’s racing on he’s got to contend with it for between two and four miles, not for five furlongs. If he would much prefer to be on a level racetrack rather than an undulating one it’s not a minor inconvenience - he’s never going to be happy setting himself up to leap those obstacles.

If he doesn’t like the fact that he’s racing left or right handed, not only does he have to suffer this for a longer distance than a flat horse - but he also has to jump when racing what feels to him like the ‘wrong’ way round.

And if he’s running over his wrong distance - then it’s likely to be accentuated by being ‘wrong’ by half a mile or more - not just a furlong or two.

So the first things I want to know before backing a jump horse are  - what are the conditions that suit him best?

Conditions - A Major Concern

You can almost always rely on discovering these preferences by checking out the horse’s WINNING form. When a horse repeatedly wins over say, three miles on soft ground, on an undulating course, going left-handed, then you can adopt these as his favoured conditions. These are the ‘markers’ you are looking for when it comes to investing cash on him in the future.

Having these favoured conditions is far more important to a jumper than whether he is two pounds higher in the handicap this week that he was last - which brings us to the next thing for us to consider - weight carried.

Is Weight Important?

In flat racing, where distances and racing conditions are less ‘extreme’, weight is of great importance. Some flat trainers would kill to get 5lbs off their horse’s back in a tasty handicap - but weight doesn’t have the same importance in the jumping game.

It’s far more important for a jumper to have his ideal conditions. When horses get them, they win time after time - irrespective of what the handicapper does.

How Good Is The Horse’s Jumping Ability?

After considering ‘conditions,’ and then largely ignoring ‘weight,’ there’s another important factor to take on board. We’ve all heard someone say at some time or another, ‘jumping is the name of the game.’ And it’s true.

Jumping may look easy enough when you’re watching a race on TV, but horses expend a huge amount of energy clearing the obstacles. Just how much energy they expend is crucial in deciding the result of races.

Poor jumpers not only lose ground with their bad jumping - they wear themselves out early in the contest, and put themselves at a big disadvantage when it comes to winning the race.

So, though I risk stating the obvious, you must make every effort to ensure that your cash is riding on a fluent, or at least workmanlike, jumper.

Why You Should Concentrate On Handicap Chases

Let’s summarise our position so far.

The most important considerations in winner finding over jumps are the conditions of race and track. We also know that weight is of much lesser importance here than on the flat. Good jumping is a great quality to have on your site, and should never be underestimated.

These are our criteria for supporting horses. Now we should also note that certain types of race are usually more rewarding than others.

Handicap chases have to be at the top of our list. There are two great advantages to anyone selecting bets along the lines that we are when it comes to handicap chases.

Firstly, there is enough form in the book for all the runners to make accurate decisions on what conditions will suit each horse. Most chase handicappers have plenty of miles on the clock - and it’s perfectly plain what their preferences are for track, going, undulations, trip and so on. In a field of a dozen you will often be able to very quickly narrow the real contenders down to just two or three.

This isn’t always possible in novice chases, for the simple reason that many of the field may have only had a few races over fences.

And whatever you do, never assume that a horse’s hurdling preferences will be transferred lock, stock and barrel to chase racing. There are many differences between both codes. For instance, the jumping technique used by horses for clearing hurdles is totally different to that for safely jumping fences.

If you have a novice chase where you feel that there is sufficient form in the book to make a realistic betting decision - fine. What I’m saying is that often there won’t be.

The second reason you should look very carefully at handicap chases is that you will be seeing this race from a totally different angle from 95 per cent of the betting public, and therefore you are a certainty to uncover plenty of ‘good value’ opportunities.

Whilst most backers are giving themselves pointless headaches trying to work out whether horse B, in receipt of 3lbs for a four length beating at Fontwell by horse A can make up that distance at Newbury, you will be looking at the facotors that REALLY win jump races.
These are…

Left or right handed course
Jumping ability

Once you have been looking at these handicap chasers for a month or two, you will be surprised at how quickly you will be able to rate a race - and you’ll be equally surprised at what good prices you can obtain for horses that have outstanding winning chances. This is all because most backers are hypnotised by weight calculations.

Long Distance Handicap Hurdles: Also Worth A Look

Another class of race I like a lot are long distance handicap hurdles. By a long distance, I mean races of three miles, or more.

There are not that many animals who truly get this sort of trip at racing pace and time and again you will be able to narrow these contests down to just a few runners. Happily - as in the case of the handicap chases - your selections will often be very different from those of the ’1lb equals a length’ backers. And that of course means good value prices.

Jumping is a great sport, and one of the nicest things about it is that unlike their ‘flat’ counterparts, jump horses can be around for years and years - you’ll end up knowing them like the back of your hand. And this in turn means that your judgement will be sharper, more accurate - and more profitable.