Sport Horse Racing

Tuesday 26 September 2017

It pays off to oppose the greatest jockey of all time

Jockey Tony McCoy
Jockey Tony McCoy

Wayne Bailey

NOT too many investors survived the Wall Street Crash of 1929, but a number of Irish-American speculators actually thrived, and later made a fortune in the subsequent Great Depression.

One of those was Joseph Kennedy, father of John F, who of course became the 35th President of the United States.

Joseph Kennedy claimed he knew the crash was coming when he started receiving stock tips from shoeshine boys - and it was at that point he began betting against the market.

It's never easy to bet against the crowd but if you want to make a few quid betting on stocks, or horseracing for that matter, you have to be willing to go against the grain now and then.

Last week, we learned that Tony McCoy will retire at the end of the season and he deserves all the praise which has been heaped on him.

I'd certainly agree that McCoy is the greatest of all time, the like of which we'll never see again.

Bookmakers appeared on our TV screens telling us he cost them a fortune over the years, but if the truth be told, it's very hard to find any value about a horse he rides these days - the 'McCoy factor' is almost always priced in to the odds.

Don't get me wrong, you can still get the odd gem - I tipped McCoy's 200th winner of the season last week, Mr Mole.

If you want to be sure your jockey gives it his all, there's no better man to have on board, but my default position when looking at a race is to oppose top jockeys like McCoy, as they are over-backed most of the time.

It sounds counter-intuitive to oppose the best of the best, but the figures tell the story, and had you laid every horse on Betfair which the champion rode in 2014 you'd have earned €731 to a €10 fixed stake, assuming you were paying the maximum 5pc commission.

It's the same story on the flat: had you opposed champion jockey Richard Hughes every time in 2014 you'd have earned a whopping €857 to a €10 stake.

Certainly food for thought with the Lincoln Handicap, which kicks off the British flat season, now only six weeks away.

With all of that in mind, it might be worth swerving At Fishers Cross, which seems very short in the betting at even-money for today's Grade Two Betfred Rendlesham Hurdle at Haydock (2.20).

While no doubt possessing a lot of talent, the stats show it's now over 22 months since he last won a race and his jumping has become somewhat suspect.

In short, he's unreliable.

Seeyouatmidnight is next in the market at 3/1 and deserves respect but is conceding weight all-round today, and may struggle at the business end of the race when the going gets tough.

At 6/1, Peter Bowen's Land Of Vic could be the dark horse here with a sex allowance of 7lb.

A resilient enough mare, she put in her best day of work in December, winning a class two handicap for mares at Kempton and she's proved herself adept a couple of times over the three-mile distance.

She was a good third in a recent Grade Two at Ascot and the way she stayed on strongly suggests she's still improving.

Each-way

With prices in the region of 20/1, it's worth taking a chance each-way on Venetia Williams' Ballyoliver in the Betfred Grand National Trial at Haydock (2.55).

Williams won this last year with Rigadin de Beauchene (10/1) but that horse has been pulled up on his latest three starts and can't be trusted.

The selection ran below form when sixth in the Betfred Classic Chase last time but he's been dropped 3lbs to 131, and jockey Callum Whillans' 3lb claim can also aid his cause.

Today's selections

2.10 Gowran: Champagne Fever

2.20 Haydock: Land Of Vic

2.55 Haydock: Ballyoliver (e/w)

3.20 Gowran: Kitten Rock

3.35 Wincanton: Sign Of A Victory

3.50 Ascot: Ma Filleule

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