'Van Dyck' can be master in Derby double
To some readers, it may seem like an obvious thing to say - but to make a profit in the long-term betting on horses, it's not always about picking the likely winner of the race.
When you are in the business of writing about or tipping horses, you inevitably get lots of friends, and strangers, asking what you think is going to win any given race. But which horse is the likely winner, and which horse is a value bet, are often entirely different things.
Of course, most people don't want to hear that, they want you to give them a winner, simple as that. But it's tricky when you are put on the spot - the likely winner of the race may not be good value and, therefore, not something I'm happy to bet on myself.
There may be another runner, for example, which the markets suggest has a 20 per cent chance of winning, but I think his chances are 25 per cent. That's a value bet, and if you get enough of them right, you'll make money over time.
But even if my assessment is right, the horse still has a 75 per cent chance of losing. And many casual punters don't want to bet on something that has a 75 per cent chance of losing. So when asked about a race, I'll often have two answers - the horse I think is most likely to win, and the horse I feel offers the best value.
Occasionally, they happen to be the same horse and sometimes there's value to be had on the short-priced favourite. I believe that's the case today in the Irish Derby (5.20 Curragh) with Anthony Van Dyck priced 5/4 at the time of writing.
Those odds suggest he's got a 44 per cent chance of winning the race, but I believe his chances are nearer 50 per cent, so therefore he fits into my idea of a value bet, even though he's favourite. That said, I'm trying my best to analyse the race as a stand-alone event without bias, but regular readers will know I had a nice bet on Aidan O'Brien's colt to win the Derby at Epsom.
The main argument against Anthony Van Dyck here is that the finish at Epsom was very tight with a four-way photo for second, Madhmoon being the runner-up for Kevin Prendergast at 10/1. It was unusual in a top-level race but the winner was a length and a half ahead of that bunch, and the form has been given a little bit of a boost already with third-placed Japan winning the King Edward VII Stakes at Royal Ascot.
There is a fair chance that one of those behind the Epsom Derby winner will prove to be a better horse but, for the moment, we have to take the form as we see it and I give him a lot of credit for the Derby win considering it wasn't a straight passage.
He looked well beaten at one stage but like all great horses, he had reserves and pulled it out of the bag when it mattered. I always consider the Curragh a very fair track and it's hard to come up with excuses if you don't win, so fingers crossed the selection gets a nice clear run and gets to show his talent.
Madhmoon also didn't get a straightforward run at Epsom and is the main threat to the bet, priced around 9/4. A Group Two winner at Leopardstown last term, he's come up short twice at the highest level so he'll have to be at the top of his game to beat the favourite. But it certainly wouldn't be a big shock if he does find himself in the winner's enclosure this evening.
Aidan O'Brien's Broome, which was fourth in that tight finish at Epsom, should have room to improve but I doubt it will be enough to beat his stablemate and his odds of 11/4 are a fair reflection of his chances.
On a side note, it was interesting to see John Magnier also enter Il Paradiso here to make it an eight-runner race. He's 40/1 in the betting so is unlikely to make an impact, but Magnier said he wanted to ensure that bookmakers would have to pay three places on each-way bets, a move which will be welcomed by punters.
At Newmarket, David O'Meara's Suedois ticks the right boxes in the Randox Health Criterion Stakes (3.15) around 9/2, although it is a bit of a worry that he's now gone nine races without success. His latest victory was a Grade One at Keenland in October 2017 but he's been running at a high level since, and the eight-year-old appeared to be back in form when runner-up in the John of Gaunt Stakes at Haydock last time.