Everyone loves an underdog, especially a longshot that prevails at 100/1 odds in the Melbourne Cup.
Longshots: This has happened only three times in the over 150 year history of the “The Race That Stops a Nation.” First was The Pearl in 1871. Next was Wotan in 1936 and finally was Old Rowley in 1940.
The Cox Plate has never produced a winning longshot beyond 50/1.
The Caulfield Cup has had 3 good longshots come in, 1943’s Saint Warden at 100/1, 1936’s Northwind and 1998’s Taufan’s Melody, both at 66/1.
A True Longshot
Just exactly what does constitute a true longshot in horse racing is ultimately a question of punter perspective, but when the whole of Australian racing history is considered, the fact emerges that beyond 8/1, the odds of picking the winner becomes exceedingly problematic.
Many factors must be considered to ferret out a worthwhile longshot on which to wager. An expert handicapper will combine elements ranging from weather and track conditions to considerations involving recent results, riders and other factors.
A little bit of luck and a dose of intuition thrown into the mix are worthy elements as well.
The advantage to backing longshots is that a small outlay can result in a big payout that can support additional betting. Most punters agree that making good wagers gets substantially easier when playing with bookie money as opposed to the pressure of trying to preserve this month’s rent money.
The disadvantage of betting on longshots is that a steady diet of failed selections may well have a punter going home early for the day with empty pockets. Playing a longshot every once in a while keeps one alive and vigorous. Even a loss, prior to happening, causes the senses to get keener, the heart rate to increase and time to slow down. A winner provides the same, but for an additional time after the race.
Perhaps that is why the punters at the track that seem to be having the best time are the ones that took a conservative approach for the first four races of the meeting, a decent longshot in the fifth, put the majority of the winnings aside, and finish the day with a nice selection of coldies.
So how do you find the longshots that wins by many lengths.
Well you should start with some sort of rigid selections system and stick to it. Perhaps try a number of systems over a period of time to see how they go.
This way you have done some homework, going in with your eyes wide open and hopefully having some luck and finding the occasional winner. The long shots I’m talking about here, lets say anything from 10/1 and over.
So now you say, how do I work out a longshots system and what rules do I implement.
Ok, let’s go through a few rules we can use to find a long shot.
First let us look at the race itself. I find handicaps the best race to find these longshot winners. The handicapper is not always right when it comes to issuing out weights and also weight is issued on current form and so many horses can find good form quickly. These conditions provide the best value for that long shot winner.
Next you can look at the sex of the horse, male horses win more races than female horses, so that’s easy, we will only be selecting male horses to bet on.
Now we will look at distance of the race. Long distance races say from 2000 metres or more are where most long shot winners come from. So many things can go wrong during the race, or the distance can easily find out false favourites and who is fit and not fit. In these types of races, luck can play a big part in the race, eg. how fast is the pace, are favoured selections trapped out wide, is your selection getting an easy run, is your selection placed in the running of the race where it wishes to be, eg. front running, midfield on the fence, running last etc. So you can see why these types of races produce more longshots than any other.
Next is recent form. They say follow form and go broke. So here we have to look at form and read between the lines. We are not going to back a complete no hoper, one with no form at all. We are looking for runners that from time to time have had a good run, say running 4th or 5th in there last 5 runs. Even better if they ran home strong in the finish to run that 4th or 5th place.
Ok, now we take a look at the condition of the racecourse. More longshots come in on heavy or slow tracks than any other. You probably already new that. So when placing a bet and trying to find that long shot, slow or heavy tracks give you a much better edge to beat the favourite.
Now you’re saying what type of handicap races I should concentrate on. That's easy. Concentrate on the lower class races, races run midweek at country tracks. That the best place to find good longshot winners.
There are some smart trainers out there, and if they have a smokey in their stable, that’s where they are going to place it for easy pickings. You just have to find it.
Backing A Longshot
So overall what do we have: Back your longshot runner only if it is entered in a low class handicap race in the country midweek, is a male horse with some form and the odds are 10/1 or more. The distance of the race is 2000m or more and the track is slow to heavy.
There you have it, add some of your own rules, you can add rules such as: only back your long shot if it has a new jockey on board or only back your longshot if it has never had a run at the racecourse before. You see there are lots of rules you can add, but be careful, too many rules and you wont ever find a runner to back.