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  • Writer's pictureMLT

Swimming against the tide

Updated: Jul 17, 2021

Swimming against the tide is something, as punters, we should all think long and hard about.

Take Hollie Doyle. Very impressive every time she rides, great track position, strong, good judge of pace, and seems to get the best out of her rides. Go on social media or pick up a newspaper and the praise is relentless and rightly so. Considering she was 1/44 in 2014, her turn around has been sensational. Simply brilliant.

The only problem is that, from an analytical and gambling point of view, the starting prices of her selections are getting 'overbet', i.e. seemingly everyone wants to back her and the price contracts too much. No slight on her whatsoever, just a statistical point.

Without the statistics in front of you and going by just what you read, you'd think her strike rate was around 40% in 2020 with massive profits. However she is less than £3.79 up to £1 level stakes in 2020 and yet her strike rate is a whopping 20.7% (24/116).

So, what has happened?

Quite simply, anything she rides is put in short by the bookmakers on the overnight markets and yet still gets well backed. The fact she is riding so many winners yet you can't make money from her at SP should set alarm bells ringing. The minute she 'only' rides 16 or 17% instead of 20%+ winners (still a great percentage) you will probably start losing by backing her, and sadly many people will.

To give you an idea of why it's hard to make money on this type of jockey, take her recent ride on a 25/1 outsider. After a treble the day before, all her mounts were heavily backed for the following day, including the 25/1 chance, backed into 6/1!! And again this week, when she was on board Geizy Teizy at Wolverhampton. Bookmakers, being cunning, put her in at 9/4 when clearly her chance lay at around 11/4 to 3/1. She shortened throughout the day of the race and went off at an outrageous 6/4 on her highest ever handicap mark, in a race with a lack of pace she badly needed and over a tighter track. Considering the same filly went off 5/1 the run before, over the same C&D/jockey, off 2lb lower, in an easier race with more pace.

Punters get transfixed and simply say 'she is on fire' with no concept of what price the selection has of winning.

We have seen this before over the years. The superb Frankie Dettori showed consecutive annual losses to SP after his famous 'Magnificent 7' at Ascot. From 1997 to 2003 he showed a loss to SP every year, despite riding at an incredible 21% strike rate, and yet everyone seemingly claiming to be winning on him. Equally, the great Kieren Fallon had a ball in the nineties, yet showed hefty losses to SP from 2000 to 2004 (in % terms SP losses of 21.6, 19.8, 12.8, 12, and 15.9 in that 5 year period). Yet again, during those 5 years, the media and public all seemed to be claiming he was invincible because of his 'strike rates' averaging a brilliant 18% over that same 5 years of big losses to SP.

The three examples above are not in any way being critical of the jockeys or their rides, in fact, I use these examples because they are/were all riding exceptionally during the given time frames, with outstanding strike rates. But as punters looking for value, we need to spot the trends of 'overbet' or 'underbet' variables, and the jockey is clearly one whereby we should all be swimming against the tide. The 'jockey' overbet variable is one to be standing as far away from the masses as possible.

One thing 'humans' find hard is to distance themselves from, compared to computers/ modelling, is the bombardment of social media and media praise, and should instead concentrate on the actual percentage chance of an outcome for an event. When an 'overbet' popular/ fashionable jockey wins, it is hard for humans to not feel left out when they have swum against the tide and it is this that separates those who can decipher a sexy story from making a long term profit.

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