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Punting Pointers: Short Priced Favourites

With Winx set for her farewell in Saturday's Longines Queen Elizabeth Stakes, the timing is right to ask professional punter and Champion Bets' form analyst Mark Rhoden about his take on backing or risking favourites.

What approach can you take in races with short priced horses? Brad Gray also asks Rhoden if there are any angles for punters to make a buck in races that Winx contests.


Part One: Where To Start

Part Two: Two Year Olds

Part Three: Jockeys And Trainers

Part Four: G1 Handicaps


How do you approach races with an odds-on favourite? Any differently?

I think this is an area in which every punter needs to find an approach that suits them.

Some punters have no problem having big stakes on odds on favourites if they consider the price to be value, others are less comfortable with that. Personally, I have found betting odds on to be a marginal proposition at best, so I tend to avoid it.

It all gets back to ensuring you have a good handle on your own form process and punting and the results of it. If you’ve identified short-priced favourites in the past and backed them, what’s your record like? Are you making money? Because that’s what it all comes down to – if you’re getting value and beating the market on the shorties over the long term, then you absolutely may have an edge and should go with it.

If the favourite looks vulnerable, what do you do from there?

In most cases, it makes the race a good betting proposition, as long as the overall market percentage is reasonable. If the top pick in my assessment is not the favourite in the actual market, that’s the ideal scenario.

In other cases, I may have the favourite top pick but just consider it to be poor value. In that case, it can still be a decent betting race, but on a smaller scale.

Superstar mare Winx, even at the short odds, still attracts plenty of bets (Pic: Steve Hart)

On the flip side, if the favourite looks unbeatable (and even appeals at the short quote), how do you tackle that scenario?

Nothing is unbeatable – Black Caviar went within an ace of being rolled at 6/1 on in England, for example.

As I mentioned earlier, it’s not the section of the market I’m most comfortable with, personally – I’m more likely to give the race a miss under those circumstances. Again, a lot of punters would love that situation – they can turn over a lot more at that end of the market and the strike rate should be very good.

There’s a lot of different ways to do the form, a lot different ways to get an edge. There’s undoubtedly some punters who make money at that end of the market. And if you’re one of them, you should be playing when you see value.

Winx is an extreme example, but how can punters best make a buck in races with short priced favourites?

If we’re talking about Winx-like prices, I’m not the person to ask – the last race I bet in that she raced in was the 2016 Cox Plate and I was on Hartnell as he was “better value”. That went well!

More generally, if you have solid grounds to oppose a short-priced favourite, it can be a good opportunity to bet around it in the win or exotic markets.

On Winx, is there an angle to punters can take in Saturday’s Queen Elizabeth? Winx out? Place betting? Just enjoy the ride?

I think I’ll just be enjoying the race, but the Winx-out market can offer opportunities if you have a strong view about the relative merits of her rivals.

While I’ve said I tend to avoid the really short end of the market, if you can successfully sort the stronger favourites from the weaker ones at around $2.50 or better, you should have a good strike rate and find it profitable. I don’t mind playing around there. It’s just when they get into Winx-like odds that I personally prefer to sit and enjoy it as a spectator!

Revisit the Punting Pointers series from January last year.

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