By Dean Arnold
When playing 24-horse fields in the UK, win betting definitely becomes exotic!
The winter of 2018-19 will showcase more steeplechase races than has ever been broadcast before to an American television audience, courtesy of TVG. The hurdle events there are in complete contrast to North America, where a small dance troupe-like group of trainers, jockeys and horses run only a handful of races where wagering is offered.
But in Europe, the fields for the typical steeplechase event range from 14 to 24 runners. In America, if 24 horses entered a race, it would be split into two or three divisions. Not so in the UK. Jumps or not, picking the winner of a 24-horse field is a tall order.
Here are some guidelines to keep in mind when playing large steeplechase fields in the UK:
– Adjust your fair price value line to recognize that a heavy favorite is 4/1 or less, while strong contenders are 10/1 or less.
– Use that value line effectively in your betting. If you think a horse is a lock, don’t go overboard in your betting just because it’s 3/1, instead of the 3/5 you might see stateside.
– Also adjust your idea of overlays. As many as 20 of the 24 runners will typically offer double-digit odds. Don’t be suckered into betting an outside contender that you like just because it’s 15/1. If it’s truly an outside contender, look for above 20/1.
– There are lots of ‘non-contenders’ in these big fields. Watch just a few of these jump events and you’ll notice that the horse running fifth is often 20 or more lengths back at the finish. The horses that finish the course are spread out all over the stretch by the time the winner crosses the finish line. With large fields, a wide variety of ability will be displayed. There’s no reason to make a case for every runner in the field when the fact is that most of them will finish far back.
– Exotics are super exotic. In a 24-horse field, there are 552 possible exactas and 12,144 trifectas. If you’re playing exotics in races you really like, include more horses to increase your chance of hitting. It costs more to play this way, but you’ll connect with high payoffs in these large fields. This is racing’s version of big game hunting!
Be sure to check out Dean Arnold's handicapping book, A Bettor Way, on sale now through Amazon.
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