Punters are forever looking for the Holy Grail when it comes to betting. It doesn’t exist but plenty are now cottoning on to the delights of Southwell racecourse.
As a venue for a day out it isn’t that appealing. It’s been below zero the three times I’ve been – once in the Spring - the quality of the racing rarely rises above adequate and the surface is often berated by jockeys as brutal.
Yet, in terms of punting, it’s unique. It’s a surface where you can get an edge. A surface you can wheedle out a considerable number before serious study. And, most importantly, the form holds up.
Course winners frequently return to form after disappointing on turf or even the Polytrack. Fibresand is a specialised ingredient. If you ‘go’ on it once you tend to always go on it.
Breeding is an emotive subject but it is the MOST important component in deciding whether a horse making its track debut will act. Many ignore this fact and nothing aggravates more when you read or hear a pundit say they have no idea whether said horse will go on the surface.
Check! The win percentages of sires at Southwell are readily available if you look hard enough or pay a specialised service (Flatstats.co.uk is particularly useful for a fee). It will make you money or, more likely, stop you losing plenty.
There are a couple of myths that need to be put to bed. Firstly, just because a horse has won on soft ground doesn’t automatically mean it will act on Fibresand. The other is that Captain Rio’s progeny have got ‘an impressive record’ at Southwell. They don’t. It’s just 11%.
If you are not prepared to put in the hard work and find out the sire stats (absolutely vital for a horse making its debut), then a general rule of thumb but not guaranteed, is if the pedigree of said horse is all-American bred through its sire, dam and dam’s sire, it should act.
Southwell is the closest you will get to a dirt track in USA. Using this rule will serve better than assuming a horse will perform just because it has won on soft - another lazy theory.
I love Southwell and if I had the discipline to bet solely at the track I know I would make money. Sadly, the lure of backing on football and reality shows draws me in like Elizabeth Shue wearing nothing but a smile.
Don’t be afraid of punting at Southwell, embrace it. It could turn out to be the best decision of your betting life.