You might think that it’d be a perfect world if every short-priced favourite won their race. Horse racing would soon become predictable, though, and that would take a lot of excitement out of the sport.
It’s great to see a shock result every now and then, even better if you’ve picked the high-priced winner predicted by one of the professional horse racing tipsters. After all, the shock winner today may well be next month’s odds-on favourite. Let’s look at some of the shock winners in UK racing this year and the short-priced favourites that let the punters down.
Late Cheltenham surprise
When an outsider does spring a surprise, it sends punters into shock. Some log straight into their horse racing betting page to cash out a massive win, but most head to the form guide, empty-handed, to work out just how that horse managed to win the race. The Grade 3 Johnny Henderson Grand Annual Challenge Cup Handicap Chase was the penultimate race of this year’s Cheltenham Festival.
It had been a long battle to try and get winners, but few backed Croco Bay who won the race at 66/1. Always prominent, the outsider stayed on well and won by a length and a half. It was an even more surprising result as he’d not raced for 227 days and that was when finishing second in a Class 3 race. He was no youngster either as Croco Bay is a 12-year-old and no horse of that age had won this race since 1997.
Canny punters would have noted, though, that he’d finished 5th in the same race at the 2018 Cheltenham Festival. It was the first time that Croco Bay had won a race since 2016, but that was in class 2. It seems when you study form, the answers are there somewhere, but they tend to make more sense after the race not before. His form has continued with a subsequent third at 16/1 in a Grade B race held at Punchestown.
A Keystroke of luck at Newmarket
The Group 3 Abernant Stakes held at Newmarket on April 17 also saw a massive shock. Brando was the 15/8 favourite but had been off the course for 179 days since finishing fourth in a Group 1 race at Ascot last year. It’s always a bit risky backing horses having their first run of the season. Brando finished a head and a neck behind Keystroke who had a 66/1 SP.
Despite sweating and hanging left in the final furlong, Keystroke caused a massive shock. His previous two races had both been on the all-weather, a bit of a change from the days when racing at Meydan on dirt. Again, the clues were there. Keystroke had a new trainer and was back at six furlongs, a distance he’d previously won at.
When the favourite goes off at 1/4 in a Grade 2 National Hunt race, you expect it to win by a wide margin. That was the anticipated result when Kalashnikov took part in the Kingmaker Novices Stake at Sandown on February 15. However, he could only finish second behind 7/2 winner Glen Forsa.
He made a series of mistakes and weakened two fences out as he lost when odds on for the second race in a row. Backing novice chasers, even those heavily odds on is a risky business with the potential for mistakes always likely.
Calyx fails to deliver
Calyx is trained by the successful John Gosden and had won both of his races as a two-year-old. After making a successful reappearance at Ascot at odds of 1/3, he was a rising star. Calyx opened at odds of 1/9 for the Group 2 Sandy Lanes Stakes at Newbury on May 25. His jockey was talking about winning the race by ten lengths. With future entries in big races, an unbeaten record and poor standard of opposition, what could go wrong?
Despite being slightly hampered at the start, he was travelling well with two furlongs remaining, but there was no significant response soon after and he finished second, three-and-a-quarter lengths behind the 5/1 shot Hello Youmzain.
When a well-fancied horse loses, there’s often a reason. It could be the length of the race, not having a recent race, the ground, an error by the jockey or injury. In this case, it was discovered that Calyx had injured his pastern. It just shows that even the shortest priced runners can easily have something go wrong that spells disaster for the punters.
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