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Another X Factor In Horse Racing

Yesterday a race commentator made a very interesting comment. His words were along the lines of "this horse has won brilliantly today after being sidelined with a virus last year". In fact it was one of Peter Moody's horses from memory.

Now that on its own is not a stunning comment and I wouldn't have thought a thing about it at all until I got chatting with a trainer friend last night who told me all his horses were out with a virus. Not a dreadful virus like the one we had a couple of years ago when just about all of the racing industry was shut down but rather a run of the mill ordinary everyday type of virus - much like we humans get at different times.

This came as a surprise to me as I was just asking if he was going to have any runners at today's meeting so I could catch up with him for a coffee. Now there's nothing at all sinister in this - so please don't read it that way - but it did start me thinking about this X factor stuff again - stuff that ordinary punters like you and I can never possibly know.

My trainer friend told me how all of his horses started finishing down the track - running last and second last - ( I had noticed) - and he is not a trainer who has horses that finish last and second last as a rule. His horses are always fit, well turned out, trained properly and fed only the best of food and supplements. They are always "on" so it had him flummoxed as to why these apparently fit and capable horses were running poorly.

It turns out that some of our best local horses over the last 12 months have also had this common "cold and flu type" virus yet I've never read or heard anyone outside of the inner racing "circle" ever mention this in any form that would have the average punter raising a few "caution flags" in their approach to investment. The horses look fine, their blood tests are fine, their temperature is fine but it appears that as soon as the pressure's on at the business end of the race, they're "gone" - just like you and I would be if we were racing and had a virus too. Until he started getting the vet to check them all immediately after they'd raced, my trainer friend, for whom I have the utmost respect, had no idea what was going on.

So if he didn't know, how could you or I have possibly known? Yet it seems this has been a common occurrence in many stables over the past 12 months and not just in our State - all over the place.

I still write "seems to have been the case" as I have no other knowledge other than this as second hand information and while I trust my friend implicitly I can't possibly "know" it is accurate.

Maybe this happens every year? Who knows? But is does reinforce what we have written on different parts of this site about system betting:

To profit IN THE LONG TERM you have to have two "systems" going for you:

a) a "system" of selection that you have trialled over a sufficiently long period to have the confidence in long term profitability

b) a "system" of investment on the selections that you believe have a good chance of success.

Any other approach would logically seem doomed to failure.

I am of the belief that having a "system" ameliorates the effect of X Factors like that above so that a one off large bet on a horse afflicted with a virus like that above can't completely wipe out a punting bank and leave you with no "way back" from a precipice of financial disaster. A staged, sensible and moderate system of staking prevents this sort of X Factor that you cannot possibly have any knowledge about ruining a good fun afternoon. Caution always pays handsome dividends!