One of spread betting’s few female clients has made a small, but consistent profit selling distances at low profile National Hunt meetings. But even if there was no question of collusion, many insiders regard buying winning distances as one of the quickest ways to the spread betting poorhouse. One market-maker describes buying distances, particularly at competitive high profile meetings where every horse will be giving its best, as one of the industry’s biggest mug punts. ‘Too many punters see small fields over long distances in jumps racing with a strong favourite and expect a rout.
They think, if the second horse falls at the last and the winning horse is pushed out, then there will be a huge make-up. It doesn’t happen. In reality the maximum winning distance make-up of 30 lengths is rarely seen.’ Other racing markets see horses grouped together on a seemingly haphazard basis. For instance, the heavyweights and number ones market sees all the horses running at a meeting with racecard number one grouped together.
In theory, the top-weighted horse in a handicap is the best horse in the field because it is handed the most weight to slow it down. But non-handicap number ones are largely down to an alphabetical list—hardly scientific. If you believe you have an edge in one race or two then fine, but the chances of your advantage being reflected across a whole racecard, considering the spread you have to pay, is unlikely.