Will you be betting on the Olympics? With the two week festival just about to kick off and much of the country stuck in lockdown, plenty of punters will be tempted to have a crack.
Of course, we’re all much more familiar with horse racing. So what are the similarities and differences to the great game?
Athletes have a ‘sweet spot’ for their preferred distance, just like horses. You wouldn’t think there’d be a huge difference between someone running for 10 seconds or 20 seconds, but these events (100m and 200m) often have quite different fields and winners.
Horses have their pet distances too. Punters tend to under-estimate the difference between a 1000m race and a 1200m for example, or a 1400m and a 1600m, and this can lead to some value winners.
Jockeys need to train their mind as much as their body
There are many sports psychologists employed by the various Olympic teams because they understand the importance of mental preparation and the effect of the mind on raceday performance. Then you have an athlete like Ash Barty who credits much of her comeback success to mindset coach Ben Crowe.
Jockeys have to make split-second decisions often under immense pressure but very few get professional training in this area. All elite-level sporting teams such as those in the AFL and NRL have sports psychologists either on staff or on contract, but most jockeys don’t seem as open-minded to improving their performance above the shoulders.
Leading all the way is very difficult. Check out the running events or cycling for a great understanding that whoever is leading is working much harder than those behind due to aerodynamics. Lesser athletes can slipstream just behind the leader and expend a lot less energy.
Sometimes a horse can get the perfect run with cover, win well and start very short next time out. But without the same easy run next start they can struggle.
They don’t pay on margins
Many events have been decided by 1/100th of a second but when we’re looking back the margin doesn’t really matter. The winner gets the same gold medal as a totally dominant victor.
The same applies to racing – winning by the barest possible margin doesn’t detract from the Melbourne Cup wins of horses like Might And Power, Viewed, Dunaden and Vow And Declare.
Trainers should train smarter
The Olympics has become a sports science and information technology arms race with countries like Great Britain and China leading the way and getting results that validate their leading-edge efforts.
Most horse racing trainers operate very much like they did a decade ago. There’s a real opportunity for great advances in the use of technology, sports science, nutrition, race planning and more.
Champions need longevity
Sustained excellence is the hallmark of a champion. It takes a special athlete to win a gold medal, but those that repeat their success at two or more Olympiads really separate themselves from the rest.
Occasionally a horse gets hailed a champion thanks to one really good year, but that status should be reserved for those that can back up over two or more racing seasons.
The Summer Olympics will get underway July 23, 2021. Betting on the Olympics is rather new to most bettors, but there really isn’t much difference between the markets available for Olympic betting and any other type of betting.@inglis_josh4 digs in:https://t.co/it4Ynr7GRE
— Covers (@Covers) July 19, 2021
Fastest horse wins
Doing the form for most of the Olympic events required a very close analysis of the recent and career-best times recorded by the athletes.
But the casual Australian racing punter under-estimates the importance of times. Yes there are many vagaries in Australian racing tracks so you need to do some work in establishing par times and assessing sectional times, but the indisputable fact is that the fastest horse on the day wins so you should really spend a lot of time trying to find out who that is likely to be.
Take a look at any of the 1-on-1 sprint events in the velodrome and you’ll see many at a snail’s pace in the early going. When the switch is flicked it’s all about a short burst of speed and it’s often the trailer who comes over the top with a sharp sprint.
Just like athletes, horses only have short sprints so when a jockey ‘goes for home’ a long way out it isn’t surprising that the horse really gets the staggers late. This horse may look a bit weak at first glance, but watch the replay to see whether its sprint came to an end early.
Champions rise to the occasion on the big day
Following a defeat in the Jamaican national trials, Usain Bolt had his doubters leading up to the 2012 Olympics and actually started at pretty enticing odds. But he had timed his preparation to perfection and scored a dominant win in the race he really wanted.
Some trainers set their horses for one race only and everything in their lead-up is about having them at their absolute peak on that day.
It’s all about performing the best on the day, not who is (potentially or historically) the best in the race. Many current world champions go into their Olympic events as warm favourites with the best form coming into a race, but the only thing that really matters is who performs best on the day.
The 10,000 hour rule applies
We have spoken before about author Malcolm Gladwell’s belief that it takes 10,000 hours of work to master any discipline. He argues that hard work rather than pure talent is the secret to success and this is often borne out at the Olympics too. Talent gets you there, but to win you must have put in thousands of hours of work perfecting your skills. I can’t think of any champion trainers, jockeys or horses that are lazy and don’t put in the work. It doesn’t really matter what field of endeavour we’re talking about, success comes to those who dedicate themselves and put in the required effort.
The same applies to betting. In order to succeed as a serious punter, you need to put in many hours to develop your approach and fine-tune your winning edge.
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