Non-Winning Winners

Michael Kruse 18 June 2020Last Updated: 28 December 2022

Question: Do horses really know where a winning post is?

Answer: Can’t be definitive, but if you think they do, name some other inanimate objects they “know” by sticking their nose at???

Now obviously horses who are “winners” are without question better betting propositions than those who haven’t been winning, but the true “base rate” of why they get “winners” tags when looked at in depth is usually because – and stand by for this groundbreaking revelation – they’re faster than their opposition.

Thus when they “reach their level” it often wasn’t “tenacity” and “knowing where the post was” that got them the early wins, nor dissipating when getting beaten later in their career, but simply what made them fast enough to win races, is no longer fast enough to beat faster horses.

In addition, one of the many things I’ve learned from Vince Accardi – and this one is surprising – that the vast majority of horses never exceed their debut run figure.

Of course the vast majority of horses aren’t much good as big maiden and BM58 fields throughout the state every week testify, but perhaps the logic behind it, is on debut they run as fast as they possibly can, then realise on pulling up – like us on a big night out?!?! – that it hurt a bit and they don’t want to do it again???

Who knows, but that’s the reality.

(Speaking of Vince if you missed this week’s Year-Round Carnival we started with a tribute to just retired Black Heart Bart. OK… he could find the line!!! the podcast found here.

But the reverse is where there’s a danger in generalising; Separating the non-winners from horses who haven’t won for a while.

There’s no question many runners – particularly as they age and are no doubt carrying a few niggles – become a bit “herd horse” running in the pack instead of in front of it, but some just simply don’t have things go their way – luck/race shape/class – to win… until they do.

Watch HOLBEIN on Saturday (RACE REPLAY) find under pressure in the home straight, and you couldn’t possibly say he lacked tenacity and/or was non-genuine despite having not won for 21 months.

Above was my race day analysis and we also Sizzled him from his Flemington run the week prior with:

HOLBEIN the nose 2nd in Race 4

+1.2 lengths above benchmark ranked 4th on the day.

Has a well-earned reputation as a non-winner (so did CHAPADA prior to winning this meeting) having not saluted since September 2018, but the data says he’s ready, and the reality was this photo finish defeat could have gone either way so there’s no reason to stamp him as non-genuine. Came off a heavy track 2nd up defeat over 1200, and he’s clearly a drier the better type, though note when fully fit back to 1200 he has a PB of +2.3 set here Melbourne Cup day on the soft track 2018. Same track/distance/day last year +1.9. He’s set to run to those levels and with 1400 at the end of his distance range, we’d have no problem if asked back in trip. Ideally a “fence on” day which doesn’t disadvantage leaders.

So while he went up in trip and the mile is definitely at the end of his distance range, 1600 at Moonee Valley with the rail out 4 metres for a leader is Happy Birthday! His Betfair starting price was $8:38. (Best tote $6:40. Another reminder you are dudding yourself if you don’t shop around.)

Speaking of the exchange my confidence in SIKORSKY evaporated pre-race as the dreaded “Betfairitis” took hold before a narrow 14 length last which I’m sure was just coincidental.

Later in the program, PLEIN CIEL dead-heated with on fire SHOT OF IRISH (REPLAY) and got out to $11:30 Betfair having not won for 14 months and been unplaced in his previous two 2nd up runs, but as we outlined in Sizzlers (below left) his first-up run was a cracker, so his price certainly didn’t reflect what was on the clock. (In addition, he had a Werribee jump-out 29/05 to bring him on fitness-wise, and as Vince said on the pod, it was almost “Sydney like” in how Danny O’Brien used it to bring him on fitness-wise.)

With CHAPADA the previous Saturday (sizzled below right from his 25/04 run and 16/05 when 3rd improved from -3.4 to -0.1) not only hadn’t he won for 19 months, but that maiden win at Wangaratta was his only victory.

HOWEVER his next 13 runs were all at stakes level including 5 at Group 1 and despite the owner’s obvious ambitions, he ain’t that good!

Come to an early June offseason staying race however I wrote of him on the day:

ChapadaDaniel Stackhouse • Michael Moroney(6)58kg

$4:80 Gets to the longer distance for the first time this prep and there’s every chance it’s exactly what he needs. Huge mid-race two starts back behind RUPTURE, HANGMAN and SUPER TITUS with the latter then winning last start, up to 2000 where he was an excellent 3rd, noting last Saturday’s Caulfield winner MAHAMEDEIS was 2nd. Low profile Stackhouse is taking his chances, and last time in 4th up ran a very good 3rd in the Zipping Classic in his first distance run for the prep. One career win to date should be noted, but he’s mostly been in stakes races. Keen to be with.

He won easily at $5+ odds freely available (RACE REPLAY) and very confident he was at least a point of odds better due to his “non-winning” profile.

In conclusion, be wary of a “non-winners” tag and be ready to take advantage if the market is!


The unlucky 2nd in CHAPADA’S race was MASAFF and that is a “non-winners” profile to be most careful of.

Not the horse, but the trainer.

Specifically as great as Chris Waller is and has been, since 20th March his Melbourne stable has had 50 runners for just one winner.

Shorter in the market; 15 runners at single odds for 1 winner. 7% compared to 17.2% market expectations.

Again I like just looking at logic, and note the winner BETCHA FLYING was favourite, but clearly the stable send mostly well-exposed horses south at this time of year not up to Sydney or Brisbane stakes races, and/or currently out of form.

What’s also clear, is you shouldn’t be expecting an upwards surprise from them at present!

“Racetrack” Ralphy Horowitz provides independent form analysis via He uses Vince Accardi’s IVR benchmarking service and together they do the Year Round Carnival podcast review of the weekend’s main races every Monday”

Michael Kruse
Michael loves all things all horse racing and has been in the game for quite some time. His knowledge in the betting space is second... [Read full bio]

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