In last months issue of PPM,  Statsman and Brian Blackwell reported on some very strange statistics related to multiple betting races.

Don Scott - one of the most highly respected names in racing circles wrote an explanation of these figures Racing World Magazine. We feel it is important for readers to learn all the facts. Don Scott's article is therefore reprinted in full below with the permission of Racing World Magazine.

A leading turf magazine has discovered what it calls "concrete evidence of manipulation" in exotic forms of betting, particularly trifectas. The magazine claims in its August issue that racing authorities should examine this evidence.

The magazine publishes figures from August 1983 to June 1985 covering 2,250 races. The favourite won 751 times or 33.38% of all races. However, individual races differed sharply from this average. Races 3 and 6, races not generally selected for trifecta betting by the NSW TAB, had a much higher winning average for favourites than Races 5 and 7. For example in Race 6 in Sydney, favourites had a winning average of more than 43% while in Race 7 they had a winning average of 32%. In Melbourne Races 5, 7, and 8, often selected by the NSW TAB for trifecta betting, favourites had a winning average of little more than 20%.

On the face of it, these figures are alarming. However one important set of facts is missing from the survey. That set of facts is the average starting price of the favourites in all the races surveyed. Without that set of facts the whole argument collapses.

The two races chosen for trifecta betting are the most open races on the programme. They are races where the favourite is likely to be at a longer price than the average favourite. The NSW TAB and the Race Clubs deliberately choose such races for trifecta betting because many of the runners are likely to attract substantial backing, and wagering will be wide. Races dominated by a short priced favourite are rarely included as trifecta races.

Over a whole series of races, the average starting price of a favourite is a fair indication of its actual winning chance. If favourites win approximately one third of all races, then their average starting price will be about 2/1 for a market framed to 100% or 7/4 for the actual SP market. If favourites in trifecta races win fewer than one third of those races, their average starting price is likely to be 3/1 or 7/2. This would allow them to win only about 22% of trifecta races.

If we look at the results for Saturday, July 27, we can see the validity of this argument. Two races were chosen for trifecta betting at Warwick Farm - Race 4 the Namoi Welter and Race 7 the Lachlan Handicap. In the Namoi Welter the winner Zephyr Ace started favourite at 7/2 after touching 4/1.

In the Lachlan Handicap the winner Whinavi also started favourite after easing from 5/2 to 13/4. So the average price of these two winning favourites was between 13/4 and 7/2.

In Race 5 the Darling Handicap, a race not selected for trifecta betting, the winning favourite was Really Pretty at 10/9. Other favourites during the day were the winner of Race 1, Whimper at 9/4; Gallant Gesture at 7/2 in Race 2; Gold Sabre at 2/1 in Race 3. Chulada at 2/1 in Race 6; and Premier Flight at 11/4 in Race 8.

If we add up the percentage chances of all favourites at Warwick Farm and divide by eight, we arrive at the average percentage chance which in turn we can convert into the average price. The percentages were:

2Gallant Gesture7/222.22
3Gold Sabre2/133.33
4Zephyr Ace7/222.22
5Really Pretty10/947.37
8Premier Flight11/426.67

The total of percentages is 239.44. The average percentage chance of the favourites is 239.44 divided by 8 = 29.93%. The average price of the favourites is 100 divided by 29.93 - 1 which equals 2.34/1. The average percentage chance of the trifecta favourites Zephyr Ace and VVhinavi is 22.22 + 23.53 divided by 2 = 22.88%. The average price of the two trifecta favourites is 100 divided by 22.88 - 1 = 3.37/1, more than one point longer than the average price of all favourites at Warwick Farm.

At Moonee Valley on the same Saturday, the NSW TAB trifectas were on Races 6 and 8. In Race 6 the favourite was Mum's Pride at 7/2, and in Race 8 Currabahah also at 7/2. The prices of the favourites in other races were St. Magnus 2/1, Honey Bridge 5/2, Art Master and Benpharis equal 11/4, Gogong 11/8, Pass The Baton and Game Trooper equal 7/2, El Nam 6/4, Flying Shoes 4/1. In only one of these races, the last, did the favourite start at a longer price than the trifecta race favourites. That last race was also the NSW TAB quinella race, another type of race allegedly subject to manipulation.

The percentage chances of the nine favourites at Moonee Valley were:

RaceFavouritePrice Percentage
1St. Magnus2/133.33
2Honey Bridge5/228.57
3Art Master and Benpharis11/4 26.67
5Pass The Baton and Game Trooper7/2 22.22
6Mum's Pride 7/222.22
7El Nam6/440.00
9Flying Shoes4/120.00

The total of the percentages is 257.34. The average percentage chance of the nine favourites is 257.34 divided by 9 = 28.59%.The average price of the favourites is 100 divided by 28.59 - 1 = 2.5/1 or 5/2; The average price of the two trifecta favourites is 7/2, exactly one point longer than the average.

These sample figures do not by themselves prove the point that there is nothing irregular in exotic betting races. However, in my new book Winning More, I analyse six months' results to establish undeniably that the average price of favourites in trifeeta races is above the average price of all favourites.

If the average price of favourites in trifecta races in only about 7/2, how then can these favourites in the long term win one third of all their races? If they did win at that rate, you would have an unbeatable winning system - backing the trifecta race favourite. You would be getting 3/1 or 7/2 about a 2/1 chance.

The figures published in the magazine survey simply establish a fact which I established for myself thirty years ago - namely that in the long term the starting price of a horse is a reasonably accurate indication of its winning chance. Even money chances win slightly fewer than one race in two, 2/1 chances win slightly fewer than one race in three and 3/1 chances win slightly fewer than one race in four. If the magazine figures were establishing something different, then there would be cause for concern. All they establish is that racing goes on year after year producing the same percentage of winning and losing favourites. In fact, I would not be surprised if the winning percentage of trifecta favourites based on their average starting price was not slightly better than the winning percentage of other favourites. For example, favourites in Race 7 in Sydney have won almost 32% of those races. This is a remarkable performance when you consider that Race 7 is almost always the main trifecta race.

The figures quoted by the magazine on the performance of favourites are interesting and informative. However, they do not provide any concrete evidence of manipulation - quite the reverse. Punters can continue betting in exotic races fully confident that the favourites will give them just as good a run for their money as the favourites in every other race, while at the same time getting a longer price on average for those favourites.

Don Scott writes:

After I wrote that article for Racing World, I completed my detailed examination of the record of favourites in trifecta races in Sydney from January 1 to June 30 this year. These races are usually Races 4 and 7, but they are sometimes Races 5 and 7 and Races 5 and 8 when there is a 9-race programme.

My examination covered 126 races and 34 outright favourites and 4 equal favourites were successful in those races. For record purposes, I counted an equal favourite as half a winner. This meant that the winning average of the favourites was 36 divided by 126 or 28.57%, which is exactly the percentage of a 5/2 chance. The average price of all the trifecta race favourites was slightly less than 9/4 - 2.2/1. Although this average price was lower than I expected, it was still in exact relation to the percentage of winning favourites. Taking into account the bookmakers' margin of profit, punters were getting 2.2/1, about 2.5/1 chance. This is just what they would expect to get.

The average price of trifecta favourites is a little shorter than I anticipated. In Melbourne it is certainly longer. Yet at around 9/4, it is still half a point longer than the average price of all favourites - 7/4. The important point is that the trifecta favourites are winning at exactly the rate expected and there is no evidence whatsoever of favourite manipulation. What is more, as you will learn in my new book to be published later this month, trifecta betting provides greater value for skilful punters than any other form of betting. This is a revolutionary idea for most punters, but it is supported by unassailable facts and figures.

Racing World is a weekly magazine containing comprehensive race reviews and reports from each week's racing for both Sydney and Melbourne metropolitan and provincial meetings.

Racing World is published by Successability which also produces and publishes Don Scott's Superform Eagleform weekly ratings service.

Click here to read Part 1.

By Don Scott