The Dark Side of Racing

1. Doping or Drugging:

  • Performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs): These are substances given to horses to enhance their performance. Examples include:
    • Anabolic Steroids: They can build muscle, reduce fatigue, and increase a horse’s competitiveness.
    • EPO (erythropoietin): It boosts red blood cell production, which can increase stamina.
    • Bronchodilators: These can improve a horse’s lung capacity and efficiency.
    • Painkillers: By masking pain, they can allow a horse to run faster than it would if it were in pain.
  • Sedatives: These can be used to slow down a horse, preventing it from performing at its best.

2. “Ringing” or Horse Switching:

  • This involves substituting a less known, superior horse for another under the guise of the latter’s identity, aiming to gain favorable odds.

3. Equipment Tampering:

  • Sabotaging a horse’s equipment can make it uncomfortable or hinder its performance. Examples:
    • Modifying or misplacing a saddle.
    • Using ill-fitting shoes or those designed to cause pain.

4. Holding Back or “Pulling” a Horse:

  • This is when jockeys intentionally restrain a horse during a race. This might be to:
    • Save it for a future race where bets will be larger.
    • Manipulate its odds for future races by making it appear weaker than it is.

5. Electrical Devices (“Buzzers” or “Batteries”):

  • Hidden in a jockey’s hand, these devices deliver a shock to spur the horse, often leading to a sudden surge in speed.

6. “Tubing”:

  • By inserting a tube into a horse’s windpipe, oxygen or other substances can be delivered directly into the lungs, providing an illicit stamina boost.

7. “Nobbling”:

  • This old and cruel method involves physically harming a horse, making it unable to perform to its potential.

8. Pre-Race Procedures:

  • Some have used procedures like bleeding a horse shortly before a race, making it underperform.

9. Withholding Water or Food:

  • Depriving a horse of hydration or nutrition can sap its energy and performance levels.

Effects on the Betting Market and Understanding the Dynamics:

  1. Skewed Odds: Before races, bookmakers set odds based on a horse’s form, health, and other factors. If a horse is covertly doped or its performance manipulated, its real chances of winning can be very different from the odds set, leading bettors astray.
  2. The Snowball Effect: One person’s big win due to insider knowledge can lead to large losses for many others. This can deter regular bettors and newcomers from participating.
  3. Loss of Integrity and Trust: When bettors continually lose because of rigged races, they lose trust in the system, affecting the betting volume.
  4. Live Betting Dynamics: Some betting systems allow bets even as the race is ongoing. If a horse, expected to perform well, is “pulled” or restrained early on but unleashed later, it can wildly swing live odds and betting dynamics.
  5. Long-Term Consequences: Repeated manipulations and scandals can cause a decline in bettors’ interest, leading to reduced revenue for bookmakers and the racing industry. This, in turn, can lead to job losses and a decline in the sport’s popularity.

Advice for the Betting Public:

  • Research is Key: Before placing bets, delve deep into a horse’s recent performances, jockey records, and any whispers in the circuit.
  • Diversify Bets: Avoid putting all your money on one outcome. Spread your risks.
  • Stay Informed: Be aware of the methods used in manipulations, so you can be on the lookout for suspicious patterns or activities.
  • Bet Responsibly: Remember, no matter how informed you are, betting always carries risks. Always bet within your means and consider it entertainment, not an investment.

Is it still profitable to make money backing horses?
Taking all the above into consideration it is still possible to make a profit backing horses. In fact knowing the above it can be even more profitable if you know what to look for in the late betting.