There's no doubt that turf sprints are where the action is today in Australia's Thoroughbred racing scene. If you're new to the track or maybe have been more a staying race enthusiast, here is a bit of background about sprint races, along with some tips to help you increase your winnings when you see your bookmaker for free bets.
Australian Group One Sprint Races
Australian Thoroughbred sprint races are divided into groups. Group 1 races feature the top horses and best jockeys and make for exciting, high-stakes sport. These races, with their large purses, are a chance to make big money with free bets in Australia.
If there's any doubt that these Group 1 sprints are growing in popularity, just look at the increase in Group 1 races over the last few years. Recent upgrades of Group 2 sprints to Group 1 sprints (the Memsie Stakes, the Canterbury Stakes, etc.), show an increasing trend towards sprint prevalence.
Top Group One Sprint Races in Australia
While there a number of thrilling Group 1 sprint races, and as mentioned above, that number is on the rise, there are a few that stand out as top events for which to see your bookmaker for free bets.
Black Caviar Lightning
If you've ever seen Black Caviar in motion, you'll know why this race was named for this now-retired beauty. Undefeated in 25 races, Black Caviar was named the World Thoroughbred Racehorse Rankings (currently the World's Best Racehorse) World Champion Sprinter four years in a row.
Black Caviar won the 1,000-metres Lightning Stakes three years in a row, no small feat given the field of top Thoroughbreds it attracts for its A$500,000 purse. The Black Caviar Lightning, run at Flemington Racecourse in Melbourne, kicks off a three-leg fall series of races, including the Oakleigh Plate and the Newmarket Handicap.
The Newmarket Handicap is a 1,200-metre race also run at Flemington and is considered Australia's most important Thoroughbred sprint handicap. Taking place in March to wind up the Autumn Racing Carnival, the Newmarket Handicap has been attracting huge crowds since its inception in 1874. It's prize is a cool million dollars. Four horses have won the Newmarket twice, and the race record is held by none other than Black Caviar.
The Darley Classic is another 1,200-metre race run at Flemington and is a weight-for-age sprint for horses age three or older. Bringing in a purse of A$1,000,000, the Darley Classic is the final event of the Victoria Racing Club Spring Carnival. Three horses have won the race twice, including Black Caviar.
TJ Smith Stakes
The TJ Smith Stakes is another weight-for-age sprint in the 1,200-metre distance, held at Randwick Racecourse in Sydney. Originally named the Endeavour Stakes, it was renamed in 1999 for Thomas John Smith, who won 33 titles in Sydney during his career. Only one horse has ever won the race twice, and that was--you guessed it--Black Caviar. It's considered by many to be Australia's premier Group 1 sprint with a A$2.5 million purse.
Your Friend, the Form Guide
If you're new to sprint racing or haven't been a punter before, how do you know where to put your money down? When you're placing free bets in Australia, the first place to look for information is your form guide. A form guide is essential if betting off the track or if you don't plan on going to the parade ring prior to a race.
Some things to look at in your form guide:
- What is the horse's history of finishes at different distances?
- What were the track conditions for those races?
- Has the horse had the same jockey and/or trainer consistently?
- What have the horse's recent workouts been like?
- Has the horse had any recent changes in equipment?
- Has the horse had a recent spell and why?
A spell isn't always a bad thing; in fact some mares and fillies come back better after a spell. A horse that failed to maintain the lead in a staying race may perform wonderfully in a sprint. A horse that has a long and successful history with the same jockey or trainer is likely to continue on that path.
Other Betting Tips
Even with all the data you can glean from your form guide, there's nothing like checking out a horse in the mounting enclosure prior to a race to really see what it's like on race day. Does the horse seem nervous and agitated or just appropriately "on the muscle" (ready to go)? Is it saddling and accepting the jockey easily? Are there bandage marks on the horses legs? These may have been just a protective wrapping measure, but they could also indicate tendon problems.
When placing your bets, start off small, and learn by trial and error. While it's easy to bet the "chalk" horse (the favourite or the one with the most money down), the bigger payoffs come with higher odds.
Another great source of information is social media. There is a world of knowledgeable Tweeters and Facebook posters out there with invaluable information if you can tap into it. It takes a while to build a network, but it can be worth it to put together the whole picture of a horse.
Picking winners takes time and practice, and if it were easy, everyone would be a millionaire. The great thing about betting on sprint races is that even if it takes you and your picks a while to hit your strides, you'll have a blast doing it.