Brett Prebble

For astute punters, shoe changes are well worth noting

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 07 March, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 07 March, 2012, 12:00am


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It isn't often we can say that Hong Kong's racing control and information flow for punters is lagging behind anywhere else, but the area of horse-shoeing is one.

In Australia, the application of particular kinds of shoes when a horse races is listed as a gear change, just like blinkers or tongue ties, as is the use of glue-on shoes.

The reason for this is that different types of shoes can indicate different kinds and intensities of foot problems.

After Lucky Nine's Queen's Silver Jubilee Cup win, jockey Brett Prebble paid credit to trainer Caspar Fownes that he was maintaining the five-year-old's race form so consistently despite the horse having foot issues.

In fact, to help with his foot problems, Lucky Nine wore glue-on shoes for the first time in his win on Sunday.

For his part, Sunday's runner-up, Glorious Days, has not had perfect feet either, according to trainer John Size.

Two runs back in the Chinese New Year Cup, he wore, for the first time, a glue-on shoe on his left front foot and what is called a heart-bar shoe on his right.

To some form analysts in Australia, just knowing a horse is wearing a heart-bar shoe is enough to stop them backing a horse. To know that he is wearing one of them on one foot and a glue-on shoe on the other front foot is enough for them to declare the horse simply can't win. Like running with a sports shoe on one foot and a rubber boot on the other, is how they describe that scenario - which couldn't help but unbalance a horse during a race.

Here, shoeing changes are one of the very few things that aren't publicly reported, odd considering our senior stewards are overwhelmingly Australians who have served under that system of reporting.

It's all information that the betting public is entitled to know, even if there is a part of you that will say you can get too much information.

Glorious Days still won the Chinese New Year Cup, as expected by the majority of punters, despite the change. How many would have changed their bets had they known about his shoes?

Likewise, Sunday's Group One contest was fought out by two horses with foot problems their trainers were trying to remedy. Considering they dominated the betting on the race, where would that have left punters if they had been told about the change to Lucky Nine's footwear beforehand as well?

Apparently nobody has ever brought up reporting shoeing changes in Hong Kong, until this column. And presumably it will now be discussed and considered within the walls at Sports Road as the important information it is, considering some of the minor information that is made public.

Still, even if things do change in the future and punters are loaded up with this extra information, we think it comes down to a situation where you have to keep faith with the talents of the trainer.

If trainers of the standing of Size and Fownes are taking this kind of action with the best horses in their stable and are still willing to take them to the races, we have to rely on their judgment that those horses are still going to perform.