This piece started out as a full-blooded whinge about the Jockey Club using the C+3 course at Happy Valley tonight, on the basis that the punting public don't like it. Well, that was the premise. But when the movable rail was in this same C+3 position for the November 21 meeting, the fans gave the club a turnover figure of HK$770.9 million, up HK$28.3 million on the corresponding meeting 12 months earlier and better than a number of other Happy Valley meetings this season when the fence was in more 'favourable' positions. Even the highly promoted Cathay Pacific International Jockeys Championship, this year run on the B (4m) course, met with lower turnover than this meeting on the C+3. So the argument looked a bit watery in cold financial reality. Last season, the C+3 position was utilised on two occasions only, on November 1 and 29, 2006. It seemed the club's commitment to the C+3 was one of last resort, which we applauded, but this term we are coming up for our third C+3 rail for the season tonight and Christmas hasn't even arrived. Turnover in a place like Hong Kong carries with it a critical mass of less educated or entertainment plays, but anyone attempting to bet on the Happy Valley C+3 rail placement at even a semi-serious level knows what a minefield it is. What makes the decision to run this week's meeting on the outer-most rail placement hard to fathom is that there is not another meeting there until January 9. Theoretically, the A course could have been used tonight and again in three weeks without any long-term negative impact on the surface, especially with the track being at its absolute best at this time of the season. Hard experience of barriers on the C+3 tells us that inside gates are gold, while wide gates are something closer to de-pinned grenades. That's supported by the figures, but with a disclaimer that C+3 draw stats since the start of the 2003-04 season, to be fair, represent a very limited statistical sample. In that time, there have been zero winners from barriers 10, 11 or 12 at the 1,000 metre start, where gates six or closer have won 70 per cent of the races. At the 1,200 metres start, once again horses starting from 10, 11 and 12 may as well have stayed at home - they didn't register a single win in all that time. In fact, the only winner in those four-plus seasons from gate nine at the 1,200m starts was a future Premier-grade galloper racing in Class Three, Flaming Lamborgini. But barriers one, two and three combined won 50 per cent of the races and horses drawn 1-6 have won 75 per cent of the races. The 1,650m course represents the biggest sample at the course, with 36 run on the C+3 rail since September, 2003, and 33 per cent of the winners drew gates one or two, though the bias is not as heavy as for the sprints, with barriers 11 and 12 winning three times as many races (three) as gate three (one), and all alleys having at least one winner. And horses drawn the inside half of the field have been successful 64 per cent of the time. So if you really must bet at Happy Valley tonight, borrow from the real estate bible and make your three most important factors position, position and position, but pardon me if I wait for Sha Tin on Sunday. I'm just old fashioned enough to want every horse to be given a realistic chance.