How Often Do Odds On Favourites Lose? The Shortest Price Losers in Horse Racing

Man Holding Losing Bet Slip For Odds on Favourite Horse - 1 to 25

Aah, the wonderful world of favourites. Every race has one (well, almost every race… some have joint or even co-favourites). Some punters love them and blindly place their faith in the market leader, whilst others wouldn’t touch them with a large betting barge pole.

Whenever a favourite tastes defeat, there are those who look on in complete and utter disbelief. Most often, that is something of an overreaction – favourites do, after all, only win around 30% of races on average – but there are occasions when those gasps of horror are entirely justified – at least if viewed through the lens of the winning chance implied by the betting odds.

Whenever a particularly short-priced favourite blots their copybook, causing steam to erupt from the ears of jolly backers, it tends to make the racing headlines. Without further ado, let’s take a look back at five such horses, who have hit the news for all the wrong reasons.

Horse Odds Race Course
Zaynar 1/14 Morebattle Hurdle Kelso
Broadspear 1/16 Lady Tracey Novice Stakes Chepstow
Triple Dip 1/20 Maiden Fillies’ Stakes Lingfield
Tree of Liberty 1/20 Novices’ Chase Ludlow
Doom 1/25 Maiden Fillies’ Stakes Ripon

5. Zaynar @ 1/14 (Morebattle Hurdle)

  • Horse – Zaynar
  • Trainer – Nicky Henderson
  • Jockey – Barry Geraghty
  • Odds – 1/14

Heading into the 2010 edition of the Morebattle Hurdle at Kelso, the overwhelming consensus was that Zaynar only needed to stay on his feet to prevail. After all, this was a horse who arrived at the Class 2 event on the back of a five-race winning streak – a sequence which included two wins in Grade 2 company and one in the Grade 1 Triumph Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival.

The Nicky Henderson runner did have to concede 8lb to the field but, considering he was 25 pounds clear of nearest rival Quwetwo, that shouldn’t have proved too much of a hindrance – particularly as Quewtwo had been beaten by the small matter of 103 lengths on his previous start. However, nobody told Quwetwo how straightforward it was all supposed to be, with the Howard Johnson-trained giant putting his best hoof forward to come home a length clear of the flagging jolly. To add further mystery to the result, Zaynar finished third in the Champion Hurdle on his next outing, whilst Quwetwo never won another race.

4. Broadspear @ 1/16 (Lady Tracey Novice Stakes)

  • Horse – Broadspear
  • Trainer – Roger Varian
  • Jockey – David Egan
  • Odds – 1/16

Whilst few could have foreseen the Zaynar loss, in hindsight, the 2022 defeat of Broadspear in the Lady Tracey Novice Stakes at Chepstow was a little more predictable. Nine pounds clear of his rivals, Broadspear had shown a useful level of form but was yet to win and had already been beaten as a favourite on four occasions, including three second-place finishes.

On paper, connections could scarcely have picked an easier opportunity for the gelding to break his duck, with his nearest market rival Painless Potter boasting a record of zero wins from 15 outings. Headed into the final furlong, Broadspear only had Painless Potter left to pass but, despite the vigorous urgings of David Egan in the saddle, he showed little inclination to do so as Painless Potter came home a half-length in front. Broadspear did manage to win a race two starts later, whilst Painless Potter reverted to type and is zero from 11 since.

T2. Triple Dip @ 1/20 (Maiden Fillies’ Stakes)

  • Horse – Triple Dip
  • Trainer – Mark Johnston
  • Jockey – Joe Fanning
  • Odds – 1/20

In common with Broadspear, Mark Johnston’s Triple Dip hadn’t exactly burned up the track ahead of the Median Auction Maiden Fillies’ Stakes at Lingfield in 2015. She had, however, at least finished second on her two previous outings, which was more than could be said of her three rivals. Too Kay had raced once, finishing last of seven, 40 lengths adrift of the winner; Sarafina had beaten two of her 30 rivals in her three previous outings, and Mercy Me had finished last of seven, beaten 37 lengths on her only prior start.

Triple Dip only had to trot around to win, didn’t she? Too Kay and Sarafina did their part in fading out of sight, but unfortunately for favourite backers, Mercy Me decided that she was a racehorse after all, to win eased down at the line.

T2. Tree of Liberty @ 1/20 (Novices’ Chase)

  • Horse – Tree Of Liberty
  • Trainer – Kerry Lee
  • Jockey – Jamie Moore
  • Odds – 1/20

Topping the list of shockers from the National Hunt sphere is the Kerry Lee-trained Tree Of Liberty. Having only joined the yard in December of 2017, the six-year-old seemed to be enjoying life at his new home, with two wins from three starts, prior to what looked like a penalty kick in the Alfa Aggregate Products Novices’ Chase at Ludlow in March 2018. Facing just two rivals, who boasted a combined record of zero wins from 21 starts, and had been beaten by 89 lengths and 71 lengths respectively on their previous outings, what could possibly go wrong?

Everything was the answer as, despite being fully 47 pounds clear of the field on ratings, Tree Of Liberty toiled on the run-in and never looked like getting to Cap’n, who channelled incredibly well-hidden levels of ability to come home two and a half lengths clear at the line.

1. Doom @ 1/25 (Maiden Fillies’ Stakes)

  • Horse – Doom
  • Trainer – William Haggas
  • Jockey – Tom Marquand
  • Odds – 1/25

Just the two runners showed up for the William Hill Ripon Champion Bonus 2023 Maiden Fillies’ Stakes. A disappointing turnout, but it did at least provide favourite backers with the chance to buy some money courtesy of the 1/25 favourite, Doom…or so they thought. Doom certainly should have been up to winning a Class 5 maiden contest, having previously finished within a head of subsequent Oaks winner Soul Sister – particularly as she now only had one horse standing in her way.

The only problem with that opinion was that her solitary rival was a completely unknown quantity, in the shape of the Karl Burke-trained Karmology, who was making her racecourse debut. Reportedly only entered for the race as Ripon is on the trainer’s doorstep, Karmology fell firmly into the “could be anything category”.

Exactly how good Karmology is remains to be seen, but unfortunately for those piling in at the 1/25 SP and 1/100 in running odds on Betfair, we now know that she is, at the very least, better than Doom. That stunning defeat saw Doom enter the hall of infamy as the shortest-priced loser in British racing since Sir Gordon Richards contrived to lose aboard 1/25 shot Royal Forest back in 1948.