We look at four household racing names that won at odds of 100/1, but in reality probably should have been much shorter odds.
There is no such thing in racing as a certainty; even when the odds are stacked hugely in favour of a particular horse in a race, there is always that small chance that he or she might not get the job done.
This is true whether the race is a lowly selling race at Brighton, a Group One race such as the Derby, or even the Cheltenham Gold Cup featuring the best National Hunt horses; there is always the chance of an upset. Occasionally though the bookies get it wrong and there have been instances where 100/1 winners should have been in reality much shorter!
We’ve got four big-priced winners of past big races that you could have backed, and perhaps weren’t deserving of being largely written off by the bookmakers.
1) Mon Mome – 2009 Grand National
Venetia Williams’ dour stayer was sent off at odds of 100/1 for this renewal of the world’s most famous race, but unlike Foinavon before him, there was no fluke in his success.
Mon Mome had been a winner at Cheltenham of a Listed chase in December 2008, beating the very smart Star De Mohaison, which prompted layers to send him off as favourite for the Welsh Grand National at Chepstow three weeks later.
Although well beaten there in the end behind Notre Pere, he bounced back to finish runner-up over hurdles at Towcester next time , but again was disappointing the next twice when well beaten at Haydock in the Blue Square Gold Cup (now the Betfred Grand National Trial) and then again in the Midlands Grand National.
It’s maybe worth remembering though that his win at Cheltenham came on good-to-soft ground, and his subsequent starts – including that Towcester hurdles effort – were run on soft and heavy ground, and it isn’t unrealistic to think that a return to the better ground at Aintree was a catalyst for a return to form.
As it happened, Mon Mome sprinted away from 2008 Grand National winner Comply Or Die to score what was a comfortable success in the end, and one which perhaps the bookmakers got it wrong.
2) Spanish Don – 2004 Cambridgeshire
David Elsworth’s charge was a very useful performer, winning on his debut in France at Longchamp back in 2001 when trained by Pascal Bary, and pitched up in the UK for Philip Mitchell at Warwick in 2002 where he finished fourth.
He in fact showed very little worthwhile form for Mitchell, and it wasn’t until arriving at David Elsworth where he began to thrive, winning two of his first three starts for the trainer at Windsor and Newbury.
After some fair efforts, he posted back-to-back successes at Kempton, but again went off the boil before contesting the Cambridgeshire, which he duly won by a neck from Take A Bow; returned to that venue later the same month, he then won in Listed company, beating Menokee by three-parts of a length.
When winning the Cambrideshire, he was rated just 7lbs higher than for his previous success at Kempton and the defeats inbetween had saw the Zafonic gelding drift largely under the radar, especially as Elsworth had talked him up prior to him being soundly beaten at Newbury.
However, Elsworth had previously spoken of the Cambridgeshire as his prime target for Spanish Don, and he was handicapped to run well on ground that was likely to suit, having been beaten on softer, less suitable conditions.
He also had some form in the book that made him an interesting runner, and perhaps again the bookies got it wrong in labelling him a 100/1 outsider.
3) Norton’s Coin – 1990 Gold Cup
The hugely unfashionable trainer Sirrel Griffiths probably drew howls of derision when declaring his Norton’s Coin to take on the mighty Desert Orchid in the Gold Cup.
Griffiths, a permit-holder who had just three horses was turned into a racing celebrity overnight, having entered Norton’s Coin for the Gold Cup after missing the deadline for entries in a handicap contest on the same card.
Dairy farmer Griffiths had to do all of his regular farm work, including milk his herd of cows prior to setting off to Cheltenham Park with his apparent no-hoper.
In fact, Norton’s Coin had posted some solid form, albeit in lesser grade, winning twice at Newbury and Cheltenham, and had a string of placed efforts in handicaps.
Although his level of form was a fair way below that of the likes of Desert Orchid and Cavvies Clown, he was always travelling well in the hands of Graham McCourt and battled well up the run-in to score by three-parts of a length from Toby Tobias in second, with Desert Orchid in third.
He wasn’t finished there and won again at Cheltenham the following year in April, beating Waterloo Boy.
4) Sole Power – 2010 Nunthorpe
It is perhaps difficult to believe that one of the world’s top sprinters was once regarded as a 100/1 no-hoper, but that was the case when Ed Lynam’s superstar popped up to win the Nunthorpe back in 2010.
Sole Power had had just two wins to his name in eleven prior starts, both of which came at Dundalk in relatively modest events. However, the signs were clearly there, and he had been thought good enough to take in the Group Three Cornwallis Stakes on his fourth career start as well as the Group Three Palace House Stakes and the Group Three Sapphire Stakes at the Curragh the following season.
He never threatened in any of them, and had been stuffed at Listed level, so having a tilt at a race such as the Nunthorpe which included the highly regarded Starspangledbanner among the rivals seemed folly.
Held up by jockey Wayne Lordan, Sole Power came with a perfectly timed run to lead inside the last half-furlong and register a comfortable success over the Ballydoyle runner with another 100/1 shot, Piccadilly Filly in third and 40/1 runner Prime Defender completing the first four home.