The Tramore Festival began last Thursday and as usual lived up to its billing. Large crowds attended the County Waterford track as both flat and national hunt events took place. One of the more interesting races of the four day event was Thursday’s Bet Online At thetote.com Claiming Race.
A claiming race is quite different to other horse races. Owners are asked to put a value on their horse in the days prior to the race, a price at which they must sell to any prospective buyer following the race. Interestingly, the race handicap (the weight each horse must carry) is determined by the value placed on each horse by its owner. The highest valued horse carries the most weight (horse No. 1) with subsequent weights based on the difference in value between horse No. 1 and every other horse in the race.
This scenario is very interesting for economists to consider as it allows us to explore concepts such as the role of incentives and strategic behaviour. Owners may be stuck in a dilemma where they want to win the race but are not necessarily that interested in selling their horse. A higher value on the horse will potentially scare away would-be buyers but also diminishes the chances of success. On the flip side, a lower value will allow the horse to be handicapped more favourably, which could result in winning the race, but makes them more attractive to potential buyers.
Coolfighter’s new owner, Robert Dooley, wasted little time in seeking a return on his investment, with the horse entered again at Tramore on Saturday evening in the 6.25pm race. The horse duly won the race with the new connections collecting nearly €7,000 in the process. Not a bad return on their two day old investment.
And what about this for a first? Surely Coolfighter is the first horse to run at the same festival and win twice with a different owner, trainer and jockey. Thursday evening the horse was ridden by Danny Mullins, trained by Tony Mullins and owned by the CLF Partnership. On Saturday night the winner’s enclosure saw the horse surrounded by jockey Seamie Heffernan, trainer Noel Dooley and new owner Robert Dooley. Two days is a long time in horse racing.