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Willoughby's Mensch and Lurkers

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    Worth a read for anyone who missed it in the RP the other day imo

    <i>Will the Mile Mensch be persuaded to lay down with the Lurker?By James Willoughby 31 JULY 2009

    ADOPTING a Runyonesque outlook on proceedings, it is increasingly clear that festival meetings like Goodwood are the hive of distinct types of punters.

    The first are the Mensch, a Yiddish word for those of integrity and higher learning. These studious few would approach a race like today’s Totesport Mile with joy in their hearts.

    They rise early to compute the intricacies of the form and the draw, imposing perfectly the subtle effect of the latter on the usual dominance of the former. For them, winning is about finding the solution to the crossword puzzle of life.

    Others, however, are prepared to adopt different methods. These are the Lurkers, those who gain the favour of trainers, jockeys and stable insiders with the odd bon mot, the kindly greeting, even the well-placed flourish of pen or spoken word.

    For them, it is is the phone book rather than the form book that is their chief weapon. They can place themselves in the cracks of the human condition, to learn which horses are flying on the gallops, which have missed vital work or encountered a setback.

    When the sun sets, it is all about who has the money. And, frequently, it is the Lurkers.

    It is interesting to observe how the Mensch and the Lurkers behave when they encounter the Totesport Mile. The former may dial down to chisel out a horse like Acrostic, Dubai’s Touch or Webbow. But all these likely types on the numbers are compromised to varying degrees by the draw.

    The Lurkers take a dim view of this worthy but pointless pursuit. They don’t so much dial down as dial hard, eliciting the views of their contacts on what has been happening on the gallops and at home. They could alight on a horse like Henry Cecil’s Cloudy Start, as this type of unexposed three-year-old is easy prey for stories of early morning derring-do.

    Minded to what happened 12 months ago, a youngster like this drawn in stall 21 makes a lot of sense to both circles in our Venn diagram of punting.

    Sometimes, there are happy times when a horse is in the overlap of both, but we don’t get to find out until the betting markettakes shape.

    Initially, the Mensch are wary of Cloudy Start. Conditions race form in handicaps doesn’t sit well with them, as a rule. Then, after rebuking themselves for this inflexibility, they recall there are only tools, notrules.

    CLOUDY START is hardly thrown in here. He races off a mark of 108 and hardly appears well treated at that. But he’s good, and getting better, and that stalls position was favourable last year.

    The Mensch are more comfortable with Acrostic. Like them, he is an honest horse whose chance is there for all to see. He won a valuable handicap at Sandown last time, beating today’s opponents Crackdown and Huzzah.

    The pace was good, thetime was good and Christophe Lemaire was good too. The French ace steered the Luca Cumani runner to the front with his usual perfect timing. Surely there is more to come and surely today is the day.

    Even after reaching a consensus on this selection among their number, the Mensch are not a little unsettled. They fear the dark influence of the Lurkers, who may unsettle them with rumour and counter-rumour, hint and allegation. Have they not heard? In this great game of ours, it is all about sticking to your opinion. It is easy to be swayed and, let’s be honest, the Lurkers often know what they are talking about. They haven’t got where they are today without knowing where the bodies are buried.

    For years,the influence of the Lurkers was far outside the understanding of the Mensch, but things have changed. Now the Mensch have observed that betting markets are approaching a semi-strong state in which the economic principle of the efficient market hypothesis is beginning to hold.

    In such a condition, the betting market contains information that is more accurate than formerly. The price of a horse pretty much expresses the useful information available about it,although it doesn’t move towards the perfect expression of this value until liquidity increases near to the off.

    The Mensch now watch and learn. No longer do they make statements like a horse is a ridiculous price or an unbelievably generous price. They know there is a reason for everything in this world.

    This is not an expression of paranoia but economics. It is mathematical, not hypothetical or unreasonable.

    The Mensch can still make a profit, perhaps an even larger profit, if they adapt their ways and adopt new strategies designed to exploit market inefficiencies.

    As for the Lurkers, this kind of stuff doesn’t really give them pause. They shape markets – as stilldo the Mensch – but it is now clear to the latter how influential the former have always been.

    Betting on horses is a game of incomplete information – always has been and always will be. For some, it is more incomplete than for others.</i>

    • Total Posts 1988

    It isn’t the lurkers I’m worried about. It’s their other halves and their on-a-whim pinsticking bets that the lurkers have no knowldege of.

    • Total Posts 1299


    You can be fairly confident that you might have obtained value if your bet has been laid by a Mensch.

    You start to worry if you have been laid by a Lurker…

    …and if you have been laid by someone lurking about behind a Lurker – well, you might as well tear your slip up.

    • Total Posts 472

    Good stuff though, and very elegantly written. Pretty sure the nice distinction refers mostly to his fellow journos. :lol:

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