Mysteries of the mounting yard explained
Gambling world-wide is a huge, multi-billion dollar industry. In Victoria alone, almost $4.4 billion was lost in the 2001-2002 financial year. This included $1 billion at Crown Casino, $385 million on lotteries and $527 million on racing and sports betting. What hope is there for the punter when so much is lost?
Punters have eternal hope. They know that horse racing is one of the few gambling opportunities where they can gain an edge. Inside stable knowledge of the ability of horses can often lead to stunning plunges and betting coups. And many punters think it is possible to gain an advantage by careful observation of the behaviour and condition of horses as they parade in the mounting yard before a race. They often refer to an elite group known as �astute judges�. These are the old men, hanging on the mounting yard rail, who by simply eyeing a horse before a race can assess its winning chance.
In 1989 Geoffrey Hutson first attempted to become an astute judge, by picking out winners based on their looks in the mounting yard. He failed dismally. But he made a remarkable discovery – that he could pick losers. With this knowledge he returned to the racetrack and observed in minute detail the pre-race behaviour of over 10,000 horses. He has written a book about it called Watching Racehorses.
Geoffrey Hutson was born and bred in Melbourne. He spent over 20 years at the University of Melbourne as a Research Fellow in Animal Behaviour, studying the behaviour of a wide range of domestic animals, including sheep, cattle, pigs and horses. He has written numerous articles for scientific journals, newspapers and magazines, including Applied Animal Behaviour Science, New Scientist, The Age, The Sunday Age, and Turf Monthly magazine. He left the university in 1998 to pursue a career as a full-time punter. He now bets on the stockmarket for serious money and on racehorses for serious fun.