Many tipsters don’t pay attention to the equipment used on the horses they bet on. In horse racing, a little thing like front wraps can make a big difference, so it’s worth paying attention to detail. First of all, let’s make sure we know what we’re talking about. Bandages are sometimes wrapped around the front legs of horses when they run.
They can have a positive or negative effect. How they affect the runner will depend on the individual animal and its physical condition. Sometimes those bandages are used for support. If in a previous race the horse injured a tendon, then the addition of the extra support can help it feel more confident when running and therefore perform better.
Some horses tend to cut the hocks of their front legs with their hind hooves when running. This is obviously painful for the horse and can also cause a cut or bruise that will slow the animal down. The addition of some padding for protection can cushion the blow so that it does not hinder the runner when it is extending.
Of course, the addition of front wraps is not a good sign and I would rather not see them on an animal I plan to bet on, but they can actually improve performance. When I see them on a horse that I plan to bet on, I look to see if there has been any recent decline in their times or their level of performance. For example, let’s say you had been winning races, but then you seemed to slow down in the last few races. The trainer may have noticed that the horse’s front legs are sore or that it needs more support. Then I look to see if there have been recent jobs, and if there have been recent jobs, I look for an improvement in those jobs that can coincide with the training that adds the additional support.
When claiming races, bandages can be a clever ruse of a crafty coach who is trying to win a race, but makes his load appear sore or injured so that it is not claimed by others. Claiming a horse is always a guessing game and the addition of frontal bandages can be a tactic used to discourage potential claimants. The problem is, you never know if it was a good or bad thing until the race is over and it is too late to claim.
Another time when adding “fronts” can be a problem is on a detour. If the surface is wet and muddy, cloth bandages can absorb moisture and make the horse’s legs heavier, so it will have to work harder. Some trainers also wrap cellophane around bandages to keep them dry. If you see a horse that is carrying them and it is not waterproofed and the track is wet, I advise you to go to that one. And since we’re on the subject of wet slopes, let me give you one more tip. If a track is muddy or unkempt and the horse has a long tail that is not wrapped and tied, it is probably not going to win and the trainer hasn’t bothered to tie it up because he knows it. A long tail that is covered in mud and full of moisture can be a problem for some horses, so a good trainer will generally tie them up if he sends the horse out to win that day.