AS far as Betfair punters are concerned, Barney Curley appears to be horseracing's equivalent of Marmite.
Love him or loathe him - or should that be back them or lay them? - his gambles and training prowess certainly divide the Betfair forum like no other topic. And it was no different after his Me Fein (which means "myself" in Irish) landed a touch in the opener at Lingfield today.
The horse had beaten only one of his 39 rivals in three previous starts last autumn, being beaten an aggregate of 67 ˝ lengths. But, stepped markedly up in trip and down in class, the layers appeared to be playing a very cautious game when the Betfair market opened.
He was "only" offered at 5.4 (just under 9-2) at that stage. But that proved to be the best available price as he was backed down to 2.02 (just over evens) at one point pre-race before settling at the 2.5 (6-4) mark at the off.
However, the most fascinating aspect of the betting was not the gamble in the win market or his subsequent head-in-chest win - punters have come to expect that - but the DRIFT in the Betfair place market.
Me Fein may have returned the 5-4 favourite but on Betfair at the off he was available at a massive 1.74 to be placed, basically an 8-11 chance to finish in the first three. A "normal" 5-4 shot would probably have been a 2-5 place chance in such circumstances.
Betfair spokesman Tony Calvin explained: "Barney Curley's runners often perform to extremes, even when gambled, and Betfair punters take the view that his horses either win or finish tailed off. There is no in-between.
"Of course, there are examples of his horses drifting and winning, and I remember El Tiger trading at 50+ on Betfair when it won at 14-1 at Lingfield last year.
"But our punters think it is very much all or nothing when it comes to Barney's runners, which is why they are willing to offer such generous odds in the place market.