Franklin D. Roosevelt famously said that “there’s nothing to fear but fear itself.” No one mentioned that to He Knows No Fear, who lived up to his name on Thursday afternoon, becoming the biggest-priced winner in British or Irish racing history when the 300/1 shot captured a maiden race at Ireland’s Leopardstown.
The 300/1 price gave the fearless He Knows No Fear ticket holders their happiest trip to the window since Equinocital’s 250/1 moon-shot victory at the Grants Whisky Novices’ Handicap Hurdle at Kelso in 1990. That came in jumps.
The previous Irish record came from Killahara Castle, who captured a Listed novice hurdle at Thurles in 2017 at 200/1. Earlier this summer, Intercessor became the latest of several flat horses coming home at 200/1 when he won a race at Newbury. Four years earlier at Wolverhampton, Dandy Flame was the last 200/1 shot crossing the finish line first.
At Royal Ascot’s June meet, 150/1 shot Nando Parrado captured the six-furlong Coventry Stakes, breaking the previous Royal Ascot record shared by 100/1 shots Fox Chapel in the 1998 Brittania Stakes and Flashmans Papers in the 2008 Windsor Castle Stakes.
Royal Ascot, This Was Not
He Knows No Fear’s victory came way down the food chain from Nando Parrado’s. It came in a mile maiden race at the expense of heavy favorite Agitare. The 7/5 favorite was clear mid-stretch before He Knows No Fear surged up the middle of the track, poking his nose in front for the victory. It also came for the Luke Comer barn, which will never be confused with Aidan O’Brien or Bob Baffert for racing success.
As a horse trainer, Comer makes a great developer. His property development company made him one of the wealthiest men in Ireland, but this success hasn’t translated to the track. This was the Comer barn’s first flat winner in nine years.
Last month at Limerick, He Knows No Fear ran to his 250/1 odds. He broke horrendously, never recovered, and finished 12th of 14 horses — 18 lengths behind. In a case of once-bitten, twice-shy, assistant trainer Jim Gorman didn’t wager on his charge this time out.
Debut Race Confused Connections, Confounded Bettors
“He got left half a furlong in Limerick, so we didn’t really know much after it,” Gorman told the BBC. “And because some of our horses weren’t in great form at the time, we backed off them. Going into Limerick, we thought he was a real nice horse, but he got left so far, we couldn’t get any kind of guide to him.”
Bettors who did – and there weren’t many – guided themselves to eye-watering, story-for-a-lifetime payoffs. The Betfair Exchange reported only £264 in wagers. One Midlands horseplayer betting through Paddy Power got £10 down at 300/1.
Ladbrokes Coral said it took 63 winning bets through its websites, the largest of those being £2.50 each-way. That doesn’t include one gutsy punter who walked into the book’s Main Street-Dublin branch, put down €100 each-way, and cashed two tickets for €36,000.
William Hill took 86 bets on He Knows No Fear. The largest of those paid £5,400.
Payoffs Smaller, but Still Substantial, in the States
On the 1st Bet advance-deposit wagering app in the US, He Knows No Fear went off a 99/1, paying $303.20 to win and $39.20 to place. There was no show betting. The $2 exacta with Agitare paid $1,935.20.
With Agitare taking most of the money, it was truly a long shot’s race for handicappers. Eleven of the 15 horses went off at 22/1 or greater on 1st Bet. He Knows No Fear was one of four leaving the gate at 99/1.
All that said, it’s not like He Knows No Fear has a wasteland pedigree. His sire, Mourayan, enjoyed a fine career: winning the Group 1 Sydney Cup at Randwick and more than $2.1 million.
At no time, however, did Mourayan sniff 300/1 on a board.