We asked our resident expert Ted to pull together a bit of a guide to how he selects his winners. You are about to read inside the mind of one of the countries best tipsters.
We all know that the punt comes down to luck but there are some systems and strategies some people use to swing the luck in our favour.
You have all heard the phrase “jack of all trades, master of none.” which means that you are not too bad across the board at most things but don’t excel at one thing. Punting is no different, spreading yourself far and wide means punting here, there and everywhere, you have far too much information to take in and one only skims the surface leaving a lot of quality information to fall between the gaps.
Sit down and work out where you really enjoy punting the most and you will probably find that it is also where you back the most winners too. It could be North Island racing, South Island racing, Victoria racing, NSW racing whatever. I sat down years ago and made the decision to do the vast majority of my betting on North Island as by keeping a record I found that is where I backed the most winners plus I went regularly to race meetings and actually saw the horses and mixed with industry participants etc. I decided to concentrate my form analysis there and virtually ignore other jurisdictions such as the South Island and international meetings. My record keeping showed that my percentage of winners increased markedly by specializing, and by ignoring the other meetings it also left a lot more time to increase my knowledge of horses and tracks in my specialist area.
Eyes and ears are the best assets you have to find those future winners. Those parts of the body are where you intake the majority of you information.
Eyes: Watch as much racing as you can in your specialist area, if it is midweek and you can’t watch live then watch the replays later, look for unlucky runners, impressive performances, take time to read the Stewards Reports which can be found in the results section of the NZTR website. Look at the trials which I will highlight later. The best NZ site I use to do my form is the NZTR website nzracing.co.nz. There is an amazing amount of information there including all the race videos, trial videos etc. If you go to an upcoming race and click on the horse the complete record of the horse is there, along with stats and links to every race video and trial video for the said horse and it is free. So have a play around and become really familiar with it.
Ears: Listen as much as you can to interviews and comments because there will be something there somewhere that will lead you to backing a winner. You will learn which people to take notice of more than others when it comes to providing information as they have proved pretty accurate leading into a race day with their comments. People such as Stephen Marsh and Andrew Forsman and others for example are great media wise and their assessments are worth taking note of. (And of course you also have the BGP podcasts)
Statistics in horse racing do work out remarkably well so when looking at a runner consider many of these:
Track Conditions: What type of tracks does the horse perform on best. Good, Dead, Slow or Heavy. Few horses handle all types of conditions and their best form is usually on one or two types of track conditions. So if you see a horse lining up on a good track with no form on good or dead footing but only wins and placings on slow or heavy then look for something that will appreciate the firmer footing. Ditto as you strike the various other conditions.
Distance Stats. If a horse has shown no form at a certain distance then it is unlikely to do so. Eg six starts for no placings at 1400m and it is lining up in a 1400m race then it is highly unlikely it will come out and win at that distance. Become familiar with what distance suits each horse and back them at their best distance.
Course Stats. I am a firm believer in horses for courses. If a horse has a very good record on a track it is more than likely it will perform well there again. Similarly horse with a row of duck eggs on a track will put me off. Some horses just don’t go on certain tracks, whether it is the contour, or surface that they don’t like or whatever they just don’t perform there. Yet others with no form going back to a track that have performed well at previously can bounce back with a winning run.
Left and Right handed tracks: Whilst many win both ways a lot of horses are not comfortable racing one of the ways and much prefer the one way of running. Their form is reflected in that. A recent example is Gift Of Power. Twelve starts now for eight wins and on Karaka Million night after winning her last four on the trot I was asked if she could beat Melody Belle. My reply was no because she doesn’t go well right handed. She finished third behind Melody Belle and afterwards the rider stated she wasn’t comfortable right handed and Graeme Rogerson told the stewards she would kept to left handed only from now on. So look for these horses that only win the one way around.
Fresh Up: When a horse is starting a new campaign take a look how it races fresh. Some horses take a few runs to hit form whilst some perform best in a fresh up state and in fact a few become first up specialists winning first up each prep. If a horse always takes a few runs before winning then it is unlikely to win first up in a new prep.
Good Jockey/ Good Stable combinations: Always take note of what the top stables have in a race particularly when they put a top on top. The premiership table tells you what stables and riders you should be taking note of and taking note the above stats on the horse aligns then all the better.
Weight: Take note of what weight a horse can win with. Some will carry weight, others struggle. In open handicaps I like to see an up and coming horse down in the weights and the majority of the big open handicaps this season have been won by horses on or near the minimum. I also like to see horses winning well at the top of handicap in one grade going up to the next grade with a reduction in weight for they can often win again in the higher grade. An example Lovelight at Te Rapa last week.
Gear Changes: Keep an eye on gear changes on horses as they are being tried to improve a horses performance. ie the addition of blinkers on a horse that isn’t concentrating or a tongue tie as the horse may be getting his tongue over the bit.
Dropping Back In Class: Also note horses that are coming back in grade especially from black type races and are meeting far easier horses than they have been racing against. Ie A perfect example was the 3yo Melody Belle coming back from the G1 Railway Stakes where she finished sixth against older horses to a G3 against her own age group and of course she thrashed them.
2yos & 3yos: Good 2yo and 3yos can maintain their form against their own age group and race consistently well with some putting a string of wins together. So look out for such horses.
Doing proper form out of trials is like discovering a gold mine. Some people won’t back a first starter just because it is a first starter but if you do your homework you can reap the rewards. Learn to read the trials, some heats winners will never win a race and yet placed and unplaced runners can win on debut. Picking them out is the key. If you can spot good horses at the trials and they are on debut against maidens they are big chances. Looking is the key, if they win make sure they are travelling comfortably to the line and look for horses behind that are under a hold etc. To become good this practice by looking at the trials try picking out ones that you think will go well on debut write then down and see how you go, alternatively when a first starter does win go back and look at it’s trial to see how it actually went. It is well worth the time to become competent in this area. Examples of what to look for is King’s Cross winning a trial at Cambridge before wining at Ellerslie fresh up and Rosa Carolina finishing unplaced at Te Aroha before winning fresh up at Te Rapa. So have at look at those two trials for starters.
I am not big on doing sectionals yet others do a hell of a lot work in this area. I will look at sectionals just to tell me what a horse is capable of running given the right circumstances. Some people look at a race sectional thinking because a horse ran the fastest last 800m or 600m whatever that is was the best run in the race. Nothing could be further than the truth. You can have a horse that is trapped wide on a fast pace that battles on and is not far behind the leaders and that run is better than a horse sitting off the speed and running home along the inner with a faster last sectional. You can have a horse being unlucky in behind when failing to get a run etc etc. Just be aware the quickest last sectional may not be not the best guide coming out of a race. The next start the race may be run differently, going the other way around etc etc so conditions are totally different. So many times I hear of a horse doing a fastest last sectional but not going on and winning next start. My opinion is caution. I prefer to watch the race and look at the overall time and you will always pick up those closing with quicker sectionals anyway. Horses that can break 1:10 at Ellerslie for 1200m is a good gallop. So spending a lot of time on sectionals may have appeal for some however I prefer to spend it elsewhere. Each to their own.
Always try and work out where your horse will end up in the running. It may not work out every time but most times it will if you have done your homework right. Look at where it has drawn and it’s normal race pattern and take note of any potential pacemaker/s. A horse that races on or near the lead can get a soft run from an inside gate as it doesn’t have to do a lot of work (look at Melody Belle’s win and Julius’s win karaka Millions night) whereas if it has drawn out wide it may have to work harder to get to the lead or it could possibly be trapped wide if it can’t get across. Alternatively a horse that is not a great beginner and gets back in the running can get into an awkward position from an inside gate and will need luck back midfield or worse and stuck on the fence. It a horse who is a leader and gets a soft run in front can often kick turning in and be very hard to run down. Look at Bizzwinkle’s win in the Stratford Cup as a perfect example of this. So take note of your horse’s normal way of racing, where it has drawn and how much tempo will be in the race as to where it would probably settle. In all my race previews I note where I believe the horse will settle in the running based on the above.
Take note of where the running rail is positioned on the day as that positioning can create biases. On tight track with the rail out a fair way it can create a front runners bias as can a rail being moved back into say the true position after being out for a number of meetings. This leaves fresh ground that has not been used and horses that race in or on the speed end up with a quicker surface than those that have got back and have to come wider outside that strip in rougher ground particularly in the earlier races on the day. On that note also look for any bias happening with regard to the early winners ie where they have been in the running and what part of the track that they have been winning on.
HOT AND COLD
Stables go hot and cold, jockeys go hot and cold and so do punters, we all have our turn at ups and downs. And for no particular reason, despite doing the same as usual the birdie is not on the shoulder and nothing goes right. The stable stops winning, as does a jockey as does a punter yet the opposite can apply when everything wins and it all seems easy. Tony Pike has had a quiet season for example and the other day out of his last ten starters he had seven winners two seconds and a third. So it is with punting. You can have a run where you could back a donkey in the Derby and it wins and times when you could back Phar Lap in a maiden and it would run last. Make the most of those hot runs and when it goes cold pull back on the dollars when having a punt until when things come right again. Ying and Yang. Bet with your head and don’t chase your money if you have a bad trot. Patience costs nothing and can save you a lot.
So there are some thoughts lads off the top of my head that I have quickly put together, there is probably something obvious that I have missed but hopefully some of the above will be of some help and gets your winning percentage up also. It may look a lot written down and you think what a lot of effort but following the same analysis becomes habit and second nature and becomes quick and easy to do just like driving a car. Just remember it’s not exactly a science, luck’s a fortune and one never stops learning.
Good luck and most of all enjoy your punting.
Ted & BGP!!