Last month I began telling you about the quick, time-saving method I use to simplify 'doing the form'. Initially I look for potential losers.

First among these is potential LOSING RACES. To quickly sort these out I have three basic rules. Except when I have the occasional low-cost bet just for "fun, enjoyment or sentiment"

  1. I do not bet on any race that is not run on a metropolitan track (and I restrict venues on that score - but more about that in another column).
  2. As much as I love watching them, I do not bet on races over 'jumps' (hurdles and steeples).
  3. I do not bet on any race that has more than 15 starters.
  4. I do not bet on any race run over a distance shorter than 1200 metres.

I'll explain briefly why I have those rules that not only massively reduce the amount of form study, but increase both my strike rate and average winning-odds:

RULE (a):
As I'm sure you know, out-of town form is not very reliable. Usually the horses are of poorer quality. So, too, the jockeys in the main are of a poorer standard.

Remember that I've outlined my basic punting rule: I must be extremely confident before I put my money down. Obviously it is impossible to be extremely confident if the quality of horse is less than reliable and the riders are risky.

As a third factor against out-of-town meetings, there is usually insufficient published form available to allow for the detailed study that I like to do. I can get data-base form via my computer (and it's very helpful), but I like the full-form detail of the Sportsman or the less-detailed, but more informative (in certain aspects), Wizard.

Whoever first voiced the catch phrase "the bigger the field, the greater the certainty" was, to my mind, a fool. World-wide, fields are generally restricted to 14 or less runners, as my colleague Michael Kemp pointed out in his column last month. (The editor tells me that a reader has written to 'Winning Post' in this month's issue (page 37) suggesting that Australians would get bored with races so restricted in number. I can tell you - from more than 30 years' experience - there is nothing more boring than seeing the horse you've backed being hopelessly bottled-up, or never out of trouble, or 20-wide on the home turn in a very large field.

RULE (b):
There was a period when I made quite a good living from betting on 'jumps' races. Generally I backed the horses trained by the leading trainers and ridden by the leading jockeys. ( I go back to great jumps trainers like Des McCormick and, to my mind, the greatest of all 'jumps' riders, the ill-fated B.R. Smith, who was killed in a racing fall.

Brian was then the husband of Kath Smith, who has since become a well-known and highly-respected Victorian trainer. Through the 1950s Brian was the idol of punters. Most days he won the 'jumps' double (hurdle and steeple) but seldom did he miss riding at least one of the two 'over-the-sticks' events.

Where I lived then - slap bang in the middle of the Sydney 'racing district' - with Randwick, Victoria Park, Rosebay and Moorefield tracks encircling my district and S.P. operators abounding - most punters started the day's activities by doubling their punting banks.

This was simply a matter of "sticking it all on B.R. Smith in the first in Melbourne!" I think he was the reason why most shops used to close at 12 o'clock on Saturday in that era so that the workers could have a chance to back "B.R. Smith in the first in Melbourne". It was a catch-cry!

Most punters didn't even know the name of his mount. It was just a matter of putting your money on "B.R. Smith" and S.P. bookies would record the bet in their ledgers as such.

On through the years I developed a grateful, far-off 'winning affinity' with such great 'jumps' riders as Ron Hall (father of Greg), the great Ted Byrne, Nick Harnett and today's heroes Mick Patton, Brian Constable and Jamie Evans - who, to be fair dinkum, probably wouldn't have enjoyed the success they have if it were not for great 'jumps' trainers like Jim Houlihan and Eric Musgrove. But, somehow, there's not the kind of single-jockey domination that existed back in my distant past.

Gosh - now look what's happened. Carried away in reverie about races that now I seriously don't even bet on, I've run out of space - and I'm only up to Rule 1, sub-section (b). But I hope I've rekindled some pleasant memories for old-time punters.

Besides, there's so much other valuable punting advice contained in this month's issue of PPM, digesting mine a little at a time may be the best way to go.

Next month I'll get back on track and continue telling you how to find losers (unless memories waylay me)!

Click here to read Part 1.
Click here to read Part 3.
Click here to read Part 4.

By Russ Writer

PRACTICAL PUNTING - AUGUST 1994

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