Neil Davis is one of NZ’s leading form analysts. He runs the www.formpro.co.nz website.

If you want to bet like a professional then I strongly suggest you use this staking plan. If you want to have any chance of making a long term profit then you must follow all three of the following rules.

RULE 1. SELECT REGULAR WINNERS

Have a sound selection method or system of selecting winners. ?If you can regularly pick winners then you have rule number one in place. ?If you don’t then maybe that’s where I can help you out. ?

RULE 2. RATE THE HORSE’S CHANCE WITH A $$$$ VALUE
We need to put a price on what we think its realistic chances are. If you think your selection is in with a royal show and the likely dangers aren’t suited by the track conditions, or the likely pace of the race or for whatever reasons, then rate it at $2 or less. If there is one other realistic chance, price it between $2.05 and $3.50.

When there are two or more, price it at $3.55 or more. ?After a while you will get ?pretty good at it.

The important thing to remember is to think as though you are a bookie setting the odds. ?What price would you be prepared to offer to others to back him? ?The price can vary from $1.10 up to $10.

It is best to err on the high side when you first start doing this as pricing it too low, as you’ll find out, can lead to betting too much of your bank.

On heavy tracks, never price a horse below $2.50. There are just too many variables when races are run on heavy tracks and anything below that price is unrealistic. I do it on the rare occasion but the school of hard knocks has taught me not to get greedy when punting on heavy tracks.

Let’s take an example. At Waipa NZ on July 8 a horse called Osmeheeps lined up in an R83 1600m race. At his previous appearance in a PQ race over 1900m at Rotorua he was only just run down in the late stages of the race by a very smart horse in Ex Ex Al, with daylight back to 3rd.

The time for the race was slightly faster on comparison to Miles which won the main handicap race impressively, so that in itself told me this horse was at the peak of his form. The PQ race had a Class Rating (or CR: average of the top six official ratings figures the NZ Handicapper gives to each horse), of 89 and he ?dropped to a CR80 at Waipa which is a big drop in class.

He went from 0.5kg over the minimum to 2kg over so it wasn’t a major increase. The only negative factor was his lack of form going right handed but he had shown me enough going that way to say this fit strong horse should be too good for these.

The dangers were both jumping up in class from R76 races and one of them, Our Cashman, had a 3kg allowance which put him in with a chance. So, I would have priced Osmeheeps at $2.50 (remember, never less than $2.50 on heavy tracks) but because Our Cashman looked a danger, I eased him out to $3.

Finally, one more crucial point, do this before you look at the market. The bookies’ prices could affect how you price your selections. Once you have done this for a while you will have the confidence to do it well.

Now onto the question of how much do we bet?

RULE 3. THE BETTER THE VALUE, THE BIGGER THE BET
This is where we need to find the VALUE for our selections. To make a long term profit we need to find value. This is a staking plan that allows you to work out how much to put on when your selection is paying more than your rated price. If you can’t get a price at more than your rated price you can still back it but that is your call. ?

I back them occasionally ?but ?I know it’s the good value selections that will really make up for any losses and give ?me a chance to make a long term profit.

Below is the table to show you the first step in working out your bet. I’ll refer to bets in units as the amount of each unit will depend on what you can afford.

In these examples I’ll make each unit worth $10 to make it easier to work out.

STEP 1
If your rated price (RP) ?is $2.00 or less then bet three units.
If your RP is between $2.05 and $3.50 bet two units.
And anything over $3.55 bet 1 unit.

STEP 2
Now this is where the beauty of this staking plan comes in. Basically, it allows you to bet more when there is a better price than your rated price.

If you have rated your selection at $2 and you are able to obtain a price of $4 you are getting excellent value. Now to work out how much you bet you divide the TAB price by your rated price. ?

So four divided by two equals two . . . piece of cake so far. I call that the Value Factor.

You then multiply the units indicated in Step 1, in this case 3 units, by the Value Factor, which in this case is 2. ?This works out to be 6 units and that is the amount you put on your selection.

Let’s use Osmeheeps as an example. I have priced him at $3 and I wait to see what the bookies open him at. They set a price of $4 which I thought was okay but elected to wait as there were other horses in the race, one ridden by in form jockey Opie Bosson and another Goldsinga was trained by Mike Moroney. And of course there was Our
Cashman which they opened at $9, a rather generous price.

Then, when Des Coppins made his value bet of the day Our Cashman, I knew I should wait as long as possible as he would firm and the others should blow out. And that is exactly what happened. Osmeheeps wasn’t talked about much by commentators George Simon and Steve Davis.

They were talking up the chances of Our Cashman and Ave Maree which meant that Osmeheeps just kept on creeping out. He actually eased out to $6FF and $6.80 on the tote. So I had the choice of whether to back him on the tote or Fixed Odds. I decided on Fixed Odds. It was easy to work out the bet.

The units to put on a Rated Price of $3 is two units.

$6FF divided by my rated price of $3 equalled a Value Factor of two.

So two units multiplied by the Value Factor of two equals four and that was the number of units I bet.

Let’s take a bit more complex case.

I have rated Horse A at $2.80 and I can obtain a price of $3.60.

The units to bet on Horse A from Step 1 are 2.

The Value Factor is 3.6 divided by 2.8 = 1.29.

Multiply the two units by 1.29 = 2.58 units.

So if you were betting in $10 units you would have $26 on Horse A.

Occasionally you will get a situation where you have rated your horse at say $2.50 and you find that you can obtain $20 which works out to be a bet of 16 units which is a big proportion of your bank. ?

Therefore, I strongly suggest you place a maximum of 10 units on any one race. I say “race” as sometimes you may want to dutch a race and back two or more in the race.

Now, there are two ?more things that you need to do to ?give yourself every possible chance of making a long term profit – get a bank in place and keep records.

If you are going to make use of the NZ TAB Fixed Odds then your unit could be as low as $2.50 as most of your bets will be 2 units or more. Your bank needs to have 200 units to sustain the inevitable long losing runs. That equals a starting bank of $500.

You don’t need to have that straight away but I’d strongly suggest you do this on paper till you get the hang of it.

?During that time take a percentage Pick 6 or a Poker bet for a small amount to give you an interest for the day and start stashing your betting allowance away in a TAB phone account or bank account.

When you feel confident to have a go with your hard earned then start betting using this staking plan. Even if you haven’t reached the $500 or whatever you have worked out what your bank should be, you can start betting this way and just add your allowance to it until you have enough in there.

By all means, have your other bets such as trifectas and trebles, but if you haven’t got the discipline to leave your bank alone for these win bets, open another phone account or get someone you trust to ring your bets through on a phone account that you don’t know the account and pin number for. You do the selecting, your trusted partner looks after the financial side of it.

Keep records. You will learn so much from it. It only needs to be a notebook with the date, track, class of race, selection, reasons for backing it, amount bet and balance. I can guarantee that it will save you money simply because it will stop you having impulse bets when you are having a losing day.

Plus you will see a pattern emerging. If you are new to racing and betting, this habit alone will benefit you more than anything else. After six months you will find out where your strengths and weaknesses are. You may find that you are good at selecting winners in certain types of races.

I found that my strike rate and profits were at their best in stakes races so I tend to lower my rated price in these races knowing that this is where I will be making most of my money.

You may find that at certain tracks you do better, or horses that you rate at $3 or less make you the most money. There are plenty of things that it can reveal so it is definitely worth the two or three minutes spent writing it down or recording it on your computer.

Keep one thing in mind. Less than 1 per cent of punters make a long term profit from punting and what I’ve outlined above is going to give you every chance of being part of that 1 per cent. Don’t get sucked into the multis with the bulk of your betting funds.

The odds are stacked against you. By all means have a couple of small ones but stick to what you know is going to give you a realistic chance of making a profit and keep you in this great racing game.

By Neil Davis

PRACTICAL PUNTING – MAY 2007

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