The 'value revolution' – brought about by Don Scott's decision to publicise his method of pricing horses – is something that many serious punters regret at times.

Of course, that regret for the long gone days of the huge overlay is balanced by the knowledge that if Don had not gone public we might still have been 'in the dark' about the whole thing anyhow! Few of us would have learned how to 'rate' horses to assess their true chances, and thus true price, in a race.

It's unlikely we would ever have heard of the legendary Pittsburgh Phil; the Legal Eagles might have remained a mythical group of super-successful punters rather than the well-known personalities (including the current AJC chairman) that they now are.

Don Scott's legacy has been that betting to prices is now a difficult and dangerous exercise.

With most bookmakers either doing their own ratings or having a 'ratings man' on the team, the value is simply not there often enough to balance the upset results which racing consistently throws up.

What is needed, then, is something new, and perhaps it is already in use! just as the medical industry adapts to new strains of bacteria by coming up with new antibiotics, so the betting industry must overcome the lack of value by reinventing the wheel.

A group of South Australian punters may have done just that. For some time now this group has been successfully attacking bookies and the tote using a method I'll call the 'Power Play' overlays. The logic behind the approach is simple: If the bookmakers won't offer you good overlays - create your own!

Let's say that you are a form student (or that you subscribe to a respected racing/pricing service). What sort of strike rate could you expect if you looked at your two top-rated horses in each race? Forty per cent? Perhaps better? You'll be surprised just how many winners can be found in the top two selections - if your form analysis is sharp.

Why not price these two horses as if they were the only chances in the race? Let's take a simple example. On January 9, in the first race at Eagle Farm, I had the following two horses as the main selections:

Brother's Pack4/1
As you can see, these two runners made up only 50 per cent of the market (100 per cent) when the rest of the field was included in the pricing. However, if we make the assumption that Jessob and Brother's Pack are the only real chances and reprice them to 100 per cent we come up with:

Brother's Pack7/4
We then back both runners as if they were the only chances in the race. In this instance, Brother's Pack won at 9/1, so it's a good example, but had Jessob won there was plenty of 5/1 available. (The total outlay on this bet would be $100, made up of $62 on Jessob and $38 on Brother's Pack. At 9/1, the win on Brother's Pack returned $380, giving a profit of $280 on the total $100 stake for the pair).

Now, in theory, if you price these two horses to 100 per cent you are saying that one of them must win- If the prices you then come up with are the same as those available from the bookies or totes, they must win every race. If you can average a double overlay about each price, you only need to come up with the winner much less often.

If you can average a triple overlay, you need to find the winner in your top two even less frequently. As you can see from the example I have provided, the type of overlay available can be much better than a triple overlay and, logically, it always would be.

In the case of Jessob, it was around the mark. In the case of Brother's Pack, it was well in excess of a triple overlay. In fact, repricing the top two selections in this fashion means that you end up with two horses which are priced very short. Most times, if thinking in terms of price, you are looking at something like one horse at 4/7 and one at 7/4. Naturally, you will usually be backing two horses at much longer prices than these.

Thus, provided you can maintain a reasonable strike rate, you must be ahead using these 'PowerPlay' overlays. The icing is well and truly on the cake if you use a Target Betting Method. One survey I conducted showed a theoretical bank of $10,000 becoming $30,412 in 10 meetings. The strike rate of winners in the top two in that period was 48.75 per cent (that is, 80 races in 10 meetings) and the winner was found in the top two 39 times.

The Target Betting Method employed was a 4-point plan using an initial target of 20 per cent of the bank (that is, $2000) *

To begin using this quite revolutionary method you first need to come up with a source of a market from which you can safely extract the top two choices knowing that the strike rate of winners in that pair is acceptable.

You then have to convert the prices that that betting market provides for the top two into 'Power Play' overlays. The source of your initial pricing does not matter provided it can be shown to be reliable.

It might be wise to avoid the early markets published in the newspapers. In times gone by, cynics often said that these were hastily produced by the newspaper's cleaning lady and bore little resemblance to reality! In many cases, things have improved little in this particular area.

Your most important consideration is the STRIKE RATE of the top two when seeking your source of an original market to adapt. You then have to convert the prices of the top two selections to a 100 per cent market. In fact, this move makes your staking easier if you deal in percentages from this point, rather than prices.

To convert the prices, you'll need to do some nifty work with a calculator. Here is an example:

Consider that the top two selections are priced at 6/4 and 4/1.
6/4 = 40 per cent.
4/1 = 20 per cent.

Repricing to 100 percent, simply add the total of the percentages (in this case 60) and arrive at each new percentage by the following formula:


of the new market, or 67 (price 1/2) per cent. (In simple terms, this formula means you divide 40 by 60 and then multiply the result by 100.)

You do not need to actually price the second horse because it will merely take up the remaining percentage out of 100 (in this case, 33 per cent, price 2/1).

But if you wanted to do the exercise, you would divide 20 by 60 and then multiply by 100, giving you 33.33 per cent, which is then rounded off to 33).

We now have the two horses forming a 100 per cent market and we leave them expressed as percentages because it is so easy to decide how much to have on each. If you are betting $100 per race, you simply have $67 on the original 6/4 chance and $33 on the original 4/1 chance. If your outlay is more or less than $100 a race, it is still much easier to calculate each bet from the percentage figures than from new prices.

(If you were betting, say, $20 per race you would merely divide the final figures by 5. Thus, the horse with a percentage of 67 would call for a bet of $13 and the other horse would require a $7 bet.)

Now, target betting involves setting a target to be won in a series, usually around 20 per cent of the available bank. A divisor is employed in this case a divisor of 4. The divisor reduces by the odds obtained about a winner. Note that the bet placed on the second horse which did not win has to be taken into account. It remains unaltered when a winner is not found.

You will see from the following table of recent results that under the columns headed '1st' and '2nd' are the amounts bet on the FIRST and SECOND rated horses after their prices have been adjusted to 100 per cent. The column 'W/L' indicates whether they won or lost. 'SP' is their starting price and the other columns refer to the divisor (which starts at 4). The target in this case is $2000 and the initial bank was $10,000. Any multiple of these figures can be used.

3389/4W162 2/1 L 2000 4 10598
300 3/1 L 200 11/2 L 1402 2.8 10098
4399/2 L 2395/2 L 1902 2.8 9420
552 4/1 W 368 7/2 L 2580 2.8 11260
425 5/2 W 260 7/2 L 2740 4 12063
395 8/1 L 290 9/2 W 1937 2.8 12972
374 10/1 L 311 8/1 W 1028 15 15089
298 15/8 L 202 9/4 L 2000 4 14589

As you can see, the bank grew from $10,000 to $14,589, a profit of $4,589 with a strike rate of 5 winners in 8 races (62.5 per cent). These 8 races cover the first of the 10 meetings I mentioned earlier. You will note that the winner was found 5 times, which is a little higher than the overall strike rate experienced over the 10 meetings. The prices of the winners were 9/4, 4/1, 5/2, 9/2 and 8/1. Naturally, these prices constitute considerable overlays on the top two selections, as repriced.

The divisor has been reduced to zero twice, after the 4th and 7th bets. You will see that it then reverts back to 4 and you begin a new series.

'We may be talking here about the next generation of profitable punting'

By James Bruce