Recently I selected Hunza's Ace to win for the Computer Service. He ran nowhere, but turned up the next Tuesday, still in town, and won at 7-2 after 9-2 was bet. I wasn't very impressed.

It set me wondering, and this month I want to talk to you about beaten favourites. I could offer a whole lot of past instances, but I would much prefer and I suspect you would too-to talk about this phenomenon and ask some pertinent questions.

In Britain many years ago there was a man named David Saxon. He sold his system for years through the now defunct Sporting Chronicle. Its basis was, if I recall correctly, backing beaten favourites who were strongly fancied at their next start.

You know, that makes a heck of a lot of sense. If the horse does badly and you have outlaid your money, you want to recoup. Now if the horse is in winning form, you can't risk mucking about too long. It's all very well for the smarties to talk about which horse is "going" and which is "dead", but when a horse is fit enough to win a decent race, there will be very few owners and trainers who do not try.

You HAVE to try to win at every opportunity today. The money is so good, and the opposition so evenly graded, that you can't "smoke" a horse into a bush race somewhere, run a dead-un, then turn up again in town for a killing, just doesn't happen any more.

So I thought, what if one were to look at the results of beaten favourites over a period, as far as their next start(s) were concerned. The figures in England from some seasons back still make interesting reading:

Beaten favourites racing again within 28 days: 664
Winners: 181 (27%).
Average Odds: 4-1.
Return: 905 (36% profit).

So far as I know there are no figures for the U.S.A., which is virtually all-tote anyway, and none recently for Britain.

Occasionally I note a paper here will include "bf" in its form guide, indicating that the horse was a beaten favourite at its last run. However, "The Australian usually includes a "b", which has exactly the same meaning.

You can always find the information in the actual form guide itself, and it is an indication that the majority of punters betting on that race regarded this horse as the best chance of winning . . . a not insignificant point!

Beaten favourites racing outside that 28-day period returned a significant loss, according to my information. That is logical, since most horses hold their form for a relatively limited period.

My question, therefore, becomes:

How do we use this general observation to make a specific improvement in our betting technique? And I suggest the following:

Make a list of the factors which are freely available about every horse in the race which interests you. If every race interests you, Heaven alone can help you, as you are destined to go broke. But if you have been a P.P.M. person for a while you will be well aware of that, and it will not be a factor. Mind you, I sit at the races near a chap who has money to burn and bets on every race, quinellas, trifectas, doubles, each way, etc., etc. He bets in dollars and two dollars, outlays (I guess) maybe $250 a day on Sydney and Melbourne, usually gets seven or eight returns (or more on a good day), and has a great time of it. But he doesn't need the money! We do.

Here are the factors that you can get from three sources:

  1. The paper.
  2. My ratings.
  3. The P.P.M. index.
    (a) FORM for last four starts at least.
    (b) ABILITY to handle distance.
    (c) RECENT outstanding trackwork.
    (d) ABILITY to handle the track and condition of the track.
    (e) COMMENTS by experts.
    (f) RIDER, BARRIER suitability.

And to that, if you find a "b" or "bf", you can add a vital piece of information: that the horse was regarded as a good thing by many people last start.

My inclination would be to keep a page or two in your notebook and try the horse for two starts. It could back up too soon, or run in one unsuitable race to help everybody forget, then strike.

I used a plan in a recent issue of Banker Weekly that might be of help here. We present one of these every week in the Weekly. If you find ten suitable "bf" horses, you ought to expect at least one to win at 4-1. The idea is not much good if you can't get that, and anyway the horse that started all this thinking won at 7-2 after 1 got 9-2.The bets are:

Bets One, Two and Three at one unit,
Bet Four is 1.5 units,
Bets Five and Six two units,
Bets Seven and Eight are three units,
Bets Nine and Ten are five units.

The 10th bet will return 24 for a 24.5 total outlay on this basis, and it represents a marginal loss, but picks up all previous outlays. You could extend Bet Ten to six units if you liked, and hope that the winner falls there, returning 28 for a 25.5 outlay. The staking plan is pliable in this regard.

By The Optimist