If you're like most punters, you find it terribly hard getting your form facts and figures into some sort of order.

It's all very well to study the form and jot down remarks at the side of the newspaper guide, but when you come to put it all together, you find it's an awful jumble of notes and figures!

Something I learned many years ago was to get all my thoughts and reckonings into a pattern in front of me. This has been helped even more in recent years because of the advent of the computer, but I realise that not all punters have the advantage of a personal computer. This article is aimed at those of you who want to see what you THINK in front of you in an easy-to-follow fashion.

Basically, the aim is to teach you how to use charts to assemble all the data about any particular horse in any race. I have come up with three charts for jotting down form notes, and one for following a horse's . .... according to a graph. I am sure you will find them tremendously useful and thought-provoking.

Let's look at Chart A. It enables you to judge a field according to LAST START PERFORMANCE, WEIGHT COMPARISON, JOCKEY, BETTING and PERSONAL OBSERVATION.

You set your Chart A out exactly as I have opposite. Once you have ruled it off you can easily get dozens of copies printed.

Now you are able to look at the race as a whole and quickly eliminate those runners which obviously make little appeal. Your personal observations' should take into account what you think of the horse, what you thought about its last run, or what your estimation of its scope for improvement might be. A typical ,personal observation' might be something like this:

(a)    Blocked for run last Saturday;unlucky.
(b)    Form okay, suspect this distance.
(c)    Fast finish fast Thursday Improving.
(d)    Apprentice rider; lacks appeal.

Then you compare its weight in today's race with the weight it carried last start, and you jot down if it has gone up or down in weight. Just write +1 or -2 or whatever the weight switch happens to be.

Write down the jockey's names next, so you know exactly who is riding each horse when the time comes for the final assessment. If the final choice is between a good and moderate jockey on two horses then go for the better rider. For the betting section, allot points in order of lines of favouritism but only take into account those horses on the first six lines of betting (points to be six for the favourite, five for the second favourite(s) and so on. Most races are won by horses who are on the first six lines of betting in the prepost morning newspaper market.

Chart B is a different one altogether and allows you to allot points for each particular aspect of a race. You then tally the points to discover which horses appear to have the best prospects (more points, more chance). With this chart, you take into account the following:

LAST START, BARRIER DRAW, BETTING POSITION, JOCKEY ASSESSMENT, ABILITY TO HANDLE DISTANCE, WEIGHT OVER THE LIMIT. To allot points for a horse's last-start performance, you give five for a win it it was in the same class as today's race and three if it won in a lesser class.

Horses that ran 2nd in the same class receive four points, and 3rd placegetters three points. Fourth placegetters received two points and those horses 5th and worse just one point. For horses which raced in a lesser grade last start, 2nd placegetters get two points and 3rd placegetters one point. Horses unplaced in a lesser grade get NO points.

Horses drawn in barriers one to five receive three points, those in six to 10 get two points and those in 11 and worse receive one point. With the betting, allot 10 points for the favourite(s), nine points for horses on the second line of betting, then 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 for the other lines of betting. With jockeys, you give a bonus two points for any rider you consider to be well above average; we are talking here about riders like Michael Clarke, Harry White, Greg Hall, Mal Johnson, Mick Dittman, etc.

Cheek through the form to see if a horse has performed well at the distance of today's race. If it has WON over the trip then give it three points; if it has run well over the distance then give it two points.

Finally, take note of the amount of weight each horse is carrying over the Limit weight in today's race and DEDUCT it from the other totalled points. So, if a horse is carrying 57 kgs on a 51 kgs Limit, then you deduct six points from its score.

The horses with the highest points are the main chances in the race. This is a very simple, but most effective, way of tackling form assessment and throws up a high percentage of winners. Your chart should look like Chart 'B' opposite.

The final idea is one that I picked up in America some years ago. It came from one of California's best known 'handicappers' (or, tipsters as we know them). He told me that it had worked well for him for 20 years.He lays his chart out like Chart 'C'.

Now what this means is as follows:

He is looking to find all the negatives about a horse! Naturally, the ones with the MOST negative aspects are the ones to avoid. Thus we have the following sections of the chart HOW MANY POOR RUNS IN THE LAST FOUR OUTINGS, HOW BADLY DRAWN, HOW MANY TIMES BEATEN AT LESS THAN 4-1 LATEST FOUR RUNS, ALLOT POINTS FOR LINE OF BETTING (15 for last line of betting, 14 for second line from bottom, 13, 12, 11, etc.) down to 4th line of betting! no points deducted for horses on first three lines of betting, WEIGHT OVER LIMIT.

You add up all the points and it's the horses with the LEAST number of points which are the best chances. Get the idea? You are handing out points for negative aspects and so the more points a horse has the LESS chance he has of winning. This one is well worth trying out at your local racetracks. I have done some testing on Melbourne and Sydney racing and the results, on a limited number of races, have been most encouraging.

The extra idea is to use a graph to chart a horse's recent form efforts. You mark the paper as in Chart 'D' . Now you can see at a glance whether a horse's form is on the improve or going off the boil. The problem with this method is that you need a separate sheet of paper for each horse, so is is probably best to restrict its use to one or two races per day.

All the ideas put forward here are to give you an ORDERLY approach to your form study. You really do need to collect your thoughts into some sort of order when you are assessing races, and the use of charts, and the allotment of points, is a tried and proven way of assembling your thoughts.

My suggestion is that you test each of the four ideas, to see which one suits you best. Chart A enables you to write down pertinent points and then make a subjective judgement on which horses seem to possess winning prospects. Chart B is a straightforward points method which takes into consideration six vital factors in form assessment. Chart C zeros in on the negative aspects of runners and quickly enables you to spot those horses with little chance of winning. The graph helps you to trace a horse's recent form to discover whether it has 'peaked' or is dropping in form.


By Statsman