There are those who claim they never bet on midweek races. I doubt if there are many professionals among their ranks. Most of the pro's I know like nothing better than to bet on the city and provincial midweeks.

They say there is much value to be gleaned by making an all-out assault on the races run on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. One of them told me only the other day: "A significant part of my annual income comes from the midweeks. If it's a madness to bet midweek, then I love it!"

How can the average rank-and-file punter make some money midweek? As a video and turn-and-finish photos fanatic, my first advice is to study all the 'visuals' you can lay your hands on. I know the Hoyt's Turf Talk video costs a lot of money every week, but if you can afford it, do yourself a favour and subscribe.

One idea is to chip in with a friend or two for the service. You can then take turns looking at the video replays, and even compare notes on what you discover. If you can't get the Turf Talk videos, then at least do some work on the turn-and-finish photos.

The Sportsman runs the city midweeks 'turn and finish' strips and they are particularly useful for spotting good runs. The key point with the Sportsman's service is that it comes with a complete results chart and an observant commentary on each race.

For the Sydney meetings on Wednesdays, the Sportsman now runs Chartform, a most helpful feature which gives you a complete rundown on each horse's racing history and current race statistics, listed in the following order: Post Position, Weight, Starts, Wins, Percentage, Places, Percentage,  Average Prizemoney, Days since last start, Course performances, Distance performances, then performances on Good, Dead, Slow and Heavy conditions.

The two factors that I find most helpful are the Average Prizemoney earnings, and the days since a horse's last start. As far as form study goes, these points are vital.

A horse's average prizemoney earnings are a sound guide to its class and performance ability. Let's take just one recent midweek race as an example, the first at Canterbury on November 24. This was a 1250m sprint for three-year-old fillies.

The three horses with the best 'averages' on prizemoney were Pallid ($1957), Double Angle ($1665) and Mirak ($825). We can see from these figures that the first two horses we must closely examine are Pallid and Double Angle. This is where the factor of 'days since last start' comes into play.

We see that Pallid hasn't started for 186 days, while Double Angle had her last start only 14 days earlier. Pallid, then, was resuming after a break of some six months and although she had solid form during her last campaign there had to be a doubt about her first-up run.

There was no such doubt about Double Angle. She had five runs to her credit this time in and had finished a short-head 2nd at the same track a fortnight earlier, over 1280m, almost the same distance as today's race. Of the two with the highest average earnings, then, we lean strongly to Double Angle.

Mirak last raced 13 days previously, when 2nd at Wyong, and she is having the third run of her current campaign. She looks okay for this race, certainly a slightly better proposition than the race-starved Pallid (who also has to lug 55.5kg from barrier 16).

The result of this race was a win to Double Angle at 11/4, with Mirak in 3rd place at 13/2. Pallid, rather surprisingly, was backed into 5/2 favouritism but finished 4th.

You can easily narrow any midweek field down to a set of major chances simply by the application of the 'average earnings' clause. All you do is tick off the top three or four, and then analyse their form.

If they've had a long break fr6m racing, the first thing to do is check back to see if they have previously performed well fresh from a spell. If they have, all well and good. If not, or if they have no exposed form in this regard, then don't give them the benefit of the doubt!

To my way of thinking the midweek punter can combine THREE major elements to guide his thinking:

  1. Average prizemoney earnings
  2. Days since last start
  3. Close analysis of video replays and turn-and-finish photo strips.

Careful application of these factors can help you enormously in deciding which horses to support. Where average earnings are concerned, naturally the runner with the best (i.e. highest) average is the first one you really start to think about.

In this horse, you have the best runner, at least on form to date. Invariably, these highest earners will go well - if they don't win they will run a place more often than they'll run unplaced. If we take the Canterbury meeting I have mentioned as one example of the top earners:

R1: Pallid Lost 5/2
R2: Prince Hareb 2nd 5/2
R3: Sportsday WON 5/2
R4: Great Lover 2nd 11 /2
R5: Laudham Mist WON 13/4
R6: Pringle 2nd 9/10
R7: Another Drive Lost 13/4
R8: Mudhoney Lost 10/1
R9: Keep Cool 2nd 11 /4.

From nine races on the card, the highest average prizemoney earners won two and were placed in another four - that's six out of nine 'in the money' of 66 per cent. Not a bad strike rate at all.

So keep this all-important factor in mind. If you want to do other meetings, you will find it a little bit more difficult because the Sportsman only runs its Chartform for the Sydney meetings in its midweek edition. But, it does run a horse's total career earnings and its career starts, so all you have to do is divide the earnings by the number of starts to get any horse's average earnings.

Example: Career earnings: $23,789, Number of starts: 18. Average earnings: $1321. Get the idea? It's as simple as Grade 1 at school.

Study of form is all-important in midweek racing. You can't just pick and stab at the selections, because the formlines are mixed and varied, with runners coming from city and far distant country centres.

You have to learn to 'line up' form from places like Gilgandra and Warracknabeal against form from tracks like Moonee Valley, Flemington, Randwick and so on. It can be a tricky business.

Once again, you will find that earnings will give you a good picture of what a horse's career has really been worth. For example, you may see a horse has won 12 races but has a low average prizemoney earnings figure. This is a clear indication his wins have been in low-class races.

Another horse in the same race might have won the same number of races but have a much higher earnings average - a clear sign that his wins have been in better-class races than his rival has contested.

Apart from the angles I have talked about here, all the usual form rules apply to midweek racing, just as they do to weekend city racing. A good barrier draw can often mean the difference between winning and losing; you have to watch out for weight rises and drops that could prove significant; you need to check for good stables and good riders, and you have to ensure a runner can handle prevailing track conditions.

Midweek racing is a tough game. But it can be tamed and beaten if you stick to a few sensible rules. Try to narrow down the main chances as quickly as you can (and I've outlined here what you can do to do just that) and then make sure you scrutinise these chance runners closely.

Leave as little to chance as you can. In races where there are two or more first-starters - ignore it. Many times the first-starters will win midweek races, their trainers having cleverly set them for first-up victories.

With debut runners, the formguide knows very little, apart from possible barrier trial performances, which often are not enough to prove conclusive guides. So - too many first starters, have a cuppa tea.

This is a brief rundown on ‘midweek madness' which you, with a bit of common sense, can change to 'midweek marvels'- lots of profit and not too much pain at all. 

By Michael Kemp