The really keen punters who dabble with greyhound racing like to study form. If they are super-keen, they'll also attend the dog meetings and take note of greyhounds who perform well.

I'm well aware, however, that most punters are off-course punters and their 'view' of greyhound racing in most cases is limited to what they might see on Sky Channel at the pub, or club. This article is written for those sort of punters.

What I am about to explain is a simplified aspect of form study. It's one that was used years back by bookmakers in England, and probably still is, though I haven't heard of anyone in Australia using it very much.

What you do is concentrate your attention on the top-fancied four dogs. Sort these out from the pre-post market (ensure it's an accurate one!) or from a newspaper tipsters' poll. Once you have the best four dogs, you set about sorting them out in the following fashion:

There are six sets of two with four greyhounds. Let's say they are greyhounds A, B, C and D. The sets are made up as follows:

A-B .... A-C .... A-D .... B-C .... B-D .... C-D.

What you have to do is look at each set of two dogs and decide which one can beat the other.

Let's assume you look first at dogs A and B. Now A is drawn in Box 1 and is a last-start winner on the track over the same distance from Box 2. He's a railer and is well-fancied at 5-4 favourite. Dog B is having its first run on the track and is a last-start winner on a country track over a slightly shorter trip. Dog B is drawn in Box 5. Summing up the form, you decide A can definitely beat B.

Okay, now you measure A up against C. Dog C ran 5th last start at another city track over virtually the same distance but was checked several times. At his previous start he also struck trouble and finished 4th at the present track. He is drawn in Box 7. Taking all things into account, it looks like Dog A has preference.

Now you check Dog A against Dog D. This dog is drawn in Box 8 and was 2nd to Dog A, beaten three lengths, over this distance at the same track last start. He is a consistent dog but likes to rail so the wide draw won't help. Once again, Dog A is preferred.

Now we assess Dog B with Dog C. All things considered, it looks as if Dog C has an edge over Dog B. Now we compare Dog B with Dog D. Even though Dog D is drawn wide he is a proven city greyhound as against the newcomer from the country, who is awkwardly drawn. So we say that Dog D can beat Dog B. Now we come to Dogs C and D against each other. These look closely graded, but Dog D takes a slight preference because of his good last start effort, while Dog C has shown a tendency to get into trouble and is not all that well boxed out in 7.

So we sum up as follows: Dog A is the No. 1 selection. The second selection has to be Dog D, then in third spot comes Dog C and in fourth spot Dog B.

Get the idea? You pair off the four top dogs and then, bit by bit, you analyse them until you have worked out the expected positions in which they will finish. It's a step-by-step, logical and easy to follow method of form analysis.

You can, if you wish, extend the number of dogs to five or six, but then the amount of calculations you have to do becomes more extensive. Five dogs means 10 sets of two, while six dogs means 15 sets of two.

You can allot points if you wish to simplify things even further. Allot three points for each 'win' in a pair. For instance, using the above example, Dog A would have secured nine points, Dog D would have got six points and Dog C three points.

Let's look at another example, and see what you' think. My analysis is printed at the end of this article, but do yours first.

DOG A: Drawn in Box 4, he ran 2nd at the same track last start, beaten a neck, after getting away slowly. The time was fast. This dog is a railer and a slow beginner who finishes fast.

DOG B: He has won his last three starts at another city track, but has raced well at this track before. At his last start at this track, he finished 5th in a similar class/distance race, beaten five lengths from Box 8. He has Box 2 and usually begins well.

DOG C: He has been racing well on country tracks, and is a last start winner from Box 5 at a country track over a similar distance. He has raced well in the city before. He has Box 5 and is regarded as a moderate beginner who rails.

DOG D: Drawn in Box 1, this dog ran 2nd at this track last start, beaten 1.5 lengths from Box 6, in similar class. He is a railer but begins slowly. His form record shows he has a high strike rate for placings and he's a winner before from Box 1.

Okay, now it's up to you to analyse the form and decide which dogs will win the respective pairs. Allot your points and see how they compare with mine.

A-B: Dog B 3 points.
A-C: Dog A 3 points.
A-D: Dog D 3 points.
B-C: Dog B 3 points.
C-D: Dog D 3 points.
B-D: Dog D 3 points.
Final tally: Dog D nine points, Dog B six points, Dog A three points.

By George ‘Barker’ Bellfield