Finding winners in any code of racing can be a daunting task.

With so much form information available, punters can often become overloaded and not know which way to turn.

On-course, or at TAB agencies around the nation, punters can be found poring over the formguide or wall charts, all with the aim of finding that next elusive winner. Presented in black and white is all the information and statistics required . . . past races, previous boxes, prizemoney earnings, beaten margins, grades, fastest win times, commentators' tips, newspaper selections, ratings, pre-post markets.

It's no wonder the poor old punter can be left feeling very confused! Most punters are so caught up with the information presented before them that they're missing the obvious. How often do you go to the TAB, read the formguide, place your bet, then turn to the television screen to view the race?

Most likely the answer is very often. But do you ever take it any further than that? The simple truth is that the race you just watched can hold the key to point you to many future winners, many of them at TOP VALUE.

Today, with pay TV beaming Sky Racing into homes around Australia, it's easy to lay your hands on the videos of dog racing. All the major city meetings are covered. Wentworth Park, Albion Park, Angle Park, Sandown/ Meadows, even Western Australian and, more recently, Thursday night Tasmanian meetings have made it onto the screen.

So how can you use this information to your advantage? First of all, it has to be said up front that there are just too many dog races around the nation for any punter to keep on top of them all. Selecting your own local area and specialising in those meetings is a good way to cut down the meetings to a reasonable number.

Once you have picked the venues you wish to specialise in, it's time to create your video formguide library. All you need is a few blank video cassettes and you're ready! You may like to have enough cassettes on hand so you can record and hold them for two or three weeks. It can be extremely handy to pull out a tape and review a dog's previous race to jog your memory.

A little organisation will make your life a lot easier. Label your tapes with venue and date, also cut out the newspaper fields to keep with your videos. This makes it a lot easier when you wish to find a certain race.

Okay, so by now you are obviously thinking, yes, well, how does all this help me find winners? The key is watching a race, and interpreting what you see.

The most desirable way to watch a race properly is when you do not have money riding on it. When you bet, you'll find yourself focused on the dog carrying your money. You are not watching the race as a whole event. So it's best to review your videos the day after the meeting.

For punters following Wentworth Park, The Meadows and Cannington, these meetings are on Saturday nights. So make a little time on Sunday for video watching.

There are no set rules on what to look for when reviewing a race. Firstly, I recommend you watch the race once just to get a general overview of what happened. Take particular notice of any major interference that may have occurred. Now you will have a general feel for how the race was run, and it's time to check it in more detail.

Rewind your tape and watch the race again, this time following just one dog. Start with dog number 1. From start to finish focus on the red rug and follow that greyhound the whole way. Do this for every runner in the race.

If there were eight starters, that means watching the race eight times. It may sound like a lot, but it's not. A race is only around 30 seconds, so you can fully analyse each race in about five minutes.

As you watch each dog you'll be able to gauge its run. Take notes as you review each race, remembering that a high percentage of winners come from those dogs that can jump and lead to the first corner. These are dogs you will want to remember.

A dog that can lead all the way is going to find very little interference, and this is the sort of dog you would like your money to be on.

Importantly, you'll notice often a dog will have struck bad interference during its run. This is usually at the first corner, but can be anywhere in the race. Take note of this. This is where you can get an edge over those punters only using the printed formguide.

Next time this dog lines up to race, they will see it in their formguides, and perhaps it finished 7th or 8th. They will assume the dog is in bad form.

However, this could be far from the truth, and you will know from your video watching that it had excuses for finishing well back. This type of dog can provide great value odds next time it faces the starter.

Pay close attention to dogs that were well supported in betting and how they performed. A dog that was well supported in the market but did not win should be closely examined. Did it find interference during the race? Watch its run and see.

A simple bump at the first corner can make a dog lose many lengths. If it was bumped or checked during the run, did it make up ground after this and still run home well? If so, this dog is well worth following.

What may look like a bad performance in the formguide is often not so bad when you have seen with your own eyes what really happened in the race. This is what your average punter does not know. This will almost certainly help you when it comes to betting on future races.

Just as you will find dogs that you'll want to follow for their next few starts, you will notice terrible performances as well. Dogs that run extremely wide on comers and lose ground for no apparent reason may be carrying an injury, which makes them perform this way.

If you notice that sort of dog backing up soon to race again, a question mark has to be placed over it. The same goes for dogs that drift back through a field without receiving a check or bump.

After examining a number of meetings you will get to know what to look for, and you will soon be pinpointing the dogs you wish to follow up on. You may like to keep a list of dogs you are keen on. Follow each of them for a few starts, or until a win. Discard any if a future run is not up to scratch.

An excellent way to find out when a greyhound you are following is racing, is to visit the Greyhound Racing Victoria website at They run "Watchdog", a free service for Victorian greyhound racing, which will email you when your selected dogs are racing.

Whatever you do, video watching will be a valuable tool to give you an edge over the regular punters, and if your assessment is correct, it should provide you with many well-priced winners!

George "Barker" Bellfield comments: I think Craig has succinctly summed up one of the great advantages that modern-day greyhound punters have over their counterparts of years gone by.

This, of course, is the availability of video replays. It's now possible for the off-course punter to be as informed as the on-course punter about the racing traits of greyhounds.

Sky's coverage of the dogs is widespread now, so you can follow virtually any of the major tracks. I've found countless winners by studying the replays, just as Craig suggests. Some may feel they haven't got the time. Well, if you haven't, then I suggest you don't bet on the dogs.

There is another aspect to all this and that's TIMES. Just as it's important to pick up clues from the videos, it's also vitally important that you take careful notice of the times that are being run.

In dog racing, as I've pointed out before, times mean a great deal. When dogs are flashing over a short trip, every tenth of a second counts. The times each dog runs have to be assessed if you are going to be serious about your approach to greyhound racing.

Ask any professional and he'll tell you the same story. Box speed, finishing speed, mid-race ability ... they all count, and they have to be analysed as times.

In a future issue of PPM, I'll be going into full detail on the times aspect of greyhound racing. This will be a ratings approach article, something that I understand Craig Myers may be looking at as well for us. So it will be a case of two minds giving their opinions on a most important subject.In the meantime, get those video tapes out, slot them in the drive and start recording and studying the replays. You won't regret it.

By Craig Myers