This is the final month of our trip back through the history of the past 20 or so years in this series. I left you last month with the promise that we'd pick up where we left off.

So where exactly were we? Well, I was on about the responsibilities of trainers to the public, amongst other things. Frankly, I think they only have one: to present their horses in as best condition to win as possible. They have no other obligations to you and me.

In fact, as I stressed last month, they are usually poor judges anyway, and their enthusiasm is usually biased. That's fair enough. When you watch one-day cricket, who do you want to win? Who do you make excuses for? Which team are you pleased you're on, when we win yet again? Of course we are all biased.

Not you? Then you really are exceptional. And just like you and me, trainers are, generally, predictably supportive of their own team. They are unexceptional. Some are very supportive of their entries. And why not?

What l've said for all these years is, "Let them get on with their part of it all". The same goes for the riders, who are the worst tipsters of all. In my view, it is best to ignore the interviews with riders that we are subjected to every day: they will rarely point us to winners. In fact, I consciously try to avoid these interviews. Even those riders at the top, who study their chances so carefully, cannot, will not, tell you if they genuinely believe a horse they are not riding will beat theirs. And with good reason!

Can you imagine what could happen, if the horse they nominate wins, and they ride (let's call it) an "unfortunate" race? They could be rubbed out.

Another aspect I keep coming back to is ""total objectivity". This is a vital part of everything we have been discussing for the past six or so months. It’s the sort of partner to the computer term WYSIWYG, meaning "what you see is what you get."

You make your own decisions about value, and this includes price. Price and value interlock, but they are not necessarily the same. A horse at 3 / 1 ($4) in one race can appear to be value, whilst a horse at 3 / 1 in another race can be very bad value indeed. This is all part of an even bigger issue, one that finds its way into a huge number of my articles, although sometimes I don't specifically identify it.

It is the question of when not to bet. The answer is ""Much of the time".

The next question is: "How do you manage that?" And the answer is: "I believe it is a combination of experience and conscious strong effort". (You could also have a look at my three-page article this month, and refer to the section on Steven Davidowitz's Action bets).

Although many of my systems, and some of the very best plans of people like Statsman, sometimes rely on the market, a lot of my writing has consistently been critical of the prepost markets. That will go on happening. Of course, those markets are all we have with some of our systems, and occasionally they will not represent the final market as accurately as we might have hoped.

There is not much anybody can do about that, if a system has the betting market or pricing as a component factor. However, systems aside, I notice that my writing has become more and more persistently against believing in fairies, the Easter Bunny, Santa Claus, and a generous pre-post market.

I have frequently heard a theory that the pre-post market compilers are encouraged not to place their favourites any shorter than they have to. And so a horse opens on Friday morning as $3.50 favourite, encouraging the punter to think that it will be backable. Three hours before the race, if you'd care to check the TAB websites, you will find that the horse is $1.60 or thereabouts. Not only has it attracted every regular mug in town, but all of the unfortunates have also been sucked in by the highly inaccurate pre-post prediction.

So if I look at pre-post prices at all, other than where I must for systems, it will only be after I have made my own decisions about horses.' chances. That can be quite an advantage, as I'm then able to evaluate my own assessments alongside the professional price assessor's general thinking. Order of favouritism is often a good guide, even if the prices are not.

And there we leave The Best of The Optimist. Thank you to those readers who emailed me with suggestions. Perhaps we can do a second series of this nature in a year or so. Meanwhile, I wonder what's coming, next month!

Click here to read Part 1.
Click here to read Part 2.
Click here to read Part 3.
Click here to read Part 4.
Click here to read Part 5.

By The Optimist