My friend and colleague Denton Jardine has been unwell of late and has asked me to provide the final part of his series on systems and form defects.

This is a subject which Denton and myself have discussed in detail for many years. Both of us are “form nuts” and while others might enjoy a round of golf you’ll find us sharing a coffee or a beer with formguides at hand!

We agree that as far as betting is concerned the biggest FORM DEFECT is often…the trainer! This might be a contentious finding but as far as we are concerned it’s the right one.

Denton last month mentioned the negative or positive impact a jockey can have. The trainer’s impact can be even more telling, good or bad.

But there are some trainers to avoid like the plague. Most of us know who they are. For various reasons, they never get many winners, and what good horses they do have are over-raced and placed in the wrong races, or pushed too hard.

The greatest thing you can do for yourself as a punter is to divide trainers up into A, B and C gradings. When a trainer goes into the C slot that means never back his horses, no matter what.

The B trainers are those that you rate as “okay but not great” and you can consider their runners but consider them long and hard before putting on your cash.

Your A rated trainers will be the cream of the crop. In the main States they will probably tally 20 in all. This should give you more than enough scope for your selections without resorting to the B and C trainers.

So, look out for that form defect – the fancied horse coming from a C list trainer. They may win now and again but mostly they will lose.

Now we come to the final system in this series. It’s all based on weight. A weight defect.

It’s this: Don’t believe it when they say a claim for an apprentice will help a top weight to win, even if that top weight is very well fancied.

It’s a form defect. And especially if the horse with the top weight is in the hands of a C class trainer! Yes, apprentices do provide weight relief. But it’s relief at a price and that is EXPERIENCE. The apprentice’s lack of experience more than offsets any weight relief he or she brings.

Check the results pages. They are full of unplaced runners who were well-fancied top weight runners with claiming apprentices aboard. It’s not always that the kids cause the horse’s downfall, but in many instances they do.

In tightly-run races, big fields, or in small-field races in which tactics are all important, the seniors have it all over the teenage brigade.

The system, then is as follows:


  1. Check out any handicap races in which apprentices can claim.
  2. Consider only the favourite IF it is the top-weighted runner.
  3. ELIMINATE the horse if it is to be ridden by a claiming apprentice.
  4. Then back the second and third favourites provided they have a senior rider aboard. If one of them does not, then look at the fourth favourite and so on until you have your two bets.
  5. Double your bet if a horse is a course and distance winner.

You will find that this system will provide you with a fair amount of action and a lot of fun at the same time. You’ll be avoiding top-weighted overbet runners and you’ll be securing value via the second and third favourites and sometimes the fourth or fifth favourites.

Important, you will always be on a runner which is well fancied and which will be ridden by a senior jockey.

If you keep, as suggested, the list of A jockeys you can triple your bet on any bettable horse under the system that has an A list jockey aboard.

You’ll be having a maximum go at the favourite with the claiming kid aboard. Most often you will see that favourite fail.

Not always, because nothing in racing is cast in stone. Apprentices with claims will ride favourites to victory. That has to be accepted. But on your side is that they will FAIL many more times than they succeed.

When they fail your money will be on a couple of runners who SHOULD perform very well and which will have experienced riders to do the business.

Experience counts for a great deal in any walk of life. On the racetrack, experience is everything. Well, almost everything. You do also need some luck.

By Mike Jenkins