In the second article in this series, PPM editor Brian Blackwell continues his analysis of recent results, and this month looks at a couple of big-race winners.

Taking a ‘leap of faith’ is often required if we’re to back big-priced winners. Or any winner come to that.

What I mean is that some horses have good form and yet they still have question marks over them when their connections lift them to a higher grade and better opposition. As punters we must decide if they are right or wrong.

Take the recent case of Mic Mac winning the Grp 2 Hobartville Stakes at Rosehill. The 3yo gelding, trained by Greg Eurell, went into the race having won all his four starts, the last three of them at Caulfield (twice) and Moonee Valley.

However, as far as ‘class’ went, there was still very much a question mark hanging over him. His wins were in restricted class but something of a far cry from Grp 2 standard.

Trainer Greg Eurell obviously felt that Mic Mac had what it takes to go to Sydney and challenge the Hobartville field. He, too, had to act on a ‘leap of faith’. His was in the horse itself and its ability. For punters, the ‘leap of faith’ was more in both horse and trainer.

We had to ask ourselves: Is this horse really good enough to win a Hobartville? Is his trainer too starry-eyed about him?

As it turned out, Mic Mac was up to the task. And a lot of punters decided to make the ‘leap of faith’. They sent him out at $5.20. Mic Mac was indeed ready for the opposition. He downed the smart Caymans, and Youthful Jack was 3rd. A string of quality gallopers were in his wake.

The Mic Mac case points up very clearly the sort of decisions that punters have to make each and every day in trying to find winners.

Personally, I wasn’t prepared to give Mac Mac the nod of approval. Why? I felt there were other horses in the race with superior credentials, and I was prepared to name Youthful Jack as the winner, and fancied Caymans to run a big race.

Well, I was almost right. Not good enough, I know, but I wasn’t too disappointed because basically my assessment of the Hobartville was pretty close to accurate. Caymans flashed home for 2nd, and might well have won had he secured a clearer path, and Youthful Jack ran 3rd.

Where I went wrong was in resisting Mic Mac’s unbeaten form from Melbourne. My reasoning was that despite this good form, he still had to ‘prove’ himself against better quality rivals. That’s exactly what he did.

Interestingly, the form from his last win in Melbourne threw up another most promising galloper – Champagne Harmony.  Mic Mac beat her by five lengths and then Champagne Harmony went in to score a terrific win at her very next start at Caulfield, thus underlining the strength of the Mic Mac form.

Let’s look at another case where the form around a horse had an element of ‘mystery’ about it, but which, if read correctly, provided a tremendous return. This was the win by Swiss Ace at around 40/1 in the Oakleigh Plate on February 21.

Now I’m happy to say that I was able to tip this winner to all members of the PPD Club. I recommended a bracket attack on the race comprising Swiss Ace and Publishing. This is what I told PPD Club members in my preview of the race:

“As I usually do, I’ve looked for likely ‘upset’ runners in a big race like the Oakleigh Plate (Race 6, 1100m, Grp 1) at Caulfield, and the two I’ve come up with are right out of the left-field range . . . (8) Publishing 100/1 and (9) Swiss Ace 40/1.

“At those prices, I think they are way over their true odds and worth a tickle against the more well-fancied runners. The Oakleigh often turns up surprise winners. Publishing has had a recent change of stables from John Sadler (and Lloyd Williams) to Peter Morgan. It may well be that this fires up the talented 5yo for a big first-up performance. He had his last start in the Grp 3 Standish 1200m on Jan 1, finishing 4.3 lengths 9th to King Hoaks. But he’s a better proposition at Caulfield where his record is three wins from five starts. He has the pace to put himself into the first half dozen in the early rush. Swiss Ace is a Queensland 4yo who ran well for 7th in the Grp 1 Lightning at Flem on Jan 31 and that was his first start since June 7 last year. His Qld form is sound.”

So, in this assessment, I was wrong and right. Wrong in my assessment of Publishing but spot-on with Swiss Ace.

So how did I get around to selecting Swiss Ace?

It wasn’t easy. With a race like the Oakleigh Plate you need to go through each runner’s form. You are looking for something that others will overlook or tend to dismiss without further investigation.

As far as Swiss Ace was concerned, several things struck me:

  • His connections rarely travel interstate with their horses, so I surmised that they really must fancy the horse to have made the long trek from the Sunshine Coast, north of Brisbane. There’s the old ‘leap of faith’ required here – do I trust their judgement or dismiss them as up north yokels with stars in their eyes?
  • He had tremendous overall formlines . . . nine wins and two placings from only 14 starts.
  • He was a winner at the 1100m distance of the Oakleigh Plate.
  • Three starts back he ran a length 3rd at weight-for-age to Apache Cat in the Grp 1 BTC Cup 1200m at Doomben.
  • He had returned from a spell to finish 7th to Scenic Blast in the wfa Grp 1 Lightning 1000m at Flemington on January 31, and he’d been beaten only 2.5 lengths. In this race,  Swiss Ace got away well, went to the rails, raced a close 2nd to inside the 100m and then didn’t get much room. He did, though, hold on well to finish on the heels of the placegetters.

Taking all these factors into consideration, and looking at the price on offer for him, I reasoned that even with a wide gate, Swiss Ace had a genuine eachway chance at long odds. My view was that he had enough early speed to get across from his barrier and assume a role in the first four or five to the turn.

As it happened, Ken Pope was able to kick him up to lead, and he held the front running spot into the straight and fought on tigerishly to beat off Lucky Secret in the final 50m.

This, then, was one avenue of form study that paid off handsomely, not just for me but for all those PPD Club members who took my advice.

What I’m a little sorry about is that when he started in the Newmarket on March 7, I only had a small each way bet on him. I had talked myself into throwing my big bet on Fighting Fund and by the time this galloper was withdrawn after breaking through the barriers, it was too late to do much about changing bets.

Swiss Ace ran 2nd in the Newmarket and paid almost 7/1 for the place. I am now looking forward to his return to Queensland for the winter carnival where I suspect more glory awaits in a major race. Could it be the Stradbroke or the BTC Cup again?

The lessons to be learned, then, are to examine a horse’s form closely, even if someone else has decided that it’s only a 40/1 chance.


Somewhere in each horse’s formlines lies that little slice of information that can arm you and make you a big winner. Your task is to find it, and you’ll never do that unless you’re prepared to LOOK and DIG DEEP.

Click here to read Part 1.

By Brian Blackwell