When a horse with a 6 per cent strike rate bolts home at more than 44/1 it gets us punters scratching our heads. How the hell did that win, we ask ourselves (and anyone else close by)?

The bona fides of most longshot winners never leap off the page of the formguide. They have to be hunted down detective-style. Usually, somewhere in the depths of the formlines, lies the answer.

In this series of articles, I’m analysing some recent results. Shock results, some of them. The ones that lead to head-shaking and vows to give up the punt completely.

Let’s start with that 44/1 chance I mentioned in the opening paragraph. Name: Celestial Trump. Trainer:  Wayne Walters and the jockey his daughter Melissa. The meeting: Stawell on Monday, January 19. The race: An RB72 over 2000m.

There were eight runners. Celestial Trump, a 6yo mare, was the rank outsider, paying $44.30 for the win and $10.20 the place. She’d run 7th of 12 over the Stawell 2000m at her most recent start on January 6, beaten 4.3 lengths. Before that, on December 28, she was 9th of 11 over 2000m in an RB68 at Warrnambool. Three starts back she’d won an RB62 at Dunkeld on November 15.

All in all, then, not great form but certainly containing enough little snippets to excite interest to any punter who was intent on dissecting the form of every runner in the race.

My hindsight check zeroed in on that last start 7th at Stawell. What happened to Celestial Trump in that race? Was it a poor run or a fair run or, perhaps, a good run?

I checked out the TVN video replay. It clearly showed that Celestial trump had run a BIG race. Third to last at the 1400m, 12 lengths off the lead, stone motherless last from the 1000m to the turn, she then started to pick up ground and went to the line very well after running into a dead end around the 100m mark.

So, there was nothing wrong with that performance at all.  Had I, or any other punter, bothered to check out the video replay we’d have come to the inevitable conclusion that Celestial Trump was much more than a 44/1 chance!

The exercise of checking out why the winners did what they did is one that everyone who punts should get into the habit of doing. Studying the replays, re-checking the formlines, tells us much about a horse, and a lot even about ourselves as punters.

If we lose, we need to question our approach. We need to discover our personal faults and our strengths, in just the same way that we look for them in horses.

Take a recent example: The win by Red Element at Caulfield on February 8. Now I missed this winner simply because I hadn’t allowed enough time to myself to fully study the form. I skipped over it.

My fancy was for Fernandina on an each way basis but I didn’t tip the horse to PPD Club members for the simple fact that I hadn’t fully studied the race. If I had, I’d have seen the glaring example of Red Element’s claim to being a serious chance.

Why? The 4yo was racing first-up since last October. Go back three starts to the beginning of his campaign last spring, and we see that first-up he ran a very close 2nd to the smart Bel Mer over 1100m at Caulfield! Go back to his previous campaign and he was a first-up winner.

Here, then, was a horse absolutely suited by the 1400m trip fresh from a break at Caulfield. He had 53kg, the minimum weight, he came from one of the nation’s top stables, that of David Hayes, and he had Glen Boss aboard from gate #3.

Red Element won at around 5/1; My pick Fernandina was a close 3rd. It’s the sort of result that has me kicking myself for not being observant enough and for not allowing myself the time to put the race under as a full on inquiry as I could.

This is what I usually do when I am going to make a selection for the PPD Club.

So there’s a lesson there for me. And for you. Always conduct a post-mortem. Discover WHY that 25/1 chance won, or WHY that 5/1 chance won. The clues you find will help you in the future, believe me.

NEXT MONTH: Another look at why winners win . . . and why some big longshots got up.

Click here to read Part 2.


By Brian Blackwell