In this final article in my PPM series, I will complete the picture of the horse and put some colour into the image I've been building by stepping back a little and taking in the whole scene of the congested mounting yard before the Powerhouse Boutique Hotels Classic at Doomben.

Large fields lead to congestion in the yard and some horses just don't like each other. I look for the horse that sails around with gay abandon and does not care what is going on around it.

The band this day was loud and it was down at one end of the ring. Some horses were spooked by the noise when they neared that end of the ring; others were very professional and did not let the music distract them from the task at hand.

I want to ensure that the horse I am attracted to is not spending energy before it is necessary. Healthy fit horses by and large do not distract easily and this is true of humans, too. When we are feeling very well and "on top of the world", the ability to look on the bright side of life bubbles near by. Horses can do this and Tellson was a very good example.

In my opinion, Gabfest was "meaner" looking but this was not a detraction to me. He was simply conserving energy. I seek horses that just want to get on with the job.

Trevor Miller has a good horse named Baal Yabba. I refer to him because he is an interesting horse. He can be off-putting because of the perceived things he does. He is a very good horse to look at; tall, athletic, gorgeous coat, easy to "read" when fit. But some may think he is a nervous type, so here I will discuss them on the lead.

I have everything I want ... good coat, strength, length, "loaves of bread", powerful thighs. In the previous article I mentioned attitude. I marry that up with the information I have here. In a perfect scenario I will have a horse that is serenity personified, not a hair out of place, but this can be elusive or, conversely, these horses will all look the same.

Some experts do not want to see a horse break from a walk in the mounting enclosure and will dismiss the winning prospects of that horse for no other reason that it broke from a walk during the preliminary in the enclosure.

I would like to introduce the Linford Christie bounce. When he was behind the starting line for the 100 metres final at the Olympics he would gently bounce on the spot and stare down the track, putting himself in the zone. Good fit horses can do this too; Baal Yabba is a good example.

He doesn't walk beside his strapper; he bounces, gently, never out of line and there is no pressure on his lead. He doesn't pull his strapper all over the place. These horses will look like they are enjoying the walk with their strapper, and their heads don't move much except to take in whatever it is that interests them.

I can add here that some horses truly love their strappers and I believe they would die for them if they had to. So long as there is no evidence of excessive stress, the "Linford Bounce" is an acceptable trait to observe in the enclosure.

When I am visiting the stables it is like being in a forest surrounded by tall trees. That is why I want to do only certain things there. I am too close to see the big picture. From the enclosure I find it advantageous to be viewing from an elevated position if possible to be able to compare the horses with each other.

I like to check that the traits established before the jockey came out have been maintained or, conversely, if a negative trait has been abandoned. A horse occasionally will break from his walk or not be showing sufficient interest in proceedings to warrant his position in my thoughts. But when the jockey is aboard the "light comes on", the slightly anxious horse relaxes and starts to enjoy itself. The disinterested horse may pick itself up and, as Banjo Paterson once said, 'snuff the battle with delight", but mainly I seek consistency.

Once the horses are on the track, this becomes my final assessment and not a lot of people do this, but I insist on  seeing the horses' preliminary. There are a couple of points that can be enhanced here, not to mention some tricky aspects, which may decide the fate of my decision.

Firstly I need to see fluency in a horse's movement. I may have already noticed a horse being led around with its head twisted or down, or constantly on the side, or even his entire head and neck region turned away. The prelim can confirm what I have already seen. I do not want anything but a perfect line from nose to tail, with the tail  pluming out the back. I look for the horse to be relaxed.

Even if it is asked to work up the straight it should not pull or be seen to be testing the bit or the jockey just controlled power.

If a horse walks out on the track and does not immediately trot but walks and looks up to admire the crowd, this is a positive sign. If a jockey can relax on his mount and ride his horse around to the barrier with one finger through the buckle on the reins, this is a rare good sign. No head tossing is tolerated.

If a horse is not focused by now, I believe the winning chances are diminished. A sign of a nervous disposition can be spotted when a horse lifts its tail like it is preparing to dump. If they are already on the track or in the enclosure, this is the last thing I perceive they should be thinking about. In the previously mentioned Classic, Jar Jar Binks was high on my list of chances and nothing adverse had been revealed to me, but suddenly there it was.

As he was going past the grandstand on his way to the barrier (if I hadn't been looking I would not have seen it), he lifted his tail. That was all it took for me to drop him cold from contention. It is a rare thing for a horse to do that and win - particularly in a good quality race.

As the horses approach the barrier it is time to move, time to dream, time to think back over what you have seen, consider your thoughts about this race from this morning at breakfast. By the time I had "read the horses" I had narrowed the chances in this particular race down to six from the ten chances remaining after I had "done the form".

I never wager on six horses so I still needed to reduce the number of prospects. I closed my eyes and pictured the scene from the enclosure, thinking about the horses I had continually been drawn to and those that kept dragging my gaze back. This is a key; some horses drag me back time and again. I respect that occasion when it happens.

I made my decision and bless them both. Tellson and Cabfest went bang - bang.

Remember I mentioned right at the start that this is a very subjective art and is subject to constant review but, as with many things where money is concerned, it is subject to the three P's - practice, patience and persistence.

Click here to read Part 1.
Click here to read Part 2.

By Glen Ferguson