For as long as Mark Shean can remember, he has been going to the races. His grandfather was the great jockey Fred Shean while Mark's father Jim also rode with success.

As an eight-year-old, Mark Shean can recall he used marbles as substitutes for horses to call races. "I always wanted to be a race-caller," he said.

"My father was friends with John Jeffs (the former Rosehill track manager), who arranged for me to have a spare caller's box at Rosehill and Canterbury so I could practise.

"I got my first break when I was 17 when Geoff Mahoney (the former ABC race-caller) suggested me as the broadcaster for the races at Inverell."

Shean continued in that role for several years, which meant a lot of travelling. "They were sacrifices you didn't mind because you were doing something you loved," he said.

When 23, and Sydney radio was heavily concentrated on racing, Shean was offered a calling job with 2GB. At the time, UE, KY and the ABC were a 1 covering races, and now of course, dominates the TAB market.

"I was doing the Saturday and midweek calls at Kembla and Newcastle, which was fantastic experience," Shean said. "Then GB gave up the races and UE soon followed, so effectively, that put at least four full-time broadcasters out of a job."

Shean then joined the then well-known punter Bob Charley (now an AJC committeeman) as a form expert. Shean was responsible for Charley's card system of N.S.W. racing.

Then, as Charley began to wind down, Shean switched to the Mark Read camp, where he was responsible for doing the form on Sydney races.

Considering the punting talents of Charley and Read, surely one could not ask for a better a apprenticeship.

"Bob gave me a great insight into how to do the form," Shean said. "I didn't know a great deal about ratings and how to apply them, so Bob taught me how to do the form from a different perspective."

AS for Read, Shean said there was little to learn because of the contrasting set-up. "My job was to supply Mark with the form for Sydney, so apart from that, I had little to do with him," Shean said.

"Trying to learn from him at the races was an impossibility. He had that many bets, you'd go broke following him.

"But what he did always stress was that equal staking was the clue to success because he reckoned the winners would look after themselves."

Four years ago, Shean joined Hoyts. His reviews of the Sydney races are highly respected and point punters in the right direction.

For the typical TAB punter, the $53 per week for the replays is expensive but Shean suggests punters should join a syndicate to buy the tapes.

"What could happen, you might get a team of five punters who could chip in $11 each and then you have the replays to study," Shean said.

"Maybe even better, your local club or pub may want to contribute, because the way Pub and ClubTAB are going, it would certainly be a worthwhile extra service for the clientele.

"But the outlook punters should take is, you only have to find one winner a month from the videos and they will pay for themselves.

"And really, if you put an hour or two into the videos each week, you'll be amazed at how keen you'll become and what a different approach you will have to your punting.

"Also, because you will become more aware of all the horses-rather than just those you have backed that weekend you will become a lot more conscious of horses that are say, 8/1, and on your assessment, could have an equal chance to the 5/2 favourite.

"And that is where the value comes into your punting, which is what Mark Read preaches-'the ... winners look after themselves.

"What he means is if you back enough 10/1 winners, you have to finish in front."

Certainly, Shean's point about forming a punters club makes good sense if the financial burden can be shared by a group or sponsored by a dub.

But I would follow his suggestion to sound out your club secretary/manager, if you're from Pub or ClubTAB land.

Maybe the dub may want to put on a midweek videos replay night, where members could come along to watch the replays. That's a great service to boost TAB takings for the outlet, as well as provide an evening where members are enticed into the dub.

But most importantly., it will help you as a punter to back more winners.

Click here to read Part 1.

By Glenn Robbins