All involved in that never-ending war against 'the percentages' are constantly looking for the fresh angle. The angle that might turn the tide. This magazine, in fact, devotes much research time to endeavouring to discover new angles.

As most of you know, I am a video watcher and an addict of formguide 'camera charts', those turn-and-finish strip photos published in the Sportsman, Sporting Globe and some daily and weekend newspapers. I've been doing it for a long time and yet I am still not convinced that I've tracked down every angle!

I was chatting only the other day with a friend who does much the same thing as I do. He told me he was now working on isolating the well backed horses in each race. That is, any horse which firmed in the betting, and lost is placed under his video and camera-chart 'microscope' to see what might have gone wrong.

It's amazing, he told me, what you can find out once you start to look closely at these 'price-firmer' horses. And so  there's an angle for us all to consider and work on. Of course, it's just one aspect of the entire operation. Studying video and camera-chart form is something of an art in itself.

Now I fully realise that most punters do not have access to video tape replays. This is why this article is going to concentrate on aspects of camera-chart study. For the purposes of explanation, I'll use the Sportsman's excellent Sydney charts as the examples.

I pull out each two-page spread of the one meeting and file it on a special large cardboard-backed 'major file'  which I keep on a spare desk in my office. That way, I can refer to any meeting within a moment or two.

It would be wonderful if the Sportsman could also provide a similar service for Brisbane and Melbourne racing (it used to) but obviously space limitations prevent this. The steps in the analysis of photos can easily be broken down.

I use a variety of methods but for the purposes of leading you through the ins-and-outs, I'll confine my remarks here to what I might label the traditional method.

(1) Firstly, read the Sportsman's informative 'Comments' which are contained next to each race's turn-and-finish strips. These comments provide an informative overview of a race and can alert you to look out for certain runners.

(2) Recall all that you can about the race yourself (assuming that you saw it live or on interstate TV coverage). If you're sensible your race program will contain jottings against horses which caught your eye. If you don't do this, my advice is that you start. Whenever you see a horse's performance which impresses you, simply mark an asterisk (*) or a (#) against its name, and then write in a note about what you saw.

For instance, you might write' Flew home too late', or 'Wide home turn, good finish' or 'Blocked for run' and so on. I have found over the years that these first impressions can prove immensely helpful later on, when memory starts to play a trick or two.

(3) Now you turn to the strips themselves. I usually start from the last horse and work upwards. I do this because much of the time we know a lot about the winner and the first half dozen runners home, but we don't know as much about those also-rans. It's from these runners that you can expect to find the future longshot winners.

Let's say we are looking at the Baguette Welter (1500m) at Rosehill on March 12. The horse that ran last was Our Caliph. Now I had tagged this bloke as a horse to follow after his previous run when 8th at Canterbury, but I wasn't surprised that he failed in this race at Rosehill. The charts show him laboring at the rear of the field at 'the Leger' (300m from the post) and he failed to make any ground at all. On this run, you would discard Our Caliph but,
because I had noted him the previous start, I would be inclined to stick with him for a couple more runs.

Just a point here about how to follow horses you select: Don't always expect them to win next time out. Sometimes they will, mostly they won't, but if you're astute enough you should be able to pinpoint runners who will win WITHIN their next 3 starts. My own performance in the Firepower newsletter shows a continuing level stakes profit by following my listed horses for 3 starts.

Second-last in the Baguette was County Way. Here was another horse always a long way back. Nothing of account there. Cash On Schedule was third last. Now he was listed 8th at the 400m on the Sportsman's result chart, but the 300m picture shows him back 12th; he finished 14th. In this case, I would go and check stewards' reports for the meeting to see if there is any explanation for Cash On Schedule's run. Sometimes they can explain a failure. This is particularly important in the case of Cash On Schedule, because he was backed from 8/1 into
13/2, so a much better run had obviously been anticipated.


There are many cases like Cash On Schedule's which you have to dig into a little deeper before deciding whether to put them down on the 'follow up' list. Take the time to file stewards' reports (most Sydney city meetings, and some provincial ones, are published in the two editions of the Sportsman).

In the case of Cash On Schedule there was no mention of any untoward incident in the stewards' report. (I would take this further by having a look at the horse's run a couple of times on the video; if you can do this, too, well that's all to the good).

And so you work your way through the field of runners. You are looking for horses which:

(a) made up ground from the rear to the middle of the field.
(b) made up ground from the rear to the first 3 or 4 positions.
(c) were caught wide and still held their positions.
(d) were blocked for runs in the straight.

Sometimes you can clearly see that a horse is blocked. Often a video replay is needed to provide further corroboration. The strength of the performance of a horse can sometimes only be evaluated after video analysis. The camera charts, while very useful, cannot talk and you cannot re-wind them.

The vital ingredient of what you do is to find a horse which can deliver within 3 runs and make a profit for you at level stakes. All you need, then, is a win at 2/1 by any of the runners you select to come out break even. A win at 9/4 and longer gives you a profit on that horse.


  • Find the best turn-and-finish strips you can for the meetings you wish to analyse.
  • The Sportsman is best for Sydney meetings. Try the Sporting Globe or Truth Sport for Melbourne meetings. The Adelaide Mail on Sundays carries good Adelaide strips. The Sporting Globe carries Sydney and Adelaide strips but only in the Weekend Edition a week after the meeting. The Brisbane Sunday Mail has excellent Eagle Farm and Doomben turn-and-finish strips.
  • When studying Sydney form, read the 'comments' next to the photos first and then look at the pictures.
  • Study the runs of the unplaced horses firstly, then move up to the placegetters. If you can use, use video study in conjunction with your camera chart work. If you can't afford Hoyts' Track Talk (about $53 a week home delivered) then tape as many races as you can straight from TV ( though it is essentially illegal!).
  • Club together with a mate, or two mates, to get hold of the video replays you need.
  • If you can afford it, and you are studying Victorian provincial racing, get the turn-and-finish strips from Victorian Provincial Photo Form at about $100 a month.
  • There is money to be made from camera chart and video study. Look at recent examples of horses I have chosen for Firepower newsletter: Rock A Hula (WON 15/1 at its first start), Kei Konei (WON 12/1 at its second start), Air Seattle (WON 9/2 at its first start and won again next start, too), Pentas (WON 13/2 at its first start). These are just a few recent examples.
  • I list them here only to press home my point that by studying the camera charts, and the videos if you can, you do stand a terrific chance of putting yourself into the money.
  • Remember: Choose three or four horses, no more than six, from a meeting. Follow them for three starts each, or until they win a race and then drop them.

By Michael Kemp