Example: Runyonese ran 3rd of 12 over 1600m in Maiden class at Bendigo on May 18. The 4yo was beaten 2.6 lengths and was sent out at 5/1.

At his next start, a couple of weeks later, he went to the barriers as favourite at 13/4 in another 1600m Maiden. This time he WON, by 1.25 lengths.

So, we saw that the price went from 5/1 last start to 13/4 this time. Clearly, he was regarded as a BETTER PROSPECT this time than he was last time, and he lived up to the theory.

Let's look at another instance, maybe not so clear cut so far as form is concerned but certainly so far as the price goes. Mookta Heights ran 10th of 12 at Ballarat in a Maiden Hurdle over 2900m on June 4, sent out as a 9/1 chance.

Now we see that his trainer, Bevan Laming, gives him a month off and produces him for his next start ON THE FLAT in a 2400m race at Mornington on July 2. This time, the price is 4/1, even though he was coming back after defeat over hurdles. Mookta Heights romped home by 3.25 lengths.

A third example: Bella Megano, from the Tony Noonan stable, ran 3rd of 13 at Bendigo in a 3YO Maiden over 1600m on June 30, beaten about 3.3 lengths. The then3yo mare had her next start on July 9 in a 1600m 3YO Maiden at Moe.

Now, at Bendigo she had been sent out as an 8/1 chance, but at Moe it was a different story altogether. Her price was 7/4, firming from 9/4. Clearly, the signal was there that Bella Megano was strongly fancied. She won by a length.

This form and price approach is not restricted to maiden gallopers, nor just to Victorian tracks. It pops up all the time.

Example: Acrobatic, from the Ken Lantry stable, ran 6th of 15 in a Class 1 for colts and geldings over 1200m at Ipswich on May 10. The then-3yo was sent out as a 6/1 chance. Next start, that price was almost halved when he started in a 3YO Class 1 over 1200m at the Sunshine Coast on June 2. He was a 7/2 chance and won by 1.25 lengths.

Once again, the price indicated a strong performance following a handy unplaced effort (Acrobatic had been beaten 4 lengths at Ipswich).

I mentioned earlier about horses coming back to the provincials after a city run. Well, what about this example of this factor operating in tandem with the price plunge?

Sweet Racer ran 4th of 10 at Rosehill in a 3YO Handicap over 1200m on June 1, beaten 3.5 lengths. The tlien-3yo was at 100/1. Next start, his trainer Tony Karakatsanis took him to Gosford for a Class 1 over 1200m on June 10, a distinct drop in class. The price? It was 2/1 and Sweet Racer scored by just under a length.

I doubt you could get a more distinct "tip" than this one ... from 100/1 at Rosehill to 2/1 at Cosford.

Another example: Mighty Crossing was sent out at 9/2 in a Class 1 at the Gold Coast over 900m on June 18. The then-3yo ran 3rd of 7, beaten less than a length. At his next start, in a Class 1 at the Sunshine Coast on June 30, the price was 13/8 favourite, in from 5/2, and Mighty Crossing breezed home by 2.5 lengths over 1200m.

I think these examples show the potential power of a punter using this approach to get to grips with lower-grades form. You use FORM and PRICE to determine whether a horse is LIKELY to run better than it did at its previous start.

Used carefully, and with commonsense, this approach should serve you well. You will always be on a well-fancied runner, not always a favourite, and the win strike is sure to be quite a high one. I'd be very surprised if a sensible punter could not make this approach an important ingredient of a profitable approach.

It's an angle, and one well worth further investigation. In a future issue of PPM, I'll be talking more about betting on restricted class races, with the emphasis this time on Open handicaps at country and provincial tracks.

By Jon Hudson