Most punters plunge headlong into their betting every raceday - and never learn the lessons arising from their rarely-ending losses.

You can - if you really want to - learn enough little tricks of the trade to help you trim back your losses, and build up your gains, to the wonderful point where you begin to make a profit on your investments.

Note that I say 'investments' because that's exactly how you should regard the money you hand to the bookie, or put through the TAB. It is not 'gambling money' but a financial investment, just the same as the money you might use to buy shares in a company. That is one tip worth remembering - it'll certainly make you think twice about squandering your cash on silly bets. But you have to believe in what you are doing.

I have drawn up in this article a list of 50 ideas that will help you to greatly improve your betting approach. They are direct, simple but effective ideas and I suggest you try to remember as many of them as you can.


  1. Never give a horse resuming from a long spell the benefit of the doubt unless you know for sure that it can win first-up. Check your past form charts thoroughly to determine this ability. A horse might be able to win first-up after a 12 weeks' lay-off, but not after a 26 weeks' rest.
  2. Steer clear of backing run-of-the-mill stayers when they resume from a spell in sprint races. Only topclass stayers can win first-up in sprints - and even they can't do it all that often.
  3. Keep a notebook of small clippings from newspapers. These should mention good training workouts, trainer's references to future races, jockeys' comments and anything that might help you pinpoint future winners.
  4. If you haven't got a video recorder then get one. Tape the replays and study them carefully. You can also buy full video tapes of meetings in your particular state. These can, though, be costly.
  5. Never back a horse to win on a slow or heavy track unless you know it can handle the track conditions. It is vitally important that any horse you back on rain-affected tracks should have won, or finished within 2 lengths of the winner, in similar conditions.
  6. It is crazy to bet more than you can afford. Don't be like the man who asks his wife: "Who took my betting money and spent it on the rent?"
  7. Rely on facts and figures and not hunches and dreams when you select your horses. In the long run, there is nothing better than form to help you find the winners. Study form and decide on positive answers to the riddles.
  8. Trust your eyes, and not your ears. This was the advice handed out a long time ago by professional punter Wally Mitchell - and it's advice that stands true today. Don't listen to other mugs, is what he meant.
  9. Pay close attention to class. A horse racing out of its class has to be regarded with scepticism. Try to stick with those horses who are fit, in form and racing in the right class. It's a winning recipe.
  10. Eric Connolly used to urge punters never to be suspicious before a race by searching for possible conspiracies by connections and the like. Ignore the wild gossip you often hear on racetracks and stay firm on your form line of approach.
  11. Study every runner in a race on an impersonal basis. Don't let your personal dislikes influence your judgement. Look upon each race as an intellectual challenge and decide on real answers, not guesses.
  12. If you allow yourself to be lulled into making too many bets, you will be doomed. Pick your races as carefully as you select your horses. Some races are unbettable. Others shine as good betting races. Stick with better class races.
  13. A bettable race is one where all the horses have past performances complete enough to allow you to make a close estimate as to how each horse is likely to perform. Avoid races where many runners are resuming from spells.
  14. Test your patience every raceday. When you attend the races, there is a temptation to back horses in all States. Avoid this like you would avoid the black plague. You will be killing yourself financially.
  15. Never place your complete trust in apprentice jockeys unless you are 100% certain they can ride your horse to the fullest advantage. Only in-form, winning apprentices should be considered.
  16. Remember that stayers hold their fitness longer than sprinters. Sprinters can go 'off' virtually overnight. They'll win and then lose next start. It's all to do with their breeding and training as 'hell for leather' speedsters.
  17. Before you rush in to back a favourite, remember that they win approximately only 30%-31 % of all races, and they can have long losing runs. Ensure the favourite you support is a true favourite at good odds.
  18. Mark these sayings down in your notebook - good horse and bad jockey only a fair bet, bad horse al d good jockey a bad bet, bad horse and bad jockey, shocking bet, and good horse and good jockey -could be a good bet.
  19. Watch for emerging patterns in a horse's racing career- some gallopers always take three runs before they win, others score second-up regularly, and still others need five or six runs before winning.
  20. Never give it all back! When you have profits in your pocket, adopt a conservative approach and pocket at least 40% of what you have won and hang on to it. Punt all your profits up and you'll regret it.
  21. Get a good staking plan each particular betting action. If you back win/place and quinellas, then make sure you follow them on a proper basis with solid, proven staking methods. Never bet haphazardly.
  22. If you are backing 'for a win, don't risk all your money on just one horse. Take 'saver' bets on the horses you consider are the major dangers. That way, you'll at least get your money back many, many times.
  23. If you have studied the form carefully, and are sure of what you are doing, then don't be afraid of prices. If your form horse is at big odds, don't hesitate to back it. It could be the other punters and bookies who are making the mistake!
  24. When you study form, you must also study barrier positions. Always penalise horses that are drawn badly. Use a scale between 1/2 kg and 3kg for penalties, depending on how bad the barrier might be.
  25. There's an old saying that the worst tipsters are trainer, jockeys and owners, with the latter category being the worst. Most owners believe their horses can win every time they set foot on a racetrack. Most are wrong!
  26. There is no such thing as a certainty on a racetrack. Eric Connolly once said he had only one certainty during his career, and it was beaten. Too much can happen in a race to be absolutely sure of any horse, no matter how good it might be.
  27. Punters who blindly back odds-on chances will end up losing. The winning percentage of horses priced at odds-on is just not high enough for a punter to come out ahead.
  28. Keep track of all your bets, and costs associated with your racegoing and form study, so that you know clearly after 12 months how you are faring. You'll be surprised at how much money you can lose without really noticing it!
  29. Study the operations of bookmakers. It is essential to have a full knowledge of the way percentages operate to understand how the bookies can make a profit, and how the punter can battle the bookies' percentage advantage.
  30. Don't write off a horse because of one poor run - instead, try to discover if it lost on its merits, or because it suffered severe interference or some other form of bad luck. Read as many stewards' reports as you can - and file them.
  31. Be careful when horses are suddenly switched in distance. Horses are habitual animals. A horse can win over 2000m one week, but switched back to 1600m he cannot win. Horses dropping back in distance suddenly rarely win over the shorter trip.
  32. Follow the form in the early two-year-old races - but don't bet at all when there are too many unknown first-starters. Once the form has settled down, then is the time to start looking for the form youngsters.
  33. Be a little bit wary of backing horses on an each-way basis - instead, back them into the ratio of one unit a win and four units a place. That way you can cover your bet even if your horse finishes 2nd or 3rd and pays a low dividend. It can pay as low as $1.25 for the bet to be saved.
  34. To gauge the soundness of a bet, always give thought to the price in relation to the chance. Never take under the odds and always look out for horses that are at value odds compared with their real assessed chance.
  35. Be sure the horses you choose are fit and conditioned to win. Treat with caution those horses aged seven years and over - and fillies and mares between August and December.
  36. Remember that money management is the key to the future. Manage your betting money well, and you will win out in the end. Your capital has to be controlled. Never bet with scared money - the cash you cannot afford to lose.
  37. No matter how much money you have, never chase losses. It is the worst mistake a punter can make. It has, reduced wealthy and compulsive gamblers to the gutter! Don't do it. Be patient and wait for another day.
  38. Place dividends may be skinny, but they are more easily landed. When choosing your bets, consider the old maxim: Pick 'em to win and play 'em to place! It's been a reliable piece of advice for many years.
  39. Daily doubles and quinellas are good betting vehicles because there is only one tax deduction covering a bet on two horses - and this is why with doubles that a dividend will invariably be larger than an all-up bet on the same two winners.
  40. Learn from your own mistakes. Once bitten, twice shy. If you've fallen for a betting mistake in the past, don't fall for it again. Study your betting action and discover your weak spots. Act to get rid of them.
  41. Horses that have proven themselves as being consistent, will more than likely continue in that way. Stick with horses who have a 20% or more winning record. The higher the better.
  42. Never just pop in to your local TAB, scan the fields and make a bet. It's the surest way I know to send a punter broke. You cannot win with this ridiculous and 'shooting for a dream' approach. Have the discipline not to do it.
  43. Well-fancied horses rarely drift much on the tote. If the horse you fancy is favourite or close to being favourite and the opening tote price is less than the bookies have put up, you can forget about backing it on the tote.
  44. When you are at the track, refrain from making your bets in the first five minutes or so of the betting opening. Opening quotes are usually very cautiously made by the bookies, and you'll find that most horses ease in betting within 10 minutes.
  45. Don't believe that all newspaper reporters are 'experts'. Many are teenage cadet reporters whose only claim to fame is that they are mad on racing. Experts they aren't! Check out your newspaper tipsters most carefully.
  46. With quinella betting, always operate in races that are likely to offer value for money. Races with 10 or less runners usually won't provide much value. Big races, like Epsom Handicaps and the big Cups, offer big-field value.
  47. Trainers often try to disguise 'real form' by running their horses over 1600m or further, knowing it is really a 1200 m to 1400 m horse. The horse weakens in the longer race, then comes out and wins over the sprint.
  48. Another blow for each-way betting pro punters say it's better to back two horses in the same race, rather than one horse each way. One can hit trouble and lose. With two horses you have another horse going for you!
  49. Bet on a basis that suits your personality. If you cannot stand the strain of betting big then don't do it. Try to enjoy whatever you do in betting on horses and dogs.
  50. Set yourself a 12 month goal to make money. Do not get depressed about losses. Everyone suffers them. Stick to your guns and, most of all, have faith in yourself.

By Brian Blackwell