I’ve lost count of the number of times people have asked me how to isolate “easy” races on which to bet. The quick answer most expect is for me to tell them to bet in races with only a handful of runners, say five to eight.

But that would be the wrong answer. Races with small fields can be just as tricky as races with 20 runners. How many times do we see hot favourites beaten in small fields? That’s right. Many times. Too many times for comfort.

For a start, let’s go back to basics when addressing this issue: remember the late Eric Connolly’s words – you can beat a race but you can’t beat the races.

It’s long been said that anyone who tries to back the winner of every race will finish in the financial doldrums.

Shrewd punters say they bet only when they come upon a race which offers them the chance of a return at value odds.

In racing, what we need to remember is that each race is a problem in itself. We can talk in ‘masses” about races but when all is said and done it comes down to each race being a NEW race with any number of likely outcomes being dependent on a wide range of factors.

So, is there any one type of race considered to be easier for winner-picking than another? My answer is that if you stick with races over which the handicapper has no control then you may well be looking at the right races on which to bet.

Not the EASIEST races, but at least races which may be less difficult than handicaps.

A handicap means the weights are framed by the official club handicapper whose objective is to try to weight the runners so as to provide them all with an equal chance of winning. He aims for a mass deadheat!

The races which avoid the handicapping process are weight-for -age, set weights and special weights races.

In these races, some good horses will frequently enjoy a big advantage compared to the terms in which they would face these rivals under handicap conditions.

All this does not mean the punter should completely ignore handicap races. Official handicappers are bound by certain rules which can, and do, force them into error. Keen students can often discover weight differences that spell winner.

However, getting back to the original question about whether there are easy races.

No one can be dogmatic about this issue, and no one can say that certain types of races should be discarded.

Each race must always be considered on its own merits. An Open Handicap may present an impossible puzzle one week, and the same type of race the next day may be far easier to assess.

Eric Connolly, a great punter in his heyday, once said the most difficult races were Restricted Hdcps for 3 year olds and upwards, and Open Handicaps over 2000m and further.

Handicap races at 2000m+ can be traps unless you are certain as to how they will be run. A muddling pace can upset all your form calculations.

We can also point out that over the longer journeys weight has a more telling effect. It’s easier to carry a suitcase 100m than 400m, isn’t it?

I spoke to a friend, a serious punter, about his approach to finding the right races. This is what he told me:

“Personally, I stick to sprints and I rarely go beyond 2000m. I like 2 year old races early in the season because the form usually works out well and the results usually follow the betting pattern.

“That is, the money is usually right, or at least right enough times to make the babies a winning proposition.

“Mainly, I like weight-for-age races and the higher the Group level the better. Some of these races can be termed easy.

“The winner can stand out, because he or she is often a champion.

“I’m talking here of horses like Sunline, Grand Armee and those sorts racing in their prime of life.

“In fact, I’d advise any punter wanting a clean break from old habits to concentrate totally on all the Group 1 races, and some of the Group 2 races, that are held every season. That’s quite a lot of action, some 60 plus races. You’ll be betting on the best horses in the nation, and the form will be relatively easy and straightforward to work out, and you can easily assess who has a weight advantage.”

So that’s the view of one very keen punter and a man I know has made a lot of money over the years through concentrating on the right races, and the right horses. He has looked for the “easy” races and found them.

By Philip Roy