In the new millennium a new breed of punter has surfaced. They use form databases arid electronic formguides, along with the telephone and the Internet, which have all but eliminated the need to go to the track.

These "armchair punters" are becoming more and more sophisticated. Instead of battling traffic to and from the track, plus paying entry fees and buying overpriced track food and drinks, these new-breed punters spread that money on their home operations. I'm one of those armchair punters so let me detail my processes and the tools I most often use.

Living in Melbourne I have a major start, time-wise, as I can buy a copy of the Winning Post formguide by 5pm on a Thursday if I want a printed version of the form plus a broad idea of the pre-post market. For Saturday, however, I'm keener than that!

For starters, I can access the nominations and acceptances earlier in the week using the free Internet service from the Racing Services Bureau (, which gives me an opportunity to see the general structure of the fields and, more importantly, find a clue or two regarding the intentions of some of the trainers.

The larger stables, such as those of Gai Waterhouse and John Hawkes, often have several nominations/acceptances but, apart from the top races, they try to spread their runners to give their owners more chances to win races rather than have a stable-mate beat them. Sometimes you will note a trainer you respect, who trains quite some distance away, has nominated a horse. These entries are always worth a thought as to the intentions of their trainers, especially if the horse does not accept for the race.

By early Thursday afternoon I can log onto any of a number of sites which provide full form for every meeting in Australia, even those not covered by the TABS, but the main States are enough for me as I cruise the fields looking for my type of betting opportunities. I can print out the form there and then!

There are database services available which enable you to convert the form details into a format of your choosing to create your own database of runners. I also use a form analyst programme that can be purchased over the Internet. It allows you to have just about any format for any meeting, anywhere in Australia!

PPM's columnist E.J. Minnis and webmaster Pat Johnston ( are acknowledged for their contributions and assistance with this particular Scud programme. Personally, I am a huge fan of Spo7-tsnian's Chartform format as it gives you, on one page, an excellent overall spread of the field and highlights factors I consider important.

So, by Thursday night, I can be well and truly immersed into form and have many of my preliminaries sorted out. Naturally, on Friday I can purchase Sportsman, which I do, as there are comments and notations in the formlines I need for the next stage of my form work process.

For those desperate for early markets for all States (the Melbourne Herald Sun is abysmal in this area and we look to the north where the Friday formguides are gems), you can log onto the Western Australian site and join the free service which allows you access to early pre-post markets.

One of the most annoying aspects of doing form work on a Thursday or Friday evening is not knowing the weather conditions interstate. Not a problem if you log on to as there's a direct link to all the forecasts!

Get the picture? Internet users have a huge start. Although I don't use it, as I already have what I personally need, some astute friends of mine swear by the free form service offered by Racenet at which provides useful video comments in the formlines as well as allowing you to print the form into a racebook-type format.

Well, here's Saturday morning and all I have to do is obtain the scratchings and track conditions and, voila, I am ready for the day's battle. There is no need to rush into the shower, rush breakfast or rush anything because I'm not going anywhere ... I am at HOME!

About one hour before the first race anywhere of interest to me I log on to Mark Read's site at and go through the various races of interest, noting their price assessments. Mark Read's site is very handy because it allows you to click on to the next race anywhere and lets you know how many minutes before an event, which save you the chore of flicking through pages of newspaper formguides. It also has the TAB odds for all States available for comparisons.

Many punters would be unaware of the service offered on this site, called Divi Plus, which guarantees you the best win odds of the three TAB options. No longer do you need to look sadly at the roughie you have backed in your State at $15 to see it paying $18 or more on another TAB. The minimum bet is $5.

I am now ready to pounce! I also have all my TAB account phone numbers and codes and passwords handy as well as the number for my on-course bookmaker Rod Cleary at (Rod bets the best fluctuation from the track at all venues for win AND place; now that's service) and away I go!

I have ADSL which allows me to have the Internet and use the telephone at the same time, so that's very handy but not so when someone calls to chat. Usually I tell the caller the place is on fire so I MUST go!

The Sky Channel is on but I use three radios for a sort of stereo effect in the different rooms, tuned to Sport 927, as I cannot stand Sky's nonsensical "how will you go" interviews nor the tips handed out just a few seconds before the runners go into the barriers.

Plus, I get to hear two calls of the race . . . one from Sport 927 and then, when I watch the replays, the course caller. Each has a different way of presenting a race and it helps in remembering the overall picture.

My approach is by no means the definitive one as each armchair punter has their own style. Some want to place all their bets at once and sit back in a relaxed way while others, like myself, have a frenzied shark-attack approach.

No matter the method, it's quite clear that more and more punters are turning away from the racetracks and the PubTABs and are embracing the latest technology at home.

Many punters who used to spend anything from $20 to $30 on track expenses and transport are now spending that money subscribing to database services, either individually or shared in a syndicate of sorts. There is little doubt the ball game is certainly different these days.

*Roman Koz is a Melbourne based contributor who works in the education industry.

By Roman Koz