Find the right race on which to bet! This is the first major factor I'm going to focus on in this series of articles. I do this because I've always been convinced that 'bet choice' is the cornerstone of betting.

If you insist on betting the wrong races, you're making your task all that much harder. Bet the right races and you'll give yourself a fighting chance to get on top of the game.

But how do we choose the right races? We can use 'class' and if we use it in sweeping terms we can quickly eliminate the races, indeed entire meetings, which are not worth our while to study.

So far as country and provincial racing is concerned, we IGNORE all races below Class 5. When you have your formguide in front of you, then strike out all those races between Maiden and Class 4.

Concentrate only on the races ABOVE these classes; the higher class the race, the better. Once you get attuned to this elimination technique you won't think twice about it.

For metropolitan races (weekdays and Saturdays), we use a similar approach. I outlined the races to be chosen last month but let's put it all together so we know exactly where we are going.

THE RIGHT RACES FORMULA Metropolitan races  (Weekdays, Saturdays)

  1. Operate only on:

    (a) Open Handicaps
    (b) Restricted Handicaps
    (c) Welters
    (d) Fillies & Mares Handicaps
    (e) Weight-for-Age
    (f) Set Weights for 2yo's and 3yo's
  2. Operate only on races with 14 or fewer runners.
  3. Operate only on races of 1050m -and further.
  4. If the pre-post favourite is at EVENS or lower, ignore the race.
  5. No bets on races restricted to apprentice riders only.

Country and Provincial (all days)

  1. Operate only on:

    (a) Open Handicaps
    (b) Welters
    (c) Fillies & Mares Handicaps
    (d) Classes 5 and 6
  2. Operate only on races with 12 or fewer runners.
  3. Operate only on races at 1050m and upwards.
  4. No bets on races restricted to apprentice riders only.
  5. If the pre-race favourite is at EVENS or lower, ignore the race.

Now, we can be very clear as to which races we are going to study. You'll find that the formula will provide enough races to keep you happy, but will take away a huge number of races that we regard as 'risky' and which are too fraught with traps to bother about.

By restricting ourselves to Class 5 and upwards we are more or less restricting our betting to the ratings bracket of 50 through to 70 for the very highest wfa races. This is about 13 lengths between a Class 5 runner and a horse like say Sunline. This is a broad figure; it could be more or less depending on a number of factors.

But we can safely apply the ratings in this bracket and help ourselves to compile decent sets of ratings.

Now that we've determined which races are to be analysed, we can move on to the next area of the approach, and this is fitness.

The best way is to assume (a) a certain number of races in the current campaign and (b) a certain number of days since the last start.

Without having to probe into every nook and cranny, we need to make a speedy decision as to each runner's fitness level. We won't always get it right, but the formula I've drawn up will prove effective overall. It'll be right more times than it's wrong.

The formula splits 'fitness' into four areas, which I have tagged A, B, C and D. The A factor is the best, B next-best, etc.


(1) Check each runner for the following:

(a) Horse has had 3 runs or more this current campaign and its last start was 14 days or fewer ago.


(a) Horse has had 3 runs or more this current campaign and its last start was between 15 and 21 days ago.


(a) Horse has had 2 runs this campaign and its last start was 14 days or fewer ago.


(a) Horse has had 2 runs this campaign and its last start was between 15 and 21 days ago.

As you can see, we are looking at horses which have had at least one start this campaign. If they are resuming from a spell, we are not interested. Yes, resumers do win, but more of them lose and, overall, they are best ignored.

We give the 'Factor A' rating to those runners who have had enough starts during the current campaign and which had their last start within the previous fortnight. These, generally, will be FIT HORSES.


Make no mistake about it, fitness (or condition) has more to do with a horse winning a race or losing a race than the weight it carries.

Pittsburgh Phil, the legendary punter, put this theory forward long before I happened to embrace it.

Phil believed that picking the winner of a race rests entirely upon the ability of a man to tell when a horse is in good condition and when it's not. If one good horse is not at its best, and there are inferior horses who are at their best, they will beat it 9 times out of 10, said Phil.

The late Don Scott was somewhat fanatical on fitness. When compiling his ratings, he would impose penalties ranging from 3 to 15kg on horses resuming after a spell.

Because we are not going to bother with these runners, we don't have to worry about the penalties. We take the risk and leave them out and, overall, we're going to be ahead of the game by doing so.

What will it mean overall when one horse gets a Factor A rating and another gets a factor D? Well, we'll come to that in a later feature article in this series. This will be when I draw all the strands together to form a whole.

Once we have all the factors outlined, and 'set in concrete', we'll be able to look at a race (one of the RIGHT RACES!) and easily work out a rating for each qualified runner. It won't take long and there'll be no leeway to get it wrong.

This is an approach that is somewhat rigid in its approach but one which adopts a sensible approach to the mysteries of the formlines if you want to make lots of decisions yourself, then perhaps you can still use this approach but throw in some subjective stuff as well.

In the next part of the series in the July PPM, I'll be looking at Class, Ability and Form. These, as we all know, are essential elements in raceform analysis. We must be as sure as we can be about each horse's class, we must know what the ability level is, and we have to be satisfied a horse is racing in form, or is about to race into form.

The article following that one, in the August PPM, will look at what we do about raceday track conditions, and then we'll examine the importance, vital as it is, of weight.

In the September PPM, I'll take you through all the steps of the actual rating process. How to get each runners final rating and how to make your priceline.

Finally, in the October PPM, all the rules of this approach will be put together in a package of rules that will be easy to follow.

Don't miss next month's July issue, because it will be a most important cog in this series.

Click here to read Part 3.
Click here to read Part 4.
Click here to read Part 5.
Click here to read Part 1.

Click Here to read Part 6.

By Richard Hartley Jnr