In the second article in this special series, The Optimist and PPM editor Brian Blackwell discuss betting ideas. This month they talk about betting on major races.

The Optimist (TO): Brian, I know you’re a fan of long-range betting on major races, and you’ve landed some decent old wins, but what about raceday betting on major races? Do you do much of that these days?

Brian Blackwell (BB): When I bet in major races my usual approach is to wait for those races in which I can be confident of betting against the well-fancied runners. Naturally, there will always be compelling cases for favourites in these Group class races and sometimes I’ll back them if I feel it’s easy money to pick up. ?

Generally, though, I want to exercise caution and patience to wait for the right horse at the right price in the right race.

TO: You got Pompeii Ruler at 30/1 recently, so when it works your approach is very good.

BB: Finding the horses to bet which are at good odds is the toughest thing of all. If I look back at some of my big race wins this year I can point to County Tyrone in the Sydney Cup.

He paid an amazing $21.70. ?I got Kosi Bay at $14.70 in a Listed race at Rosehill back in April. Those two winners gave my betting bank an enormous boost. In fact, every year I will rely on a handful of big strikes like that to keep well ahead of the game. It’s something I always tell the members of the PPD Club; that when I go on the attack in a major race with a horse at good odds it’s time to try to cash in big-time because they don’t come up too often and when they do you need to take fullest advantage of them.

TO: I’ve always regarded the big doubles, the pre-post jobs, as a chance to make a killing. I try to do it (and I have done it!) with a handful of small bets. A pal of mine always takes the field in the Caulfield Cup for $10 each for the win, and then splits the winnings from the race on up to five horses in the Melbourne Cup. If he gets a good priced winner in the Caulfield Cup he has some good doubles going.

Last year, of course, Railings won at 8/1 and my mate put the lot on the champion and collected a very nice double, but it would have been even bigger had Eye Popper won the Caulfield Cup at 40/1 instead of running 2nd!

BB: Yes, with that approach you need a decent winner in the Caulfield Cup and hopefully another good-priced winner in the Melbourne Cup, but it’s not a bad way to go. It gives you a sort of free kick into as many horses as you want in the Melbourne Cup.

TO: Races like the two Cups lend themselves to a good betting attack on the trifecta and First 4, mainly because of the enormous size of the pools. If you’re prepared to spend a few hundred dollars there’s a very good chance you can nail a trifecta worth thousands of dollars.

Last year, taking Makybe Diva as a banker to win with a collection of roughies for 2nd and 3rd, you could have snaffled a trifecta worth close to $5,000.

BB: Summing up, then, as far as major races go, I look for the horse or horses at value prices which I can bet against the favourites. You won’t strike every time but when you do strike the iron is hot.

TO: Let’s talk about form study. It’s something I am rigorous about on Friday nights. I want hours to myself to digest everything I can about the races I intend betting on. Because I do the form thoroughly I will rarely change my mind about a bet when I am at the track or the TAB, unless the price is no good or the weather changes and causes a downgrading of the conditions.

No other reason can make me change from one horse to another, or drop a horse I am intending to back. Certainly, there may be reasons for other punters, but I have missed too many winners by getting smart after doing my homework, and changing horses midstream.

BB: Do you look at the early prices when you do your tips?

TO: No, I do not. I can’t think of anything that can influence one’s thinking more adversely. I don’t really trust the prices, anyway. They are just someone else’s opinion and in this regard, Brian, I’m like you, the only opinion that counts is my own. What I do pay attention to are the radio ravings in the morning on Saturdays.

I say “ravings” because that’s what much of it is, but it can and does affect what people support.

If I have a horse about which I am expecting to  get 6/1 or 7/1 and it doesn’t get a mention by the radio crowd, I am a happy man, because I am pretty much confident that I stand a good chance of getting 9/1 or 10s on the TAB.

On the other hand, these blokes can kill a price. Once they start rambling on about one of my selections, and saying it’ll win blah blah, then I know the 6/1 I was expecting is more than likely to now be 3/1.

BB: I’ve often wondered what impact the Saturday morning radio shows have on punters? The blokes on the radio possess the gift of the gab if little else, so I can easily understand that punters will be swayed one way or the other by what they come up with.

TO: Yes. It’s fingers crossed for me as far as my selections are concerned. Once the radio and nowadays the TV mob get into spruiking them you can kiss goodbye to a decent price. It’s often best to just dump the selection.

BB: Well, my feeling in these instances is that if so many other people like the same horse as me then I have probably done something wrong in my analysis! I like to be a stand-alone Johnny if I can. I don’t want to bed with the crowd or be on the favourites if I can help it.

TO: It’s an approach that has worked very well for you.

BB: Okay, Mr O, what about the exotics? Do you like to hit the trifectas or perhaps the quinella? I fancy you are very much a trifecta man these days.

TO: Yes, I’ve found that I can usually pike that elusive third horse enough times in my multiple betting to make this a more profitable way of betting. The trifectas offer the big value. For example, if a horse is at 4/1 and he quinellas the race with a 20/1 pop, the quinella will often pay around $25.

That is, of course, under the odds in most races, but watch the times that the quinella pays $25 and the trifecta pays a thousand dollars. It is remarkably regular. I’ve had examples with my AB Field trifecta bet of the trifecta paying $2,500 while the quinella paid $11! Amazing stuff.

BB: The AB thing is something we’ve mentioned before in PPM. You bet two horses to run the quinella and take the rest of the field to finish 3rd. So, in a 16 horse field, say, you’d be up for $28. Not a bad bet this one and never too expensive. The most it will cost in a maximum 24 horse field is $44.

TO: It’s been a rather sensational dividend finder for me, Brian, and I recommend it to punters who want to try something a bit different to “boxes” on the trifecta.

BB: I saw your old mate Ian MacArthur a week or two back and he seems to be going well. He’s betting almost on a professional level these days and while we were talking I asked him to name three strong factors in his betting. Guess what he told me?

TO: I have a fair idea that he’d advise you to leave your credit card at home when you go to the track!

BB: Absolutely right. Ian is a rigid follower of the belief that if you’ve dug a hole for yourself don’t try to climb out of it that day. There is always another one to get a better foothold. Withdrawing money from your credit card to top up the day’s betting can be folly.

TO: We can talk more about what Ian had to say in next month’s December PPM. He’s an interesting guy with a lot of off-the-wall ideas on betting and getting ahead of the game.

NEXT MONTH: Brian and The Optimist discuss further ideas to help you add some spice to your betting.

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

With The Optimist and Brian Blackwell