When it comes to the Sydney Morning Herald's formguide, it's a case of 'big' is best. The newspaper's Friday morning guide is an example of what an all-round formguide should be.

It runs to 20 pages and has a colour front page, usually featuring a jockey, trainer or horse. The photos are splendid.

What makes the SMH guide just that little bit different from its rivals is that it has a lot of space devoted to articles.
Instead of just producing the form, it provides a most readable package of both form and stories.

The columnists are pretty good, too. The veteran journalist Bill Whittaker writes, as do Max Presnell, Michael Cowley, John Holloway and Darren Beadman.

Beadman's column is 'ghosted' by journalist Craig Young. As someone who has done similar work for other celebrities (I ghosted TV Week's John Laws column for some two years in the late '80s), I can assure you it's an onerous task.

Young, though, does a good job in bringing Beadman's thoughts across.

I rather like the SMH guide because it also features a couple of columns that can point the way to likely winners. One is called Turf Talk (concentrating on interstate racing) and the other has snippets of information about the Saturday meeting in Sydney. 


The SMH has an excellent trots' formguide, too. It provides potted comments for all runners at the Harold Park Friday meeting, along with a panel of six tipsters.

The trots' formlines are quite comprehensive and include lifetime starts, wins and places, plus consistent mention of Mile Rates in the comments.

Any trots fan would find this section of the guide a most useful aid to working out the form at Harold Park.

Rival newspaper the Daily Telegraph also has a good liftout on Fridays, though I think it lags behind the all-around strength of the SMH. It, too, contains a good trots' formguide.

As for The Australian newspaper … well, in my opinion, it's totally lost the plot so far as racing is concerned. Its main offering is a 4 page guide on Wednesdays and Saturdays, containing just the fields, jockeys, weights, etc. and one line of comment for each horse.

There is nothing at all on Fridays. Surely, though, this is the day to produce a formguide, not just on Saturday morning?

The Australian has paid scant regard to racing for many years. Its Monday edition has a good Breeding page or two, with some overseas results, but that's about it.

Weekday articles on racing are a hit-or-miss affair. You might find an article one day, and none the next.

This is the paper that poses as our national newspaper and yet it pays little heed to our great racing industry and seems determined to offer punters as little information as possible.

Maybe one day The Australian will realise that it could be the leader in racing coverage? Right now, it's a rank disappointment. It reminds me of the newspapers in the Philippines, where racing is restricted to a few paragraphs once or twice a week, and just a panel of tips on racedays.

I hope you've enjoyed this series on the formguides that are available in Australia. If any reader knows of others that are worth mentioning, then please let me know, and enclose a copy with your letter.

I'll certainly give some editorial space to worthwhile formguides. If you live in major cities, it should be possible to arrange delivery of interstate formguides.

I live in Brisbane and the Gold Coast and it's no problem at all to buy interstate papers. So you don't have to put up with an inferior guide. If your local one is no good, then go for the interstate papers.

Click here to read Part 1.
Click here to read Part 2.
Click here to read Part 3.
Click here to read Part 4.
Click here to read Part 5.

By Brian Blackwell