Has today's unprecedented amount of racing information led to in increase in the number of winning punters? I would argue 'No'.

The reason lies in the fact that the majority of punters continue to depend exclusively on the content of information published for mass public consumption (e.g. formguides, media stories, various statistics, etc.).

An individual punter may be more informed than 10 years ago because of these better tools but so too are the punters he or she is competing against. In relative terms, nothing has changed.

While no doubt necessary in our racing activities, information published and consumed en masse by the public is overused and offers no winning advantage. The most successful punters today are those who supplement common information with their own unique sources.

People refer to us as "proactive" users of information because we take what's available and creatively develop it in a way that gives us an advantage.

When it comes to form analysis, we rely on the same information used by the public, but come to rely even more on the information we develop ourselves. We know that without this information we stand little chance of winning in the long term. I make ongoing profits because of my own information tools.

Quite simply, if you want to achieve a better result than the majority of punters, you must be prepared to take information and do things with it that they do not. One tool I hive used over the years with tremendous success is what I refer to as Horse Profiles.

A Horse Profile contains vital information about an individual horse and allows you to develop an intimate knowledge of that horse in respect to:

  1. Its overall level of ability;
  2. The conditions under which it can or cannot perform at its best; and
  3. The true merit of its various performances.

Make no mistake, if you aspire to making decent profits from racing, a thorough knowledge of individual horses is essential. You don't need to have this knowledge about every horse racing, but you should definitely know the ones most likely to figure as the main chances in races you typically examine.

Horse Profiles are a perfect tool for capturing information to develop this knowledge.

The first step in developing a profile for an individual horse is to establish a base. Using a good quality form history (the inure runs the better) and any other information you have, analyse the horse's record and mike notes in relation to the following:

What is the highest class the horse has won and/or been competitive in? (i.e. within 1.5 lengths of the winner) What class has the horse tried and not been competitive in?

Consider the age of the horse, its number of starts and form over the past 12 months. Is the horse still moving through the grades? Do you suspect it has already reached its class peak and may be either holding or declining in competitiveness?

Consider the class peak and career form cycle to try to estimate the level you think this horse could reach. Specifics are not really needed, only generalisations.

Does the horse look like it will measure up to Group racing? Does it look destined to only ever be competitive in Open Handicaps or even Restricted events?

Over what distance range does the horse race at its best? Over what distances has the horse failed?


How are the horse's runs usually spaced? Is there a pattern to its good performances? Does it always win or run well fresh, first- or second-up? Does the horse need regular racing and a number of runs from a spell to show its best?

Is there any evidence that the horse has a weight-carrying threshold?

Does the horse seem to run particularly well or poorly at certain tracks?

In what going has the horse performed best? Does it show a notable preference for one over another?

Does the horse like to race close to the lead, off the pace a little, or come from well back? Does the race distance or barrier draw influence where the horse races? From what running position does the horse usually perform at its best?

Does the horse seem to perform better in "sit and sprint"-type races that have a slow early pace or does it need pace on? Does the horse seem versatile enough to perform well regardless of the early pace?

Does the horse exhibit good form prior to its wins? Or . . . Does it have a habit of turning a failure in one run into a win the next? When racing in the right conditions, how consistent is the horse?

Try to put yourself in the mind of the trainer. Examine the spacing between runs, jockey engagements, as well as class and distance changes from one run to the next. Does this tell you anything about the horse? Does the trainer appear to follow a pattern with the horse from one preparation to the next? Trainers are creatures of habit and if they can find a winning pattern with a horse they will usually stick with it.

Does the horse have a regular jockey? Does the horse seem to go well when a particular jockey is engaged?

Does the horse usually race in additional gear such as blinkers?

Are there any other positive traits the horse has, e.g. a sharp burst of acceleration or signs of courage?

Are there any negative habits the horse displays, e.g. hanging in or out under pressure, over-racing, slowness out of the barriers?

If you attend the track and can see the horse prior to racing, how does it usually look? Is it relaxed and alert, or fractious? Are there any patterns in how the horse looks pre-race to how it performs?

Many of these points require subjective judgement and this is where a bit of your own racing know-how should come into play. In some cases you may not have enough information to make an accurate decision and that's okay. The key is to develop the areas you can right now and to be aware of those you need to learn more about.

With a base profile completed you already have the makings of your own powerful information source. You will have sifted through the masses of data available and creatively developed it into a concise yet comprehensive tool that tells you exactly what you should know about a horse.

However, the true power of your Horse Profile comes when you develop it further to build up more detailed knowledge. The first and most important aspect of this is to watch the horse when it races.

Your aim should be to understand the true merit of the horse's performance as distinct from what the result's page or media reports might say to do this, examine the following points:

(a) How suitable was the class and other race conditions for the horse (according to your base profile)?

(b) What type of run did the horse have? Was it mentioned in the Stewards' Reports?

(c) How did the horse respond when pressured by the jockey and how did it finish off its race?

(d) Overall, did the horse perform at a level below, equal to or above its previous best? Why?

(e) What does this run imply for the future?

Another useful habit is to be attentive to all avenues that might provide information about the horse.

Pay particular attention to what the jockey and trainer say. Arguably they know the horse best and quite often give information that helps explain a good or bad performance, the conditions it is best suited by and plans for the future.

A word of warning: you need to develop a sense for what constitutes genuine and useful information about a horse and what is simply a tired old interview or story full of clichés.

The key point is that you should always be on the lookout for information that will be of value when you next consider that horse in a race.

After observing a few runs and developing a horse's profile, you will be surprised at how well you come to know each horse. As opposed to traditional sources of information, your Horse Profile will give you all the information you need to make the right decisions.

You will know exactly when a horse is suited and can be expected to run at its best and when otherwise. Most importantly you will know how you can use that information for profit.

I find that the majority of these opportunities arise amongst the first few favourites in a race, especially where one or more of them have been influenced by media hype. Contrary to popular opinion, this top end of the market is a virtual gold mine for those with expert knowledge of individual horses and their differing abilities.

Regardless of how we used to approach racing, the evidence today is clear. We can no longer afford to depend solely on the content of information published for mass public consumption and expect to win.

By Daniel O’Sullivan