As time marches on, at eve increasing speed, the prospect of more and more computer-generated print publications becomes a looming reality.

One Aussie racing publication, Wizard, published from Canberra by Warren Block and Malcolm Knowles, jumped on this particular bandwagon some years back, producing a weekly formguide for the weekend's racing that has some 90 per cent of its content coming straight from a computer database.

Selling around 4000 copies, Wizard has never busted any sales records but, then again, it has never tried to be more than it is; a niche formguide that makes a handy profit by attracting a regular core of loyal buyers.

My main quibble with Wizard is its actual presentation. I feel it lacks a sophisticated look. The choice of typefaces seems rather lacklustre and gives it what I can only call a 'thrown together' image. The layouts are a jumble.

But, of course, the matter of presentation probably doesn't mean a thing to its devotees. They buy it for the information and, where this is concerned, Wizard gets it right for the audience it attracts.

It covers only those metropolitan meetings held in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Adelaide on Saturdays. And here it differs from a publication like Winning Post, which crams in as many guides as it can for Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays and Mondays, city and country.


The Wizard's bonus for its readers is that it produces race ratings for each runner's last eight races. For example, let's take Balmaria.

From Wizard's detailed form, we are able to discover just about all there is to know about Balmaria (and any other runner).

The formlines contain the following 'extra' information that you might find difficult to track down in other publications:

Previous wins after letups, last seasons' wins, this season's wins, betting report on previous runs, class statistics, barrier trials results, class up-or-down from last start, and - most importantly - weight and time ratings for each runner.

In the case of Balmaria, we can see that her previous wins have been after breaks of 56 days, 6 days, 24 days, 10 days, 11 days and 12 days. We learn that she has a 22 per cent win strike (from 50 starts) and that she has a 50 per cent win strike when sent out favourite (6 wins from 12).

We can also see that she's had 3 runs in similar company to the race she is now to contest and that she won once and was placed in another.

In stronger company, she's had 41 tries and won 8 for a 19 per cent strike rate.

Next to the formline for each of Balmaria's last efforts we find a rating figure. In this mare's case, going from her latest run, on July 8, down to her 8th-last start on February 6, the ratings were: 48.5, 51.5, 56.5, 44.5, 55.0, 53.5, 54.0 and 56.0.

Her best ratings, then, were 56.5 when 3rd at Randwick over 1200m on June 12, and 56.0 when 7th in a Randwick Welter on February 6 over 1600m.

With ratings figures like these, Wizard readers are able to compare each horse against the other. My own approach is to ignore the worst ratings and judge each horse on its highest ratings.

Then you can break down the ratings into class and distance, and where they were obtained, and the state of the track on the day. Quite quickly, you'll have a very good idea of which horses have the best ratings related to the current race.

Wizard has a special panel at the start of each race, which gives you a broad overview of each runner. The panel is much like Sportsman's Chart Form liftout, and encompasses the following: last 4 starts form figures, barrier, weight, estimated price rating, weight rating, time rating, number of starts, wins, placings, win percentage, place percentage, class (up or down), field strength (compared with last start), distance (up or down), average prize-money earnings, days since last start, course record, distance record, course/distance record, performances on good, dead, slow and heavy going.

At the foot of each horse's performance record is a short comment and then an 'overview' comment. In Balmaria's case, the comment was: "Racing well, impressive two runs back when defeated 3.75 lengths by Surfari over 1400m at Randwick." The overview said: "Respect this class."


There is not a great deal of editorial matter in Wizard. The cover is taken up with a preview of the Saturday's major races. The centre pages always interest me, probably because, like most other punters, I am always on the prowl for that little bit of information that might sling me into a winner.

The main column is Talking Times, written by Gary Crispe. It examines recent winners, on city and country tracks, who have posted above-average times.

A comment may go something like this:

LANNEY - Moe 13-07-99 Consistent country-trained 4yo mare who maintained her consistent record with another game display Sat off the pace and finished hard in the straight to win over 1200m in better than par time. Follow.

There's also an outspoken column by Wizard's Malcolm Knowles, well known for his books about racing and betting.

Of the formguides I've touched on in this series (Best Bets, Sportsman and Winning Post to date), Wizard is the one that's obviously aimed at the higher-end serious punter. 


The formlines are laid out much in the USA style of the Daily Racing Form, with in-running positions and beaten margins at the finish. It doesn't, however, go as far as the DRF in listing how many lengths a horse was off the lead during the race, or how much it led by.

The Americans lap up this sort of info, while their Aussie counterparts have never had such info and, therefore, don't lose sleep over not having it.

With more than 10 years of publication behind it, there's no doubt that Wizard has established itself in the racing marketplace.

It keeps a low profile, looks after the readers who want exactly what it provides, and, I suspect, will be quite happy to hang on to its current circulation and make a few gains without pain in the years ahead.

If you're a serious punter, who wants his statistics fed from the computer and topped off with a few comments, then Wizard will suit your needs.

Wizard handles stats very well. Its jockey statistics are excellent. If you want to know the ins and outs of jockey performance, then they'll be just what you need.

All in all, a handy formguide but one that could do with some cosmetic surgery!

Click here to read Part 5.
Click here to read Part 6.
Click here to read Part 1.
Click here to read Part 2.
Click here to read Part 3.

By Brian Blackwell