In recent issues of this magazine I've been discussing the major steps I take to come up with a set of selections that make me a consistent winner and a very happy chappie over a punting year.

My selection method is based on the form as it is printed in the Wizard formguide. For its low cost of $5, it provides me with a unique set of ratings that is not only a great guide but keeps me away from a lot of 'the public' plays.

In this issue I'll take you to the end of the 10 basic steps. If you wonder why the rules suggest you do certain things that may seem strange, I will explain in a later instalment.

In case you missed my first six steps, here's a quick recap:

Eliminate any race for two-year-olds or for jumpers, or over distances shorter than 1100 metres, plus (optionally) Weight For Age or Set Weights events.

From the 'Days' column of the Wizard header panel make a notation on the actual individual form of any runner which has not raced for between 29 and 49 days. Whenever the number is greater than 49, write the word "spell" next to the runner's name.

From the tabulated individual form information, check whether the horse is racing second-up from a spell. If it is, write 'second-up' against the horse's name. Total time taken to date: about 15 minutes.

Discard any horse against whose name you've written ANYthing. Examine only the horses (in the eligible races) with NOTHING written against their names.

Examine the FIRST THREE LINES of the tabulated-form information of each remaining horse. Check that, in those three runs, the horse has raced at least once on a METROPOLITAN track in the STATE where the forthcoming race will be run. If not, delete it from consideration.

If the horse has had only 2 runs following a spell, check only the FIRST TWO lines (the latest 2 starts).

For any horses which remain contenders under Step 4, examine the distances of their LATEST 3 STARTS (or 2 starts if it has had only 2 runs since a spell). Consider only those runs on the METROPOLITAN track/s which have been WITHIN 250 METRES (either up or down) of the forthcoming race. Do NOT consider any races run on provincial or country tracks over an applicable distance.

If no runs satisfy this condition, eliminate the horse.

Examine only the runs which allow the horse to qualify under rules 4 and 5 and check the Wizard ratings for those runs. Determine which of the QUALIFYING runs has the highest figure, put an identifying mark against that figure on the formguide, and then boldly write that figure next to the horse's name.

Total time taken to cover Sydney and Melbourne racing to this stage is about one-and-a-quarter hours (well under an hour when you really get the gist).

That is what we've covered to date. Now let's move on.

Spot check the TOP 3 lines of form for each runner of your remaining contenders and see if you have used any rating from LINE 3 that then DROPS to a lower rating on line 2 and then DROPS again to the figure on line 1. This, to me, indicates a horse on a downwards spiral, so ELIMINATE the runner from your list.

Take a lined sheet of paper and, working race by race and leaving, say, 8 or 10 lines for each race, identify your bettable races with headings (e.g. Sydney Race 3, Melbourne Race 5). Underneath each heading, make a list of the runner/s with the HIGHEST rating you have written against the names.

Whenever there are equal top scores, enter the details for all horses concerned.

Again, work race by race. List under the name of the horse/s with the top-ratings score in each race any runner whose score is within 3 points of the top figure. (Example: Top-rater 64, minimum listing 61; Top-rater 62.5, minimum listing 59.5).

Quite regularly this step will leave you with just the top-rated runner. Often only 2 or 3 horses make the list for each race. Sometimes you will have as many as 4, 5 or 6 names with their ratings. List them all if they qualify with a score that's within 3 points of the top-rater. If there are more than, say, 5 qualifiers for the list, I call it quits and abandon the race as being too even.

Completing Steps 8 and 9 takes me about 30 minutes. Overall time to here is approximately one-and-three-quarter hours.

STEP 10:
Take a closer look at the individual form lines of each horse that has made your list. Double check that the score you have allotted fulfils the requirements of Steps 4 and 5 (it is easy to slip up on the odd occasion).

While you are doing that, investigate whether the figure you have written down for the runner is consistent with other runs in the horse's 8 form lines. There will be occasions when it may be extraordinarily high compared with runs around it, suggesting that the horse performed far beyond its normal capabilities to create such a high score.

For this step (and this step only) pay no attention to where the races were run or what the distances were. Simply scan the numbers and come to a decision.

I allow what professionals probably consider a wide margin for extraordinary runs – 3 points (kg) because I don't like messing much with the ratings figures.

They have been created to a time honoured formula and the less I defy that formula, the more consistent my selections will be - or so I believe. There's plenty of room for my own personal input into proceedings later.

If the differential figure is more than 3 points (upwards), I divide the differential by 2 and deduct the answer from the original, replacing the original figure that I've written next to the horse's name with the amendment. The maximum change will therefore be no more than 1.5 points (downwards). Naturally, this may change a horse's position on your listing (and perhaps even cause it to be discarded).

If by chance the horse's only qualifying run under Steps 4 and 5 was considerably POORER (a much lower figure) than many other runs on the 8 form lines, don't be concerned. Do NOT amend it.

This step will take you about 10 minutes, meaning you've spent less than two hours overall (for Sydney and Melbourne) or about seven minutes per race for a 16-race day.

You probably spend that much time already, reading through the 'potted' form, taking in someone else's opinions.

I endeavour to reach this stage before I go to bed on Friday night. It's really quite easy to achieve, especially if you don't do it all in one sitting. It doesn't matter if you complete the task in short bursts, race by race, using just ten or fifteen minutes at a time whenever there's an opportunity.

At this stage I don't bother about analysing what I've come up with any further. Doing so can be a waste of time and double work. I like to come back to it on race day, refreshed and keen to take advantage of the groundwork I've done.

I'll take out the scratchings, make a few little adjustments for track conditions, etc. and then enjoy making my final decisions and getting ready to blitz the bookies or terrorise the TAB.


NEXT MONTH: Race-day morning, finalising the figures, adding your own input and planning the day's assault.

Click here to read Part 8.
Click here to read Part 9.
Click here to read Part 10.
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.
Click here to read Part 6.

By Ben Richards