One of the misconceptions held by punters is that it’s SAFE to bet with the crowd on the favourites. It’s a belief that if you have it you should try to get rid of it. Dump the misconception or lose.

Favourites overall do not return a profit. The only way you can win is to SELECTIVELY back some of the favourites.

If you can do this sensibly you can possibly lift the strike rate to 40 per cent and more, and only then will you enter a zone that could contain a profit margin.

To succeed in betting, however, the simple fact is that you’ve got to be able to assess horses BETTER than the public at large, and bet only when there is a clear discrepancy between your opinion and that of the crowd.

What stops most punters doing this? A variety of reasons. You may not have the time, you lack any real understanding of the form, you’re lazy, you lack the stamina to keep up with the pace, and so on. To win, as any professional will tell you, demands time, money and personal commitment.

It’s a popular misconception that you can win and win backing numbers, or certain jockeys, or win without paying attention to the form. There’s also the misconception that money management is something you don’t need to concern yourself about.

Barry Meadow, in his Racing Monthly, has outlined some misconceptions – they make for interesting reading.

MISCONCEPTION – Analyse the race to find the best horse and bet him.
The best horse is generally the favourite and loses most of the time, anyway. Instead, analyse the race to find the contenders, assign them chances and bet only if one or more is going off at a higher price than he should according to your analysis. This means you might bet the horse you rate as second best, or third best, or even fourth best, but it’s the overlay.

MISCONCEPTION – Full fields of evenly matched horses are great betting races.
A great betting race is one in which you see the race differently from the public. Just because a field is large, the favourite is dicey, and there are plenty of longshots, doesn’t necessarily mean that you can profit from the race. Maybe some longshot is likely to win, but which one?

MISCONCEPTION – The right computer program will make me a winner.
Some bettors gravitate from program and program, always looking for the latest bells and whistles. All a computer program can do is calculate and report the data it gets.

Many of them can help you, but you might want to stick with one you like, getting to know it, rather than switch around. It’s not the equipment, it’s the user.

MISCONCEPTION – A good money management method will make up for handicapping shortcomings.
You can’t turn bad selections into profits for any major period of time. There is no money management methods that will turn losses into profits over the long term. Instead, combine sound money management with good handicapping.

MISCONCEPTION – I can make large amounts of money with $20 bets.
Assuming you make four win bets a day and have a 15 per cent advantage on each one (almost certainly a pipe dream), $20 bets would bring you a net profit of exactly $12 a day. And if you think you can bet dozens of races/tracks every day and expect to be a winning player, you are probably not living in the real world.

The thrust of what Barry Meadow, and other professionals, say is that punters need to have a clearer idea of what makes racing and betting tick, and they need a clearer idea of the truth about everyday racing.

If you want to be serious, you need to clear your mind of old cobwebby ideas. Decide on a plan of action. Don’t believe in the popular misconcepotion that if you only had the chance to bet full-time you will suddenly become a winner.

Many amateur punters have thrown in their daily jobs and tried to bet as professionals. How many do you know of who made the cut? Personally, I know dozens who tried it and beat a retreat, fingers burned.

But cheer up. Make a list of priorities. Include all the things that you may have been deluding yourself about. Tot up the figures. See how much you need to earn to make it all worthwhile. You will be surprised at how rational you can be if you only try.

By P.B. King