In last month's issue I mentioned the wise advice that a very astute professional punter gave me many years ago. He told me never to bet unless I was extremely confident that I had a better chance of winning than losing.

His advice has saved me a fortune that I would have lost on 'perhaps' bets over the years. You know the kind? The ones you have when you feel you just must have a bet, whether you are confident or not.

You've probably heard the adage: "Every loser you save yourself from backing, is like finding a winner at even money!" I've had many thousands of even-money 'saves' over the years.

But how can one ever be extremely confident about anything in racing?, you wonder.

The answer lies in the approach you take. Certainly you can never be confident if you you just bet willynilly, hither and yon - favourites one minute, outsiders the next; five dollars on the winners, twenty dollars on the losers; a quinella here, a trifecta there. That way, there's no possible way you can be confident about anything. Except losing!

But if you follow a sensible method of selection which prevents you from taking stupid chances, and learn to bet in a way that generates the safest profit, then it is possible to develop a feeling of security in advance of certain races. Note that I said 'safest' profit, not 'greatest'.

I developed a major rule many years ago to give me pre-race confidence and I'll discuss it this month and next. I'm sure it will not be long before you are using it too.

The rule? When I begin my form study for a meeting, the first thing I do is look for losers.

If you can weed out the losers, the winners will be easier to find.

It goes without saying that anyone who takes punting seriously and is determined to make a long-term profit from the pursuit, when investigating a race must pay attention to all the various form components outlined by Martin Dowling and Jon Hudson in their articles on Ratings that appear on pages 4,5 and 6 of this issue.

However, as Martin points out, studying form to such a degree takes a lot of time and can become wearisome, despite the pleasure it may bring when your prognostications ultimately prove correct and put you in the money.

What I am suggesting - this first search for losers - will make things a lot easier and, I believe, improve your results.

Potential losing factors take many forms, but the main aspects to consider are big fields, bad tracks, bad horses, poor riders, sub-standard trainers, wrong distances, bad barriers, bad prices and too much weight.

So at the very outset of my form study I quickly glance over the upcoming programme and, with a red pen, I put a small cross against the potential losing factors (as I see them) of the various horses in the lists of starters and riders. It will take you no longer than 5 minutes to do this, for the whole program. It's amazing then, how a race will take on a much clearer apperance.

In next month's issue I'll describe exactly the procedure I follow.

Kevin Moses, apart from being one of Sydney's best jockeys, is also one with an extremely dry and clever wit. Kevin often gets away with having a humorous 'go' at someone without their realising it.

If you saw the Sixty Minutes programme on television a couple of months back when Daniel Hobby, the disgraced West Australian jockey made his amazing (!) 'allegations' about race-fixing in the west, you will recall that Hobby said that whenever he was pocketed and needed to get a run to win he called out, "Monkey, monkey" ($500, $500) to whichever rider was in the way and a passage miraculously would present itself.

A couple of weeks after the interview was screened, Kevin Moses was returning to scale after riding On The Corso to finish a boxed-up 5th in the Jack Green Handicap at Randwick, when a Sunday Telegraph reporter, Tony White, asked him for a comment on the horse's run.

"No luck," was Kevin's wry comment. "I yelled out 'monkey, monkey', but no-one knew what I meant!"

Without wishing to turn this issue into a chronicle of macabre events, I have a personal memoir to add to the two events described by Brian Blackwell in his Winners & Losers column on page 35, which maybe you should read before you continue here.

One afternoon in the mid-1950s, I stood on the footpath of Botany Road at Beaconsfield (a southern Sydney suburb), leaning against a telegraph pole while waiting for a tram to take me to a night shift on radio 2GB.

Arthur 'Pat' Clarke, now the father of jockeys Michael and Gary (A.G.) but then still a teenager, lived in a house which fronted the busy street, about 40 yards before the tram stop. He was an aspiring 'hoop' at the time and we were good friends.

Seeing me leaning against the pole, waiting, he called me to his home's front porch for a chat. As I joined him, a taxi cab became caught in the tram tracks, skidded and slammed into the pole, right where I had been standing. There's no doubt that, but for 'Pat' calling me, I would have been squashed thinner than a slice of ham!

Little wonder I'm always pleased to see one of the boys first home in a race, and 'Pat' himself still lead in an occasional winner around Victoria!

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

By Russ Writers