I have always held the belief that winning form is good form. And it is – generally speaking! The one thing that is a fact, an unassailable one, is that last-start winning form has to be taken seriously.

This applies especially with high quality performers. They are more likely to string two or three wins together than are lesser-talented horses.

But when we look for the 'ones' in a horse's form, we have to be careful. Use a last-start win as a starting point for your form analysis, and you will be embarking on a sensible path.

Many punters have told me they just don't know where to start when they look at race form. Mostly, they end up beginning with the favourite, or with horse No 1. My suggestion is that you start with last-race winners.

Run your eye down the field and tick off those that qualify. Then start to examine their form. Was their win achieved in similar class to today's race? Was it achieved in lower class, thus meaning the horse is racing against a stronger field today? How much extra weight, if any, has the horse to carry?

Remember that if a horse has won its last race and now drops in weight, then it must be going up in class. On the weight factor, laststart winners racing against much the same class of field as they beat will be hit with weight rises.

Men you see a last-start winner having to lump an extra 2kg to 3 kg, sometimes more, you have to ask yourself if this added impost is going to be enough to cruel its winning prospects.

You have to look at other horses in the race who may have been beaten by this horse and are now meeting it on much better weight terms. Weight lines are important, though like everything else in racing they can prove misleading!

I have struck countless races where a last-start winner faced a daunting weight turnaround against other horses - yet has again beaten them easily. Why does this happen?

Mostly, it's because the horse is right at the peak of its form and has been able to improve sharply, so underlining its dominance of its rivals.

Look at Doriemus, winner of the Caulfield and Melbourne Cups. He received a hefty 3kg penalty following his Caulfield Cup win yet he was able to blitz the Melbourne Cup field. Doriemus was on the UP in his form and easily handled the extra weight.

Look closely at all the last-start winners. Check their form out thoroughly, and make a decision as to whether they can be competitive in the current race. Some last-start winners will simply not be able to win again, especially those being upped in class.

Even though carrying less weight, they find themselves in races where the rise in class, in kilo terms, far outstrips their weight drop. We see this time and again.

A horse wins in a certain class of race, then is put in a race which is, say, 6kg superior to the race that it won. It drops, say, 2kg in weight on its win in the lower class race, but still finds itself unable to bridge that other 4kg gap.

If you are a subscriber to Marcel Plante's Rating Bureau computer service, you would have this class rise and weight comparison all neatly laid out for you. You can look at an entire field and see how much each has gone up or down in class, and how they also have gone up or down in weight.

Without such a superb service, of course, you have to figure such things out for yourself. It isn't easy! You have only the race-class title to guide you.

Provided that you do not attempt to analyse too many races, you should be able to manage the task. Pick out two or three races for the day, and stick to them. That way you can take things easy and jogtrot through the analysis, giving due consideration to each horse.

There are lots of angles to be considered when looking at laststart winners. Consider the following:

  1. Can it handle the class of the race?
  2. Is it able to carry the weight?
  3. Are the track conditions very different from when it won last start?
  4. How does the distance of the current race compare with last start? Can the horse handle the different distance?
  5. What about the track itself? How different is it from the laststart track?
  6. Who is riding today compared with last start? Is it a bad or good switch?
  7. Has the horse a history of winning successive races or not? If not, be wary.
  8. Is there good betting support for the horse today? If not, why not?

Answer these questions and you will go a long way to tracking down horses which can win again after being last-start winners!

NEXT MONTH: We bring you a special article by Philip Roy on professional betting. You want to get rich overnight by betting on a full-time basis? You think you have what it takes? Read Philip's eye-opening article for all the facts you need to know!

By Philip Roy