Over the past several months I have introduced readers to the set of hard-and-fast rules I use as the basis for coming up with a set of very sound selections which make me a winner every year.

Call them the rules of a system, if you like, but I prefer to think of the rules as methodology, a set of standards. They have been strictly applied to the class of race, known fitness, immediate past performances, barriers, track conditions, distance, and relative quality of the performer.

Now it is time for the enjoyable part - using your own judgment. Up till now I have just been following rules with very little opportunity to input my own opinion because the overall plan is to try to be consistent and I believe 'opinion' can tend to destroy facts, and therefore, at least partly, dissolve consistency.

I know the consistency aspect is in my ratings and that the factors I have so far applied to those figures are  relatively sound ones. Some may be, perhaps, at odds with opinions held by hard professionals but, as I wrote at the outset, this series is being written for amateurs who do not have access to computers and who do not wish to spend a fortune in time and money in order to come up with sound selections which, more often than not, are away from 'the public play'.

Up to this point, all readers who are following the plan should have an identical list of selections. From this point on, each person's selections may vary, depending on personal opinions. So, what I write from here on is only a guide. You may decide to stick with me religiously, or you may have thoughts that are at variance with mine.

Whichever, our end results will be pretty similar.

The first thing I have to do is make one small amendment to the section of last month's column in which I dealt with win and place percentages. Space did not permit its inclusion last issue.

If you are a 'systems' punter involved in any method based on win and place percentages, the amendment could  be the most important paragraph you will ever read.

I have not seen it used in any published method anywhere before, and the only formguide from which you can extract with absolute ease the detail that I am going to suggest is the Wizard, which we have used for all our study to date.

Concerning Win and Place percentages, last month I wrote:

"I like a win percentage of 18 or more and I tend not to put too much importance on the place percentages, as I'm  looking for winners.

In the W% column put a cross against any qualifier whose figure is not 18 or higher."

Now for this most important piece of additional advice:

Check that any figure 18 or higher is consistent with the horse's form over the past year to year-and-a-half. If the  horse's form during that period is below an 18 per cent win rate, put a cross against it as well, thus eliminating it  from contention.

Secondly, if the W% figures indicate that the horse's overall percentage is below your limit but its figures for the latest year or year-and-a-half are 18 or above, amend the overall figures by replacing them with the figures for the latest 12 months period.

The reasoning behind this very rare advice is that we want to bet on horses based on facts relating to their  relatively recent achievements and the published overall percentages can involve performances which took place  several years ago.

For example, a horse may have racked up a great record as a two-year-old or even as a three-year-old but, for  any of a number of reasons, may have performed fairly dismally by comparison in his later racing life. However, its overall W% figures retain an appearance of respectability only because of those early wins.

Conversely, a horse may be bred to be a middle-distance performer or a stayer, or be a late maturer, yet have  perhaps 10 or 15 runs in 2yo and early 3yo events which are far too short for it to perform well. Yet when it really  strikes form as an older individual, its overall W% record is weighed down by those unsuitable early events.

So, we need to know what figures apply to the horse for the last 12-18 months.

The Wizard has a section in each horse's individual form where its form is broken down into three sections: Career  percentages, last season's percentages, this season's percentages. 

Observe in the Wizard the form of a few horses and notice how much the figures can vary.

There's one slight problem, however. As this month of October begins, the new racing season is only 8 weeks old.  Lots of horses have not even started in this season. Those that have, of course, have had only a few runs. So the  figures are not a sample large enough to be reliable. Therefore I combine last season's figures with this season's  figures until the beginning of April each year, then I begin to use this season's figures only. 

(Average prizemoney is another statistical area which is severely affected by the same factors that affect Win  Percentage, but there is nothing much we can do to alleviate its problem.)

Let's move on now to the areas of study where personal opinion will play a part. All of the following areas are no  less important than any feature we have relied upon to date but, whereas our decisions so far have been based on very firm guidelines, these next judgments will vary from person to person.

However, I think it is fairly safe to say that, most times, the end selection in each race will be the same for  everybody. What will vary is the degree of confidence that each person will hold in that selection and this variance  will ultimately have an effect on the stakirig plan which I will outline next month.

I like the weight to be carried today to be no greater than 2kg above the weight carried in the chosen rated-run. I  also penalise if the horse is handicapped to carry more than 2kg above the weight he actually carried at its latest run (which may be different from the chosen rated-run). I make no concession for an apprentice allowance in  today's race. I consider that aspect further on, in the jockey category. 

I baulk at horses and geldings eight years and older, and mares older than five years in mixed races. In races for  fillies and mares, I will support 6yo mares only on rare occasions when they appear to have a real edge.

I dismiss fillies and mares when they are racing in mixed company and have not proven themselves capable of  winning against the colts, stallions and geldings in at least one of their latest 8 starts. Wins in maiden events do not count.

This may seem an unwise rule when you first consider it because we see many a good filly or mare defeating the  male horses in feature events. But those who manage to do that have usually performed the feat before, or are  racing in Set Weights or Weight For Age races (and this selection method excludes those types of races, as was  explained at the outset).


NEXT MONTH: Ben Richards will cover the final three factors of his selection method, then discuss the type of staking plan he uses and show how it has worked on all the selections that have eventuated since publication of this series of articles started.

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.
Click here to read Part 7.
Click here to read Part 8.

By Ben Richards