We're coming to the final stages of the selection process in this special Ratings Guide. Last issue (July) I looked at the Class, Ability and Form factors, all most important to the serious punter. We're on a probe for the big prizes in racing ... value-priced winners!

Before that, we'd examined the 'right races' on which to bet and had a look at my special Class Ratings table.

This month, I'll take you through the important factors of Track Conditions and Weight. We ignore these factors at our peril. I think they are SO important in finding winners, but the in-a-hurry punters of modern day racing tend to skim over them too much.

I’ve come up with hard and fast rules to determine if a horse can qualify as a final contender. There is no room for messing around with these factors. Too, much tweaking here and there and you'll meet yourself head-on.

My formula makes it very clear that if a horse doesn't measure up on the Track Conditions and Weight areas, then it's best forgotten about. Simple as that. We try to cut down the 'if' factor to as slim a negative as possible.

Firstly, let's look at the Track Conditions Formula:

Factor A+
(1) If track slow or heavy, and horse has won 2 or more races on such conditions (individually). Thus, if prevailing track condition is ‘heavy' and horse has won 2 or more on such conditions, then it's a Factor A qualifier under Track Conditions.

Factor A
(1) Any other track conditions (dead, good, fast) and horse has won 2 or more races under the prevailing track conditions.

We are covering ourselves here in ensuring that we rate only those runners that deserve a rating for track conditions ability. If a horse has not proven itself in the current conditions, then we must be wary. The horse falls into the old 'don't know' category. This is especially important when the tracks are rain-affected.

Factor A
(1) Horse has the same weight as last start, or is rising no more than lkg or dropping up to 10kg.

Factor B

(1) Horse is rising in weight by 1.5kg to 2.5kg.

These two factors cover us well. We are giving a lot of leeway to horses which are dropping in weight, and also covering ourselves for those on the same weight or up to 1kg more from the latest run.

We don't want to be imposing badly weighted runners on ourselves. We want this weight factor to be lenient or generous. In major races, especially, horses dropping sharply in weight MUST be seriously considered (look at Rogan Josh in last year's Melbourne Cup as an example).

Too often, punters get suckered into backing horses which have copped significant weight increases.

Mostly, it means the kiss of death, yet we still fall all over ourselves to get on!

Believe me, the more weight a horse has to lug, the harder it is to win. Think about it: a horse carries 54kg and then is up to 58kg next start, a rise of 4kg. Translated to lengths, this is about 2.5 lengths.

Even if the horse is dropping in class, he still has to carry the weight. If there is no apprentice allowance, the horse may struggle. The odds are that he will struggle.

This is why we don't want to rate the horse as Factor A or B. It's not worth it in the long run.

Next month, in our September issue, I'll continue this series with the formula relating to the entire ratings process. How do we draw all the strands together? How do we get a final rating figure for each runner? Which runners are automatically eliminated?

I think you'll find this final process a most interesting one. I've certainly had a lot of fun putting it all together. I think it's a different sort of approach and one that will enable us to hit plenty of good winners and placegetters.

Remember, that we are going to operate only on certain races, and to underpin the whole process we have our special Class Ratings, as published in the June issue of PPM.

Click here to read Part 5.

Click Here to read Part 6.

Click here to read Part 1.
Click here to read Part 2.
Click here to read Part 3.

By Richard Hartley Jnr