Last month I began to outline the major steps I take to come up with a set of selections that make me a consistent winner. I wrote that all it requires is:

  • About one-and-a-half hours of your time (perhaps a little more until you get the hang of the method)
  • Serious dedication to the task while you're spending the time
  • Five dollars per week for a formguide

I know that I have already lost many readers by mentioning that last requirement. Those who have lost interest have baulked at the $5 1 per week for the formguide.

Some of the group will believe that they can't afford it; others will rationalise that they are accustomed to the 'potted' comment which appears in the daily newspapers and consider it is good enough for them.

There will be a percentage who will say that they cannot understand all the detail in formguides and don't need it anyway because it takes too long to go through it; and there will be a section who consider that the formguides which appear in the major daily newspapers and cost only a dollar or less (with the news thrown in) are good enough for their purposes.

One thing that can be predicted with a fair degree of certainty about the members of that total group is that they are nearly all accustomed to losing.

Like a tradesman needs tools, successful punters need formguides and, in Australia, we have five or six of the best in the world. Because I am busy working through the week I bet seriously only on Saturdays and I buy three formguides - Sportsman, the punter's bible, Wizard, my guiding light, and Best Bets, my race-day companion. Best Bets also saves me buying a race book. My total outlay is $12, a pittance, considering all the information and guides to winners they provide.

I'll relate how each fits into the scheme of things later, but first things first.

My starting point is the Wizard. A copy of the formguide or last month's issue of PPM will be helpful here, in understanding the first three steps.

Recapping them:

Look at the top section of the header panel for every race in Sydney and Melbourne (the only venues where I regularly bet) and put a very sizeable cross against the name of any race which is for two-year-olds or over hurdles or steeples, or over distances shorter than 1100 metres.

Put a smaller cross against any that are indicated as being Weight For Age or Set Weights events.

Pay no more attention whatsoever to any race against which you have placed a big cross and, generally, do likewise with those bearing a smaller cross.

Go down the 'Days' column of the Wizard header panel and whenever you come to any number from 29 to 49 (meaning more than four weeks and up to seven weeks), go to the actual tabulated-form information of the horse concerned and write against its name "29 days" or "49 days" or the appropriate number.

Whenever the number is greater than 49, write the word "spell".


Go to the tabulated-form information of all horses engaged in races against which you have not put a cross and against which you have not written any notation. Examine the TOP line of the form to see if there is an asterisk (*) immediately in front of the name of the track where the horse most recently raced. If there is an asterisk, write against the horse's name (just as you did in steps 1 and 2) the words "Second up". Check out EACH horse in both Sydney and Melbourne for the asterisk. It will take only about five minutes.

Total time taken to date: about 15 minutes.

We're now ready to get down to the serious business of using the Wizard's 'real' benefit: its ratings those figures down the far left-hand side against each horse's form lines - its most recent eight starts.

Firstly, a very important explanation: here's where doing the form out of the Wizard can be a trap. This formguide publishes the form in exactly the opposite way to probably any other Australian formguide you've ever seen.

It puts the most recent run at the top and works backwards to the bottom. It publishes the latest eight starts of each horse and the temptation is to go to the eighth line to get details of the most recent run. Don't! You'll be looking at how the horse was performing months ago.

Pay no attention to any horse against whose name you've made any notation. Examine only the horses (in the eligible races) with NOTHING written against their names. This will eliminate all horses which have not run within the last 28 days, are returning from a spell or racing second-up.

Of those 'in the clear' which have had three or more starts since a spell (the asterisk - if one is necessary to indicate a return from a spell - will appear lower down the listing than the first three lines), examine the FIRST THREE LINES of the tabulated-form information. Check the second column to see if (in any or all of those 3 runs) the horse has raced on a METROPOLITAN track in the STATE where the forthcoming race will be run.

If the horse has had only 2 runs following a spell (the asterisk will be on the third line down), cheek only the FIRST TWO lines. This means you never take into account any form prior to a spell.

If the horse does not meet this metropolitan track/same state condition, put a cross against its name and eliminate it from further consideration.

If the horse remains a contender under Step 4, examine the distances (column 5) over which it has been running at its LATEST 3 STARTS (or 2 starts if it has had only 2 runs since a spell, as above). Consider only those runs on the METROPOLITAN track/s which have been WITHIN 250 METRES (either up or down) of the forthcoming race . . . EXCEPT for the following, which you DO NOT CONSIDER:

  • Any past form covering distances under 1100m.
  • Past form over 1100m for forthcoming distances beyond 1200m.
  • Past form beyond 1200m when forthcoming distance is 1100m.

Also, do NOT consider any races run on provincial or country tracks over an applicable distance. If none of the three runs qualifies under this step, put a cross against the horse's name and eliminate it from further consideration.

Examine the far left-hand column relating only to the runs which allow the horse to qualify under Steps 4 and 5. These are the Wizard ratings for those runs. Determine which of the qualifying runs has the highest figure, put an identifying mark against that figure, and then boldly write that figure next to the horse's name.

Follow Steps 4, 5 and 6 for every horse engaged at the two meetings which does not have a cross or notation against its name.

This will take about an hour, in total, to go through the two meetings. Total time to this stage is about one-and-a-quarter hours.

Practice going through those Six Steps on a few races in an edition of the Wizard. You should quickly get the hang of the process and if you study the figures you have written against each horse's name, I'm sure you will discover some very interesting things that will be revealed to you as the races are run.

NEXT MONTH: Ben Richards takes you through the final steps of securing your own ratings in double-quick time and at minimum expense.

Click here to read Part 7.
Click here to read Part 8.
Click here to read Part 9.
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.

By Ben Richards