Professional punters in Australia - and anywhere in the world for that matter - will devote hours to the study of a race, investigating every factor relevant to every runner. It's known as 'cramming' and it takes a great deal of time.

The ordinary punter mostly does not have the time for exhaustive research, which means he has a number of quick alternatives:

  1. He can follow a newspaper tipster.
  2. He can make pretty haphazard guesses.
  3. He can play his hunches.
  4. He can select by elimination.

Now, the fourth choice is the important one. It helps you to weed out weaknesses in your own betting approach, and cash in on the real positive aspects, of any runner. It is one of the strongest of all betting plays, providing you can make an honest and unbiased approach to the task. In other words, approach a race with a clear mind, a blank page.

In America, there are successful formguide experts who work on a theory known as Dividing By Two. It's a neat, simple, yet very effective way to look at a field of runners. It can lead you to lots of winners.

Your first task is to look over the day's programme in order to, divide it into two parts. These are the playable and the unplayable races. The unplayable races are those in which the Class of runner is weak and unpredictable, or top open to warrant a bet. You should also throw out those races with a lot of first-starters.

You should easily be able to spot the weak, non-bet races. Let's say you decide to bet on four races. Your next task is to split the first race under study into two. The aim of this division is to eliminate from further consideration those runners which, on past form and general evidence, appear to hold no winning chance.

After this comes the final and vitally important check of the remaining runners who are in line as contenders. If you have a sound knowledge of form, weights etc. it should not be too difficult to sort out the clues and find if one factor points to any particular horses possessing a better overall chance than the rest.

But even without this deep knowledge, you can still use the Divide By Two plan with success even if you do not analyse the entire field. You might decide to merely divide by two the top six picks of the newspaper experts, or the top six in the pre-race betting market.

Remember that the aim of the plan is to reduce by division a field of horses to the smallest number of prospects. Once you have pared your field down to a handful of runners, you can then see how they fare when balanced against the following points:

  1. Fitness. Can it be considered fit?
  2. Form - is the horse in form, or approaching form?
  3. Is it reasonably well-weighted?
  4. Can lit handle the track?
  5. Is it suited by the distance of the race.
  6. Are the track conditions (firm or wet) suitable?
  7. Is it drawn well?
  8. Does it come from a good, reliable stable?
  9. Is it to be ridden by a good, reliable jockey?
  10. Is the horse up to the Class of the race?

To every horse under consideration, you apply each of these 10 questions and whenever the answer is in the affirmative (yes) you tick the horse's name. When you've finished, count the ticks next to each horse to see which one has the most. That horse is your bet.

Using this approach enables you to see quite, clearly the rights and wrongs of a race. If you're the type of punter who needs to sharpen up his approach to selecting then the Divide By Two method should be just what you need.

Take note of its rules and you will be on the right path to picking a lot more winners than you currently do. You won't back every winner but you will come up with a percentage of winning bets at some excellent prices. You also will achieve two, of the essentials of successful turf betting: The first division eliminates BAD races, and the second division eliminates BAD horses.

So you end up having fewer bets but when, you do bet you are putting your money on better horses because your bet is on horses which have come up well when assessed against the final 10 important form points.

Careful elimination of 'risk' runner is one of the most powerful steps towards being a successful punter. Many punters do waste a lot of time by perusing every runner - but you don't have to do this.

The point of this exercise is to avoid time-wasting. In any race you can I quickly find horses which really have just about zero chance of winning. It's these you have to get rid of when you divide a field into two. Fourteen runners - get rid of seven of them, eight runners get rid of four of them and so on.

It's by getting rid of the 'rubbish'- the no-hopers, the losers- that you can find the winners, or the probable winners. It's not the final answer- let's admit it, nothing is! - but it does go a long way to helping you get on top of your selection process.

By Ted Davies