Successful professional punters invest in racing with the sole purpose of making a reasonable profit. These smart investors know very well what they are doing.

They know when to place their bets and on exactly which horses. They have a logical and scientific approach to the many problems that confront their form analysis.

They acknowledge the many risks they will take and yet they also understand that their problems are no different from those of the manufacturer of goods, the retailer, the stockbroker or any other person engaged in entrepreneurial pursuits.

In fact, the majority of racing professionals believe that their methods of investment have a decided advantage over other forms of business investment.

Unlike many racegoers, the professionals put long hours of study into their analyses. There are many ways to determine the current form of a racehorse and much has been written on that subject.

Most form assessment facts are reasonably easy to grasp but there are always exceptions to the rule. One of these exceptions is the ability to ascertain whether a horse will be able to maintain its level of fitness during its current racing campaign.

Is the animal still improving? Has it reached its peak? Is it maintaining its peak? Or is the horse declining in fitness? The ability to correctly answer these questions really does play a major role in the successful outcome of racing investments. This particular area of form assessment does require a certain degree of skill that is only acquired over months or even years of form study.

Please don't despair. I have taken the liberty of jotting down a few notes that will certainly help in your fitness assessments. In fact, if you take the time to follow these ideas, you will never be too far from the correct answer.

I have found the following form patterns generate enough reasons to assume that a horse's fitness is suspect and it would be best to ignore it as an investment.

  1. Do not support any horse who usually races with the leaders but suddenly drops back from the main bunch.
  2. If a horse has suddenly developed the habit of drifting out off the track, running wide around the turn or veering out on the straight, it is usually showing signs of weariness and should not be supported.
  3. If a horse normally races generously and then shortens stride during the final part of a race, you should be warned that it has probably had enough of racing for the time being and is best sent out for a spell.
  4. Profuse sweating before the start of a race usually signals a horse's form deterioration.
  5. Be very wary of the horse that suddenly develops bad behavioural patterns like making trouble in the mounting yard or at the barrier by refusing to take its place in the stalls.

Please be aware that these notes do not apply to horses that have just resumed from a spell. If these horses are racing erratically it is only an indication that they are short of racing condition and in obvious need of more racing.

The majority of these notes will require observations over at least two starts before any reasonable decision can be made.

Never invest on a race where your top qualifier may appear to have lost its condition. If there is any doubt, STAY OUT.

How many of you remember little Zoe? Judging by our mailbag, I'm sure that many of you will know exactly what I'm talking about. Zoe is the name of a small but devastating little mini system that was published in the April issue of the magazine.

Since Zoe went to press, I have received many good reports from readers who have been using this system and enjoying the additional profits that they have gained.

You may remember that Zoe was written purely for the serious form student who is prepared to attend the track.

One of the rules stated that the race contenders must rank in the first three horses of outright favouritism available on course. This rule ensures that you must attend the track to apply the system in a professional and correct manner.

A few weeks ago I received an exciting letter from Mr Don Robertson from Newcastle. Don has certainly been burning the midnight oil and is to be congratulated for his excellent in-depth research.

Don is unable to attend the track on race-days because of family and work commitments. He reasons that most punters are in similar circumstances to himself and really have little option left other than to commit their investments to the TAB. Don decided to modify Zoe to suit the TAB investor by simply applying the standard rules to the first three lines of betting as printed in the Saturday Australian newspaper (after scratchings).

Don has carried his research back four years and he reports a successful win strike-rate of 34 per cent and a profit on turnover of 36 per cent. These figures are not as good as those achieved by the investor who attends the track; in fact they never could be. However, the results still represent excellent potential for the TAB investor and certainly justify your continued interest.

By Janice Crawford