In this article, Martin Dowling takes a look at some recent big priced winners and poses analysis questions about their form. He suggests that by examining why the longshots won we can be prepared to back other longshot winners in the future.

Why did it win? How come I never picked that winner? What did I miss in the formlines? How many times do we ask ourselves these frustrating questions? Too many times, I suggest.

No matter how much form analysis a punter might do there is always going to be the winner that escapes his attention, the horse that wins 'out of the blue' and pays a motza.

So what can we do in order to ensure that somewhere along the line we manage to back one or two of these bolts from the blue? My contention is that you set yourself 'analysis' tasks. You examine these winners and then ask yourself questions about why they won. Then you investigate the factors thrown up by the winning formlines.

You might find that a 20/1 winner had last raced on a good provincial track and had finished 6th but only 2.5 lengths from the winner, and that for the next race there was a significant jockey switch, from an apprentice to a highly-regarded senior rider.

What you do is note the factors that show up, just like the ones I have outlined. Now you can look for them in the future. Is there a horse con-Ling up who possesses a similar last-race factor profile? What price is it in the market? Is it longshot value?

In the following examples, I have looked at some recent winners who arrived at good prices and then I pose possible form scenarios to watch out for in the future. I think we can all benefit from such 'keep an eye on it' analysis. These are a handful of examples, just to set you thinking on the right path.

MAY 17
M'SELLE DE ENZ: This 3yo filly won at Moonee Valley over 1000m in fillies class. At her previous run she was 5th of 13 at Caulfield, beaten 6 lengths, at 5/1. Two runs back, though, she had won at Moonee Valley over 1000m at 16/1.

ANALYSIS: The pattern here is that she won at 1000m at MV, failed over 1200m at Caulfield, but won again when switched back to 1000M.

LESSON: Look for horses with a similar pattern of a win at a certain distance, followed by a loss over a different distance and then a switch back to the winning distance.

LADY JOSEPHINE: She was a winner at Moonee Valley in a mares race over 1000m following a 5th of 14 over 1400m at Flemington at 5/1, and a 3rd of 14 at Moonee Valley over 1200m on April 19. She had won and been placed twice at the Valley from five starts there. She was beaten 3.5 and 4 lengths at her last two starts.

ANALYSIS: She obviously likes the Valley track and can be expected to improve there. Her last two defeats were both 4 lengths or less.

LESSON: A mare that handles a track well should always be kept safe, especially if she hasn't been beaten more than 4 lengths at her last two runs. The same might well go for males, too. Course specialist plus handy 4 lengths and less unplaced form last start could spell winner.

MAY 10
WOLF: This 4yo mare won over 1400m in fillies and mares' class at Caulfield. At her previous start she had finished 6th (2.5 lengths) in similar class at Caulfield and before that was 5th in mares' class at Moonee Valley, beaten 4.2 lengths. She now carried the lowest weight of her last three starts. Her last start was 14 days earlier.

ANALYSIS: The key is that although unplaced at her last two runs she was beaten only 4.2 and 2.5 lengths. She was also on a good weight.

LESSON: Look for a horse within the 'beaten margins' of around 4 lengths and less at latest two runs and which is carrying a weight lower than at its last three outings. An extra factor could be a recent start, say 14 days or less.

PLUSHKA: Trainer Alan Krushka's 5yo gelding, a winner three times at Caulfield, and twice a winner at the distance, won an Open Handicap over 1400m. He had run 11th of 15 at Warrnambool in the 1200m Wangoom Handicap 10 days earlier, when 7 / 1, and before that was 3rd of six over 1100m at Caulfield. He was 8/1 for that race.

ANALYSIS: The track and distance winning form is the key here. He can be classified a track specialist. His second last start was the main factor, beaten less than a length.

LESSON: Look for a track and distance specialist who has shown one very good run at the same track in its last two starts, and who was sent out at under 10 / 1 at both its latest starts.

CELESTIAL CHOIR: Won in very wet conditions at Rosehill over 1200m in Open Handicap class. It was his first run since early April when he had run 3rd of 15 at Randwick in a 1400m Welter. Before that he was 4th of 12 at Rosehill over 1500m in March. He had good wet-track form (I win, two placings from three outings on slow, and two placings from three runs on heavy). His first-up form was sound. He was a three-time winner at Rosehill and a
three-time winner at the distance. At his last two runs he'd been beaten only 1.2 and 3.1 lengths.

ANALYSIS: Obviously, the venue and the wet track and the distance were the components for this win at around 9/1.

LESSON: When the track is wet, look for the runners who have won at the track and the distance and who have solid wet-track form. Look for sound form at last two starts, with that 4 lengths or less beaten margin factor coming into the reckoning again.

These are just a handful of examples of what I mean by checking back to discover why a horse won and then begin trying to apply the knowledge for the future.

It should all fit neatly into your form analysis work. When you sit down with the Sportsman to do the form study, keep 'patterns' in mind. Many times there is a definitive 'pattern' to a horse's form. Often you can virtually read the mind of the horse's trainer as he switches race classes and distances.

There are times when you will seize on a spectacular weight drop, or get a hint from the way a horse has been backed at his recent starts. Jockey switches are another factor to look for. Has there been a switch from an ordinary jockey or an apprentice to a very senior rider?

Top jockeys don't take too many rides which haven't got a chance of running a placing. Take notice of the mounts that jockeys like Damien Oliver, Shane Dye, Darren Beadman and others pick up, especially if they are out of their normal range of stable connections.

A very important area of the form that you simply have to consider most seriously is that of track wins and distance wins. Often a horse will come off a losing run and then be produced in the right race at the right track and the right distance with the right weight - and, bingo, he's home at good odds.

There are many instances where horses have shown sharp form reversals simply because they have gone to a track they seem to like and over a distance they prefer in conditions they revel in.

If you can take the time to examine the background of winners, and learn from what has happened, I seriously believe you will have taken a giant step forward in your betting life. There are so many lessons to be learned that it behoves all punters to try to understand the WHY of winners and then to apply the knowledge to ferret out future winners.

Listen to the words of Robert Saunders Dows, one of the legendary figures of international racetrack betting: "Aside from personal observation of horses, past performances are the best evidence regarding class, consistency, speed and weight.

"It cannot be overemphasised that a thorough interpretation and understanding of the results charts and the past performances must be essayed before any really worthwhile results will accrue to the bettor/ selector.

"I cannot stress enough that the player has to seek out clues in the formlines and look beyond what may seem at first to be the truth. Behind each performance is a story, someone's plan.

"In each current race there is a story to each horse as far as its owners and trainer are concerned. What you need to do is find all the things in the horse's favour and apply them to your betting."

By Martin Dowling