In my previous couple of columns I've begun to explain the quick, timesaving method I use to simplify doing the form for a meeting. First of all I look for losers.

I've told how:

(a) I do not bet on any race that is not run on a metropolitan track
(b) I do not bet on races over jumps
(c) I do not bet on any race that has more than 15 starters and explained my reasons. Now I add one more rule to the overall elimination list. It will probably surprise you.
(d) Bet only on handicap races. Do not bet on weight-for-age, set weights, or stakes races.

The reason for rule (d) is that, as much as I love watching the best horses in training contest those types of events - and watching the champions win on most occasions they represent very poor value from a betting point-of-view. Most times the horse I fancy most will be favourite or second-favourite and, you may be surprised, they don't win often enough to produce a worthwhile profit in the long term.

Sure, there are occasions when I make a choice that starts at value odds in one of those races - My Phantom Chance in last year's Cox Plate; Danzero in this year's Golden Slipper, to name but two. On those occasions I have what I call a 'windfall' bet from my bank set aside specifically for such an occasion, or when I or a friend of mine owns a horse, or I'm given a tip from a reliable source, or I spend a day at a country or provincial meeting.

But I never let any animal make a dent in my 'Basic Punting' bank (which I keep aside from all other monies) unless it conforms to all the rules I have set, and am explaining here.

Now let's take a look at the next stages of my preliminary procedure.

Basically I bet only on Sydney and Melbourne metropolitan tracks, with only a very occasional foray into a principal race on the major provincial courses in N.S.W. and Victoria and even less regularly a premier race in Brisbane or Adelaide. I never bet in Perth, for the reason that it's difficult in the eastern states to obtain detailed form for races in the West.

Before I earn the ire of Bananabenders, Croweaters or Sandgropers, I must explain that I have no ill-feeling towards their racing or the manner in which it is conducted. I bar those venues for several particular reasons:

  1. I believe I cannot concentrate satisfactorily on more than two venues, whether deciphering the form or executing my betting transactions.
  2. I'm sure you will agree that the quality of horses and riders in my 'eliminated' states is inferior to those in the two major States and, while the contenders (thoroughbred and human) may be considered to be evenly matched class-wise, why settle for risking your money on second and third-class representatives when you have top-drawer candidates to choose from?
  3. Betting on metropolitan tracks involves maintaining some knowledge of what happens on provincial tracks in proximity of those city venues. I believe Victorian provincial form is a great guide - far better than provincial form in NSW, in fact - but I find it impossible to correlate performances on some of those so-called provincial meetings that we see beamed to us on Sky Channel from other States.
  4. I very rarely bet even when a quality Sydney- or Mulhouse-trained horse runs in those other States because (a) it's usually a major race and the field is too large, or too evenly balanced; (b) the odds offered by my home-state TAB are usually way under the right odds, due to the weight of local support for the runner, and (c) there's usually a dastardly Kiwi representative who comes along and cleans everyone out anyway!

So, by restricting my venues, I reduce my form study by at least 50 per cent.

You may choose to use cities that are different to mine. What is important is that you concentrate on a minimum of venues and the surrounding near-city racing that pertains to them.

Here's how I begin the second stage of my elimination process. Remember, at this stage we are looking for likely losers:

A. I quickly zip down the recent form figures on the left hand side of the fields and put a red cross against any horse which at its last run registered a zero, and a red circle around any which is having its first or second run from a spell. (Later, in deeper form study, I get a guide on how the first- or second-uppers are likely to perform.)

B. Next I quickly put a red cross against any runners drawn unsuitably. I don't like to bet outside barrier 12.

Next month I'll finalise explaining my methods.

Click here to read Part 4.
Click here to read Part 2.
Click here to read Part 1.

By Russ Writer