In my previous few columns I've been explaining the quick, timesaving method I use to simplify doing the form for a meeting. My main initial aim is to look for losers.

Thus far I've given my reasons and told how:

(a) I bet on meetings only run on metropolitan tracks.
(b) Do not bet on races over jumps.
(c) Never bet on weight-for-age, set weights or stakes races. I consider only handicap races.
(d) Do not bet on any race with more than 15 starters.
(e) I concentrate on only two-state racing - in my case Sydney and Melbourne.

To begin my form study I look at the fields for an overall program, first of all crossing off any races that don't fit within my basic rules above. However, at this early stage, until scratchings are known I am forced to consider fields larger than 15.

  1. 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. More about this in a later column.)
  2. Next I quickly put a red cross against any runners drawn unsuitably. I don't like to bet outside barrier 12 and at some particular starting points (usually clearly identified in your form guide), or under certain 'false rail' conditions, I will not back any runner drawn outside barrier 6.

    Believe it or not, under certain circumstances I will not back horses drawn in barriers 1 or 2. (More about this, too, next month.)
  3. Next in my considerations I evaluate the jockeys. This is a subjective judgment. I don't believe in sticking strictly to positions on the jockeys' tables but, unless you have specific opinions for and against the various riders, the table is the easiest way to operate. Put a cross against jockeys you don't rate in the top 10, maybe the top 15 at the outside.
  4. Now I get a quick overview of the weight angle. Any weight above 57kg gets a red circle (not a cross at this stage) and I later check how the horse has performed in the past with such an impost. If it has failed or has never won within, say, 1.5 kilos of that weight, the red circle is converted into a red cross. This happens so many times that it's probably worthwhile putting a red cross against any weight above 57kg unless you are dealing with an absolutely outstanding horse.
  5. Next I look at the pre-post betting market and put a red cross against any runner at odds of 20/1 or more, in the belief that if they had any real chance, they would be at shorter odds. This action may cause you to eliminate the occasional long-priced winner, but generally I find that such winners would never be included in my list of final contenders, no matter how deeply I delved into the form to discover their best attributes.
  6. As the last stage in obtaining my quick over-view, I let the official handicappers do some work for me. In handicap races, only an extremely small percentage of winners come from horses who are not weighted in the top six of their fields after scratchings. (Note that I write of the top six weights, not the top six TAB numbers). So I mark a cut-off point immediately beneath the first six weights.

If there is a runner lower in the list of weights which is high in the betting market (say, 6/1 or under), I will circle that TAB number and, eventually, take a closer look at its form to see if there is some very good reason why I should include it in my horses to be further considered. Otherwise any horse below the top six in the weights is eliminated.

There are occasions when the top 6 weights will include the limit weight. Whenever this happens, unless the runner is priced under, say, 6/1 (as above) I eliminate all limit weights.

To this stage, my study of each race takes me only about two minutes, so I have an overview of the entire card in about 15 minutes.

Now it's time to turn to the actual form of the horses and start comparing horse against horse using all the regular variables - the type of factors outlined in last month's issue of PPM by Jon Hudson in his page-8 article titled Slick Sixteen!

But, having followed the steps outlined above, your work will have been reduced by about 75 per cent.

Click here to read Part 1.
Click here to read Part 2.
Click here to read Part 3.

By Russ Writer