How long since you bothered to read a stewards' report? If you're like most punters you never read them, and that's a great pity. Stewards' reports can be terrific guides to future winners.

In these days of video replays, and Sky Channel, it's easy to forget all about the stewards and the vital role they play in racing. This isn't the way it should be. The stewards are experienced, professional racing men and their job is to examine each race and to note anything that happens in it that may have affected the performance of any runner, no matter how unfancied it might be.

I always use the stewards' reports in conjunction with video tape viewing. My 'modus operandi' is to watch the video replays, and jot down the names of all horses which ran good races. These horses always include any runner I feel may have been unlucky.

To check on whether I have drawn the right conclusions from the replay, I then consult the stewards' reports. They will confirm if my observations are accurate.

The stewards use a number of set phrases to describe incidents in a race. Using these phrases as a guide you can get a clear idea of the extent of the interference suffered. The stewards also conduct inquiries into form reversals, or into poor performances. The comments they write in their reports can be most enlightening.

Let's look firstly at the comments they are likely to make. They usually include the following:


  • Dwelt slightly.
  • Missed the start.
  • Jumped awkwardly.
  • Lost a little ground.
  • Slow to move.
  • Lost ground.
  • Lost some ground.
  • Lost considerable ground.


  • Checked and lost a little ground.
  • Lost ground, or lost some ground.
  • Lost considerable ground.
  • Restrained or eased.
  • Crowded for room.
  • Squeezed up.
  • Blocked for a run.
  • Caught in a pocket.
  • Unable to secure a clear run.


  • Shifted in (out).
  • Hung in (out).
  • Cot on the heels of runner in front.
  • Lay in (out).
  • Brushed.
  • Cot head up.
  • Raced greenly (erratically).
  • Raced tight between horses.

You can see from these examples that the reports cover a wide variety of happenings, and are comments that explain the severity of any problem a horse might have encountered.

In his book Winning More, the great professional punter Don Scott suggests, that for comments relating to the 'start', serious punters should consider allowing anything from 0.5 kg to 1.5 kgs for the comments listed.

Regarding interference before the home turn, he suggests an allowance of between zero kilos and 1.5 kgs, depending on the severity - and for interference after entering the straight between 0.5 kgs and 2.5 kgs, depending on severity.

When a galloper is blocked for a run, the kilo allowance changes according to the severity, the position and the actual distance length over which the interference was suffered. Don's allowance ranges up to four kilos (for a blocking between 301 and 350m, with the horse getting clear 50m or less from the post).

Let's now look at some stewards' reports. The following one is from the Randwick meeting of May 2 and is a typical example of a report which may contain some clues to future winners:

Race 4: Western Folly jumped awkwardly, shifted out and carried jerilderie outwards. About 150m after the start Our Pleasure, Envelop, Juliton and Val's Illusion were crowded between Jerilderie, which shifted in slightly. Fine Flack, which was racing greenly, got its head up and shifted out abruptly. As a result, Blotto, which was racing close to the heels of Cur Pleasure, was also inconvenienced. Jockey P. Sylvester (Musico) explained that his mount was standing quietly in the stall, but when the gates were released the filly jumped awkwardly, got her head up and lost ground.

It will now pay you to have a look at the video of this race. How much was Blotto inconvenienced? Did it lose stride, or drop back much? Have a close look at Musico's performance-how much ground did she lose and what did she do in the race after that?

Now we look at a report from Randwick on April 16:

Race 6: Carlos was slow to jump. In the middle stages Blue Pulse pulled hard and got its head up. For some distance at about the 200m, Temple Front was held up when disappointed for a run on the inside of Rising Strike, which shifted in slightly when weakening.

This is an interesting report. The horse to note is Temple Front. It ran 7th in this race, but we see that it couldn't get a run at the 200m mark. Okay, we know this is a horse to watch.

Temple Front was taken to Brisbane after this race, and was a 16-1 chance in the National Nine News Hdcp at Doomben on May 2. Bearing in mind what happened at Randwick on April 16 ' it was easy to give Temple Front an each way chance at those attractive odds. He ran 3rd at 16-1.

His next run was at the Gold Coast and he won at nice odds!

I think you get the message, then always find a half hour or so to read the stewards' reports in The Sportsman.

The Sydney morning newspapers also carry stewards' reports, and the Brisbane papers sometimes do. I doubt if the Melbourne newspapers do (racing fans in Melbourne are furious over the downgrading of racing coverage in the Melbourne Sun and Melbourne Herald in recent times).

By Jon Hudson