One of Melbourne's top professional form students contributes this two-part series to PPM In it, he discusses in detail the various characteristics of racing how races are run and the general racing styles which horses display. The second part of the article will be in PPM's February issue.

As we all know, there is a multitude of horses racing in Australia (and, of course, New Zealand) day in, day out. They are winners and losers. Most of those which perform well can be slotted into four general categories according to the way they actually run their races.

There are horses which:

(a) lead or race near the lead;

(b) settle around midfield off the pace and then run home;

(c) drop out early and then run home from well back in the field; and

(d) race according to the pace-if it's fast early the horse will get back, yet if the pace is slow early this type of horse can race handy.

These characteristics are usually inherent and you'll find that a horse will race best if it can run in the fashion which suits it. However, the problem is that every race is run differently, so not all the runners are suited in all races.

This is why a horse often can run at its best in two races with similar fields, winning one time by three lengths and being beaten by three lengths the next. So, the outcome of all this is that to find horses that are going to race well-and are likely to win-you must have a knowledge of how the race is going to be run. If you have this knowledge, you have a real advantage.

How do you determine how a race is going to be run? This requires some knowledge of the inherent character of each horse in the race, since one fast horse can turn a potentially slow race into something vastly different.

It's a difficult task to ascertain how a race is going to be run, particularly when you are dealing with country runners on which you have little information. My approach is to try to work out how the pace will vary throughout the race. From this, the positions of each horse during the running can be estimated and then those runners best suited can be selected.

The best way to determine the running characteristics of any horse is by analysing its previous good form. From these runs, a good indication of a runner's best racing style can be found. It's important to remember to only consider winning or good form. It's an advantage, too, to know when and why a horse has failed but we are searching for its best racing style and one key factor needed to determine this is the pace in that relevant previous race.

To get a guide on race pace the overall time is sometimes useful but this can be enhanced by taking note of an internal, or sectional time. For example, the time for the last 800m in a race can be a very useful statistic and, combined with the overall time, can provide an excellent indication of how a race was run.

A race in the city area, or the country, in Victoria normally has only one time given-the overall time for the race, although tracks with electronic timing can, if they desire, give other times (like Moonee Valley, which provides the last  The overall time is of little use, really, in determining the pace during a race, as I show in the three examples listed here. These theoretical races are all run with the same overall time and serve to indicate just a few of the variations which can occur within any race.

160Om: Overall time is 1m 36s or 96s, which is 200m every 12s-that is, 200m/12s, about 16.7 metres per second or 60 klms/hr.

CASE ONE: First 800m in 50s. Last 800m in 46s. Time: l m 36s.
CASE TWO: First 800m in 48s. Last 800m in 48s. Time: l m 36s.
CASE THREE: First 800m in 46s. Last 800m in 50s. Time: l m 36s.

All three races have the same overall time but have been run in quite different fashions. The first race was slow early with a fast sprint home. The second had the same pace throughout, while the third race was run fast early. Each of these races suits a different type of horse.

I will now list three categories of pace and how it can affect runners:

CASE ONE: Horses near the lead are suited by this pace.
The slow early pace in this type of race lets a horse racing in front or near the lead-having done very little work early-have lots in reserve for a strong sprint home. A horse coming from behind, then, has to sprint home just as fast and make up ground as well.

Example: Consider a horse which is six lengths behind with 800m to go when the 1600m is run in 1m 36s, the first 800m in 50s, and the second 800m in 46s. To win the race, this horse would have to match the horse in front and run the last 800m in 46s and make up six lengths as well! It would have to run the last 800m in 46 MINUS 1 (six lengths takes about one second) equalling 45s.

After already running 800m, only a very good horse could run the last 800m in 45s. Here, it is a horse in front or near the lead which is clearly suited, what I will call a Category 1 horse. Manikato was an example of this type of galloper, mainly over the shorter distances. He would run the last half of a race so fast that few horses could catch up.

A horse coming from 10 lengths back in this type of race would have an almost impossible task to win. Perhaps it could be quite reasonably argued that with so little early pace a horse couldn't possibly get that far back, but I am trying to show you the extreme possible situations that can occur in races, not the everyday ones.

Races of this type can and do exist, though, with horses getting a long way back and as a result having no winning chance. You need to be aware of this type of race and then avoid those runners coming from well back.

CASE TWO: Horses racing handy are suited. Consider-1600m in 1m 36s, first 800m in 48s, second 800m in 48s. A horse coming from six lengths behind with this type of pace, to win needs to run the last 800m in 48 MINUS 1 equalling 47s. However, a horse coming from six lengths back in a Case Two race has a much better chance and is actually 12 lengths (or two seconds) better off than the horse in the Case One race.

A good type of horse would still need to remain handy in this Case Two race. Although the last half is slower, the first half is quicker and a horse racing near the lead early will, therefore, have done more work than in the first case, and be more easily run down.

This pace type doesn't really help any one particular type of galloper. Either way, to win this race a horse would need to be fairly close to the leaders. Horses that can run home in these evenly run races are often very good.

CASE THREE: Horses coming from behind are suited, with the 1600m run in 1m 36s, first 800m in 46s and last 800m in 50s. Horses running home from behind to win this race would have to run the final 800m in 50 MINUS 1 equalling 49s.

Horses racing in the lead, or near the lead, in a Case Three race would have run the first half very fast, thus making it a tough task to keep going for the second half of the race (few horses can run fast at both ends of a race).

These few examples are by no means every possible race combination that can occur over 1600m but I think they serve to indicate the differences which can crop up all the time as far as pace is concerned.

Summing up, then, we have the following:

Case Last 800m Suited Unsuited
1 fast, 46s leaders well back
2 48s hdy to midf from behind
3 slow, 50s from well bk leaders

Many races would have different winners if run under each of these pace conditions. Notice that in all three cases that for a horse making up ground, the time to be run for the final 800m was that needed to actually win. A horse six lengths from the lead at the 800m pole can run its last 800m at the same pace as the leader but at the end of the race it'll still be six lengths behind that same horse (both horses may end up being badly beaten but still six lengths apart). A horse coming from behind in a race, must run faster than the sectional time to make up ground.

NEXT ISSUE: I'll tell you about the horses which can run according to the pace on the day Also, there'll be information about how to analyse in-depth the racing characteristics of various horses, and how position in a race by lengths rather than position is vitally important.

Click here to read Part 2.