Ever wondered how many punters actually make sense of all the track gallops reports in the newspapers and major form guides?

We all know those times mean a lot, but how the heck can you work it out, unless you are a racing man with a knowledge of training methods and the like?

Some punters, I know, always back the horses that clock the fastest gallops, though these are not necessarily reliable guides to future winners. Some horses are keen trackworkers who save nothing for raceday, others work too brilliantly for their own good. Then again, you have the lazy trackworkers, those horses which refuse to do more than is necessary in the mornings, yet manage to pull out all the stops in a race.

Trackwork can often alert you to longpriced winners. How often have you seen a horse lose at 50-1 and then win at 3-1 at its next start, in the same class of race? All too often, the only reason for the big support can be traced back to brilliant trackwork.

There is no doubt that trackwork times pay a vital role in determining a horse's fitness and winability. The problem for rank-and-file punters is to analyse the trackwork accurately. Unless you can do this, the morning gallops as reported in the press will remain a mystery and a waste.

My statistics show that by watching certain track gallop times you can latch on to horses who will perform well at their future outings. Now it is logical to assume, I believe, that if a horse can work over 600m in 36 seconds or less, over 800m in 48 seconds or less and over 1000 m in 61 seconds or less, that it is in good shape. It should be able to run well if it is raced before it has lost what I shall call its 'morning edge'.

In most cases, if the horses can match their morning workouts in a race, then they will win. By following these times, over a period of 12 months, I came up with winners at excellent prices, sometimes in the25-1 and33-1 bracket! We all pray for winners like those.

The one restrictive rule I applied was that the race the horses ran in must have been within seven days of their smart trackwork. The reason for this is simple enough - I wanted to back them when they were still fit and sharp.

You don't have to bother about which races you operate on. Any races will qualify as long as your horse has done his work on the track within the previous seven days. Sometimes, especially in races for two-year-olds, you will get two horses qualifying in the same race and when this happens you always back them both.

If there are three or more, then check the trackwork times and bet on the one with the best time. If they worked at different distances, add or subtract 12 seconds per 200m to bring them together.

Example: You find a race in which three horses are eligible, but all have been trailling over different distances. Horse A galloped 600 m in 341/2 seconds, Horse B did 800m in 47 seconds and Horse C went over 1000 m in 601/2 seconds.

To bring them together for comparison, add 24 seconds to the first horse's workout time, 12 seconds to the second one and you will have three figures to look at - 581/2 seconds, 59 and 601/2 seconds. We have brought all the track times together for a theoretical 1000 m workout and we find that Horse A has the best time with 581/2 seconds. He thus becomes the selection for the race.

I stress that you only make this comparison if you have three or more eligible horses in the one race. In the instances where you have two qualifiers, the prices available should be enough for you to cover backing both.

The times I work to for the trackwork gallops are pretty exacting ones, and you will not find a great many horses achieving them. But the ones that do are the ones you are interested in.

You can check your daily newspapers for trackwork information, but your best source is the Sportsman. It devotes an entire page to trackwork gallopers in the major States and all the times are clearly published. A quick check of the Thursday gallops listed in the Sportsman issue for May 3, revealed only a few horses working inside my standout times, but the tracks were rain-affected and this may have caused the lack of pace.

At Eagle Farm, Goldorme and Capri Dancer went over 600m in 35.7 seconds and High Signal went over 1000m in 61 seconds. At Morphettville in South Australia, Testimony, Confucious Flyer and Zaumidir worked over 800m in 46.5 seconds.

By the time you read this, all these horses would probably have run, so you can check past results to see how they performed within seven days of May 1.

The rules, then, for the trackwork method are as follows:

  1. List all the horses with trackwork of (a) 36 seconds or less for 600 m (b) 48 seconds or less for 800m (c) 61 seconds or less for 1000m
  2. Bet on them as many times as they run during the following seven days, but drop them after that period, regardless of whether they have run.
  3. Where there are two horses qualifying in the same race, back both. If there are three or more qualifiers in the same .race, apply the 12 seconds per 200m rule as explained earlier.
  4. Bet for a win only.

You will have a lot of fun and interest with this method. It could be that many of you, to get more action, would like to add one more second to the required times. So you would look for 600m trackworkers who clock 37 seconds or less, 800m horses working in 49 seconds and less and 1000m workers going 62 seconds or less.

By Des Green