How can the average punter win using speed ratings? Last month I talked about various aspects of this intricate approach, and presented you with a full-page listing of 'ratings' for various sprint distances, from 1000m to 1600m.

Using these ratings as a guide, you can easily draw up reasonable speed ratings for all runners in a race. How many races you care to rate is up to you, because it is a demanding task, but you do restrict yourself to sprints, so this automatically eliminates a lot of races.

Times have always been regarded as playing a key role in racehorse selection. The knack is to relate variable race times to the actual capabilities of horses. Those punters who can do this turn out winners (assuming they can manage their betting properly).

You can take speed rating to extraordinary lengths if you like. Anyone who has purchased American books on speed handicapping will know what I am referring to. The Americans delve into speed in extraordinary detail. A few make a good living from it.

But for the average punter in Australia (and New Zealand) speed ratings can best be used in conjunction with normal form study. In other words, as an 'aid' to picking winners. Using speed ratings as published in P.P.M. will, at least, provide you with a starting point.

Start off with one race a day. Pick your way carefully d-trough the form and draw up your ratings for each horse. Then assess what you have got.

Perhaps three or four horses stand out above the others with high ratings? If so, concentrate on them. Sift through their form, look for 'answers' in other areas: Is the horse well-fancied in the early betting, is it tipped widely, is it well-weighted, has it drawn a good barrier, can it run the distance, has it a good jockey aboard, does it come from a strong stable?

Answering all these questions will enable you to decide if the speed ratings each horse has garnered are reliable. Sometimes you will have to make decisions which mean that you rely solely on the ratings, and ignore other evidence.

Maybe the ratings have pinpointed a runner which is at big odds? Nobody else gives it a chance, and yet you have the evidence that on its times in previous races, revealed through its speed ratings, the horse possesses a winning chance.

It could well be that in these cases you have to go along with the rating, even if other factors maybe negative as far as the horse's form is concerned. Your own racing know-how will often help you make decisions in instances like this.

American Tom Ainslie, one of the USA's most respected writers on speed handicapping and handicapping in general, has this to say on the subject: ''Long before development of the electronic devices that time races at modem tracks, bookmakers and other interested parties used personal stopwatches to learn more about horses than others could possibly know.

"They were the first speed handicappers. Their theory and technique were perhaps not full-fledged secrets but were tightly held and discussed as sparingly as possible.

"Outsiders learned the craft only through independent study of a most prolonged, arduous and creative kind. Published revelations were few and had little effect. Scarcely any readers could find the time to study and practise this most rarefied branch of the handicapping art."

With P.P.M's speed ratings (as published in the April issue) you now have the chance to have a go at tackling this complex area. It won't be easy, but then much form analysis of whatever kind is never all that easy.

Those of you with mathematically inclined brains should find the going pretty easy. Calculators will make the work easy for those whose maths are not too good!

My own suggestion is that you begin by picking out small-field races. There are plenty of them midweek. But make sure you have a reliable formguide available. For Wednesday meetings, the Sportsman and Sporting Globe are ideal. Truth's Truform is also reliable for Wednesday meetings in Victoria.

Saturday meetings are no problem, with formguides and newspaper lift-outs available with all the details you need to do your own speed ratings. For all the details of how to allow for track conditions, and for 'beaten margins’ you can refer to my article in the April issue.

If we take 'Fast' as the base rate, then the following adjustments have to be made to times registered in other conditions: Good (0.2 sec per 200m), Dead (0.4 sec per 200m), Slow (0.7 sec per 200m) and Heavy (1.0 sec per 200m). When working out times for beaten horses, always remember that you regard 6 lengths as equalling one second.

Once you have worked out a horse's time for a certain distance on whatever going was prevailing (firm or wet) you can then refer to the P.P.M. chart for the final rating. A horse may have run 1200m in adjusted time of 1m 12s (72 sec).

Referring to 72s under 1200m on the chart you will see that the speed rating is 79. It's as easy as that. Good luck with your speed handicapping. I am most interested to hear from readers who use the P.P.M. ratings.

Write to Ted Davies, C/- P.P.M., P.O. Box 551, Dee Why, N.S.W. 2099.

Click here to read Part 1.

By Ted Davies