A friend of mine has a theory, and he claims that it works out in practice. It's to do with 2yo racing.

His theory is that with the youngsters the tipsters' polls are your best guide to winners.

"It makes sense, because the form pans out well, and if there's no form, then you can take the formline through the trainers," he told me. "The press boys know this. It's why you can count on their tipping to be well above average in the 2yo races."

Well, it makes sense to me, too. Check it out for yourself in the new season, and you'll get the drift of what my pal means. The polls hold the key!

Which reminds me very much of some advice that my PPM colleague Rick Roberts gave me many moons ago.

It was to do with finding a key factor or two, and using them to your advantage.

Rick has a carefully structured approach to his betting. It's summed up like this:

  1. Select a certain distance range.
  2. Select a certain kind of racing (in the instance we are talking about, it would be 2yos).
  3. Establish your bank and decide on an acceptable profit on turnover.
  4. Decide about the manner of your staking.
  5. Decide what proportion of your bank will be devoted to exotic bets.

Basic stuff, but it makes a lot of sense. Rick, of course, is better known as the PPM harness racing expert but few people realise he is also a serious gallops bettor.

In recent years, he has switched to backing 2yo and 3yo races with some success.

He told me: "I used to have the philosophy that I never bet in races shorter than 1200m or further than 2000m, but I've changed things a bit in recent times, especially with my penchant now for the younger horses.

"I've had to cut the shortest distance back to 1000m and the longer distance to 1600m for the 2yos, but I maintain the maximum 2000m for the 3yos. It works out very nicely.

"How do I make my selections? It's very much on form but I also like to take in what others are thinking about a race, so I have a group of media guys, who I respect, and I look at their selections and that's just to give myself an idea of the general line of thinking.

" I'm always looking for value, so knowing what everyone is reading in the racing press gives me a guide to what odds are likely to be available on the various contenders I've listed for myself.

"With the 2yos you really do have to stick to form; there's little room for too many theories, especially about unraced types.

"As far as those are concerned you need to stick to the proven stables and the best jockeys. A combination of both is usually a powerful way to go.

Rick's maxim, and that of many others, is to stick with the best jockeys and the best trainers.

He says: "It's easy enough these days to mark off the top trainers and riders. We all know who they are, and we know their strike rates. I suppose the simplest piece of advice I can give, but also a very important piece of advice, is to always prefer a top trainer over a moderate trainer.

"In the end, this will serve you well. Add to this the fact that you should ensure your horse is among the favourites, and you have a recipe for potential long-term success."

By P.B. King