Prepare yourself for the winter! As you read this in the merry month of April, the sun may well be shining. In a couple of months it's far more likely to be cold and wet (well, maybe only a bit wet in Queensland).

The problem with our current classifications of dead, slow and heavy is that they vary drastically from one track to another. Racing at Randwick on a wet day is not the same as racing at Rosehill, nor is it anything like Warwick Farm or Canterbury.

In Melbourne, Flemington is very much a bog after heavy rain, while the turning Moonee Valley circuit is known as a provider of winners which cannot win anywhere else if the track is rain-affected! Caulfield, alas, is something of a law unto itself. I know many professionals who simply ignore a rain-sodden Caulfield.

Sandown is a good wet weather track, though 10 years ago it used to be wretched. It's the best track in Australia for 'specialists'. Some horses easily handle the long run down the 'hill' or the tough run-up to the post. Others simply fail every time, wet or dry.

On the other hand, it's been my experience that horses which fail elsewhere on a wet track CAN and DO win at a wet Sandown! This is particularly so if they are lucky enough to be drawn out wide. It's been well documented for many years now that wide barriers offer a real advantage on rain-affected ground at Sandown.

The winners can come from a long way back on slow and heavy surfaces there. Maybe it's because the wider runners have the advantage of a slightly firmer surface early in a race and are better able to finish strongly.

When you do the form for any particular meeting which is being run on a slow or heavy track, you must look for the following:


It's all very well to find a heavy track winner, then, but you must look further. If you can find a heavy track winner who did so at the track at which it is now racing, then you are well on the way to solving the mystery of this particular race.

If the distance also is right, and the horse isn't carrying significantly more weight, then you should be onto a nice little earner. Horses do tend to repeat and conform to patterns (see Power Patterns, Pages 4/5/6, for more on this pertinent subject).

The study of wet tracks form is more of an art form than that for races run on firm tracks. In many ways, though, it's an easier task. P.P.M.'s own experts have had a lot to say about wet weather betting in the past and I think it's certainly relevant to refresh our memories on their views.

Here's an extract from a taped conversation from 5 years ago with Martin Dowling and John O'Sullevan.

MD: The problem comes in winter. People want a bet. They cannot do without a bet and whether you like it or not they are going to bet.

JO: I couldn't agree more. But for all that, the fact is I would rather not bet on wet tracks at all. You can't change that aspect of my thinking.

MD: But there are wet trackers and it's in everybody's interest to know them. There is no difficulty in establishing them these days, either. The general rule for any horse is that if it fails several times on 'off' tracks it will keep right on failing. A genuine wet track is usually a track where horses that can handle the conditions win the race! In these races, there are runners which can be discarded pretty rapidly. Unlike a fast track, where you would say that every horse has a

chance, on a wet track, after you have done your homework, you can often be left with only three or four real chances. If one or two are in form, well, the gamble is still there but I have had good wins by sticking to those horses on wet tracks.

JO: Yes, if you can get a field down to three or four chances, and they are not necessarily the shortest on the boards, you can sometimes make your own book. It's worth following through.

MD: I find there's value to be had on the really awful days. When you get things right you can clean-up.

You can see from this conversation that wet tracks betting can produce sharp conflicting opinions. O'Sullevan hates 'em, Dowling maintains that form study can enable you to have big hits!

My own conclusion is that betting on wet tracks is no folly - provided you have done your form work properly and have 'sussed out' those runners with the most in their favour.

The following system is one that I use each winter to help me find the wet-track specials:


  1. Bet only on Open Handicaps, Welters, Mares races, and Weight-for-Age races. Ignore all 2YO and 3YO races. The reason for the exclusions is that horses of these ages have not yet shown enough form to be considered wet trackers. They simply haven't had enough runs.
  2. Look for any horse which has won on the same conditions as prevail for the current meeting at the current track (in regards to wet tracks, we are talking of those 'slow' and 'heavy'). Ignore any other runners. This rule aims to find the true wet-track specialists, who have won at the track in similar conditions.
  3. Eliminate any runner carrying more than 3kgs than it carried when a wet-track winner at the track. Some horses are simply weighted out of contention. This rule aims to isolate those runners still okay at the weights.
  4. If more than one qualifier left, back the runner with the best recent wet-track performance on the current track. Recent form is better than form from a year or so back. If it's a choice between 2 runners and one of them won 14 days ago on the track in similar conditions and the other one scored 6 months ago, then the one with the more recent form is the choice.

By Philip Roy