Once every year, around about this time, we take stock and look at where things are going. While it might look a bit funny to call our Plan of the Month “Plan for the Year”, it doesn’t hurt to remind yourself every now and again of some of the fundamental aspects of racing.

You know, the number of people who just don’t get it about racing is very, very large. What I mean by “not getting it” is that they forget what it’s all about.

What it’s all about is making money. You can love horses, you can love the races, for that matter you can love whatever you like.

But I’ll tell you something for nothing: the most important thing about the races, so far as I’m concerned, is to make money.

If I can’t make money from the races, then I’ll find something else to do with my time. Nobody wins all the time, and I am the first to agree that 2005 has not been my best year.  I’ve been in the game too long to get myself all excited about one year which didn’t live up to some of my expectations.

I got a few things right, but when I go back through my diary, round about New Year’s Day, and I look at all the close things I supported, I’ll probably shrug my shoulders and head into 2006.

My biggest disappointment of the year, so far as my own personal betting was concerned, was when Desert War drew the horror barrier in the Doncaster. I backed this horse big-time, pre-post, and he would have won with a decent draw.

Them’s the breaks, as they say. History will tell you that this same horse came back over the same track and distance, not six months later, and redeemed himself. It would be beautiful if I could say that I followed him through, but the truth is that I didn’t.

Why? I wish I knew. Perhaps a system based on my diary selections might have assisted me here. One of the simplest facts in racing is that we never stop learning, but it’s an equal truth that there is always more out there, still waiting to be learnt.

Getting back to the issue of money, any plan you follow should be a plan that you hope will make you money. I have no idea why anybody would make any bet if they didn’t hope to make money from it.

That is probably the most obvious and fundamental aspect of the entire racing game: everybody except the odd altruistic owner is in it to make money.

Let’s set a few ground rules for 2006, as regards our system betting. That’s why I called it up above “Plan for the Year”.

Have a think for a minute. If I said to you that you could have $10,000 as a betting bank for 2006, but that was all the money that you are going to earn in that year, what would you do?

Think about it again. On January 1, I give you 10 grand in cash and I tell you that you can invest it on the races throughout 2006. However, if you go broke you die.

Well, all right, you go onto the dole or something. But what I’m getting at is that this $10,000 is your life blood, your bank balance, and if you get your bets wrong you don’t eat.

Under those circumstances, what kind of betting would you do? For a start I would imagine that you’d figure out how many weeks were in the year, and you’d calculate how much you needed to keep you alive over those 52 weeks.

Dividing the 52 into the 10 grand, you’d come up with a figure around $200 a week, give or take. I accept that you won’t have much left in the last fortnight if you bet $200 a week and lose the lot.

Let’s get very serious. What will your golden rules be? Actually, I’ve got the drop on you here, because I’ve seen the Gold Subscription package. I think under the circumstances, I would look to the security of the place bets.

When it really comes down to the absolute nitty-gritty, and if you don’t win you don’t eat, you suddenly get very serious.

I have a close friend who assesses his racing bank after each Saturday’s activities. I’m not going to tell you what he does if he wins handsomely, but let’s just say that he enjoys his evening. If he loses, he makes sure he’s got enough left for a pizza.

Plan for the year? Let’s postulate this. Firstly, you try to establish a situation where the chances of losing are minimal.

Secondly, you restrict your betting to money which will in no way impinge on your normal daily living. Try these four rules and see what sort of a difference they make to 2006:

  1. Never, under any circumstances, support a horse which has not already done exactly what you are hoping it will do today.
  2. Never, under any circumstances, bet more than a maximum of 2 per cent of your total bank on any proposition. This is a hard and fast rule, never to be broken.
  3. Decide before January 1 your precise modus operandi for 2006 (for example, if you are with me and the team here at Equestrian, then you are with us all the way, not on and off depending on how you feel).
  4. Discard all ideas about winning every week, and aim to win over the year.

There you are. It’s a plan to keep you afloat. Don’t ever underestimate the very basics of racing life.

By The Optimist