There are those who swear by the old maxim that the way to stay in front is to place your horses in the worst company and yourself in the best.

Others, and they are punters, are heard to argue that the only horses to support with real cash are those entered in the best races: in other words, the best horses.

Stick with the best company and you will be backing the horses that are the most consistent, the most honest, and have the most ability.

The trick is, of course, to identify which of these "best" horses will bring home the bacon on each occasion. That is where past performances come into play.

Past performances refer to both the horses and the races concerned. For example, everyone knows, or ought to know, that three-year-olds assume a massive advantage in weight-for-age events in the autumn. Every year.

The somewhat antiquated weight-for-age system we cling to means that a three-year-old gets into a wfa event as much as 2kg light during that period. Two kilos, or nearly five pounds in the old scale, is enough to turn the tables in a close finish.

However, when a better group of three-year-old horses passes through, as was the case in, say, 1996 or 1986, they will probably continue on to be capable of beating the younger brigade despite the weight disadvantages they suffer in their older years.

Let's look at what's up front in the silk department for the remainder of this season and then see how we might capitalise on them (see next page).

A quick glance at the list shows you that there are plenty of races to go on with. Theoretically you could mingle with the best right through till the second week in June and rarely miss out on a bet per week.

As to the horses to back, why not start by looking at the list of trainers who were successful in the previous season at Group One level? The stars were:

Gai Waterhouse9
Bart Cummings8
Lee Freedman8
John Hawkes7
Clarrie Conners5
Shane Dye13
Darren Beadman11
Chris Munce4
Steven King4
Danny Brereton3
Glen Boss3
Grant Cooksley3
Larry Cassidy2
Brian York2
Greg Hall2
Craig Carmody2
Damien Oliver
Jim Cassidy

How do we go about the TAB onslaught? Well, what about this for a suggestion:

There are about 40 top Group races remaining this season. If you were to allocate 40 per cent of your bank for those months to those races, then you could bet 1 per cent of your bank on each race.

Say your bank is $2000. Forty per cent of that is $800, and so you would outlay $20 per Group One race.

Maybe that is isn't enough for you, but the programme averages out at perhaps two to three races per weekend, so have a careful look at what it adds up to per week.

The other 60 per cent of your bank might be involved in one of my offerings, or your own system, or whatever.

How do we allocate that 1 per cent per race? Here are one or two possible ways:

I suggest that you identify FOUR horses in the race, preferably none of which is favourite on race-day morning. Perhaps the next four in the betting, perhaps the four after the first two favourites, or, if you can't resist the favourite, perhaps it, the last horse before 10/1, the top Optimist's Ratings Assessment where applicable, and your own choice. It doesn't matter as long as you are consistent.

What you do now is to have, say, six quinellas (four horses boxed) at $1.50 ($9) and a four horse boxed trifecta at 50 cents ($12), which is close enough to $20. The figures are up to you but I am going on that $20 per race I pulled out of a hat. It could be that you say you have a six months bank of (say) $500 only. That would mean that you'd have to decide whether or not to merely follow the Group One racing with $12.50 per event, or skip the
quinellas. Either way you'd be using your whole bank over the forty race period.

There is another way.

Forget the exotics, except for one bet, and concentrate on a plan that finds winners of the big races within two selections. Accepting that favourites win 30 per cent of all races, you might be forgiven for hoping that the percentage will hold up in the best of circles.

So, let's say you back the favourite, PLUS one other horse. This horse must be a consistent choice, either on the basis of the trainer or the rider or by using some other means. Shane Dye, Damien Oliver and Jim Cassidy would be good current choices, as would any of the trainers up there on our list. The hoops get the choice of great rides. Mick Dittman isn't even on the list but he's still a whiz up north. And so on. Take your pick. But be consistent.

You might like to take the favourite and the topweight where there are handicaps, the leading three-year-old where there aren't, etc., etc, . . . it's your choice, but don't break the pattern.

If 30 per cent can come home for you for starters with the favourites, and you can score maybe another 15 per cent from your other selection method, you are getting up near the 50 per cent winners mark from two picks per race.

Why 15 per cent on your own? Because I worked on the 70 per cent of races that favourites don't win (28 of 40), I calculated that you ought to be able to pick about six more winners in those 28 other races (about 20 per cent), which is 15 per cent overall. And then you'd have 18 winners in 40 bets.

What about that exotic? Well, why not a single quinella? The two selections. If you were to bet each to win and also a quinella, you could distribute your $20 like so:

$10 win A, $8 win B, $2 quinella.

So, there's your $20 as an one-fortieth part of the 40 per cent of your $2000 bank. You have more on A because it is the favourite and ought to win more often.

There we are then; a way of following the best with the confidence that every horse we ever invest on will be a class act.


By The Optimist