Whatever ratings method you employ, I'm sure that as time goes by you will be constantly reviewing it. I know several professionals who never stop changing aspects of their ratings approach.

This is sensible. To be too rigid in this area is probably a bad sign for you as a punter. Among the first advice I ever received was to be flexible in everything I did in my betting world.

I've used many, many selection methods, and systems, in my time and I doubt I have ever kept any of them "the same". Change is good, provided you go about it sensibly.

Change, of course, should always follow a thorough period of testing. Six months is a base length of time you should use. By then, you should know one way or another whether you are on the right track to profit, or whether some subtle changes are required in how you draw up your ratings.

A Sydney reader has passed on to me a ratings method. He tells me that losing runs are kept to a minimum and that the average winning price for his top-rated selections is around the 4/1 mark.

There are no real surprises in how the Sydney reader gets his ratings together. For Sydney and Brisbane, he uses the Racenet website ratings (www.racenet.com.au) and the Zipform ratings from the Sportsman formguide. He operates only on metropolitan meetings. He uses the last two ratings for each runner on Racenet, and then the Zipform ratings. These are added together and divided by 3 to achieve the "base" rating.

Let's look at a rating for Cyclone Freddy at the Canterbury Park meeting on July 2. His last two ratings on Racenet were 47.5 and 50.0 and his Zipform rating was 54.0. These total 151.5 and this figure divided by 3 gives you a base rating for Cyclone Freddy of 50.5.

Let's look at another runner that day, Keeping The Faith. Its last two Racenet ratings were 47.7 and 46.8, while its Zipform rating was 52. This is a total of 146.5 divided by 3, giving a final base rating of 48.83 for Keeping The Faith.

This is an easy way to obtain a base rating for every runner in any race you choose to bet on. I'm assuming that you are not going to try every race. I'd suggest you pick out the two or three best races from a betting viewpoint for the card.

Our Sydney reader backs the two runners with the highest base ratings. And he does so using a formula that allows him to win a pre-determined amount.

At first glance, this may seem a complicated approach but such is not the case. In fact, it's a very easy problem. Here's an example:

Two horses to back, Horse A and Horse B. Horse A is 2/1, and Horse B is 3/1. You add ONE to each price. Thus, A has a tally of 3, B has a tally of 4.

You now multiply 3 x 4 equalling 12, and then ADD 3 and 4 equalling 7. Subtract 7 from 12 and the answer is 5.

After this subtraction the number obtained (in this instance 5) can be divided into the amount you desire to win.

As an example, let's say the amount is 100. Five into 100 is 20. Now, to find the amount to place on each horse, 20 multiplied by 3 is 60 and this is bet on the 3 / 1 shot. Then, 20 multiplied by 4 is 80 and this is bet on the 2 / 1 chance.

If either horse wins, there is a profit of 100.

Here's another example:

One horse is 6/4 and the other one is 2 / 1. You want to win, say, 25. The odds of Horse A at 1.5 has ONE added to it, making 2.5. The 2/1 chance has ONE added, making it 3.

Multiply 2.5 by 3 equals 7.5, and add 2.5 and 3 equals 5.5. Subtract 5.5 from 7.5 and the answer is 2.

You want to win 25. Divide 2 into 25 which is 12.5. Multiply this by 2.5 equals 31.25, and also multiply it by 3 equals 37.5. The greater amount is placed on the shortest-priced selection.

Thus: 37.5 at 6 / 4 equals a return of 93.75, and 31.25 at 2/1 equals a return of 93.75. If either wins, the profit is 25.

This formula can be used for any two horses you wish to back. It is simple, easy to handle and quick.

Many readers have asked me, and other PPM writers, about obtaining reliable race ratings. The best way is to compile your own, though I realise that most punters can't afford the time, or don't have the inclination, to tackle this issue.

It can be a trying problem. If you want to follow someone else's ratings, then the Sydney reader's approach gives you some clues. Sportsman's Zipform ratings are excellent as a "base" guide, and so are Racenet's, though unfortunately Racenet doesn't cover Melbourne/ Victorian race meetings.

You can also obtain race ratings via each individual horse from the Mark Read website (ozeform.com). However, to do this you will have to call up each runner on the Ozeform database and then note down the ratings. This can be time consuming.

Of course, there are easier ways to obtain ratings. We have published many such approaches over the years in PPM.

Our Class & Assessments, so assiduously compiled each month by The Optimist, have proven a wonderful guide over many, many years. It will pay anyone to closely follow these assessed ratings.

The latest ratings plan I have come across relies very much on course and distance ability. In fact, it uses C&D ability as the basis for rating a field of runners.

Firstly, you ignore any runner that has not won at the course, or at the distance. The distance win can be at another track. Points are allotted as follows to build up a rating figure:

  1. Assume 2 points for each win at the track, and 1 point for each placing. Multiply each win by 2 and then add the placings, to get a final figure. So if a horse has three wins at the track and two placings, it wouldbe3x2= 6 + 2 =8. That would be the horse's track rating.
  2. The distance rating is done in the same way. So if a horse had three wins over the distance, and four placings, it would be 3 x 2 = 6 + 4 = 10.
  3. The horse is then rated on its last-start performance. If a horse did not finish in the first four last start, throw it out. The price a horse started at is taken into consideration. The important thing to remember with this rule is that the figure obtained is DEDUCTED from the final ratings tally. Let's say a horse won last start at, say, 3/1. You multiply 1 x 3 equalling 3. If a horse ran 2nd at 3/1 you would multiply 2 x 3 equalling 6.

You go as far as 4th for this calculation. Remember that whatever figure comes up for each horse, it is DEDUCTED from their course and distance total.

Let's take a horse from some time back: ROAD TO HEAVEN. He had two wins at Eagle Farm and two placings, so his rating for the course would be 2 x 2 + 2 = 6. At the distance he had just one win. Multiplied by 2 this equals 2.

At his last start, Road To Heaven won at 6 / 4, so that would be 1 x 1.5 = 1.5 to be deducted from his two totals for course and distance. These were 6 and 2 = 8. Thus, take away 1.5 and Road To Heaven gets a rating of 6.5.

If you wanted to convert this to a larger total you would merely multiply it by 10, meaning Road To Heaven would have a rating of 65.

This is just one way of obtaining base ratings figures for any runner. You could then "trim and tuck" in whatever way you like, by assessing other factors. like recency of last start, barrier position, jockey, trainer, class and so on.

You might also compare the rating figures with other assessments, like those on Racenet or in the Sportsman. This would give you a guide as to whether your rating is more or less on a par with the others.

Not that this is necessary. It's probably better long term if your ratings differ from others. This would help you get some value from wildcard selections.

I hope these ideas provide food for thought for you so far as ratings are concerned. Try them out, do your own testing, fiddle around with them, and never be afraid to try out fresh ideas.

The base ratings as suggested here are a very good starting point.

Click here to read Part 1.

By Peter Travers