Paul Segar is a committed form analyst and one of the most prolific racing authors in Australia. This is an extract from his latest book The Punters Guide To Winning, a 340-page 'textbook' for racegoers.

Generally, more favourites win in the first half of a race programme than the second. The tougher races are scheduled in the second half of most meetings to accommodate the multi-race, multiple-betting formats. The fav's task is, therefore, just that little bit harder.

If you are going to concentrate on supporting race favs, look to the early events on a racecard. As a rule, favourite backers should go home after race four.

Clearly, the outright favourite in all states has a very high chance of running a place, although Melbourne's outright favs do appear to be less successful than those in other states, with Sydney producing the best overall results by virtue of a mere 5 per cent loss on turnover. A profit could be quickly assured by some minor restrictions (e.g. eliminate odds-on favs and avoid wet tracks).

What is the best approach to betting on favs? Simply, where possible, know your horse.

The quality galloper that won or ran well at its previous run is a good bet compared with another horse that is simply favourite and nothing more. This would then see you supporting a genuine fav.

Given the strike rates (in statistics shown in my book) supporting GENUINE favs would produce some very healthy results.

Clearly there is strong evidence for supporting a favourite in any metropolitan event. A quick method would be to support outright favs in Sydney on dry tracks up to 1600m.

An asterisk (*) or a 'b' next to the form figures in most formguides denotes a last-start beaten favourite. The overall statistics indicate that 17.2 per cent of beaten favs win at their next run, hardly an inspiring figure given an average price of 3.6/1 (21.7 per cent). Backing outright favs or laststart winners is a better idea.

(Editor's Note: The above figures vary slightly from those supplied by Janice Crawford on page 21 due to Janice's use of different criteria.)

From a place viewpoint, some 43.7 per cent of last-start beaten favs did run in the first three so, once again, leaving out a last-start beaten fav would leave you missing a trifecta dividend on overage 43.7 per cent of the time.

Last-start beaten favs did not fare that well in Melbourne, with only 15 per cent becoming next-run winners. Given an average SP of less than 4/1, there is only one result following this type of runner - losses.Beaten favs did better in Sydney with 19.1 per cent winners at a lower 3.4/1, bringing a loss on turnover of 16 per cent. With near 50 per cent placegetters, perhaps Sydney racing is better informed about beaten favs?

Brisbane produced 18.2 per cent winners at an average price of 3.7/1.  In Perth almost 18 per cent winners at an SP of 3.6/1 also produced losses.

One punting approach that I quite like (and for many races is easy to produce a collect from) is. the rest of the field (or perhaps a series of horses) against the favourite. Simply eliminate the fav from the field and support every other runner according to its available odds.

This method can really only be effectively operated on-course, utilising the TAB and bookmaker prices. It is not an approach that will suit everybody, however. Some further modification or improvements may be useful.

Example: A race has a 2/1 favourite which is to be omitted from contention. The TAB usually bets to slightly more than 115 per cent which means you must eliminate 33 per cent (2/1 as a percentage) to produce a slight profit margin of 18 per cent in your favour (82 per cent in total, or $82, must be outlaid to collect $100).

This is not a huge profit margin and further requires the 2/1 fav to lose. Do NOT use this approach on all races as the favourites do win quite a high proportion of them. Look for favourites that have no chance based upon strong reasoning and THINK before making such a wager.

The profit margin can be substantially improved by taking the best of both the TAB and bookmaker odds.

Punting has very little structure. You can run your business exactly how you want to.  Some people would say this is great. However, this lack of constraint is the very reason why many people fail to succeed.

In punting, none of the guidelines (for normal businesses) exist. You do not know how much will be made each hour, not even which days will be the best or worst.In punting, you manage the money. Nothing is stopping you betting the whole lot on one race or spreading a little onto every race. It is up to you. This is the first step that must be addressed. Getting the money management part to a manageable level.

If your best bet is in race 5, there is little point losing all your money before then. I've done it myself in an attempt to build a larger stake to have a real lash at the best bet. Reality finds little remaining to service the good thing. It wins, with the net result of your money back or only a small profit for basically a day's work.

You should be prepared to lose a set amount on any day and, if you are going to win well on the races, a level of dedication is needed.


  1. Don't bet on every race or every meeting.
  2. Don't drink excessively and punt.
  3. Think your next bet will be a winner.
  4. Never alter a plan once initiated.
  5. Determine your selections before going to the track or TAB.
  6. Never overbet.
  7. Go to bed early before the next meeting.

In real estate, the three P's apply: Position, Position, Position. I think the three P's can apply to punting, though a different set of P's: Perseverance, Perseverance, Perseverance!

To bet a set amount each week requires real tenacity and building a punting bank from a small level is difficult. It would be very easy to lose control and bet the wrong amount.

If you remember the three P's, you are some chance of making a profit. The greater the perseverance, the larger the profit.

Do some serious thinking as well. Keep records not only on horses you support but also on mistakes you make along the way. Try not to make the same mistakes again.


By Paul Segar