This article commenced last month with an analysis of Group racing in Australasia over the past three years. Group racing is the best in the land. There are Groups One, Two and Three, with Group One being the best.

In all there are about 225 Group races per year, mostly run at weekends on metropolitan tracks. There will be days with a whole spate of Group races run (e.g. Derby Day at Flemington) and others with just the one, such as occasionally occurs on the out-of-capital-city tracks.

A punter could do worse than stick to these Group races for all betting activity. The races average out at about 4.5 per week, with, of course, several on main carnival days and very few in late winter.

They create a good argument for determining your bank for the year in advance by, say, allocating $20 for each Group race. That example would mean you had to allocate $4500 for the year's activities. Finding that amount of money is not an up-front thing: you'd just have to be ready to spend maybe $150 of it on one or two days, and very little for weeks at a time. A couple of nice wins early could mean you can invest with the profits for the remainder of the betting season.

If you wanted to, you could make two win selections for every Group race, have $10 each on them, and $5 on a quinella. There are worse ways of allocating your betting bank over a year, as all form will be exposed in nearly all events, virtually all entrants will be class animals, and you will have the extra confidence of knowing that you are examining and assessing the best racing available to you, with the best revealed form.

Also, as we see from this and last month's figures, there are ways of winning that do not involve the slavish following of favourites.

So, where were we at the end of last month's article? When I left off last month I posed a new question.

To refresh your memory I am going to ask it again.

What about favourites that were placed second or third? Is there anything to be said here? There certainly is. This was one of the most interesting revelations of all.


How many of us box trifectas? It appears to me that in the case of this present analysis it may not be advisable. On the evidence I uncovered, favourites either WIN OR RUN SECOND, OR THEY FINISH UNPLACED.

I mean that they are not a good thing for a place at all, and even less so to run third. This is a generalisation, and we will modify it as we proceed, but the results are too clear to misinterpret, especially so far as box trifecta players are concerned. Here are the finishing positions of the favourites in each Group.

First 59
Second 41
Third 12
112 out of 203 placed (55 per cent)

First 64
Second 41
Third 26
131 out of 227 placed (58 per cent)

First 100
Second 43
Third 22
165 out of 293 placed (56 per cent)

First 223
Second 125
Third 60
408 out of 723 placed (56 per cent)

First 31
Second 48
Third 56

This refers to the percentages of wins, then adds the second placings, then the third placings, of the favourites relative to the number of starters.

As we see, no favourite Group managed to do better as runner-up than as winner, and they all did badly in the third place stakes. Rarely, incidentally, did joint favourites manage to run 1-2, let alone 1-2-3. So when there is more than one favourite, your exotics ideas are unsafe if you assume that two of the three holes will be filled by those two (or more!) favourites.

The percentages all dropped relative to the win percentages. If they had stayed the same, they would have got to 87 in Group One, 84 in Group Two and 100 in Group Three. Impossible, to be sure, but the point is clear: the favourites either finish near the winners' circle or they can be deleted.

Just remember that this is all based on three seasons' figures, up to June 1998. Nothing is certain in racing but, on the other hand, these figures have two huge arguments in their favour:

  1. They are the most recent.
  2. They belong to the computer era, where favourites are determined by machines.

This second factor is relevant, in my view, as figures from even five or ten years ago are not as reliable as those of our present computer-age statistics.

The final broad message may, then, be as follows:

  1. Do not include the favourite as third placegetter in an exotic bet.
  2. In trifectas where the favourite is a very strong chance, in your opinion, consider standing it out to win with your other choices to run the places.
  3. In trifectas where the favourite is a strong chance in your opinion, but you feel there are other strong chances, consider placing the favourite first and second with the other chances to run first, second and third.
  4. In trifectas where you regard another horse as a better chance to win than the favourite, include the favourite for second, but not for third.
  5. For 1-2 betting, remember that the favourites win more than they place second. For this reason, if you are able to take exactas, stand the favourite out to win with your other chances to run second, costing double the money you would place on a quinella bet.
  6. If you cannot take exactas, make the favourite a win banker in your quinellas (i.e. he must fill a slot) with your other chances.
  7. Given the Paul Segar finding in this issue's Educating The Punter column, horses placed at their previous start must always be considered, and certainly their figures are better than favourites' for third place.

You have two clear choices in exotic betting on the Group races. You can omit a horse that will place in more than 50 per cent of the races (i.e. the favourite) or you can play the odds by omitting him from the third spot, where he performs relatively badly.

My choice would be the second way.

Let's hope that this analysis of the Group racing scene is of interest and practical use to you. I wish you much enjoyment with the figures and will look forward to many interesting letters to the editor.

By The Optimist