There are man patterns in racing. Horses tend to race in a certain 'pattern' and often you discern coming winners by looking for changes in the way a horse runs from race to race.

Some years ago, a knowledgeable racing man told me to be on the lookout for what he called the 'snappers'-horses that suddenly showed fast early speed when usually they race well back off the pace.

When you note that a horse has suddenly shown 'lead' speed after previously racing in a far different pattern, it could well be an indicator that the horse is ready to hit top form and win. With this 'pattern' we are looking for those horses who previously have not shown speed enough to lead.

It doesn't matter how many lengths these horses may have been beaten after showing the early speed- it's usually better that they are soundly beaten, because it means you can secure far better value next start!

When you get down to it, early speed horses are the ones you should be concentrating your attention on when looking for winners. Too many punters look for the big finish horses, those runners whose pattern of racing is to drop well back and then storm home, usually too late to win but in time to catch everyone's eye.

If you study camera charts-as you should if you are serious about your punting-you'll find that most winners come from the first four or five horses on the turn. Few late closers get up to score.

Let's take as an example the Randwick meeting of May 12:

(Race 1, 1600m): Friend's Venture led narrowly on the turn from Rasstar, with Squire Regent two lengths away in 3rd spot. Friend's Venture won from Squire Regent, with Rasstar 3rd. Hi Demon, who was 4th on the turn, finished 4th.

(Race 2, 1200m): Hogan's Power led from Pure Kin and Explanation on the home turn. They weakened out. The winner was Ithican Isle, who was about 7th on the turn.

(Race 3, 2000m): Tyburn Tree led on the turn from Crusade King. Tyburn Tree won.

(Race 4 1600m): Stud Poker led on the turn from Mint Machine and Regal Prize. Stud Poker won from Mint Machine.

(Race 5, 1400m): Queen Zanobia, Silks, Let's Make Music and Little Girl Dance were in the first four on the turn. Queen Zanobia ran 2nd, Silks was 3rd. The winner, Galleon's Gem was closeup 5th on the turn.

(Race 6, 2400m): Jabba Hutt led narrowly turning for home from Missouri Wolf and Resounding. Jabba Hutt ran 2nd, pipped on the post, and Resounding was a close 3rd. Frosted finished strongly to win.

(Race 7, 1400m): Calspray was closeup 3rd on the turn, and went on to win from All Stormy (5th on turn).

(Race 8, 1600m): Rassenvain was 3rd on the turn and ran 2nd. In this race, Livewire Lady finished well to score.

So, in five of the races at Randwick the winner was among the first five turning for home. And a number of horses that finished in the placings were also closeup on the turn.

The moral of this is that you should be a little wary of always looking for the 'late closer' horses. Far better to focus your attention on those horses you can reasonably expect to be right up in the firing line when the field turns for the run home to the judge.

It's not hard to do this, because a formguide like The Sportsman (or Wizard) provides such information. You can instantly see if a horse has the pace to be 'up there' when the field makes that final corner.

If you see in a horse's racing comments that he always tends to get back in the field-say 8th and beyond-you can be reasonably assured in thinking that he will continue the trend; he will have to make up considerable ground to get himself into a winning position.

The question then is this: Can the horse do it in the upcoming race? Or will the early-pace horses have it over him?

There are other 'patterns' to look for in a horse's recent performances. Take note of the following:

  1. Any horse which has finished strongly in two of his last four races. These should be in alternate races (i.e. last start and third last start or second last start and fourth last start).
  2. Any horse which failed at its last start and showed distinctly different racing positions from its previous starts. You may have a horse that always leads or trails, and then suddenly it fails when ridden from well back in the field. it can often pay to follow these horses next start because they will usually revert to their favourite racing manner.
  3. Watch for horses that are having their fourth and fifth runs from a spell. Check back on where they were placed in the running at their previous outings, and see whether they have been edging closer to the lead in the early/middle stages each time. By the fourth or fifth run back they should be ready to win.

These are just a few ideas on discovering potential winning patterns in a horse's form. They may just lead you to some nice value-priced winners in the months ahead.
By Jon Hudson