I have to admit that the sentence above is a rather tricky title.  You will see what I’m getting at as we go along. I was looking at the Sunday results a week or two back, and I found myself looking at one of the oldest questions in the book.

What can the handicapper teach us?

One of the easiest ways to consider this is to look at the horse that the handicapper thinks will win the race.  I tried an experiment earlier this year, involving the quadrella. What I did was to back horses numbered 1, 2 and 3 in each leg of the quadrella. This cost me $40.50 per quadrella. I was coming in after a quite sensational $50,000 payout interstate (memory says it was in Melbourne).

Anyway, only this past week a quaddie came home at $1,600 or more, and all of the winners except one sported the TAB number 1. The other one was TAB number 2.

It didn’t work for me when I tried it, and to be frank the outlay each week was too much to keep it going as a speculative kind of thing, with only one decent result to back it up.  Amazing as it might sound, even a $50,000 return is not enough to support a plan like this if you get a shocking run of outs, and I looked like I was heading that way. It was a bit like taking your birthday numbers for Lotto.

So much for that little story.  What I found myself wondering this morning was how much the handicapper could teach me in regard to your average weekend racing. Just say that I was a brand-new horseplayer, and I went down to my local TAB to make an afternoon of it. What guidance could I expect to get?

I have included every race that was run on this particular afternoon, July 22, in the four metropolitan centres that I usually tend to follow. For the record, it did pick four winners in Perth on that afternoon, but it would have had a losing day.

I concentrated on Rosehill, Caulfield, Eagle Farm, and Cheltenham. This gave me 32 races to consider. What I decided to do, disguised as the new punter who had just found the excitement of racing, was to take the handicapper at face value and look at every horse that was listed as TAB number 1, 2, 3 or 4. There are a lot of arguments in favour of sticking around the handicapper, and while I accept that this is hardly a plan to set the world on fire, I just wanted to see what would happen.

Eighteen runners obliged me by calling in to say that they would not be running that day. I was then going to be required to bet on the remaining 110. While you might argue that that is a heck of a lot of horses, all I’m trying to do for us at this stage is ask, totally blind: “What happened on this day, sticking to the handicapper’s selections?”
Sydney started the party in absolute brilliant style, with Gold Tally getting home at $21. The third race in Sydney saw Calidan add to the celebrations with an $8 last moment victory. Gee, how long has this been going on?

And so to race five, and in storms Hasta Manana, paying a very healthy $19!

And the sixth race goes to Prima Nocte, favourite, at $3.

That was it for Sydney. The first race found a $23 quinella and a $59 exacta, the third race pulled in another pair at $18 and $31, and the fifth event had the quinella at $46, the exacta at $188, and the trifecta at $198.

Over in Melbourne, the first two races were victories and Sassbee won the big race, at $7, although technically the handicapper had nothing to do with this because it was set weights. Terrace completed the day in Melbourne with an $8.10 success in the final race. That final race produced a $33 quinella, a $41 exacta, and a $254 trifecta. Sassbee and Super Elegant also turned in the quinella at $26 and the exacta at $46.  Incidentally, there were no daily doubles all day anywhere.

As usual, we’re running out of space. Very quickly then, Brisbane found four winners at $7.10, $3.70, $4.40, and $8. It only managed one quinella/exacta, at $6 and $16, but it found the trifecta as well at $33. With four scratchings on the program, Brisbane almost cut even.

Adelaide also had four winners but only found one small quinella/exacta. The winners were at $2.50, $5.40, $3.20, and $7.60.

All in all, there were 16 winners in 32 races, a straight 50 per cent result. Interestingly, every city had four winners.  As I mentioned above, Perth also found four winners. 

This is probably the most interesting part of the whole experiment. I went in totally blind, and by simply selecting numbers 1 to 4 in every race, I found the winners of half the program at every major venue! This has got to be the basis of something good, so I am going to leave it with you to chew on for a month. I’d appreciate any ideas you have on the subject. It’s one of those things that stares you in the face and yet looks to have genuine significance.

By The Optimist