In recent times I have become a fan of a systems approach in order to provide me with a base number of selections per betting day which I then put through my own rigorous form analysis.

Over many years of betting I have developed certain theories about form which I have great faith in, such as being extremely wary of betting on mares in open company, fillies against males, early runs in from a spell, too many days since the last run, age, wet track issues and in running positions.

Naturally, there are exceptions to those rules/theories, such as when the likes of Makybe Diva and Sunline took on the males or if a first-up specialist has the right conditions available, maybe a champion sprinter in a weight for age event.

However, before I take on those exceptions I really have a good look at all the strengths of the opposition and if I’m happy I will bet but only if the price available resembles some sort of value.

In attempting to develop new systems I decided back in the spring of 2005 to buy copies of the formguide The Wizard for the spring races as well as my usual preference, Sportsman, and undertake analysis of a series of ideas I had relating to aspects of the voluminous information available in The Wizard.

Well, the best laid plans of mice and men slipped in and I did not study a fraction of what I planned. No, what I have done is (with the magnificent data input help from my daughters Joanne and Mary) to study a set of Wizard selections, which I’ll detail in this article.

The Wizard has several sets of selections available, ranging from the Sydney and Melbourne tips of, usually, Chris Scholtz and Tony Brassel and a series of panels headed Wizard, Timeform, Best Form (12 months), Recent Form, Distance, Class and Consensus.

For this article I have decided to use the Wizard panel which is actually the order of their A-Odds (Assessed Odds) and the horse I will concentrate upon is their shortest priced assessed runner.

From September 3 to November 19 there were 12 weeks and 369 races involved in my study, covering races in Victoria, New South Wales, South Australia and Queensland. The overall figures showed a flat stake on each runner would have returned the punter $348 for a level stakes loss of 5.69 per cent.

I must admit I was surprised the level stakes loss was only 5.69 per cent when you consider there were quite a few selections outside the favourites. When you average the percentage loss on favourites over a number of years the average loss is approximately 10 per cent and this figure has always been a good starting point for any punter researching a method of racetrack attack so for a set of selections to almost halve the favourites’ long-term losses was a promising start.

My method of recording results was simply to take the first selection in the Wizard panel and enter the Best Fluctuation for each runner as published in Sportsman each Tuesday edition. Best Fluctuations are readily available with bookmakers these days, so using those figures is a realistic guide.

The researched areas were:

  1.  Days since last race
  2.  First-up at all distances (The Wizard uses 60 days as a spell)
  3.  Second-up at all distances
  4.  Third-up at 1600m or longer
  5.  Fourth-up at 1800m or longer
  6.  Age
  7.  Distance
  8.  Sex: (a) mares versus males and (b) fillies versus males
  9.  Number of career starts
  10. Best fluctuation

Within some of the researched areas there will be sub–areas I will venture into briefly to highlight anything I feel may be worthy of mention. Before I started the research I set a number of hypotheses (testable theories) based on a mixture of commonsense and past research.

Horses that raced at 14 days or less ago would perform better than horses who raced 21 days ago or longer.
** You will note I have not included horses racing at 15-20 days.

Results: 14 days=139 returned 113.70 equalled -25.30 units.

The hypothesis is clearly proven: betting on horses who return to the track within 14 days is a major positive.

15 to 20 days:
21 days exactly: 55 returned 55.70
22 days to 59 days: 37 returned 26.30

You are pushing your luck the further past 21 days you go; however, some commonsense formwork could eliminate risky propositions in the 15-21 group and turn them into a profitable area.

Horses racing second-up would perform better than horses racing first up.
Results: First-up 47 returned 31.70 equalled -15.30 units or Second-up 73 returned 63.70 equalled -9.30 units or

The hypothesis is clearly proven again: betting first-up is a very dangerous proposition but second- up is no bed of roses, either.

Horses aged 4-5 years will perform better than horses aged 7 years and older.
*** You will note I have not included 6yos and the group 4-5 years includes 4yo and 5yo mares against their own sex as well as males against males. The study was purely based on age.
Results: 4-5 year olds 125 returned 156.00 units equalling +31.00 units
7 years =>18 returned 16.10 units equalling -1.90 units

The youngsters slaughtered the oldies but, in all fairness, there was only a small sample of 18 and I would be loathe to bag the old-timers at this stage. I might add a 7yo mare called Makybe Diva started three times for two wins in the oldtimers group! However, one thing is for sure: stick to the 4 and 5 year olds.

6yo exactly: 18 returned 24.00 equalled +6.00 units

It gets better when we add in the 6yos but we can look at their inclusion in two ways. One, as an add on to the 4-5 year olds or two, as an add on to the 7 years and older group. When you add the 6yo group to the oldies you find the totals are 36 returned 40.10 units and suddenly we have the horns of a dilemma as they are showing a profit.

Personally, I look at this way. The 4-5 year old group have performed brilliantly and I would be prepared to say forget all runners aged 6 years and older but that is my choice; yours might differ.

Males will perform better than mares when the mares are in the same race as the males.
Results: 29 returned 7.50 units equalling -21.50 units

This is an absolutely dismal result when you consider, as mentioned earlier, that Makybe Diva features in two collects totalling 5.50 units. Clearly forget a mare racing against a male.

At this stage of my analysis I have determined four rules that a punter should only defy when they are totally, and I mean totally, convinced that the overall statistics against them can be overcome.

RULE 1: Do not back mares to beat the males
RULE 2: Do not back any horse who has not raced within the last 21 days
RULE 3: Do not back any horse that has not had two runs this campaign
RULE 4: Do not back any horse aged 6 years or older in open company races

When I sit back and have a think about those rules I am struck by the fact that they are all plain old racing commonsense rules. A really dominant area (the 4-5year olds) has been identified, as far as The Wizard formguide is concerned at least, and they could be a springboard for future profits, pending further research.

In my follow-up article I will continue to scrounge through the statistics and detail how the fillies go against their male counterparts, what effect the Best Fluctuation has overall, third and fourth-up runs and if distance is a factor worthy of worrying about.

Hopefully, by the end of that article we can add one or two more rules to those already mentioned, thus providing us with the nucleus of a system worth noting each week.

I will apply those rules to the Sydney and Melbourne selections of Chris Scholtz and Tony Brassel as another way of looking at The Wizard statistics, though I am aware that the old problem of backfitting (creating a system based on past results) will apply. I will discuss this issue as well next month as it is a bone of contention with many form analysts so until then good luck and eliminate bets on horses that are risky bets.

Horses with 25 career starts or less will perform better than horses with 35 career starts or more.
** You will note there is a gap of 10 starts as I want to test the theory that the 35 plus “older soldiers” are not as good as those “young soldiers” with more spring in their strides.

Click here to read Part 2.

By Roman Kozlovski