Let me ask you a question. If you bet on a horse and you see its price rise or fall dramatically, how do you feel? If you feel sick when the horse's odds spiral upwards and smug when they fall, I've got to tell you that you're thinking like a loser.'

So states author Nick Mordin in his latest book, Winning Without Thinking - A Guide To Horse Race Betting Systems, the review of which continues this month.

Mordin is of the firm belief that the best betting methods are those based on taking a contrarian view, either using information rarely used by other punters, or using readily accessible information in an unexpected way.

During his 30,000 hours of research, Mordin tested thousands of systems, either his own or those of others and the ones he discusses all take a contrarian view in approach.

In fact he has developed his own Ten Commandments of the punt, stating that to break any one of them will probably be averse to producing a profitable system.

Without revealing all ten (readers will have to purchase the book to find out the complete details), perhaps the first is also the most important, which in part states, 'The goal of a system is not to pick winners but to identify a type of horse that the betting public consistently underrates'.

Too true!! And it is an attitude taken by those big-betting Hong Kong syndicates that have recently been making headlines - look for an advantage and not necessarily a winner.

Mordin's other commandments are all sensible; ones that anyone serious about system development should take into account.

It is his belief that most successful systems have a productive lifespan of about three years, as in his opinion that's how long it takes for punters to catch on or for the circumstances that produced the profits to change.

That's why, in his opinion, there is a need to understand the principles behind the rules, enabling refinements that can exploit the changes in the pattern of the results.

Besides his Ten Commandments, Mordin has a list of his Seven Deadly Sins, which he claims all successful systems exploit at least once. They are:


  • Prejudice
  • Ignorance
  • Laziness
  • Greed
  • Lack of discernment
  • Overreaction
  • Conservatism.

Amongst the book's twenty-one chapters, two of the largest go into the aspects of pedigrees and class. I'm no expert on pedigrees and have no desire to become one, but for those who do, then this chapter is essential reading, more so for those who have an interest in the dosage system.

The legendary punter Pittsburgh Phil stated that class is an intangible thing that defies definition, yet it enables one horse to beat another, no matter what the physical odds may be, what the condition or what the distance. Hard to define, but everybody recognises its presence.

Obviously the UK suffers from the same type of racing calendar as we do in Australia - a never-ending stream of boring contests, commenting that he finds the sight of a bunch of old crocks inching across his television screen about as interesting as watching paint dry.

And the reason such races are boring? It's the fact that they lack 'class'.

In the chapter on class, Mordin states that you don't often see a 'class' racehorse but, if you watch enough races, it's easy to pick them, as they will do something to catch your attention - they will sustain an effort for an extended period of time, produce an extraordinary burst of speed or show courage to win when seemingly beaten, The sort of horse you'll remember.

He gives details of how to systematically go about identifying potential 'class' racehorses and, while his comments are specifically aimed at UK punters, his methods could easily be adapted to Australian racing. Interestingly, his methodology is best suited to races at 1600m or longer.

Perhaps Mordin's most provocative and telling comments on 'class' are the following, ' . . . if I had to sum up everything I've learnt . . . in a single sentence, it would be this: In horse-racing, almost everything is the exact opposite of what we expect it to be'.

Mordin rightly claims that there are few dominant champion racehorses, coming along maybe once in a decade at the most, stating that few punters appear to be able to accept this, always being on the lookout for the next Secretariat, Arkle, Sea Bird or Ribot.

In his opinion, those punters that fall into this trap are doomed to failure - looking for horses that are vastly superior to their rivals is the wrong approach in the best races.

A six-year study disclosed that the higher the class of race, the higher the percentage of narrow winning margins, which initially I found hard to believe myself until my own research confirmed that of Mordin's. (To be continued in the August PPM).

E.J. Minnis is one of Australia's most respected form and pace analysts.

Click here to read Part 2.
Click here to read Part 3.

With E.J. Minnis