Had a break recently? Great. Hope you enjoyed it. Did you still do the form, have some bets, and so on?

What’s that you said? “Is the Pope a Catholic?” Well, think about this for a moment. Why do horses have spells? Why do footballers compete to get to the pub first after a clawing, bashing, exhausting couple of hours each weekend? And why do we have holidays in the first place?

That’s right. To recharge the tired old batteries. But many boffins would argue that the only way to do this efficiently is to run the batteries right down first and get rid of any superfluous energy. Let them rest, and then commence the restocking process. Can we apply this to the racing scene?

I just heard you again: “But I might miss something, and worse still I might miss X or Y that I’ve been waiting for! It’s due to win.”

I’ve been there and done that. But more and more these days, when I take a break, I give myself a short race-free period. A week is enough, a fortnight’s better, and the race reports are so good these days that I can do that, if I choose my times judiciously.

Needless to say I am on full steam for the carnival periods, and equally obvious is that some months are hardly attractive propositions for the beach, or the snow, etc. But there are times when the racing is ordinary and you CAN live without it. Perhaps a week is enough. But you have to go the whole hog. No formguides, no sneaking into a TAB “I’ll just be a minute”, no quick $5 on the good old phone account. Nothing.

Of course you will find something won that you’d probably have been on. That’s Murphy’s Law again. But you will probably ignore that ones you might also have backed and which didn’t win.

Have you a spare five to 10 dollars? Then buy a nice little A5 Notebook and a black, a red and a blue pen.

Allot two pages to the first day of your break and two pages to each day after that. On the final full day allot four pages.

Start with a list of the things you KNOW are winning ideas.

Then list the things that you know are losing ideas.

In both cases you are looking at your experience and you are looking long term. Not at something that might have won last week or last month. Long term means all year and longer. Something regular in the general philosophy of racing, such as, for race winning ideas:

  1. Winners keep winning and losers keep losing.
  2. The best jockeys can get horses home where lesser mortals would lose the race.
  3. Inside barriers are nearly always an advantage.

And on the second day list all the race losing ideas you know of, such as:

  1. Horses that have raced several times over a certain distance and never won are likely to never win at the distance.
  2. Lesser jockeys will lose races they should have won.
  3. Outside barriers are nearly always a hurdle.

That’s a start and you must just muse on the winning ideas. I’ve only given you examples here, but for the first day it’s all you concern yourself with in your spare moments, perhaps lying on the beach, or trudging up the snow hills, or even just sitting in your backyard quietly with a cleansing ale in one hand, watching the world go by.

You might end up with 30 or 40 listings for winning ideas: they will be ideas that encapsulate your knowledge about backing winners and the advantages that you are well aware you and every other punter can take.

And then on the second day, you do the same thing again but at the other end of the spectrum. This will be much harder than all the good things, because you are again drawing on your own experience and don’t let anybody tell you that there is not a lot of pain associated with recalling, and actually writing down, so many of the mistakes you have learnt from over the years. “Chasing losers” is one of the most common ones in my experience talking to punters. They just can’t help themselves; they try to square everything off with something that was never a primary selection of theirs anyway.

On the next three or four days your notes should consist of your thoughts on how the notes you made on day one can be organised into golden rules, whereas the notes you organised on day two can be organised as a set of red light warnings.

You finish your holiday refreshed by putting these together into one list, a bit like your New Year’s resolutions only you will keep these!

They are the things you will do, and the things you will not do. You’ve had your break, you haven’t gone near a TAB, and you have probably psychologically prepared yourself for a successful racing year.

By The Optimist