Win-strike rates are fun, believe it or not. How many times have you seen a statement something like this one?

"The horse must have a winstrike rate of 25 per cent, a minimum of five starts and must have come within three lengths of the winner at its last start on a metropolitan track."

This is an impressive statement. It's concise and informative in a few words. This is, I believe, the art all writers should strive for.

It would have to be the ultimate in establishing elimination rules for any key selection. After testing this on some of my own systems, I found, to my surprise, it didn't improve profitability at all. It's disturbing, then, to find something as solid as the above statement and not be able to apply it successfully.

It would appear that these are the horses that either a lot of people like to bet on or that real money gets invested on this category of horses.

The minimum of five starts complements the 25 per cent winstrike rate criterion in that, without the first qualification, the win percentage may be exaggerated.

Within three lengths of the winner at its last start has already caught the attention of most people and many systems have this as a requirement for the base selection.

Last start on a metropolitan track means you are, hopefully, betting on a horse with some metropolitan track experience.

When I applied any one of the three criteria I did have an improvement in varying degrees. The best one I used was the winstrike rate. It's a bit like TAB Number 1, where there is an edge. Also, I noticed that any increase in the win rate as a criterion to improve profits was acceptable but on a diminishing basis.

It doesn't surprise me that any selection method that requires a high win rate will, by its very nature, produce more winners but, unfortunately, at reduced odds.

Occasionally the betting public gets confused when there are a few horses with high win-strike rates in the same race. The emotive factor comes in; one of them has won money for you before so it becomes the logical bet. He is your personal friend and has actually put money in your pocket while the other 16,000 horses you have bet on did not give a damn whether you paid the rent, fed your kids, and so on. Got the idea?

This is a good time for you to pick up some money, in that you're betting in a high-quality race, most of the time with the prizemoney high enough for all the really good horses to be trying their hearts out. Money, prestige, all the goodies are on offer and the trainers, jockeys and the betting public are dead keen. One of the high win-strike horses usually emerges favourite and the others are on offer with acceptable betting odds.

My suggestion is this: if you see a race with more that one high win percentage runner (by this I mean 50 per cent or above), you can bet on both of them by making the longer-priced horse the main bet and the shorter-priced horse the saver bet (being half a unit).

If there are three of them, your chances of a collect are excellent, so again the longer-priced horse is the main bet with savers on the other two.

The real advantage of looking for the high win-strike rate horses is that it restricts your betting to 'quality' most of the time, provided the win rate is not a false figure due to the limited number of races the horse has run.

Also, the win rate is an excellent guide to what the starting price of a horse for the current race should  theoretically be. For example, a horse with a win rate of 25 per cent should be showing 4/1 or better to be a bet, 4 times 25 equalling 100. A horse with a 20 per cent win rate should have a starting price of 5/1. Okay?

So, if you've made your final selections and want to establish a theoretical starting price, with a view to knowing how much you will bet on these selections, the win-strike rate can be of some value.

For example:

  1. If the selection has a 20 per cent win rate, the outlay can be 20 units. TAB win dividend should be $5.
  2. If the selection has a 25 per cent win rate, the outlay can be 25 units. TAB win dividend should be $4.

Note that the overlays, relating to win rate, will be your profitable bets and the underlays will be the expensive bets to make.

If I see a selection with a win rate of, say, 35 per cent, I would divide this figure into 100 to come up with a theoretical starting price of $2.85 for the win dividend on the TAB. By taking the overlays you have to come out in front. I ignore the underlay bets as being bad value.

The racing industry is one instance where the 'good old days' were, in fact, the 'bad old days'.

The amount of information available today about form analysis is truly astounding. Have you read a Wizard formguide and tried to absorb the amount of information provided? It really is quite overwhelming and it does not stop there at all. Sportsman does a very good job of condensing available information and provides excellent race ratings plus a wealth of other information. The advent of the Internet has boosted the information flow even more.

Computers have done much to help in the area of providing us with this wealth of information, though I seriously doubt if they've provided anyone with the ultimate diagnosis of any race, unless there was only one horse running.

Imagine the amount of time our counterparts, of 10 years ago, had to devote to a race to arrive at the conclusions that we have on tap immediately. As with all electronic technology it improves at a very alarming rate, so whatever you think is good now will get better and better.

Having determined what you are going to bet on, the next how to bet so the whole exercise provides you with a high collect rate and some profit.

Having 24 races for Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane to contend with, the next step is to reduce them to an acceptable level of bets for the day. Not so easy, really. Some days there are a lot of bettable races, more than you may want, though this tends to be offset against those days when there are few worthwhile races to consider.

I've had up to 12 races to bet on one day and then only two the following week. It tends to average out at four to six bets per week.

You may elect to use only your higher-rated selections. This can be your criterion for eliminating some of the races. You may elect to use prizemoney as your criterion for eliminating the weaker races.

Classes or types of races may also be used to restrict your betting. For example, you could decide never to bet on 2yo's, Maidens and Hurdles and even go further. Whatever you decide to use as your race elimination process, always try to be consistent for at least one month.

Let's assume we now have about six races on which to operate. They've been rated for you by some authority you have decided you can trust, or they are the result of your assiduous form analysis. The next step is how to bet on them.

What I suggest is that you take the first four top-rated horses and quinella bet them in the following manner:

Let's say we have selections 1, 2, 3 and 4. The order is rated best to worst.

Quinella Bets:

Bet One is:  1 and 2 - outlay 1 unit

Bet Two is:  1, 2 and 3 (boxed) - outlay 3 units

Bet Three is:  1, 2, 3 and 4 (boxed) - outlay 6 units

The total outlay is 10 units.

Please note:

If 1 and 2 win, you get the quinella three times.
If 1 and 3 win, you get the quinella twice.
If 2 and 3 win, you get the quinella twice.
If 4 and 1, 2, or 3 win, you get the quinella once.

So we have a quinella plan here that's based on reliable ratings offering payouts based on their rated chances of success.

Allow a 100-unit bank, which will last for 10 weeks, and see if you like it. At the end of the 10 weeks, one of three things will have happened.

  1. You will have made some profit.
  2. You will be up or down marginally.
  3. You will have lost some money.

• NEXT MONTH: More ideas and angles from Keith Roth as he continues his series on how to become a professional punter.

Click here to read Part 4.
Click here to read Part 1.
Click here to read Part 2.

By Keith Roth