It staggers me to note it was nine years ago when I wrote my first article for Practical Punting Monthly and I must admit to having enjoyed the experience immensely.

I have four children: Jenny, Mary, Joanne and Robert. Of the four only Robert shows any interest in betting and although his interest is in sports betting (mainly Australian Rules), I am sure all my children will someday read the articles I have written for PPM and be proud of their dear old dad.

I have often said to them I enjoy helping newbie punters enjoy the fun of betting and to reach the status of at least breaking square on the punt. Hopefully the articles I have written in the past will have achieved that goal for some PPM readers

In the ensuing years, since that first article I have changed several areas in my selection process as well as conducting some “expensive” real money experiments in my punting forays. Some changes have been productive while others have been abandoned; however, one area I have not changed, bar some minor positive adjustments, was the main focus of that very first article. As we have many new readers to PPM I thought I might resurrect the main premise of that article, which was called “Pick ‘em in Pairs”, by quoting some areas almost verbatim, using inverted commas and others in a retrospective manner, outside the brackets, such as the paragraphs above or an occasional comment in brackets. So, let’s revisit Article Number 1.


“In the constant battle to find winners the punter needs to develop a method of attack that is consistent, covers all vital aspects of form and provides a sensible approach to determining value. There is little doubt one of the most frustrating aspects of horserace betting is to realise AFTER a race that you have missed an essential part of the form.”

Nothing has changed in that area!

“Most punters start their form analysis with TAB #1 and work their way down the weights. By the time all this initial analysis has been completed they have become somewhat lost in a myriad of form considerations. They have difficulty remembering that TAB #1 meets TAB #5 better at the weights, TAB #2 is better at the distance than TAB #7 and so on until each of the individual components of form becomes a hazy blur.

“My PAT (Pairs Analysis Technique) method requires the punter to break the field down into PAIRS i.e. TAB #1 and #2 is one pair, TAB #3 and #4 and so on. The punter then does the form on each pair as if that pair was one race comprising two runners and, most importantly, evaluates a margin between the two once the winner has been decided.”

The only area where I have changed this is in fields where there are an odd number of runners i.e. 9, 11, 13, 15. I now consider the last three runners as being in a race and I call them, A, B and C and the remaining runners remain as pairs called A and B.

“Let’s provide a field to make this clearer. The field is . . .

TAB #1: Tulloch
TAB #2: Gunsynd 
TAB #3: Phar Lap
TAB #4: Rising Fast
TAB #5: Kingston Town
TAB #6: Dulcify
TAB #7: Gloaming
TAB #8: Archer

“In this example let’s assume the winners were TAB No’s 2, 4, 6 and 8.

“Let’s say we calculate Gunsynd beats Tulloch by 0.5 lengths, Rising Fast beats Phar Lap by 0.75 lengths, Dulcify beats Kingston Town by 1.0 lengths and Archer beats Gloaming by 1.25 lengths. The ‘losers’ are now no longer considered as they have been eliminated as contenders for the FINAL A selection. If you are a one-horse-per-race only punter you will need to create another set of pairs from the winners.

“Thus, your new pairs are TAB #2 and #4 and TAB #6 and #8 (the winners of the original pairings), which means you are comparing Gunsynd against Rising Fast and Dulcify against Archer and you must again provide a margin between each. The form is again applied to each pair and we will assume the winners are Gunsynd and Dulcify. This time we calculate Gunsynd defeats Rising Fast by 0.75 lengths and Dulcify beats Archer by 0.25 lengths.

“The next step is to once again apply the PAT technique and we decide the FINAL A selection is Gunsynd by 1.0 length. By the time you have reached this stage you have been forced to make a series of choices (using as many criteria as you normally do), between only two horses at a time, thus eliminating a major, if not total, part of the hazy blur mentioned earlier. There should be NO after the race excuses because, if you have used PAT sensibly, your FINAL A selection has been calculated by thorough form analysis.

“Almost all the work has been completed if you want one horse per race without considering what price should be accepted. But what if the punter wishes to have more selections per race and wants to calculate a priceline? It is a simple matter of organising the margins into a format ready for the required calculations. Starting from Gunsynd we find the following:

C0.75Rising Fast
F1.50Phar Lap
G2.00Kingston Town

“By using the Don Scott tables in his books The Winning Way and Winning More, we can assess a priceline for every runner on a market of 100 per cent.”

Editor’s Note: Don Scott provided what he called a “Table of Advantages to Chances” in his books. These enable you to work out each horse’s price provided you have established an estimated margin in kilos between each runner.


“Your next task is to total the decimal odds which may come to 3.75. You now divide each individual decimal odds figure (for each runner) by 3.75 and multiply the outcome by 100. This will give you the runner’s final estimated betting percentage.”

***Note: if you want to work to a percentage of 80 per cent simply multiply by 80 or whatever percentage you desire***

C0.751.500.6713.78 $7.00 Rising Fast
F1.502.500.5010.28$10.00Phar Lap
G2.003.000.409.23$12.00Kingston Town
H2.504.000.255.14$21.00 Gloaming

“This final assessment provides an order of expected finish between all runners and provides a professional market from just a simple process of comparing pairs of horses.”

Well, there it is! After nine years I am still using this process for the selection process but I have added one extra process which forces me to make sure I am happy about my order. I now use plus and minus signs. The minus sign indicates I am very happy to have that order between the pair as I am confident the “winner” is indeed the winner.

When I initially think the contention is close I will add the plus sign to the loser of the pair comparison and when I have finished the initial pairing process I go back and really toss and turn the form lines of that particular pair. Usually the original order remains but every now and then I re-evaluate what I originally bypassed which I now consider more vital than I first considered and I change the order.

Trust me when I ask you to use this process: it works and you will be amazed just how quickly you will arrive at your A selection. As an added extra check add plus and minuses to the final order. I especially do this as the last check in difficult races. I rarely find myself changing my A B order when applying this last step as I have really twisted and turned the form lines for my leading contenders but find myself changing the order at times lower down the order.

Once you have your order the really, really tough process of assigning beaten margins will consume you and this is the area where I cannot really advise you as the “feeling” you have as to how superior one runner is over the other is strictly a personal value judgement. However, with the reintroduction of this technique I hope I have at least got you started towards adopting a more professional approach. If that happens I will be pleased. Good luck with the journey!

By Roman Kozlovski