Earlier this year I struck what I call the DROO (Dreaded Run Of Outs) in Perth where, I must admit, I thought I had my punting under control.

You all know what happens: you back them for the win and they run second or you back them for the place and they run fourth. It's a sickening time because even though you might have confidence in your selecting ability you never know when the rotten run is going to finish. I did not panic and kept selecting them as normal.

If you look at the web address www.saddlerat.com/romres/perth.php from Bets 106 through to 124 you'll see just how badly I did go with selections I thought were well researched but which almost buried me in a losing run of 19!

I might add I had other bets in Perth at the time which provided collects but it was the public selections which bothered me as they should have done better. (You will notice the bet size rose dramatically with the simple staking plan I recommend but those figures are for a future PPM article on target betting.)

Eventually the horrific run ended and I was back on track fairly swiftly; however, any serious punter who is determined to at least break square needs to reflect as to why the wheels fell off the wagon in the first place.

It took very little research to realise the 1MW (One Metropolitan Win) events in Perth had damaged the wallet with a miserable collect of one winner from 13 wagers on what I believed were well researched races (included in these figures are the "'other" bets I mentioned earlier).

The structure of Perth racing shows many of the 1MW fields comprise mostly older runners who struggle in the city or are provincial gallopers striving to reach the next level. There is always going to be danger in betting on horses with restrictive career records and a lesson has been learned: only bet in these events when you are really, really positive your selection is a standout, otherwise you are just betting on one runner among others of fairly similar- ability.

There is also the issue of being unfamiliar with the formlines and abilities of ALL runners in that type of race as I do not study the provincial Perth races with anywhere near the city intensity. Thus, an up and comer could quite easily be seen as just a winner when it may have been quite an outstanding run with a 1MW race being well within its reach.

Naturally, this sort of advice is not earth shattering news and if we do decide to tempt fate that is one thing, but if we don't discipline ourselves once we know any area of weakness and keep betting in those event types then that's just plain stupid.

A study of the rest of the Perth races I had bet on did not highlight any damaging areas relative to class of race or distance and, of course, wet tracks played no part at all because Perth seldom has a serious wet track.

While I was being slaughtered in Perth I was punting quite well in the Eastern states and the reason was clear. I was only betting on races where the handicapper had no say at all (Wfa, Set Weights) or where there was a minor say (Set Weights and Penalties) or in very carefully selected Group handicaps.

Yes, most times the prices were short, in the Lonhro category type of price but, unlike Perth, there was no DROO.

Ding! Ding! The bell rang. What if I placed a stronger requirement on my Perth selections as per the class and the number of genuine chances and what if I restricted myself to the top class bets of the program?

These are "what ifs" I should have applied initially but although I have been punting consistently in Perth for two years I am still a "babe in the woods" about some aspects of the racing there and I freely admit I did not think the 1MWs were going to be a problem. I was wrong!

All I have done is totally focus on the "easiest" races per week where I believe there are only a maximum of four genuine WINNING chances and where I price my selection at 5 / 2 or less.

Previously I had been pricing the main chances in every race and had been betting the so-called "value”, which could have been my first selection (most often backed for the win) or my fifth selection (most often backed for the win and place or place only).

However, since "waking up" I have concentrated on betting only my "A" selections as per the above criteria. Since seriously changing to this "modus operandi." the results have shown a dramatic turnaround as evidenced by the Perth Best Bets since.

It would be remiss of me to not outline, broadly, how I set my prices. Firstly, setting prices is a judgement call which each price setter must make and I believe you must start with your "easiest race"; that is, the race in which you believe your selection is your best bet of the day.

How each punter arrives at the best bet is an individual thing, but I start my process by dividing the program into two; that is, on an eight-race program I am talking about Races 1 to 4 and 5 to 8.

After I do the form on each runner in each of those races I list the races in order of easiest to most difficult. In such a process my "easiest races," order of selections might be Races 2, 1, 4 and 3.

You do not need to be Einstein to realise I also apply this approach to Races 5 to 8 and the order might finish as Races 5, 8, 6 and 7.

Moving a bit deeper I now need to decide whether Race 2 is easier or harder to pick the winner in than Race 5. Once I decide I immediately have my Best Bet of the day BUT the huge question that now needs to be answered is, "what price should it be” and that is where experience of setting prices comes into play.

I find myself asking whether this horse is a 1/1 (evens) chance. If not I ask if it is a 2/1 chance. If I hesitate by saying "err no but maybe 9 / 4 or 5 / 2" then I know I am in the ballpark and I have a starting point.

By comparing the best races in the first half of the program against the best races in the second half I eventually will have eight races listed from so called "'easiest"' to "the hardest".

Next I start to think like an each way bookmaker and look for the horse/s I believe are those I would be reluctant to lay at 9/2 each way or longer and thus make a loss if they place.

In other words, they will be 4 / 1 or less, thus ensuring a breakeven or slight profit situation if they place. After making that decision I have basically broken the back of pricing my selections and the rest of the process just follows commonsense on issues of how close to one another the runners are as chances.

None of this is rocket science and does not need to be any more complicated than I have just explained. At times your prices will be dead accurate and at other times you will be well off the mark but isn't that the punt anyway?

While studying my Perth slump I also found it necessary to examine the dollar outlays per race. It did not take me long to realise I wasn't betting my A selections in exact proportions to my E selections as consistently as I should and it became obvious I needed to develop a scale I could adopt which represented my priceline with more exactness.

The scale shown on page 23 depicts five price ranges based on my prices per selection. The first column is for horses I rate 1 / 1 or less while the fifth column is for horses rated at either 7/2, 15/4 or 4/1 with the others in between self explanatory.

I have added the third, fourth and fifth columns as I wish to keep more records on those pricelines but rarely do I seriously bet on any horses I have priced at 11 / 4 or longer.

I grade my selections either A for Wfa or Set Weights, B for Set Weights and Penalties while C are for Handicaps.

If I price Lonhro at 4 / 6 in a Wfa race and I receive 4 / 6 or better I will have $100 for the win and $400 for the place (my minimum acceptable place price is $1.30). It is unlikely I would receive $1.30 for the- place thus my bet would only be $100.

I have not set myself a minimum place price for the other prices as I do want a fraction of flexibility and not a totally rigid figure.

There will be times when I want $1.50 for the place about a horse I rate 2/1 while at other times I will accept $1.40. It does not seem mathematically correct to do things this way but I want t-he fluidity to match my gut call on a horse's chances.

However, one thing is for sure and certain: I will not accept less than $1.30 on any horse no matter what price I have rated it. You just have to draw a line in the sand and that is my line.

GR1/1 or < 6/4-7/49/4-5/211/4-3/17/2-4/1
GR1/1 or < 6/4-7/49/4-5/211/4-3/17/2-4/1

Naturally this scale can be modified to suit your bank. Since adopting this strategy I have been pleased with the returns for the place in ratio to the win side as on a basis of 1 x 4 I have rarely received less than $1.40 thus returning $5.60 for the $5 bet which is always a profit on the race.

NEXT MONTH: More of Roman Koz's betting adventures in another absorbing PPM feature article.

Click here to read Part 2.

By Roman Koz