We all know that betting on horseracing is all about decision-making. We make hundreds of decisions each time we look at a formguide.

Just think of a 16 horse race. If you look at every horse and go through its past performances you are making decision after decision. Forget that run, take this one into account, he's a bad rider, the trainer's off form, the going won't suit, etc. The little decisions you make end up forming your final decision.

If you're like most punters, your inner struggle in forming those decisions will see you make the RIGHT choice once every five times.

It might be bit more than that if you are especially rigorous and intelligent in your decision-making.
Glendon Jones, the American racing expert, says you do not need to be a genius to beat the races. But, he warns, it does take a mind able to work through a puzzle or problem in a reasonably unbiased and logical way.

In his book Horse Racing Logic, Glendon points the way to how you might "get it right" more times than the average.

He says: "While logical thinking is largely an inborn characteristic, it can be developed through intelligent practice and a desire to understand why a handicapping analysis may have failed.

"When a race is run in a manner that is at odds with the handicapper's projection, then it is beneficial to go back to the formguide and find out where the analysis failed.

"The mind will absorb the lesson with little effort. Logical thinking is the most important characteristic, because each race is first and foremost a complex puzzle."

Glendon divides the entire approach into a variety of fields:

  1. Judgement
  2. Ability to work hard
  3. Decisiveness
  4. Persistence
  5. Patience
  6. Failure recognition
  7. Reasonable expectations
  8. Control of fear and greed
  9. Sense of worth.

Now, in the months ahead, I am going to look very closely at all the factors listed, and I'll be bringing you the views of other experts, as well as providing you with a lot of the good sense that comes from Glendon Jones.

I think the key point to bear in mind is this: Selecting the right horse is not an easy task, and neither is full-time handicapping. There are aspects to it that the majority of punters remain blind to all their lives.

Ask yourself how much time you have spent yourself on examining the deeper psychological aspects of your endeavours. Have you gone back to "the scene of the crime", so to speak, when a big bet has failed to fire?

Where did it all go wrong? Was it on your form analysis, or did it all go awry on the racetrack and no real blame attached to what you did in coming up with the horse as a good bet?

There is, of course, a case to be made for re-examining WINNING BETS as well. If you got it spectacularly right, why was this so? What were the elements that combined to give you that success? How can you use them in the future?

It"s all about judgement in the end. As Glendon Jones explains: "Judgement at the track refers to the ability to mentally weigh and compare several inter-related tangible and intangible factors and make decisions that, on the average, are correct.

"Good judgement is paramount in sizing up overlay and underlay situations. Knowledge and experience are prerequisites."

Glendon says that he likes to make predictions and observations for every race about (a) the way a race will be run, (b) the chances of specific contenders, and (c) the overlay-underlay makeup of the betting line.

"If the race is run in a manner that proved my predictions were wrong, I usually restudy the form details on the top contenders and pacesetters and re-evaluate them with respect to post-time betting line," he writes.

"In this way, I constantly upgrade my knowledge and experience to the maximum degree. This exercise, while perhaps not having an immediate impact, has a positive effect on the long-term thought processes and databank in the brain. This is the way good judgement is gradually developed."

The moral, then, is clear. Make a mistake, err in your judgement, get it hopelessly wrong ... then go back and look again. Where were your mistakes and why did you make them? Why did you not spot the clues that might have led you to the winner?

Learn from what happened. Lock the lesson away in your mind and use the experience in your future analysis of the form.

In next month's article, I'll look at decisiveness and persistence, which are two vital factors in any successful punter's makeup. If you don't have them, better get them!

Horse Racing Logic by Glendon Jones (Liberty Publishing, Florida), is available at book stores on the Internet.

Click here to read Part 2.

By Rick Roberts