Below our analysts have put together useful articles to help gain a better understanding of your punting and the racing industry as a whole. As you scroll below you will find the following articles:
1 - Minimum Bet Laws - Aus
2 - Importance of Speed Maps & Position In-Run
3 - Rating Your Own Markets
4 - Sales Diary
5 - What To Look For At The Sales?
6 - Stage by Stage Breakdown of Yearling Post-sale
7 - Gear Changes - How They Effect A Horses Chances
8 - How to Access Recent Form
9 - Pro Guide To Assessing A Horses Chances (Latest)
Pro Guide To Assessing A Horses Chances
Education Article Series: 9th Edition
When it comes to doing form its much like skinning cats... more than one way to do it. With so many different data providers and rating systems there really is no right or wrong way to do form. Below I have listed some of the more popular ways to people do form and how they all work. Whether you be an aspiring professional punter or just want to increase your general knowledge / involvement in this great game.
Methods / Form programs:
Punting Form: For the numbers and facts men & women. Punting form uses a compilation of years and years of track data of similar distances and ratings and produces a "standard time" which is considered bench mark. This service offers both all class and class specific benchmark figures and gives a great guide in determining what will be good form races. Costs to get a membership - but they do provide weekly free meets for beginners too.
GTX: Another one for the numbers men & women out there. There are multiple different aspects to GTX however the main (and best in my opinion) is the Weight Performance Ratings (WPR). The WPR is a weight rating that is interchangable across all grades and classes that gives an expected performance rating for a horses upcoming race. GTX is great as while it offers a predicted 'figure' it also allows its uses to administer some creative control as it doesn't take into account what is subjective in racing, i.e. bad luck, poor map, etc. Another paid service for the serious punter.
Replay Punters:The old trusty eye never let anyone down did it, well thats not entirely true however I sincerely believe that to gain the full benefit of the above two form methods you must also watch replays as there are certain things the numbers miss that the eyes won't.
There are plenty of other ways you can do form and by no means do I knock anyone for choosing to do it a particular way. Its all about finding a way to keep it enjoyable, intriguing and most importantly profitable. Comparing horses past performances, lining up their previous history at track and distance, jockey performance - using your own knowledge is all part of the fun.
There are so many different factors in assessing a horses chances in an upcoming race. From weights to barriers to speed map to distance to jockey… I could go on all day. When starting my form the first things I check are the weather (for track rating), wind & rail position (for pattern).
I highly suggest to those looking to take doing their own form more seriously to start recording wind and rail data after a meeting and map out where every winner/placegetter settled in run and the lanes they ran on in the straight to get an idea of the pattern.
Once I have determined if there will be an obvious pattern or not I move on to the speed map. An article posted in the Autumn outlines how I do my speed maps and the importance they have in determining a horses chances. It might be different in other states but from personal experience in WA the tracks often through up obvious patterns which makes nailing a speed map the most crucial part of my form. Identifying where every horse will settle (roughly) is important, however, the most important aspect for me is determining the race shape and which horses are best suited to how the race will be run, I.e. slow tempo makes it harder to make up ground. If you find the most advantageous place to be in running it goes a long way in determining how can and can’t win the race.
One thing I do that is somewhat unique is note a profile of every horse in WA. This isn’t something that is recorded it’s more just an assessment mentally of what type set up, race shape, etc, gives a horse the best chance of winning. This isn’t used as the be-all and end-all of my form, instead just an extra layer to my form that I feel gives me an edge in finding a few that most won’t. This varies from assessing horses that perform at particular tempos, weights, runs in preps and many more. This is something that is built over time by watching virtually every race in WA for the last 4-5 years. I also do a review after every meeting and give a + or - on the quality on the run of every horse in every race (-1L as pattern suited or +1.5L held up til 200m). I recommend doing this regardless of being a ratings or replays punter, it’s not something that requires a base rating or figure to pin it against as it just adds an extra edge in picking up on certain runs that people will miss.
My next step is to take everything I have in front of me and (in summary) determine a ranking where I think each horse will finish. This is before I price anything, I will make sure I have what I think will be the finishing order set. In races where I can’t determine who should be favourite it gives me an indication my confidence levels aren’t high and therefore shouldn’t be betting. In markets where I struggle to price a few after my fav or top two in market it gives me a clear guide that I can really narrow in my top few selections.
The next stage in pricing my markets and for me it is all opinion based and 100% subjective. I do my best not to take into consideration what I think a horse will open as I feel that is where I lose my edge. If you didn’t know already I’m a narrow minded man and I treat my punting very similarly, I firmly believe that once you start questioning your prices your screwed… once you have set your prices stick to your guns. I tend to set my markets at anywhere from 90-98% which gives me an edge over the bookies, if a bookie price comes up over my price its a clear bet.
As for changing my prices as patterns start to form its something I’ve only recently started to try my hand at so by no means will I claim to be any kind of expert on it. However, I do feel it’s something that adds another dimension to your punting arsenal and can turn a meeting from a lost cause to a real money making opportunity.
As mentioned above there really is no right or wrong way to do form so I encourage anyone who wants to start doing form to just a pick a method, whether it be through a ratings system or just watching replays, they all work its just a matter of finding a way to make them profitable long term.
If anyone ever has any questions about anything form related, whether it be about myself or any ratings or method I'm always more than happy to help, just flick through an email. Tune in next week for advice on all things bookie promos and how to best use them. Bye for now.
How To Access Recent Form
Education Article Series: 8th Edition
Assessing a horse's true chances in a race requires more than just a glance over its finishing positions and numerical form from recent starts. A true analysis must be done of its prior starts to discover why the horse performed the way it has.
For example, a horse first up well short of its ideal distance who runs a nice sectional home from last into 6th shouldn't be viewed in a lesser light than a horse 3rd up into its prep, at an ideal distance, who got a dream run behind the leaders and faded into a 5th. It is important to look beyond the numbers and make your own assessments of a horse's performance.
There are a number of variables/factors I put in place when doing my form and analysis of a horse's previous performances.
How well suited was the horse?
- This begins with class. What grade has the horse previously performed in and to what level did the horse perform in said grade?
- What distance range is best suited to the horse and what type of performance has the horse offered when previously raced at the distance?
- Was the horse at peak fitness or was it coming off a long break?
- Where did the horse settle in run and how does that compare to its usual pattern/when its performed at its best? If it was wide or caught in traffic adjust accordingly.
- Was there a pattern on the day? Did this have a negative, positive or neutral effect on the horse? i.e. Leaders bias or hot/cold rail, etc.
- What weight did the horse carry? Is it proven to handle that weight or has it underperformed in its previous starts at same weight?
How was the horse expected to perform?
- What price did the horse start? Was there a betting move? The market is a great guide into how a stable or others are expecting a horse to perform. A firming in betting is often an indication that horse should perform well and vice versa for betting drifts.
How well did the horse perform?
- What was the horse's finishing position and margin in comparison to the expectation based on all the above factors. Depending on how you do your form, it is possible to add a numerical figure to the performance either positively or negatively. i.e. +1L better than expected performance.
Once I have made adjustments to its previous run, it's time to move on to the current race. Stay tuned for article number 9 Tuesday week and see how this info is used to help assess a horse's chances at its next start.
Minimum Bet Laws - Aus
Educational Article Series: 1st edition
Authors: Pro & Prince
We have had requests from our members to further explain how Minimum Bet Laws work. We have broke down state by state by state below...
The rules stipulate the minimum bet size that bookmakers must accept on the race concerned. The minimum bet laws only apply to fixed-odds betting. Should a bet not be accepted to the MBL then you should follow up with your wagering operator. By bringing in MBL's it has allowed punters using winning accounts to still be able to place a bet.
All punters are able to bet on Victorian races as soon as final field markets go up under a change to the Minimum Bet Policy. Under the policy in Victoria, bookmakers must allow punters on Victorian thoroughbred racing to win up to $2000 on any one metropolitan win bet and $1000 on any one non-metropolitan win bet.
QLD thoroughbreds have followed the same policy as Victoria allowing punters to win up to $2000 on any one metropolitan win bet and $1000 on any one non-metropolitan win bet as soon as markets are available.
NEW SOUTH WALES
Punters on NSW thoroughbreds will have to wait until9am AEST Race day to be bet to win the standard $2000 on any one metropolitan win betand $1000 on any one non-metropolitan win bet.
Same will apply for those looking to place a bet on SA thoroughbreds, after 9am ACST Race day they will be bet to win the standard $2000 on any one metropolitan win bet and $1000 on any one non-metropolitan win bet.
It took until November 2021 to introduce them but they finally cracked, following the NSW model of 9am AWST Race day being bet to win $2000 on any one metropolitan win bet and $1000 on any one non-metropolitan win bet.
Punters will only be bet to win $1000 on any Tasmanian thoroughbred race after 9am AEST Raceday.
Punters will only be bet to win $1000 on any Canberra thoroughbred race (excl. Black Opal Stakes meeting which is $2000) after 9am AEST Raceday.
Importance of Speed Map & Position In-Run
Education Article Series - 2nd edition
Authors: Pro & Prince
Considering a horses potential settling position in-run is a crucial element of good analysis and allowing yourself the best opportunity to make a profitable investment.
Accurately predicting the winner of a race, or its probable chance of winning is not something that can just be guessed - as we all know! Otherwise everyone would be doing it full time! So below we will break down one of the most important variables - the importance of a speed map.
Speed maps are not easy, if your runner misses the kick, is drawn wide, gets held up (insert dozens of other potential problems) then your entire map can be out the window in the first 50m of a race.
Although nothing gets me on the edge of my seat and my blood pumping more than a horse storming from last to win all over the top of them, statistically leaders and those that sit just behind the leaders have a much higher strike rate than those settling further back in the field.
To understand this further we must ask, why this is the case?
On speed runners: Despite there being hundreds (if not more) of variables that every horse is faced with during a race, those that settle in the front half of a field fall the beneficiary of dictating tempo, having minimal ground to make up at the business end of the race, avoiding interference, losing momentum or covering extra ground.
Back markers: On the contrary horses setting towards the rear of the field are much more likely to encounter traffic issues, fall victim to race pace, cover extra ground and losing momentum trying to find a clear path. On average they don’t win anywhere near as often in comparison to there market price should suggest and is difficult to profit from long term.
- Try to focus the majority of your bets around on speed runners. (Not all, but the majority) It will go a long way towards increasing your profits.
- Statistics show that there is a better POT (Profit on turnover) backing runners that settle in the top 4, rather than the back 4.
-Learn to create a speed map or use those available from trusted sources and sites. Then look at tempo / track conditions & bias and start to gather a picture of whether it's a bet that will make you a profit long term.
-If your runner has a clear better sprint than the other horses in the field (You can use previous race data of 600/400/200m splits to give a basic guide) and your runner is going to be settling in the top 4, it will be giving itself every possible chance to win the race. If it settles last and they run extremely slow throughout the race (meaning the front runners will have plenty left in the tank for the finish) then you have to ask yourself, is the sprint of your horse superior enough to still bowl past the entire field? Probably not.
Where to find speed maps:
-Most betting apps
There are endless sources. Give it a crack at creating your own on excel.
My Experience (Prince):
When sitting down to do my form the first thing I do is create my own speed map.
Well in my humble opinion it is the most crucial aspect/variable in a race to decipher what is the right price for each individual runner and has delivered the most success for finding form/going on hot streaks.
To truly understand the benefits of a speed map I think it is crucial to first identify a profile of what every horse needs to be best suited to winning. Whether it be slow tempo, fast tempo, galloping room, finding rail, etc etc.
By correctly predicting a speed map (or as close as possible) you allow yourself the best opportunity to truly rate every horse's chance of winning.
Being able to understand if a horses chance is increased or decreased based on a likely settling position allows a punter to place a more accurate figure on the likelihood of a horse winning.
Once I've worked out my map, how can I use that information towards working out the probability of a runners chance of winning that race? Stay tuned for article number 3 next week and how you can use this info to rate your own market.
Rating Your Own Market
Educational Article Series: 3rd edition
Authors: Pro & Prince
We get the occasional question about how our analyst rate a market, to come up with our final odds and decide on whether it's a bet or not. Particularly for those starting out and have no idea where to start.
Each analyst has their own techniques and strategies, but here is a look into how Prince would work through a market when first learning the trade. It's a little bit more elaborate now but when starting off this is a great way to kick off.
How do I rate my own market?
Once I have completed my full form and analysed every horse, the first step in creating my own market is deciphering what I perceive to be every horses chances of winning.
There are multiple ways of doing the above mentioned, whether it be through ratings, handicap/speed/time or just general form, whichever option you choose best fit, it’s then narrowing it down to if the race was run 100 times, how many would each horse win.
My first approach when doing this is to start with the horse you think would win the most times, 2nd most, 3rd most, etc. Just getting them into a ranking is crucial to then narrowing down to a specific number or range you believe a horse can fall into.
Once you have narrowed down a number or range, its then just a simple calculator job, e.g. ((1/40%)x100)) = $2.50.
Some markets will be challenging to narrow your ranges down, for me the best idea in those circumstances was to just rank them and unless my top selection went up significant overs at double figures it was a race worth avoiding.
I always bet to a 90% market which in turn would give me roughly a 30% edge on the bookies markets. This is to form less bets but more confident bets, and generally found myself backing less favourites. To consider backing a horse I still wanted it to be at least 10% above my marked price.
It is also important to follow the SP of every horse to see where the money came LS and why possibly the money has come. I also note the winners and losers each race and what transpired for them to finish where they did in the race. Building a profile on every horse is a crucial element to more accurately determine the winning chance of a horse. These are all factors you can use in future to adjust your prices once you have close to a finalised market.
This is the basics, we will continue to elaborate on further strategies for more serious punters, including programs that can be used as the education series rolls on.
Education Article Series: 4th Edition
After a recent visit to the Magic Millions sales in WA. Prince gives us an insight below with whats involved and shares his experiences below.
When it comes to the sales there are multiple different approaches people take. Some people prefer to go inspect the horses at the stud farms prior to sale week, some prefer to wait until the day before they are sold, some inspect a select few, some inspect all and etc. I’m of the belief there is no 100% correct way to doing it and different people have different preparations that work for them.
At the recent sale there was 310 lots (after withdrawals) on offer, all different types with different pedigrees and my first step is to run through their pedigree page and identify basically what I think is worth looking at based on a range of factors. These factors include the dams (mothers) talent on the racetrack, dam talent in the breeding barn, sire and dam compatibility, 2nd dam talent, etc.
From there it’s basically identifying what I think is worth inspecting and the value I perceive the yearlings to be on pedigree alone. This year was a particularly strong book in WA and I managed to narrow the 310 down to 96 before first inspections.
Day 1 is a case of getting through as many lots as possible and building a basic profile for what your seeing. I got through the full 96 on day 1 over a space of about 5 hours or so. When doing inspections the first thing is presence (especially in a sprinter), If they have presence and power and walk with intent it’s half the battle in my opinion. The next thing I look for is balance and everything in a straight line; when looking from the front I want to see everything in a straight line, from shoulder to knee to pastern to feet. When walking I like to look how straight everything moves, if a leg swings or a foot drags or anything of that sort, I also like to get a side view of the flex in the pasterns. For those that don’t know the pasterns are just above the feet, too long and they have to much flexion, too short and they absorb too much shock.
From first inspections I’d narrowed my original list of 96 down to 38, so now we move on to second inspections. From here the process is exactly the same, looking at shape, balance, stride, etc. Basically just comparing notes from the first inspection and noting any differences from what was seen previously. In second inspections its also worth taking more notice to their temperament. They are only babies but its worth noting (positively) the ones that are still calm and collected on day 3 of being in a box.
Third & Final Inspections
By this point I was down to 22 to look at for a third and final time. I do this on the day prior to the sale starting, this is because after 5 days of heat and being confined to a box the well behaved, well prepared yearlings really shine through. Once again same process, nothing changes.
X-Rays & Scoping
After third inspections I’ll finalise my list and get x-rays and scope on the yearlings, they take roughly 12 hours to receive a report back and play a huge part in the final decision making process of what worth buying and whats not. If an x-ray or scope comes back with any major blemish I’ll instantly put a line through the yearling, horses are expensive enough to maintain without any major vet bills being piled on.
Once all my notes are complete and x-rays are received I will then place a value on what I think the yearling is worth and what I would be willing to pay for it. By this stage I was down to 9 yearlings left on my list. One of those on my list was lot 85, a Press Statement Colt out of Bitter Twist, half to Ranveer a talented 3yo from the Matt Laurie stable. I’d placed an estimate value of $85k on the colt and managed to knock the hammer down at $50k. The colt had brilliant temperament and more importantly maintained his presence and power through every inspection.
What To Look For At The Sales?
Education Article Series: 5th edition
Authors: Pro & Prince
Everyone looks for something different in a yearling at the sales, but the one thing I know for sure is a pedigree page promises nothing. When in doubt it’s best to take a better type physically then on paper so it’s ideal to know what your looking for when buying a yearling.
There are some non-negotiable things I have personally for every yearling:
Clean Scope: If a horse can’t breath properly it can’t race, simple as that. If people are willing or happy to risk their money on a yearling without a clean scope then be my guest but long term it is in no way a profitable investment in my opinion.
Clean X-Rays: Once again same sort of theory as the scope, if people are willing to take a risk on a horse who has signs of minor fractures or bone irregularities then all the power to them, but in my opinion the risk often outweighs the reward.
What I’m looking for varies based on the type of horse I’m looking at. Sprinting types are vastly different from staying types and often I love to see a build match a pedigree page (sprinting family producing a sprinting type).
Here’s a look at what I’m looking for in a yearling from a purely physical point of view:
Power - You want to plenty of power and muscle definition both at a stand and a walk when looking at the yearling. Generally their power will come from their hind quarter so always keep an eye out for big rear end.
Balance - It’s all well and good to have a powerful back quarter but if the horse lacks strength through its front and forearms then chances are that power will go to waste.
Small to Even Pasterns - In sprinters I hate seeing long pasterns. In simple terms the pasterns are the bone that connect the foot to the leg, lets call it the horses ankle. The pasterns absorb pressure when they flex and allow a distribution of pressure or as its called concussion. When they are too long in sprinters I find they struggle to absorb the concussion well and often lead to feet troubles.
Intent/Size/Presence - I want a horse to come out of the box and to notice him/her straight away. When it walks it should be a nice fluent powerful stride and have some intent when walking through the bridle. If a horse can’t walk well, chances are it can’t run well either.
Length of Stride - When a long distance type walks out it should be covering the ground nicely and stretch out with each step. A long efficient stride will help a horse maintain its stamina and is crucial for long distance horses.
Long Legs & Back - It is well documented that stayers are generally ‘leggier’ types and its with good reason. The longer the legs the more ground they can cover with each stride.
Light Frame - You don’t want a stayer to be holding to much size or muscle definition. Obviously if they are bigger horse it should be proportionate and maintain some muscle mass as well as long legs and a long stride. A nice fluid walk is key and should be the case with a light framed horse.
Even to long pastern - Opposite of the sprinter I like to see a slightly longer pastern in a stayer whilst still maintaining a close to 45 degree angle. A longer pastern gives them more flex and in my opinion is beneficial for a longer striding stayer.
Stage by Stage breakdown of Yearling post-sale
Education Article Series: 6th edition
Authors: Pro & Prince
Basic steps once you have purchased a yearling:
Choosing a trainer
Breaking in - what happens in depth
Pre debut lead up
Once a yearling is purchased there are plenty of steps that lead up to seeing the colt or filly run around for its debut. This article will cover the main steps that play a role in getting a yearling into a racehorse and onto the track.
If an individual has purchased the first step is picking a trainer. Generally this is a decision made prior to the sale and often agreed upon before purchasing. Many different factors go into picking the trainer which range from distance the horse looks like it will be best suited running over on paper to training fees to personal relationships and plenty in between.
Once a trainer has been chosen and transferred into the stable it is then up to the trainer when he or she thinks is the best time to send the yearling off to be broken in. The process of breaking-in a horse consists of teaching the horse to accept the saddle, bridle and weight of its rider. The breaker will do this gradually as to not overwhelm the horse and those that get through the breaking in process professionally often go on to thrive.
Once returned from the breakers-in it is then up to the trainer to determine if he/she thinks its best to send the horse back to the paddock or push on to early training, this is usually determined by how well the yearling has come through its early education. Once moved on to its early training the yearling will be put through barrier training and like gallop work. Towards the end of the yearlings early training that some stride work will be introduced to teach the horse to maintain its action as its speed increases.
A young horse will be put through at least two preparations before attempting to head to a trial or race. It’s not often that a horse will get through its first two preps with no problems, I.e. feet abscess’ or shin sore. However once the young has got through its final work (usually 10-14 weeks) they must trial/jumpout at least once prior to starting in a race. If all goes well and the trainer is happy then it is onwards and upwards and you will find yourself in the fate of the racing gods.
Obviously there is plenty of other small things that go on behind the scenes however this is just a small rundown of the major steps that lead up to seeing your horse run on debut.
Gear Changes - How They Affect A Horses Chances?
Educational Article Series: 7th edition
Authors: Pro & Prince
Theres enough going on in a race without having to worry about what horses have what type of gear, however, some gear provides punters with a better understanding of a horses true winning chance.
In this article we will take a look at some of the more common gear changes, what effects they have on the winning strike rate and if the change is a profitable one.
Placed over the horses eyes, they help focus its attention straight ahead and prevent it from being distracted by things behind it. A trainer will often apply blinkers to switch a horse on and that may result in a sudden performance improvement (especially if blinkers are applied for the first time.) A downside however is they sometimes cause a horse to over-race or even sometimes miss the kick.
Horses with blinkers on for the first time actually presents a betting advantage but only in races 1400m and generally on horses with 10+ starts.
No statistical data on blinkers coming off but generally its best to take each horse on its own merit as blinkers affect different horses in different ways, i.e. A horse with blinkers coming off the start after pulling in the run and not settling would be viewed as a positive IMO.
Similar to blinkers in that it focuses a horses attention straight ahead, but allows more side vision than blinkers.
There is no strike rate or betting advantage for horses with winkers added for the first time.
A strap that keeps the horses tongue down in the right place, preventing it from either swallowing its tongue or more commonly choking down which obviously hinders performance.
Has a small betting disadvantage as opposed to tongue tie off first time which I have always viewed as a positive.
Grouping together bar plates, pads, glue on shoes, synthetic hoof filler, concussion plates and shock shod shoes as they all do similar things and 99% only go on when a horse has feet troubles.
Not as horrible as most punters think from a betting perspective however they do still pose a betting disadvantage when compared to those without.
General rule for myself is unless you can be confident a trainer has worked the horse in those additions or trialled with them and they have proven to be effective, then avoid at all costs.
Used to prevent a horse from hanging in or out during its races.
Has no effect on the strike rate or profitability for horses with lugging bit added.
Helps to stop a horse from pulling hard during its races.
Actually has quite a large negative effect on strike rate and profitability of a horse when the Norton bit is added. This addition should be viewed as a hinderance.
A heavy blanket placed over a horses rump before loading into the barrier stalls. It helps to calm the horse during the time its standing in the stalls. The blanket is attached to the barrier stalls so that it naturally comes off when the horse leaves the barriers.
Can’t find the statistical data on strike rate and profitability of horses with a barrier blanket applied but have never viewed the addition as overly negatively.
Generally is effective in serving its purpose of keeping a horse calm at the barriers so I don't view as a negative or positive.
Helps keep a horse calm and cancel out any noise. If the ear muffs are red, this means a horse will canter around to the barriers and have them removed when they are ready to load. If the ear muffs are black a horse will keep them on and race in them.
They have proven to have a slight negative effect on strike rate and profitability when compared to those without them applied.
Getting Jamie Kah on first time actually presents a slight betting advantage when the horse is favourite. Something about the soft touch of Jamie's hands on the reigns seems to produce winners.