Punting Insights You’ll Find

– How ‘doing the form’ changes over the years
– The normal rhythm of the market from Wednesday through until the jump
– Why on-course is often the last place they bet
– How he uses the final tote market as a very effective measuring stick
– Why you should never be embarrassed by how small you bet

Today’s Guest

Trevor Lawson – Melbourne ratings expert

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Podcast Transcript

Dave Duffield: Nice to have you on again Trevor. I just want to have a bit of a chat really, we caught up earlier in the week and there was plenty of good stuff. So I wanted to run through a few of the things that we discussed then. One of the things you did mention was that not many people do the form these days. Do you want to just explain what you mean by that? Because I think a few people would be surprised.

Trevor Lawson: I think there probably is, but people don’t know who they are, and 20 years ago everybody went to the races. You knew all the punters and stuff like that, and then nowadays nobody goes, and so there’s sort of no punters. There’s a lot of arbitrageurs out there with Betfair and all that. They just take one price and they’re trying to sell it back at another price and actually don’t do a lot of form. If you do, I think there’s some sort of edge, if you can sort of wade your way through what is sometimes a quagmire.

Dave Duffield: These people that you’re talking about, so they might earlier in the day, take one price and then sell it back on Betfair later in the day at a much shorter price.

Trevor Lawson: I think so, yeah. There seems to be a lot of people on Twitter and all that who get barred everywhere and they seem to bet everywhere. It’s hard to do the form for everywhere. I just thought, probably using the market intelligence and using Betfair and going from there.

Dave Duffield: Speaking of the form, this is the quieter time of the year for yourself. Do you use that time to try and improve the way you do the form?

Trevor Lawson: Yeah. This time, it’s always a bit quieter. There’s not as many city meetings after Warrnambool in May. I use a lot of the time to go back and … I’m always looking at things, so if there’s a horse that I couldn’t get short enough and it wins then I sort of go back and try to make a case for why I could get it shorter.
I always just try and revise things, you’re always trying to move with the times and adapt, if you stand still you get run over. I do things a lot different to what I did 15 years ago, and a lot different to what I did 10 years ago, and a lot different to what I did 5 years ago. You’re always trying to evolve. The final tote market is quite accurate, because that’s the essence of everything that’s happened. So if you use the final tote market as a guide as to what the
proper true price of the horse was, and we can go back through your own model and use the tote price as a guide.

Dave Duffield: When you’re doing the form, you have a ratings-based approach, and part of that is weight. Is that something that’s become less important over time?

Trevor Lawson: I think so. The early market, so the early markets the corporates put up they just seem to total disregard weight altogether. They seem to rate horses to their best, and take out their weight, whatever weight they were. Weight’s relevant to a degree, but it’s probably not as relevant as what it was through the Don Scott books. I sort of compress a lot of it, and I’m going through back through the results, I’ve started to compress a little bit more in certain areas.

Dave Duffield: I think you mentioned the last time you were on that there’s a bit of a flow to the market. You were saying that earlier in the week, you just mentioned the horses are rated to their best, the disregard weight. There’s a lot of trial and media analysts have a fair bit of influence, and then it evolves from there right up to the point that the bots and the big boys get involved very late. Do you want to just run us through, say, for a Saturday meeting, what you see as the normal flow of the market?

Trevor Lawson: The market goes up Wednesday afternoon and there’s a lot of horses that in early markets they might be 5, 6, 7 to 1, but come Saturday they’ll be 14 to 1, and 20s on Betfair as they’ve got too much weight. Sure if you’ve got 2 horses of similar abilities, surely the one that’s going to get less weight it’s got to be easier for it. Those, and then you sort of have the video watchers, the trial guys, the guys that watch the jump outs and that. Those horses tend to shorten, up until Friday.
Then Friday, Saturday it sort of steadies up, and then Saturday morning, things start to chip away. Saturday afternoon, if something’s fancied, they might come again and you can get a guide with the tote depending on how much difference there is between the price and the tote price.

Then the betting starts, and then basically, with about 7 weeks to go, it’s the robots or the bots or whatever you want to call it, syndicates or whatever, they get involved and basically whatever price they mark it, then that’s what price it runs.

Dave Duffield: You’re glued to your Dynamic Odds screen, and things have changed over the last 10, 20 years, whatever it might be, in that On Course is the last place they bet?

Trevor Lawson: Yeah, I’ve noticed that. It’s alright to have a lot of accounts, but that’s one thing I say to guys. If you could have some sort of an account with an On Course bookmaker, it tends to be the last place. It’s sort of like all the dynamic … It seems like a way, it’s sort of the price goes off at Betfair, then the price goes off at the TAB fixed odds. Then it goes off at the corporates and the last place it goes off is On Course. Sometimes you can see the price is already gone, it might be half a point better on course. The corporates who get back on course, then they’ll shorten it on course.

Dave Duffield: It’s also advantageous to know the types of horses that some of the bigger syndicates or the bots want to back, I don’t know if you want to touch on any specific examples, but sometimes you get a feel for what they’re looking for?

Trevor Lawson: Generally they’re on horses that lead. The media fixates on horses that get back and flash home. The syndicates want the horses up the front, that raced up the front and got gassed last start. Next start it’s going to get an easier run.

Dave Duffield: So we’ve talked about the form and the market, and I also just wanted to get you to reiterate why you focus pretty much exclusively on metro meetings?

Trevor Lawson: It’s just basically time. In Victoria I think there’s 10 or 11 meetings a week or whatever it is. I have to maintain everything because unlike, I suppose NSW I suppose horses don’t come from Tamworth or Grafton or whatever, but in Melbourne you actually have to cover the whole state doing the reviews.
You spend most of your time just maintaining the database, you know? I like doing the form properly and in town I have an advantage where I can walk the tracks before and I think I’ve got an edge there.

When you’re betting in the bush, not that I don’t, it’s just that it’s just hard to get it all done, and finding the time, I suppose. If I didn’t need to sleep it’d be easy!

Dave Duffield: Part of, I suppose, the lifestyle or the mindset of a professional punter is just the roller coaster of results, it’s something that you mentioned to me recently, that it can be a real challenge, just the highs and the lows.

Trevor Lawson: That’s where it is. An inch can be the difference between however you bet, a couple of hundred dollars, hundreds of dollars, thousands of dollars, tens of thousands of dollars. A photo finish, there was one the other week, Tango Rock at Sandown, an inch is worth anything.
The idea is you just have to stay on an even keel, you just have to realize that not all the photos will go your way. And they won’t go against you. It’s not like you are not going to back another winner again. Conversely, when you back a bunch of winners in a row, that’s not going to last forever. You just have to basically treat it like it’s a job, stay calm and just grind your way through it.

Dave Duffield: Over the last 15 or 20 years, have you seen many guys come and go, beyond people that were over-betting?

Trevor Lawson: Oh yeah, yeah, yeah. One bit of advice that I could give for anybody – never be embarrassed by how small you bet. In other words, the secret to this is you have to stay in the game. Because if you run out of bullets, you can’t back the next winner If your bank gets really small, really small, until your luck changes and you can re-roll and you just keep going. A lot of blokes do bet small, and say they bet big. You’ve just got to bet within your bank, and as your bank goes you can sort of bet up. You should never basically have your last on anything, and just keep grinding away.

Dave Duffield: Interestingly, you tried for a short period keeping detailed results, but then you found it just didn’t suit your mindset?

Trevor Lawson: I’ve got them, I’ve got all the figures, you have all your statements and all that sort of stuff. I started to keep some, and then, I don’t know whether … You tend to focus on what was going on instead of what you should be doing. Sort of like, “Oh God, I’m losing…” Instead of just letting it all come to. You forget about it and then 3 weeks later you’re, “Oh good, I’ve had a couple of good weeks.” I know how I’m going and I have the results. Basically, if you’ve got money in your jeans, or you’ve got money in the bank, then everything is all right.

Dave Duffield: It does sound like you keep a level head. Just to finish up with, what effect do you think the minimum bet rule is going to have when it kicks in, probably October?

Trevor Lawson: I think you’d be able to be able to bet earlier. I suppose the people that are barred or aren’t getting on, they’d be able to get on. Over the next few months I’ll open some more accounts. I think the secret is to try not to be predictable, and don’t do the same thing at the same place all the time, you know? I sort of haven’t been barred. I’ve been knocked back on bets, but I haven’t been barred, touch wood. Not to be predictable. As I say, don’t look a gift horse in the mouth. If one of the places are betting big odds, well, just take it for something. Don’t try and knock them off their stand and then they get rid of you straight away.

Dave Duffield: So you’d rarely bet the maximum bet?

Trevor Lawson: I say yeah, never, no. I just chip away, and sometimes I bet under, sometimes a bit more. Sometimes they sort of say no. During the races, from race to trace they seem to want to lay horses. I am generally backing the horse at 2 or 3 places.

Dave Duffield: Good stuff. We’ll leave it there for today Trev, thanks for coming on the show again. We’ll definitely chat again soon.

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