Dave chats with Heath Pope who specialises on Adelaide racing for Racenet and in our Friday newsletter where he’s consistently produced winner after winner.
In this episode, Heath shares why he has focused on the Adelaide market and how he uses a contrarian approach to go about formulating his ratings.
Punting Insights You’ll Find
- The jockeys and trainers that Heath likes to bet on.
- How Heath comes up with his rated prices.
- Red flags you should look for in speed maps.
- Heath’s unique approach for the Morphettville track.
- Why it’s often a good idea to bet on wide barriers.
- Heath Pope
Heath’s Closing Tip:
“You go into a day’s racing with a plan then you stick to it, and you don’t chase your loses. That’s highly important, I can’t state that any stronger.”
Episode 011: Adelaide ratings with Heath pope
Welcome to Betting 360, your number one source for horse racing and sports betting insights. Coming around the bend is your host David Duffield, with another expert view to give you the winning edge.
David: Today’s special guest is Heath Pope. And Heath, for the last couple of months has been supplying some of his Morphettville previews for our newsletter. And although it’s a free newsletter, the tips or ratings are worthy of paying for really. He’s had a tremendous amount of success, in putting us into some good value winners, and bearing in mind that his assessments go out pretty early before scratchings and track conditions are finalised. So it’s been a really good effort and I’ve had a few requests from people wondering how he does it, so I thought it was worthwhile to get him on the show today, and just run through the way he does the form, the approach he takes for south Australian racing, and how he might be able to help punters out, and help them win some more. So let’s have a chat with Heath.
David: Thanks for joining us today Heath.
Heath: How are you David?
David: Yeah going very well thanks. And I appreciate your time, we’ve had your selections, tips, and ratings in the newsletter for a little while, and it’s just been winner after winner. So I thought it best to get you on the show, and run through how you do what you do.
Heath: Thanks for having me.
David: Yeah, great to have you. So tell us a bit about your background, and how you got involved in horse racing, and bitten by the bug?
Heath: Basically I work for a website, another website, don’t know whether I should name them or not?
David: No you can mention Racenet, there’s no worries there.
Heath: I’ve been doing the ratings for them for probably about five or six years. And during that time I’ve pretty much made it my bread and butter. So I’m not only doing the form for them, but I’m also doing the video comments in the form guides. So pretty much that means if there’s fourteen horses in a race, I’m watching the same race fourteen times. So obviously after a while I get to know the horses pretty well, so it can become quite tedious, but at the end of the day you know, putting the time into it, it can become quite rewarding.
David: So you mentioned you’ve been doing that for five or six years, but what about before then? How did you first get involved, to pick up the experience and the skills required to be able to analyse a race, either a race that’s been run through a video replay, or otherwise assessing an upcoming race?
Heath: Yeah basically just doing it the old manual way David. Just watching replay after replay, and concentrating on just the one state, I just think it’s impossible to scrutinise the whole of Australia. And the reason why I turned my attention to Adelaide, and I am based in New South Wales, was because of the smaller markets over there. I believe there’s a lot bigger edge, Sydney and Melbourne, you know in my opinion, are very well analysed by most punters, and it was my intention to try and get the better of a market which was a lot less scrutinised.
David: Yeah that’s true in just about any market. I mean the bigger the market the more likely it is that it’s efficient. So you went down the route of a smaller market being South Australia, more likely to be, you know to have some holes in it that you could exploit.
Heath: That is correct David. And watching as I mentioned before, watching each race over and over again, it is tedious, but it is rewarding. And I’m just trying not to take shortcuts, I mean I don’t have a computer to just press a button and it gives me a rated price. It’s basically my eyes watching the race. I do have my own database, which gives me a base-rating figure for each horse, but at the end of the day it’s just doing the old speed maps, and the manual work that gives me my rate of prices.
David: So you must love a sixteen horse staying race then, if you’re watching it sixteen times?
Heath: (laughs) Yes, yeah exactly. You know as soon as acceptances come out, that’s pretty much the first thing I’m looking at so.
David: Fair enough. So when you’re watching the replay, and obviously the comments will run in Racenet, what are you looking for from a form perspective? Are you looking for, say the pace of a race and who that’s suited, are you looking for horses that were caught wide, and possibly could be bonused a length or two? How do you assess it when you’re watching the replay so many times over?
Heath: Pretty much everything there. Tempo is just so important, also on looking at change of jockeys as well. In Adelaide I believe there’s..unlike Sydney and Melbourne where most jockeys are pretty much well above average, I think there’s a much diverse range in jockeys in Adelaide. And surprisingly, there’s quite a few of those big name, or so called big name jockeys which are very much over bet. For example like Claire Lindop and Paul Gatt…
David: So my sound has chopped out a bit then, hopefully it didn’t for the listeners. So you’re saying that Paul Gatt and Claire Lindop from the work you do are over bet, overrated?
Heath: Statistically they are David yeah. In saying that, what I’m saying is any horse under $6.00, yeah you’d be on your way to the poor house very quickly.
David: And are you talking just metro racing or right around south Australia?
Heath: Yeah I basically just concentrate, I focus on Morphettville and Morphettville Parks. I don’t do the country tracks, even though I do watch them, I just basically concentrate on Morphettville. Rarely now do they race on a Wednesday, but mainly on the Saturday.
David: So you mentioned a couple of jockeys that tend to be over bet and trainers. What about on the flip side, are there a couple that you’d really like to be on?
Heath: Matthew Neilson comes up very well. I would have told you Jamie Kah does, but looks like markets, well the punters have flocked onto her, and before the start of this year she was extremely under-bet. But the market is onto that, and this year her stats are actually quite poor. Now whether that’s because she’s now just a two kilo claiming apprentice, or punters clueing on that she goes quite well. You know the usual Dom Torneur, he’s very solid. Going back to trainers, the best one’s Richard Jolly, statistically by quite a distance. The Jon O’Connor’s, John Hyam, Tony McEvoy’s an obvious, but here’s an interesting stat, a big stable like he is. Since he’s started to train some horses out of Sydney now, his stats are going right up, so again his horses are now becoming over bet.
David: That’s interesting. And like you mentioned with a jockey being good value for a while, and then the market correcting them in that, it doesn’t always happen, it does tend to happen where you know we’re not the only ones that look at stats and profitabilities. So yeah, just because a horse, sorry a trainer or a jockey, has been a great betting proposition for the last you know twelve months, twenty-four months, that doesn’t necessarily mean that’ll continue for the following twelve, twenty-four months.
Heath: That’s correct. And it’s basically trying to stay out of, you know the punters trying to think outside of the square, never rest on your laurels. So today I might be saying Claire Lindop is a bad jockey, or I shouldn’t call her a bad jockey…
It’s not her fault. If the market over rates her, I mean she has a bit to do with the winning percentage, but as far as the profitability she doesn’t have any involvement there in the betting market. So yeah you’re not potting her, you’re just saying that the market overrates her.
Heath: Exactly right. You know we could be doing this interview in twelve months’ time and I’d be saying the complete opposite about her. At the same time I’ve just knocked Paul Gatt, but when he rides for Richard Jolly his stats are extremely high. So it’s just little things like that David, so if he was riding for another stable I’d be potting him big time.
David: He rode in Melbourne on Saturday didn’t he, Paul Gatt?
Heath: He did, he rode a winner too, he rode Riziz.
David: Yeah we were on Riziz, and he rode it beautifully.
Heath: Yeah Yeah.
David: Got out at the right time, didn’t go too early, and it was a beautiful ride.
Heath: Yeah again I’m not potting him as a jockey, but he’s just won at the…well he’s well found in the market so, and that’s what it’s all about. It’s just trying to think outside of the square, and doing things different to most punters.
David: So what is the process of you doing the form? You mention a hell of a lot of video replays, but how do you look at the nominations and you’re doing the form, how does that then become rated prices?
What’s the process there? Now I know a lot of it comes down to your judgement. But how does a field become, you know if you’ve marked it $3.00 a favourite, and $4.00 a second favourite, and out to $8.00 or whatever. How do you actually come up with those rated prices?
Heath: Basically I’m looking at the field, and looking at a price of a horse that I would be happy to bet at. I’m more than happy to bet multiple horses in a race. That basically, it means I’m perceiving every bet I’m putting on is still a value bet, and the run of outs is a lot less as well, which I think’s extremely important. A lot of people only bet one horse a race, I could bet three horses. It’s all about, in my opinion, cutting the run of outs, and even though I could be betting three horses in a race, and obviously two of those are going to at least lose, I believe every bet I’m putting on is a value bet.
You mentioned putting a horse, riding a horse at $3.00 dollars, it means I’d be happy to take that. That’s after doing, as soon as acceptances come out on a Wednesday, I basically go through the field, do my speed maps, and go from there. I think they’re extremely important David. I mean, you could look at a field just on paper, and something might jump out at you, and after you’ve done a speed map you could give it none, especially with some of the lesser known jockeys.
And a quite a lot of them in South Australia do swap around, so it’s again, I keep underlining the fact I’m thinking outside of the square, but it’s my discipline to try and do the complete opposite to most punters.
David: Yeah we talk about that a lot. That’s the only way to find value is to be a contrarian. Because if you’re swimming with the tide or with the crowd, the values gone. There’s a few winners there but no value, so you’re not going to finish in front. So when you’re doing the speed maps what are the red flags, you said a horse can go from what you think is a strong winning chance to no winning chance, just based on the speed map, what are you looking for there?
Heath: You can get horses where basically they’re the only leader in a race, and especially in small fields. If you’ve got a horse that’s the only leader in a small field, it’s going to get quite a soft run upfront. Obviously that’s quite different in the larger fields, there’s always pace on right from the word go, and the large field jockeys trying to come across from their wide barriers etcetera. But yeah in a small fields, by that I mean nine or less runners, you can see some major form reversals. And basically it’s impossible for good horses even to make ground, they’ve just got to produce some amazing final sectionals. And if they’ve just jog trotted upfront, which they can do down in Adelaide, where a range where I’ve mentioned before, the range of jockeys ability I believe is a lot more, there’s a lot more better and worse jockeys in Adelaide then what there would be in the Sydney or Melbourne metro area.
David: I wanted to ask you about the Morphettville track. What’s your approach there, what are the unique characteristics of Morphettville, Morphettville Parka?
Heath: Yep. Well I’ll have to be on a front runner, however,
David: All distances?
Heath: Yeah both. I think Morphettville, and Morphettville Parks are very fair tracks. Obviously like most tracks when the rain comes, getting off the rail is quite significant. In my opinion they’re terrible wet weather tracks. But on a dead four for instance most horses have their chance, the track plays very even, so most horses have their chance coming from either the back or leading. Morphettville Parks when it first came out, you really wanted to be in the first three turning for home. However that statistic has changed quite a bit, and horses can make ground even on unit track. So I, in summer I was in there, but I think both tracks are very fair. Most horses have their chances, however you’ve got to be weary again on the wet, it’s a nightmare. Most horses would go out to the centre of the track.
David: You mentioned before about being a contrarian. And we are in some ways, in that we’re often happy to be on a horse that’s drawn wide, particularly if it does have some early speed, they can often surprise the market, and take up a reasonably nice position in the run. What about at Morphettville, are there certain distances though where you really don’t want to be drawn wide?
Heath: Again, what you’ve just touched on there I could not agree more with you. Wide barriers are just so under bet. So the only one I wouldn’t like to be on is if it’s a capacity field, and a 1500 metre race. Very hard to get across from those wide barriers, but overall, yes I actually quite fancy betting on a wide barrier because again, statistically those horses are under bet. And normally at Morphettville they don’t have any problem crossing and leading. So again that’s just doing your speed mapping, seeing how much pace is drawn inside. But yeah a lot of punters would see the barrier twelve for instance and would instantly dismiss it. So that’s another little tick, just thinking overall, long term they’re good bets, they might lose this current race but long term if you’re putting on the same bet I believe you win.
David: What about horses coming across from Victoria, there tends to be a few interstate raiders, and how do you line up the form in that situation, and what’s your overall impression, whether it’s your gut instinct, or on the stats that you mention on horses coming across from either Melbourne metro, or just elsewhere in Victoria?
Heath: Obviously I give them great respect. Especially when you’re looking at these horses who are trained by the Peter Moody’s, Darren Weir’s, Mick Price’s, and they’re not scared to bring a runner or two over. And statistically they’re actually good bets, even though they are known to be from large stables, we’re talking about three pretty astute trainers here, and statistically they are good bets. Especially when they, well nine times out of ten, they start well into the market, first, second, third favourite, and they are good bets. And, for some reason they seem to be extremely well handicapped. Yeah you might get one of these visitors come over, who you perceive should be carrying fifty-eight kilos and getting in on the limit, so for some reason there these astute trainers are placing their horses correctly, and they are good bets.
David: It’s interesting what you say there about the Victorian raiders being leniently treated to weights. Because obviously there’s been a lot of talk about overseas imports, and the fact they come here, drop a few ratings points, and are well in at the weights. But I just didn’t realise that was the same for Victorian horses heading across to south Australia.
Heath: Yeah, we’re actually…I’ll just mention three big stables there Peter Moody, Darren Weir, Mick Price. You know but these blokes, you know statistically they’re good trainers, as well as obviously what the media perceive them to be. But when they are prepared to travel a horse over to Adelaide they are very good bets. And for whatever reason they really are handicapped extremely well, and these stables aren’t scared to bring them over, and yeah they’re good bets. And vice versa, Adelaide horses which go over to Melbourne are extremely under bet, and can get away with quite a few handy races. By that, if you look back through the results during last spring, quite a few Adelaide horses went over and took out some pretty decent races at good odds. So yeah what I’m saying is that the visitors should be respected greatly yes.
David: Okay, just to finish up then. Do you have a preferred approach in terms of the market segment that you like to bet into?
Because from what I’ve seen it hasn’t been a huge sample size, but what I’ve seen you’re not particularly fussed whether it’s a shorter price horse, or a longer priced horse, so long as it’s value on your ratings that you’re happy to bet. So it might be the favourite should be a lot shorter so you’ll bet, but then again it might a horse $10.00, $12.00, that you want to be on, that you’ve rated a lot shorter. So there’s no small segment of the market that you’re attacking, it can be anywhere?
Heath: It’s mainly I’m concentrating or focusing on my top four selections. I might rate a horse $2.00, if it’s $6.00 in the market, obviously there’s a pretty big difference there. I will then take that market opinion. I do respect the market prices as well as my own. So I would then, for example, consider that horse like a $3.50 chance instead. And yeah just searching for value amongst my top four selections, respecting both my price and the markets price, because there’s going to be times when you do get it wrong. So basically what I’m saying is, betting overlays, but also you must respect the market.
David: Yep, no that’s something we’ve heard from a few guys in this podcast here. It’s pretty common that if you assess something at $2.00 and the market says $6.00, you’d like to think it’s somewhere in between. But you need to factor that into also the way you stake it, still probably will be backing it, but more about how you want to stake it.
Heath: Yeah. And at the same time what I’m also doing is maybe my fourth or fifth selection they might be running as savers for me. Again just cutting out the run of outs, it’s so important just basically for the mind I think. You go into a day’s racing with a plan you stick to it, and you don’t chase your loses, highly important that, I can’t state that any stronger. My focus is cutting out the run of losses, so betting three or four horses even, where I might have one or two going for a decent amount.
David: Yep good stuff. Alright we’ll leave it there for today Heath. Really appreciate your time, I know you’re not a media megastar like some of the guests we’ve had on, so it’s all a bit new to you, but you’ve done really well.
Heath: Thanks David
David: Alright appreciate your time, thank you.
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