Rick Williams, Senior Form Analyst here at Champion Picks, is back for part two of the discussion on a typical working week for a professional punter.
In this episode he explains what is required each Friday, Saturday and Sunday and also lists six essential tools of the trade.
He also shares some great insight into where to focus your attention in the market when others are looking the other way (including one major tip regarding track variances that you won’t want to miss).
Punting Insights You’ll Find
- A look into the busiest working day for pro punters.
- How to play the variability of a course on race day.
- Why Sunday is so crucial to your success.
- One pocket of value that can give you a massive edge.
- The six essential tools of the trade.
- Rick Williams
Rick’s Closing Tip:
” There’s always gonna be another horse in a race tomorrow where I don’t have to guess. “
Episode 018: More Punting Insights with Rick Williams
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: Hi and welcome to another episode, well Part B anyway of Betting 360. So this is episode 18, and last week we had the first part of our chat with our senior form analyst Rick Williams. Because we’ve had a number of people ask about what a normal week looks like for him, and a normal day. And so we had a chat to him last week about how he sets up the start of his week, and let’s have a chat today about the remainder of his week. But also, what you might consider tools of the trade, the things that he can’t punt or can’t live without. So we’ll do that right now.
David: Okay, that takes us through to Friday. What are you normally doing on a Friday?
Rick: Going grey (laughs). Friday’s probably the busiest day of the week. As I said we, around this time of year we certainly have the better horses running on a Friday through the day. Plus leading into the spring we’ve got Friday night racing at Moonee Valley and Canterbury. We’ve got a deadline we’ve got for the early edition for the Saturday, so it’s just a really very very busy day.
And that’s why Mondays are so important, because you really need to be as up-to-date as possible with everything, coming into that Friday. Because, you know you’ve got horses backing up after 7 days from last Saturday, or a horse from, the Wednesday before so if your database isn’t as up-to-date as you can have it, you find that it’s really difficult to, to do the work in an efficient manner.
Where everything is where you want it, and how you need it to be. So Friday just starts with getting the selections for the newsletter, some days you know, it’s like shooting ducks, it’s quite simple. Sometimes it’s quite difficult to find those selections because basically it’s just the time. And all the different things that can change, then we’re working on, just the stuff for the Saturday, and ensuring that we’ve got all that in line. Then we get that over to go out to the members, then in particular for the spring.
Then probably around 4 o’clock in the afternoon, I’ll start going through the night meeting, and basically doing what I would do on a Saturday morning for the Saturday, and that’s adjustments and what not. And then again all the race comments, and produce the metro mail, and get all that out, so and then there’s a live page. So in spring, Fridays are you know, you’re sort of up at probably 7 o’clock in the morning, or 6 o’clock in the morning, and quite often the day doesn’t end until 10 o’clock at night. And then you’ve got to wind down, and if you’ve had a bad night you might be a bit grumpy, and if you’ve had a big night you’ve got adrenalin, and you’ve got to try and sleep, and get up early for Saturday. So definitely Friday is the most challenging day of my week.
David: I don’t believe you’d be grumpy on a Friday night mate, I just don’t believe it at all.
David: But onto a Saturday, and much like a Friday it’s a long day. And this isn’t meant to be a, jeez you know, you work hard type thing. It’s more about a week in the life of a professional and just the work that goes into it. Win, lose or draw, there’s plenty of losing weeks amongst them. But a Saturday? Run through a normal Saturday and it’s probably similar to what you said about Friday. Up early to deal with scratchings, and track conditions, and reassessing the speed maps, even though the form won’t change but the speed maps will, but talk us through a Saturday.
Rick: Yeah look you pretty much nailed it mate. I’s just getting up and there’s a lot of new information on Saturday morning, and the information is different to a Friday. And that changes variables, it changes circumstance, it changes the probabilities of different things happening. So we just need to take those different things into account. As I mentioned earlier, some of those things you can account for swiftly, some of them aren’t that easy. And I find that you know, at times you can really be stuck, and my sort of motto is, if I can’t make a decision then I will say no. I sort of err on that side of caution. I think there’s always going to be another horse to bet on tomorrow, that will be in a race where I don’t have to guess, or where I am sure.
So that’s sort of the way I lean, but we just work all that out, and again it’s, do the metro mail, do the race comments. Plus there’s other races on Saturdays, and there might be horses we’ve tagged that have been racing in Melbourne that are over in Adelaide. There might be horses we’ve tagged in Sydney up in Brisbane. There’s different things that have happened, and different things occur. One of the real challenging things for a Saturday, is generally, the track conditions. Quite often the track doesn’t race how it’s publicly reported, which is another little challenge in itself. So they’re just little challenges that you have to deal with through the day, and I guess there’s no right or wrong how you deal with that. You just try and use your instinct, and your knowledge as best you can. And if you, if you get it right more times than not, then you’re making money.
David: You mentioned the track conditions, and one of the things you try and stay on top of, with the help of Vince’s data, is just the variability of the course, I suppose you might say. So you might have some sections that are bordering on dead, much of the track might be slow, and there might even be like a 200 metre section that’s heavy. So, the data that we get helps you confirm or deny just exactly how the track is playing. Not necessarily just relying on what the club tells you.
Rick: Yeah look although in any given day certainly there’s going to be races where, the tempo is very strong in races, and they’ll be times where the tempo is not very strong. So certainly that’s a factor in a time being faster, and a time being slower. But also on any given day there’s generally a couple of races where, it’s just a good, general, a normal run race. And certainly you can get a lot of insight from, your final rating versus the clock, at a track on any given day. And how that compares to, a bank of history and data, on any given day on a good or dead track. And if the club puts it out dead, and the best horse on the day has gone 5 lengths below the average, then certainly it’s not a dead track. But that quite often does happen around this time of year. So it’s just really trying to best understand that. And if, generally what I was finding towards the end of the winter this time round, was if they say it’s dead, it’s slow, if they say it’s slow it’s probably heavy.
David: So that takes us through Saturday, and hopefully a winning day, and maybe Saturday night watching a bit of the footy trying to unwind. What about Sunday? What are you doing there?
Rick: Yeah look Sunday’s a day where there’s a lot of racing and that generally results in some decent races and black bookers. But you know, what I’ve found in this game is you do need a bit of relief mentally. And what I try and do is, I still get up in the morning, and if I’ve got some black bookers and again just have a look at what happens after scratchings. And if I think they’re worthy of a bet then I’ll assess them, and I’ll, instead of doing all the ratings for all the races, I’ll come up with more with an assessed price. If they fit the criteria and bet accordingly, a lot of the horses are in maidens, so that’s another challenge in itself.
Especially with first starters, so again we’re waiting until the markets come up, and seeing what that market intelligence is telling us with the bookmakers opening prices. And really, using that as a pretty good indication of what’s going on. And yeah I don’t try and watch the races all day on a Sunday, I just sort of get in and do a little bit of work, and try and get out. And outside of all of that, Sunday is a good day to just relax, and see some friends, and catch up with the family, or stuff like that. Because sort of through the week you don’t really get a lot of time to do that. And especially through the spring on a Friday night, it really can suck all the time out of you. So Sunday’s are pretty important, just a good day to get out of the office.
David: Until it all starts again the following day.
David: Just a couple of things to finish up then. So I haven’t asked what is an ideal race. Now I know you’re not mechanical about what you look for, but just some general pointers as to what gets you excited, and wanting you to actually get involved betting wise, as far as an ideal race goes.
Rick: Yeah look I think that you know, since learning times, and being tutored by Vince, certainly you do get excited when you see a race where there might be again 10 horses, and 9 of them with all the time data are just fair, and one of them is clearly a standout. That gets you a bit excited, because they’ve obviously shown an ability to run fast times. And the saying goes you know, fast horses run fast times, slow horses run slow times. So that’s sort of what gets me excited.
There’s different factors that come into it from there. Obviously, you need to take into account the class of a horse. You need to take into account, the profile of a race, you need to take into account whether or not the horse is at his preferred distance. Was he able to produce that fast time under these conditions, all those different things come into it, but that’s sort of what I’m looking for. I’m always on the lookout for horses with standout performances on the clock, that have got class, that structure up well, that profile well in a race, that the markets probably underestimated. Because the market is still extremely class based. You know, it’s all a lot very class based still. And that’s sort of where we try and find our value. That’s the way that we work here, certainly works at times, and sometimes you have your bad runs. But there certainly does seem to be a lot of value out there, and hopefully we can keep finding them.
David: So just in terms of the races that we do get involved in. It might average what say, 6 to 8 races on a Saturday, maybe half that on a Wednesday. And then there’s just probably another half a dozen scattered throughout, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, depending on whether there’s any Friday night racing. But in a typical week there might be 20 betting races, something like that?
Rick: Yeah probably about that. And it all just depends, I guess we’re probably coming into a time now, where the tracks are going to be dry. We’re going to have strong racing from Tuesday to Sunday, with the quality and depth of the racing. So it might be a bit more. So there really is a lot happening, and with all those different races, we just try and find those horses that the market probably mightn’t rate. Because the market isn’t generally looking for the times. And the market also tends to I think, overreact a little bit to the weight carried by the horses. So that’s another place we sort of focus on. Weight probably might be a little bit of a reversing trend, over the coming years. Certainly it does have a factor in racing, but I’m thinking and led to believe, that it probably isn’t as important as what a lot of people think.
David: And what about, one thing I haven’t mentioned, is just when you look at the available odds. And I know you like to have the form done before you’re looking at what the bookies have got up, a lot of the punters work in reverse. They’ll, whether they’ve got the form guide, or the bookies website up there, they’re looking at the odds available before they’ve done the form. Why do you like to do it the other way round?
Rick: Look I just think that, we’re working on our opinion. And certainly your value is in your opinion really. And if you, I think that certainly on race day the market intel is good to monitor, and take into account. But you know, when you’re doing your work, you really need to I think, be as uninfluenced by outside things as possible. So just work off your own beliefs, work off your own form structures, work off your own importance factors. And see what happens. And then use the time to, go and have a look at the market, and see what’s on offer, and see where the discrepancies are, and then have a look at what’s going on.
David: Okay. Just to finish up then, I’ve got half a dozen tools of the trade written down here, so I’ll just mention them and you can say how you utilise them. I’ve got database, now that might be GTX or one of those ones that have been around for a while. We use Southcoast, mainly because it integrates very well with Vince’s data. But yeah just to summarise as far as a tool of the trade, a database is obviously essential?
Rick: Yeah look you need a database. And you need one which most do, but you need one where you can obviously have input into the data that’s displayed. Obviously everyone has different things they value, so you need to be able to set your columns to information that you think is the most important, if you had a snap shot of a race. So for Southcoast I think that’s great, obviously the other good thing about Southcoast is the way that we can import the Vince data. Plus if you wanted to have your own work done, you don’t have to mortgage your house to get some programming done. So, Southcoast is really good, and it’s got all the runs, it’s got all the runs of every horse, you can drill down. It’s old, and it doesn’t look the best, but certainly just from crunching the numbers and doing the form, it’s really good.
David: Exactly. I mean for most people the off-the-shelf solution for any of these databases will be okay, but if you’re getting really serious, talking professional or big betting serious, you’ll definitely want to be able to customise it, so just bear that in mind before you get going because changing over is not that easy. Video replays, another essential tool of the trade?
Rick: Yeah look we get all the replays. Certainly they’re very important, and in particular, like you said, like we touched on earlier with, just working out what’s happened in the race, horses that come wide, they’re all important different things you need to know. From a data point of view and notes, and comments, and it’s also good to, whilst you’re doing the form for tomorrow, to have them handy, so you can always just refer back to them. So good easy access to replays is very important.
David: But I know you’d have your hands tied behind your back if you didn’t have the IVR data as well alongside the replays. So I’ve put that down as another essential tool.
Rick: Yeah look and that goes back to what I touched on just before. In a perfect world if you could open your eyes and have a snap shot of what you want to see, that’s certainly something that I thought was invaluable.
David: Something we haven’t probably mentioned too much so far, but I know you’re probably placing increasing importance on it is trials. Our own analyst Dean has had a lot of success with it and Dominic Beirne on an earlier podcast mentioned that he’s been onto it for 20 years, but trial form is an area that you’re putting a bit more time into.
Rick: Yeah look it’s certainly an area that we’ve been looking at for a while. And a lot of it comes down to time. Time’s an important factor, but we’ve got an extra couple of hands on deck to help with all those sorts of things now. And just the work that I do with all of the maidens, certainly they go hand in hand with a lot of the horses that come through the trials, being maidens, and unraced, and all those sorts of things. Having accurate intel, and details on those horses at hand, when we come to those races, is very good and can aid us in making fast decisions.
David: The next three things I wanted to talk about, you’ve already mentioned the first couple being speed maps, and Dynamic Odds. And for speed maps you mentioned having a lot of the work done for you. That the first part of it is definitely a time saver, and then being able to modify or adjust those from there. Dynamic Odds we’ve mentioned was a must have. So the last thing was Betfair. And just on the most recent Saturday we had Clevaude, and Star Rolling, who were both potted on the live page, being unsuitable at the distance, and Star Rolling probably didn’t have the form to win it, even though it had been truck loaded. So I just want to touch on how and why to use Betfair as a layer.
Rick: Yeah look that’s one of the beauties of sectional times, I guess and data in particular with Clevadude, certainly there wasn’t a lot of indication that that horse was going to be suited at 1200 metres. Especially if you looked at the horse that ended up winning that race, I think it’s Clauthen or something like that.
David: The Kiwi?
Rick: Yeah. If you look at his, that 1000 metre race a few weeks back. If you look at his finishing sectionals versus Clevadude from that race, there’s certainly, on that exposed data that was very hard to fathom Clevadude being able to beat that horse at 1200 metres. So there’s quite often a big propensity for people to look at fast sectionals, and be happy to bet on that horse. But if you look at it in the opposite way, horses that win but run slow sectionals, that’s also quite a good indicator that if the horse is going up in distance, it’s probably not going to be suited. So it’s not quite as simple as that, but that’s sort of the general idea of it.
That if you can profile the horse correctly at the distance, and work out what it likes, and its thresholds and limits it’s going to help you be able to get involved in those different opportunities, where the market says it’ll run 1200, but the clock says it won’t. So that was Clevadude and yeah Star Rolling, just going off some of his data earlier in his career, I think it was over 1300 on debut. Certainly he at no stage on that debut, showed that he had, the turn of foot early to be in a real good position. And that sort of, I think the way that race was going to always shape up at Moonee Valley, you needed to sort of be able to have that early speed to get yourself into a winning position. Which is always important at Moonee Valley. And off his early speed figures from that debut run, he sort of didn’t have it. And clearly his best form was once he got out further in trip and I just thought that the horse was very layable around the mid fours. And I think he ran quite well, I think he ran probably as good as he should of, he was held up a little bit, but clearly I think he started too short.
David: Alright so that’s Betfair, as one of the tools of the trade. Alongside you mentioned Southcoast, video replays, trials, IVR’s, speed maps, Dynamic Odds, there’s a fair bit to it. And we’ve run through a typical week for you. I suppose the most pertinent question to finish up with is, do you enjoy it? There’s a fair workload there, but do you actually enjoy what can at times be a grind I suppose.
Rick: Well you live with the challenges, so certainly I do enjoy it. I enjoy creating things and basically I feel that’s what we do. We start with a blank canvas before a race day, and we do all the hard work and we create opportunities. And sometimes those opportunities work and sometimes they don’t. But by having a rigid structure and process, and being disciplined by creating enough of those opportunities long term, we will win. So I certainly do enjoy that. It is challenging, it’s challenging in particular when things aren’t going well, and we’ve got a member base, and at times there’s some people that like to remind you that you’re not going too well at the moment. So that’s challenging but it’s just the situation, and that’s just part of the game. It’s all a game, and that’s part of the game, and we just manage that the best way we can.
David: Fair enough. Alright appreciate you giving us some insight. I reckon they’ll be a lot of interest and feedback on basically the workload week to week, and appreciate your time today, and I’m sure we’ll have you back on in the future.
Rick: No worries, thank you.
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