Rick Williams is our Senior Form Analyst here at Champion Picks and he’s got some incredible knowledge regarding most aspects of doing the form and finding winners. A key part of that success is choosing the right races to get involved in and on this episode of the Betting 360 podcast, instead of having him talk about the specifics of what horse to bet on he’s telling us all about how to decide which style of race offers the best betting opportunities.
Punting Insights You’ll Find
- What to look for in metropolitan vs. non-metro races.
- When track conditions play a major part in his decision making.
- The major importance in building a good base on your analysis systems.
- Why he doesn’t have any rules regarding race distance or class.
- How the likely pace of a race influences his analysis.
- Rick Williams
Rick’s Closing Tip:
” Sometimes you just have to rule a line through horses because for whatever reason, they’re not suited. “
Episode 026: How To Select A Race To Bet On 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 this is David Duffield, and welcome to another episode of the Betting 360 podcast. Fresh off a couple weeks break, we had the Flemington spring carnival week, and then I’ve had some time in Hong Kong and Macau recently, so had a freshen up and then good to go again. And today on the show I’ve got Rick Williams, he’s the senior form analyst here at Champion Picks. And I wanted to talk to him about how to go about selecting a race to get involved, so not so much selecting a horse, but more about the types of events that can lend themselves to backing winners at a decent price. And also which races you might be able to put a line through pretty early on. So we don’t have hard and fast mechanical rules about how we go about that, but just to give you an idea of maybe some races you can look to exclude from your detailed form analysis. So I’ll have a chat with Rick right now.
David: Good to have you back on the show Rick. And just wanted to talk to you about what you can consider when looking to get involved in a race, whether there’s any type of events that you put a line through pretty quickly, and others that get you excited and wanting you to be involved. So I’ll just run through a few different factors about what plays a part in the decision making, and you can let me know how important it is, starting off with the state, where abouts do you focus most of your efforts and why?
Rick: A couple of different ways I bet. Obviously I produce ratings, and for that sort of stuff I focus on Victoria predominantly, and I do a little bit of New South Wales, mainly the Sydney Metro. I also keep track of different horses that run through all the states, but basically for the purpose of tracking them as a black booker, as opposed to developing a set of ratings, that the next time they step out I keep a speed rating for all the horses and a class rating. So if I wanted to I could, but just for the quality of races that I target for those particular events, you know just to sort of track them, and time wise as well. You know to do a set of ratings everywhere everyday using possible, you know manually. So yeah I just try and stick to Victoria and the Metro for Sydney for the ratings, and yeah track as many as I can elsewhere.
David: And so there’s the occasional hit and run mission. Like this week we bet in Townsville, and last week Pinjarra, so when there’s a real stand out you’ll bet anywhere. But outside of that the focus is Victoria, and to a lesser extent New South Wales?
Rick: Yeah. I mean I think it’s important you know when you’re betting, to try and understand each horse as an individual as much as you can. They all have different traits, you know so I think to predominantly focus on one area, and do that the best you can is a good starting point. But certainly there’s a lot of money out there in other places. And you know by having systems and a foundation in place to try and identity those horses, it doesn’t mean that when they appear you just back them blindly, you certainly still have to you know put some work into the race, but you know you’re able to not have to complete you know a set of ratings.
David: Okay. And so I’ll just run through a few of the other factors, and I know there’s no hard and fast rules, you’re not mechanical about how you go about it. But what about Metropolitan versus non Metro? what are you looking for, and as I said what races do you tend to cull quite quickly, and what others, you know the ones that where you do want to bet into?
Rick: Yeah look I don’t sort of have a rule, you know where I’ll see a race and put a line straight through it. You do have to you know, like if you say, look you’d have Bendigo tomorrow, you know I wouldn’t just put a line through a race you know, because there’s so much information that’s hidden. And you do need to do the form, and you do need to investigate all these different horses, and all the different performances, and ascertain why they did something, or why they haven’t done something. So there is a certain amount of work that you do need to put into each race. But then there does come a point in time where you can then put a line through it, or then continue to work on the race. And you know you’re looking at things like barrier draws, the horse might get back, the horse mightn’t be value, the horse you know may not have had a run at the distance or in the going. You know there’s numerous different factors. So I then think it’s pretty important to just you know get a good base, you know create your base from your various factors of however you do that, and then from there you can then decide whether or not you should put a line through the race, bet or keep looking.
David: Yep. And what about distance range, is there a sweet spot for the distances of races that you are looking to bet into?
Rick: Not particularly. I think it’s important you know just as I touched on before, just knowing the horse. I think that you know if you’re a stats punter, and you bet on the stats, so a horse say has had 10 starts over 2000 metres, for four wins. I think stats are very misleading, and certainly if you’re a stats punter, that there might be certain distance ranges where you would want to avoid. Because depending on tempo of different races, you know that horse may of won multiple times over 2000 metres, but they may have gone so slow through the first half of the race, that there’s really only a mile race. So they’re the different things that you can’t really tell just from looking at stats. So when you’ve got access I guess to you know speed ratings, and you’re tracking sectional times, and all those different things, and you can get a proper understanding of you know if the horse has won over 2000 metres, what has happened, what conditions has it won under, what was the race pace like, was it fast or slow. So I think once you can investigate those different factors, and all the different variables there, I think then you know I can make a call on the distance range. But you know years ago when I was more stats based, you know I guess everyone starts out that way. Certainly there was distances that you know boggled my mind at times, and you know, and that’s certainly got to do with the tempo of races.
David: And what about class of a race. Some guys who’ll never bet on the maidens, other guys focus on them, what’s your approach?
Rick: With the lesser grade of races I think that the big value’s in times. You know you could have you know, say four maidens tomorrow at Bendigo. I don’t know if there’s four, but you could have four, and depending on how you do your class ratings or what not, you know they’ll all win, and there’s probably not going to be much between them using the old scale. But you know by,
you know when the race is finished, and by looking at all the different time aspects and speed and what not, it certainly does create a different picture. And whereas you know, you might have a class or weight rating that says there’s not much between them, certainly if you compare those horses on the clock, there’s significant differences. And you know I think that’s certainly where you know there’s a fair bit of money to be made. And there’s no such thing as an easy way to bet, or an easy way to win. Because you know you have to put a lot of work into everything you do. But the things that excite me the most is when I, you know see a maiden that stacks up really really well, and I tag you know maybe one horse out of the race, or four or five, depending on different circumstances. And you know I really look forward to those horses stepping out, because more times than not they’re going to have a real big edge. Because you know not a lot of horses can run fast time, especially in maidens. So when you find ones, show that you know that, they can run time of you know, if you’ve got a horse that runs in a maiden at you know Ballarat, or Bendigo, or Newcastle, or Kenbler, you know and they run a time that suggests that, you know they’re certainly up to mid-week grade. You know at say at Warwick Farm, or a Canterbury, you know and there’s certainly horses you want to follow at those certain tracks, or you know back a notch to the country tracks. So there’s a fair bit of management involved, but by you know certainly trying to keep on top of all those different things as much as you can, I think that’s certainly where there’s a bit of money. So I’ve got no problem betting on lower grade races, because I’ve got a lot of faith in our information.
David: Yeah. And just to expand on that, this is something that the members have heard often enough, but a lot of non-members listen to the podcast. So the way that our form assessment is done in terms of historical ratings, all the horses are in one big pot. We don’t really focus on what the, you know the race administrators, race clubs have classified a race as being. You know you might have a maiden touched on lightly, but there might be a day where the maiden was the best performed runner on the day.
Rick: Yeah. So you know we just try and, you know value’s all about getting value. And you know if you’re doing everything, the same thing that everyone else is doing, then you know you’re still going to go alright, but you know you’re sort of going to run out. So by trying to look at things through different glasses to everyone else, but still be able to get good results is the challenge. And you know, so we certainly try and get good results, put all the work in, but you know everything’s maybe a little bit differently to what other people are doing. And you know it’s not easy, because you can’t just reinvent the wheel, you do have to stiff your fundamentals of everything. But you know they are little, I guess crossroads that you can get to, and there’s different options, and you can explore those different options, and you know sometimes you find a little road that you know serves you very well.
David: Alright. So in terms of classes, no restrictions or immediate culling. Is it the same with age restricted races? you don’t you know put a line through 2 year old only, or 3 year old events?
Rick: No I don’t. you know obviously we keep a set of, we keep our own class and weight ratings, and that certainly reflects the performances you know of 2 years olds and 3 years olds, and open horses, on that certain scale. Which suggests it opens better than 3 year olds, and 3 year olds are better than 2 year olds. Because as I said that is a fundamental, and as you do get out into your Metropolitan racing and what not, I feel that that is a more important factor than it is in a lesser
grade races. You know like your rating 62s, or your maidens, or you know your benchmark 60s, or whatever they are. So as the horses do progress and you know run on Saturdays and what not, I think class does play a bigger factor. You know so you certainly do need to keep up with all of that sort of stuff, and pay respect. And you know certainly it’s a balance, but you know just when you’re sort of looking at you know the different age and what not, you know for me, you know a lot of it’s just about how fast can the horse run. And that doesn’t mean that you know I’m going to back the horse every start because it runs a fast time. But it just gives me an indication that you know under these certain circumstances, this horse is able to produce a certain rating on the clock. And you know we keep that in mind, and that rating like all your other ratings will follow the horse throughout its career. And if that horse finds itself in those similar circumstances again, then you know that’s certainly a rating that we’ll look at using for the horse.
David: Okay, let’s talk about track condition then. Are you put off by heavy tracks?
Rick: I’m put off from changing tracks. I just can’t get my head around it, it’s you know, it might be when they, you do the form and it’s a heavy in the morning, by race four it’s a dead five. You know sometimes you just want to put a line through your work and pass for the day. You know and then you get other days where it, you know you do all your work and it’s dead, and then it doesn’t rain, then by the next race it’s a slow seven, And you know so if you sort of know what you’re going to be dealt, I think that there’s no problem. You know, well we’ve got a heavy eight today at Ballarat, we know that a heavy eight at Ballarat’s are heavy, and this is what we’re working with. We can go through all the different races and identify certain factors, and we know what we’re doing. So I think as long as we know what we’re dealing with, obviously mother nature we can’t control at times, and you know you sort of have to deal with that as it comes. And make a decision whether you adjust your ratings, stick to your original plan, or just don’t bet. But you know as far as winter goes or what not, you know I’ve had success through winter before, so you got to be careful like anything. But you know I think that, yeah the main thing’s just in a perfect world, you just do the form for a certain condition, and the condition reported would be what the actual condition is, that would be good. And you know you do your work, and you bet confidently.
David: And what about field size? because sometimes you know small fields can be quite tactical, or even not a lot of pace, and then you’ve got bigger fields where luck in running can be pretty important. So what’s your approach there? just when doing your initial assessment of a race, and seeing whether it’s worth exploring in a lot of detail.
Rick: Yeah look, you know I think when you’re looking at the different races, obviously you need to have a look at your speed map. Whether you do one yourself, or access one online from providers, or wherever you do that. So that’s the first step. The next step is obviously you know, knowing if you can, again if you can have access, is if the horse does lead, how fast has it run to get there. You know if a horse has been getting back how fast as it been running, because all those little different variables can change the whole speed map. But generally you know if you’ve got a horse that’s drawn out wide in a big field, and there’s a bit of pace inside and it’s a leaded, and you know it’s probably going to be a bit of a risk. You know if you’ve got a horse that’s a backmarker, and it’s drawn wide, and it’s going to get back in a big field, then that’s sort
of a bit of a risk. But you know if you had both those horses and they were in smaller fields, then it may not be as hard for that horse to lead. You know in an eight horse field or, if it was a backmarker then with only eight horses it may not end up getting that far back either. So you know it does affect what you do, but again you know it all comes down to each individual horse you know. And then each horse you know has its own characteristics, of how it performs, and what it likes, and you know those characteristics have to fit in with the particular race. And you know quite often you know you get so many horses that you know we tag, and they come through really good races and they perform so well. And you just really want to try and get on them in a suitable race, but you just can never get on them in a suitable race. So it does happen quite a lot, that you just have to rule the line through horses, because for whatever reason they’re not suited.
David: Alright. What about the number of legitimate or strong winning chances in a race. Do you prefer a wide open event where you might believe you’ve found some value, or do you prefer a race where there’s just a couple of winning chances, and you might say back and save?
Rick: Yeah look I do like to back and save. Obviously when you sort of do your ratings, you know if you’ve got a you know one to two lengths spread over half a dozen runs in your ratings, you know that’s a hard race. You’re going to have a lot of horses you know rated under $10 dollars, and it’s a really open event. So you know I’m sort of looking for races where you’ll structure up your market, and you know you might have, you know if you’ve only got two or three runners within a couple of lengths of each other, and you can get a decent price, and you know certainly that’s what we’re looking for. That doesn’t always happen, and you do obviously have circumstances where the races are on your ratings, a little bit more wide open. You know and depending on what the markets offering, you know you have to weigh out your risk reward. You know but certainly I try and look for horses that are, you know probably under $5 dollars in value that should run well. And you know if we can save on another one, or back another one, then you know that’s sort of a tactic that I’m happy to use where I can.
David: Alright. Just to finish up then, what about the likely pace of a race? Do you want a moderate tempo, where you know probably the biggest kick wins, or do you want a genuine tempo, where you know in, or often times the better horse wins.
Rick: Yeah look, you know tempo’s a part of racing that certainly has a massive effect on the outcome of all races. It’s just there’s such a massive effect you know, as we said before, you know like you might get a mile of it, wins a few times at 2000 metres, because the tempo just hasn’t been there. And then you know they think it’s a 2000 metre horse, and you know. So the bearing on tempo and it’s lasting effects throughout a horses career, and your form analysis is you know it’s a really big part so. I think it’s important to try and get it you know right and what not, but also it’s difficult, because the jockeys they’re all a lot more educated then they used to be. You know they’re all doing their speed maps and what not. So you know I think that I certainly try and put a fair bit of time in there to working out you know tempo and what not. England cops it a little bit, you know from the pacemakers, but at least every race they’ve got a good tempo. You know so if we had racing, I think if we had races where we knew how fast they were going to run, every single race no problems. I’d certainly bet a lot more, because there are races that due to tempo and what not I just, you know I’ll do the bases we touched on before,
and do the initial work, and you know it’s a muddling tempo, or you don’t know what’s going to happen here or there, so you just put a line through it. But you know certainly if we could be guaranteed that you know every race would be ran you know at a good solid tempo, as a punter you know I think that’d be fantastic.
David: So just to summarise, or just to finish up there. It sounds like there are no hard and fast rules for the races you want to get involved in, that you try and treat each race on its merits?
Rick: Yeah, I think so. I think that I’m not a school teacher, but you know certainly if I was a school teacher, and I had a classroom full of 20 kids, certainly every kid’s going to have different wants and needs, and likes and requirements, and all those sorts of things. So although in general you try and stick to your own philosophy, you do need to as a, in that aspect, you would need to also have an understanding for the needs of each individual. And I think that certainly applies to horseracing, we don’t want to get on too many backmarkers, you know we don’t want to get on you know horses that are jumping too much in distance. You know there’s all those different things, so you know your fundamentals are there and they’ll never go away. But certainly there’s exceptions to every rule, and you know different individuals come along at different times, and do different things, and you just sort of need to pay respect to it. So if you know a horse comes out and wins a maiden and goes straight to town, and everything on your information says that it’s going to win, well you think it’s going to win, and it all stacks up, then back it, you know don’t let that turn you off at all.
David: Exactly. Yeah there’s many ways of approaching it, so I’d encourage people listening in if you want to let us know how you go about it, just add your comments in the blog post here, where you listen to this podcast. Or if you’ve got any questions for us happy to answer them. So we’ll leave it there for now Rick, thanks for joining us, and thanks everyone for joining us.
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