This week we welcome back to the podcast Vince Accardi from Daily Sectionals.

We’ve had a long association with Vince and he’s on the show to give his unique perspective on form analysis:

  • Database vs. instinct and experience
  • On-speed vs. backmarkers
  • Big vs. small markets
  • Specialising vs. diversifying

And also how he manages his betting strategy:

  • Level vs. proportionate staking
  • Standard bet size vs. confidence levels
  • Market intelligence vs market ignorance
  • Early vs late betting
  • Favourites vs long shots
  • Each way (or place only) vs straight out
  • Static vs dynamic banks
  • Profit on Turnover % vs Profit only.

Today’s Guest: Vince Accardi

Dave Duffield: Always a pleasure to have you on Vince and we’ve run a For and Against series for a few weeks now and wanted to get your take on things. The standard opener has been whether you’re working off data or gut instinct and experience. I’m pretty sure you lean towards the former.

Vince Accardi: Yes, it’s all very important. Data versus gut, they both play a role, but first and foremost we need to understand the data. Then from there, we can have our gut instinct which is going to create the opportunity.

Dave Duffield: When you’re talking about relying on the data, what type of data do you place importance on?

Vince Accardi: I’m a very big stickler, as you know David, it’s all about the IVR data and it’s all worked through sectional times. Coming though that derivative of class, having that clarity via that model is what it’s all about for me.

Dave Duffield: What part does gut instinct and experience play then in the outputs of that model, or do you just rely on tweaking and fine tuning the inputs, so that the outputs you don’t really have to second guess?

Vince Accardi: There’s always an element of fine tuning, but the reality is your gut instincts all derive from the confidence level that you get from your information that you are working with, and that’s what it’s all about. The greater confidence you can have from what you’re working with, the better gut feeling you’re going to get towards making something happen.

Dave Duffield: For the data itself, you’ve mentioned this on a podcast or webinar previously, you don’t really adjust that for luck in running or other subjective factors?

Vince Accardi: No, I don’t. But in ratings, there’s always a lot of talk about a horse that was trapped 3 wide or 4 wide. It always comes out in the figures anyway. The reality is, if you can have that correct profile of the runner, that’s going to give you the crystallisation. Then you can truly understand the true merits, perhaps if it was wide, or it didn’t get a run in the critical last 150 metres, ultimately, a race is at least 1000 metres, or 1200m, or 1400m, or 1600m. You need to engage in the entire race, not just one portion.

Dave Duffield: Another common question I’ve been asking is, whether you focus on every race Australia wide, and grind away at a profit, or whether you’re focusing on just a few.

Vince Accardi: Yes, that’s a really important point that you make there, David. There are two types of players as we know, or maybe there’s multiple types of players. I am the type of player, that I like to work on identifying key runners that I like to tag, and work within those parameters. I’m certainly not one that wants to enjoy working on every single race. It certainly doesn’t stimulate my philosophy. Whilst I might look at every race, ultimately, I don’t like to subject myself to that type of betting activity because I feel less is best for me.

Dave Duffield: A few weeks ago, Nathan Snow said that he really thrives on trying to put the pieces of the puzzle together, and that’s why he doesn’t want to focus on different states and all different races. It sounds like you’re similar?

Vince Accardi: I am similar in the sense that I typically like to focus on Melbourne and Sydney, so I do have a real emphasis on those two areas. The only time, whilst I look at things in a holistic manner, and that’s Australia wide, I only really want to venture outside of those jurisdictions when we are articulating carnival racing. It could be carnival four, five weeks in Queensland, or a couple weeks in South Australia, or perhaps the same in WA. Then, I will have an interest and a focus. Ultimately, if I was to do every single day, you really then would come down, and the best focus would be one state. I work the Saturday mainly, so therefore that gives me the luxury to work two states. That keeps me extremely busy.

Dave Duffield: The next question we cover is backmarkers versus on speed and the disadvantages often suffered by backmarkers. This is your bread and butter in any particular race shape, so do you just want to explain to the listeners your approach here?

Vince Accardi: This is a really critical part of the game. One of the things we all talk about is pace. Truly understanding, what’s pace really mean? How does that impact horses? Whether you’re on speed, running fast, there’s this philosophy about, that if they’re going fast, it’s going to have tremendous advantage for back markers. That is a bit of a myth. The reality is, when you go really fast, there’s a high possibility that everybody’s tired chasing. When you only have to look at horses like The Cleaner, as an example, to confirm if you can run fast and hard, technically the back markers have very little chance of winning. By the time they get themselves into the race, they’re tired, and they’re all one-paced.

Then you can have the other reverse situation again, where people have long communicated that perhaps if a slowly run race it’s only going to suit pace runners. That’s also a little bit of a dream as well. You could be going slowly, but if you’re the lead horse, and your last 400 metre sprint, because we get down to a sprint, and you can only sprint 2 or 3 lengths what I consider to be above benchmark. Let’s say run a second faster than standard. If the horse is running last, and he’s tracking the lead speed 4 lengths because we’re all condensed, like Black Caviar, as an example who can go 12 lengths above the benchmark, or 2 lengths faster than standard. It’s just going to breeze right past them all and therefore, back markers can win. Pace is a very, very important thing. It’s controlled by the riders.

Dave Duffield: Speaking of riders, for a long time they were congratulated for going as slowly as possible in front, but I think they’ve been better educated in recent times. Do you still see that happening a lot there?

Vince Accardi: Yes, but it’s really amazing. Every person, in their own element, they have their strengths and weaknesses, just like horses do. Some horses have their strengths and weaknesses. Understanding the attributes of that through a rider is very, very important. There are some riders that aren’t bothered at all when they’re on pace, or running from behind, or creating all the lead speed. You could be Damien Oliver, as an example. You could be even Hugh Bowman, as an example.

Those riders are more than capable of being able to manage themselves, whether it’s on pace or off pace, or in the middle. They just have that uncanny capability of being able to really feel the speed. Then you might get some other riders, where they’ve got less experience. By no stretch of the imagination, you look at someone like Tommy Berry, or even Dwayne Dunn, those two riders, they’re outstanding talents. They are equally as good as a Damien Oliver, or Hugh Bowman, in terms of their overall skill sets. But, put them in situations where they are on a lead horse, or a horse that gravitates toward the lead speed. They’ll have the tendency to slow the pace down. When they do that, that becomes a major negative. When you’re slowing down the momentum it’s hard to re-accelerate.

When you’re giving the opportunity for horses that are going to seize the moment, and coming off pace. That is the difference of understanding some of the basic fundamentals. Also, with back mark rider, they miss time their own- Tommy Berry, he’s a world class rider when it comes to off pace. He just has that instinctive capability of doing that. On pace, he doesn’t get the same score.

Dave Duffield: Being a data driven analyst, how do you factor in jockeys to your overall form assessments?

Vince Accardi: Basically, the way I look at it is, I have a very simple approach when I look at that. I don’t turn around and say, ‘I’m going to give you a rating, or I’m not going to give you a rating.’ Whilst I’ve experienced all those things in the past, David, the way I see things today is, it’s very simple. If these are the 2 or 3 runners that I’m on, I look at the profile of the horse. I want to understand does that rider match that profile? Does he understand how to ride that track? Does he understand that today the lanes are going to be in play? Is he that sort of style of rider? Or does he like to hug the fence and that’s not the place to be. There are things that I look for. At that point in time, they have a big impact on how I’m going to regrade my bet, as opposed to, I’m just going to demote you by a length. I do it all through the grading of my betting.

Dave Duffield: Is that how you treat trainers as well?

Vince Accardi: Trainers, a little bit different. With the trainers, basically, again, we look at the philosophy of how they’re performing in town. That’s the place where I like to play the majority of all my betting. They do play a role, but ultimately, it’s just really trying to get a feel, okay, on the last 25 runners you’ve brought to town. How have they performed? Have they been in the money? Were they ridden poorly? Is your stable just not growing in the same confidence? At that point in time, they will have an impact. It is a little bit less of an impact, as opposed to the rider. I pay more emphasis on the rider than the trainer.

Dave Duffield: So, the barriers. What role do they play when you’re doing the form?

Vince Accardi: The barriers, from my perspective, if you’re in a situation, and you’re at Moonee Valley, and you’re drawn that dreaded one alley as they say, and if you don’t have that natural, tactical speed where you can comfortably put yourself in a lead pack if you need to be, then that could become automatically a ‘no’ bet. If you see that they have to work too hard, and they’ve got to over exert 2 or 3 lengths to find themselves in that position of where the optimum spot is for that race, then it becomes a massive negative. The same goes for, I have no problem with horses that are drawn wide, particularly if they lack speed, that’s great. They’re going to find themselves shuffling back regardless.

They can pretty much pick and choose their moment, as long as they’ve got the right rider on board. Again, I don’t mind them at all if they’ve got plenty of acceleration, and they’re capable of getting to the lead pack under their own steam as opposed to that urging to get there. This again, is critical around who rides them. Some of the younger riders, they get a little bit hot and bothered, especially in big races. They overcompensate early, where some of the more seasoned riders, again, like a Damien Oliver, they just know how to cruise into that position. Therefore, you’re probably going to get overs.

Dave Duffield: Let’s talk about weights. You’ve been around for quite a while, and in that time, the importance or the perception of weights has certainly changed over many, many years. What are your current thoughts on how you incorporate weights in doing the form?

Vince Accardi: This is an interesting thing. I’ve studied the weight scenario, a lot of people may not know me. They probably saw that I’m just a 100% bent on sectional times. Well, I am heavily focused on that area. I’ve studied the whole weights handicapping for in excess of 10 years. I’ve done everything imaginable that you can. Ultimately, my theory with weight is, it’s all about what impact it has in terms of acceleration. You can carry a large weight and still be too good. It just comes back down to how you are ridden.

If you’ve got 59 kilos, not you go to 60 kilos, does that mean you’re going to be impacted by length or three quarters of a length, and therefore makes you impossible? I think there are thresholds with some horses. They have the ability to carry weight more than others. Ultimately, I want to know what sort of impact on their acceleration is it going to have? If I feel that it’s going to be adversely impacted because you may have to carry a high weight, and you’re going to have to run hard and fast, and that could have a big impact. Then it will be dealt with in that manner. It certainly has very little bearing on how I’m going to structure up, okay, well now he should be 7/1 as opposed to 6/1 because he’s got a kilo more than what he carried last time, or 4 kilos, for that matter.

Dave Duffield: Trials, you spend quite a bit of time talking them, but there’s even more variables for trials than there are for races. What part do they play when you’re doing the form?

Vince Accardi: Trials, they’re a really unique beast in their own way. There are players like Dean the Trial Spy for example, he’ll study many, many factors. He’ll look for the quiet, gentle rides as well. I think this is very important. What I like to look at with trials myself is, I’m very keen on understanding are they showing me any movement in acceleration at any given point? It sort of matches the profile they’ve done in the past. How that matches up on the day. To give me insights to their level of fitness.

I’m always wanting to understand two things from barrier trials. What level are you in terms of fitness? Then, are you showing signs that you’re going to come back as well as last preparation or not? I’ve found many cases, and Pierreo would be one of the great examples. I would look at Pierro coming into trial, he would just be cruising along. He’ll put a 200 metre burst among 10 points for a year. I go, ‘well, you’re on fire.’ When you hit that sort of number, you, firstly, you’re not an ordinary horse, secondly, for you to run that fast, just for 200 metres, you must be feeling fantastic.

Dave Duffield: Wet tracks. I know the analysis you do for a wet track is very different to dry. Again, there’s a fair bit of data involved. There must be some experience and nous that comes into assessing that. Just talk us through how you bet on wet tracks.

Vince Accardi: This is a really interesting one, the wet tracks, David. We see horses, and this is maybe the old age, hopefully with people like yourself, and others, that we continue to try and educate the industry, and the market just because they’ve got a ‘W’ next to their name, or they’ve won on every track. That doesn’t mean that they can necessarily handle a wet track under certain circumstances. If you win on a heavy track on a maiden in Ballarat for example that makes you a automatically a horse that can handle the wet. What I’ve learned over the years is, I’ve learned to credit what’s called the ‘wet track indicator.’

I look at that through acceleration of speed over any given 200m or 400m through certain parts of the race, to get clarity around what type of acceleration they can produce in the ground with the benchmark. Therefore, grading the horse, saying that if you’re 3 lengths above the benchmark, the average horse that gets through, and you’re going to, and you’ve got an ‘H’ next to their name, or an ‘S’ next to their name, the average horse is roughly three and a half, or four and a half lengths above the benchmark for that type of condition. The real big swimmers are the ones that can get up around 8 or 10 lengths above the benchmark, or greater. They are the horses that are true wet trackers. The big myth of the philosophy, you have to be very, very careful when you look at that. Unless horses grade better than 5 lengths, I put them in the basket, that you’re most likely only just handling it. It can be easily swamped by a superior wet tracker.

Dave Duffield: When, if ever, do you care about breeding?

Vince Accardi: I pay no interest in that. Of course, I like to look at who, where it comes from, understanding that, of course, they’ve come from very talented horses. Unfortunately, for me, it has no bearing at all on my decision making process. Zero.

Dave Duffield: You mentioned before that you focus on Saturday racing, and Metro racing. Is that because there’s more exposed form and a better class of animal?

Vince Accardi: Yes. Definitely. One of the things that I’ve learned whilst I’ve practiced all over, and David, I’ve practiced betting everyday, anywhere and everywhere, and making many mistakes. I’m sure a lot of other humans. What I’ve found though, is through the art of working through times is that when you go down in the grades, they’re a lot more even. If they get a bump or a check, it’s no fault of the rider, it’s just the very nature of how they race. They find it very difficult to overcome that one length in terms of speed.

They can’t rebound as effectively. Whereas, when we come to Saturday metropolitan racing, what I find is, horses that might cop that little but of buffeting they can cope with it. They can handle it. They’ve got that 3 or 4 lengths advantage in terms of exercising their burst of speed. We’re still in a winning position. Therefore, giving us a greater chance to hopefully be on the winning ticket.

Dave Duffield: Let’s move on to the betting and money management. Do you bet level stakes, or is it more proportionate?

Vince Accardi: No, I certainly don’t bet level stakes. My view’s always been, and when I say my view, I shouldn’t say always, it’s only been something I’ve learned in the last 8 years, is, I like to proportion my bet within place. I have a ratio, and they’re graded.

Dave Duffield: Can you expand on that? Like you often bet more for the place than the win?

Vince Accardi: Typically, the very lowest denominator of betting I do is half unit by 2 and a half. That’s the smallest play. My majority of betting is all centered around one by 4. So, it’s one unit a win, 4 units a place. As my confidence grows, it could be 2 units a win, 6 units a place. Then, optimum betting for me is 2 units by 8. That’s my optimum betting. There are isolated situations ere I might just have one bet purely at place, or one bet purely a win. They’ve usually got to do with perhaps, it’s really, really tight, but I want to play. I can’t see any way it can’t be beaten. It might be $1.70 or $1.80. It’s not desirable, but I’m just looking at it purely business, and there’s money to be taken.

Dave Duffield: On a typical Saturday, would you have 3 or 4 bets, or more?

Vince Accardi: Jeez, David. If I had to strike up a scorecard that has more than 5 bets, I ask myself, what am I doing wrong? I’m a big believer that as good as I might like to feel that I am, I’m like all other human beings. I always use the barometer. The favorites are winning 33% of the time. That’s where your strike rate begins. Even at the level. That means you’re going to lose 67% of the time. I know from experience, like a bell curve, the more bets you have, the more prone you are to having losing runs. Therefore, you have to have a completely different money management structure in place. Guys like Nathan, they play a very different strategy. There are many other people that will do that. That’s the type of technique then you’ve got to use. I find that too hard for me. I struggle to manage that. I like to keep it very simple.

Dave Duffield: Is there a sweet spot, or typical price range that you tend to operate in?

Vince Accardi: The price ranges are very important. My whole grading again, once I sort of got down to narrowing down this is the horse that I want to be with, and I’m comfortable with the rider, the price does play a role. The role of the price is, first and foremost, I’ve got to have a high level of confidence. From a place betting perspective, we are going to hit the mark at absolute low, be somewhere around a $1.40 or $1.50. We’re really going to be somewhere about $1.70, $1.80, right. I believe to have that level of confidence, and comfort that I am going to strike in that zone.

From a win point of view if I feel that a horse should be $2.50 or $3, totally how I’m feeling, and the horse is $2.50, that may not deter me from betting. I would be still just as comfortable backing it. Again, even if it’s $4, it wouldn’t change my structure. I believe it can aid right then, I’m playing.

Dave Duffield: Yep. What factors make that an A grade bet? You chatted before about the different grading levels, is that a data driven approach, or does it come down to your instinct, and being able to read a race?

Vince Accardi: Personally, I have to have a high level of confidence with the data. I scorecard them all with the rankings, David, so if I feel the race saying, ‘okay, this race here is showing that you need to be forecasting a minimum of 2 lengths above benchmark.’ If I’ve got a runner there that is very strong, and they are 5, 6 lengths above the benchmark, that’s the first critical criteria. The second critical criteria to that is, the rider’s got to match. Lastly, of course, we have to ensure that we’re playing on a ground that is suited by the horse with the pace. If those elements are in play, then all I’ve got to worry about is now, what is my price? If they’re $1.10 a place, I’m not participating.

When I say I’m not participating, it means that any place betting completely be ruled. It’s a matter of, do I want to engage for a win? If I feel comfortable, and I want to still participate, then I’ll play, but it I don’t, I bypass the race.

Dave Duffield: Do you typically bet early in the week, when the fixed odds go up, if you’re lucky enough to be able get a bet on, or is it just on race day?

Vince Accardi: No. I’m just really focused purely on race day, for a whole range of reasons. Firstly, whilst it’s important, if you can get the $500 on early, that would be wonderful and all those advntages. But because I have a strong propensity around the place, I really am not prohibited to have things the way I want to play out. I could find myself in a lock-in position, which could be a dramatic negative for me on a Saturday.

Dave Duffield: Do you ever bet pre-post? Futures betting?

Vince Accardi: No. It is something that I feel that could have some merit, but at this stage, the earliest I would do would be if it’s a major race, like a Cox Plate or a Melbourne Cup, that’s the only time I would consider possibly something one day out.

Dave Duffield: Have you got one you’re keen on for the Cox Plate?

Vince Accardi: Well at this stage Kermadec is certainly travelling on the right direction. He’s showing all the absolute characteristics of a horse that could be our new star. I would be starting with that horse first and foremost.

Dave Duffield: Thanks for that. Market intelligence is a question I’ve been asking in this series as well. It’s probably more relevant in the lower grade races, or when there’s less exposed form. Does it ever play a part in the staking for you?

Vince Accardi: Probably doesn’t play much of a role from the selection point of view. I do get nervous when sometimes you look at a profile of a runner, a rock solid first-up profile that seems to tower by several lengths over the competition, but you haven’t had any clarity around their trials, because you may not have seen it in play. Sometimes jump outs aren’t a solid enough guide, then you are going to really have to take the next two factors into consideration. One of them is, what is the mounting yard feedback coming about the horse that’s about to present itself in the race. Second, if there have been any money involved in terms of performance. Are they going to back this horse? Particularly if there is stable that likes to do that. Then, I feel you have to be governed by that, to an extent.

Dave Duffield: Do you ever bet the exotics?

Vince Accardi: Occasionally I do. Again, it only comes into situations where you really feel you are in a standout position with the runner, and you’ve got a lot of confidence. Then, potentially, I do like to try to marry up maybe one or 2 horses for a second position. I only play an exacta.

Dave Duffield: What about a movable bank? Do you ever adjust your unit size either up or down, depending on how you’re going?

Vince Accardi: No. I don’t make any changes to my unit bank, but I do take money out to make sure that I don’t overcompensate. In other words, if you’ve got a hundred units in the bank, and it’s now 150, well that 50 is gone.

Dave Duffield: As far as a metric that you look at, is it just the bottom line as in dollars profit, or is profit on turnover important?

Vince Accardi: The most important thing for me, very, very simple. That if I’ve got 100 units then I want to know at the end of the year how many have I got? So, if I’ve got 200 units, I look at it and say, ‘well, I’ve made 100% on my money.’

Dave Duffield: So, you don’t care whether you’ve outlaid 500 to get that, or 1000?

Vince Accardi: No. It’s irrelevant.

Dave Duffield: All right we’ll leave it there for now. I really appreciate your input. It’s certainly a different perspective to a lot of the other guys we’ve had on. That’s half the point, really.

Vince Accardi: Yeah. As you would know, David, I like to say it the way it is. It’s good for everybody in the community of racing to understand that there’s so many different ways. You’ve got to work for the style that works for you. There’s no one style that is the holy grail. There’s many different ways to make it happen. Most importantly, you’ve got to be consistent, and persistent. The day you stop, that’s the day that you can’t be a winner.

Dave Duffield: For sure. Appreciate your time Vince. Thanks very much for coming on the show.

Vince Accardi: Thank you David.

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