Trevor Lawson is a pro golfer turned pro punter who has focused on Melbourne racing for almost 20 years. We invited him on to the podcast to explain how he goes about winning in Melbourne.
- Why he relies on his own timing technology
- How he uses videos, times and weighst to compile his own ratings for each run
- The importance of speed maps and walking the track
- Where and how he places his bets
He has had a group of private clients for almost a decade but has decided to join Champion Picks and offer his expertise and knowledge.
Today’s Guest Trevor Lawson
Dave Duffield: G’Day Trevor, thanks for joining us. Can you fill the guys in on how you got started in the betting game?
Trevor Lawson: Well, it was a long time ago. My first boss when I was a young bloke, he bet and so we sort of started to bet. I’d probably go back to the days of Rancher and things like that. Like everybody, you sort of don’t know much about it and you win and lose, win and lose and along the way, probably in the late 90s I met some smart guys who had a database and I got involved with them for about two years. Then probably since the early 2000s, I’ve had my own database in different forms. Since about 2005, I’ve sort of imported everything into one database with Southcoast, and I’ve sort of been using it for about eleven or twelve years now.
Dave Duffield: Back in a previous life you were a pro golfer?
Trevor Lawson: Yeah, seems a long, long time ago now. Yeah. I think it’s just over twenty years since I stopped. A lot of kilos ago.
Dave Duffield: Why did you get out of that life as a pro golfer?
Trevor Lawson: I just couldn’t make enough money at it. It was a bit similar to now. I think you’ve got to be a good 4 round player and I was a fair pro-am player at best, and I didn’t play well over four days and that’s where all the money is. I just couldn’t sustain a living. I did it for thirteen years or something, off and on. So I just looked at different avenues. I’d always been interested in the punt, and as I say, I met a couple of smart guys and learned a fair bit and then sort of branched out on my own. Been quite successful for the last fifteen years.
Dave Duffield: The guys that you did catch up with, what kind of stuff did you learn from them?
Trevor Lawson: Back then, it was all basically weight-based ratings, but they had a database, so just sort of how to do ratings and things like that. Over periods, I read a lot about the Hong Kong guys and Benter and a couple of the Asian Syndicates and you sort of just come up with your own way of doing it. It’s sort of like the litmus test is if you’re winning at it probably what you’re doing’s probably half correct. Just sort of kept whacking away.
Dave Duffield: So what is your process for doing the form?
Trevor Lawson: Well, the major base of it’s all ratings based. I do my own ratings. I basically just bet in Victoria, and I just mainly bet on the metropolitan tracks. I find they’re the most consistent. It’s all ratings based. It’s time, probably and a percentage of weight that they carry. I sort of have different weight variations for the distance and all that, that I do myself. So I do all my own ratings for Victoria, Sydney Metro on a Saturday and Adelaide on a Saturday, just so I’ve got some sort of base for when horses come from interstate.
Dave Duffield: Basically on a Monday, you’re reviewing the videos and you’re assigning every horse a number for that run?
Trevor Lawson: Yes, I do my own times. I like to work to my own sort of framework. Like this morning, I’ve done the times for half of the meeting yesterday at Ballarat already. I like to be on top of things, so I’ve done the ratings for Friday and Saturday already. Just do my own sort of ratings, I suppose.
Dave Duffield: Why did you decide to do your own times, rather than get one of the commercial products?
Trevor Lawson: Just timeframe. I found with a lot of the data providers originally you’d get information on two days, Tuesday and a Thursday, for the previous meetings. Then I found you had so much work to do coming up to a Wednesday meeting or a Saturday meeting. I actually get the results daily now, so I can actually do the ratings each night if I want to. Then the same for times. I’ve had a couple of different providers with the times, I just found that I was always chasing my tail. You might have to wait five days to get the times, or three days, or next week, it might be seven days. If I did it myself, I could do it myself when I want to. I can use my time better, time management.
Dave Duffield: You’re doing your own videos and your own times, and that comes up with your own rating. Has that changed much over the years, the way that comes up? Because basically a run ends up in one number, doesn’t it?
Trevor Lawson: Pretty much … Use the one number. It has changed. Say the weight the horse carries, I usually compress the weight. Time has become a bit more of a factor. And then the breakup of the race through the sectionals and stuff like that. So you might have a race that’s slowly run overall, but they might run a quick sectional so the race might rate higher that what you first think it might. Things like that.
Dave Duffield: You mentioned compressed weights there. Do you want to just expand on that?
Trevor Lawson: All right. The theory is that, the shorter the distance the easier it is to carry weight. Conversely, the longer the distance, the harder it is. You might have to compress those, say, 50% for arguments sake in a mile race. At 1200 meters, it might be 70%. And the 2500, you might say they carry all weight. It’s just a way to even out the ratings.
Dave Duffield: Then how do you choose which rating to use for a particular horse in an upcoming race? So you’re doing the form, and you’ve got the various ratings for each run, and video comments and the other information that you have. How do you choose what number to plug in?
Trevor Lawson: That’s where the subjectiveness comes into it. Generally, I’ll look at what the horse’s average ratings are, or what the horse can do at its best. And then you might decide where it is in the prep. Has it been going poorly? It might be for arguments sake, a 54 horse or something, on my data, at its best. And you might say, well, it has been going poorly but surely it can do three lengths worse. And at three lengths worse, it might price at sixteen, twenty to one and it might be fifties. Because the market just dismisses it because it’s been going badly. Then conversely, you might have young horse on the way up and they are more subjective. They’re the ones that, it’s sort of like, well how much more is it going to improve next start, and it might improve the start after that as well. That’s your answer?
Dave Duffield: And do you have certain tracks that you prefer to play. I know you said that you focus on the Metro, but are there certain ones that you particularly enjoy?
Trevor Lawson: I like Caulfield. Generally I like to be on horses that run up the front. I like leaders, I like horses that race at the pace. So I like to bet on tracks that, not so much with the bias, but generally the best tracks are where there is no bias. Yet, they’re the ones that help horses run up the front, because the track’s even, so if you’re close to the rail, you’re covering less distance than the horse that’s getting back that has to come wide. So I like Caulfield, I like Moonee Valley, with the rail out a little bit. Flemington’s okay. Sandown Lakeside is a little easier than Sandown Hillside.
Dave Duffield: What about trainers – how much of a part do they play in the work you do?
Trevor Lawson: That sort of takes care of itself with the horses rating. The better trainers’ horses race more consistently, anyway. The difference is when you get someone like a Weir gets a horse from another stable. Then it becomes subjective, it’s how much you think that it will improve. So he might get an interstate horse, or something like that. Generally, you take a conservative approach. It’s always easier after the ball and try to get a figure for next time.
Dave Duffield: So the trainer is almost factored into the rating itself. What about jockeys, and in particular jockey switches.
Trevor Lawson: You know, I’m big on that. I like to bonus jockeys, I penalise certain jockeys. And then I like a positive jockey change. A horse that’s going from a negative jockey and then goes to a positive jockey it can be up to a length, a length and a half, extra rating that I will improve it.
Dave Duffield: And then the way track’s going to play? You like to walk the track the day before, and if you don’t, a pro punter friend of yours does?
Trevor Lawson: Yeah. We sort of share it. Yeah, I like to walk the tracks. It just gives me an insight into where I think the best going will be, and then how the races will be run on the day. Of course I have a friend that’s is quite good at looking at horses and he gets me some information, mostly post the races, of how horses have looked, so I add that in for next time I run.
Dave Duffield: One of the things that walking the track that you told me in the last couple of weeks that’s surprising is that not many people do it.
Trevor Lawson: No. You don’t see a lot of people doing it. Which is great. Because anyone can. Talking to the track manager at Sandown, he’s told me in the past that prior to a couple of hours before the races at Sandown, I’m the only person that’s walked the track. Now there used to be a gentleman, he used to be a bookmaker, he used to walk it a couple of years ago, but he doesn’t do it anymore. It just gives you insight on where you think the best going will be and where the horses will track.
Dave Duffield: So you’ve done all that work. You’ve come up with your ratings. Then comes the placing, or choosing the races you want to get involved with and placing your bets. How do you co-ordinate that?
Trevor Lawson: Basically it’s all pricing. I price them up and then look at the early markers to see if there’s any holes. I don’t bet early that much. The markets tend to be volatile. I do probably 95% of my betting on course in the thirty or thirty or forty minutes between races. I price the race up, and then just basically wait and then try to get as much value out of the race, backing what I perceive to be the overs.
Dave Duffield: So that can change from when your set goes out say 9:30 in the morning. What you think you might be backing at that time can change quite dramatically come race time.
Trevor Lawson: We were talking about that before, offline. That’s the thing with the markets. Some races you think in the morning, “Oh, I won’t be able to bet in in this race, there’s not going to be any value.” And yet, then something happens in the market and they do get out. Or conversely, sometime you might have a horse 8/1, that’s 12/1 in the morning, and then it gets the market and it goes up 7’s into 5’s and you’re not on it. There’s no one right way to do it, I don’t think. You just play the way you … If I bet early, I tend to watch the tote pools. Once there’s a significant amount there and the horse is quite short, and it’s still longer with the corporates I might have a speculative bet then. But generally, I just back everything from race to race.
Dave Duffield: A lot of people are put off by drifters. Probably more so in some other states, and in particular late on Betfair. But you don’t let that do your head in too much? You’re not put off by drifters?
Trevor Lawson: The only ones would be horses that you’re speculating. So horses that are the first up from the spell. Or you thinking today, it’s got no form but today, I think it will improve. But if the market sort of, it’s saying, “Well, no it’s not,” then I might take that into account. I’ll still back it, and I’ll still make it a winner. But I might make it slightly longer. If they drift during the betting, just a little bit. If I think it’s a 7/2 chance and its six dollars, that wouldn’t bother me at all. And if it was nine dollars, and it was first up from the spell, then the alarm bells would go off a bit.
Dave Duffield: So you’ve had a small, private client base for, say a decade. All those guys approach it differently to yourself, because you like to be fairly selective, it’s fair to say?
Trevor Lawson: Yeah. I like minimum outlay for maximum return. So it’s sort of like roulette where you’re just trying to cover the board. Cover an area of the board in your way. If you can back A, B and C, and get 30 or 40%. If you outlay $100 and you can get back $270, $280, $300, that’s good.
Dave Duffield: What else do you think people would know, because part of the reason for having a chat today was to let people know that your sets are now going to be publicly available and I’m pretty excited by that. Everything I’ve seen over the last few months has been excellent, and you do come highly recommended as well. But for the person that’s seeing your stuff for the first time, what advice would you give them?
Trevor Lawson: There’s the commentary before the races, in the morning when the set goes out, of things that I actually like. It’s not so much a tipping service, I don’t really tip things. These races I might like beforehand. But it’s all basically price orientated. So everything has a price, or a value and it’s just backing the overs. I just know over time that if you bet purely to the prices, at the end of the year, there’s a reasonable profit in it.
Dave Duffield: In the morning, if you’ve price something at $3 and it’s $2.20 early, if you had to provide commentary on that, you might say, “Looks too short.” But if that ends drifting out to say $3.20 ten minutes out from the race, you’ll be on it?
Trevor Lawson: Yes, yes. There was one a couple of weeks ago, Tasbeeh. I think I had it $2.80 or $3, or something like that. It was $1.95 in the morning everywhere. And they bet $3.70. And it won. Everyone thinks that, it gets from 6/4 out of to $3.70. Everyone thinks, “It can’t win.” But they still win. It’s only one bet, in a year’s worth of bets. And it’s a big over, so I just think sometimes you’re just better off going with them and hope you’re right. Because there’s enough of them that win that provide the extra profit that you would have gotten in the first ones.
Dave Duffield: What about the bigger prices? So, if you’ve marked something fourteens, and you can get sixteen, or something like that, are you keen to get involved there or do you want a decent overlay?
Trevor Lawson: It just depends on how much you’re going to outlay for what your return is. It’s about knowing the percentages of the prices … So if I had it 14/1 and I’d already backed maybe two horses for a nice result, then I might just save on it. And just get my money back. If it was 20’s or over, then I’d back it like I’d marked it 14/1. I suppose that’s the other thing for people to know. All the bets that you’re having, you’re backing them as if that’s the price. So whatever they get out to past that price, it’s a bonus. It’s profit.
Dave Duffield: Yep. And that’s the way we approach it with most of the packages, we back them to our rated price, and then the market price. No worries. We’ll leave it there for now. We will have a lot more information for people who are interested in coming on board, but I wanted to give them a bit of background on who you are, and what you do, and you’ve done a good job of explaining that today, so thanks for joining us. We’ll have another chat again soon.
Trevor Lawson: Thanks, Dave.
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