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Throwback to 2016 when we sat down with New Zealand racing tips analyst, Kiwi Chris Robinson, as part of the ‘For and Against’ series.
Not a lot has changed in two years, with Chris still a as successful and consistent as ever. So how has he found such an edge on the market?
- Data vs gut.
- Every race vs just a few.
- Backmarkers vs on speed
- Trainers and jockeys.
- Trials and first uppers.
- Wet tracks.
- Big vs small markets
- Specialise vs diversified.
- Level staking vs proportionate.
- Staking/confidence levels influencing bet size.
- Market intelligence.
- Early vs late betting.
- Pre-post betting.
- Faves vs long shots.
- Each way vs straight out.
- Static vs dynamic banks.
- Profit on Turnover versus Profit only.
For & Against with Kiwi Chris Robinson
Dave Duffield: G’day, Chris. Thanks for joining us again. I wanted to get you on the podcast again to continue the for-and-against series that we’ve had. Just a run through how you do the form and how you start you stake your bets and basically to help people understand that there’s many different ways of going about it. Let’s start off with data versus gut. Do you particularly use one or the other, or is it really a combination of both?
Chris: Probably a combination of both. I have the data here and then it’s just getting across the field. Yeah, so a bit of both.
Dave Duffield: How do you incorporate gut instinct? You trust the data and you do your own sectional timing, so you want to be able to rely on that, but at the same time you don’t want to not be a slave to that data, so how do you balance that?
Chris: I guess I look at the race data first, and then I’ll have a look at what type of race it is, the jockeys and trainers involved, and what sort of horses will more than likely be peaking for this race or improving from their last performance and sort of take it from there.
Dave Duffield: Some people we chat to, they’re more on the data side and betting into almost every race. Then you’ve got quite a few others that specialise. Where do you sit?
Chris: I sort of pick and choose. I’m pretty choosy, as you’ve probably seen by the results. We don’t bet in to many races.
Dave Duffield: How heavily do you penalise back markers?
Chris: Because a lot of the races I’m betting into are maiden races or races where there’s horses who are only lightly raced, quite often a horse’s pattern is not sort of set in stone yet. I don’t really bother with speed maps for those type of races. For more tried horses I’ll look at where they’re probably going to settle but I think just about everyone these days has an idea of a speed map, so I don’t get too carried away with them.
Dave Duffield: You’re aware of them and you want to get an understanding of where the horse is going to settle, but it’s not a big determinant in whether you want to bet into the race or how you price that horse?
Chris: It’ll have some bearing. It will obviously all depend on the particular race we’re looking at.
Dave Duffield: In the lower class of race, such as a maiden, is it any harder to make ground . Does it tend to favour the on speed types?
Chris: I couldn’t say for sure. Generally, I’m looking for the best horse or the horse that’s likely to improve the most and go with them.
Dave Duffield: Trainers and jockeys. What role do they play when you’re doing the form?
Chris: They play a decent role, yeah. Obviously, some trainers in New Zealand really dominate the racing here, and they’re quite well known. There’s a few top-end jockeys as well, who, when you get the combination of both, it’s normally a good sign.
Dave Duffield: For trainers and jockeys, are you looking at replays, the form that they’re in there, or is it based on their stats, whether it’s winning percentage or profitability?
Chris: I guess recent race form. I mean, in New Zealand, there’s a group who are the top jockeys and the top trainers. They’re reasonably well-known and I don’t really look into the data so much. I’ll check the tables but it’s pretty standard, who the best are.
Dave Duffield: Barriers? In Australia, the inside barriers tend to be over bet, as in they tend to over-rate the importance of being drawn inside. How do you handle that in New Zealand?
Chris: Once again, it sorts of depends on the race and the race course. I mean, we’ve got so many courses in New Zealand and they’re each a little bit different, so it really depends on the situation.
Dave Duffield: There’s no hard and fast rule, but is it a similar situation over there, where sometimes there’s reasonable value to be had for horses drawn out wide?
Chris: Probably, I think as a general sort of statement, you could say that, yeah.
Dave Duffield: Handicap weight. Is that an important factor that you look at?
Chris: Generally, no. If I’ve got two horses that I think of equal ability, and one’s carrying 6 kg’s less than yes, but, as a general rule, I don’t use weight that much.
Dave Duffield: Trials. Are they easy to access? And are they heavily scrutinised in New Zealand?
Chris: I think they have been, maybe in the last couple of seasons. They’re a bit tricky, you know? I think trainers and jockeys are a lot more cagier now with the trials because they’re so accessible, so you have to sort of take some of the results and some of the times with a bit of a grain of salt.
Dave Duffield: That’s just a matter of getting to know the trainer?
Chris: Yeah. I suppose so, and just watching the trial and seeing what the horse is doing. Even then, they might not be fully wound up or they might be having their first jog around the track for the first time in six months, so you’ve just got to be wary.
Dave Duffield: Yeah, and talking about whether a horse is wound up or not, is it a similar situation with first uppers? Maybe they haven’t trialled, but how do you try and gauge whether they’re going to be something close to full fitness?
Chris: That’s tricky, yeah. Without actually being on course and seeing them, I think you’ve got to look at the trainer and the jockey and the type of race they are in and then make a decision based on that.
Dave Duffield: Okay. Wet tracks, it’s an issue we have mainly during the winter period here. You have quite a number of wet meetings each year and it sometimes posted as a Heavy 11. What approach do you take to betting on wet tracks?
Chris: I like to look at the first few races, generally, just to see how the track is playing, and there’s just so much variation with wet tracks in New Zealand. Once the track is into heavy I have 6 or 7 different classes of heavy in New Zealand. Yeah, it’s tricky work.
Dave Duffield: What are you looking for in those early races? If we’re betting or looking to bet into a race four or five, what are you looking for in the first three?
Chris: Where the horses are running. Are they on the inside? Is the track cutting out? Is it raining at the time or is the track puggy or is it loose? All sorts of things like that.
Dave Duffield: One of the common questions in this series has been whether you operate on the bigger, tend to be more efficient markets where you can put more volume through, as opposed to smaller markets, where you can have a bigger edge but liquidity can be a problem. It’s fair to say you’re the latter. You’re on the smaller markets. Why is that?
Chris: When I first started looking into it, I thought it was a pretty decent edge to be had. Yeah, that’s why I sort of play into them.
Dave Duffield: The positive is the edge and it’s a pretty amazing profit on turnover you’ve achieved so far. The downside of course is that the smaller markets, the prices move quicker, and that’s a problem we’ve faced for a while now in that, as soon as we release, the bookies move straight away. You move the market.
Chris: Yeah, that’s right. That’s just the way it is, I guess, when you’re playing at those small markets.
Dave Duffield: You specialise in a particular geographic area, particular part of the country?
Chris: I’ve sort of broadened it to most of New Zealand now. When I started I was just doing the northern area and the central districts, but I’m starting to accumulate some data on the south island so I’m sort of covering most of the two islands now.
Dave Duffield: Okay. We’ll move on to the staking and money management side of things. Have you or would you ever bet level stakes?
Chris: No. I think, if you have a rough idea of the price that you think your horses should be and then, when the markets come out, you still stake as you would on those overlays. You wouldn’t stake the same amount on what you’ve rated a two dollar chance as what you would on, say, a ten dollar chance.
Dave Duffield: What role does the actual market play in determining the stakes? If you, say, assess the horse two dollars and you want to have 2.5 units on it, does it matter to you whether that horse is three dollars or five dollars?
Chris: Not generally. I’m fairly confident in how I’ve looked over the raise. I’ll have a look at the market, and especially if it’s say a maiden race with a few unknowns I might take some of that information and adjust my staking.
Dave Duffield: Are you ever able to bet early or is it just on race day?
Chris: I think there’s a few markets come up on a Thursday in New Zealand, but unless I’m very confident on weather conditions, I generally wait till race day.
Dave Duffield: Yeah. Getting a bet on at times you’ve had to resort at times to going in person to the Tab?
Chris: Yeah, that’s right. Honestly, it was pretty easy early on to hold various accounts. Yeah, it’s a lot tougher now.
Dave Duffield: Pre-post betting. Do you ever have a dabble or anything more serious on races maybe a month or two out?
Chris: Occasionally, I’ll have a bet in the 2,000 or 1,000 Guineas markets if I’ve seen on that has run some sectionals, but I wouldn’t call them serious ones. I think it’s just a bit too tricky.
Dave Duffield: For the serious ones, for the day-to-day action, do you tend to focus on favourites or more long shots, or is it really a combination of both?
Chris: A bit of both. Yeah. I just think, if there’s value there, we just take that overlay.
Dave Duffield: Yeah, and you’re happy to be on multiple runners in one race?
Chris: Definitely, yeah. Because we don’t plan too many races, I’m looking to reduce the variance.
Dave Duffield: Yeah. When do you bet each way?
Chris: Probably in races where I’m confident of a particular horse performing well, but there may be some unknowns in the race. I guess I’m confident the horse will run in the top three.
Dave Duffield: Exotics. I don’t think that’s played much, if at all any part in your betting approach.
Chris: The market is so small that I think if we used it for Champion Bets we’d just cannibalise the market so there’s no value in it.
Dave Duffield: Yeah. Static versus dynamic banks. This is an interesting topic, whether your bank is increasing or decreasing. Thankfully, in your time with us, it’s pretty much been increasing almost the whole time. How do you handle that and when do you take out profits?
Chris: I generally look at the end of the month, where I’m sitting. I don’t sort of make changes every day or make drastic changes, so that’s why my actual staking has not really changed that much.
Dave Duffield: I can’t think of a significant draw down in your time with us, but how do you plan on handling those? Say, if you were to lose, knock on wood, but if you were to wipe out half your bank, how would you handle that, as soon as that occurred?
Chris: I’d have to have a decent look at what I’m doing. I’m not sure. I’m just hoping that won’t happen Dave. I’d have to look at what I’m doing and look to make adjustments, obviously.
Dave Duffield: For the measurement of how you’re going, are you looking at profit on turnover as a percentage, or is it really just profit is the bottom line. I mean this is how you make your living?
Chris: Well, yeah. I guess the bottom line is most important. I’ll look at both and because I don’t turn over that much, my profit on turnover is quite important. I’m probably staking more on individual bets. I mean, my unit size is a bit more than, say, the guys that turn over a lot more units.
Dave Duffield: All right. That covers the questions we’ve been asking quite a few people in recent times. Yeah. Once again, congratulations on the success you’ve had with us and, appreciate you coming on the show once again. All the best.
Chris: Cheers, Dave. Thank you.