Track conditions, wet tracks

As we enter the colder, darker months, the heavy track conditions start to appear and many punters get gun-shy.

It’s one of those old punting maxims… it’s too hard to back winners in the unpredictable track conditions.

That may be true for many punters but it certainly doesn’t have to be the case.

Champion Bets analyst Dean Evans is a great example of this. If you break the historical performance of Dean’s Winners down, it’s quite remarkable to see that the two best-performing months are June and July. The depths of winter!

So how do you find winners on the wet tracks of winter? Read on for our Q&A with Dean…

Winter is thought by many to be the toughest time of the year to bet. Is that correct?

Many don’t like betting in winter due to the variability in track conditions. But I find that to be simplistic thinking. People will blindly say ‘I like betting on firm tracks, on horses with inside barrier draws and low weights’. The reality is the statistics show that inside barrier draws are over-bet and less value than outside barrier draws, and that backing horses higher up in the weights is more profitable than those lower down in the weights.

I say the same applies for betting only on firm tracks. Many Good tracks these days, such as Canterbury & Caulfield, are playing terribly due to rails bias. You may think it’s ‘easier’ or ‘more certain’. But what really matters is your edge, and the edge on wet tracks is large if you look for the right horses.

Why do you think you have a big edge in heavy track conditions?

If you are clear on what the track condition is, you can certainly find a big edge in it. Heavy 9 and Heavy 10 tracks are usually very ‘reliable’, in that you can focus on the real mudlarks, and most importantly can often rule out a substantial number of the runners more easily than you can on a dry track.

The tricky tracks are the ones that shift dramatically during the day. For example, you may do form for a Heavy 9, but  sunshine, wind and perhaps an incorrect early track rating means it finishes as a Slow 6. Or the reverse, you start on a Slow 6 and then rain causes downgrades to a Heavy 9. Those tracks are notoriously hard to assess.

What are the secrets to success in betting with heavy track conditions?

One of the keys to heavy track betting is that you can rule out more horses. Many horses just don’t like genuine wet conditions. If you can rule out runners that are hard in the market, it suddenly creates opportunities to back runners at great odds that have a greater chance of knocking off the favourite than the same race on a dry track.

I find the markets aren’t adjusted enough for the changes in track conditions. It’s as though the bookies and assessors price based on a dry track, and then slightly adjust for the changing track condition. Whereas I make the heavy track a focal point of my analysis.

It’s the same with barriers. Often the inside gates are absolute poison on many wet tracks. But the markets don’t swing the favour to outside gates like they should.

We made 53 units profit in June 2019. We found winners like River Racer at $34 on heavy tracks, but also winners like Hush Writer at $27 & Winning Ways at $25 in the Oaks on drier tracks… it’s not always wet in June – some states remain dry!

What are best tips for betting in heavy track conditions?

Find fit horses, who have proven wet track form, or the breeding to suggest they may swim. Another good trick is to study trainers who have good or poor heavy track statistics. Some are able to get them fit for those conditions, and some simply can’t.

The other key edge is to find races where favoured runners have strong dry track form, but are unproven (or proven not to be as effective) on the very wet ground. They are often very short, and you can bet around them and get some huge odds on other runners. The market often overdoes it on short-priced horses in the wet, where the variability is greater.

Backing multiple horses on wet tracks, often the only ones who can handle the ground, is lucrative.

Backing multiple horses in a race is an interesting topic as you do it often. Can you talk a little about that?

Sometimes we back multiple horses with each result to make a strong profit. Other times we employ a ‘back and save’ strategy, backing one or more horses to collect 5 units or more, and backing one or more horses to simply recoup our total race investment so that we break even.

The key is to ignore how many horses we’re backing in a race. Instead, focus on how many units we’re investing.

For example, we may have effectively rated it a $2 chance. As a result we may invest 5/2 = 2.5 units, in order to collect 5 units if it wins & pays $2.

In another race, we might back 5 horses. Let’s say the effective rated price for each horse is $10. Hence we may invest 5/10 = 0.5 units on each horse. 0.5 x 5 = 2.5. In this instance, we have again invested 2.5 units, and if every horse is paying $10 in the market, we will collect 5 units if any of the horses win.

With this strategy, we reach the same outcome whether we back 1 or 5 horses.

The best way to think about backing multiple horses in one race is to consider it as one bet.

I’ve found backing multiple horses highly profitable when I’m taking on a false favourite. It also helps to reduce variance and drawdown as we have more horses running for us. This helps us maintain a high winning race strike rate. The largest and most successful betting syndicates in the world use this strategy. I constantly review the results of backing multiple horses and the strategy continually delivers outstanding profits for members.

How do you select which races to invest in for Dean’s Winners and how does your staking work?

It’s simply any race where I find that either one horse, or multiple horses, are at far greater odds in the market than I’ve assessed. I look for value and you’ll often see me betting around a false favourite. I cover every state of Australia, but am very selective and only bet in the races where I consider my long-term edge is substantial.

My staking aligns with this in that I stake based on a mixture of the market price, and the edge I feel I have in my rated price versus that market price. The average staking is far more conservative than most services at only 0.5u per bet, but can range from 0.1u to 2u. For example, we had one unit on Hush Writer this time last year in the McKell Cup to win at $27, as I had it marked very short in my markets.

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