This week’s podcast guest is our New Zealand Racing Analyst Chris.
With nearly 400 units profit from his NZ Tips package since it’s inception in 2014, Chris has proven to be one of New Zealand’s sharpest horse players. He talks us through hsi approach and how it’s evolved over the years.
- Why track conditions are such an important part of picking winners in New Zealand
- Why he prefers to bet in lower quality and maiden races
- Why recording his own race and sectional times is so important
New Zealand Racing Analyst Chris
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Mark Haywood: My guest on today’s Podcast is our New Zealand racing analyst Chris, thanks for joining us Chris.
Chris: No problem, good to be here.
Mark Haywood: So we haven’t had you on for a while, I think it was 2014 that you started with Champion Bets and you’ve had a really, really successful run since then, I think you’re up 400 units with your tipping service. I just wanted to start out, if you could just give us a bit of a background of what you were doing before Champion Bets, are you from a long term punting background?
Chris: Not really, I’ve always followed the horses from a young age, just growing up. My dad, he liked a bit of a punt, and we always had the radio on with the races and that sort of thing on a Saturday morning. So it’s always been part of my life but I trained as an electrician when I left school and did that for, I dunno, 15, 20 years, and then just looked for a bit of a change. I got into the fitness industry, and as a sort of a sideline there, there was a bit of downtime when I was training and working. I got into trading on Betfair, so that’s where I came across getting back into racing as a possible source of income.
Mark Haywood: So you were trading on Betfair for a while. Was that more just arbing and trading or were you actually doing the form properly then?
Chris: No, that was just straight out trading. Just using an API through Betfair but it was all on Australian horse racing. While I was doing that obviously there was New Zealand horse racing on the TV at the same time, so that sort of piqued a bit of an interest there. Dean from Trial Spy I read about him online, I thought hey, maybe I can do something similar this side of the water.
Mark Haywood: So just looking at how you actually do the form. Is it still much the same as back then, are you still focused a lot on the trials?
Chris: Yeah, it’s a bit of trials, probably with a bit of grain of salt I suppose now with the trials but they certainly play a big part in it, but it’s similar type form study I do to trials as to race day performance in that it’s based around the sort of times horses can run.
Mark Haywood: So you’re heavily focused on sectional times?
Chris: Yeah, sectional, and overall time.
Mark Haywood: And New Zealand is perhaps not a big country geographically, but there’s definitely racing all over the place, do you focus on any part of New Zealand in particular?
Chris: No, initially I was mainly in the North Island but now I’ve broadened that to cover all meetings around New Zealand now.
Mark Haywood: Yep and along with that there’s a fair range of, in terms of quality of racing, do you like to focus on the higher quality racing, say stuff on a Saturday and come Carnival time, or are you happy to get involved in pretty much anything?
Chris: I’m probably at the other end, I’m probably looking at more maidens, I also look at two and three year olds, mainly because I think these races are the hardest to price from a bookmaking perspective, I guess the quality races it’s all, all the form’s there for everyone to see so they’re a lot more straightforward to price up. Whereas at the other end of the scale there’s a lot more question marks around the form and where these horses have come from et cetera.
Mark Haywood: Right. And is that where your approach with the trials came in?
Chris: Yeah that’s right, so it was mainly Maidens, two and three year olds where I got that background from watching the trials and I’ve just sort of continued there because that seems to be a profitable path.
Mark Haywood: How accessible are the trials in New Zealand, are you able to see them all online?
Chris: Most of them, in the North Island, or in the sort of Northern part of North Island they’re fairly well made public I suppose, then in sort of CD, South Island it gets a little more sketchy, you’ve got local jumpouts which there’s not a lot of video coverage of, so you’ve gotta weigh up when you’re doing your markets, you gotta factor those things in and whether the race is worth looking at because there’s sort of untried, unknown knowledge I suppose.
Mark Haywood: Yeah and in terms of other form factors, if we just run through a couple of them, how big a part of your focus they are – just looking at weight, its a big one for a lot of analysts, is that something you have a lot of input on?
Chris: Not a huge amount no. I’m not really betting into a lot of handicap races where weight becomes important so I wouldn’t use it as a huge factor. If I like a few different horses in a race, so if something’s on the minimum compared to something on 60 or top weight then I’ll factor that in. But it depends on the race, it depends on the horse, I wouldn’t have a blanket rule in regards to weight.
Mark Haywood: And what about trainers? A few leading trainers over in New Zealand. Do you have any sort of weighting for which stable a horse comes out of?
Chris: It’s a factor you definitely make a note of because there’s a few powerful stables here which dominate the racing scene, but quite often that’s already been factored into the price of a lot of races. So obviously the best trainers, they’re the best trainers for a reason, they can train a lot of winners so you’d be foolish not to weight something against them but once again it’s dependent on the race, dependent on the horse.
Mark Haywood: Yep. And I guess along with that, jockeys, are you biased towards certain jockeys or against certain jockeys, or does that not play a huge part in what you do?
Chris: Once again it’s similar to the trainers I suppose. There’s some quality jockeys over here, there’s some not so much, and certain jockeys will suit, say a front-running type of horse, and more maybe jockey change, say if a horse who’s been going okay and all of a sudden they’ll get maybe a senior jockey on, replacing an apprentice, it’s always worth taking a note. Especially for certain stables.
Mark Haywood: Looking at tracks as well, the track conditions can play a big part in New Zealand, they can vary a bit but you can also get some heavy tracks. I know, and followers of your service will know most days when you have a punt you’re quite keen to just wait and see how the track plays in the first race or two, is that always a bit focus of yours?
Chris: Definitely yeah, there’s so many variations in track conditions over here, especially you know coming into this type of year when the weather’s changing and different tracks will just play differently, and I think it’s very, very important to have a look at the first couple of races just to get an idea how the track is playing. Quite often official penetrometer readings aren’t very accurate as well so I have my own guides in regard to that, and so yeah definitely you need to have a look at a couple of races to get an idea what the track’s gonna do.
Mark Haywood: As I said you tend to do that most days you’re having a bet, do you find the tracks often from meeting to meeting even, on the same track change quite a bit?
Chris: They can do, yeah. A lot of it depends on where they raced last on the track and where the rail is. There could be fast lanes close to the rail or the rail could be off, it all depends on where the rail was the last start, whether there’s been rain, during the day. So you gotta factor all these things and at times bet on the run because things will change through the day.
Mark Haywood: Yeah absolutely. And obviously we’re not giving any major secrets away, but what would you say is your major edge in terms of what you do in a very general sense?
Chris: I’ve got quite detailed notes on the different tracks and how I grade the going, so to speak, and also I do all my own timing on every race, on every horse, and I find that a huge benefit because quite often official times and official sectionals are inaccurate so I think that’s probably where my biggest edge is, and you know, I spend seven, eight hours a day doing this, whereas most punters, they aren’t full time.
Mark Haywood: You said you need to keep our own times to make them accurate, is that something that you’ve always done, or you discovered that that was required?
Chris: Yeah initially I used just the official times of the industry websites, but when I started using my own software, I found that they were quite often wrong, so it was just a no-brainer to go with my own stuff. It might take a little bit longer but I think in the long run it’s well worth it.
Mark Haywood: Another thing that we’ve found that is not unique to your punting but something you do a lot of is that a lot of the time you’re backing multiple horses in each race.
What’s your approach there? Is it to do with your staking, it’s more about how much you stake per race, rather than per horse?
Chris: Yeah basically, I’ll have my markets framed, so I’ll be looking to back those at are value. I’ll stake a certain amount each race normally, like a maximum per race. And then I’ll just work out my staking from there using a sort of fractional version of the Kelly Criterion I think. Not exactly but one I’ve found to be a profitable way to approach it.
Mark Haywood: With those bet releases even for the same race you quite often send out releases at different times. So you might have an early bet in a race but later on as the jump approaches you’ll have another bet or two in the same race, is that all to do with how the market’s moving, or is it something else in terms of your tactics for betting?
Chris: Because we’re betting into a relatively small market, it doesn’t take a lot of money to move a price, a couple of points, a few hundred dollars’ll do it. So I send out, say we’re having multiple bets in one race, I’ll send out a couple of bets or whatever, at 9am, and then those prices will get shafted early, push the other ones out, and then we’ll do whatever else we’re betting on in that race a little bit later so we’re trying to achieve the best price as possible.
Mark Haywood: Has that been quite a tactical thing you’ve had to develop?
Chris: Yeah definitely, I mean initially I think we were just sending all the bets out at once, but it didn’t take long for the bookmakers to just cannibalise all those prices and it wasn’t proving to be very efficient.
Mark Haywood: For your own betting across the ditch, there’s a New Zealand TAB, do you do betting with the TAB, or with bookies or Betfair?
Chris: I’ve got basically four online accounts, that I can use that I haven’t been banned or heavily restricted, and I can get set through those four accounts a reasonable amount, an amount I think I’m happy with but yeah I’m limited to those four, or I’ll have to go in-house, go down to the local TAB, and put some bets on there. If I can’t get enough on. But I can do it all from my computer basically with the four online accounts.
Mark Haywood: Obviously the majority of our listeners are in Australia, we’ve got quite a few analysts in Australia and there’s probably quite a big network of more serious and professional punters. Is that the case in New Zealand, are you in contact with guys, is there a network over there of more serious punters or how big is the industry I guess?
Chris: To be honest I don’t know of any others. I mean I’m sure there are. Whether they’re the classical punter punting on price, I’m not sure because it’s such a small market and such heavy restrictions. I mean there’s ways to get around it obviously, but I won’t get into that. But I don’t think so, I don’t think there’s a huge market for it but I guess there are probably other guys there, you often see the market do some interesting things but quite often I think it’s just stable money moving the prices, which is probably similar to Australia.
Mark Haywood: And on Australia you mentioned you did some early Betfair trading, but have you ever looked at Australian racing from a more serious punting point of view?
Chris: Yeah it’s sort of been in the back of my mind to maybe have a crack at it one day. But not at the moment anyway, it’s just a time thing. Maybe one day I’ll look at having a crack at it there, it’s something I’d like to do anyway.
Mark Haywood: Yeah. Yeah I guess you’re reasonably busy at the moment and certainly getting some good results.
Mark Haywood: Yeah good so that’s probably about all we wanted to cover today Chris, so thanks for your time. Thanks for your time.
Chris: No problem Mark, cheers.