- The evolution of expert analyst Gareth Phillips
- Professional punter’s revamped approach
As I have mentioned before in the public domain, “the form” is a game of constant learning and change. Keeping up requires adapting to these changes, and I have had many during my 30+ years in the saddle. Here’s a summary of how it has evolved…
Weights and measures
When I first started, weights and measures, plus a Sportsman and being aware of stewards comments was the formula. An edge could be gained by going to the races and being aware of horses that had no luck. I was taught to “rate” horses which was basically an advanced method of assessing weights and measures.
Then came the age of video replays, where serious punters could subscribe to various companies that supplied exclusive footage. Of course this brought with it the scrutinising of times, which led to analysis of speed maps, track bias and a fine tuning of ratings procedures.
The computer generation
We then entered the computer generation as PCs were now affordable and effective for normal folk to get involved in. That included form analysts who were super keen to take advantage of the analytical capabilities of personal computers. We clamoured to design and create the next generation of form analysis.
We then went into the world of barrier trial footage which opened up a whole new way to assess first-up runners and first starters. This created the need for the art (and science) of how to watch and assess horses from barrier trials.
Lounge chair experts
A huge change to the punting environment occurred with the introduction of Sky Channel, at first in Pubs and TABs, and eventually in peoples homes. This allowed the recording of the races and a heap of new lounge chair expert analysts, which forced us to further fine-tune our video and time assessments. It was no longer enough to know a horse was held up, raced wide or had suffered other bad luck in the run. We now had to assess the cost to that horse (in lengths) as accurately as possible.
High speed internet
We then saw probably the biggest change to the marketplace – the death of dial-up internet. Widespread broadband allowed a new way to bet quickly, and led to a drop in racecourse attendances.
A new breed of form assessors hit the marketplace as Zjelko trained up hundreds of video analysts at Humbleton. They were encouraged to find blackbook runners, which inevitably made these horses much shorter in the marketplace than they previously were.
Fast forward to today
We are now in an era when most of the above is being supplied to punters free of charge.
Times are scrutinised and shared on social media by form experts and any serious punter these days has access to a database that supplies race speeds and ratings. The vast majority of these punters would be clueless on how to produce such detailed analysis from their own intellect. In short, it’s a lot harder to find any secrets these days!
For more than five years I watched what the best punting teams in the country were doing with their chosen form methods. I was fascinated by how left-field their bets often were to my traditional mind, yet they kept raking back the dollars every month. After years of reverse-analysing their methods, it became clear that they had realised most of the aforementioned mainstream form analysis methods held little edge. This led them to develop systems to steer away from what everyone else was doing.
Whilst I may have taken too long to wake up to this style of form analysis, I am now very aware that the best thing for my punting future is to create automated systems that sway from the norm and find my edge through data rather than the videos which the majority are now doing.
I have used many databases over the years and now have access to an advanced form and ratings database. My decades of hands-on experience analysing the form mean that I am able to drive the database better than most.
For more than six months I have been building systems that provide me with a consistent volume of selections. They come from formulas based on hundreds of different parameters, and strike at a minimum of 33% over a 5+ year period. These automated systems have become a key element in my punting, but I don’t back them all. Rather, I use them as a great guide to give me a heads-up of which meetings, races and horses I should focus on. That works a lot better than my previous formula of searching for the blackbooker or lightly raced horse with upside. Everyone does that nowadays. I am not suggesting they aren’t on the right track to finding winners, but more winners doesn’t necessarily mean more profit!
Knowing that my ‘bot bet’ horses come from high strike-rate and profitable systems gives me confidence to spend my time analysing these selections/races, and very often takes me away from the ultra-competitive blackbooker brigade.
As well as my standard go-to’s of anywhere in NSW and Queensland Metro, this new approach has enabled my subscribers and I to back winners at venues that were previously quite foreign to me: Kalgoorlie, Broome, Devonport, Beaudesert, Gatton, and country Victoria to name a few.
At this stage I have built over 100 systems – individual track/jockey/trainer systems, gear change systems, distance change systems and a whole heap of other left-field stuff that only a 30+ year form nerd like me could come up with.
It’s going well and I have plans to make it even better over time as my system building skills improve. All of the system selections are shared daily with subscribers. I monitor them daily and also have a reserve bench of systems that need a little more time or fine-tuning to be ready to bet.
How I do the form has changed on many occasions during my lifetime in this industry, because form analysis and the betting market is constantly evolving. I am very excited about what the future holds with this revamped approach.
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