The Importance Of Form: Video Analysis

NSW racing expert and professional punter Nathan Snow discusses the importance of analysing video replays when doing the form

video analysis

Nathan Snow discusses video analysis in part four of his series on the importance of form

As I talked about earlier, there are many different ways to get an edge in racing.

I took the path of specialisation, because I’ve always found that doing the form was an inexact science.

Others have taken the scientific path with tremendous success, and now lead the market with their ability to bet into every race across Australia (and even the world) with systems they have spent years honing.

I thought that reducing every possible variable in a race to a number, and then weighting them accordingly, was well above what I was capable of achieving. So my edge had to be something different.

I decided to specialise in a certain area: NSW racing, and the key to this sort of specialisation will always be the art of video analysis.

This is the one area where I’ll always be able to have an edge over any computer generated pricing, so it’s an integral part of the way I do the form..

What to look for

As I talked about earlier, there are many different ways to get an edge in racing.

I took the path of specialisation, because I’ve always found that doing the form was an inexact science.

Others have taken the scientific path with tremendous success, and now lead the market with their ability to bet into every race across Australia (and even the world) with systems they have spent years honing.

I thought that reducing every possible variable in a race to a number, and then weighting them accordingly, was well above what I was capable of achieving. So my edge had to be something different.

I decided to specialise in a certain area: NSW racing, and the key to this sort of specialisation will always be the art of video analysis.

This is the one area where I’ll always be able to have an edge over any computer generated pricing, so it’s an integral part of the way I do the form.

There’s so many relevant things to look for when reviewing a race video, so I’ll focus on the things that experience has taught me are the most important.

The first 400 metres of a race is as important to me as the last 400 metres, if not more so. The start of a race is overlooked by many punters, yet I believe it often determines what a horse can do late.

The first and most important notes I take are how the horse settles, and how much work a horse has to do to get these. This often determines how much merit you give to what it does late in the race.

A race is all about conserving energy to be used in last few hundred metres. A horse that has to do little work early is invariably more able to produce its best late. Conversely, working hard early and during the race, and wasting energy at the wrong times, needs to be taken into account when assessing the merits of a run.

When looking at the middle part of the race, I like to take note of horses that are wide and working hard around bends, especially the final turn into the straight. This is a big negative and often means that a horse is starting it’s run too early, and thus won’t be able to sustain it until the finish. Very few horses are able to sustain their top speed for an extended time.

When looking for horses that are likely to progress through the grades, ability to overcome the obstacles above, and then go on to sustain a sprint longer than rivals, is a key factor.

The other key thing that separates top line horses from the rest is turn of foot. The ability to accelerate is how the best horses win races even when things don’t suit. Most need everything to go their way in order produce their best, whereas high quality horses can use a rapid turn of foot to overcome disadvantages, such as being checked in the run, or an unsuitable speed map.

The last 400 metres of the race is generally the most exposed and therefore often overplayed in the market. It’s important to note what happens, but it should always be viewed in the context of what has happened prior. When a horse is held up in the straight, I try to estimate what it would’ve done without the interference. This is done by watching how the horse is travelling prior to the check. Horses that stay ‘on the bit’ (travel under their own steam without urging) longer than their rivals usually have more to give than others, and should be marked positively.

What to look for in the last 100 -200 metres varies from punter to punter. I think it’s most important when assessing horses fresh in their preparation, or when trying to work out whether a horse will be suited going up or coming back in distance at its next start.

If a horse only tires late when first or second up, especially if it had to work early, it should be viewed positively as an improver. How much so can depend on the trainer and their style, and the horse itself.

When looking for horses suited to going up in distance, I’m looking for those that are able to sustain a longer run. I like horses that seem under pressure earlier than they should be, but are still strong late in the race. This says to me they will be suited up in distance, travelling at a slightly lesser speed for longer.

Conversely, horses that are fit, yet tire late after relatively soft runs, are looking to drop back in distance. Horses that travel on the bit for longer than their rivals, but don’t finish off their races, are also good candidates to drop back in distance.

Bias is another factor to be taken into account. Bias can take the form of track, wind, or pace (which we’ve already discussed). I only like to factor wind into my thinking at speeds of 30+ km/hr. Others take any and all wind into account, but I’m happy to give it less weighting than others.

Track bias is more complicated, much discussed, and can be hard to interpret. I suggest simplifying things when assessing track bias. I’m not a huge believer in ‘lanes’ as such: I just think that with various cambers, along with movable rails, wet ground can often dry faster in different spots. I like to keep my notes simple and note whether the track is better from inside to out (or vice versa), and to give it a number rating in terms of strength. I then note where a particular horse is in the run, relative to this bias, to determine the merit of a performance.

Next week, I’ll talk about doing the form for a race and the importance of pricing each horse, and how I go about this.