By David Duffield of www.ChampionPicks.com.au

Here is a common raceday scenario for most punters:

You have done the form on a race and have a horse you like enough to almost certainly bet on. But a few minutes from the jump you also have some serious doubts. Maybe the horse is under the odds, maybe it is not going to be favoured by the pace of the race, or maybe it is a big question mark at the distance.

What the majority of punters do in this situation is bet anyway because the thought of that horse winning without them is one of lost opportunity. Or they make a last-minute switch and back the late mail or market mover at the bottom of the market.

However what successful punters are quite prepared to do in this type of situation is to pass on the race and not bet. They understand that over time the risk in placing these bets far outweighs the potential gains. It’s simple maths that market percentages work against anyone betting without an edge. If you back every horse that is ‘close’ you are going to commit the punting sin of having too many bets. So you need to accept that you are going to like horses that win without you.

Professional punters look to cull poor value horses rather than worry about missing an occasional collect. While it can be painful to miss a winner you almost backed, it is more painful to make bad decisions and lose.

Rick Williams, Senior Form Analyst at Champion Picks, likes to treat horses the way Wall Street’s Gordon Gecko treats stocks – that is to never get emotional.

“At the end of the day a horse is just a horse. Or to be really matter-of-fact it’s actually just a number with a probability attached that is represented by the odds available”, Williams says.

“Don’t get emotionally attached to a horse that you have won on in the past. And don’t think that a horse you lost on in a photo last start now owes you something. So much can change from one race to the next such as the quality of the field, race pace, track conditions and a lot more. Instead of loving a horse for any reason, what you really have to do is love a price because it is value”.

Bets that are in the maybe/almost/fun categories can really eat into your profits. The sooner you can to learn to avoid betting on a race and instead just watch it as a future form reference, the better your betting balance will be. If you don’t believe me then let the results speak for themselves. Go ahead and record your ‘almost’ bets in a spreadsheet or notebook and look back on it each month. I am certain that these bets will under-perform relative to the rest of your selections and you’ll be better off without them. By managing the downside you are protecting the upside.

Most punters are not operating on margins so fat that they can afford to make poor value bets. Take for example a punter who outlays $200 a race and has 5 bets on a Saturday. If he could achieve 10% profit on turnover long-term he’s doing very well.

That means if he has a couple of $50 fun bets and loses both he has wiped out a ‘normal’ day’s profit very easily.

So be very wary of ‘almost’ and ‘fun’ bets, don’t think you have to bet every race and don’t beat yourself up for missing a winner.

Instead you should adopt the mindset of congratulating yourself every time you miss backing a loser.

Good punting David Duffield Champion Picks