This week night we held an hour-long question and answer webinar and have summarised some of the topics here: Are there any types of races that are almost instantly marked as red (to be avoided)? There are no hard and fast rules but we’re less inclined to get involved in staying events. These tend to have more variables and unknowns such as the pace of the race, varying fitness levels and horses unraced or unproven at the distance.

We don’t bet in many maidens either just because often there isn’t a lot of exposed form and also the fact that you’re normally dealing with low class animals.
1000m sprints can also be a bit unpredictable because luck in running is crucial. For example if you even slightly miss the kick it is very hard to recover. How important is the jockey when you’re making your betting decisions? It plays some importance but it’s not the be-all and end-all. The jockey’s record (whether that’s a positive or a negative) is already factored into the price so typically there isn’t a lot to be gained there.

Jockey switches can be important though and are worth looking at closely. You can also find some good nuggets in trainer/jockey and trainer/horse combinations, although it’s important to look at profitability and not simply strike-rate. Because what good is knowing that Trainer X and Jockey Y have a 25% winning strike-rate when you have no idea of the average starting price and average winning price of those runners? Do you place more importance on weights or times? Both.

Weight and class measurements are a key component of our ratings but over the last 6 months we have definitely increased the importance we place on sectional times. And that is 200m splits of every horse throughout the race, not just the last 600m that is widely quoted and misused. Sectional times can highlight on-pace runners that may have looked a little disappointing to the eye when watching the race, but when you assess the sectionals data they were always going to tire late considering the early hot pace. How important is the barrier draw when doing the form? Not nearly as important as many people believe and not nearly as important as the speed map of the race. I think by now most readers know that as a general rule inside barriers are overbet and that wide barriers can present good betting opportunities in certain situations.

The speed map is a crucial part of any form analysis because if you don’t know what’s going to happen early in a race you’ll have a tough time trying to work out what will happen at the end. Is the horse’s breeding a significant factor when doing the form? No. The only time we place any importance (and even then it’s very much a secondary factor) is when trying to assess a horse that is racing for the first time over a distance or on a wet track. I have always been told not to bet odds on. What are your thoughts? “Odds-on, look on” is just another punting myth to shoot down in flames.

We have often spoken about the favourite/longshot bias that has existed in racing and sports betting markets for many years. In simple terms what it means is that longer priced horses should in fact be even longer and shorter priced horses should actually be shorter.

If you wanted to do no form whatsoever and just ‘bet blind’, your money will last longer backing favourites than anything else. In terms of loss on turnover, odds-on horses lose less than any other price bracket. At what stage of your analysis do you look at the odds? Not until we have done all the form for a race, otherwise you’re doing it backwards and form an opinion on a horse’s value before going through the in-depth form study.

We always compile our own rated prices and only when we have done that work do we compare our assessments to the available odds. Once we have done that we then cross-check to confirm that where we differ to the market we are confident that we have it right and the market has it wrong. Only then will we bet. Do you always bet to return 5 units? Yes, but that is using our own rated price not the market odds and that way the bigger the overlay the bigger the return. So we will have 1 unit on a horse we’ve assessed at $5, but if the market has it at $7 then we actually get 7 units back for our outlay.

A typical outlay on a race is around 2 units which represents 2% of our betting bank.