The sheer volume of Australian racing is something to behold, and is quite unique across the world.

Australia plays host to over 20,000 thoroughbred races every year, and Perth Racing’s foray into Good Friday means we now race 364 days a year.

Some would say that makes it a punter’s paradise; but if you want to punt profitably, it leaves you with some decisions to make.

You can take the scattergun approach and bet on anything and everything, but if you want to approach things with a more considered strategy, you’ll need to decide where you’re going to concentrate your limited time and efforts.

Opinions are mixed as to whether a “metro only” approach is the best use of your time, or if the real value is to be found off Broadway where the markets aren’t as closely monitored.

Among the many things that need to be considered:

  • Quality: metro races are worth more money and thus attract the best in terms of horses, trainers and jockeys. All are more likely to perform “up to level”, leaving you less exposed to a poor run or ride.
  • Population: the more areas and tracks you try to cover, the larger pool of horses and participants you’re exposing yourself to. This makes it a lot harder to get to know horses well, which is a key to rating performances accurately.
  • Markets: it’s debatable how much time and effort bookmakers put into any of their opening prices these days. Indeed, many are happy to just copy and paste from a competitor, or throw up any set of numbers and let the sharper punters beat them into shape. In any case, bookies are likely to spend less time on country and provincial meeting where they hold far less cash. This can lead to some great value opportunities in the bush.
  • Minimum Bet Limits: other than Tasmania, all states that have minimum bet limits in place have a lower limit for non-metro racing. This means that if you face bookie restrictions, you won’t be able to get as much on in the bush.
  • Timing of markets: related to the last two points, markets for metro racing are often opened a lot earlier than other racing – particularly Saturday racing, which is generally up on a Wednesday.

This is great if your bookie lets you on early, as you can take advantage of early value. Of course, its not so great if you have to wait for 9am race day and the minimum bet limits. There is a good chance the value has already been taken by other punters by then.

The Professionals

The Champion Bets analysts have a bit of a mixed approach, with some focusing purely on metro racing and other spreading a bit wider. We spoke to two of them to get their thoughts:

Bryan Haskins, NSW racing

I used to bet in the country much more than the city. I found there was more value there and did like to concentrate on maidens. It was due to less professionals being involved there I would say. The letdown is that you can be so right but end up with nothing due to plenty of poor rides so that can be very frustrating.

Since getting back into the city races more I’ve found there is still good value even though a lot of smart people are involved. You just have to have a different opinion to them now and again.

Trevor Lawson, Victorian racing

The vast, vast amount of the betting I do is on metro racing. It’s a bit of a case of time management for me; with the way I do the form, you just haven’t really got time to cover much more than the metro meetings and really do them justice. I have the odd bet in country but it’s very rare.

Knowing the city horses better leads me that way, and there’s obviously a fair bit more exposed form, whereas a lot of the country racing is maidens and lower class stuff, which I don’t like to get involved in.

I would do a bit more given the time, and I am always on the lookout for ways to do things better and thus free up a bit of time, but you have to do it properly to bet well.

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