My Five Fundamentals of Finding Winners
Updated: Aug 7, 2020
One of the things that I get asked the most about in racing is how I do I go about finding winners. People always want to know what things do I look for? What’s the most important factor? Do I have a secret formula? In my latest blog I will give you five of my key fundamentals that I use when it comes to giving tips and finding winners.
This is the most important ingredient I use when I am searching through the entries to try and find a winner, it is my bread and butter. Fortunately I have a strong photographic memory for remembering detail. Every race is important and a cliche that I can’t stand and is over exaggerated in the racing media is “that race won’t live long in the memory”. You can’t truly assess a race until month after it's occurred. Horses need have had another run to establish the strength of the form.Some horses might uphold form by running consistently or some horses might have disappointed. When horses disappoint there can be many excuses from dirty scopes to not handling the track, so if a horse doesn’t live up to expectations on one run never dismiss it until it’s had a chance to run again. Despite this I always would like to see solid form when selecting a tip. I want a promising recent effort showing encouragement and the previous form to be boosted, with the horses in front or behind running creditable races elsewhere. If you can use this as a key tool, it will serve as a recipe for success.
The Great British weather is another factor that can determine my picks and is a crucial element when selecting winners. This is because horses can often love different surfaces and ground. The term going is used in racing to describe the state of the ground. If the going is said to be firm that means it’s hard and dry, whilst if its soft or heavy and there is moisture in the ground, it can be testing for horses. Most horses have a preference either way so it is important to look through their career and see what surfaces they have raced on. If they are two-year-olds, inexperienced or untested on the ground that’s where breeding comes into play. It' is important to look at the sires and the dams to see what genes they might have passed on to their progeny. Often sires are normally looked at as the main influence in the progeny. Sires such as Exceed & Excel and War Front’s would normally be associated with fast ground whilst Mayson & Lope De Vega would be on softer goings. A key tip from me when it comes to looking at breeding is to look at the dam’s pedigree as it's often overlooked and underestimated. Also now with all-weather racing being a permanent fixture of the British racing scene that too should not be dismissed. Again like with firm and soft ground, some horses thrive on all-weather racing and don’t go so well on the turf but others can handle both so also look at a horse’s all-weather and turf record. The conclusion here is to be confident that your horse will be able to handle conditions when placing a bet.
I like backing course specialists and they are often overlooked in the betting markets as horses can normally run consistent races at their favourite tracks. Britain is quite unique in racing compared to the rest of the world as we have a variety of tracks. Flat courses such as Epsom, Goodwood & Beverley are very undulating which some horses relish and others hate it. For example Roy Rocket is a Brighton specialist and has a formidable track record with many course wins but struggles elsewhere. Brighton is a difficult track with a downhill finish and it can catch out horses and some really struggle to make an impact there. So always look the horse’s record at particular track. For example if a horse is a short-priced favourite has good form but has failed to deliver at previous attempts at the course, I would probably like to take it on especially with a course specialist. On the other hand if a horse hasn’t run at a particular track before I would see what kind of courses it has ran at in its career history. If a horse as ran well at Goodwood before and is tackling Epsom for the first time I would have some hope it could handle the track because both are tight tracks with a downhill finish.
Draw can also play an important part especially at courses such as Beverley, Chester & Kempton. Having a draw near the inside can be very advantageous as you can get a good position early in the race. If you are drawn wide at those tracks it can be very difficult to get a strong position and if you are coming from towards the back of the field it can often be difficult to make up ground especially at a course like Chester. So always make sure your horse can gain a good position and is favourably drawn. Also look at the relationship between trainers & courses can be a profitable method. For example Mark Johnston has a very strong record at Goodwood. His runners at Glorious Goodwood should always be looked at. Despite him being based in Yorkshire he loves sending runners to the Sussex track and he uses the time spent there as a mini-break and family holiday. So this method can be a valuable one to have in your armoury.
This is something that I have learnt more about this year and applied more attention to. It has become a very profitable analytic for me. Normally there are three main tactics of in a horse race. Front runner/prominent, midfield or held up/at the back. Some horses are happy to go the front and dictate the pace of a race, others like to get a tempo and follow a target in front whilst the rest might prefer to be held up and wait for pace collapse be delivered late in a race. To know what a horse’s running style is like, look at what has worked for it before and how it has been campaigned in its career. Also jockey bookings can be key for a race and some jockeys can be seen to good effect on a horse’s running style. For example, at the moment if I see Bryony Frost booked on a front runner over jumps I know we will get a good run for my money. She has a unique relationship at getting horses into an extraordinary rhythm especially with horses like Frodon which has been seen at the highest level. However I have seen her deploy this style of running with horses trained by her father Jimmy Frost and Neil King away from her base at Paul Nicholls. On the other hand If I see Jamie Spencer booked to ride a horse on the flat, I expect a hold up ride with the horse and for them to be delivered with a late charge. So when looking at a race, try to understand how they race will develop. If you see can only see one front runner in a race and they have run well using that tactic before it can be profitable to follow them. If there is plenty of pace in a race, it can often mean that there will be a pace collapse so look at horse that might come with a late surge that might pick up the pieces. Understanding how a race will be run can often pay great dividends.
This theme along with form is the biggest factor I look at when a horse in a race. If you see a horse that is a big price with a lot of things in its favour do not be put off by it because more often or not book makers can be wrong. The main starting point when analysing a race for me is too look at the favourite. I look to see if it can be beaten and see what alternatives in the field can beat it. If I see a favourite that I think is vulnerable, I will always look at other contenders in the race especially if I think the price is extremely short. My style is to always try and scrutinise the favourite if it possible. More often than not favourites lose rather than win. Whilst on the other hand if I see a favourite and I think it is good value I will not be afraid to back them and nominate them as a tip whatever the price. So overall my message is not ever be put off by a price if you can think the horse can run well.
When it comes to selecting tips and picking winners everyone has their own systems and methods Two of the judges that I like to listen to are Paul Kealy and Jason Weaver. I feel Paul Kealy is very good at finding value in races where others overlook and Jason Weaver is often correct on how a race will play out tactically. Both have influenced me in my methods and the way I analyse races. In this blog I hope you take away with you some of these factors that help me find and select winners. All the things mentioned in the blog have helped me maintain my 17 month consecutive record of profit with the Punters Page and my recent hot streak. Feel free to let me know what methods and strategies you use.
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