Horse racing articles courtesy of Inside Edge magazine
Including some fascinating Horse racing articles, Inside Edge (Dennis Publishing) is the UKís only magazine dedicated to smarter gambling, itís a glossy male lifestyle title, designed for people who enjoy betting in all its forms and are keen to develop strategies to bet more effectively.
They are currently offering readers of The Horse Racing Mail a discounted subscription to 12 issues for only £5. This is a 90% discount on the cover price!Just click on the banner above.
Golden Rules Of Horse Racing Betting
Forget old wives' tales, home-spun wisdom and the advice of cabbies, says Tony Paley. If you really want to know how to punt on horses, you should engrave these 37 Commandments on tablets of stone and carry them with you wherever you go. Not literally, of course - that would be impractical.
Rules. Mavericks and misfits might not like to admit it, but it's especially true in gambling that some solid guidelines are a major help in formulating a strategy to beat the bookies.
There's no short cut to making money backing horses. The bookmakers work full-time at getting money from punters, so backers shouldn't expect to have to do anything different.
Victor Chandler, for instance, not only has a form expert but a speed ratings buff, a breeding analyst and a man whose job it is to collate inside information.
Punters need to take their betting just as seriously, but if they take the following 37 Commandments on board, they will give themselves a much better chance of getting in front and staying there.
The first question to ask when you want a bet is: 'How will this race be run?' And the second: 'Will it suit the horse I am interested in backing?'
Watch as many horse races as possible. Even if the over-excitable Mark Johnson or the almost terminally bored Graham Goode is commentating.
Look at every horse in the race, not just the one you've backed.
Concentrate virtually without exception on the better class of animals in the higher-grade races.
Cram as much form study in as time will allow.
When you find a horse 'coming to the boil' and running into form, back on a winnable rating, stick with it. It will almost certainly pay its way in time.
The going and the draw are the two most important variables in determining the outcome of any horse race.
If there are doubts about the going, draw bias, the price or any other highly important variable, wait till the very last minute until having a bet.
Keep your pockets sewn up when the ground is officially heavy.
The influence of weight is vastly overrated. In the majority of cases, horses will not reverse the form, no matter how favourably off they are in terms of the weights.
Only forgive a horse an 'unlucky-in-running' run once. The vast majority who repeat the offence will repeatedly find trouble.
Follow horses that travel well in races and/or have demonstrated a turn of foot in a truly run race.
The Ei Ei Memorial Rule. Favour horses with a willingness to win.
Never ever back a horse in a major handicap first time out, unless it is trained by Sir Mark Prescott.
Look, look and look again at the stats history of the big races, but use them intelligently. Buffoons on television telling us that no horse above draw 9 can win the Magnet Cup should remember that this is only true when the ground isn't on the soft side of good. That's a fact.
Be wary of each-way betting. In the long run, you're almost certainly going to win more having all-win bets of 50 than 25 each-way. And, anyway, if you're dithering about dabbling each-way because you're unsure if your horse will win, why are you having a bet?
It's the Cheltenham Festival, Royal Ascot, the Derby, the Grand National. You don't have to bet.
Concentrate at specialist courses like Brighton or Goodwood on horses that have demonstrated an ability to perform at those tracks, or have so much in hand their relative inability to do so won't matter.
Study courses until you can study them no longer. Take on board the fact that Ascot's short straight requires different qualities in a horse than York or Newbury's galloping terrains.
Seven furlongs is a specialist distance. End of story.
In sprints, concentrate solely on horses in form.
Cut out and keep the entries for big races. They are stuffed with clues about what trainers expect and, even more crucially, know about the horses in their charge.
Similarly, read and keep all the stable interviews with trainers. They will often give information about going and distance preferences for their horses.
Don't pay over the odds for tips. There is enough quality information around for the cost of a newspaper. Graham Wheldon's Sprintline column (Racing & Football Outlook), Andrew Barr's Mark Your Card feature (Racing Post Weekender), The Guardian's inside info Horse Sense column on Saturdays and Malcolm Heyhoe's internet tipping service (gg.com) are all highly recommended.
The number of race meetings is set to continue growing at an alarming rate. Have an area you can specialise in, whether it be Group races, sprints or middle-distance handicaps.
Think like a bookmaker. Compile your own betting forecast, but above all, be honest with yourself. Ask yourself if you would really offer those odds if you were a layer.
The following books are a must for any serious punter's library: Nick Mordin, Betting For A Living; Alan Potts, Against The Crowd; Mark Coton, Value Betting. The best volume to start with is the Racing Post's Definitive Guide To Betting On Horses.
Open up accounts with as many bookmakers as you can, in order to take advantage of the best prices available.
Get access to the net and use the free Racing Post form at racingpost.co.uk. The races are laid out in a line-byline format, which is much easier to use and far more useful than the form in the newspaper version.
Subscribe to a form book. The official Raceform version, Timeform's Perspectives and Superform are all more than adequate. Stick with the one that suits you.
Put a bank together that you're comfortable with, and have a staking plan sorted out that suits your particular style of betting.
If you're at the track, don't go for a drink before the race, watch the horses going down to the start. You'll learn an awful lot about what sort of horses are suited to different types of ground and what plus and minus points to look for in a horse just prior to running.
Don't believe all the recent press about ignoring the effect of the draw. Stalls positions are often crucial to the outcome of a race, especially in the big handicaps. This is even true of the long-distance races like the Tote Ebor at York, the Cesarewitch at Newmarket and the Ascot Stakes at Royal Ascot. You'll find Graham Wheldon's detailed analysis of draw biases in the Racing Post Definitive Guide book (see the 27th Commandment) or at the front of the official Form Book.
Big-name jockeys invariably win big races. Be wary of backing runners in the major races with lesser-known or inexperienced riders on board.
Have your biggest bets in a period, normally between June and September, when the ground remains fairly constant.
Never underestimate the psychology and emotion involved in gambling. If your mood swings are extreme, you'll find it difficult to survive the inevitable losing runs.
Go to the paddock. Learn the different types of physique and the good and bad signs displayed by horses before the race. Nick Mordin's book The Winning Look covers all the bases.
How To Spot A Winner In The Paddock
Follow our indispensable guide and you'll be able to tell a ready Denise Lewis from a soapy Dawn French.
Like humans, horses will sweat. A small build up of sweat on a horse's coat is a good sign. A light ring of sweat between a horse's back legs is also a good sign of keenness. However, a heavy build up that has turned into foam (known as 'washiness') is not. Watch out for horse's working themselves into a sweat shortly before a race.
A horse's muscular definition is another important factor and there are three main areas to look at. Firstly, look at its hind-quarters for a sharply defined line from a point about a quarter of the way down the rump through to the top of the rear legs. Look for an indication of rib cage. However, too prominent a rib cage could indicate under-nourishment. A chest that is well defined means good fitness.
Steps 3 & 4
A glossy, shiny coat is an indicator of fitness. But dismissing an animal solely because it has a dull coat would be wrong as naturally shiny coats are rare. Look to the horse's overall behaviour and appearance. A horse that walks around (going through the motions) with its head held low will often run badly. In contrast, a horse that has a spring in its step and head up looking keen is likely to run well.
A dull horse will plod along with his head down and his tail tucked between his legs.This horse will rarely show interest in the crowd and may have his ears turned back most of the time, rather than pricked and alert. During the post parade, a dull horse may show some resistance to breaking into a gallop for the warm-up.
The term 'sharp' means that the thoroughbred is bubbling over with energy, so much so that it arrives in the paddock prancing with ears and eyes intent on at what is around him.
The sharp horse may sweat a bit on the neck or between his back legs. The horse may also be making a low squeaking noise with his teeth.
While prancing or jogging on the spot, the horse may have his head tucked down to his chest and his tail pointed outwards and away from his body.
On the track, the sharp horse is anxious to get going. He will break into a canter and gallop immediately, perhaps leaping a bit in the air as he breaks away. During the warm-up on the backstretch and on the turn, the horse is a portrait of controlled strength: neck arched, head down, ears forward, tail up.
The sharp horse might be slightly anxious about going into the starting stall and may dance around briefly before charging into his allotted stall.
The majority of races are won by horses that look 'ready'. They're not as boisterous or peppery as 'sharp' horses, they simply come into the paddock and onto the track looking healthy and ready to win.
Ready horses are more relaxed, yet have an alert look, with their tail raised and removed from their body and a healthy glow on the coat. On the track, the ready horse will trot for just a few strides before breaking off into a warm-up canter.
The warm-up of a ready horse is deliberate but would go unnoticed compared to the sharp horse's pre-race antics. Behind the starting stalls, the ready horse will take his place in line with little urging.
It is important to take note of when a horse last raced before viewing him on the track. If a horse is returning from a long layoff and appears overly 'sharp' he could expend all his energy before the race is run.
Scared horses are trembling and their eyes are moving quickly and rolling with their nostrils flaring. Some will grit their teeth quickly in an edgy manner. Nervous runners will sweat profusely until the sweat turns into a white foam. An angry horse will have his ears flat back on his head. A sick or hurting horse will move in slow motion with his head drooped and perhaps have a stiff and choppy stride when he warms up.
Upsets, mud, bandages
Every so often, a horse that is very sweaty and appears to be out of control, will win the race after you have eliminated him from consideration based on his appearance.
Sweating up to the degree of washiness, however severe, does not always defeat horses. In fact, washiness combined with fractiousness will often end in victory regardless. In sprints, if horses figure, but appear washy and fractious, punters can accept the horses anyway, certainly at attractive odds.
On a muddy racetrack, look for the horses that are lifting their feet up extra high when trotting. These horses are telling you they do not particularly care for the going.
When the official going is described as 'Soft' or 'Heavy' watch out for horses showing short, high, or choppy strides during the post-parade and pre-race warm-ups. Prefer a fully extended, fluid gallop in the mud, similar to gallops on dry ground.
Inside Edge (Dennis Publishing) is the UKís only magazine dedicated to smarter gambling, itís a glossy male lifestyle title, designed for people who enjoy betting in all its forms and are keen to develop strategies to bet more effectively.
They are currently offering our readers a discounted subscription to 12 issues for only £5. This is a 90% discount on the cover price! Just click on the banner above.