With the Winter Carnival slowly drawing to a close, many punters will contemplate
retiring the form guide and speed maps until the smell of Spring enters their
nostrils in a few months time. But while many punters are taking a holiday from
the Sport of Kings over the remaining weeks of winter, many smart punters are
preparing themselves for one of their most successful punting seasons on the
Behind their success are five reasons why betting in lower class races makes
a whole lot of sense.
#1 Work out who can't win
Lower grade races usually bring together horses with form from a range of different
grades. Some are improvers in lower grades, others have performed poorly in
higher grades and the rest have run more often in the actual race grade. Unlike
stakes races where runners have earned their place in the race, these races
tend to have more than there fare share of runners that just can't win.
With such a mixed lot in a race it is often easier to identify who can't win,
leaving you with a decision based on the few horses who haven't been eliminated.
One elimination approach involves three sweeps of the form guide.
First sweep you're looking for the "no brainers".
Those that you can't possibly see in the action at the winning post. In lower
grade races there's usually a greater number of these runners compared to stakes
races. For the second sweep you're looking for more specific
traits where the runner has weaknesses which will be exposed in the run - distance,
track condition for example. Left with a handful of runners after two sweeps
you now compare the runners and rate them in terms of recent form, class and
It's usually easier to eliminate runners in lower grade races. Find an approach
that works and stick with it.
#2 Class at the distance
The most successful punter I ever met who put a lot of work into assessing
lower grade races swore by class at the distance as a key determining factor.
While he used a complex ratings approach, his advice to punters who struggled
to perform this analysis was to approach class and grade separately. For class
he suggested a formula using each horse's prize-money, career firsts, seconds
and thirds, to calculate a performance score based on the following formulae:
Performance Score = Number of Career 1sts + (Number of
Career 2nds / 4) + (Number of Career 3rds / 8)
The Performance Score was then divided into the Career Prize Money to produce
a relative prize money score.
Comparative Prize Money = Career Prize Money
/ Performance Score
e.g. In Race 4 at Eagle Farm this weekend Pajaro is 21-4-6-4
for $374,978 career prize money.
Performance Score = 4 + (6/4) + (4/8) = 6
Comparative Prize Money = $374,978 / 6 = $62,496
The approach then orders each runner according to this score with the highest number representing
the classiest horse followed by some sense testing down the list to ensure that no
anomalies have crept in.
This basic approach then looks at each horse's performance over or around the distance
to identify each runners best run. The approach requires a detailed form guide which
shows more than the past few runs so that the punter can identify the best run
over this distance and see how it compares to the class he is racing against.
Class and distance form are key differentiators in lower class races.
#3 Less emotion when you don't know the horses
One of the biggest mistakes that many punters make is that they let their heart
rule their head. A champion thoroughbred can often play at a punter's heart
strings regardless of how they compare against the field. A classic example
is when we've won off an ageing champion in the past and we feel that we need
to be loyal to the old stager even though we know in the back of our mind that
the horse is past his best and probably not up to the field he is racing against.
Hanging on to our fantasy of past victories, we take the odds on the horse expecting
him to be loyal back.
Punters are less likely to have emotional attachment in lower grade races as
they are less familiar with the runners.
Lower grade races decrease the risk of emotional decisions. In the absence
of emotion, punters are better positioned to make an objective assessment based
on form without any prejudice.
#4 Less knowledge, bigger the opportunity
If you don't know much about the runners in lower grade races, the chances
are that the majority of the other punters having a go in the race don't either.
Less knowledge about runners in the race increases the pricing opportunities
for those who make the effort to learn a bit more.
Punters who keep an eye on provincial tracks or horses moving up through the
lower grades come into their own when assessing lower grade races.
If you're unlikely to ever obtain that knowledge e.g. no time to do the homework,
then there are many punters who are constantly punting and reviewing mid-week,
provincials and country meetings and are sharing
their betting selections through the Tip Market.
The reduced interest in lower grade races usually creates a greater reward
for those punters who take the time to increase their knowledge of lower class
runners. If you're never going to get there then follow another punter with
proven profitability betting in lower grade races.
#5 More over the odds
We run analysis on punters who back winners at big odds and there is a definite
trend towards bigger priced winners being backed in lower grade races. We think
this is easy to explain. Lower grade races have less interest from the punting
public which results in lower liquidity in the betting market. Any market with
low liquidity typically creates significant price opportunities.
Less popular races, involves less turnover which creates pricing opportunities.