‘Doing the form’ is an Australian past time, it’s engrained in our culture and for many of us something we grew up doing. We teach you some of the basics of doing Horse Racing Form.
Opening up the newspaper or the best bets and looking at the brief piece of information on each runner and drawing quick conclusions on who we like and who we don’t like.
The problem is, there are many myths that have been passed down the generations that have ultimately created punters who aren’t educated and essentially are just lining the pockets of the corporate bookmakers across Australia.
Punting Stars was created to provide astute punters with a voice, and a platform to share their information and thoughts and to help the average joe out there get ahead and get more bang for his punting dollar.
So, let’s take a look at some of the most basic steps of ‘doing the form’ and talk about thing to avoid as well as some helpful hints to help you find more winners and most importantly, find value!
The following pillars of doing the form are all readily available for punters on bookmaker websites, newspapers and racing publications. We’ll hopefully shed some light on what to take note of and what to ignore.
Keep in mind that all of the stats below do not take into account the class of a race and therefore have impurities. For example, a horse may have had 4 Group 1 starts for no placings but the horse did run fourth on three occasions. The horse is now set to be racing in a BM64 in the bush. A quick look at his stats would read 4 starts for 0 wins and 0 placings – not very impressive but assuming something closer to a level weighted field this horse would likely be favorite in such a race given the substantial drop in class from Group 1 level.
Track and distance stats
There are certain horses that perform better on certain tracks, there is no doubt about that. Horses that like to lead are more likely to have better stats on tracks like Moonee Valley and Doomben where as run on horses are more likely to thrive on tracks like Flemington and Eagle Farm.
Tight turning tracks can also bring some horses unstuck while the different direction that Victoria, South Australia, and Western Australia race in compared to Queensland and New South Wales can also pose issues for horses who struggle to switch their ‘lead legs.
Horses also have their ‘pet distances’ where they often produce their peak performances. This matters when doing the form, especially later in a horse’s preparation when the horse is likely to be set to peak with fitness and be placed in a race the trainer thinks they can be very competitive in.
HINT: Keep in mind the class of a horses victories at a certain course or distance. A horse might be 2 from 2 over 1600m at Flemington but if both wins were at BM78 level and the horse is now in a Group 2 the horse faces a stern test to replicate the first two results.
2) First and second-up form
Sprinters, in particular, are noted performers first or second up whereas stayers often need to build a fitness base and gradually build the distance of their races.
There are some sprinters who are best ‘kept fresh’ for their short course assignments and some horses that need consistent racing to maintain fitness levels.
First and second-up usually means that a horse is not yet at it’s fittest so tackling a heavy or testing track can often be challenging for these horses
HINT: To get a guide on how a horse might perform first or second-up, keep an eye out for a horses trial or jump out prior to it’s first start back to get a guide on how the horse is going.
3) Track condition stats
Now this is an interesting one, this is where punters look at a horses statistics on certain track conditions like Fast, Good, Soft, Heavy and match it up with the conditions the horse is likely to face in the race in question.
This is a great basis, particularly when looking at the pointy end of these stats. Fast and Heavy stats.
Only certain horses can run to their best on really firm tracks and really heavy tracks are no different.
HINT: Pay attention to the race times on given race days. The difference between a Heavy 8 and a Heavy 10 can be enormous. While some horses may have good stats on Slow and Heavy surfaces that horse may have ran poorly the two times it raced on truly bottomless Heavy 10 surfaces where on the day all the horses ran really slow times.
4) Starting Price at previous starts
The starting price of a horse represents the collective market opinion of the horse’s chances of winning a race at its previous starts. So assuming there are some smart punters out there it is a fairly accurate reputation of a horse’s ability.
A strong SP profile of a horse would mean it’s started single figures at the majority of its recent starts and it will likely do so once again.
HINT: A good trick for fine tuning this strategy is to group the horses starting price by class and distance. For example, a $1.60 SP at a BM58 isn’t as relevant if that horse is now stepping up into a BM90 as a $2.50 SP from a BM84.
So not only take into account the starting price of the horse at previous starts, take into account how similar that race was on paper to the current one.
5) Race times and sectionals
Race times give a good guide for the overall class of a race. Horses coming out of slowly run races are often vulnerable next start if stepping up into a race that will be run at a hot tempo. Horses that run fast early sectionals are horses that are likely to be able to lead or race near the front whereas horses that run quick closing sectionals often settle near the rear of the field.
Remember also that the time ran between the 800m mark and in the 400m mark is just as important as the time run between the 400m mark and the finishing line.
Don’t get sucked into flashing light runs of fast tempos when the leaders are stopping quickly and don’t get sucked into hot sectionals from a horse that has raced near the back in a slowly run race.
HINT: Pay attention to the overall times run a day, not just one particular race to see how the times stack up compared to other races run under similar conditions.
6) Speed maps and settling positions
Deciding where you think a horse will settle during the run, how quickly the race will be run and who will be most advantaged is one of the most important decisions you need to make when doing the form.
Find out the horses that have lead at their previous starts and that are capable of running quick early sectionals and getting to the front of the race. If the outside is the place to be in the straight you may want to penalise horses that are drawn toward the rail and are likely to be trapped inside looking for a run through the field and give a boost to runners who can track into the race one or two horses off the fence and angle into the best part of the track in the straight.
HINT: Check out where the horse settled the last time he was at that distance range or the last time he was first, second or third up. Simply looking at the last start settling position will not tell the full story. Often a horse will not have enough speed to lead over 1200m but stepping up to 1400m second-up with more fitness will allow them to race closer to the speed for example.
There are an infinite amount of other factors that go into doing the form and pricing up a race accurately. It really is just one big puzzle!
The points we’ve covered above are just a few of the most common that average punters discuss and mull over every weekend.
Have a question for us about doing the form?
As always, good punting!