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Let’s get going

Hey! Mel Gee here.

You can make your horse selections in 1001 different ways…

Granny’s pin is an old favourite as is favourite jockey, favourite colours, grey horses, names only, or just numbers on the racecard. And there are plenty more!

Of course, the above isn’t going to make you a first or second income, but it does help many enjoy the sport of kings. Such selection methods are a start for many racegoers who are in it for fun, for a day out or just to relieve the boredom on a wet rainy afternoon when racing is on the ‘telly’.

However, if the sport grabs you to the extent of wanting to profit from it – from your betting, that is – then a more accurate way of horse selection needs to found.

We start with the main parameters, being: horse, jockey, trainer, owner, class, course, draw, form, age, weight, recent run, apprentices/conditionals, headgear, and one I particularly pay attention to, the going.

You have to become an expert on all the above to give yourself any sort of reasonable chance to make your racing pay. If you haven’t got the ‘knowledge’, then the tipster route is open to you and of course the myriad of systems and services available is endless.

On systems, the late, great, Phil Bull (Timeform founder) said of systems: “Geese that lay golden eggs are not for sale”

Having invented more systems than most in the sport, I can honestly say that none had a longevity, and none gave confidence to place high sums of money on a selection. Systems did, however, help in the overall learning of that which needs to be learned. In my experience, systems are for small wagers, fun bets, and not for making second or third incomes. The same, I might say, of most tipsters. I’m happy and open to be proved wrong, however, on both counts!

A going concern

I digress… I want to expose rather the importance of the ‘going’ in form interpretation and horse selection. It’s a fascinating and complicated subject but it can be mastered. I’ll talk of UK turf racing only, as going descriptions alter in Ireland and in France e.g. ‘yielding’ and ‘very soft’ are used respectively, and the All Weather racing courses are different again.

There are six going descriptions only in UK turf racing, namely: firm, good to firm, good, good to soft, soft, and heavy. The term ‘Hard’ is not used today and would affect only racecourses without a watering system such as Bath racecourse if it was used. The going is determined by the clerk of the course and reflects the amount of moisture in the ground.

I do get frustrated at commentators and others referring to the going as tacky, dead or quick.

Understanding how well or otherwise a horse travels on each going is most important in form selection. Horses can be very suited to one going and not to another and that must be identified.

Horses can be looking to travel well on one going but would be more suited to another going. That has to be identified too. Some horses can travel on any going, seemingly. It is said that a ‘good’ horse can travel on any going. Don’t you believe it! The greats – and there are few – can handle most goings but it is not a given.

My advice to start to learn how to determine the horse and going relationship is to find your favourite horse and work forward from its first race to today and see how and if the going has affected its running. Once that is done, repeat the task with a thousand other horses and on completion of that task, re-run your findings on another five thousand horses. It will surprise you what you learn. You only have to learn it once for the information to last a lifetime.

If you can master the vagaries of the going and the British weather, you will be head and shoulders above your fellow bettors.

On completion of your ‘going’ research, you’ll be ready to do similar with all the other parameters I’ve mentioned above.

Don’t deem the tasks as impossible. It is an apprenticeship to successful qualification of becoming a winner in our great sport. No different from setting out to qualify as a mechanic, carpenter, electrician, dentist, doctor or whatever. There is one difference, however, I should mention… There are no textbooks for you swot over! It’s all down to you.

Our great sport needs far more to master than the ability to place a bet.

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