Tuesday, 15 February 2011

My working routine - to finding winners

Spotting Winners 

 It's always interesting to understand some one's working approach - that is why I enjoy reading other blogs and learning those gems of wisdom which I can incorporate in my routine and analysis. But what is the underlying philosophy of HCE in turning that everyday horse into a betting selection?

As readers of HCE will know, we specialise in two-year-old horse racing. In fact, I have such limited understanding of any other age group or code I don't consider them. If I did look at a 3yo it would be based on its juvenile career - good reason to keep clear, hey.

The main reason I focus on two-year-old horse racing is there simply isn't enough time to consider beyond this specialisation. I enjoy the two-year-olds as each season is new but strangely familiar. With a tweak here and there my analysis is much the same - but hopefully improved from the season before. How people manage to follow racing in general I can't comprehend. They must have a 30 hour clock with a dickey hand.  At the peak of the juvenile season I often find it difficult to keep up with the workload. But It is imperative not to fall behind. It is similar to watching those cuddly toys whizz by on the Generation Game except this conveyor belt has no emergency button for a day or two's respite. I know two-year-old horse racing. I understand how it works. It's an old trusty friend. However, we can always learn something from others. That is why I enjoy reading other people's blogs because within all of the everyday stuff there are gems of wisdom, which I take and incorporate into my thinking to add to my armoury of tools. People are often quite rude about followers of two-year-old racing, probably because they don't understand it so consider us to be be rather intrepid, hardy or foolish. There are areas of sports betting that I have little understanding. I often read trading blogs and haven't got the slightest idea of what they are saying - it is literally another language. But what I do appreciate is that if it works for you - you are making money or on your way to doing just that - then good luck to you and well done.

I have been following two-year-old racing for 20 years or so - a long time. Every year I learn something new - but all of those little pieces of the jigsaw reveal a brighter picture. The picture we are all looking for - a winner.

So how do I work?

HCE selects horses using a combination of many things - each important in its own way. Basically we study the form (watch and analyse every two-year-old race throughout the season - apart from selling and claiming races, which I record, if needed at a later date). It is very time consuming and I work longer than 9 - 5 every day of the Flat season. In fact I often work more than 12-hour days just to keep up with things. In many ways it would be a blessing if there was less racing. Although I get bored waiting for the new Flat season to begin. Excited too!

I enjoy studying races. But an important part of my analysis is statistics. We have our own database and find unique facts and figures about trainers, horses & even owners which hopefully give an edge. Statistics - from a sizable sample - are good because they give a confident prediction to a given variable. However, it is only a significant factor - we are never dealing with facts - far from it. But generally speaking a good statistical pointer combined with form and watching a horse gives enough information to make a selection or leave alone. You cannot beat watching a horse to get that all important feeling. I have mentioned this before in my posts and it is very important to listen to yourself - words and feelings. In addition to this, I am a big fan of Group-entered juveniles and taking note of every declaration stage whatever the race type. Group entries can be a significant pointer to ability although they do vary from trainer to trainer. Some are far too ambitious. I also take note of selling and claiming race entries - especially those making their debuts or dropped in class for the first time (a sign of regression). Mick Channon often has two-year-olds entered for these plating races and then they are withdrawn only to appear a few days later and favourite in a maiden race. Now, there is no saying any horse cannot go on to be a talent - but for me that isn't a good sign. It's illogical and the trainer's opinion. But who remembers it was entered to run in the selling race? Hardly anyone. Take note of horse racing declarations, and their jockey bookings. Quite often a jockey with jump ship and it is often telling. I always remember Jamie Spencer doing that when Spacious won on her debut many years ago. He was originally booked to ride Bell's favourite in the same race - but clearly had heard good things about Fanshawe's future star. Amazing - no doubt because Fanshawe generally has such a poor win rate on debut - it won at odds of around 10/1. What a pointer. I have little doubt Spencer knew it was a good thing.

I rarely bet on juveniles on their debut. It is a hard task to win, especially against experienced horses. I think many debutantes struggle against raced opposition that has an element of ability. Clearly you have to take each race and horse on its merits but I always think: 'Let them [the unraced] prove they have ability'.

If a two-year-old has enough ability to win a race it will usually be on its second or third start. Once they have run four, five or six races plus there is a chance they may regress. I always look for signs of temperament because the juveniles often show they are not enjoying their racing at some point. And a temperamental horse is rarely good bet in my opinion - not unless they are a fantastic price. If a horse doesn't want to race it will throw the towel in when pressed for more.

Generally, our selection are racing at auction, maidens or stakes level. I'm not overly keen on Stakes races as they can be tricky to call so want 10/1+ as a starting point (so bets are infrequent). I bet in nursery races, although, again, they can be a difficult area to understand at times.

I have ramble enough for now. No one wants to read an extra-long post. If anyone has a specific area of two-year-old racing they want to put forward as a topic, then please do.

Looking forward to the new Flat season. All of those names without form. Terror for some - heaven sent for others.