Taking a break....

23rd June 2017

In this week’s issue….

  • Our target race….
  • It’s all about the horses….

Taking a break….

We take a break this week from our regular ATC Extra coverage….

I’ve been tied up with Royal Ascot this week and the only races of interest to me tomorrow are the ones I’ve covered for my paid members on ATC….

It does no harm to take a breather. There’s no shortage of races for us to target in the weeks ahead. We’ll get back down to business as usual next weekend….

In the meantime, here’s something from the ATC archive that you may find of interest – some thoughts on my approach to races and making selections….

  • It’s all about the horses….

Ultimately, every bet I place is based on an assessment of individual horses.

Each horse is different. Each has its own unique quirks and characteristics. Each horse is in a specific time and place on the curve.

Each horse must be taken on a case-by-case basis within the context of the individual race, the conditions the race presents and the unique set of circumstances surrounding it.

Stats are a useful and informative starting point – an initial route into a race. That’s how I use the stats.

The statistical record can tell you a great deal about the type of horse that tends to win a specific contest. It can point you to horses of interest. But we should always be mindful that there are limits to what the stats can achieve.

The statistical record can tell you that younger horses have a far better record in a specific race than older horses. Or that horses that have met a specific form-based yardstick are traditionally of most interest.

But beyond that the stats are silent. They can’t tell you if an individual horse is fit. Or that it will go on ground it has never tried before. Or that some topographical aspect of a specific track won’t suit. Or that inhabitants of the yard have started coughing.

  • Not a winning formula….

The stats act as a guide. They can offer clues and pointers on which you can base a deeper investigation into a specific horse. They are a starting point – as opposed to an out-and-out selection tool.

Ultimately, wherever the stats point you must come back to the individual horses.

There is no getting away from that – unless you are happy to bet mechanically (and there’s nothing wrong with that, if that’s the way you choose to play).

I don’t look at stats as some kind of winning formula – a case of A+B+C+D+E = winner. The game is a little more complex and idiosyncratic than that.

Instead, I approach the stats merely as another piece in the information puzzle – one that might lead to the horses which are worth looking at more closely.

  • It is all about the horses….

I say it again. Where horse-racing is concerned, it’s all about the horses.

You can’t get around them. You can’t get away from them. But I think that’s what a lot of punters try to do.

Studying horses and trying to figure them out is hard work – even when you enjoy it and you’ve been at the exercise for years.

Shove a 20-runner handicap under the nose of the average punter and tell him he’s got to take a view on each of the individual runners – based on profile, performance & preparation – and he’s going to run a mile.

Some punters are busy and don’t have time. Other are lazy and can’t be bothered. Some don’t know what they’re doing. Others are not inclined to learn. Each of these people is looking for short-cuts.

Stats, mechanical systems, databases, Holy Grail algorithms – all these things represent shortcuts. They pander to the view that there is some way of winning at racing that doesn’t require any actual knowledge of the sport or the individual equine athletes that participate in it.

Don’t get me wrong. As, I’ve said, I use stats and databases myself. Both are great tools – useful tools when used properly and when their limitations are acknowledged and respected. But they are not magic.

  • There is no sorcery you can call on….

A database is not a witch doctor. A database is just a database. It’s just another way of accessing and interrogating information.

A database shouldn’t be confused with a software programme that enables you to find a steady stream of winners at the click of a button.

A stat is not an incantation that brings desired race results to pass if you repeat it often enough. A stat is just a stat. It refers to things that happened previously.

Whether an individual horse upholds a key stat will depend more on the horse than the previous strength of the stat.

In racing, it all boils down to the horses eventually. Stats don’t run races. Nor do algorithms. Or systems. Horses do.

It doesn’t matter what statistical boxes a horse ticks. It won’t win a big race if it isn’t fit, isn’t firing, isn’t suited to ground and track or faces some other condition or circumstances that represents a big negative….

That’s all from me this week. Enjoy your weekend.

Nick Pullen

Against the Crowd Extra