ATC-s-contrarian-approach-to-big-handicap-races-in-a-nutshell

Last Updated: 26.03.2020

Thursday, 26th March 2020

ATC’s contrarian approach to big handicap races - in a nutshell….

Ask most punters what the most important factor is in a handicap race and most of them will give you the same response: weight....

I’m a contrarian – in life and in betting. I don’t think like everybody else. I see things differently. I go about things differently. It’s a conscious decision....

Not one taken out of sheer bloody-mindedness, you understand. But one taken because walking a different path – when it comes to analysing races, assessing horses or placing bets in the markets – gives me an edge over the opposition (the people I’m betting against)....

When I look at a handicap race I don’t much bother with the weights. Instead, I am much more focused on their official ratings. I told you why on Tuesday....

That’s not the only thing I do differently. The whole ATC approach to handicap betting is different....

We’ll talk about that today. First, what are you doing in the first weekend of October?

  • If I were a rich woman’s plaything....

Greetings from South Derbyshire....

Paris is my favourite city. I love the place....

I love the Seine, the cafes, the art galleries, the history, the architecture, the lights on the Eiffel Tower at night, the distinctive police car sirens, the fact that French children are trained to eat with their mouths closed....

I’m not keen on all the dog dirt – they need to do something about that. And some of the surliest waiters in the city would probably benefit from a good hiding. But nothing is perfect....

If I were a rich woman’s plaything, and that rich woman wanted to treat me to something that would make my heart sing, then it would have to be a weekend in Paris in the first week of October – when the Arc De Triomphe is run at Longchamp....

I haven’t managed to get there yet. I clearly haven’t met the right woman. But I remain hopeful. Meantime, there’s another way of getting there this year....

ITV are running a competition where the winner (and three guests) gets a 3-night stay in Paris across Arc weekend. You get to go to the track and watch the racing on the Sunday. Plus, you get £35k in cash and you get to meet Frankie Dettori and two-time Arc winner, Enable....

I’m having a crack. Get the details here....

  • Looking for winners? Good luck....

When they sit down and look at a big handicap, most punters set out to find the winner....

Fair enough. But that task verges on the impossible and depends as much on luck as it does on judgment. The way handicap races are framed tells you that much….

For sure, you’ll occasionally find a Group horse taking in a big handicap on its way to better things. But that’s the exception – not the rule….

Generally, big handicaps are contested by horses of very similar ability. That’s why, when you look at big handicap races, you can often make a good case for 75% of the field....

On best form, or on gauges related to potential, it’s difficult to separate one top handicapper from another....

So how do you pick the winner from the also rans with any sense of certainty?

  • Don’t ask me because I do it differently....

I leave that task to better men than me. Men with magical powers and second-sight....

When I look at a handicap race, I never look for the winner. I do things differently. Instead, I look at advantage and price....

With a big handicap field my first job is to establish which horses have a key advantage – an edge that might distinguish them from opponents of similar ability....

Next, I look at price. Which advantaged horse can be bet at a price that overlooks the edge it possesses?

I don’t worry about whether the horse will win. Nobody knows that. Least of all me....

Trying to predict how a big handicap will turn out is like chucking a bucket of carrots into the air and calling out which one will hit the ground first....

My focus in big handicaps is directed on identifying an advantaged horse trading at a price that under-estimates its competitive edge….

I figure that if I identify that kind of horse frequently enough, the winners will look after themselves across the long-term. So too the bottom-line....

  • Huh? You don’t look for winners?

No doubt some readers would argue with the logic….

‘Huh? You don’t look for winners? What kind of service is this?’

Of course, we want winners. Winners are what will log profit. And profit is our overall objective....

But looking for winners is not the best route to that profit....

Identifying advantage at value prices is the best route to long-term betting profit....

That is my belief. That is my modus operandi. And that’s what type of service ATC is....

Try to find the best horse in a race ‘right now’ on all known form – working on the principal that the best horse ‘right now’ will win the race – is not an unreasonable approach....

But taking that approach is likely to lead you to one of the horses at the top of the market....

And you don’t want to be betting those horses....

  • Don’t do the dance the donkey died to....

Betting top-of-the-market horses will lead to winners – no doubt about it....

Maybe even up to 30% of the time (certainly no more)....

But the prices you are backing those winners at will make it difficult for you to make the game pay over the long-term....

The prices you get about those winners will be on the short-side – because the crowd has got its money on those easy-to-find horses too. The prices will certainly be too short to compensate for the inevitable losers everybody backs in handicaps (and which sometimes arrive in long and unbroken sequences)....

Backing short-priced horses in big handicaps is what I call ‘doing the dance the donkey died to’. It goes like this: one step forward, two steps back, two steps forwards, one step back, and so on….

Backing short horses in big handicaps is an energy-intensive way of going nowhere. It is akin to running on the spot. Or doggy-paddling like crazy in a rip-tide....

You might not get swept out to sea – but you aren’t making any meaningful forward progress either....

  • ‘Right’ horses at ‘wrong’ prices….

As I say, I don’t think in terms of finding the winner in big handicaps. My approach in any big-race is to focus on identifying advantage and value….

I want horses with a competitive edge that the market is over-looking....

I want to be betting horses that can run a race more competitively than the market believes....

I want to be betting at prices I believe the market has got wrong....

In other words, I want my money riding on the ‘right’ kind of horses at what I believe to be ‘wrong’ prices....

That is my game – in a nutshell. That is the ATC mind-set. That is the ATC approach to betting the most valuable big-field handicaps on the programme....

All the analysis I conduct.... all the observations I make.... all the insights I explore are targeted at discovering horses going into big handicap races with key advantages that the market might miss, ignore, underestimate or overlook on an upcoming race day....

That’s what this service is all about – finding those horses with potential advantages...

We’ll get back to some of that hard-core analysis tomorrow....

Be sure to tune in. We’re going to be looking at another subject that will prove fertile ground for useful and profitable insights we can use later this summer....

  • The final word….

That’s all from me for today....

I’ll be back tomorrow with more handicap-focused insight, analysis and intelligence....

In the meantime, keep well and stay safe....

Until tomorrow. Stay tuned.

Nick Pullen

Against the Crowd