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You do know what you know

Have you ever surfed around between races on the cable TV and landed on that BBC Knowledge channel? Now there's an interesting place to be from time to time! The have re-runs on a lot of the time of the BBC TV series Mastermind. Some of the stuff on there is fascinating.

They have these people on that show whose special subject is obscure stuff like 16th Century English Cathedrals and they sit there and answer two minutes worth off the most, TO ME, irrelevant questions. Questions like "What was the name of the housekeeper who tended house for the architect of St Someone's Cathedral in Essex?".

Now you have to ask why anyone would bother memorising this stuff for later use. The truth is that to them, for whatever reason, memorising it is not an effort and seems to occur naturally and, if you ask them, they are astounded that everyone doesn't do that in the way that they do.

The same psychology applies to everyone - even you! It's why we all do the things we do and have expertise in different areas. Every one of us has an aptitude for some things and are completely hopeless in others. I have a friend who was a horologist when he was working at it. A horologist? Yes, a watch maker and repairer. A keeper of time. And he was (and probably still is) very good at it. People with historic clocks and time pieces from all over the world sent them to him for restoration and repair because he "knew his stuff". He understood how they made these things from 300 to 400 years ago and therefore how to fix them up.

How did he gain the knowledge? Reading, observation, repetition. Listening. Watching. Doing. Learning from his boss as an apprentice.

A very clever and skilled craftsman. An artisan. What does he know about fixing motor cars? Two fifths of three quarters of the proverbial. What does he know about horse racing? Even less. Why? Well obviously it's something he's never really been "in to" and hasn't applied himself to the gaining of knowledge about it to have either an interest in pursuing it or the ability to stay in front of the game while playing.

And so it is with most people. Each of us has a niche even if we don't understand it ourselves as to why and where it all started. What do you do well? Really well? Do it in a manner that gives you confidence before you start the job that it will get finished properly with a result that most of the time will be personally pleasing to you? Cabinet making? Gardening? Cooking? Punting?

My son is very good at poker. He has that unique "card sense". He worked for a while as a dealer at a casino until he got bored with the drunken yob punters that kept making the same inane remarks night after night after night - all thinking in the haze that it was probably the first time the dealer had ever heard the same stupid comments and should therefore be most amused by them. (If you go to a casino remember - they've heard it all before and aren't the slightest bit interested.)

Anyway, he's very good at card percentages in poker. He wins a deal of money at it from those who've never taken the time or had the interest to learn the percentages of the game - the way it works. And it is all percentages and odds. Nothing else.

In the same way, horse racing and betting on them is all about percentages. Nothing else. The ones who have made the effort to understand the percentages - chances if you prefer - win money from the investment pool mostly supplied by those that haven't taken the time to arm themselves with the necessary knowledge to just give themselves that winning edge.

Me? I'm very good at patterns. I see patterns of repetition in everything whether it's horse racing results or gardening or target rifle shooting or even politics. It's all about patterns of repetition. And they happen with just as much certainty in those aforementioned pursuits as the chances of the sun coming up this morning. Day after day. Week after week. Month after month. The same patterns keep repeating.

As I've written on other parts of this site, your individual result achieved in the adoption of these patterns is merely determined by the very point at which you start applying those patterns of repetition to your own investment strategy.

My penchant for patterns (love the alliteration) allows me to spend vast amounts of time poring over results for hours and hours (when others mostly get bored) and identify long term trends that you can use to your advantage. I like it. I enjoy it. And so, like the good people on Mastermind who know all there is to know (almost) about 16th century cathedrals in Essex, I try to know as much as I can about patterns.

I get just as much enjoyment chasing down patterns that break down after a few hundred racing events as what I do from those that don't break down. (Make sense of that if you're a sports psychologist!). And there have been a heap of them.

If you are going to get seriously involved in this sport of racing you have to spend the time before you will achieve worthwhile results. I noticed a telling comment on a forum the other day that read "the more time I spend doing the form the luckier I seem to be".

Sure, save yourself some time and pick up a method or two off this site and read and analyse and understand where I'm going with it and how I arrived at the conclusions I did BUT add your own research on to the end of it and make it yours and yours alone. Your opinions and research are probably worth way more than mine. And when you have added to my initial research with YOUR ideas you will have a unique system that no one else has and so therefore gain benefit from it via better returns form the growing punting pool.

You should not believe what anyone tells you without doing your own research. I don't. Neither should you. If you want to know something you have to start by asking and then confirming from other sources.

There are so many resources available today via the internet that make it so easy to arm yourself with knowledge that was not available when I started punting some 50 years ago as a kid at nanna's place when the only generally available form guide of note that had more than the last three starts was the Melbourne Truth. If you want more data on anything to do with racing and it isn't available on the net send the clubs an email and ask them. Or the bookmakers association. Or the racing radio stations. Or the commentators. ASK. Most will be only too pleased to answer in an honest and helpful way if you approach them in an honest and cheerful manner.

BUT do the research yourself and satisfy yourself it is the truth. You can't improve without the basis of truth and remember, truth has no hidden agenda.

© 2011