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A racehorse And Its Disposition

(July 2011)

Luke writes:

I stumbled across your site a few months ago and what started as a quick read, turned into several weeks of constantly reading over your articles. I have been following racing for years (since about 12 years old, now 28). While primarily punt driven, I have also worked in stables part time, owned horses etc. Although armed with many essential tools such as understanding of odds, form and video analysis, understanding of horses and their anatomy/gear/attributes etc, I failed to suceed in what I have been trying to achieve. I've had profitable years.. some in fact very profitable, but I had to be honest with myself and accept the "gaps" in my record keeping probably indicated some big losses.

The articles took a new meaning for me.. they weren't your typical run of the mill insights and opinions. Fair to say a few of your points hit home hard. I now operate on a very disciplined approach and routine... the way i've always wanted it to be.... I'm not trying to win it all at once!!!

FYI, my selections are based on Saturday races only (MELB, BRIS and PERTH only). I pinpoint my best winning chances, normally between 3-6 per week. I allocate a price rating to each horse and only bet when I can get this price or better. I stake accordingly to chance to win an amount. (eg. Target $500 - Rated $3.50 = $200 to Win). If I can get a bigger price I still bet the same stake. This is the way I bet and the way I do well!

I note you are mainly a systems player. I have played with systems for years, some have turned very good profits, others not so good. While I have no doubt successful systems exist, I just find it difficult to make a significant bet without considering a horses disposition. I've moved away for this reason. However, I still use some basic foundations in my selection method as there is only a certian type of profile of horse I'll back.

In summary, appreciate your site and wish you all the best in the future.

Thanks for the email and input…….I value it highly when I receive reasoned intelligent pieces from people who have made a real effort to conquer the punting beast.

I'm glad some of the stuff I write was of use and you twigged to the discipline angle - it really is of paramount importance to any financial venture, not just racing - and once you have it "on board" you're in the home straight.

You hit the nail on the head when you wrote "I just find it difficult to make a significant bet without considering a horses disposition". So very true! The thing we all tend to forget, and I am guilty of it too, is that horses are not computers or kitchen appliances. They are real animals with real feelings and personalities, likes and dislikes.

Some days they're in a good mood, others not. We don't know if they feel well because we can't ask them. People working in the stables with them day in and day out have a reasonable idea if they're feeling well but for the great unwashed rest of us, that is the ONE aspect we can't pin down. You have to BE with these horses day in and day out, seven days a week (as hard working racing stable staff know only too well) to understand their mood swings.

Like you, I too have dabbled in ownership and had a good connection with a racing stable. There was one particular horse in that stable that had real ability but rarely got to show it because he didn't like the stabling facilities at different race tracks. He'd just stand there all afternoon rocking backwards and forwards kicking the proverbial out of the back of his stall and working himself up into a "nervous on-edge wreck" so that when he did get to race he'd left most of his nervous energy in the stall.

Now there were a few days when he didn't get all worked up (for reasons no one knows!) and he would race very very well - and profitably - or, if he was in a race that was early on in the programme he raced well. All because of his individual psychological make up.

If you KNEW this stuff about this particular horse, you did very well (smiling) BUT you had to "know". Much can be learned about a horse's chances simply walking around the on course stabling area. These days of course you need to have a owners ticket to gain access here at our local course because of "security" so the public at large is denied the opportunity and can only use any assessment criteria when they arrive in the mounting yard.

Some good people have written some good books on this subject which, if you were being fair dinkum about the process, you would devour from cover to cover as most of them are good judges and horse people. However, the problem is they are racing seven days a week. Even trying to glean any insight in the mounting yard is now impossible to do on Sky Channel because they are trying to cover twenty races and hour (with ads) and there is simply no time.

If I were a young bloke starting again (the eternal daydream!) I would base myself in Sydney or Melbourne and just be on course six or seven days a week to "learn and know" as much as I could about a horse's demeanour. It IS the missing key for most of us. I know that some people are offering this on course, via sms, service at a cost. I don't know any of them personally or the judgment criteria they use but there does seem to be a lot of worth in it if you had the right person in whom you had confidence doing it. But you can't beat being there on course IF you have a knowledge base to accompany it.

I was blessed when I was 19 (long time ago now!!) to spend nine months on the punt and my life consisted of going to the races most days around south east Queensland. Wonderful places like Gatton, Kilcoy, Bundamba (before they got oh so trendy and re-named it boring Ipswich) Beaudesert and the Brisbane metro courses and actually got to "know" the horses long before I really understood the value of that information - and opportunity. But that's life - and the past - and we can't change that. Or re-visit to correct!

In the meantime I guess this disposition of which you write is one of those racing variables that, as an off course punter, you have to wear - along with the corresponding extra % risk