FINDING YOUR FANCY
In horseracing, a horse’s form is basically a record of its performance in previous races. This information is used by punters as an aid in deciding which horse to place a bet on.
Your challenge, when studying form, is to answer the question: “Given all this information, how will each horse perform today?”
To keep things simple, it is suggested that you stick to studying three main aspects to start with:
1. Finishing Position. Has the horse won recently? Has it placed recently? Does it consistently run unplaced? Naturally, a horse with a consistent history of wins and places is more likely to reproduce that form in future.
2. Lengths Behind. When beaten, has the horse been well-beaten, or only narrowly defeated? A horse that has only been narrowly beaten on several occasions may be due for a win this time!
3. Distance. Has the horse competed over today’s race distance – or reasonably similar distance before? If so, how did it do? Studying the previous distance a horse has competed over may reveal a particular appetite for long distance races, or middle distance, or sprints. Is the horse running over his best distance today?
You can find the form in the official racecard or in several commercially published formguides.
CHAMPIONS SEASON – May, June, July every year in KwaZulu-Natal
If you really want to have some fun finding your July fancy, go back and check out the results of some of the other important feature events earlier in Champions Season. Many of the entries for each year’s Vodacom Durban July begin arriving in KZN by late April or early May, and that’s when you can begin your search for your July winner. It’s become a well-watched guide: the other races that take place at Greyville Racecourse in the nine weeks leading up to the first Saturday in July are often valuable ‘pointers’ in picking the winner of the Vodacom Durban July.
A look at the past decade of the Vodacom Durban July reveals that nine of the past ten winners showed significant Champions Season form.
Paddock deliberation is an essential weapon in your betting armoury. Many punters though, are often at a loss to know what to look for when casting an eye over a horse in the pre-race parade, which in more cases than not will provide an accurate clue to the outcome of the race.
With a few simple pointers you can now rectify this, and spotting winners could become a far more rewarding exercise.
One should bear in mind that horses are like humans. It doesn’t matter what they are capable of, if they’re not feeling up to it, they will not perform at their best.
The trick is learning to spot a really fit horse. It will look hard and its coat is often a giveaway – it should look ‘alive’. A fit animal will also be on its toes and eager to get on with the task at hand, a trait often missing in its less tuned-up rivals. If you want a single indicator of fitness, simply look at the tummy: as with humans, the horse which carries too much belly is not likely to be fit.
There is an old racing saying that says ‘the horse which walks well will gallop well,’ so look out for a runner which covers a good deal of ground with every stride.
Generally a horse needs the right temperament to perform well. The stresses and strains of a big occasion can easily cause them to boil over. This does not necessarily mean an end to their chances, but generally getting all het up does nothing to improve a horse’s prospects.
Watch the horses canter down to the start, and look for the ones which stride out freely and eagerly. Be wary of those that ‘stride short’ – that is, do not fully extend themselves.