I was asked by a WRWM reader (no… not the WRWM reader – don’t be cheeky!) if I have a system/strategy for Group 1 / Grade 1 horse races.

I suppose this is a great niche for you to focus on. The workload is not so great. The form lines should be ultra-reliant. And the races will get great coverage from the racing press, much more than a Novice stakes race at Southwell, for instance.

How will you know when there is a top-quality race? At www.racingpost.com underneath their race cards is a section called ‘WORLDWIDE STAKES RACES’.

This section lists all top-quality fare throughout the world.

A look at this section for tomorrow shows four races in the UK: the 13:50 Ascot, 15:15 York, 15:40 Ascot, and 16:15 Ascot.

Let’s take a look at each race and see if there’s some kind of a strategy we can employ.

Although the reader asked about Group 1 races specifically, some of the above stakes races are Group 2 and Group 3.

13:50 Ascot

Number of runners – 7 – This is important. Is there an each-way angle? Less so with seven-runner races (only two places). If this was an eight-runner race, we’d have three places for the Place pay out section of an each-way bet.

Betting Market – How does the Betting Market look? Strong favourite? Tight odds? Sometimes the Racing Post will put up the odds for races the day before. The odds for this race are: 9/4; 3/1; 4/1; 7/1; 8/1; 9/1; and 16/1. I think this is a very tight market. In a market such as this, the favourite looks vulnerable. The market suggests competitiveness.

Age of horses – Two-year-olds – inexperienced. Could add weight to an argument to lay the favourite? Potential to improve too!

Past history – Available for free from www.thestatsdontlie.com, www.trendyrich.com and (in some cases) the race card at www.attheraces.co.uk.

The favourite has won five of the last six runnings of this race. Two of the last three runners had ratings of 100+.

We are looking for patterns from previous runnings.

Eleven of the last twelve runners were in the first three in the betting.

This is how I would look at group races myself. Form experts, such as Andrew David (I hope you enjoyed Andrew’s [a.k.a. the Betting Doctor’s] eletter last week) relish these group races, as form lines are so reliable. I am not a form expert alas.

My conclusions from the 13:50? Well, I was going to take on the favourite (by ‘take on’ I mean lay), because the market is competitive: this is a race of two-year-olds too. But the record for the top-three in the betting is superb. Still, glass half full – we have second and third-favourites running for us.

Let’s look at one more race…

15:15 York

Number of runners – 8 – As noted above, this is the perfect number of runners for each-way betting, simply because eight runners is the shortest number of runners to pay out three places. Any selection you make has to beat only five runners in order to guarantee a Place return.

Betting Market – 15/8; 3/1; 4/1; 7/1; 10/1; 12/1; 33/1; and 33/1. A strong favourite. Two apparent outsiders. If those two outsiders at 33/1 can be dismissed, then we have a race of only six horses for the three places. Each-way betting becomes even more appealing.

Age of horses – Three-year-old +. More experienced than two-year-olds!

Past history – I am using www.thestatsdontlie.com at the moment. At the home page, hover your mouse over ‘Horse Racing’, then ‘Flat’, then the group of the race (this race at York is Group 2 – you’ll see the group in the title of the race).

The favourite has won the last two runnings. Prior to that a 7/1 and 10/1 horse won. In fact, four of the last eight runnings have seen 8/1, 12/1, 7/1 and 10/1 winners.

The last ten trainers have all been different. So, a negative against last year’s winning-trainer Condon?

Ten of the last 12 winners were aged between 4 and 6. Eleven of the last 12 winners had a rating of 112 or higher.

The ratings stats do not apply this year. There are no horses at a rating of 112 or higher. The favourite is a three-year-old. Can we take him on? Remembering that: 1) this is an eight-runner race – ideal for each-way; and 2) four of the last eight winners have been at 7/1 odds or higher.

The speculator will look at 7/1 and 10/1 horses each-way here: Fabricate and Euginio. A 50/50 chance based on the last eight runnings that you’ll get a 7/1-or-higher-odds winner!

The speculator will see that three-year-olds have a poor record in this race, and will lay the strong favourite Elarqam.

So, to the reader who wanted to know how I tackle group and stakes races, this is how I do it: a simple four steps to determine my strategy.

Next week we will be looking at football, what with the football season upon us. I’ll be sharing with you the websites you need on your side to make profit-making decisions this season. See you then!