The Patriarch Presents..

Here we are back after the summer break, and as far as this racing fan is concerned we’re back to face what Terry Pratchett (in an altogether different situation) called an “embuggerance”, or a very annoying situation or nuisance. I’m talking about the Racing Post‘s decision last month to start charging for Internetaccess to information that was formerly freely available. I know that the basic membership cost is only £7.50 per month with additional service charges going up to £19.95 a month, but it’s enough to make me think of a different approach to systems.

I’m looking for something that is Racing Post -proof, recession – proof that will still be available free of charge, and that’s what my first system this month is all about. There are lots of very good free services still to be had on the internet, so with Racing Post now charging we’ll have to make more use of them. One of the best, and the one I’m using with this system is and it really is a marvellous site. It has a wealth of statistical information that I may come back to in a later piece, but for the moment it is the Massey ratings that interest me.

They are computer generated by a program that he’s been working on for around 10 years (he’s a computer programmer by profession). The program analyses every horse’s previous performance, gives it a rating for that performance and these ratings are then used to generate a rating for the current race. So, the present rating is entirely based on these previous performances, and the conditions of the present race – distance, weight, draw, etc. The ratings are supplied entirely free of charge, but Massey naturally keeps his program secret, and it is not for sale. Not all meetings are covered, though most are, and finally, when you find the relevant ratings page on your screen, the ratings themselves are in a column on the right-hand side with the highest at the top going down to the lowest at the bottom for each race.So, how do we make good use of these ratings? Not by indiscriminate backing of all those top-rated, that’s for sure.

You might care to specialize by concentrating on non-handicaps only, or on handicaps if you’re braver, or on certain courses, or whatever. But here is my idea based on Massey’s own advice. He pinpoints certain of these top-rated horses by awarding stars as betting propositions, from one star to a maximum of five. Those with five stars are certainly worth considering. And I’d also look at the points difference between the top-rated and the next best – obviously, the bigger the gap the better the chance of the top-rated. And then there is something else in addition to the ratings and the stars. 

There is a column on the left-hand side of the ratings column with the heading “Max”, and that is very important for my approach as I’ll now explain.  Listed there are the highest ratings ever achieved by each horse in their previous races, and to me this is rather important and plays a big part in my system.  Here’s why. Let’s say I have a top-rated selection that has been awarded five stars by Massey. I now check the “Max” column and find that another horse, or more than one, has a higher best performance. That raises the doubt in my mind that if it repeats that best performance then it will beat my selection. So, no bet.  Let’s see then what I’m going to bet on.

Look at the ratings, look for a five-star selection, consult the ‘Max’ column and if your five-star selection also has the clear best performance figure of all the runners then we have a bet. I was writing these notes on the 14th of July and I can hardly believe the results achieved that day. First of all there were four horses that qualified for a bet (that is more than usual for a day.  The following day saw none), and of the four we had three winners and a second. The first winner was only 8-11, but the next two, both at Brighton in the 3.30 and 4.00 were Mick Is Back at 5-1 and Joss Stick at 6-1. Clearly we can’t expect results like that every day, but it was just a random day, not one hand-picked by me to boost the system.

Should you wish for more selections than are provided by these rules you might care to consider this.  Look at four-star selections and if these are at least 25 points clear of the second rated and again are clear best in the “Max” column, then they are worth a bet.  Something else occurred to me that day, the 14th of July, as I was sitting there at the computer, and this may be of interest to those of you with a laying, rather than a backing turn of mind. In the 3.00 at Brighton there was a top-rated selection with five stars called Satwa Street, quite heavily backed into 5-4 favourite.  But when I looked at the “Max” column one horse had an equal best performance, and two had a much better best performance. I took heed of the warning and laid Satwa Street since it was at so short a price. The outcome? Satwa Street was beaten and the horse that won was Highland Harvest at 15-2, the horse with the very best past performance. I’ll leave it there this month, but perhaps there is something to be learned from that example which could provide the basis for a laying system.

P.S. I’ve just noticed that on the 16th of July there were two four-star selections, clear by 25 points or more and clear best. One was second at 7-2 and the other won at 3-1.

Since writing the above I’ve been keeping tabs on the idea and I have to say that I haven’t experienced as good a day as the 14th of July. However, there have been lots of selections placed, often at big odds, and I’m now considering playing safe and backing them place only when the odds permit.