Well Handicapped Horses – II

Today we have the first part of an interview with John Gibby the author of Well Handicapped Horses

This interview was conducted by Steve Carter of the Betting School Insiders Club.


Moving on to your new book Well-Handicapped Horses, was there a need to evolve your original methods?

Yes, the odds about well-drawn runners had contracted sharply as awareness of draw bias increased and furthermore, the reliability of draw statistics was declining due to the systematic and improved watering of our tracks.

The traditional rail draw biases at many tracks either disappeared, or their impact was reduced. In fact it has become common for the jockeys to elect to stay away from the rails and take their mounts down the centre of many tracks.

After I made a slight loss in 2003 I decided that I needed to come up with something different and I turned my attention to lightly raced horses because I felt that many punters struggled to spot those that were potentially much better than they had shown themselves to be on the track, on the few occasions that they had run. It has proved to be a good choice.

I also needed a less time consuming approach to winner finding as spending hours each day studying the form was becoming unsustainable, given my family and work commitments.

How would you describe your typical punting week in terms of research and actual punting activities and what tools do you use to aid this?

These days it is quite simple. In the few months before the start of the Flat I draw up an initial list of horses that I consider to be well-handicapped. That usually contains about 70 horses to go to war with. Once the season gets under way I will look to add horses to the list each week after scrutinizing the results section in the Weekender.

Once I spot a horse that looks interesting I will then look at videos of its past races and all the comments from race readers and its connections that may be on the Racing Post website.

The horse’s sale price and its breeding are also of particular significance. On average I will add about five or so new horses each week. I use Raceform Interactive in order to have access to their ‘List Manager’ feature that automatically highlights which, if any, of the horses on the list are declared to run and that saves me a lot of time and effort when it comes to identifying if horses on the list are running each day.

If a horse is declared to run I then have to decide whether conditions are right for it and whether I think it is ready to produce its best form.

I weigh up the opposition to see whether there are other potentially well-handicapped horses in the race and then decide whether the odds available seem fair.

On many occasions there will be more than one qualifier on my list in the same race, so I also have to consider which of them to back and whether to place forecasts or tricasts. I have had some notable successes with this type of bet and they are an important part of my armoury.

So, it is quite a simplistic approach but it has the big advantage of keeping my betting focussed on, what I consider to be, the right type of horse and I am not distracted by the mass of other betting opportunities out there that may well prove damaging to my wealth!

Since the new book hit the market has there been any noticeable change in your current P&L performance?

I think it is true that more of the horses on my list of 100 horses to follow have been heavily backed than in previous years. Whether that is simply coincidence I am not sure. In most years I have hit with three or four horses which have been returned with a starting price of 25/1 or bigger and they obviously have had a big impact on my profitability.

This year very few runners have started at 25/1 or more and none have won and as a consequence I have made a smaller profit than in the last two seasons. There have, however, been some major successful plunges on several horses from odds of 16/1 down to single figures and, as always, it is important to get on at the inflated early odds! The majority of the runners come in for good support.

If you had a magic wand what changes would you make to the current set up of UK horse racing?

The one thing that I would love to see introduced is sectional times for each horse, in every race, at every racetrack.

That would be fantastic for serious form students and would provide such an insight into how each race was run and how that impacted on the performance of the contestants. I appreciate that it would be expensive and that the idiosyncratic nature of our courses would complicate matters, but I do hope that it happens.

The other thing that I believe should have been introduced a long time ago is the weighing of horses just before they run (and preferably just after as well!). Punters should know whether a horse is near its ideal weight prior to a race.

It would help punters to spot younger horses that have grown significantly and filled out and that are likely to show improved form as a consequence.

It would also be a great help at a track such as Southwell (AW) where big strong horses do particularly well on the deep stamina sapping surface. Punters would quickly be able to spot the bigger, stronger horses by looking at how much they weigh. There is no doubt that it would be a significant aid for punters.

And Finally. What advice would you give to a wannabe profitable punter who may currently not lose a great deal but can’t quite turn in regular profits?

Firstly, read as many books as you can about the subject. I learned an awful lot by reading many of the American books and then applying that knowledge to the UK racing scene. If you can’t yet look at the result of a race, whether that be in print form or on video, and understand how it unfolded and how the various biases that are always present in a race impacted on the runners’ performances then you will struggle if you are employing a form based approach.

Secondly, be selective. If you want to bet on every Saturday televised race then don’t expect to make a profit, unless you hit with an accumulator!

Thirdly, and most importantly perhaps, be prepared to tough out losing runs. Losing runs are inevitable but punters give up on potentially profitable methodologies too quickly and keep changing tack.

Do your research, keep records and then have the courage to give your method a fair chance to prove its worth. The length of likely losing runs depends on the odds of your selections, but if you can’t take a losing run of say between ten and fifteen on the chin, you shouldn’t be betting!


Todays Selection courtesy of Value Backing Extra

Ayr 4.40 Watts Up Son win bet @ 6`1 Willaim Hill BOG

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