This Q&A article is designed to highlight and explain possible betting angles in horse racing and different ways to get the best out of Geegeez Gold. This will be added to on a regular basis, answering questions from YOU, the readers.
For all questions there will be answers from each of Matt Bisogno, Sam Darby and Chris Worrall. Everyone has a slightly different approach when it comes to betting on horses so you should expect differing answers from all three contributors.
If you have a question you’d like to ask the Geegeez panel, about horse racing in general or specifically their use of Geegeez Gold, please post your query in the comments section and we’ll do our best to include it in the next round of answers.
How do you approach looking for bets with Geegeez Gold?
Matt: I’ve a number of things I’m looking for, some situational and some more general. The first and most important thing, in my view, is to choose the right races. Race selection is under-rated and yet, if fishing in shallower pools, we have a much better chance of getting a result. Because of the nature of Geegeez Gold, which is geared much more towards form profiles, I tend to look for races where the horses have already run plenty of times (and therefore we know pretty much their level of ability).
In such races, it is rare that one suddenly steps forward significantly, and so it is often a case of finding the one best suited by the conditions. Tools like Instant Expert, the pace tab and, for flat races, draw tab all feature strongly in my analysis.
More specifically, some of the things I’m keen on marking up (because I believe they’re generally under-rated) are extremes of going (heavy, firm) or field size (very small or 16+ runner fields), specialist distances (5f, 9f, 2m2f+ on flat, 3m6f+ over jumps), first/second time scenarios (trainer records with first or second time in a handicap), change of trainer, distance move, and so on.
For those of you more experimental (and experienced), taking a keen interest in sectional data can be rewarding. Identifying horses with a likely similar pace scenario today from when they recorded a strong sectional figure can be very worthwhile. Our Fast Finishers report is valuable to that end, and comes into its own during the AW season in my view.
Ultimately, I’m looking for value by using bits of information others might not be. Choosing the right races is a big leg up, and then Geegeez Gold can help hugely thereafter.
This video post on Race Selection may help.
Sam: In most races I already have an idea of what I’m going to be backing as I’ll be guided by my tracker entries. The races in which my tracker horses are entered are those that initially interest me.
First of all I’ll remind myself of why they are in my tracker, by either checking my notes or checking the strength of their recent runs (in nearly every case I’ll have added them as they’ve run well in a ‘hot’ race). Then I’ll go through the other runners in the race and I’ll check how my tracked runners are likely to be advantaged or disadvantaged by the run of the race based on course pace and draw biases and the pace setup of the race, so heavy use of the draw and pace tabs.
If there are unknowns about any of the runners, particularly ground or distance, I’ll often use the sire tab on the Profiler tool to check their likely suitability. I’ll use all this info to determine whether or not those runners are a bet and if they are, the strength of that bet.
There are also courses where I always have a quick look through to see if there are any in form front runners likely to get an easy lead. I only do this for front runner favouring courses. I use the pace maps to get a quick snapshot of the pace setup and then I check the form of any lone pace angles. If they have the form to be competitive I’ll look at the entire race in more detail before deciding if that front runner is a bet or not.
Chris: As many of you are already aware, I’m predominantly a stats-based bettor and I use the query tool and report suites to highlight runners that might interest me. I then weed out those in races I don’t like getting involved in, sticking mainly (but not exclusively) to handicaps, where there’s plenty of data to work with.
Trainers are generally pretty fixed in their ways and once they find an approach that works for them, they’re loathe to change and that’s why I follow the stats. If trainer xyz excels in staying handicaps on testing ground and he suddenly has one out, then I’ll take a look, then I use the toolkit to assess whether conditions will suit the horse, before moving to pace and where relevant, draw.
But, I should re-iterate what I’ve said elsewhere, lists of horses from statistical reports, either created by myself or by the Geegeez report suite are only ever an initial excuse/reason to look at a race, they’re not a list of bets.
What do you think is the most underrated angle/aspect of form study?
Matt: Two things spring to mind. First, run style - especially front runners from higher draws - can be a gold mine. And secondly, exposed horses (i.e. those that have run many times already and have few secrets from the formbook) in exposed handicaps.
It is often said that such horses “take it in turns to win”. That is true, but the inference - that it is impossible to know which will have its turn today - is incorrect. A combination of a competitive (relative to personal history) handicap mark, favourable draw and/or run style, and the right track and trip normally see a horse in the mix. That will often be factored into its price, of course, but still quite often it is not.
Sam: I still think pace biases are generally underappreciated, both by punters and bookies. In terms of course biases, using Chester as an example, bookmakers are obviously well aware of the effect of the draw and in most 5f handicaps the first three in the betting will be drawn in the lowest stalls. They are strongly reacting to the likely effect of the draw - and rightly so.
However in these same races the odds rarely reflect the likely pace bias to the same degree. You’ll see runners likely to be held up in last heading the betting over something, with not too dissimilar form levels, that will be ridden prominently.
Chester is a pretty obvious one but there are loads of courses in the UK where front runners can be heavily favoured where in my opinion front runners are being allowed to go off at too big a price. So understanding these course biases is crucial for me and it’s obviously something I find Geegeez Gold helps me a lot with.
Chris: At the risk of following the herd, I’d have to agree with my colleagues here. Pace, tempo, race tactics, running styles, call it what you will, but that’s the thing I’ve found has helped the most over the last year since getting more switched on to it. Some tracks suit the front runner, some don’t. Some benefit those who get waited with.
I’d also contend that track layout/tightness of bends and proximity of the first and last bends to the starting/finishing post are often overlooked, as these can massively affect horses drawn closest to the bend. Those who follow F1 will know about racing lines and how approaching a bend from off the rail and almost “cutting the corner” can be the quickest way from a to b, even if it’s a slightly longer route.
How much time do you spend studying racing, outside of your Geegeez contributions, in an average week
Matt: It all depends on what’s happening. Life is busy (good busy, generally!) and I, like everyone else, have to work around that. But I’m able to get a really good feel for at least a few races in relatively short order using the race selection approach and then the Gold toolkit.
When I’m framing a Win 6 syndicate, I’ll spend a good couple of hours (or more) piecing everything together; if betting in a couple of races, it might only be 15-30 minutes.
Over the course of an average week, with say five betting days, I’d be in the form book six to eight hours, I guess.
A weird side note: I don’t generally bet ‘seriously’ on a Saturday. Most pro’s do, and I’m not a pro (though I have a profit expectation from betting, which I’ve realised most years), so fair enough; but I’ve always found it hyper competitive.
Sam: On average I’ll dedicate around 12 hours to form study and research. Obviously this varies depending on the racing, during big meetings such as Royal Ascot I’ll probably spend something closer to 3-4 hours each day but on poorer weeks I might only need an hour or less a day to get through the meetings.
My time spent on racing is split into two general parts. The first would be looking at future races, after the final decs are out, and the second part would be research into past races, looking for future winners and horses to add to my tracker. This second part usually takes a couple of hours a week during the early months of the flat season.
The vast majority of my bets are on flat racing and I tend to only get involved in the very biggest jumps races so I’m far less active/busy in the winter months, preferring to concentrate on the all weather action. This helps me switch off a bit from racing (as much as I can!) for a few months a year and keeps me fresh in time for the next flat season.
Chris: I'd probably say that I actually spend only about an hour a day max, because I do much of my study/research for the next day at the same time as I'm writing Racing Insights. RI is only a two/three minute read at best for most people, but I spend a good couple of hours pulling it together after I've considered other races/angles etc, so it's not an exact science.
I struggle to compartmentalise how much time any specific task takes as I'm often doing two or three things at the same time, but I'd probably say I've got racecards & stats etc in front of my face for three hours a day, except Saturdays, when (a) I don't bet and (b) I tend to take most of the day off.
What is your go to report on Geegeez Gold?
Matt: I built them so it may be little surprise that I use most of them! I check Fast Finishers daily, and will always scan Trainer Snippets, 2yo 1st run, HC1 and Trainer Change. TJ Combo I’ll look at less than I used to, as typically I’ll get that intel from the jockey form icon on the racecard.
And then, of course, I’ll be all over my Report and QT Angles, which again I view within the racecard of the race I’m looking at.
The inference from the above is that I’m usually a ‘bottom up’ form student, looking within a race for the snippets of interest to me. That’s as different from a ‘top down’ form student, who might go looking for a bet based on, for example, the best TJ combo record on a given day.
There’s no right or wrong way, and I’ve flitted between the two approaches over time (and still do). But, more often than not, I’ll start with the race and work from there. Did I mention race selection is crucial? 😉
Sam: Anyone who has read any of my previous content might be expecting me to say the Hot Form Report - and it’s an excellent report - but most of my hot form research is done before we get to the final declarations and most of the runners I want to follow, because of hot form, are already in my tracker.
The report I get the most use out of is the Trainer Change Report. I’m never quite sure what to do when one of the horses I am tracking changes stable and this is when I’ll check the Trainer Change Report. I’m not only interested in win percentages, place percentages, PRB and so on but I also like to look at the list of qualifying runners, checking their odds, the field sizes they ran in, etc. I’ll use all of this data to make a judgement call on how likely I think they are to run to previous form - or even improve on it. These runners are often off the track for a while before making the stable debut so I’ll always check the trainer record after 60+ day breaks too.
Very recently this report played a crucial role in having a strong bet on Chillsea at Wolverhampton as Tom Ward had a strong record with runners making their debuts after a stable change.
Chris: Probably Horses for Courses and Head to Head from the horse form reports and Trainer Stats / TJC and trainer change from the trainer form reports.
H4C speaks for itself, some horses just go better at certain tracks. There's probably something else affecting the horse on that day, but some are suited by certain conditions. Head to head on its own doesn't tell me too much, but when you delve into that race and assess the margin of defeat, how they've both ran since and the change/swing in weight, it can be very helpful, even if only to rule a bet out.
Most of you have read my stat-based pieces, so my reasons for using Trainer Stats and TJC are pretty obvious, but the Trainer Change angle might not be. A fresh trainer/approach can invigorate a failing horse, but I'm not really just looking for horses that have switched yards. I want to see horses moving yards and then tackling races their previous handler(s) wouldn't have entered them in.
For example a struggling two-mile hurdler moves to a yard with a good record with stayers, he's in the yard for a while and then comes back from a break to run over three miles. he's doing something he's never done, but for a yard successful in that type of race. It's a bit of a leap of faith sometimes, but you have to assume they'll have prepped well.
If you have any questions for the panel please post them below in the comments section.