The Ultimate Guide to Betting on Horses and Using Geegeez Gold

The Ultimate Guide to Betting on Horses and Using Geegeez Gold

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.

 

 

 

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5 replies
  1. 10 Things You Didn't Know about Geegeez Racecards
  2. Russ
    Russ says:

    A really interesting read. Where else are you going to get such insightful comments apart from GeeGeez? The fact that all three of you are prepared to open up on how you each operate embodies the spirit of this site. There are so many people out there, including myself, who need every bit of help they can get when it comes to getting an edge. Plaudits to all three of you.

    If I could pick out the nugget that resonates most with myself, it’s Matt’s 2nd paragraph in the most underrated angle of form study section. These things unequivocally matter and are borne out consistently in the outcomes of races. All of these factors have to be boiled into the mix and the moment you cut corners (for me anyway) is when the wheels can come off. Look at everything and learn to balance the various factors in line with how the race will be run.

    If I may be so bold, as someone who has learnt to carve a long term profit using Geegeez, I’d like to offer a brief insight into how I have used the Geegeez tools beyond what’s been discussed here to give me a real edge. Let me say it takes a lot of work and is not for everyone but in this age where everyone uses statistics, I like to look at things not quantifiable by numbers but are still revealed through careful use of Full Form, Profiler and Query Tool.

    What I like to specialise in are the qualities bestowed upon racehorses and where they are best exposed. These are discovered through the sire (and can be via their damsire) and are exposed by the characteristics of our uniquely differing racecourses, distances, ground and the pace at which the contests are run.

    What do I mean by ‘qualities’ in tangible terms? I personally like to categorise sires and their offspring into those who have tenacity, tactical pace (ie can settle matters quickly or make swift headway when needed), can travel strongly, can deliver a sustained finishing effort, those who get outpaced at key times, etc and so on.

    I make a point of using Full Form to hone in one winning handicap performances of a particular sire and run down the comments in running. Over time your eye learns to pick up strong clues as to what the sire progeny are all about. I embellish my notes with observations made from the Profiler tool.

    When it comes to understanding where these qualities are best exposed, I use Query Tool to restrict interest to a certain course, distance, going and field size. Having run my query, I go to the Qualifiers tab and sort the Position column to get all the winners lined up together. I then open each race and study the comments in running of each winning performance. Once I’ve looked through about 25-30 races, I can usually determine what’s needed to win under the conditions and make appropriate notes. Comments in running may not reveal everything about performances compared to visuals but they can be an absolute goldmine for this kind of thing. Aside from that, you learn where close finishes are commonplace and where determination, gameness and stamina often come into play.

    Such an approach allows me to step into races containing relatively unexposed horses with a certain degree of confidence. I do want 5 or 6 runs on the board though so I can judge a horse’s level of ability.

    This approach is for very few people I have to admit due to the work involved but you learn to speed up over time and can build up a sizeable repository of information. If time permits this level of indulgence, I would heartily recommend it as you will know so much more than virtually everyone else. I’m a long way down the road with this exercise but still have some way to go as there are many sires and prevailing conditions I have yet to get to grips with.

    I was winning money already but recently started to post selections on Twitter stating reasons (within a 280 character limitation!) for my selections using some of this methodology. The results have been borne out there with a decent profit already. I won’t post long term but I feel I’m demonstrating the art of the possible using the Geegeez tools successfully. I couldn’t operate without the offerings on this great website!

    Reply
  3. armchairviewer
    armchairviewer says:

    Great post. My question is about run style. I really enjoyed the recent 4 part blog on pace (and the various ones over the years). My only critical reflection is whether it overly focuses on courses? There are some courses where there is logic to leading being particularly useful (Chester and Epsom spring to mind – there’ll be others). But away from that, is it not a more general point that if a good horse gets a lead without exerting too much energy, the course is less important? If that’s more the case, I’d be less inclined to focus on individual courses where merely data suggests that pace is important, and more on races where one horse might be likely to lead and lots of others likely to be held up (for instance). Keen to hear your thoughts: when and where to use pace?

    Reply
    • Matt Bisogno
      Matt Bisogno says:

      Hi Craig,

      It is generally a positive to be on the front, but not exclusively. Straight tracks beyond six furlongs are a notoriously tricky combination for jockeys to gauge, for example. And as you say, contested pace can make life more challenging, too. Some courses do lend themselves more to front runners than others, for sure.

      For me, the projected pace in the race, and those likely to inject it (or aim to dominate with an easy lead), is always a consideration. And I hope that others, having read the comments from Chris and Sam as well as yourself, will also consider the race shape from a pace perspective before striking a bet.

      Matt

      Reply
  4. mick
    mick says:

    Not so much a question but an observation using geegeez for several years now. One of the most underrated and hardly ever mentioned pointer for me is the proximity button which instantly tells you how the horses form is and how its reacted to different going. Many times a horse can be 0/5 placed on good/soft indicating it doesnt go on the ground, however a look at the proximity can give you all amber results hence its value as a back up. With that in mind, I find the trainers 14/30 day indicators somewhat precarious considering horses can take 21/28 days on average to re-appear. If it was at all possible a proximity button when looking on a trainer would give a much clearer picture of recent form given the ease a traffic light system has on the brain. Many thanks

    Reply
  5. richbowser
    richbowser says:

    I think this question is aimed at all of you but possibly more for Sam, and it’s about Hot Form & Tracking. I remember his Complete Guide to it from around this time last year, where i shamelessly used the filters he very kindly shared with us, promptly got overwhelmed by the amount of output, tweaked some of the options and… am now slightly lost. I’m fascinated by Hot Form and think it’s something i overlook. Having re-read the article again, it certainly makes more sense but i would appreciate your thoughts on how far back you should look. Is 30 days sufficient, or should you go for 45 (or even further?)

    Sam’s response to which report is his ‘go-to’ above alludes to the main part of my question though, which is how and when to track horses. Sam mentions that most of his horses have already been highlighted and are already being tracked. I would love to know more about how you all select horses to track; and whether you have a preference for ‘seeing’ the horse run (either at the racecourse or via media) versus using a stats-based approach and trusting in the value from the numbers.

    Other than that, thank you for putting this Q&A together and sharing your thoughts and experience, much appreciated!

    Reply

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