Handicapping Primer

The following is a quick guide to help you understand the main differences between Australian racing and the rest of the world.

Post Positions/Weights
If you bet on horse number 1, don't go looking for it to start from the inside gate. There is just as much chance that it could be drawn in post 16. In Australian races, the field is assembled in order of weight. The horse carrying saddlecloth number 1 always will have been assigned top weight or equal top weight. If there are 24 horses in a race, the horse carrying saddlecloth number 24 always will have been assigned the minimum or co-minimum (set-weight races notwithstanding). Once the horses are assembled in order of weight, the draw for post position takes place.

This will prove the biggest initial challenge to players here, primarily because of the differences in the way races are written. Because there are very few claiming races in Australia, many races are designated for horses which have won the same number of races. Most horses start out in maiden races. When they win, most will then come back in a Class 1 handicap, which means non-winners of two races lifetime . The best pointer to use when handicapping an Australian race - given that many races in the past performance lines will read Hcp (Handicap) or Mdn (Maiden) - is to note the value (purse) of the race or the track class. All Australian tracks simulcasted are designated a "track class" of either (in order of quality) Metropolitan, Provincial, or Country. These designations can be found in the official past performances lines next to the track name as (m),(p), or (c). Obviously horses competing regularly at country tracks will have a harder time winning races at metropolitan tracks than those who have already proved successful at the "metro" level.

It is also important to note the way Australian horses are trained and raced. Australian horses are generally more sound and durable than their worldwide counterparts and compete more often. It is not uncommon to see Group I level horses compete twice in one week. This durabilty can be attributed to the fact that Australian Racing is medication free. Therefore, when handicapping races, do not be swayed by the fact that a horse may be coming back with limited rest. Also, many trainers like to use actual races to get their horses fit rather than workouts. Often times you will see a horse put in two or even three below average performances before running a winning race. While the race may appear to be a "fluke" it may actually be that the horse has finally hit peak condition, so watch for horses who appear to be running slightly better in each race after a layoff.

Watching a Race
The style of Australian racing is more European than American. First, all races are on the turf. Racing is conducted both clockwise and counter-clockwise depending on the region of the country. A good trip plays an even greater part in the outcome of a race in Australia than it does here. There are several reasons for this - primarily, the larger fields, slower initial pace and tighter racing. When handicapping, pay attention to starting points and layouts of each track. The length of the stretch and tightness of the turns can differ greatly between tracks and have a definite impact on race tactics and outcome. The player looking to identify a track bias will have to do it on a day-to-day basis. Unlike tracks in other parts of the world, it is very rare for a racetrack to race on consecutive days.

The Simulcast
The Australian Racing simulcast is a bit different from racing cards you may be used to. The simulcast features racing from up to three separate tracks with each of the three being a separate wagering card. The races will alternate between tracks on the same monitor / television screen, however it will be necessary to differentiate which card (track) you are wagering on when placing your bets. The following will provide a brief explanation of the format and a tutorial on how to wager.

The three tracks will have important markers to help differentiate one track/card from the other. Each night the venues will be designated as Australia A, Australia B, and Australia C (Australia A will always be the track with the earliest post time, etc...). In addition, each track will be color coded to help differentiate which track and race are going off next. Australia A will always be blue, Australia B will always be red, and Australia C is gold.

Because of the larger average fields, there are now 24 betting interests available. Rarely will you see a field of 24 go to the post, the Emirates Melbourne Cup (GI) is an example of a race that allows for 24 runners. A few times a week, there will be races that allow for 20+ runners, one can usually find these on Tuesday/Friday nights where we feature racing from the top level metropolitan tracks in and around the major cities.

When watching the races, saddlecloth numbers can sometimes be difficult to see. It is best to identify your horse of interest by the color of the jockey's silks. These colors are available in the program right above the past performance lines. As a bettor you will also find that races from Australia can take quite a bit longer to go official. Due to international simulcast regulations a more comprehensive review and verification process of the results is required before official payouts are made. On nights when three tracks are featured, and races are going off every 10-12 minutes, results may not be made official until the next event in the cycle has been completed.

Placing A Bet
As noted previously it will be necessary to differentiate which card/track you are wagering on when placing your bets. Therefore, when calling out your wager, announce the track you are wagering on (Australia A, Australia B, or Australia C), followed by the race number, and then your wager. For example:

"Australia A, Race 3, $20 win on the 4"
"Australia B, Race 4, $20 win on the 5"
"Australia C, Race 5, $20 win on the 2"

The Australian Racing program will note each track designation (Australia A, Australia B, Australia C) in the race headers and the race numbers (1A, 1B, 1C, etc) in the upper left hand corner of the past performances. See below.

The Program