1. The first question to ask when you want a bet is: How will this race be run? And the second: Will it suit the horse I am interested in backing?
2. Watch as many horse races as possible, even if the over-excitable Mark Johnson or the terminally bored Graham Goode is commentating.
3. Look at every horse in the race, not just the one you’ve backed.
4. Concentrate virtually wholly on the better class of animals in the higher-grade races.
5. Cram as much form study in as time will allow.
6. When you find a horse ‘coming to the boil’ and running into form back on a winnable rating, stick with it. It will almost certainly pay its way in time.
7. The going and the draw are the two most important variables in determining the outcome of any horse race.
8. If there are doubts about the going, draw bias, the price or any other highly important variable, wait till the very last minute until having a bet.
9. Keep your pockets sewn up when the ground is offi cially heavy.
10. The influence of weight is vastly overrated. In the majority of cases horses will not reverse the form despite being better off at the weights.
11. Only forgive a horse an unlucky-in-running run once. The vast majority who repeat the offence will repeatedly find trouble.
12. Follow horses that travel well in races and/or have demonstrated a turn of foot in a truly run race.
13. Look, look and look again at the stats history of the big races but use them intelligently. Buffoons on television telling us that no horse above draw nine can win the John Smith’s Cup should remember that that is only true when the ground isn’t on the soft side of good. And that’s a fact.
14. It’s the Cheltenham Festival, Royal Ascot, the Derby, the Grand National. You don’t HAVE to have a bet.
15. Concentrate at specialist courses like Brighton or Goodwood on horses that have demonstrated an ability to act at those tracks or have so much in hand their relative inability to do so won’t matter.
16. Study courses until you can study them no longer. Take on board that Ascot’s short straight requires different qualities in a horse than York or Newbury’s galloping terrains.
17. In sprints concentrate solely on horses in form.
18. The number of race meetings is set to continue growing at an alarming rate. Have an area you can specialise in, whether it be group races, sprints or middle-distance handicaps.
19. Think like a bookmaker. Compile your own betting forecast, but above all be honest with yourself. Ask yourself if you would really offer those odds if you were a layer.
20. Must-have books for any serious punters library: Nick Mordin, Betting For A Living; Alan Potts, Against the Crowd; Mark Coton, Value Betting. The best to start with is the Racing Post’s Definitive Guide to Betting on Horses.
21. Go to the paddock. Learn the different types of physique and the good and bad signs displayed by horses before the race. Nick Mordin’s book The Winning Look covers all the bases.
22. Never underestimate the psychology and emotion involved in gambling. If your mood swings are extreme you’ll find it difficult to survive the inevitable losing runs.
23. Put a bank together, one you’re comfortable with, and have a staking plan sorted out, one that suits your particular style of betting.

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