Tricks Of the Trade - Things To Note When Betting At Different Courses

It's fair to conclude, that the more one goes racing, the better understanding one gets of the sport and the trade.

With multiple trips to different venues - or even the same one repeatedly, universal similarities can be sketched and drawn up in the mind on how to select winners of the races.

Some begin initially to select their horses with unique names or perhaps they mean something close to them, whilst others prefer the nature of varying colour schemes or the horse's 'stature or physique' in the preliminaries.

As one grows with experience, the ability to identify common trends and tricks becomes much clearer and apparent, and may be proved with a widening wallet on race-days.

Of course, everything does not always go to plan otherwise we would all be sat here as sofa-based millionaires, but the capability to back a selection with reasoning certainly makes you a growing voice to follow.

Certain variables play considerable factors in establishing trends to follow at different venues, so lets note some of the more obvious ones.


In flat racing, the draw is the first point of call when assessing a horse's chances.

Whether it is a five-furlong sprint or a two-mile staying handicap, the ability to get prominent or establish a useful position - depending on the individual, is one of significant importance.

Some tracks are known to have compelling yet symbolic stall bias due to the course's nature.

Beverley's five furlong start is notorious for having a considerable dip towards the lower numbers, leaving those with a higher stall having to overcome an early mount in the first few yards.

As for Chester, the tight turns at the Roodee ensure that those placed down towards the inside have an momentous advantage as for those caught further wide, with the inside rail to help as guidance.

The turns at that track in particular result in the horse's constantly turning, bending and tilting to the left until straightening for the home finish when the result may already be decided.

As mentioned, in big race staying handicaps, it is important to get an early position. Take the Melbourne Cup in Australia - for those drawn out in the car park, the emphasis to get handy is far greater than those already established on the inner.

To make up positions, horse's are forced out wide where effectively they cover more ground and use greater amounts of energy than those cutting every corner.

Achieving a favourable draw is of course luck, but can prove decisive in a horse's chances.

Course Record

On Tuesday the 5th June at the time of writing, it was ironic that we are talking about horse's course records when Tamarillo Grove prevails at Newton Abbot for the ninth time in his career and seems to just about fail everywhere else.

Some individuals - no matter what their ability or level seem to relish certain tracks in favour of others.

The moment they step foot off the trailer, their sense of smell from their favourite location must fulfil their racing appetite to compete at their optimum best. In other words, they know where they are.

Take Roy Rocket, otherwise known as the King of Brighton. The ten-year-old, trained by John Berry has become a legend on the south coast given his record at the one-way track.

Last season, his rating rose dramatically after an abundance of bigger race victories or performances, but no matter what class he is racing at, under whatever weight he carries, he will always remain of interest in the market given he too is a nine-time course winner.

In less extreme circumstances, some horses may go back to specific tracks where they have sparked success in the past - perhaps winning once, twice or maybe even three times.

They may appreciate the track's contours and layout over others, and should be noted down in race-guides as a previous course winner.

A horse with a little 'C' by their name, suggests they know what they are doing having won there before. Others may have 'CD' meaning they have won over the same course and distance in the past.

Jockey and Trainer

Similarly with horse's track records, certain trainers and jockeys have a preferred interest in some courses over others.

Having already discussed Chester, Franny Norton is known to many to be the specialist around the Roodee given that was where he grew up.

Andrea Atzeni unknowingly has an outstanding record at Doncaster, and always catches the eye when he rides for a trainer aside from retained boss Roger Varian.

Paul Hanagan and Danny Tudhope - both from the top of England, rarely venture south so are left to dominate tracks up north.

The same goes for trainers; many trainers have preferred venues and like to send their young guns there to start their respective careers.

Looking at the top jockeys in the business, some tend to catch the eye if they are making a long trip to ride just one or two horses.

Richard Johnson has been Champion Jockey in the National Hunt frame for quite some time, and part of the reason of this is his dedication and devotion to the sport covering substantial mileage.

However, he will not want to make unprecedented journeys to go home with a loser(s).

Particularly towards the start off the off-season in the National Hunt frame; for jockeys to establish a good healthy lead in the title-race, or towards the end of the flat season; for jockeys to finish their campaign with a flourish or hunt down the leader, jockeys heading a long way away for one ride is definitely of interest.

Likewise for trainers - although they do not need to make every journey, they will not stack up the costs to pay for failures.

Gordon Elliott tends to sometimes send a small group of horses from Ireland to some low key meetings in Britain - but he is not sending them there for a run-around..

One rides are certainly eyecatchers to those punters with a strong understanding of 'tricks of the trade'.


The 2017 Sussex Stakes at Glorious Goodwood hosted some of the best milers around to compete for the Group One prize.

Richard Fahey's Ribchester was a stone-cold certainty for the race with many suggesting he was the best miler around.

That was until the rain came, leaving Andrew Balding's Here Comes When to soak up the soft conditions and take the earnings for himself.

Balding will be the first to admit that his now nine-year-old is no top Group One winner, but he can handle surfaces some top contenders cannot.

Here Comes When savoured every inch of the mudbath, and came home the winner.

There are many horses out there similar to Mrs Fitri Hay's top individual that only turn up to their best on certain conditions - usually the wrong side of soft.

Ground is definitely something to consider when selecting your winner, to see if the horse has been tested on all conditions, let-alone if they have won on it.

In the 2019 Epsom Investec Derby, Sir Dragonet had yet to be tested on anything other than a rain-softened surface, and although running on well to just miss out on a place, it came to look obvious in reflection when the ground came up good.

The same goes for artificial surfaces - most notably Southwell, which is probably the closest thing to the dirt tracks you see in Dubai and America.

Southwell's fibresand operates a kick-back, meaning if you are not in the front group, you usually come back covered in mud!

More importantly, some horses cannot cope with this style of racing leaving them with restricted vision, something Roaring Lion could not handle when he braved a trip to the states for the Breeders Cup Classic last season.

Some horse's may specialise on the polytrack at Kempton, Lingfield and Chelmsford, whilst others handle the Tapeta at Wolverhampton and Newcastle. All will be found in their form guides.

Previous winners on the ground of the track of racing indicate they know what it takes to reign supreme again, or at least deliver a similar performance.