The effect of pace in a race as well as speed figures are important considerations punters need to take into account before placing their bets and all professional punters will have their opinions on these two factors.
— David Thiselton / Gold Circle
David Thiselton Gold Circle

Alan Potts, a respected professional punter in Britain, said in his book “The Inside Track” that he tries to avoid betting in any race of seven furlongs (1400m) and further in which he cannot find at least one probable pacesetter. He added that in general, sprints and most two-year-old races were run at a proper pace but also said that any field of eight runners or less should ring alarm bells in all other races.

When equating this to South African betting, either punters should look at going wide in the races which concern Potts or they should look for a top jockey who is on a horse that could possibly dictate. Anton Marcus is the king in the latter instance and it is in fact quite frustrating for the greats of yesteryear like Michael Roberts to see how the less experienced riders allow him to dictate, for there is no simpler race to win than the one in which a horse is allowed an easy lead. The latter scenario is highlighted by Potts, who said that he looks for races in which there is just one regular front-runner with the form to win, as a horse in this category that is able to set an average or a slow pace will have a tactical advantage.

Potts has a very interesting theory on speed. He has used the theories of a well known USA speed figure man Andy Beyer, who believed that his personal speed figures enabled him to identify horses that could successfully step up in class. Potts believes that a Timeform rating of 100 indicates a horse capable of racing off a handicap mark of 100. He consequently began looking for horses that had run significantly higher than their current handicap mark, because if the speed figure was an accurate measure of the merit, they should be able to win again next time out in a handicap. It soon became apparent that the method did highlight future winners and often at big prices.

Extract from Gold Circle