myracing’s Owen Goulding gives the inside track on how he finds his big-priced selections. You can find his tips each week in the news section, with myracing’s horse racing tips also on site each day.
Who’s the man behind the outsiders?
Like many, I picked up an interest in racing from my dad. He’s a huge a racing fan and his enthusiasm for the sport is what prompted me to head to Bath in September 2015 for my first race meeting. It’s cliché, but my love for the sport went from strength to strength from that day.
The day I really fell in love with racing was two months later at Sandown, watching a two-mile beginners’ chase. That probably sounds silly on paper, but I implore you to watch a replay of Ar Mad on November 8, 2015. In a three-runner race, I backed the aforementioned outsider of the party at 16/1 (thanks to advice from my Dad).
He jumped his rivals into the floor in a performance that can only be described as “exhilarating”, and he’s the reason why my love for the sport has never stopped growing.
Why are outsiders your strong point?
Ar Mad, once again, probably had a part to play in that! We all have a story of our ‘first win’, and how it hooked us on racing. That aforementioned win is what has always made me look for a bigger price.
Although any sort of betting success is exciting, there’s simply nothing better than watching a horse you’ve picked at monster odds out-run the market expectations. To me, when you find a winner at 33-1, with plenty of sound reasoning, it’s akin to outsmarting all of your peers.
What angles do you look for?
There are several ways I approach a day’s racing to try and find what I perceive as value, so I’ve broken them down into several key sections:
Although races with a lack of form can be daunting, and sometimes feel like a lottery, they can also be a big opportunity. I’m not a huge fan of backing horses on their debuts, but horses who have run just once are the ones I focus on.
Many horses will need the experience on their debut, running green and showing nothing like their actual talent. As a result, they may be considered a ‘handicap project’, and be ignored in the market next time out. That’s why it’s key to utilise replays, and keep a notebook handy.
Race comments and bare form rarely tell the whole story with younger horses. Each day, I’ll look at the once-raced horses in all the novice races, going from bottom to top, to try and see any who could be set to take a huge step forward from a green-running debut.
Course form at quirky tracks
There are some tracks where course form is simply crucial. Bath, Brighton and Epsom are just three examples of unique courses that suit a very particular type of horse. At those type of venues, I like to back horses with course form in the book.
Corazon Espinado at Epsom, for local trainer Simon Dow, is a great example of that. The Surrey venue is a track with a very pronounced camber, and it takes a horse with specific characteristics to excel there. Dow’s charge had run eight times at Epsom prior to his most recent run there, winning on three occasions, and he sat in the market at 14-1. Given his affinity for the track, and the lack of course form elsewhere, he was a no-brainer at the price.
Sliding handicap marks
Handicaps are where you’re likely to find the biggest opportunities to back outsiders. All horses have an “ability ceiling”, which in handicapping terms, is a mark they’re simply unable to overcome. Once horses are weighted to their best, they’re likely to stop being competitive for win purposes, until their mark begins to slide. That’s why handicaps are the main source of “value” from a betting perspective, especially at the lower levels.
When I look at any handicap, I’ll start from the bottom and work my way up. It goes without saying, that horses towards the bottom of the market are likely to be out of form. If a horse is out of form, they’re likely in the grip of the handicapper, and you’ll want to check their most recent winning mark. If a horse last won off a mark of 80, and has struggled since, it’s likely that 80 is their “ceiling”.
That’s why I like to start from the bottom and work my way up. Simply put, look for the horses who have been out of form in recent starts, but have slipped to their last winning mark (or below).
Staying with the handicapping theme, horses making their handicap debut are another fascinating angle. Sir Mark Prescott is a prime example of this, though his horses switching to handicaps are rarely missed. He tends to run his horses over the mile or shorter on their opening runs, before sending them over middle and staying distances once they’re handicapped and have experience.
You’ll rarely see his horses sent off at bigger prices on handicap debut, but other yard’s employ a similar regime for their horses and they can easily be missed. When looking over the handicaps, I always comb the form of those horses making their handicap bow. These are my two favourite angles with those starting life in handicaps:
- Horses going up in distance, after staying on well in their opening runs
- Horses dropping back in trip, after displaying early speed before weakening late
Weather and ground conditions
A lot of people make the mistake of not paying enough attention to the ground. There are two key factors with the ground that can easily be forgotten:
- Many horses, owing to their racing action, will only perform on certain ground
- Certain horses will only perform at different periods of the year, like the spring
Although plenty of horses will run regardless of the going, if a horse has gained all his wins on soft ground, that’s the surface you want to be backing him on. An out-of-form horse is unlikely to be near the top of the market just because they now have their preferred surface, so the importance of looking for a horse’s ground preference, especially when it starts to rain, cannot be understated.
If you back any of our selections you can watch them live on the free Racing Post app or racingpost.com. Simply log in to one of your bookmaker accounts and click ‘Watch live’ on the racecards.