by Darren Dance.
As a syndicator for the last 17 years where I have been heavily involved in selecting yearlings to purchase to syndicate we go through a process of looking at all the yearlings at sales to look for faults and good types and strength to narrow it down to a short list to purchase to hopefully race successfully.
What’s just as important is to go to the races and look at the horses pre race and have a good look at the winner that comes back to scale, because at the end of the day, horses that are winning the good races are the ones you need to look at to see why.
Why was Might And Power so good? Why was Saintly so good? Why was So You Think was so good? Why was Pierro so good? What were their attributes?
If we are buying yearlings at sales we need to be looking at horses at the races to try and get a line through them to make sure we are buying the right horses, like the Platelets and the Lonhspressos of our world.
One of my favourite pastimes at the races is being down by the mounting yard.
I can take or leave the lunch in the Committee Room or in a restaurant at the racetrack, but I really believe that the best place to be at the races is outside the mounting yard.
Often we go to the races and we have a runner in Race 1 and Race 9 and we have the whole day to fill in.
So rather than sitting in the bar or in front of my laptop I prefer to be at the mounting yard looking at each race and looking at the horses.
You can learn a lot from just looking at them parade and you can help yourself to win more money on the punt.
On many occasions, we have been able to stand there and watch the horses parade then find the ones we think look really well in the coat, where they’re absolutely shining.
If horses are feeling good inside they will show it on the outside with healthy, shiny coats.
If their coats a bit dull and drabby we normally put a line through them because outside is a reflection of how they are feeling inside.
Often with people you can tell if they have a pleasant smile or a sad face – it’s just how they are feeling, whether they are grumpy, and horses are no different.
The other thing we look strongly at in the yard is how fit are they.
Now it takes a bit of time to work that out.
In days gone by, particularly in the country meetings, you can look at all the horses and you would know straight away that there was probably only 4 or 5 that were fit enough, but with the recent advent of premix feeds, every trainer is feeding them the same sort of feed, so all the horses look good.
It is a question of who is fit enough, who has done the work, can you see ribs, you should be able to see a hint of rib.
So any horses that look a bit round, or a little bit what we call showy, a little bit big, best to put a line through them.
So we have looked at fitness, we have looked at health of coat, then we look at how they walk, which is one of the key ingredients that I look at.
Is the horse loose in it’s action, has it got what we call an overstep where the backfoot lands in front of the frontfoot and what’s its demeanor like, whether it is relaxed or not.
If it is sweating, typically I will put a line through it.
I mightn’t be right all the time, but I am trying to narrow my odds to find a winner.
So any day of the week give me a good walker, who is nice and relaxed, no sweat, looks really good in the coat and I can see a hint of rib.
If you employ those four basic fundamentals every time you go to the races, over every horse in the yard, you can obviously narrow it down to 3 or 4 horses.
I find the biggest trap is just looking at favourite jockeys and favourite trainers and listening to media commentators because I have often said if they were really good they wouldn’t be tipping us horses they would be retired counting their money.
A lot of them are not on track and that’s why I think Dean Lester has been so successful for many years because he is actually in the mounting yard looking at the horses at all the meetings and bringing you his late selections.
Horses can look well, be fit, walk well and tick all the boxes, but then you need to look at the track, their favoured distance, their barrier and narrow it down to make sure that the horse has got a good enough chance in the race.
Don’t look at odds, look at history and make sure the horse is capable over the distance and track, and it handles the conditions presented on the day.
By mixing the two of these componants I think you will have more winning days than losing days.
So punters if you want to win or you want to improve your odds to win, I suggest you get back on track.
Article written by Darren Dance (Owner/Director of Australian Thoroughbred Bloodstock)