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1. Gallopers and Gamblers - Pat Craven
2. Hats in the Ring - Alan Aitken
3. Horse Racing Theory and Practice - Paul Segar
4. Walk Away a Winner - Don Beggs

Gallopers and Gamblers is a hard cover edition costing between $54.95 and $69.95 and is available at most bookshops. Pat Craven is a former Auditor General in Queensland and I guess this must be his retirement project. I found most sections extremely disappointing with Pat Craven having very little to say about much of anything. Most Racing topics were covered in a few sentences and there is lots of white space.

The production of the book is top class. If you want a Racing book that looks good on your bookshelf, then this is it. Just do yourself a favour though and don’t waste your time opening it. You’d get more chance of winning out of a $50 bet on the favourite.

Alan Aitken has produced a very cheap ($19.95 at bookshops) extensive guide to backing winners his way. In the introduction of the book, Aitken provides us with a bit of history, including the fact that he never made it as a professional punter. As the person who invests the Punters Club money at Randwick, though, Aitken has made hundreds of thousands of dollars... The difference is that with the Punter’s Club he is using other people’s money and not risking his own. That in itself relieves a lot of the pressure, however Aitken, naturally enough, does not point this out.

Aitken’s methodology is not necessarily revealed in full, although he does reveal his way of comparing times and also his way of coming up with ratings. Like a lot of other books, though, the explanations, whilst reasonably laid out for a seasoned punter, are far too technical for the average novice punter.

At $19.95 I can recommend that this book be added to your library and most punters will find something of interest. The average punter, though, will struggle to come to terms with Aitken’s explanations. Like many writers, Aitken probably read his book from the viewpoint of someone who already knows a lot of general knowledge about his subject.

Our third book is different. When I first read Horse Racing Theory and Practice I believed then that some of the topics were perhaps "skipped over" from the point of view of the novice punter. Having the other two books for a comparison I can now see that I was wrong.

Only the Best punting books are added to the Winform Racing Club’s list and now it is time for Paul Segar’s book to be added to that list as it satisfies a desperate need for a book that caters for both novice and experienced punters.

For the novice there is plenty of material covering general topics such as "How to read the form guide", "Time analysis", "Weights" and a good general description of Class as it is used in Australia.

There are "systems" for the novice and a guide to "value betting" . More involved issues like "percentages" and "betting markets" are given good explanations. The "Dutch" betting method is well explained, albeit all too briefly, and the concept of "saver" bets is introduced.

Over the years I have been asked many times to write a book suitable for novice punters. With Paul Segar’s book on the market at such a cheap price ($35 plus $5.95 postage) I see no reason to write such a book. It’s already here.

That said, I am not suggesting that the seasoned punter will find the coverage less than fulfilling because there’s many a topic to add to your knowledge and not only that but there are a lot of sections that include material you have probably forgotten but should know about.

One section that all punters will find useful is the barrier table for the Melbourne tracks. Most barrier tables only show how many horse won from each barrier. Segar’s table shows the percentage of winners coming from each barrier and that’s a very different picture indeed. You see, as Segar points out, the number of starters at each barrier position is different as in fiieds of 9, for example, there are no starters from 10 outwards yet most tables merely show the number of winners coming from these wider barriers.

Horse Racing Theory and Practice is recommended for both novice and experienced punters and is good value at the cover price of $35 plus post and handling. Winform Racing Club Members get an additional discount.

Don Begg’s Walk Away A Winner is a bold step for Don. Initially intended to sell at $100 (it is 270 A4 pages and weighs so much it costs $8 postage) Don got cold feet and decided to set his price at just $40 plus postage (and a special deal for Winform Members on top of this) . John O’Brien was the first person to purchase a copy from Winform and he had this to say "Had the book cost $200 or $300 it would have been worth it. It is just the sort of information I have been looking for."

The thrust of Don’s book is a review of Mark Read’s Ratings service which appears in TAB, PubTAB and ClubTAB outlets ten minutes before each Metropolitan race. Over the last two years Don has meticulously recorded the TAB prices for each selection about one minute before the jump and tabulated the results for just a $10 bet on each selection.

Given that Mark Read rates four to five horses in each race, that is a feat in itself but that is not all. Don has also recorded the first five favourites in TAB order at the same point in time.

Simply put NOBODY ELSE HAS THAT SORT OF INFORMATION! The profit and loss situation is worked out on actual dividends and compared to the SP of each horse. That is another revelation.

The book has numerous break ups of the statistics including trifectas, exactas and quinellas and what would have happened had you followed each of a number of methods. It reveals how a $6 bet per race could earn you excellent profits over a year and all the work you have had to do is write down the approximate dividends before the jump.

It is truly amazing for a person like me who spends three to four hours per day doing form analysis, to find that a complete novice punter can achieve similar results without any form study whatsoever.

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