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As most readers would know, I am a subscriber to the ratings on the internet and I am also a systems nut. With many long shot winners being derived from the ratings, I tended not to look very closely in the other direction. If current trends are any indication, I was wrong, dead wrong.

A great many writers, system makers and the like have argued that you need go no further than the first four favourites in your quest for winners. I know of one professional, for example, who only rates the first four prepost favourites. His service is highly regarded by Punters Choice and is showing a dramatic strike rate of around 40% winners. Of course, many of these winners are short priced.

Barry Blakemore is another well known professional form analyst who has written in this magazine before, extolling the virtues of sticking to those horses that are "in the market." Barry also advocates that you need to check on the horse's fitness patterns as listed in his books, to further determine the worthiness of those horses.

Don Beggs, the author of "Walk Away A Winner", did a survey of the top TAB fancies and found very much the same thing. About 80% of winners are in the first four favourites.

Malcolm Knowles, whose excellent books on punting maths, dutch betting, quinellas and so on, have been so eagerly snapped up by the punting public, also supports this finding in his books. To add to this, Malcolm has also done an intensive study and concluded that while the prepost market is not reliable in predicting the on course order of favouritism, the top prepost market horses do tend to be in the top few, if in a different order.

It was just by coincidence that I decided to take a look at Winform's top rated selections, compared to the prepost market. I was in fact, looking to take advantage of Winform's longshot strike rate that has shown a steady 50% profit over the last 12 years. You see, according to a recent Winform Newsletter, you could back all of Winform's top rated horses that were paying better than $9 and make a profit, even when the strike rate rarely approached 10% winners.

Now this may seem a bit low, and it is. You have to be patient but it does work. This is how you get winners like Getelion, which paid over $70, Superior Sam $143 and so on. Just last week there was a $51 winner at Gatton. Along with this you must put up with some long runs of outs.

Anyhow, as I said, I was researching whether or not I could simply take the top rated selections that were say 10/1 or more in the prepost market instead of waiting to see the likely dividend a few minutes before the race. This way, I could place all bets in the morning and not have to worry. It was after randomly checking a few days that I made an amazing discovery. Over a two week period I found that there were 37 horses that were prepost favourites and also Winform top rated horses.

The astonishing thing was that 21 of these or 57% of them won. That is nearly double the average strike rate of prepost favourites as a rule. Better still, many of the winners were at quite good odds, up to 11/2. And even better still. It didn't seem to matter whether they were at Metropolitan or provincial meetings, or even country. It didn't matter which state either.

The other good thing is this. Whereas, just a small increase in bets will decrease the winnings from longshots, it takes an avalanche of money to drop the price of these shorter priced selections.

I look with interest to the future. As a matter of fact, I can hardly wait to see if the statistics hold up over a longer term. I must also thank Garry Robinson for allowing me to write this article. Most people would want to keep this as their own little secret but as Garry says "the aim of the magazine is to help punters, and this article will certainly lead to many readers having a rethink of their own individual strategies. Certainly it will help our own Winform Ratings subscribers."

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