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 I was having a discussion with one of our readers the other day and they brought up the question of why some tracks are harder to win at? A couple that came to mind are Swan Hill and Balaklava. Both of these tracks have long straights around 500 metres and so are very fair giving all runners a good chance to overcome any bad luck in running.

One other item of significance was that these tracks are not noted training centres and on Swan Hill Cup day, for example, only about a dozen locally trained horses were entered.

So what does this mean for us the punters? It means that virtually every runner is coming from somewhere else and you are not going to get those course specialists like you get at many other tracks. It also means that trainers are going there in hope, because the competition is going to be so diverse and there is no local knowledge like there is at most places.

Yes, trainer A might be entering his horse in a class or race he thinks his horse is suited to but it is so much harder to get a line on the other horses and how they are going to perform there. In other words, to a certain extent, the races at locations like this are somewhat of a lottery.

The same line of thinking can be applied to local Racing Carnivals. Owners and trainers are often attracted by the increased prize money which starts at the Feature races and filters down to the lower class races. The Brisbane Winter Carnival, for example, features a good percentage of the better horses from down south along with the horses that are travelling companions which will start in the lower grade races. There are so many of these at Carnival time that it is generally safe to ignore the philosophy that, for example, Gai Waterhouse has come all the way from Randwick for this race.

In a similar way, you shouldn’t get confused with trainers that these days might have a stable in two or more Racing centres. There are trainers, for example, that generally train in Perth but during the Kalgoorlie racing season, they establish a stable there. There are even trainers who have stables in Kalgoorlie who send their best prospects to Ascot or Belmont and establish training facilities in Perth for sometimes months at a time.

Peter Snowden, David Hayes, Gai Waterhouse are just a few of the better known names who have stables in other areas on a regular basis. You will read lots of stories in the Racing press about horses that were set for this race and that race. Well weren’t they all?

Riva San is a good example of this. After she had won the QTC Oaks/Derby on a rain soaked Eagle Farm surface, connections said that it was planned in advance and that they were hoping for a rain affected surface. We doubt this was the only horse set for either of those races.

Many years ago in 1995 I was writing for Enjoy Racing and as part of my brief I interviewed Trainers to find upcoming winners for the Spring Carnival. The Freedmans told me not to back Doriemus yet, as he was not ready and they were training him for the Caulfield Cup/ Melbourne Cup Double. I told them that Doriemus, at his third run back would do very well and the next day he ran 3 rd to All Our Mob at $25. The stable had the favourite in the race as well and they told me it was the one. I said “no hope” and it ran last.

That year the Freedmans were right as we know with Doriemus taking all before him and I did back him too of course. But do you honestly think that the Freedmans were the only training establishment that had a horse set for the Cup Double? We have an affiliation with Laurel Oak, which is a racing syndicator.

Laurel Oak employs a number of trainers, many of whom are experts at placing a horse in the right race. They know their local opposition and a trainer from say Canberra, for example has the option to run there or Queanbeyan, Sapphire Coast, Nowra, Wagga or Goulburn just to name a few. He knows the type of races and the local tracks and the mostly local opposition.

And you know what? If you really want to win you would do well to study the local competition too. We know of one reader who concentrates solely on Townsville and Rockhampton races and makes a living at it. Townsville in particular, is a happy hunting ground for him and he has made tens of thousands of dollars in a day.

By now you may be thinking “what is he getting at?” Well, I am saying stay away from race meetings or venues where virtually all the horses or the major percentage of them are coming from other training areas. Concentrate on the trainers, jockeys and horses that have “local” knowledge. Stick to areas where there is a string local pool of horses that you can get to know, as well as jockeys trainers and their training methods.

Charlie Philcox is not with us now but he is one of the best punters I have known. In one of our many chats Charlie said to me one day” You know I think I’ve figured it out. The reason we often don’t do well on Wednesdays is that the horses that race on these days, particularly in the city, are from here, there, and everywhere and it is hard to get a line on many of them”. Concentrate on what you are good at. Tasmanian Racing features a local pool, as does Perth. North Queensland is another area and Port Lincoln is also isolated from the mainstream.










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