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The following articles are chapter extracts from Peter Bent's out-of-print book Form Analysis and Exotics Betting and The Thoroughbred and Exotics Betting and describe his winning form analysis and improver form patterns that are part of Bet Selector.
By careful observation of the past form we can calculate the number of days a horse is likely to remain in form. We must first look for a marker which signals the horse has reached its peak. The most obvious marker is a win or a finish within half a length of a winner. If the horse won again fourteen days later we can say that the horse held form for fourteen days and if the horse won again fourteen days after that, we can say the horse has now held form for twenty eight days. If the horse loses by two or three lengths fourteen days later, we know that form has subsided between twenty eight and forty two days after the first win and that the horse is now in the recovery phase.
We know that the horse will not completely lose form after the last win, but rather it will taper off over a number of days. This taper is assumed to be 7 days for horses up to four years, 10 days for five year olds and 12 days for six years and older. After more than three peak runs it is likely that this taper will reduce to 5 days for horses up to four years and 7 days for all others. So, if our horse is a four year old it will hold form for another seven days after the last win so the peak form period would be twenty eight plus seven equals thirty five days.
Fortunately Bet Selector has access to both past ratings and margins to do these calculations. Furthermore, if a horse won and then lost by a number of lengths when it raced again Bet Selector can check the rating for that run - if that rating is greater than, or no more than 1.5 kg less than the win rating, it is likely that the horse is still in form but was simply beaten by better horses on the day. Bet Selector works through past form for each horse as it imports the form to determine the longest period that the horse has remained in form.
The other half of the horses form cycle consists of the form recovery phase. In this phase it is the works between the win and the run proceeding the win that are crucial. We know that the run before the win brings the horse forward in condition and then it only needs a set number of works to bring it to a peak. The number of days between the proceeding run and the win is the number of days it will take to regain peak form after the form retention phase. To estimate this form recovery phase, you should find the most recent win which is preceded by an out of form run and select the number of days between these two starts.
As a result of the above considerations, Bet Selector defines the form cycle for each horse by reference to IN and OUT numbers as follows:
Once the above is known you can determine the position of the horse in the form cycle. Basically if the DAYS to last start falls within the IN and OUT numbers then the horse is in form.
When a horse has enjoyed three or more runs after a spell or letup, ratings for each of these races begin to exhibit distinct form patterns. Bet Selector not only uses the last three starts to formulate a predicted rating for today's race, it also uses the form pattern displayed by these three ratings to determine a form bonus or penalty. This BASE rating and form bonus/penalty are combined to mold a net rating, used to predict the expected finishing position of each horse in the upcoming race.
Particular form patterns, occurring after three or more starts, often signal substantial improvement or failure at today's run. Bet Selector detects these important form patterns and informs the punter by way of a note in a Comment field. These patterns usually occur in the last three starts where there is no break of thirty two days or more between runs, indicating a let up or spell. When a let up or spell occurs, form patterns are ignored and horses are treated as "fresh" animals. Following is a description of these Very Important Patterns (VIP) detected by Bet Selector. Each VIP is identified primarily by the position of the highest, or "A", rating in the past three starts.
There are times when a horse may simultaneously comply with two or more of the above patterns. Bet Selector looks for each pattern in a set order and notes the first form pattern on its list where the horse qualifies as an improver. When Bet Selector's form analysis notes one of the aforementioned form patterns, the horse in question is now subjected to further scrutiny. As a result, Bet Selector may take steps to increase or decrease the net rating. Central to any net rating change is the use of the IMPROVER box situated on the Data Edit Screen. There are four Improver entries:
After Bet Selector applies its form analysis to determine the form pattern and enters the appropriate Improver response, it will notify the punter of its action by way of a tag in the form Comment box. These "tags" are:
For more of Peter Bent's ideas see our exotics analysis page.