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.
Winning Form Analysis
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
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
- IN. The number of days after the last start when
the horse will reach peak form. If a negative number is
displayed it indicates the number of days prior to the last
start when the horse came into form.
- OUT. The number of days after the last start when
the horse will move out of peak form and into the form
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.
- Last Start Failure - (+). If the "A" rating occurs
at the second last start and that second last start margin
is no greater than 3.2 lengths, then the lower most recent
rating (ST1) is deemed to be a Last Start Failure. The
second last start margin may signal the horse is close to a
peak run and Bet Selector will now subject this horse to
further scrutiny to determine the likelihood of a full
recovery from such a failure at this most recent run.
- Last Start Failure - (++). If the "A" rating
occurs at the second last start and the horse either won or
lost by no more than 1.5 lengths, the lower most recent
rating is deemed to be a failure. In this pattern, if the
fourth last rating (ST4) is lower than the third last rating
(ST3),the horse is awarded a further form bonus
- Declining Form. If the "A" rating occurs at the
third last start, the second highest rating at the second
last start and the lowest rating at the most recent run, the
horse is said to be in a declining pattern which may lead to
dramatic improvement or continued failure.
- Return To Form. If the most recent rating is 10
kg. (or more) greater than either the second or third last
start rating and the most recent margin is no greater than
1.5 lengths, the horse may soon return to peak form.
- Last Start 'Win'. If the horse is a last start
winner over today's race distance, it will improve this run.
If the horse lost last start by 0.1 - 1.0 lengths over the
same distance as today's race and the horse is now in
winning form, it may also improve. It, too, is the recipient
of this comment. Bet Selector will not note this VIP if the
horse won both its last two starts because it fears this
horse may not hold form.
- More Suitable Distance. Bet Selector compares the
most recent start race distance with the career wins. If the
horse has not won over this race distance or further and is
now returning to a more suitable distance, this comment is
made. However, if this last start run is the final run in a
Declining Form Pattern, take care. Failure may not be caused
by unsuitable distance but by lost form.
- Last Start Improver. When the "A" rating occurs at
the third last start and the second highest rating at the
most recent start, the horse may repeat the "A" rating in the
upcoming run. To judge this, Bet Selector compares ST5 and
ST4, the lead up to the ST3 "A" rating, with ST2 and ST1. If
it notes a similar pattern, Bet Selector may conclude that
the "A" rating is likely to be repeated today and the Last
Start Improver note is made.
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:
- Blank - Default setting. The net rating is set
using a percentage of each of the last three ratings and a
form bonus up to 2kg., depending upon the form pattern.
- Y - Yes. This horse will improve substantially.
The net rating uses the "A" rating as the BASE and awards a
form bonus up to 4kg depending upon the pattern.
- "+"- Plus. We expect the horse to enjoy
spectacular improvement and rate close to its peak today.
The form bonus is a high percentage of the difference
between the Base rating and the PkD and can be quite
- N - No. This horse is likely to fail at its next
start and is awarded a form penalty of 2kg. And may lower
the BASE considerably, depending upon the pattern.
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:
- Should Improve. Bet Selector will make this
comment if the horse is deemed suited to today's race
distance and the horse has winning form status. Bet Selector
usually sets Improver to Y for these horses however you may occasionally sight IMP:
? indicating that the horse has passed the previous PKD
(peak distance rating) raising doubt about whether it
can improve over today's distance. In such cases Bet Selector downgrades the
BASE and form bonus.
- Won't Improve (D). This
comment applies if the horse has never finished within 0.5 lengths over
today's race distance or further. Bet Selector downgrades the Improver
setting to Maybe (blank) or No depending upon how badly the horse is likely
to be affected by the upcoming race distance. If the horse has never won or
finished within half a length of the winner over today's race distance but
the In-Running suggests it will make the trip (DIST: y), then the Improver
setting remains blank. However, if Bet Selector believes this distance is
too far (DIST: blank or N) then the Improver setting will be set to No.
- Won't Improve (M). This comment is made when the
margin last start was more than 14 lengths. After such a poor showing, the
horse is unlikely to repeat the "A" rating today. However, if the failure
was caused by unsuitable track conditions or the horse has displayed similar
poor runs in the past and rated highly next start, you may wish to change
the Improver setting to Yes.
- But No Winning Form. After noting a form pattern,
Bet Selector will assess likely improvement by first
checking the current winning form status. If the horse will
not be in form for the upcoming race, it is unlikely to
repeat the "A" rating. Thus the Improver setting is left
blank or downgraded to No if it has not won over the
distance. Either setting lowers the BASE and net rating and
is signaled by the "No Winning Form" comment.
For more of Peter Bent's ideas see our