Since I can remember, I always had this romantic notion that racing could be broken down into a few simple but logical steps to produce regular, big-race winners. Of course reality is far more complex than that, which is why I spent 20+ years developing the most advanced set of ratings to be found anywhere that do actually produce those long-term, consistent profits.

I think it started when I first read about the legendary, and some say mythical, Che Van Der Wheil in my elder brother's copies of the Raceform Handicap Book back in the 1980's. The ‘legend' started in the late 70's but I will not cover old ground here, rather recommend you purchase a copy of “The Golden Years of Van Der Wheil” which is a collection of his letters from that time chronicling his ‘method' of finding winners. Notice I say ‘method', as opposed to rigid systems which are often backfitted by system peddlers, but ultimately reduce in profitability over time as the public latch on to them and they become overbet.

I am far more interested in the “more recent” Sad Ken publications which were published in 2006, now almost 10 years ago and still, amazingly produces big-priced winners in the most competitive handicaps each month, year on year. I have my own Best Bets approach to use with the ratings but I often perform the Sad Ken analysis manually as it gives additional confidence behind pure ratings-based selections, can also flag up some contenders who have been perhaps under-rated and just helps to give a feel for the key contenders in the race to decide on what the staking should be like for horses of interest.

You will have to purchase a copy of the “Back In The Ring” for the full rundown, it's an excellent read, but here I will summarise my own approach when using the FormBet Ratings.

At FormBet we actually have our own automatic, customised SK (Sad Ken) rating based on our own figures so it takes the headache of working it all out and flags the qualifiers automatically. My manual approach goes a little something like this -:

1-THE RACES

Now Sad Ken suggests to focus on Class 1 and 2 handicaps, bewaring of novice contests etc but he did say to make an exception for Class 3 handicaps worth 10k or more, so I am going to run the SK rule over the 2 x 17-runner handicaps chases at Newbury on Saturday in the 1.15 and the main event, the Hennessy Gold Cup at 3pm.

2-THE BETTING MARKET

Now the general idea is that the betting market is an accurate gauge to the ‘winner' of a race…over time it's around 30% on average that the favourite wins, but it's a few percentage points lower in handicap chases. In fact only around 16% of favourites win in fields of 16-19 runners in handicap chases. SK suggests to look at the first 5 in the betting market in fields of 10 or less, first 6 in 11-15 runner fields, first 7 in 16-19 runner races and the Top-8 in the market in fields of 20+ runners.

Here is the actual performance of the Top-7 in the Betfair SP market in 16-19 runner handicap chases so you can see actually 70% of winners of these races are found from the Top-7 in the market, favs are a big-time loser overall. Interestingly, 3rd-favourites produce a blind profit with 5%+ Yield at BSP. -:

1619RunnerHCAPChase

Now, you can use any betting forecast but I prefer the actual Betfair market, which is usually quite well formed for the big Saturday races and they form the bulk of the races to study.

So in the 1:15 the Top-7 in the market are currently -:

LA VATICANE 1pt
ALOOMOMO 1pt
ABRACADABRA SIVOLA 1pt
SI CERTAIT VRAI 1pt
SHANGANI 1pt
MOSSPARK 1pt
BIG CASINO 1pt

…and in the Hennessy at 3pm we have -:

SAPHIR DU RHEU 1pt
SMAD PLACE 1pt
IF IN DOUBT 1pt
BOBS WORTH 1pt
THE YOUNG MASTER 1pt
NED START 1pt
FINGAL BAY 1pt

3-WIN PROBABILITY, ABILITY and CONSISTENCY

The win Probability is simply calculated by dividing the Number of Wins by the Number of Runs. So for example if a horse has 5 wins from 10 runs it would have a 50% Win Probability figure.

The ability figure is the Total Win Prizemoney of the horse divided by Number of Wins the horse has achieved.

The consistency figure is the sum of the horses last 3 form figures. Obviously the lower the better and we count anything over 9 as a 10, same with pulled-up, fallers etc and if the horse has only 2 runs then we use the last run position and add that on.

So for the 1:15 the figures are as follows and we are really only interested in awarding 1pt for each horse that ranks first in each category.

ProbAbilCons

ProbAbiliCons300

From the tables above we have -:

1:15 ALOOMOMO 1pt
1:15 ABRACADABRA SIVOLA 1pt
1:15 SI CETAIT VRAI 1pt
1:15 MORNING REGGIE 1pt

1:50 BOBS WORTH 2pt
1.50 SAPHIR DU RHEU 1pt

4-TOP 4 OF THE RATINGS

We look at the Top-4 of the FBR Ratings and without giving too much away by mixing up the order, this results in -:

1:15 BIG CASINO 1pt
1:15 ALOOMOMO 1pt
1:15 SIMPLY WINGS 1pt
1:15 MIDNIGHT PRAYER 1pt

1:50 FINGAL BAY 1pt
1:50 THE YOUNG MASTER 1pt
1:50 NED STARK 1pt
1:50 BOBS WORTH 1pt

5-PACE IMPROVEMENT

Now this is where I differ from the original method outlined in the book where it was stated to ONLY initially consider horses who had achieved a better speed figure in it's last run from it's penultimate run in the current season and then apply the rankings and points to those shortlisted runners based on the other criteria mentioned above.

I personally prefer to just award a 1pt each to the Top-4 on my own developed FormBet PACE Improvement (PACEIMP) figures as I believe this is less restrictive as we are considering the whole field.

So for the 1:15 this gives -:

SI CETAI VRAI 1pt
SIMPLY WINGS 1pt
ALOOMOMO 1pt
CAESAR MILAN 1pt

For the 3:00 we have -:

SAPHIR DU RHEU 1pt
BOBS WORTH 1pt
BENBENS 1pt
SPLASH OF GINGE 1pt

FINAL SUMMARY

The final thing to do is to add up all the total points based on all of the above.

Newbury 1:15
ALOOMOMO 4pts
SI CERTAIT VRA 3pts
BIG CASINO 2pts
ABRACADABRA SIVOLA 2pts
SIMPLY WINGS 2pts

Newbury 3:00
BOBS WORTH 5pts
SAPHIR DU RHEU 3pts
SMAD PLACE 2pts
THE YOUNG MASTER 2pts
NED START 2pts
FINGAL BAY 2pts

Now the question just remains on how to play these. You can play them all e/w and half the points. So Bobs Worth could be 2.5pts e/w or you can play them all to win or you can just select the ones that have three points or more which would probably be my preferred strategy and do them win only.

You could also throw in a 6th criteria of considering the Top-4 from our new POWer rating which we have developed and launched this week but I'll leave it at this for now. It's a very simple approach and you can design your own approach and research different ratings/criteria using our Formbet RacE Database (FRED) till you find something that works well for you. All the tools are there are there at your disposal.

Again this is a very simple approach to find horses in the big races. If you do want to stick to the original method then you would consider perhaps the Top-6 PACE IMPROVERS and then apply the other filters but ranking them within that subset for consistency, ability and probability. I'm not sure there would be too much of a difference to using this approach but it may give the odd bigger priced winning selection which might actually be a good thing. The drinks may be fewer in between races and, as we know, most punters tend to get thirsty for winners very quickly!

There are a number of other little rules and regulations in the original method but again I advise to get a copy of the booklets and also read up on VDW as it's a fascinating approach, even if it has been diluted and bastardised by people through the years who are looking for a ‘secret key' – the fact is that it's just a very quick ratings method but is all down to the accuracy and uniqueness of the ratings being used, which you can always be sure of at FormBet.

Get today's ratings below which include our own version of the SK ratings and performs most of these calculations for you.

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