3 Strategies for Handicapping Australian Races

by Tony Kelzenberg

With their abundant field sizes and turf racing, Australian horse racing offers some of the best opportunities for horseplayers around the world, especially for those who are seeking value when they wager.  Here are three simple angles that I have found to be very effective when handicapping the races from ‘down under.’


In the States, we don’t write a lot of 5 furlong races for older horses, with the exception of turf sprints at Churchill, Del Mar, Gulfstream Park and Canterbury Park, and even then they are usually curiosities.  In Australia they write these races all the time, and if you look at the ‘career boxes’ of some of these horses, it will be apparent that some Aussie sprinters relish the shorter distance.

Going into a recent 3A race from Moonee Valley, BROKEN had raced at 4 and 3/4 furlongs, 5 furlongs and 5 and 1/2 furlongs (combined) 24 times, for 7 wins, 2 seconds and 8 thirds.  Not a very bad record, and it had won a graded race at 6 furlongs in good time in its last start.  Despite this, Broken was dismissed at 11/1 in the North American pool before splitting horses and getting up late to win.


Be very wary of betting an Aussie horse first time off the layoff.  Most Australian trainers will use the first race off the layoff largely for exercise, and then go for a top try second or third time off the layoff down the line.  The one BIG exception is if the trainer has won with the horse first time off the layoff in the past, he or she may try to get the horse ready to win “first up.”


Wide post positions (‘bad barrier draws’) can lead to a horse being 3-wide or worse going into the turn, without a horse in front of the wide horse to block the wind  (the Aussies call this ’3 wide/no cover’).  Unless you think the jockey can overcome this obstacle, it is better to focus on horses that have posts 1 through 6, where your preferred selection can save the ground.

Share this with your horse racing friends
Handicapping tips from agameofskill.com


* indicates required

Email Format

About Editor

Rich Nilsen is a 19-time qualifier to the National Horseplayers Championship (NHC), an event he has cashed in four times. He was the first player to finish in the top 10 of the NHC twice. A former executive with Brisnet.com and a member of the NHC Players’ Committee, Rich is a graduate of the University of Louisville Equine Business Program and is founder of AGameofSkill.com, a site devoted to horse racing education and promotion.


  1. arnold macmillan says

    why are horses in Australia allowed to run ‘just for exercise’ . Seems larsenous to my Canadian values. Horses seem to work out anywhere and at any time without the horse player having any information. Horses in North America, [ Canada is located in the northern part, but we have supervised thoroughbred and Harness racing, conducted by reputable citizens. As a people we pride ourselves on giving the race fan a fair chance, not clandestinely allowing the horse trainers to be the only ones seized of information as to whether ahorse is going to run its race. we also do not allow horses to participate if no jockey is named. How is one to know if the Jockey has been set down at other tracks if no supervision is allowed. Canada is regretting the allowing of Australian controlled Casino’s and their attendant, RaceBooks ,as it has introduced a criminal element into a sport which until now has been considered an agricultural venture.in fact our racing was paired with the annual agricultural fair and supervised by the federal department of agriculture. sadly the Australian mafia is corrupting what was a pleasant pastime. WE as citizens participated in horse racing as an agricultural venture and where allowed to write of expense against work and business income for tax purposes. The Federal and Provincial Governments no longer allow this privilege, mainly due to the criminal element controlling the industry. Needless to say, our racetracks can no longer draw fans and probably not flies with all the drugs being used to force horses to preform over their limit. Even Santa Aita was forced to suspend racing due to the number of horses dying on the track. I realize you will state that we in Canada have our home-grown criminals, but they at least have the decency to not state the horse is only out for exercise for a number of races the show his ability when the odds are astronomical. must be something in the genetic pool which makes Australians to glorify the ‘Ned Kelly, element in your society.

Speak Your Mind


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

More in Handicapping 101, Horse Racing Education, International Horse Racing, Learn to Handicap
If You Were the Trainer…What Would You Do?

By Art Parker, author of "Keeneland Winning Trainer Patterns" It is early afternoon on August 20. You have a horse...