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.’

ANGLE #1 OF THE WEEK

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.

ANGLE #2 OF THE WEEK

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.”

ANGLE #3 OF THE WEEK

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.

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About Editor

Rich Nilsen is an 18-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 twice. Rich was also a winner of a $24,000 package into Kentucky Derby Betting Championship I. 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.

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