Betting on wet tracks can be a slog – they add yet another layer of unpredictability to racing. So much so that many punters simply shoulder arms and don’t bet. But is that the right approach, or is there potentially winnings to be had on wet tracks?
There are a number of key factors that form analysts use to identify which horses are likely to relish the heavy going and which will struggle. Tick a number of these boxes, and you just might have a runner that’s worth backing in the wet.
- Exposed form on wet tracks
- Racing pattern / track bias
While a horse’s record on wet tracks is a good indicator for today’s race, it should not be taken solely at face value. As a serious punter you should also assess the class, distance and suitability of these races. For example a horse might have started three times on wet tracks and been unplaced each time, giving you the initial impression that it doesn’t handle heavy going. But if the horse is a stayer and the unplaced efforts were in good-class races over unsuitably short distances, you might have a different perspective on its ability to handle wet tracks.
In contrast, just because a horse has won on wet ground, doesn’t necessarily mean you can classify it as a wet-tracker. Rather it may have had a substantial class edge over its rivals and won despite the wet track, rather than because of it. For example the 1 start / 1 win record on a heavy track may have been a narrow maiden win 12 months ago against substandard opposition.
A firm track normally means less variables and therefore narrower decision-making skills required by the jockey. Whereas a wet track often increases the importance of having a good jockey on board. The relative importance of a jockey’s impact in a horse’s overall winning chance can at times be over-rated. But when the going gets wet, the good jockeys get going.
Do you have to be on-pace from the start? Or is it more important to get out wide in the straight?
Should you ‘cuddle’ the horse until the final furlong, or adopt a catch-me-if-you-can policy?
Have the track conditions changed substantially throughout the day?
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Unfit horses won’t win in heavy going. So you should exercise extreme caution and avoid horses that are not at peak fitness. If you are backing a horse that is racing first or second-up from a spell, you need to be convinced that it has the fitness to finish the race off well.
4. Racing pattern and track bias
Track bias is more likely on rain-affected going. This bias will most often favour leaders. So be wary if your horse is a backmarker, as it can be very difficult to make ground in heavy going. There are exceptions to every rule though! After a few races the inside of the track can become quite cut up, leaving the middle to outside of the track as the faster going.
This will take an expert eye. But some video watchers believe they can get a good gauge for a horse’s likely wet-track ability just by looking at their galloping action and stride.
Some horses can handle the wet but only over a certain distance range. For example, a wet 1200m might be okay. But if the horse is racing today over a mile that may well be a different story. Most horses have narrower peak distance ranges than casual punters realise.
Wide barriers can actually be an advantage as the going can be better away from the fence. And this can be even more important later in the day when the jockeys tend to scout wide in search of better going.
A horse’s breeding can offer a strong indication of whether it will be able to handle the track. This is a specialist area though and requires knowledge of the dam’s side along with the sire.
Pro punter Trevor Lawson on betting on wet tracks
Melbourne’s racetracks drain extremely well, and wet tracks are only really a consideration in winter. So we asked Trev for his thoughts on betting in the darker, colder months.
“The racing is obviously worth less in terms of prizemoney so naturally you get fewer horses visiting from other states,” said Trevor.
“It means you have a very stable population of horses running around each week, and they’re almost entirely locals. These are obviously the horses you know best as a punter who focuses on Melbourne racing. Of course you do the form on the visitors at other times of the year. But there’s no doubt you know the locals best as you’ve seen them more.”
If we do get significantly rain-affected tracks, it’s not something that phases Trevor.
“It’s not so much of a problem for me because knowing the track is a major part of preparing for a meeting for me anyway,” he said.
“For every meeting I’m betting into, I either walk the track myself, or somebody else does it and reports back to me in detail.”
Plenty of punters complain about bias. But when you know where it is how it’s going to play, it can work for you.
Walking the track before every meeting gives you the insight you need to profit in winter. It’s just another benefit you get from betting with the Melbourne Ratings package.
On Episode 9 of the Ultimate Form Guide, where we talk to 12 pro punters and betting experts about how they bet on wet tracks… you can learn from the best!
Click here or listen below
Punt like a pro with Trevor Lawson’s Melbourne Ratings.
As well as a full set of rated prices, speed maps and suggested bets, you can spend each and every raceday with a pro punter: the Melbourne Ratings Live Page gives you direct access to Trev himself to ask whatever you like.
If you’re keen to win, it’s the only way to punt.