Yesterday was poor – I was trying a revised ‘formula’ but it didn’t feel right and the result reflected that. It’s crucial that one’s method reflect the mental ‘map’ of how racing works.

Two characteristics are particularly clear: form is both dynamic and integrated. ‘Dynamic’ means it changes. That may be gradual or sudden but it is constant and one has to allow for it in reading the ‘static’ record. ‘Integrated’ means everything relates to everything else. For example, recent form has to be seen in the context of the class it took place in. Class, however, is an aspect of what one might call overall form. So, it ties in with ratings, both official and private. The recorded form is also subject to the conditions such as going. Is one right to expect an improved run when the ground changes? Is was that result too far in the past to count? There are many permutations of these factors. The best method will take all the significant ones into account as a whole, not separately, and this mirrors one’s mental image of the problem to be analysed.

On that basis, I have finally settled on the original Form Value approach. This has been developing for a long while (years, indeed) and always draws me back through it’s elegance. My own weighting of the factors works very nicely. Any recent ‘wobbles’ have been due to my wishing to get through the assessment quickly in order to be more productive. However, by concentrating on the big meetings and classier races (still handicaps, though), I am avoiding getting into any rut as has happened before. The races are looked in a fresh frame of mind (even before 7 am!) and with less pressure to speed things up.

In any case, my longtime method can certainly be done quickly enough without skimping. What I have realised is that form reading has to be constantly practiced, even looking at races one won’t be betting in i.e. after the event, simply for practice. It is a skill that must be first acquired piecemeal, then brought to a level where the above priciples of dynamics and integration are evident, then continually honed forever after.

Incidentally, there is, unusually, a Class 2 handicap tomorrow at Salisbury where I will apply this thinking.

Now that’s definitively settled (?!) I look forward to the end of the Flat and the impending Jumps. It’s quite exciting, actually (anorak warning!)

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