Money Your Budget A punter’s guide to the Spring Carnival
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A punter’s guide to the Spring Carnival

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Your best friend’s uncle’s mate might have a sure tip to pick a winner during the Spring Racing Carnival, but is it really that simple?

Here’s a guide on how and when to bet – plus some help on picking a horse.

How odds work

Gaming companies have teams of racing traders, who specialise in coming up with prices and odds for each race.

Sportsbet.com.au spokesperson Shaun Anderson says the odds are calculated on factors including the horse’s previous form, how many wins it has had, how it performs at the distance of the race and the barrier the horse draws. The odds are then influenced by which horses the punters are betting on.

“We set the prices, but the punter determines the price at the end of the day,” Mr Anderson says.

“So, for example, if one horse attracts all the attention, we might pull that price in.”

The best time to place your bet

It might seem like a great idea to get in a few days early and seal up your odds, but it could go either way. Mr Anderson says odds can go up or down before races and the weather can have an influence.

“It’s always best to bet on the day, you can see the weather, how things are going,” he says.

Bet like a pro

If you are serious about having a punt, you’ll need to do a bit of research. Take a look at the form guides, find out the jockeys to watch and whether the horse is suited to the race’s distance, and what barrier it has drawn. If you really want, you can subscribe to specialist forms or ratings from websites, which have analysts spending all day poring over races and data.

Play the favourites

Central Queensland University Associate Professor Matthew Rockloff, a gambling expert, says that the pros flock to the favourites when the amateurs come out to bet.

“Amateur betters tend to bet on long shots because it’s a bit more exciting and they go for that hoping they’ll get a lot of money and for that reason amateurs tend to underweight the favourite.”

What this means is that, compared to a regular race, you’ll get a slightly better return on the favourites. As a bonus, they are more likely to win, so you’re more likely to have a good day.

Follow a trainer

Sportsbet.com.au suggests picking a successful trainer and betting on their horses over the course of the day. It’ll give you someone to barrack for as well.

Don’t delude yourself

Spring racing could be the one race a year you make it to the TAB. So have fun, says Professor Rockloff.

“If anyone tells you they have a winning system they are deluded,” he says.

“Have fun, bet on a fun horse name, or come up with an elaborate system to pick your horse knowing that it means nothing.”

This could mean picking a random number, choosing out of a hat or you can follow Mr Anderson’s advice and go for the “Omen Bet” and pick a horse with a name related to the day’s events or is particularly meaningful to you.

Get the paper out early and look through all the races. You will find the name of a horse that has some relevance to what is going on either in the news or in your life.”

The bet

So finally, once you’ve picked a race and a horse, it’s time to choose what kind of bet is most likely to suit you. Also, remember never to bet more than you can afford to lose.

Win – essentially all or nothing.

Place – bet on a horse to come 1st, 2nd or 3rd.

Each way – this is a combination of a Win and a Place.

Quinella – requires you to pick the first and second place finishers in either order.

Exacta – first and second in specific order.

Trifecta – selecting the first, second and third in order.

Sportsbet’s Mr Anderson recommends a bet each way for those looking to have their once a year flutter.

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