If you watch The Sting, you notice most scenes take place in what looks like a 1960's betting establishment. In the back of the room, behind closed doors I sometimes think there were dozens of handicappers studying the races, getting wind and weather updates, compiling scores for each horse, under the cloak of secrecy. If this was true, and they were making these figure scores, I picture the end result would look exactly like "The Sheets".
The Sheets have been published for over 30 years, and just last year they took the leap into offering their figures out, in partnership with TimeformUS. Although I am not playing regularly much anymore, I did take them out for a test drive recently.
A few comments:
Although I do not have the data to back it up (who does, really?), and never being a regular user over the last 30 years, my gut tells me the figures are very good. The Sheets "show how much quality the horse
demonstrated on that day. Briefly, the rating includes speed, weight, allowance for
unusual track condition, racing wide or saving ground, headwinds or tailwinds,
peculiarities of track construction such as downhill areas, etc."
I am a big believer in the value of a performance figure based on a lot of those items. It takes a lot of time, and a keen eye, but it, in my view, means something.
What I was never thrilled with, with the Sheets and other similar products, was how they were presented. Fortunately, TimeformUS's interface comes to the rescue. The interface is very good. It uses the familiar TimeformUS basics, so you can see trainer and jockey stats, running lines and times, along with the pace projector etc, and it's lightning fast. It's not as data rich as the regular TFUS interface, and that shows with speed.
Horse racing handicapping is not easy, and was never meant to be easy. We're not pulling a lever on a slot machine, and beating this ridiculous rake is very difficult. What I try to do is use as much information as I can, to try and form an opinion others might not have. Last weekend for instance, I looked at the regular TFUS interface, my jcapper sheets, and the rags PP's in tandem. I like to see some sort of link with form, form cycles, workout score and the final figure numbers. I try to picture how the race will be run, and find a horse who looks to improve, who is overlooked. There were times all three worked well together and the race was easier to see.
In the end, the Rags PP's at Timeform are not for everyone and they are not cheap. However, if you are a serious player looking for a little more, in my opinion, they might be something worth checking out. I will probably return to racing again sometime in the future, betting on a regular basis, and if I do, I will likely be using the sheets served via the TFUS interface.
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