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Van Der Wheil Method

A Method By Van der Wheil


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Van Der Wheil Method

Racing is a highly complex subject, full of controversy and abounding in aspects amenable to infinite interpretation. And it is a world where aspirations of millions is to find that pot of gold which will surely come when the infallible system falls into their lap!

Few ever reach their goal, not because it is unattainable but because they lack temperament and unwittingly stack the odds against themselves.

Every day huge sums of money are thrown away by the hoards who haphazardly select a horse from this meeting or that .

Not content with irrational selection they further put the odds against themselves by coupling a number of horses in multiple bets.

It may seem like fun to dream of a fabulous windfall, but I warrant it creates considerable frustration.

Little wonder is the common belief that only the bookmaker can win in the end.

This I know to be untrue, but success can only come by putting aside compulsive gambling ways and making a new beginning using logical and positive methods.

Initially it means coming to terms with yourself and creating that indispensable asset, temperament.

When you can view the situation completely without emotion and making judgment on real evidence something comes to the fore.

Intuition, know how, mentor call it what you will, the fact remains without it two plus two will make three, five or what have you, but seldom four as it should.

To a large extent the art of successful punting is dependent upon the ability to appraise odds and never go against them.

This does not mean never taking an odds on price which is something completely different.

If the true calculated odds are 3-1 on and you can strike a wager at 6-4 on it is a value bet.

A single factor, time, form, class, etc, will not achieve consistent results.

Many rely heavily upon ratings, but there can be a high degree of variation between compilers.

You might assume, and probably expect the official ratings and Phil Bull's much respected Timeform to show a high degree of uniformity, but this is not the case.

Take just one example, the two Derby winners -and you can't get better class than that-Henbit and Blakeney.

The official figures show the latter to be 8lb superior, but Timeform go completely opposite making Henbit 7lb better.

Over a stone difference which makes nonsense of calculations.

Conclusion.....regard ratings only as a guide in association with other factors.

Form can be misleading.

Form, even though consistent, can mislead if taken alone when the horse is running against others with greater ability. 

Class which in my view is a major factor, can throw you of course if the horse is out of form, so to establish a reliable measure a combination of elements must be used to achieve consistent results. To find elements which can be combined and used methodically requires considerable thought and each must be logical. There are numerous ways to approach the problem of winner finding methodically and the one which I demonstrate has proved highly successful and consistent for a considerable number of years. Each element was selected after a great deal of research and when used as intended will place the odds strongly in the backers' favour.

Form is considered a major factor to winner-finding and what is form if it is not that one performance is better than another?

Horses who consistently perform better than others should then command interest. My own extensive surveys show that a horse winning three races in a row is likely to extend the sequence by a further victory at a ratio of one to three.

Expressed as a percentage it is 33%, considerably better than 2% which is the representative odds of a horse that has failed to reach the hunt on its last three outings.

Consistent horses win races and to illustrate I will give some examples which show percentage wins next time out from various form combinations.....111 33%, 121 32%, 131 29%, 141 26%, 122 30%, 313 24%, 214 24%, 404 5%, 000 2%.

The figures show beyond reasonable doubt that consistent form does have an important part to play. If there are three horses each having won their last three races the figures indicate that it is almost certain one of them should win 33%+33%+33%=99%.

Only about one chance in a hundred that the winner will come from elsewhere, so it would be going against the odds to select any other horse.

First 5 in betting

Taking all races other figures show that 83% of winners come from the first five quotes in the betting forecast. This also shows that selecting a horse which does not appear in this range is again tantamount to going against the odds. The only exception I make to this is when a highly consistent horse fails to show in this area of the forecast.

It may be that the horse is outclassed in the present company but a check should always be made.

The combination of these two factors narrows the field to an area which consistently produces a high percentage of winners. Calculating the three most consistent horses by adding together the last three form lacing's from the first five (non handicaps) and the first six (handicaps) center attention where it is positively alive with winners.

When making these calculations it is necessary to use a little judgment. Basically it is a simple addition of the last three form lacing's, but it does happen that a horse may have had only one or two outings.

In such cases assume that it would have performed at the same standard as its last form placing, i.e., a horse placed fourth and third would be considered to have run into third place once more giving a total of ten.

Other factors in the assessment will either support it or show it to be over compensated.

Form figures should be taken to the ninth place at par value but beyond this calculate it as 10 i.e., 3-16-4 =17 (3+10+4). Horses shown as last should be given an assessment of 10 for this performance but do let common sense prevail. If it is last of 7 beaten five lengths there is a world of difference to one last of 20 beaten out of sight. Also use discretion in the case of a highly consistent horse that suddenly puts in, what might seem at first, a bad one. It could have been put into a race where it had no chance which is not the same as if it had blown its top.

If the former is the case, common sense should show how to deal with the situation.

This is a methodical approach not a systematic one, so observe intelligent judgment.

A third factor which will further assist putting the odds in the backers favour is appraisal of the spoils involved. Figures show it can confidently be expected that a horse with the right qualifications will seldom fail to carry of the prize when it is big enough. Selecting races for application of the various factors must be methodical as well.

The basic method is to select the race from each card having the highest prize money but for obvious reasons it would not be wise to use a novice hurdle full of nondescript animals.

It often happens that other races on a card will lend themselves to this method especially at the principal meeting but endeavor to keep as far as possible to the upper limits. Moving away from the basic principle starts to put the odds against you.

Attention is going to be centered on the better class races, so it must follow that the better class horses should be looked for. There are many conflicting views as to what class really is and I have heard some strange definitions. I believe it is more realistic to base class on what a horse has actually done in public not by any other means.

Class should be defined as ability and to assess the merit of one against the other, it becomes necessary to compile a rating.

This can quickly and easily be done by considering the prize money won to date in hundreds of pounds and dividing it by the number of races won. For example a horse has won eight races worth a total of 20,000 (200 hundreds) so to find it's ability rating  divide 200 by 8 which equals 25. This rating gives one of the most reliable assessments of a horse but always remember it must be used as a guide in conjunction with other factors.

It can be used methodically as the basic factor and when all other elements line up in support the horse concerned is seldom beaten. This point will be shown in an illustrated race, but always keep in mind it is a rating and as such, can and will prove false if used incorrectly.

To complete the working platform it is useful to have another measure giving some indication of the various horses chances in the present situation and which will assist in confirming other data. This can be time, handicap ratings, form ratings etc. but always keep in mind they are a guide. I use two sets of ratings which are compiled on different lines so that I may judge the reliability of the figures but this is not essential.

This whole concept may seem complex and beyond the capabilities of many, but in fact it is extremely simple and becomes quick and easy to perform providing it is done methodically. Taken step by step and starting with the principal meeting the agenda is:

1. Select the most valuable race on the card.

2. Consider next most valuable race.

3. Select most valuable race from other cards.

4. Rate entire fields for ability.

5. Select most consistent from the first 5 or 6 in the forecast.

6. Apply selected rating method to entire fields.

To illustrate the whole procedure I will demonstrate using the weekend cards for Saturday, March 7, 1981.

Always mark off the four highest ability ratings and the three most consistent from the forecast. In the illustrations this is done with an asterisk (*)


1.45 Haydock

Previous Form Horse Ability Most Consistent Rating Rating
11F/111 Little Owl 36* 3* 65 90
1/21211 Wayward Lad 23* 4* 52 64
22/1324 Fairy King 10 9* 53 75
1111UL Mr.Kidd 13* 12 34 59

Forecast: Evens Wayward Lad, 5/4 Little Owl, 14 Fairy King, 20 Mr.Kidd

At this stage do not make any automatic assumptions. The required data has been put together and it is now necessary to establish if any of the three portable's have good claims for support. Always start appraisal by looking at the horse with the highest ability rating and check how it balances with the other data.

In this race everything is straightforward . Little Owl has the highest ability rating and there is nothing in the other elements to suggest any upset, indeed all evidence shows it ought to be a good thing . To confirm what the figures say it is necessary to study the form of all concerned, taking particular note of class in which they ran, the course they ran on, the pace and going of the respective races, distances won or beaten by and most important how they performed in the later stages of each race.

When you have followed the method for some time it is easy to turn back to your records concerning a given horse and it will help to balance respective performances.

This race clearly shows that Little Owl is a racing certainty and when the true odds are calculated a price better than 3/1 on would represent value. Wayward Lad is obviously a false forecast favorite and if it were to remain so on course the chance of a very fine bet would be there.

Little Owl Won 4/5

Many racing certainties start at much better odds than this.


31111P Tragus 24* 3* 57 85
L11/P/42 King or Country 19* 7* 52 82
231111 Sunset Cristo 24* 3* 61 90
218U23 The Vintner 23* - 53 84
133/4U6 Fair View 25* 13 51 80
41L21F Bobjob 12 13 53 84
211F21 Bregawn 18 - 51 83
513512 The Engineer 13 8* 54 86

Forecast: 7/2 King or Country, 9/2 Tragus, 11/2 Bobjob, 6 Sunset Cristo, 7 The Engineer, Fair View, 12 Bregawn, 14 The Vintner

Fair View with the highest ability rating is not at present consistent and the other data does not give any boost. Tragus made a mess of things and weakened to 12th in it's last race and was then pulled up before the 14th which tells it's own story.

Sunset Cristo, a close joint second on ability, super consistent and other data lends support. The form is impressive and note not only how it ran but what it had behind it, Silver Buck, Another Captain etc. The Engineer does not have the ability to gain the upper hand on the run in if it got into the hunt in the closing stages and King or Country does not have anything going for it.

Another case of a false forecast favorite so Sunset Cristo should be a good bet.

Sunset Cristo Won 5/1


3/23231 KENLIS 11* 6* 65 88
2F1P11 MASTER BRUTUS 10* 3* 41 80
123784 MAGIC TIPP 8 19 42 86
222133 GREENWAYS 12* 7* 60 85
L413L2 TURK 9* 15 41 83
5L/3443 SILBERTO 9* 11 39 72
5U4248 GAME LADDIE 11* - 40 79
LL85/66 DALKET 10* - 35 61

Forecast: 2 Kenlis, 9/4 Master Brutus, 4 Magic Tipp, 6 Turk, 13/2 Greenways, 12 Silberto, 16 Brown Barman, 25 others.

This procedure shows Kenlis to be a good thing but note how the relative ability of the whole field is like a blanket. Also note the penultimate race of Turk, last of seven, made no show and beaten out of sight. Calculate the performance as ten when totting up previous form figures. So far this is the only genuine forecast favorite.

Kenlis Won 11/4

The spade work is all complete and it can be seen there is a possible winner for each race but once again the odds must be weighed.

Providing a reasonable price can be obtained Little Owl will be taken because it is a racing certainty.

Sunset Cristo will also be taken as it is almost a certainty.

Remember it is all tied up with temperament and odds.





A METHOD BY C Van der Wheil

Human nature dictates we all seek achievement in some form. Mountains call and many put their wits and skills against the awesome faces, but few achieve the pinnacle of Everest.

The glamour of the motor racing circuit draws the brave or reckless, but how many receive the world championship crown?

Horse racing attracts perhaps the less athletic, but equally ambitious, and once again the number who reach fulfillment through success is small. In all cases set-backs are pushed aside and human nature ensures we press on fully convinced that one day we will grasp the prize we seek.

Newcomers to racing who aspire to success are faced with a multitude of elements which are subject to various interpretations and almost all are controversial. This I suspect leads them to search for the infallible system and nothing seems to deter them.

There are thousands of systems for them to try, but I venture to suggest none is infallible.

Many, when advised that being methodical offers the best prospects, are unable to separate method from system. A system can quite easily be changed into a method but the opposite is almost impossible because a methodical approach requires the old grey matter to evaluate variables which a pre-conceived set of rules can't do.

A pure system is a series of mechanical steps (logical or otherwise) which leads you to a selection which must be backed. This can be changed into a poor method by following the penultimate stage and then letting reason decide whether to bet or not.

There are so many variables in racing that it is impossible to devise a set of unambiguous rules, which if followed, will consistently place the odds in your favour and unless this criteria is met failure is the only possible outcome.

The fundamental principle of any chain of progression offering real prospects must be a foundation of logic. Many systems start from a logical assumption, but rapidly deviate from the path when efforts are made to standardise variables and although every operator should arrive at the same conclusion in practice this often is not the case.

A good method will follow a researched path signposted in such ways as to require logical evaluation of variables in order to point out the turnings which lead to a conclusion.

And it is the ability of the operator that will determine whether they are correct. Put another way, a system demands that you obey orders implicitly and if told to dive of Brighton pier you do so, but in a method the reaction would be to ask why?, is the water deep enough?, can I swim in the foaming mass below?, can I get back to the safety of the beach?

It may be noble, heroic or patriotic to ride into the valley of  death like the 600 but it is suicidal.

Logical reasoning will lead you to arrive at numerous sound methodical ideas and any normal racing fan can devise his own path to success using the abundance of data available. To show what is involved let us formulate a very simple, but potentially profitable one from just a few odds and ends.

Being methodical ensures that time, which I have previously suggested is an important ingredient of successful punting, will be used to great advantage.

We want a lot of winners with as little effort as possible, so the method must be geared to restricting attention to areas where it is logical to expect all these winners and focus should be on one race.

Statistics indicate that 50 per cent of all winners come from the first two quotes in the betting forecast and that non-handicaps produce a greater percentage of winning favourites than handicaps.

It is logical then to restrict attention to the first two in the forecast of non handicap races, but there are all sorts of events in that category so we must apply further reasoning and here we come up against more of the variables.

The shorter the distance of the race the less time for tactics to come into play. We must not overlook the prize incentive and we want a race where it is reasonable to expect that form can easily be evaluated.

There are sellers, maidens, two year olds, three-year-olds etc, and also more than one meeting so there is material for many methods.

Let us save time by taking incentive of prize-money to out-weigh tactics and opt for the principal meeting.

The method is now to evaluate the most valuable non-handicap at the principal meeting and bet only if we are left with one of the first two in the forecast.

There is plenty of scope for refinement as at the moment it could be a varied sort of race, two-year-old, maiden, sprint, stayers etc.

Leave it as it is or enjoy greater achievement by doing some of the work yourself and creating your own individual method from the mass of alternatives.


Form is a much used little word but few are in any way confident of defining just what it is.
A football team is said to be "in form" when having a good winning spell. A darts player who scores well each time or pulls off the odd 180 regularly is said to be "in form" and the athlete who goes from strength to strength is "in form". To be out of form must then be the reverse.
Some years ago I posed the question: " What is form if it is not that one performance is better than another?" Logically form must represent a degree of achievement. This being so, why does the interpretation of form cause so much confusion and controversy?
Plainly this must be the varied opinions as to the relative merits of various constituents, forming achievement.
To go a stage further a first division football team gaining a string of victories over non-league clubs would be showing form in as much as they continue to win, but the quality of that form could hardly be viewed as the equivalent of such an achievement against opposition from other first division clubs.

The international darts player who continues winning against the local pub league representatives would be showing form but once again this could not have the value of such a performance in professional tournaments. The school's star athlete who appeared invincible would surely meet his "Waterloo" if faced with Olympic quality opposition.

Logically the relative merit of form must be equated to the quality (class) in which it was achieved. This means there has to be at least two elements to jointly equate when judging the relative merits of one performance against another: FORM and CLASS.

Form is what they did and class is the level at which it was achieved.

Therefore, when looking at the relative merits of one horse against another, these two elements class and form must be equated along with other aspects such as distance, going, track, etc. Whatever the form and class, a long striding galloping horse is almost bound to come unstuck on a sharp track.

Permutations involved in the assessment of one horse against others in a race provides an extremely complex problem but we can make life much easier if the situation is followed logically.

With horse racing how then do we assess the class element? There are many views but a method found by myself to be most satisfactory is to use the value of the prize to the winner (penalty value).

Everything is best viewed in simple form and an easy way to present class as a rating is to divide the penalty value by 100 (move two decimal places) 8,025 becomes a class rating of 80. 5,840 becomes a class rating of 58. 61,932 becomes 619 and so on.


Racing is all about odds, not just prices on the bookmaker's boards but odds relating to many things and only by restricting betting to occasions when they are in your favour can you have any hope of winning in the long term.

Because a price is 6-4 on, it does not by itself mean the odds are AGAINST YOU as so many believe. In fact, the real odds which is what matters, may well be 4-1 in your favour.

Many punters insist upon pushing the odds more and more against themselves and it is ironic that some believe they are doing the opposite. The numbers who indulge in doubles is amazing and very often you will find those who are looking to bet something each-way, a procedure which these days is completely negative.

Suggesting they back two horses in a race to win in one race brings a look of horror to their faces, but they would be reducing the odds against themselves by doing so.
Doubles, trebles, yankees, union jacks and all other fancy bets are strictly for the fun punters who do not object to subscribing to bookmakers benevolent funds.

Profit must be taken where you see it and once you understand that in almost every race there are only a few horses with any real credentials for winning, you will begin to be able to push the odds your way.
Everyday there are races where only two , or at most, three horses have any real chance and the rest are just making up numbers. And once you learn how to cut a race down to its real size you will be in a position to play the bookmaker at his own game.

The bookmaker ensures a profit by making his book over-round, but he is at the disadvantage of reckoning on the whole number that punters support. Once you have mastered the art of sorting out which two or three horses the winner should come from, you can make your own book within the market and take a profit whichever wins.

When you back a single horse the book has the rest running for it and each additional horse you back reduces the odds against yourself. When you know the winner must (or should) come from one of two or three horses and you can back all of them and make a profit, it must rate as a punters dream come true.
The good news is that it is not just a dream, but a fact and there to be taken most days. You have to be prepared to work at it because like anything else worth having it does not come free gratis.

Even when you can sort out the two or three horses the winner should come from, it does not automatically follow that a profit can be made; this will subject to the odds available. Also when calculations reveal a profit is possible you must be satisfied that the percentage gain is acceptable.
Although there are various ways to back a number of horses in one race, the most practicable is to stake a return of 100 points. A point can be whatever you like, 25 pence or 25, it is up to you and to make things simple I give below my own table for calculating what stakes are required for various odds.

11-10 48
6-5 47
5-4 45
11-8 42
6-4 40
13-8 38
7-4 37
15-8 35
2-1 34
9-4 31
5-2 30
11-4 27
3-1 25
10-3 24
7-2 23
4-1 20
9-2 19
5-1 17
11-2 16
6-1 16
7-1 13
8-1 12
9-1 11
10-1 9
12-1 8
14-1 7
16-1 6
20-1 5
25-1 4

To illustrate the procedure let us assume you have selected a race where the winner should come from one of three horses and you want to know what, if any profit can be taken. Add together the stakes required at the odds available about each horse.

The odds on offer are perhaps 2-1, 5-1, 9-1 which would work out as under.

34+17+11= 62 leaving a profit margin of 38 points.

This is an acceptable margin, but you must decide the percentage below which you would not bet.


Don't run away with the idea that you can avoid backing a loser from time to time, because that is just not possible, but you must at all times play the game with as much in you favour as possible.

The definition of what constitutes "class" and "form" is just one of the controversial aspects of racing and I have been told in no uncertain terms that mine are wrong.

The strange thing is that those who make these judgements fail  to provide an alternative and perhaps stranger still, mine continue to work year after year. Since I have previously explained my definition of  "class" and how to calculate a rating to assist comparison, I will not go into it again here.

There are those in sport  who refer to themselves as "professionals" and I have previously given my view of the majority. The true "pro" is someone who regularly derives an income from taking the odds, but none of my acquaintances broadcast the fact, indeed they go out of their way to remain unknown, and take good care not to divulge all their knowledge. When you see the performance of some of these professed professionals you will perhaps understand.



Most staking systems have as a foundation a bank which for convenience is usually 100 points. To finish all square using level stakes (not allowing for tax) a series of four bets with three consecutive losers would require a 3/1 winner. Let us now match this with increasing stakes after winners (founded upon the misguided belief that having produced a winner you have hit a purple patch). We will adhere to the usual procedure of betting one tenth (approx) of the bank each time which means all points exceeding 100 (the original bank) will be profit.

The first bet is 10 points-result lost, leaving a bank of 90 points.

The second bet is nine points- result lost, leaving a bank of 81 points.

The third bet is eight points - result lost, leaving a bank of 73 points.

The fourth bet is seven points - result Won 3/1, leaving a bank of 94 points.

Clearly with the same run as you had with level stakes the result of the six point loss by this method does not show up well for the principle. Note your lowest stake is on a winner.

There is a huge lobby against increasing stakes after losers the idea being regarded as chasing bad money which in turn has been viewed as the sure way to bankruptcy.

The old saying "you must speculate to accumulate" comes into play here and providing you have a consistent selection method I personally take kindly to the idea providing extra precautions are taken.

First let us see how increasing stakes after losers works out under the same pattern as before. Again we will start with a bank of 100 points but this time we add losses to the bank and in this case every time it falls below 100 points we are in profit. Again stake will be approx 10%.

First bet 10 points - result lost, leaving a bank of 110 points.

Second bet 11 points - result lost, leaving a bank of 121 points.

Third bet 12 points - result lost, leaving a bank of 133 points.

Fourth bet 13 points - result Won 3/1, leaving a bank of 94 points.

We thus have a profit of six points whereas we lost six points using the idea in reverse and ended all square with level stakes. This illustration then can be used with some degree of confidence to formulate a staking plan that will not get you into deep water providing it is used in conjunction with a viable selection method and a realistic starting bank.

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