Horse racing is the perfect sport for fans of fantasy leagues and their like, with the sport being so rich in history and background for people to explore as they go about trying to develop the most effective race meet plan.
However, because this is a sport dictated by the whims and fancies of naturally wild animals (although it could be argued that football and rugby players are similar in disposition) it is notoriously hard to predict how certain races will pan out, especially the biggest of them all, like the Epsom Derby and the Grand National.
Here are some of the techniques and things to keep in mind when you and your friends are putting together a sure-fire winning strategy.
Hold onto the Coattails of Top Tipsters
Starting from scratch in the world of racing can be daunting, with the sport boasting its very own set of vocabulary and lingo that can leave newcomers clutching at straws.
Luckily, there are plenty of quality tipsters out there who make it their business to do all the hard work for their loyal followers, giving out advice on which horses to pick whether it is for a minor race up at Beverly or a grade 1 mega race such as those run at Royal Ascot and Cheltenham Festival.
Of course, there is nothing to stop you shopping around for a tipster who best suits your needs, but sometimes it can be rewarding to find a tipster and then stick with him or her through the thick and the thin of the long nose action.
Study the Form, But with a Critical Eye
Everyone who has been to a racetrack will no doubt have perused the form guide. Unfortunately, for most punters its stats and suggestions are often wrongly applied to race day, as other factors have to be taken into account other than the generic form provided by the race organisers and bookmakers.
Has the horse you want to pick travelled well? Does it look comfortable in the paddock? Is its regular jockey in the saddle? Be sure to keep all these aspects and many more in mind, as they could make a mockery of the standard form guide.
Leave it Late to Make Your Picks
Allied to the previous point, it always pays dividends to leave making your fantasy picks until as late as possible, with injuries and mishaps in the stalls often scuppering the best laid plans.
The more information you can garner before the horses set off, the better chance of winning you will have.
Mix it Up Between Favourites and Outsiders
As with any fantasy selection process, be it our very own Last Man Standing golf comp or one of the big footy fantasy leagues, it is never as easy as simply picking the best runners otherwise the game would be too easy and dull as a result.
With this in mind, it makes sense to mix up the selections you choose, perhaps balancing a big favourite with an up and coming horse who may take most observers by surprise.
The key to getting this right is to watch as many races as possible, so you have an inkling of whether an outsider is about to shock the paddock with a form-busting run down the final stretch.
What Will the Going Be Like?
Weather and ground conditions can so often be the difference between a race favourite having things all his own way, or an outside bet coming from nowhere to steal the limelight.
This means that if it looks like being a rainy day you should be looking to select horses who are used to heavy conditions and conversely search for fleet footed steeds when the ground is hard and fast.
This is particularly true of steeplechases, where horses must be comfortable landing and taking off no matter what the going happens to be on race day.