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By Mahendra Mallya
Wednesday 20 Nov 2013
Mr Prakash Gosavi

After receiving encouraging response to the Handicapping Classes held in 2011, the RWITC revives the endeavor in providing opportunities to those keen on getting into the intricacies of racing, particularly on the handicapping segment.  

A ‘seminar on Handicapping’ is slated to kick off at 9 30 am on Sunday, 24th November 2013. About 15 sessions are scheduled, spreading all through the current season. This would give a great opportunity for the serious students of the sport to get a close understanding of the subject. RWITC’s racing columnist and Mid-Day’s racing correspondent Mr Prakash Gosavi will be conducting the ‘classes’ at the Owners’ Association lounge at the Mumbai Race course. Indiarace spoke to Prakash Gosavi on how it would benefit those who attend the sessions.  

IR: Betting on horses is a risky business. What is the percentage or chances to beat this game?
PG: Without risk there is no reward, so risk is actually welcome. One of the best ways to reduce the risk is to be able to measure it accurately — and for measuring it, you need to have a process in place. That's where this game becomes very difficult to beat. 

Because most data related to the two main athletes on whom your money rides—the horse and the jockey—can behave unpredictably any time. You also cannot forget the fact that any speculation, in principle, is a psychological activity and horse racing can really take your mind on a roller-coaster ride. I would rate this as one of the most difficult games to beat over long term, if not THE most difficult.

IR: You recently created a sensation by posting profit for four seasons in a public column. Have you backed all those horses?

PG: I have never shied away from backing my recommendations whatever their odds. But to tell you the truth, my performance as a bettor is not stellar as the column's, because I have bet too many other horses also, especially at other centers. The reason why I am still a learner at this game is because I am yet to tame all the psychological demons and cross that final hurdle called DISCIPLINE.

IR: Is it crucial to possess high knowledge of handicapping before venturing into placing bets?

PG: Let us not confuse between information (as in data) and knowledge (as in wisdom). My personal belief is that too much information is actually bad—you can lose focus. But the same cannot be said about knowledge. Every bit of it adds to your arsenal.

IR: What is the aim of your endeavor and who are your target audience/students?

PG: I am going to share some of the things that have worked for me, and narrate how I stumbled onto those because of the research which I keep on doing even today. You can say I am going to impress upon my audience that unless they do their own research about "things that work" and have their own insights about this game, they stand little chance. But yes, I am going to share my ways and techniques of research with them. You can say I will consider myself successful if my student starts doing his own original research to glean his own useful insights. As regards my target audience, he or she is anyone who is curious about this game. 

IR: You have, earlier ‘coached’ students in handicapping. What is their feedback?

PG: I used to teach my theory of Dynamic Handicapping, which makes an assumption that a horse's galloping speed is majorly the bye-product of five factors: the horse (class & condition), jockey, handicap, trip distance and underfoot condition. Change in any of these five factors will change the speed of the horse. And we believed we were best at accurately working out the effect of the last three, and reasonably good at guessing the first two. I trained about 300 students all over India between 2003-2006, and my guess is only about 30-40 are still following it sincerely, because they are in regular touch with me. The mathematical nature of the process was a big put off for those who were not too good at math.

IR: Aren’t computer ratings more systematic and accurate than manual calculations? Isn’t technology a simpler, better way to arrive at the ‘handicap advantage’?

PG: Not necessarily. It depends on what has gone into the computer program. It could be a case of GIGO (Garbage in, Garbage out) syndrome. 

IR: What is the major benefit you would say, one could draw from your handicapping classes?

I am going to share all my research techniques (mind you, I am saying research techniques, not research findings!) with them so that they can go looking for their own profitable insights.

IR: How much time does one need to understand the subject?

PG: A lifetime may not be enough, if you go by stories of so many wasted lives of some of the most intelligent people who unsuccessfully tried to beat this game. So it is clear one session in my class is not going to change their life, but it can certainly change their mindset. And changing mindset is the first step everyone who hopes to be a winner in this game has to take.

IR: What will be the core concept that you intend to impart in the sessions?

PG: That this game cannot be enjoyed unless you have a steady stream of good-priced winners. And if you get adept at it, life is more beautiful. Like they say, money won is twice as sweet as money earned.
IR: Do you see any career opportunities for laymen or aspirants in handicapping or in the sport per se?

PG: Layman? NO. Aspirant? If he heads in the right direction—YES.

IR: Does one have to be ‘Math-savvy’ for understanding the art of handicapping?

PG: If you had asked me this question when I was obsessed with Dynamic Handicapping, I would have emphatically said YES. But my current belief is that the 'art' of handicapping requires only elementary knowledge of arithmetic, like addition and subtraction—after all you must be able to count your profits or losses:)
IR: How does one put to test the skills learnt at your camp?

PG: Start observing whether what I have said holds true in practice. Watch races, look at results, observe patterns, make notes, check future runs, formulate your own findings. Put it to test, and when you are convinced it happens more often than not, get a serious bankroll ready.

IR: Eventually, it boils down to etching out earning profits. How will a stint with you help in this aim?

PG: Well, earning consistent profits can be likened to a journey of thousand miles, but it sure begins with the first step.