We are often asked about the best way to use the ratings or whether we have any systematic approach. As we say in About The Ratings, ratings are only a general guide to the relative winning chance of any given horse - and ratings are not correct in every single race: that is impossible. We also say that you are as good as any tipster in the land, and the only thing preventing most people from gaining profit is discipline. No amount of "jiggery pokery" nor any amount of superfluous information and mathematical formulae will alter any of these facts.

     Many people seem to be mistaken about how we compile the ratings. According to many emails we get, many think we have a magical programme to rate the horses, or that we use the betting forecast, form figures, or any amount of other artificial facts. We are handicappers, pure and simple who compile the ratings using the form book only as our guide.

     So, remember one single thing: no matter how hard we work, we will never entertain the fact that we can be right with every race. But we think Towerform compares very well to all true form based handicap ratings currently available. If you think this is a wild claim, then please feel free to compare our ratings performances with Timeform, or Raceform. You'll be pleasantly surprised.

     But to answer many queries about how to use the ratings to best effect, below are a few generalised tips you may like to consider along with your own approaches when assessing TowerForm ratings. Each race type can be approached differently.

     Despite some popular opinion, these races can be very lucrative.

     Experience can be very advantageous in these races. Of course we get this wrong sometimes, but here is the best opportunity to find a highly rated horse to oppose a likely hot favourite. This is one of the bases of Raj Patel's approach to laying horses to lose (except for TowerForm's highly rated horses bit, that is!!).

     Some highly successful 2-Y-O trainers don't have the expected high percentage of debutante winners. For instance, on the Flat Mark Johnston has a relatively low debutante strike rate - though we sometimes spot the ones most likely. Mick Channon also has a relatively low debutante strike rate, as has Richard Hannon. These trainers have the enviable knack of getting massive improvement out of horses in their second and third runs. This is why you sometimes see a rating totally at odds with the form shown by such 2-Y-O's and 3-Y-O's in their second and third runs.

     Over the jumps, the situation regarding trainers is less important. Trainers such as Paul Nicholls, Philip Hobbs and Nicky Henderson, for example, have a greater than 20% strike rate. Though even here, 70% or 80% don't win on their first run of the season. As said in About The Ratings, we handicap in three stages, overall form, recent form, and in relation to competitors running in the race being rated. But for horses with little form in the book, we use a number of techniques to finalise a rating. Some are spelled out on the website, others include the above.

     In all races the betting market needs careful attention but particularly in handicaps. Apart from monitoring the live market, you can note early market moves via Betfair and bookmaking sites such as Ladbrokes. If you notice a lowly rated horse being heavily backed, then this is the time to think very carefully about having a bet in the race. But if a top 3 rated horse is being heavily backed, the percentage call is to bet on that horse. Of course, like everything in life, the betting market isn't always a perfect reflection of events to come. But with practice anyone can make this approach fairly profitable.

     Here the form is most reliable and the majority of UK group races are won by one of the top two (including joints). The SP's are sometimes short, but these races have proved profitable for us in the past.

     Here (except for a few examples like the maidens above) we can only handicap what we see. But the horses contesting these are so moderate, any one of about six horses can win. Here the approach should be recent form, past form over the course and trip, the going, whether a horse is lowered in class, and a few other things many don't consider. First, the trainer: has he a good record in these types of races? If not is he in good current form. Second, the jockey: does he ride regularly for the trainer, or not? If not, it could be worth looking over their record of riding low class horses for the trainer.

     Another approach, which should be used in every type of race, is the owner jockey relationship or the horse jockey relationship. If either relationship has proved profitable in the past with a reasonably high strike rate of winners, and if the horse is highly rated, then it could be worth considering for a bet. But like other aspects of betting, it will not always work. But it should be profitable if used with care and attention. (The records and statistics mentioned can be viewed on the Racing Post site in the horse form pop up.)

     These are very difficult races to get a grip on. A lot of horses contesting these races are usually put in them because connections consider their official handicap rating is too high. They get a chance to run against similar ability horses without having to give masses of weight away. The problem here is how to spot the horse that is not only in some semblance of recent form, but also is not as badly treated handicap wise as the rest.

     They are very complicated races. But the things we noted above for handicaps can be very relevant here. Also, the class of race a horse has been contesting from its current handicap mark should be looked at closely. For instance a horse running consistently 4th, 5th and 6th, for example, in class 4 races, may not be necessarily in as good form as a horse finishing in the same places in a class 5 race. In correctly framed races where the top weight is close to the upper official handicap rating, it's logical to assume the class 5 horse running in a class 5 race has been carrying much more weight than if it had been contesting a correctly framed class 4 race.

     As every racing follower knows, put enough weight on a horses back and it will not win. That is, we know, logically illogical. But it is an example of how putting blind faith in race classes can put you away from the correct horse to back. In handicaps many class 4 races are in effect only class 5 races; ie; a class 4 race rated 0-80 has a class 5 0-70 rated horse as top weight. So look at classes carefully.

     Without doubt the best races to use forecasts (exacta's, if you like) are the maiden, and novice hurdle and novice chase races - though handicaps can provide very lucrative returns daily. Many people look at big fields of maiden and novice races with horror. But these races regularly provide the winner and second from the top two in our ratings - sometimes with excellent returns. We often rate the first 3 in correct order and many other times in jumbled one, two, three order.

     If you like tricast betting you will need nerves of steel and a good betting bank. We very rarely use this bet and would recommend you too should use it sparingly - if ever. But if you are of that bent, it is best to concentrate on the smaller handicap fields of 8 to 12 runners and then combine the first 4horses listed in the ratings. There have been some very high returns doing this. To bet 4 horses in a combination (permed) tricast you will have 24 bets; for 5 horses you'll have 60 bets. This may seem high and strike you as the carpet bombing approach (and also one reason you need nerves of steel and a good betting bank). But when they hit they can really hit. But we would urge all would-be tricast bettors to think very, very carefully before having this type of bet.

     The most frequent question we get asked is: do we use a systematic approach to betting with the ratings. No, is the short answer. We do use methods like those explained above, but never systems. We have found (as some of you probably have) that there are numerous ephemeral trends in the horse race betting world. Many systems use these trends and work brilliantly for a short while. But they absolutely bomb in the long term. The initial purple patch most systems have is probably the only reason why many think there must be one out there somewhere that they can use profitably. But those successful systems that are alleged to work have more to do with methodology than system betting.

     Methodology is an orderly procedure akin to making a cup of tea just how you like it with the right amount of milk or cream, at the right strength with the right amount or no amount of sugar, and just hot enough to satisfy your taste but not burn your tongue off.

     Systematic betting is more akin to making a cup of tea with a blindfold on. Sure you know the procedure to make the tea, but if you follow it blindly, your tea just won't taste the same and you could very well end up in A&E.

     So, no, we are not system bettors. However, we know that many of you like systems. So we would suggest that instead of trawling through past results looking for the Golden Egg, you try to adapt current systems to include the ratings as, for example, a kind of filter. There are many free ones on the net. Below are a few sites that offer them. Look at them with an eye to incorporating TowerForm ratings. Who knows, you could prove us totally wrong about systematic betting.

     And surely you'll tell us if you do.............won't you?