Although there is nothing wrong with throwing caution to the wind and treating a day at the track as nothing more than a fun diversion, there is no need to go in blind every time. Even a little time invested into learning the basics of horse racing betting strategy will pay dividends over the long term.
An understanding of handicapping strategy also adds to the entertainment factor. As fun as it is to look at a list of horses and place a bet or two with no real strategy, the experience is so much fuller when you have a greater understanding of what is actually going on behind the scenes. Suddenly, the daily racing form and horse statistics become so much more engrossing when you have a purposeful horse racing strategy.
Recommended Racing Bookmakers for Strategic Betting
To that end, we have put together the following horse racing betting strategy guide. Our goal is to help you become a more informed and successful horseplayer. Even if you never become a pro, the proper application of these handicapping principles should help you lose less often and win more often.
The strategies discussed below are applicable to horse racing in general rather than to a specific race. If you’re looking for tips on specific races, see our horse racing blog for previews of upcoming races. Those of you who are brand new to horse racing betting should see our guide to reading the odds before proceeding to the articles listed below.
Horse Racing Strategy Articles
- Popular Horse Racing Punting Myths Debunked: We look at three pieces of popular conventional wisdom surrounding horse racing betting… and expose them for the waste of time and money they are.
- Don’t Give in to the Favourite-Longshot Bias: Here’s why those longshot underdogs are a big money drain over the long run and why the bookmakers don’t mind paying big for horses with little hope.
- Best of Both Worlds: Should You Back Horses That Are Top of the OR and Racing Post Ratings?: If you find a horse with a top-notch Official Rating (OR) and Racing Post Rating (RTR) at the same time, is it worth backing that horse to win? Here’s what we found after looking at past results.
- How Do I Know When a Stable Has Hit Form?: This piece explains how to determine when a stable is meeting or beating expectations and what you can do with that information.
- Should You Pay Attention to the Top Speed Rating?: Today, we consider the true value of the Racing Post True Speed (TS) rating. How useful is it when picking horse racing winners?
- Are Horse Racing Tipsters Worth It?: A frank discussion of paid horse racing tips. Why the industry is rife with conflicts of interest and how to sort the good from the bad. Finally, some parting advice for anyone considering a horse racing tipster.
- When It’s Time to Pull the Plug on a Betting System: No betting system is forever, and that means there will come a time to dump even your favourite betting system. Inside we discuss the common pitfalls that sideline betting systems and when it’s time to move on.
- Trainers for Courses: Do some trainers perform exceptionally well at certain tracks? There is some evidence that certain trainers may indeed provide a positive return when backed on select tracks.
- I Would Walk 500 Miles for a Winner: Looking at how distance travelled impacts horse racing betting and your ROI.
- Buyer Beware: The Reality of Horse Racing Betting and Losing Streaks: Even the best systems are nearly certain to hit a losing streak sooner or later – and the strike rate has a lot to do with how frequent and how severe those streaks are.
- Are Favourites in Low-Prize Money Races a Gold Mine or Money Pit?: Backing favourites in high profile races is rarely profitable due to all the casual money pushing their prices down – but what about favourites in small-purse races? Let’s find out.
- Is Winning a Habit in Horse Racing?: We dive into the numbers once again to see if there’s a viable strategy to backing horses that won on their last outing and horses that have broken a string of second-place finishes.
- Laying Rank Outsiders – Surely a Winning Trend?: In this strategy piece, we consider the viability of betting against longshots.
- Top Weights & Tight Tracks: A Winning Combination?: Here, we test the theory that a profit can be made backing top-weighted horses on tight tracks. Our surprising results find there may be something to this theory – if you apply it correctly.
- Matched Betting Guide: An introduction and guide to using the matched betting tactic. This is how you can use bonus offers at one site in conjunction with lay bets at an exchange to create a situation in which you either break even or lock in a profit.
- The Invincibles: Should You Back Unbeaten Horses?: Is there a way to tease a profit out of unbeaten horses before the oddsmakers slash their odds?
- Is Laying Handicap Favourites with No Previous Course Experience a Winning Strategy?: We look at the feasibility of betting against horses that are priced as favourites despite having no prior experience on that type of course.
- Long in the Tooth: Is Laying Older Favourites in Handicap Races a Profitable Strategy?: In this strategy piece, we look at historical racing betting data to see if we can find a profitable angle for laying (betting against) older favourites in handicap races.
- Old Guns: Should You Bet on Older Horses Enjoying a Sudden Resurgence?: Is it possible to squeeze a profit out of older horses that have shown signs of a sudden resurgence? We did find a few spots where older horses just might be the key the profit – but caveats abound.
- Investigating the old “the bigger the field, the better the favourite theory”: Does this theory hold true when put to the test with real racing results or is it just another myth? Here’s what we found after studying the data.
- Are Beaten Favourites Worth Another Chance After a Rest?: There’s an old theory that claims beaten favourites are worth a second chance after a rest if they’ve won over that distance in the past. As always, we put this theory to the test using real historic betting data.
- Is Betting on Middle Distance Specialists Worth Your While?: Does it make sense to identify middle distance specialists and then bet on them to win middle distance races? We look at historic betting data to see if we can extract a winning strategy for picking middle distance specialists.
- Money Talks: Should You Focus on Former Favourites Racing for Less Money?: In this strategy piece, we discuss the viability of backing horses that once raced for larger purses but who have since moved down to race against lesser competition.
- Why You Should Place Your Each-Way Bets on Shorter-Odds Horses in Small Fields: Here we make the case for placing each-way bets on shorter-odds horses rather than backing the long shots with e/w bets. It may sound counter intuitive to place an each-way bet on a horse that already has short odds, but there is a method to our madness.
- The OR Myth – Is backing top-rated horses asking for trouble?: Here, we discuss the pitfalls that come with betting on horses based on their OR rating. We look back at past trends to find out where you would have gone wrong backing top-rated horses and what lessons there are to be learned from this exercise in analysis.
- Is it worth backing the second-favourite in a race with an odds-on favourite?: If a race has an odds-on favourite, it stands to reason the second-favourite has the best chances in the field of an upset and could provide some value. Does this line of thinking hold true? We explore this concept inside and look at real past results to find our answer.
- Finding a Profit in Sprint Races: Is it possible to find a profitable strategy in horse racing sprints? Once again, we look at past data to identify promising and not-so-promising trends using specific criteria to narrow down our choices.
- Is it Possible to Turn a Consistent Profit with Ante-Post Betting?: In this strategy article, we look at the pros and cons of ante-post betting. From there, we dive into some of the things you can consider in order to make your ante-post wagers more likely to turn a consistent profit.
- Backing 2-Year-Olds on the Flat: Why form isn’t always the best indicator of a 2yo’s potential and what you can look for in picking a winner. We consider some of the “tricks” trainers use to keep horses from getting too much attention too early and what to watch for when selecting a horse to back.
- When the System Isn’t King: Why rigid horse racing betting systems aren’t all they’re cracked up to be and what we can do to improve on existing systems for a better return.
- Horses for Courses: Is it true certain horses are better bets at courses they’ve won at before? Let’s look at past betting results and see how the numbers work to determine whether or not “horses for courses” is a valid horse racing rule of thumb.
- How to Quickly Find Selections for the Day’s Races: Don’t waste hours looking aimlessly for a horse to jump out at you. Here’s how to quickly find horses worth backing for today’s races.
- Darling Buds of May: Does it pay to back certain trainers during the slower racing month of May? What about laying certain trainers? We found some interesting and potentially profitable strategies based on studying past trends.
- Making the Most Out of Long Shot Horses: A strategy guide full of useful information for betting on long shot horses. This article is based on statistics gathered from millions of real races and includes some surprising findings.
- When it Pays to Lay the Favourite: Insights into laying favourites in horse races. We look at past races and discuss the strategy for betting against horses that the public expects to win.
- Betting on Horses Coming Back from Long Layoffs: It is a mistake to automatically write-off all horses coming back from a long layoff. This strategy article uses real racing data to find the sweet spots for betting on horses coming back from long layoffs.
- When Place Betting is Worth Your While: Here we discuss each/way betting and when it makes sense to consider the “place only” option. As always, this strategy article is based on real data and past results.
- Picking Winners According to Class: We dive deep into past results organized by class of race and then break it down even further to find profitable trends for backing favourites in specific classes.
- Why You Shouldn’t Back Horses Based Solely on Jockey: Looking at the top jockeys and your ROI if you were to blindly bet on those jockeys in every race. In conducting research on this piece, we also stumbled across some surprise findings that we can put to use to make money off certain jockeys.
- Which flat trainers can you really rely on?: We now take a look at the profitability of choosing bets based on flat trainers. We look at past results from some of the best trainers in racing and then dig deeper to find profitable opportunities.
- Making Money with All-Weather Racing: Is it possible to find an edge in all-weather betting? We believe so, based on the thousands of past bets we studied.
- Are odds-on bets a waste of time? We use a little math plus past results to see if odds-on favourites show value compared to higher-priced long shots.
- Conventional Wisdom vs. Hard Data: In this article, we put several pieces of conventional “wisdom” to the test against hard numbers. Find out how popular racing betting advice fares in the real world.
- Can you make a profit from jockey claiming allowances?: Less experienced jockeys get to run with less weight, but does that make them any more likely to win or more profitable over the long term? Here’s what we found out when we crunched the numbers.
- Should I stay near the top of the betting market?: Here, we look at the long term results you would get from betting only on the top 1-5 favourites in horse races and see if we can find a profitable angle.
- Is it worth betting on horses dropping in trip?: Once again, we use past results from hundreds of races to identify whether or not there are any profits to be made. In this article, we’re looking at how horses fared when moving down in distance from one race to the next.
- Can the Official Ratings help us find a profit in horse racing?: We explain the OR rating system and use real examples to determine its usefulness from a handicapping perspective.
- How much of a role should form play in our handicapping?: This article discusses the usefulness and reliability of form as an indicator for horse racing success.
- Take Off the Blinkers & See that Horses with Headgear ARE Potentially Profitable: An interesting take on betting on horses wearing headgear. How you would have fared betting on blinkered horses in the past and where we may be able to find profitable spots.
- 3 Simple Strategies for Making Money with In-Play Horse Racing Betting: A primer to using backing and laying strategies to create profitable, easy-money situations.
- Using Trends to Identify Viable Outsiders: How to find useful trends that indicate a horse has a better chance than the odds suggest. Which types of trends are useful, which should be discarded and then putting it all together to make smarter picks.