All-Weather racing in the UK is something of a specialist scene because there are only six courses that support it: Chelmsford City, Kempton, Lingfield, Newcastle, Southwell, and Wolverhampton. As the name suggests, All-Weather racing allows for events to be staged from January to December and offers a chance for a consistent profit if you know what to look for.
The first All-Weather fixture was staged at Lingfield Park on October 30, 1989, and it was the dawn of a new era in UK racing. Initially, the AW betting scene favoured the bookies as predicting winners on Polytrack proved difficult for punters. Slowly but surely, however, enough data came available to ensure that skilled horseracing bettors can make a decent ROI.
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AW racing has expanded to an extraordinary degree, aided greatly by the introduction of late night fixtures in 2006. As of 2017, almost 25% of all races in the UK will be run on AW surfaces. In this guide, I will not take data from Newcastle as it only reverted to AW in 2016. Also, data from Chelmsford City must be taken with a pinch of salt as the new version of the course (it was formerly known as Great Leighs for a brief period), did not open until January 2015.
Readers should note that Kempton and Lingfield also host turf meetings, so I am only using data from their Polytrack surfaces. Newcastle also uses Polytrack while Chelmsford City and Wolverhampton use Tapeta and Southwell uses Fibresand. As a result, a horse that runs well at Lingfield may not do so well on the Tapeta track and vice versa. Tapeta is akin to fast/good turf, Polytrack is also similar to fast turf, but Southwell’s Fibresand is the heaviest surface of the three. Please take this information into account when analyzing AW form.
As per usual, let’s take an exploratory look into the world of AW racing by analyzing the performance of favourites (including joint and co-favourites). As I include Chelmsford City in the data, research begins from January 2015.
|Course||Bets||Wins||Win %||ROI (BF)|
|All 5 Combined||7350||2453||33.37%||-0.59%|
The overall picture looks decent; a small loss for backing every favourite blindly and at Wolverhampton, you earn an ROI of over 4% before you start digging. So clearly, the logical thing to do is check out Wolverhampton for ways to boost that profit.
Although conventional wisdom suggests that smaller fields should make it easier to pick a winner, favourites at Wolverhampton perform better for the punter when there are more runners. For example, bet on favourites in all races with 10-15 runners and your ROI goes up to 7.94%.
Do this and focus on handicap races and suddenly, your profit shoots up to 13.01% from 655 bets. Finally, only bet on Class 2, 3 and 6 races for an ROI of 20.42% from 443 bets. There are very few Class 2 & 3 races, but they do yield a big profit on the rare occasion you find them. So in conclusion, here’s what to look for at Wolverhampton:
- Favourites including co and joint.
- Class 2, 3 and 6 races.
- Races with 10-15 runners.
- Handicap races.
Let’s see if any of the other courses offer a profit.
Unlike Wolverhampton, it pays to stick with races that have smaller fields. The following criteria yield an ROI of 9.04%:
- 1-10 runners
- Not placed in the last race
There are of course a couple of problems here: The win ratio of 8.87% plus the fact you’ll be betting on several horses each race. However, narrow things down again by only betting on horses with a win in their last three races and the ROI increases to almost 25% and the win rate goes up to 11.42%. You’re still betting on more than one horse in most races of course.
On paper, it seems like a good option, but this is only because of 2016 data. You would sustain a sizeable loss in 2017 so far. As Chelmsford is relatively new, maybe we’ll have better luck at older courses.
Although favourites don’t perform well at Kempton, you would make a 6.78% profit since 2013 by focusing on the following:
- Races between 5f and 7f.
- Handicap races
- Top-weighted horses
The downsides are a lack of bets and a poor 2017 to date.
However, when I backed up a bit and focused on favourites in 5f – 7f races, the ROI loss dropped to just 0.47%. In races with 1-10 runners, you end up with a 5.12% profit. For a double digit profit in the last five years, focus on Class 1, 2 and 5 races to end up with an ROI of 10.47%. You would sustain a small loss this year, but this system has performed well in 3 of the previous 4 years.
Here is a recap:
- Races between 5f and 7f.
- 1-10 Runners.
- Class 1, 2 and 5.
The best outcome I could find here related to focusing on the top rated horses in the field. Although you would be forced to make an average of two bets a race, the outcome is an ROI of 12.55% since 2013.
This year, you would be up over 9% with a 20% profit last year. If you adjust your focus to non-handicaps, your average bet per race is 2.2, but your ROI goes to a very healthy 24.72%!
Last but not least is the unique surface of Southwell. It is an extremely tough course to make any long term profit from because it is rather unpredictable. Favourites don’t fare well, but at the same time, they offer a better ‘value’ ratio. This essentially means that long odds horses are usually poor selections.
There are trainers that excel at Southwell, so if you’re willing to wait, you could enjoy a very high ROI. An example is the combination of Marjorie Fife, Karl Burke, and Michael Bell. They offer the punter around 40 betting opportunities a year; not much at all but when the ROI is an incredible 164%, perhaps being patient is worthwhile!
Making a profit from All-Weather racing is not easy, and it may be that you have to combine systems to end up with a winning formula. However, if you put in the time and effort and are willing to sit on the sidelines for a while, your reward could be extraordinary.