The Anatomy of a Successful Horse Racing Betting System: Part 3

In the first two instalments (part one here and part two here), I discussed avoiding hype, finding value, exploiting repeat patterns, draw bias, using your available data wisely, and being prepared to break existing rules. While all of the above may seem like very different things, they actually take advantage of one common factor. In fact, every single section in this series does the same thing.


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Punters often believe that they are betting against the bookies, but in reality, you are betting against your fellow bettor; and not just on the Exchanges. The betting market is a lot like the stock market insofar as human reaction drives prices. Bookies may set initial prices, but they are forced to react when punters pile money on.

Let’s say there is a hot tip in a race. What would happen if no one reacted? The price would either not move or even drift. However, if people start backing the horse because of the tip, the bookies would be forced to slash the price to keep their books aligned.

Therefore, you need to consider what the average punter would do, and then do the opposite. Why? Because the average punter doesn’t win in the long-term, and seldom in the short or medium-term either.

7. Seek Rarity

The casual punter doesn’t look for rarity. Practically all of the information he uses can be found on the Racing Post or Sporting Life websites. There is nothing wrong with using this information but the problem is: If it is available to you so easily, it is visible to everyone else.

Yes, it’s true that your interpretation of the data you see will be different from the next person. Even so, when information is everywhere, it is going to be used similarly by a lot of people. If this reveals patterns, etc., it means that decent wagers will be overbet and cease to become value.

What you need to do is find pieces of information that aren’t readily available. Nick Mordin wrote about how few people bet on Cheltenham Bumper entrants in subsequent races even though they were excellent horses. There were practically no high-class Bumper races so pretty much every good Bumper horse got involved at Cheltenham.

It was no surprise to Mordin that they won a high percentage of races the following season, but few punters ever realised it; that is until he wrote detailed articles outlining everything which ruined his strategy!

Another example he gave involved 3yos in lucrative races of 10f+. There were few such races in the first half of the year which meant that top-notch horses were involved. Later in the season, horses that even finished in the top half a couple of times performed very well in 10f+ races. Why? Because there were more of these races, which meant they didn’t come up against such quality opponents.

Systems based on these facts no longer work because too many people know about them. However, you can find your own rare angles and create a profitable system because few other people are aware of them!

8. Don’t Discount Female Jockeys

Resist the assumption that a female jockey is inferior to her male counterparts. Extensive research has revealed this to be a falsehood. When the quality of mount is taken into account, female riders win about as often as men. In certain races, they fare even better. If we were to think logically for a moment, there is no reason why women would be inferior jockeys.

At the time of writing, there is no female jockey in the top 30 of the Flat Jockey Championship. Some will say this is proof of inferior lady riders without taking into account the quality of the horse in question. I checked out something and found the results interesting.

In all UK races where the horse’s SP odds were 4.00 or less since the beginning of 2015, they won 32.71% of the time with a male rider. The A/E was 0.94, and the overall SP loss was 6.71%. Female jockeys won 31.87% of the time, slightly less than their male counterparts, but the A/E was 0.99, and the ROI SP loss was just 1.2%. You would have made a 3.2% profit on the Exchange!

I’m not saying that you should bet on a horse just because there is a female jockey, but you certainly shouldn’t avoid making a wager because there is a woman on board. If nothing else, there is a good chance of receiving better value for your bet.

9. Understand Weight Better

It is astonishing to learn that some punters STILL ignore top weighted horses in handicaps! The average punter often overestimates the impact of weight on races. In UK Flat handicap races since the beginning of 2015, over 17% of top weighted horses have won in races with 1-10 runners.

Horses that are the clear second-top weighted win 17.5% of the time while horses that are third top weighted win 15.31% of races. The percentage goes down almost perfectly in line with a horse’s weight. At the light end, just 10.25% of bottom-weighted horses have won their races!

The reason should be clear: Good horses carry far more weight than poor horses, and plenty of talented horses have lots of room for improvement which means they can stay on a competitive mark for longer than you think.

It is also entirely possible that the weight carried by a horse only affects it to a certain point. Admittedly, research suggests that horses slow down by an expected amount when extra weight is added. However, when horses have the weight taken off, they don’t speed up as much as anticipated.

Therefore, it is a good idea to be wary when you see a horse carrying a lighter weight than before. There’s every chance that it won’t speed up as much as you hope. Another reason for the relatively poor performance of horses dropping in weight carried is because they are simply in a state of deep decline through the Classes.

If a horse was a Class 2 and 3 performer for much of his career, and a year or two later is in a Class 5 or Class 6 carrying less weight, you are taking a chance in believing it can recapture old glories.

Final Thoughts

So ends the third part of this series. The fourth instalment will also be the final one. Once again, the biggest takeaway should be that following the crowd is a recipe for losses. The casual punter has no time to dig deep into a horse’s suitability for the race; make sure you do.

Too many bettors still think female jockeys have no place in the sport; don’t fall into the sexism trap. The casual punter latches on to a system well past its point of usefulness, adapt your systems or pay the price.

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