The Anatomy of a Successful Horse Racing Betting System: Part 4

I hope you have found the first three segments (here, here and here) useful. If nothing else, it has shown that A LOT of work must go into finding winning systems. As you doubtless know, there are often 30+ races per day in the UK and Ireland and trying to analyse a single race properly can take up to half an hour!


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Now, let’s look at the last three things that should make up a quality horse racing betting system.

10. Pick Your Poison

This means focusing on a specific type of race. That could mean National Hunt, Handicap races, Class 4 events, sprints, races with 10 or fewer runners and so on. Of course, if you have systems that spit out winners regardless, all the better!

One idea (you don’t have to do this) is to focus on the top 5 horses in the betting market. In the UK and Ireland, between 86% and 87% of horses in the top five of the market win the race. In National Hunt non-handicap races, this percentage rises to between 94% and 95%! There is no need to worry about lack of opportunities either as there were 11,000 such races in 2018!

Imagine a situation where you can identify a handful of races in a day, KNOWING that you can practically eliminate all but five horses in each one. This process also makes it easier to create systems since you already have an idea of the starting criteria.

11. Be Goal Orientated

In the world of science, applied research relates to a specific goal. Far too many punters spend their day going through individual races hoping to spot a winner amongst all the detritus.

In reality, this is a time consuming and frustrating way to go about your business. As I said above, it can easily take 30 minutes to analyse a single race; more if it is a large field. After all this effort, you may not find a worthy contender!

If you are still choosing horses in this old-fashioned manner, the best of luck to you, as you saw in #10, it is important to know what you want to focus on. It is also necessary to have an idea of what you are looking for before testing any system.

The top five in the market is a good example. I went from a win rate of 86% to 94% with the aid of a few filters. Zoom in on NH non-handicap races with 1-10 runners, and you’ll find that over 97% of races are won by those in the top five. However, narrow it down to the top three, and you’ll find that 87% of them win.

Incredibly, over 48% of favourites in this specific race type has won the race since the beginning of 2018. Backing all of them blindly would lead to a small loss on the Betfair Exchange. NOW we have an angle worth pursuing! In Irish races only, the win rate of the favourite falls to 46% but leads to a small profit on Betfair.

In Chase races, the win rate hits 49% for a Betfair ROI of over 10% since the beginning of 2018. If the horse finished in the top three in the previous race, the win rate hits 52.3% with a profit of 12.46% on Betfair. This particular system has 110+ bets a year.

As well as being a potentially profitable angle; it was also exciting to research and didn’t take long to uncover. If you are getting bored looking through potential systems, scrap it, and move on. Otherwise, you could waste hours on poor ideas that lead to dead ends. When designing a system, have a goal in mind, and try to enjoy the process!

12. Know When to Swerve a Bet

One of the major issues with any betting system is that you feel obligated to make a bet based on what it tells you, regardless of whether the horse has a genuine chance. What a good system does is to allow you to zone in on races.

At that point, you can then spare the time to decide if the recommended bet has merit based on other factors. Don’t fall prey to FOMO (Fear of Missing Out)! If the horse seems like a no-hoper, save your money!

The converse is also true. If a system suggests a horse at fairly long odds, don’t dismiss it without further analysis. Recently, a microsystem I uncovered showed a horse called Spring Romance at odds of 25/1 at Nottingham. I initially dismissed it out of hand. As race time approached, I decided to take a look and liked what I found. I placed a small each-way wager on it, and it won by a neck!

It is also a mistake long-term to bet blindly according to a system. The key to designing future winning systems is to know why the bet has a chance. It is always worth keeping a record of your winners and losers from the same system to find out what differentiates them.

It is also crucial to keep track of the race types where you succeed, and those where you fall down. Even the best horse racing bettors have weaknesses. They are successful because they are aware of these weaknesses and don’t waste time and money trying to improve.

The betting world is one arena where it pays to focus on your strengths to the detriment of all else. Sure, you can improve in specific areas, but there will never be time to be a great all-rounder.

I would include detailed record keeping as another key part, but I would hope that was already obvious. If you stink at picking nursery handicap winners but excel at handicap hurdles, how will you know without diligent records?

Final Thoughts on Horse Racing Betting Systems

When following all of the tips outlined in this four-part guide, perhaps the most important thing to remember is “bet what you know.” In other words, bet the way that your analysis of a race tells you to.

This may not necessarily mean you choose a winner or even a horse that places. If you believe a favourite will falter, it could be lucrative to try a forecast or trifecta that focuses on others in the market.

In the end, only a thorough approach will yield long-term profits. You will hit good and bad streaks but must continue researching all the same. Set up a betting bank and bet a percentage of your bankroll. Don’t be afraid to swerve bets, and remember that every betting system has a limited shelf life. The successful bettor never stops learning and adapting.

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