Horse Racing Profits: How To Find Winners On Heavy Ground

So you are looking forward to a race meeting the following day only for the heavens to open during the night and you wake up to find the going has changed to heavy, bottomless, mud!! So how do you go about trying to make horse racing profits in mud?

This can be a complete nightmare with the form book …. or is the effect on form really that great? I am going to dig into the stats to show you how people and bookmakers can overreact when it comes to bad ground conditions.

This first clear stat that shows you how much overreaction occurs is comparing the normal SR of favourites with the SR of those that run in a race with heavy going. I am using data from the last 3 years, as using more starts to include tracks that have changed layouts, old fences, different drainage, etc. These stats include UK & Irish racing.

All Favourites: 31.8% SR
Heavy Favourites: 34.5% SR

What, I hear you say! Favourites on heavy going actually WIN 2.5% more races? They certainly do.

The next stat is the ROI% (Return on investment).

All Favourites: 3.2% (Betfair Prices)
Heavy Favourites: 1.24% (Betfair Prices)

This clearly shows that if you backed every favourite on heavy ground you would lose less than half as much compared with any ground. That is a very important pointer on how you should be betting on heavy ground. If you get that much advantage compared with the norm, then you should dig a little deeper to see if you can find an edge.

The reason I am using Betfair prices is that you will find it much easier to profit long term using a betting exchange. If you used a normal bookmaker the Heavy Favourites ROI% would be 5.1% …. Ouch!!

So can we turn that negative 1.24% ROI into a positive one with a little deeper research?

Take a look at this table, it shows you that flat racing makes a loss, and a bad one at that. This is the same result even if I run the data over 10 years and the reason for this is simple. Flat horses are not bred for racing in the mud whereas National Horses are bred to run on softer ground.

Race Type Runners Winners Win S/R P/L Betfair ROI Betfair
Chase 610 207 33.93 -18.75 -3.07
Hurdle 778 301 38.69 48.01 6.17
NHF 153 61 39.87 4.59 3
Turf 592 166 28.04 -60.21 -10.17

 So we need to concentrate only on NH horse racing.

One stat that usually stands out in a lot of system is the actual sex of the horse, and the following table shows that mares have a low SR compared with the others, and so if you are building a system you would discount all mares.

HorseSex Runners Winners Win S/R P/L Betfair ROI Betfair
c 3 0 0 -3 -100
f 12 5 41.67 -1.32 -10.99
g 1336 502 37.57 56.68 4.24
m 190 62 32.63 -18.86 -9.93

The final stat I will look at is individual racecourses excluding mares, as we have so much variation in this country, and I know from experience that ground conditions can effect how form workouts at racetracks. These tracks are terrible at drainage and so the ground gets very sticky, which although still heavy, means that this is basically heavy heavy going. It is no surprise to see Uttoxeter top, as drainage is pretty much non-existent.

Ascot used to show heavy losses in the past based on the above variables but since it had new drainage put in a few years ago they have completely turned around.

Course Runners Winners Win S/R P/L Betfair ROI Betfair
Uttoxeter 77 18 23.38 -18.36 -23.84
Newcastle 36 9 25 -11.42 -31.74
Navan 64 23 35.94 -9.71 -15.18
Fairyhouse 68 22 32.35 -7.75 -11.39
Tipperary 15 3 20 -7.45 -49.66
Lingfield 41 14 34.15 -5.2 -12.69
Down Royal 29 9 31.03 -4.6 -15.86

Removing the above tracks gives you the following yearly stats:

Year Runners Winners Win S/R P/L Betfair ROI Betfair P/L to SP ROI to SP
2010 267 104 38.95 20.05 7.51 10.04 3.76
2011 355 138 38.87 30 8.45 14.22 4.01
2012 399 167 41.85 66.86 16.76 49 12.28

Pretty good results, but you can improve on them, although just sticking to the above variables gives you a decent profit each year and a good SR, but if you want to improve on them, although you will have less selections, then just use the top 19 performing racetracks for favourites on heavy ground.

Not only do these produce very good profits on Betfair you can also profit with SP, which is great for those of you who still bet with just a bookmaker.

Profit On Betfair: Laying Horses with an Official Rating

While doing a bit of research today I was looking at the Official Ratings of horses (OR) and seeing if any trends showed up. The OR is freely available you’ll find it on the Racing Post and Sporting Life sites.

Now all ratings service produce long term losses if you back everything, the way to use them is to do some research and see if any long term trends are profitable, or be selective. Or, since you know they show long term losses you can look for an edge when laying the horses. So while looking at the OR stats from various angles a couple of race type kept showing profits if you laid them on Betfair.

Year Ran Win SR Lay PL BF Lay ROI
2008 86 42 48.84 12.52 14.56
2009 82 46 56.1 1.27 1.54
2010 79 42 53.16 8.57 10.85
2011 78 31 39.74 24.44 31.33
2012 58 31 53.45 7.27 12.53

Now some may think the stats above aren’t impressive but when I tell you all the selections were ODDS ON FAVOURITES they look pretty good, especially as the average odds were 1.68. And these results have the 5% commission deducted as well, so if you have less than the default 5% then that means more profits.

So although this system has less than 100 qualifiers a year, it helps you target odds on horses with lay betting.

Free Horse Racing System Rules:
1. Check for races in which the favourite will be odds on, do not use forecast odds, you need to bet near the off.
2. Only bet in CLAIMERS or CONDITIONS races, regardless of whether they are a handicap or not.
3. Make sure the selection is the top rated with its Official Rating.

It is as simple as that. All horses in the race need not have an OR. If just one has an OR then that is the top rated.

How Many Favourites Win Horse Races In The UK?

The answer to the question “How Many Favourites Win Horse Races In The UK?” is something everyone one should know who bets on horses as it is probably the best variable for targetting potential winners. So what is the answer?

The figures below clearly show that of all the horse racing favourites over the last 5 years just under 32% won, this includes turf, NH and AW. That is pretty decent, but then when you look at the losses you would have had with a normal bookmaker to £1 stakes your eyes may pop out!!!

Runners Wins SR P/L Betfair ROI Betfair P/L to SP Lay P/L BF
62079 19672 31.69 -2003.34 -3.23 -4850.76 -1996.08

Even losses with Betfair look pretty daunting, although nowhere near as bad as with a bookmaker. Losses if you laid all the favourites are huge as well.

This leads us to two other questions, and also one way of easily targetting more winners:
How Many Favourites Win Handicaps In The UK?
How Many Favourites Win Non-Handicaps In The UK?

Type Runners Wins SR P/L Betfair P/L to SP Lay P/L BF
HANDICAP 35051 9000 25.68 -1184.32 -3122.59 -1270.7
NON HANDICAP 27028 10672 39.48 -818.72 -1728.17 -725.09

Now we see something not a lot of people in High Street bookmakers are aware of. The fact that out of all the Favourites that run in non-handicap races, nearly 40% win!!

The picture gets a bit mudddied when I tell you that both sets have a negative Betfair ROI of 3%. So in reality although the SR’s of both are far apart, they actually both produce the same losses, and this is because non-handicap favourites start at lower prices.

Let us concentrate soley on the non-handicap winners from here on, and we will split the stats into turf,NH and AW and see if anything stands out.

Race Type Runners Wins SR P/L Betfair P/L to SP Lay P/L BF
A/W 4754 1905 40.07 -111.35 -297.93 -159.89
Chase 3574 1498 41.91 -103.28 -212.9 -91.93
Hurdle 6652 2764 41.55 -206.54 -382.1 -159.25
NHF 1178 392 33.28 -115.69 -161.65 44.9
Turf 9531 3626 38.04 -249.91 -582.95 -309.31

Well the one thing that stands out here is that you need to be extremely careful when getting involved with National Hunt Flat races (NHF). The other 4 categories are fine, but as chase and hurdle races shower a higher edge we will dig a little deeper into individual race types. The reason for additional edge with jump racing Favourites is that the form is more reliable with most horses running year after year.

Type Runners Wins SR P/L Betfair ROI Betfair P/L to SP ROI to SP Lay P/L BF Lay ROI BF
Amateur 38 13 34.21 0.22 0.59 -1.72 -4.53 -2.8 -7.37
Auction 8 6 75 5.08 63.55 4.71 58.88 -5.56 -69.46
Chase 3569 1496 41.92 -105.22 -2.95 -214.02 -6 -89.58 -2.51
Claiming 155 52 33.55 -21.35 -13.77 -23.58 -15.21 12.51 8.07
Classified 15 7 46.67 6.98 46.52 5.71 38.09 -8.17 -54.44
Conditions 95 41 43.16 3.85 4.05 0.23 0.24 -9.29 -9.78
EBF 20 8 40 -3.78 -18.91 -3.61 -18.06 2.75 13.75
Fillies 36 14 38.89 -2.79 -7.75 -3.98 -11.06 0.68 1.89
Grade 1 254 106 41.73 -1.57 -0.62 -10.25 -4.04 -13.03 -5.13
Grade 2 412 156 37.86 -62.22 -15.1 -71.23 -17.29 41.18 9.99
Grade 3 113 47 41.59 -2.35 -2.08 -5.91 -5.23 -4.09 -3.62
Hunters 308 127 41.23 0.5 0.16 -9.68 -3.14 -18.49 -6
Hurdle 6651 2764 41.56 -205.54 -3.09 -381.1 -5.73 -160.2 -2.41
Juvenile 529 212 40.08 -57.92 -10.95 -69.76 -13.19 29.56 5.59
Listed 89 38 42.7 -7.06 -7.93 -9.25 -10.4 2.5 2.81
Maiden 2380 912 38.32 -66.54 -2.8 -135.52 -5.69 -72.31 -3.04
Mares 761 281 36.93 -84.45 -11.1 -103.81 -13.64 42.4 5.57
Novice 4426 1965 44.4 -148.03 -3.34 -256.78 -5.8 -83.01 -1.88
Rated 4 3 75 4.15 103.73 4 100 -4.47 -111.75
Selling 440 167 37.95 22.87 5.2 6.57 1.49 -50.04

-11.37

In order to make use of the above table you need to target those races that are either showing a profit already, and remember these are based on favourites (including joint), non-handicap races over jumps. You also want to pay close attention to any showing a small loss with less than -2% ROI, as a bit of targetting on your part should easily turn them into profits.

Using the information here you should have no problem putting together a profitable horse racing system.

How To Profit From Laying Favourites at Individual Racecourses

I wrote a post called How To Profit From Backing Favourites at Individual Racecourses, so I thought it would be worth doing the opposite with the same stats and seeing if we can profit from any tracks that favourites run absolutely crap at, and no surprise we have a few.

As with the earlier post I have published results for the last 3 years, but filtered them by including 5 years for comparison and those with low ROI, although in this case we accept anything above 1% as that is basically what the bookmakers make in the long term.We do have a lot more qualifying tracks, although that isn’t a surprise as far more favourites lose than win, around 68% overall.

Free Horseracing System Rules:
Lay all the favourites, or joint favourites at the tracks below.

Course Runners Winners Win S/R Lay P/L BF Lay ROI BF
Downpatrick 210 59 28.1 £39.98 19.04
Nottingham 411 109 26.52 £35.43 8.62
Yarmouth 568 169 29.75 £32.88 5.79
Chepstow 529 149 28.17 £31.47 5.95
Thurles 213 59 27.7 £30.98 14.55
Epsom 287 80 27.87 £25.78 8.98
Roscommon 207 53 25.6 £23.17 11.19
Ffos Las 529 177 33.46 £17.73 3.35
Sedgefield 340 112 32.94 £15.39 4.53
Curragh 441 125 28.34 £13.52 3.07
Wexford 232 65 28.02 £10.40 4.48
Laytown 24 4 16.67 £9.52 39.68
Dundalk 675 178 26.37 £8.86 1.31
Worcester 390 120 30.77 £7.74 1.98
Market Rasen 399 123 30.83 £4.99 1.25
Taunton 239 82 34.31 £4.37 1.83
        £312.21  

 *All Betfair prices include 5% commission deducted.

How To Profit From Backing Favourites at Individual Racecourses

Backing favourites at racetracks is normal betting practise for Joe Public, but doing so randomly will result in long term losses, and quite considerable ones at that.

So is it possible to profit from backing favourites?

By being very selective it is possible to profit, and the table below clearly shows the racecourses over the last 3 years that have done so.

Course Runners Winners Win S/R P/L Betfair ROI Betfair P/L to SP ROI to SP
Musselburgh 495 169 34.14 £46.21 9.33 £20.26 4.09
Limerick 366 131 35.79 £37.30 10.19 £9.80 2.68
Haydock 655 214 32.67 £35.57 5.43 £3.23 0.49
Leicester 562 196 34.88 £31.55 5.61 £4.32 0.77
Redcar 407 134 32.92 £28.23 6.94 £5.07 1.24
Ripon 338 111 32.84 £26.36 7.8 £8.34 2.47
Cartmel 160 59 36.88 £25.00 15.62 £16.40 10.25
Listowel 227 76 33.48 £14.62 6.44 £6.25 2.76
Ludlow 258 103 39.92 £13.29 5.15 £6.03 2.34
Kilbeggan 178 58 32.58 £13.24 7.44 £7.58 4.26
      Totals £271.37   £87.28  

 *All Betfair prices include 5% commission deducted.

You can see that after I have filtered out the losing data, very few tracks are actually left. All races include joint favourites, handicaps, NH, Flat and AW. I filtered out the racecourses that show losses at BSP, SP, those with BSP ROI%’s less than 3%, and finally those that showed no profit over 5 years of data.

Surprisingly to me the list contains 3 Irish tracks as racing in the Emerald Isle tends to be more competitive with bigger fields. Musselburgh is top of the list, another surprise as the track can have big swings in going throughout a season.

It is very clear that using BSP with Betfair shows more than 3X the profit over the long term.

Free Horseracing System Rules:
Back all the favourites, or joint favourites at the tracks mentioned above.