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% (Exchange Prices)
Heavy Favourites: 1.24% (Exchange 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 Exc ROI Exc
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 Exc ROI Exc
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 Exc ROI Exc
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 Exc ROI Exc 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 the betting exchanges you can also profit with SP, which is great for those of you who still bet with just a bookmaker.