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Backing Favourites for a Living – Malcolm Pett

Backing Favourites for a Living

This page started life with an article from Malcolm Pett that asked the simple question “can you make money backing favourites”.

Malcolms original article is included below but before we get to that, a few thoughts from 2019.

Backing Favourites

The first thing to say is that you can’t bet all favourites and expect to make a profit.

That’s just not how the betting market works, there is always a profit margin built into a bookies prices, but because it isn’t an exact science not all prices reflect the true chance of the horse.

And so it is possible to cherry pick the best value favourites and to make a profit from those.

Some Facts

The headline fact is that favourites have won 34.99% of all races over the last 10 years up to November 2019.

If you had bet them all for £1 you would have been on 114584 bets, won 40,088 times and lost £7,904 at industry SP.

Your ROI would have been – 6.9%.

The split is pretty even across Flat, All Weather and National Hunt.

That is a pretty small loss percentage wise and that is what we have to overcome to make a profit.

One way to do that is to drill down into a sub set of races, a very small subset like this system 

Another is to search for false favourites. favourites that are at the head of the market on hype rather than proven form, favourites that are on unproven ground or have some other negative factor that is against them.


As with any backing if you can bet at best odds guaranteed then you can squeeze another few percentage points from your bets.

Although we all ultimately have BOG taken from us as we become more successful, if you still have it take advantage.

It is fair to say that the bookies are a lot more tolerant of punters who bet and win on shorter priced selections and your account and privileges.

Betfair SP

You can get even closer to making a profit with Betfair SP. in fact the loss we reported above for all favourites for the past 5 years reduces to 3575 when betting at Betfair SP and ROI of – 3.12%.

Psychologically betting favourites is a good idea, many a bettor has abandoned a winning strategy because they couldn’t tolerate a losing run.

Alternative Strategies

What we really want to do when we bet favourites is to bet at a high strike rate with shorter losing runs.

Other options are to bet favourites in the place only markets at Betfair, which will get you a much higher strike rate.

Or dutching together selections to have multiple runners in a race and of course a much higher strike rate. You can use our dutching tool to work out you stakes.

Here is Malcolm's original article from 2014…

Today we have our regular Wednesday article from Malcolm Pett and this week's subject is backing favourites for a living

Can you make money backing favourites?

Most people tell you that there is no value in backing favourites and you should stay clear of them and look for those “outsiders” that come in now and then, at a really good value.

It sounds plausible except almost 80% of all winners come from the top 3 or 4 in the betting and so although it’s not rare to see an outsider come in at great value…

…It’s not easy finding and identifying them.

Backing Favourites for a Living

If you have read any of my articles then you are probably aware that I tend to go on about strike rate and average winning odds a lot.

There is good reason for this…

…They are important…very important.

At the end of the day all that matters is that these two figures stack up and make you a profit.

If you go for the lower strike rate range then you will need higher odds to make money.

Where a higher strike rate means you need lower odds to make money.

So it doesn’t matter if you are on favourites or outsiders the figures still have to add up.

People love going on about finding value and if you like being a detective then it is really good fun.

But value bets winning are rare and so even if you get good at spotting them your strike rate is still going to be low, meaning you will get a lot of losers before finding a winner.

Looking for value bets also needs a big bank roll and you need to know when to take advantage of the odds available.

I follow a number of systems like this and you soon find out that you have to go through losing runs of 20, 30 or even 50, to make these systems work.

Not many people are prepared to do this and not many people have the bank to support it.

I am not saying you shouldn’t have high price value strategies…

…I am just saying it probably doesn’t want to be your only strategy.

But we have already talked about there being no profit in favourites so what else can we do?

Well let’s discuss that for a moment.

Let us say that we came up with a system that uses favourites and has an average strike rate of 50%.

That means “on average” we win one bet and we lose one bet.

So every time we lose…we lose 1 point which means every time we win we need to do better than 1 pt to make money.

In fact if we take Betfair prices where we can generally do a little better then we need an average winning price of 1.05, just to break even.

So let’s say for arguments sake we get on average a winning price 1.26 (2.26).

1.26 * 5% = 0.06 = 1.20 profit

So if we had 100 selections in a month and won on 50 of them it would look like this…

50 * 1.20 = 60 – 50 = 10 points.

So as you can see we don’t have to have a very high “average winning odds” to make a decent amount of points every month.

The thing is to test…it’s no good saying you cannot make money on favourites unless you try some strategies over 2 or 3 months.

If you pick well then even if you don’t get the prices you need. You are unlikely to lose as much as you would following a low strike rate high value system with long losing runs.


Racing Consultants Free Tips

Today we are able to share a bit of the expertise available to Betting Insiders club members.

The analysis and selections come from David Massey and Rory Delargey.

Two guys that you will no doubt of heard of if you listen to any of the bookmaker/timeform radio channels.

Below you will find their selections for today's racing along with their reasoning and analysis for each bet.

This information is posted in the Betting Insiders Club members only forum where Rory and David are currently providing daily analysis and selections to all Betting Insiders members.

Today’s Selections:

1pt e/w Silver Roque 4.20 Perth @ 11-1 (general)
0.5 pts e/w Apache Glory 4.00 Beverley @ 12-1 (general)
0.5 pts e/w double

Silver Roque looks a very fair price for what, at first glance, looks quite an open handicap at Perth but a few of these have been disappointing this year and one or two are probably running at the wrong trip too. The key to Silver Roque is simple – he goes particularly well after a break, with his last three wins all coming after breaks of 4 months or more. His last win, over Tahiti Pearl, may only have been at Sedgefield but he was hugely impressive, having the race won a long way out, and travelling strongly throughout. Add in the recent rain that has fallen at the track and the fact his trainer is back amongst the winners and the morning price looks a decent one.

Apache Glory is more speculative but there are good reasons for thinking he’s overpriced. Genius Boy will go off favourite here, and whilst it would be wrong to say he’s a false favourite as he was punted off the boards for his debut at Wolverhampton and raced throughout like he knew his job, and clearly there will be more to come, but the form as it stands is ordinary and Beverley is very much a specialist track. But his presence will mean others go off overpriced (Maybeme was also looked at as a possible e/w selection too, he could go off a 33s chance if the favourite gets punted in again) but at the morning prices Apache Glory is the one that makes the most appeal.

Winner of this race last year, this has clearly been the target again, and although he is 4lb higher than his victory last year he has also run well here in a better race from 4lb higher than this mark, so he’s handicapped to win again.

Each Way Steal – Example Bet

Today we have a guest post from Paul Ruffy of Winning Racing Tips.

Have a good look at these two results. The first race is from a run of the mill, regular Novice race held at Hexham yesterday, the second is the result from the Champion Hurdle race held at Cheltenham.

Each Way Steal Example 1

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Each Way Steal Example 2

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What do these two results have in common?

They are both hurdle races, yes. They are both over 2 miles, yes. They were both run on identical underfoot conditions, yes. But that’s all by the by. What I’m interested in is the fact that they both have an odds-on favourite and have 8 or more runners. They are BOTH what I’d call “good each way races”.

But finding good each way races to bet in is only part of the story. You see although both of the above races looked good races to bet in each way, the lower grade race at Hexham was actually a significantly better one – Even though the Champion Hurdle offered ¼ odds the places compared to the regular 1/5 at Hexham.

High class races such as those held during the Cheltenham Festival are generally always well contested. That means all runners are primed to go well, and aren’t using the race as a stepping stone to better fitness or anything like that. There’s big prize money for even the minor placings which ensures a proper race.

The result at Cheltenham backed that up with only two out of the 10 runners finishing detached from the rest. Even though this was a race in that the runners finished in more of heap than is usual for the race, compare the margins that separated the runners at the finish at Hexham – only the first 4 were in the race and most were miles behind or pulled up.

The pre race market for the Hexham race told me that most of the field had little or no chance – runners priced 50/1 or greater can normally be backed at three times those odds on the exchanges for good reason. I had it down as essentially a two horse race, between Gottany O’s and Guess Again which was my each way bet at 3/1.

Overpriced was the only other potential each way option but he was rated miles behind Guess Again on ratings, and looked exposed.

Now, 3/1 might sound a little short for some to back each way. But as always I did the math and at 1/5 place odds we were getting 1.6 (or 3/5) for the place part of our e/w bet. The true odds were about 1/7 or 1.14. Getting 1.6 when 1.14 is about the correct price sounds ok to me. (These bets are commonly known as an each way steal and the bookies hate them!)

[Note from Dave: This bet represents extremely good value on the place part and Paul could have layed the win part off at Betfair if a short term strategy was preferred]

How did I know the correct price? Well firstly I’m looking at the form on offer of all the runners and their place chances based on that, but for an easy way to get a feel of what the right price should be simply look at the opinion of the market as a whole, by checking the place only price on Betfair and with the bookmakers via oddschecker.

As it turned out Guess Again won the race but for me was always extremely likely to at least place, and had it been 2nd or 3rd I’d have got a return on my bet equating to a small loss of 20% from my total stakes, (£16 from £10 e/w) which I’d have been happy to accept.

In the Champion Hurdle the each way options were many. You couldn’t really totally discount any of the runners bar one or two and most peoples each way shortlist would have contained: Binocular, Zarkandar, Rock On Ruby and Oscars Well. Using stats and analysis I selected Binocular as my each way pick as he had won the race previously and looked the most solid option.

In the end he finished just outside the places in fourth. Which in truth I was little disappointed with as there’s something rewarding about getting things right in the top races- you could call it “Kudos” I suppose.

But lets get real here.

Kudos don’t buy you anything.

The Hexham race was an easier race to read with less “place contenders” and a better each way race to bet in.

Overall I’ll bet many horses each way, but most will be in Novice/Maiden Hurdles, flat maidens and other low class non handicap affairs. I go through the cards each and every day sorting out the best each way races and the best each way value bets – You can get all my tips and analysis by joining my service at winningracingtips.co.uk. Where this strategy has been providing members with a constant flow of profits since 2006.

Today's Selection

5.00 Southwell Polly Holder – win bet

Jockey Weights

Tony McCoy JockeyI read a very interesting piece of research last night that I thought you might find useful (profitable).

The new stats guy at What Really Wins Money, Sean Trivass, has investigated how jockeys perform when they get down to their minimum weight.

If you look at the jockey stats at Racing Post for any jockey at the top of the page it gives the lowest riding weight in the last 12 months.

Sean's idea was that maybe it's profitable to bet jockeys when they ride at their minimum weight.

His logic was that if the jockey had made a big effort to get his weight to it's lowest then there must be good reason IE he's onto a winner.

Sean researched the last 10 years to discover that pretty much that you would lose money across the board if you backed all jockeys when they ride at their minimum weight!

So down but not out he proceeded to work out a winning weight for each jockey.

It's worth noting that this is research looking back at what would have been profitable so essentially it is back fitted data and in my opinion needs checking forward.

There are tables for the best weight in each of the last two years but alas these are only glimpsed at in an accompanying video.

Here is an example of the data given

Jockey               | Best Riding Wgt | Rides | Wins | P/L @ BSP | ROI BSP

AP McCoy          10-9                               238       53        £44.60     18.74%
R Johnson          10-4                               161        25        £113.29    70.37%
A Coleman         11-4                                102       15         £115.05    112.79%

So what do we think about that?

My opinion is that AP will win on anything that's capable of winning whatever weight he is at.

These weights will be the weight carried, so the heavier weights will be with lead on board to make the handicappers allocated weight.

For example Aiden Coleman above has a lowest weight of 10-0 I don't imagine that he put on a stone and 4 pounds when he rides one at the top of the handicap.

I think there is some profitable system buried in this research somewhere but I'm not yet sure what it is.

It may be more along the lines of laying a jockey when he has a ride at his lowest weight because when AP gets himself down to 10-2 he probably isn't at his strongest (this is a guy who is 5′ 10″)

Also when a rider is at their lowest weight we know that that is their weight, not one that has been adjusted by the handicapper.

I'll finish off with what I think are 3 interesting stats from the lowest weight table.

Jockey               | Lowest Rdg Wgt | Rides | Wins | P/L @ BSP | ROI BSP

AP McCoy            10-2                            8          1          -£4.84        -60.52%
P Moloney            10-0                         109       10        -£19.68       -18.05%
Jamie Moore       10-0                          132       9          -£31.61        -23.94%

If you have an opinion on this or know of any other research along similar lines please let me know in the comments below.

Today's Selection

Ayr 4.00 Sammy Spiderman – each way bet


photo credit: BrianScott via photopin cc

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