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I would like to take this opportunity to thank the many people who have help aid the creation of this publication. First and foremost I would like to thank Bernard Hibbert who has made a huge contribution by providing me with useful material, research, statistics, and guidance. I would like to thank the unfortunate people who have proof read the text contained herein. If find any mistakes you know who can blam - Gareth Hooson, Linda Hooson, Josie Hunt. Copying one persons works is called plagiarism, copying several peoples work is referred to as research. With this in mind I would also like to thank the many pioneers and professionals who have shared their wisdom and aided us in our battle with the bookmaker.

Welcome to the Punters Bible. In the following introduction I will explain the primary aims of this book, why I believe it is a useful book for both the amateur and professional alike and also why I believe it fills a gaping hole in the world of horse race betting literature. The idea of betting on horse races and achieving the status of a successful professional gambler is one that appealed to me when, through circumstance, I became involved in the publication of horse racing information. When I set about learning the art and science of the game little did I know just how difficult the task would be. As a member of the MTV Generation I found most of the literature on the subject as dull as dishwater. The world of horse racing has a rich and varied language of its own, which to me sounded like double-dutch. Many of the books in circulation are American in origin and this compounded the difficulties involved in learning the skill of successful race assessment. I also found that much of the literature was littered with stories from days past, dreary recollections, and much that wasnt for me at all interesting. I searched in vain for a good, easy to understand and relatively comprehensive guide to betting on horse racing. The few books that I found appealing and simple to understand did not provide enough information, particularly in regards to the strategic aspect of the battle with the bookmaker. I decided therefore to write my own instruction manual on the 2

sport, one that would appeal to such as myself, for surely I am not alone? Once again little did I know what a challenge writing such a book would be. I must admit in many ways I have failed. As I delved deeper into the subject more and more questions presented themselves to me which I felt needed answering to provide a comprehensive guide. This is a reflection of the depth and rich nature of the subject. Eventually I had to say, Enough is enough. The publishers have been more than patient! I do believe, however that you will find herein a great deal of useful information for the aspiring horse race bettor. The primary aim of this book is to provide a solid foundation of knowledge for the world of horse racing. I have attempted to provide an explanation of the nature of the game which progresses in a coherent and logical way while at the same time enabling the reader to open the book at any particular point and understand its contents. The first section, Betting Basics, provides a quick introduction to the game, the factors you need to consider, understanding odds and racecards, etc. It has been written to get you up and running as quickly and effortlessly as possible, without leaving you vulnerable to the might of the bookmaker. You will also find herein a guide to the rapidly evolving worlds of spread betting and betting exchanges. This information provides a brief overview with an emphasis on horse racing, though much of it can be applied to other sports.

With the A-Z section I have attempted to answer any remaining questions. Hopefully this section will also help you overcome difficulties in understanding the language of the sport. Some of the information represents the bare minimum of what one needs to know to achieve success as a bettor and which is not included in the Betting Basics section. I have set out to supply a number of strategies that will aid you in your battle with the bookmaker. These strategies come in various shapes and sizes. You will find a number of systems that consist of a few simple rules that have for many years produced a profit. The systems included are aimed to serve as useful templates for ones betting. You will also find a number of strategies that are more akin to vague concepts than a system. Hopefully I will also inspire you with the knowledge that the bookmaker can indeed be beaten and theres no reason why you shouldnt be the one to beat him. To enable the reader to absorb and understand the information as quickly and easily as possible I have tried adopted a style of writing that is as clear and as simple as possible. I have also kept unnecessary waffle to a minimum thereby presenting the reader with pure information. Obviously the only person who can decide whether I have succeeded in my aims is you the reader. I hope you find this book to be a valuable and educational read. I am confident that you will. If you have any criticisms, comments or contributions of any kind I will be most grateful for your feedback. You can email me at 4 I will make every effort to answer all correspondences.

The urge to gamble is so universal and its practice so pleasurable that I assume it must be evil Heywood Broun Betting on purely random games has always seemed to me to be somewhat pointless. Horse racing is different. Its possible for a gambler to use his skill and judgment to help predict the outcome. It is also a challenge that can prove to be most fascinating and yield great financial rewards. As an intellectual pastime it can lead to many unexpected avenues of thought and areas of knowledge. It can also lead to financial independence and an escape from the day-to-day drudgery of a 9 to 5 lifestyle. Of course luck does play a role. There are many factors that cannot be accounted for, such as the mood of the horse. However the fact remains that if you have the necessary skill, judgment and discipline it is possible to be a long-term successful and profitable gambler. Because there are many factors that influence the outcome of a race betting on horse racing is interesting and challenging. If you are successful with your predictions it is also most rewarding. In fact, no other game is as rewarding and yet backing horses can be as intellectually challenging as chess. The Revolution is Nigh! The world of horse racing has undergone many dramatic and exciting changes for race bettors. The abolition of betting tax, the ascent of the internet and spread betting has resulted in completely altering the way in which a gambler can view betting. Furthermore these 6

changes have made it easier for an astute gambler to make a long-term profit. Punters can now bet against fellow punters in a more direct fashion and obtain much better value, which means more profit for you the punter. You also have the option of playing the role of bookmaker by laying horses. A range of spread betting markets exist, which provide the opportunity of betting on such things as winning distances or the performance of trainers. The benefits of such an approach include better value and the fact that the more right you are the more you win (and visa versa). All in all the world of racing has undergone many dramatic and exciting changes and is still quickly evolving. Opportunities for profitable betting are more numerous than at any other time in the history of the game. Hopefully this book will provide a useful introduction to this exciting world and many of its modern developments.



One may be tempted to think that assessing the likely winner of a race would simply involve deciding which horse is the fastest needless to say its not that simple. There are many factors that can influence the outcome of a race. Some factors can be assessed and some cannot. The horses form, the jockey, the ground conditions, etc. In the following section we will examine some of the factors that can be assessed. Previous Performance A horses previous performance is known as its form. It is a very important factor when assessing a horses chance of winning. Class If a horse is described as better class it implies that one horse is superior to another. Form is relative to the class of the event in which it is recorded. It is therefore necessary to know the standard of each race you are studying when building up a picture of a horses form. On the Flat there are seven different classifications, from class 1 class 7. Class 1 races are Group and Listed, the cream of the years events with high amounts of prize money. Class 7 races are regional races with small amounts of prize money and apprentice or amateur races of similar value. Over the Jumps, there are seven ranks, from A (races run under the jumping Pattern) to H (hunter chases and National Hunt Flat races of low value). 9

Although it is not necessary to understand the classification system inside out, you do need to be aware that form in a Class B race will be of a higher standard than form in a Class F race. Speed of a Horse You would think that assessing the likely winner of a race would simply involve looking at the horses speed. Unfortunately its not that simple! The fastest horse should win the race, all things being equal. In the world of horse racing however its a rare occasion when all things are equal. For instance, many races are not truly run and this is particularly true over long distances. If a pace is set early on the race can develop into a tactical affair with jockeys playing a cat and mouse game. The speed in which a horse runs a race is timed. You can find this information in the Racing Post. It is probably best to disregard this information, with the exception of sprints particularly on all-weather tracks. In these races the excellent TOPSPEED, of the Racing Post, comes into its own. It is well worth consulting the Topspeed ratings for all races up to one mile. If your horse is among the top rated you should find this encouraging. The Race Distance Although some horses are versatile most perform differently over different distances. Some are good at sprinting whereas others are better over long distances. What the ideal distance for a horse is will not be obvious until it has run a few times. If a horse has never run over a particular distance its previous performance will give you an indication as to its stamina and how well it should perform.


Ideally, your chosen selection should be proven over the days race distance. You will find this information in a typical daily newspaper, details of which will be presented in something like the following format. 40/231-4121 Red Rum 14 (C&D1 D2) F Dettori 5 11-7 Howard Johnson 68 The C&D1 (underlined) tells us that the horse is a course and distance winner on one occasion. The D2 informs us that the horse is a distance winner on two occasions. If your horse is not proven over the days race distance you will need to assess its previous performance. Several factors affect how a particular performance testifies to a horses stamina - the nature of the track, the pace at which the race was run and the state of the going. A horse running strongly at the finish of a race and beyond could perform well over a longer distance. A horse that shows good pace and then fades probably needs a reduction in distance. The going can make a difference. Sometimes a horse will get the distance on fast ground having previously failed in testing conditions. The course may be a factor. A horse may get the trip on todays course having failed on a more testing track. For instance, a horse that manages to stay on at the end of a truly run race, over two miles at Newmarket in soft going can be assumed to have more stamina than a horse that won a slowly run race over two miles on firm going around a much tighter and more level track, such as Folkestone. The horse that ran 11

at Newmarket is more likely to get the trip - meaning it should last out the full race distance. Two important points to note are: Do not equate stamina on the Flat with stamina on the same trip over Jumps. Be wary if a horse is trying a new distance for the very first time. Age and Experience of the Runners If a horse has only recently been trained to jump it is more likely to fall in a National Hunt race. This is one example of why it is important to consider a horses experience. You will have to use your own judgment when deciding at what stage the age of a horse becomes a negative factor. An older horse will be more experienced but you also have to consider its fitness levels which will deteriorate with age (For more details see the A-Z Age). The Trainer The trainer is the most influential person associated with a horse since it is a trainers abilities that can determine whether the horse reaches its optimum ability. Training horses is both an art and a science that requires considerable skill. Trainers use a variety of methods for training a horse and some are better than others. It is wise to be informed on such matters. Choosing a stable to follow is a worthwhile exercise. It helps you specialise and think strategically as you get to know how your yard operates. Often trainers perform particularly well at certain courses and not at others. A trainer may specialise in training horses to win 12

a specific race and may succeed year in and year out. Trainers have great difficulty finding winners and when they succeed they often try and repeat their success at the same track and in the same race. One trainer has a runner every November at the same track and wins every time, always at good prices. Another trainer has had 54 consecutive losers at one major course. This track is near to his stable and he has no intention of winning. His aim is to simply take his horses out for a run to enable them to get used to the world of racing. Following particular trainers at particular tracks is by no means an original idea, but it is an idea that often produces excellent profits. For instance, at the time of writing (2003) One top National Hunt stable would have LOST you 920.88 backing all the runners to 10 level stakes at Aintree over the last six seasons! Yet the same bet at Ascot would have WON you 920.68! A top northern stable has regularly sent horses to Sandown without a single winner over the last 6 seasons? But a 10 bet on all the runners at Newcastle would have WON over 1,380. An excellent publication to help you keep abreast of trainer trends is Trainers4Courses by Ken Turrell and available at Take note of trainers comments in race reports or interviews. You can pick up valuable clues about future plans. The larger well-established yards are where most of the reliable and consistent horses can be found, but dont ignore the smaller stables (be aware though that some of these are gambling stables and are sometimes unpredictable). When a stable is on a roll it is advisable to pay particular attention to it. The racing press offers detailed information on


which trainers are in good form and which trainers have particularly good records on particular courses. If a surprising number of fancied runners from a particular stable lose it could be due to the fact that it has been infected by a virus, in which case it would be wise to avoid the stable for the time being. Top Trainers, such as Henry Cecil, Sir Michael Stout, John Dunlop and Saeed Bin Suroor, can be expected to win around 20% of the races they contest. Pay attention to any stable scoring this sort of strike rate. The seasons statistics are published regularly in the Racing Post. The Going This means the condition of the ground. It needs to be taken into consideration because the condition of the ground can affect a horses performance. All-weather tracks remove this factor because the going remains the same. The official going is recorded in the following stages, Hard, Firm, Good to Firm, Good, Dead, Good to Soft, Yielding, Sticky, Soft, Holding, Heavy. A sudden change in the going is probably one of the main causes of bad bets. You need to be aware of any preference your selection has for underfoot conditions. Very few horses CAN act on virtually any going. Most, however, cannot. Probably the majority of Flat horses prefer Good or Good to Firm going but if a wet spell strikes and the ground goes soft we can throw the form book out of the window and start again.


At the start of the Flat season we can have a confused situation particularly with promising three year olds. Their previous runs as a two year old may have only been on soft going at the end of the last season. Will they like todays firmer conditions? If it comes down to guess work - NO BET. In National Hunt racing the majority of horses probably prefer softer going. However, at certain times when the ground dries out there are good opportunities for jump horses who relish the good to firm conditions. Another consideration, when assessing performance is the fact that there are differences in the same going at different courses. For example, Chepstow, Kempton Park and Aintree can get especially heavy when conditions are very wet whereas the going at Newmarket tends not to be as soft. This is due to the fact that the course drains so well. A little course knowledge is certainly helpful. Like many other aspects of betting the going is often referred to in jargon. Here is a short glossary Top of the ground - firm, fast going. Bottomless - very heavy. Cut in the ground - on the soft side of good. Lively - on the firm side. A sound surface - not too soft. Getting his tow in - on the soft side. The Jockey Jockeys vary in experience and ability. A jockeys performance can be assessed by looking at how many winners he has ridden in relation to his losing races. For instance one jockey may have won 50 races whereas another jockey may have won 100 races. The jockey that has won 100 races is not necessarily better than the jockey that has only won 50. The 15

winner of 100 races may have ridden horses in 300 races, whereas the jockey with only 50 winners to his name may have only ridden horses in 60 races. Looking at these statistics one should come to the conclusion that the rider of 60 races is most likely to be the better of the two jockeys. It is not the amount of races won but rather the percentage of wins that counts. The best jockeys tend to ride the best horses and therefore they are in the best position to win the most races. This is another factor you need to consider. It is certainly true that a top rider can make all the difference and that the jockey won the race. However, a jockey is only as good as the ride he gets so do not attach as much importance to the jockey as the trainer. Having said that, if one of your selections is ridden by one of the top jockeys this should boost your confidence. Top jockeys such as F. Dettori, K. Fallon and A.P. McCoy can be expected to win at least 20% of their races and make the frame around 50% of the time. Backing top jockeys is a popular strategy amongst punters, which affects the betting market to such an extent that they become poor value. Winning runs for a jockey can do wonders for their confidence and therefore it may be wise to pay them particular attention. It is also worth paying attention to jockeys who perform noticeably well at tracks that are notoriously difficult to ride, for instance Bath, Catterick or Epsom.


Also, pay heed to a top jockey who has decided to ride at an obscure meeting for an unfashionable stable. It may indicate a strong horse. The Horses Condition To be in a position to be able to assess the horses condition, you need to be at the racetrack. There you can use your own judgment to determine whether the horse looks fit, well and in good condition. The behaviour of a horse prior to the race can be an indication as to how it will perform during the race. Does it look nervous or relaxed? Many bad bets can be avoided by observing the horse in the paddock prior to a race, providing you know what you are looking for. The following is a brief guide to some of the indicators of a horses mental and physical state. The Unfit Horse and the Fit Horse The unfit horse may have a dull looking coat and a flabby stomach area. It may slouch around the paddock and it could be sweating more than the other horses. If the jockey has to push it along to raise a gallop on its way to the start you know the horse is not at its physical peak. Further signs to look for are gnarled, nobly knees and forelegs or bandages and the smell of liniment. Going down to the start the horse may have a short bumpy stride due to arthritic legs. Conversely the fit horse will have a shiny coat and well defined rippling muscles and will not be sweating to excess. The horse should display well being. All common sense stuff really! Another physical advantage is its size. Tall horses are generally faster than shorter horses. They have longer strides, can cope better with traffic and they are better equipped to carry weight. 17

Psychological State The mental state of a horse is also important. If a horse is frightened or angry this will be a major disadvantage. An angry horse will have ears that are flat back against its head. It will not co-operate with the handlers and it will thrash its head around. It may also lash out with its back legs and naturally the jockey will be wary of mounting the horse. A frightened horse will appear jumpy and will be unusually sweaty, particularly underneath the forelegs and behind the hind legs. The horse may also resist being mounted and pull very hard going down to the start. Another sign to look out for is lack of experience. If a horse is green it may carry its head high, looking around curiously. Its ears will turn repeatedly, demonstrating its unfamiliarity with the race track. Such a horse should generally be avoided. The Eager, the Ready, and the Unenthusiastic Horse In addition to showing the signs associated with the fit horse an eager horse will strut around the paddock and will appear more active than the other horses. When going to post it will reach a full gallop quickly. Its ears will be pricked up and alert and it will radiate well-being. The unenthusiastic horse will look uncomfortable. It may well be that the horse associates racing with pain or it may have its mind on other matters, such as a member of the opposite sex. If you see two horses of the opposite sex extending their noses towards each other beware, their minds may not be on the race.


Course / Track Due to their historical origins, racecourse tracks in Great Britain come in many shapes and sizes. As a result different horses are more suited to different courses. Chester racecourse is an almost circular course of around one mile in length whereas Newmarket is a course of greater distance (two and a half miles). On the Newmarket track horses only make one turn and can race over a straight of one and quarter miles. Courses also vary in respect to the direction in which the horses race (left handed or right handed). Some horses appear to perform better when racing in a particular direction. Also courses are not perfectly level. Some require horses to run downhill whereas others require them to run uphill. You will need to consider how the course is going to affect the performance of a horse. Some horses perform well at some tracks and not on others. There are many different reasons for this, such as the horses style of running. A long striding galloping animal, for example, will not like tight turning tracks such as Chester. The following lists of tracks are courses where if a horse has won previously it is a major advantage due of the peculiarities of the track. It is worth paying particular attention to such horses. Flat Ascot Catterick Lingfield Pontefract Beverley Chester Newcastle Southwell Brighton Carlisle Epsom Goodwood Newmarket Wolverhampton 19

National Hunt Aintree Ascot Cheltenham Fakenham Hexham Kelso Newcastle Plumpton

Carlisle Fontwell Leicester Sandown

Catterick Haydock Lingfield Towcester

The quirkier courses are more likely to produce course specialists. When assessing form it is important to remember that form at the quirkier tracks should not be taken at face value, when a horse is running on a different course. For instance Chester form often does not work LINGFIELD Equitrack. Winning Draw positions 5 furlongs. (2 year period) out elsewhere. The draw DRAW WIN on this track is a crucial 1 21.2 element due to the very 2 12.1 tight shape of the course. 3 15.2
4 5 6 7 8 9 PLUS 21.2 19.4 3.6 8.3 5.3 0

Horses drawn wide hardly ever win. The inside draws won almost 90% of the time.

CHESTER Winning draw position 5 furlongs DRAW WIN 1 2 3 4 5 6 21.1 15.8 15.8 21.1 11.1 0

The Draw Starting stalls are used in Flat races to ensure that all the horses start at the same time. The stall from which a horse starts can affect the outcome of his race. This is because on a lot of racecourses there are advantages and disadvantages to starting in certain positions in the stalls.


The situation is virtually the same 85% of winners were drawn 1 to 5.

The draw for which position a horse will occupy in the stalls at the start of a Flat race is made the day before the race and is drawn by lot. There is no draw for places in National Hunt racing. Number one in the draw occupies stall number one in the far left-hand position. Generally speaking it is not a good idea to use draw advantage exclusively to find winners. Rather use it to boost or lessen confidence in your selection. Obviously a good start from the gate is essential to capitalise on any draw advantage in sprints. The Racing Post prints Draw Advantage figures at the top of each Race Card - so always check this out. Weather Conditions This is another factor to consider and it is of particular importance in Great Britain, simply because the weather is erratic. It is important that you take note of the weather forecasts. If rain is forecast this may have an effect on the going. The Owner The owner is obviously the person who finds the money to buy the horse. It is the owner who ultimately is responsible for paying the bills, deciding who handles the horse, how the horse is handled, and which races the horse runs in. In practise many of these responsibilities are handed over to the trainer who generally has the most influence on a horses performance. Owning racehorses is not usually a profit making exercise since the majority of racehorses fail to win enough money to cover the cost of looking after them. Ownership of racehorses 21

is generally for those who are passionate about horse racing. Racing clubs and syndicates are now commonplace and members can buy shares in racehorses. The owner of a horse is another factor you can consider. Like trainers, owners have varying rates of success. Some owners are better at spotting good quality horses with lots of potential. Weight In the Classics all horses carry the same weight (except for an allowance to fillies in the Two Thousand Guineas, St Leger, and the Derby). The same is true of the premier National Hunt races. In Weight-for-Age races weights are placed on a horse to counter balance the advantage that a more mature horse will have over a younger rival. The Weight-for-Age scale lays down the designated differences for horses of different ages over different distances at different times of the year. The effect of weight is most prominent in Handicaps. The runners in these races are allotted different weights to render their chances theoretically equal. Many professionals will tell you weight is an important factor to be considered. However, my advice is to ignore weight. Handicapping is a very complicated subject. It is perhaps best to rely upon the experts to point you in the right direction. If a horse is carrying too much weight the clues will be obvious in the POSTMARK ratings, SPOTLIGHT comments and the price quoted. (Postmark is The Racing Posts private handicapper. His ratings are found on the right hand side of the race card underneath the allotted weight. The top rated horse is the one he considers to be the best-handicapped horse in the race. So, 22

if your horse is among the top 3 or 4 rated you can be sure it is fairly handicapped on its last performance.) Taking weight off poor horses wont make them run any faster. Putting weight onto a good horse will EVENTUALLY slow it down. The Betting Market It is worth paying attention to how the odds on a horse altered between the time betting opened on the event to the start of the race. If a horses odds shorten this means it is being backed by other punters, whereas if the odds lengthen it is attracting less money. It is important to consider the course market when assessing the betting moves. At a big meeting a major move is of greater significance than at a small meeting. This is because at smaller meetings, where the crowds are not so great, it takes little off-course money to manipulate the market. You will find more information and advice in the A-Z section under Betting Market. Time Since Last Race Of course, recent form is the best form. Many professional gamblers will not back a horse when its form dates back from a period too long before the race. Sometimes though old form is all you have to work with, for instance, on a seasonal debut. Most newspapers print the number of days since the horse last raced. Sometimes, for a horse that runs season after season it may need a run or two to get to their top form, though sometimes they perform well the first time out. Ultimately it depends on the horse, so as always it pays to be aware.



They are some other factors that affect the outcome of a race which cannot be assessed. These factors add an element of luck to horse racing and no amount of studying form or any other factor can protect you from this. The Horses Mood Just like humans horses have off days. Sometimes the horse may not wish to cooperate and will refuse to run, not enter the starting stalls, refuse to jump fences etc. If a horse is well-known to be a bit of a Prima Donna, it is advisable that you avoid backing it. Other Horses It is impossible to know how your chosen horse will be affected by other horses in the race. Your selection may be boxed in or bumped into. Another horse may run across its path or bring down your horse over the jumps. False Starts A false start can ruin a horses chance of winning. In the 1993 Grand National, Britains most famous race, a false start resulted in several horses running the entire course. Such an incident ruins the horses chances of winning. Weights Weights have been known to fall off a horse during a race in which case the horse will be disqualified. A horse can be disqualified for other reasons too. Other Factors You Cannot Assess Many other incidents can occur at race meetings. Jockeys go the wrong way, horses go on rampages, etc. Although these incidents do not happen often it is worth bearing it in mind that anything can happen 24

and no horse is guaranteed to win. By keeping your stakes to a reasonable level you can ensure you do not lose a large amount when these non-assessable factors affect the race. We will discuss methods of staking later. Jockey and trainer tactics are another example of factors that are often impossible for outsiders to assess. For instance sometimes a trainer will have no intention for a particular horse to win since they are only taking the horse out for the exercise and experience. Consequently the race is not truly run. Corruption is another factor that adds a random element to horse racing. These random aspects can often appear to work in favour of the bookmakers and can attack the moral of a gambler. This is in part due to the fact that a bookmaker does not lay all his eggs in one basket by relying upon one particular race and he spreads his liabilities across any number of races. Conversely gamblers often do not think long-term and rely on making a profit on just a few races. One cannot expect to make a consistent profit by thinking short-term and should aim to make a profit over at least a full season.



All-Weather Racing There are several all-weather tracks in the UK including Southwell Lingfield and Wolverhampton. Allweather is a term referring to racing on synthetic surfaces. Because of the nature of the surface it can favour front-runners (horses which can reach the front early, keep their lead and go on to win). Come from behind horses have difficulty accelerating on sand so pace setters have a real advantage. There are two reasons for this. Sand provides less traction for coming off the pace and horses in the rear have to cope with kick back (flying material kicked back by the horse). Remember - do not bet on a horse having its first run on sand. It also pays to follow jockeys and trainers who have a proven record on the surface. Obtaining Information In the UK thoroughbred racing has been well documented for many years. As a result a wealth of information is available to the race analyst concerning all races and the horses that compete. Details are available on the peculiarities of each track, whether they rise and fall or whether they are flat etc. For each horse all previous race details including times, race distance, course conditions and race commentary are available. Jockey and trainer statistics are also easily accessible. All this information is useful to the race analyst. A great deal of information is given by race cards found in standard daily newspapers. The format of this information 26

varies from publication to publication. To save a lot of space abbreviations are used. There are also a number of specialist papers. These contain considerably more information than your normal daily newspapers. In Britain the only daily paper dedicated to horseracing is The Racing Post which includes very extensive and sophisticated statistics. The official form book is published by Raceform on behalf of the British Horse Racing Board. This publication provides extensive details of every race run in Great Britain as well as the major overseas events. Timeform produce a number of publications. One such example is the annual Racehorses. This lists and discusses every racehorse. The daily Timeform Racecard provides detailed runner by runner analysis of every race at every meeting. You will also find Timeform's own rating as to a horses chance of success. Reading Newspaper Form Your daily national newspaper is likely to be home to a great deal of useful information which needs to be decoded to be understood. Backroom newspaper staff work around the clock to provide details on the progress of horses and other useful information. Some of it will be presented in a format similar to the following line:


40/231-4121 Red Rum 14 (C&D1 D2) F Dettori 5 11-7 Howard Johnson 68 The first nine digits of the above line represent the horses position in the last 9 races. The hyphen separates the last season from the current season. Therefore the position of the horse the last race it ran was first place. The bold type represents races on the all-weather. A 0 amongst these numbers normally means indicates a placing out of the first four. The (/) separates the last season from the season before and so on. If you were to find a (F) amongst these numbers this would indicate that the horse fell. A (U) would mean that the horse unseated its rider. (P) means that the horse was pulled up by the jockey which can happen for a number of reasons including injury to the horse. (R) shows that the horse refused to start. The figure 14 after the horses name (Red Rum) indicates the number of days since last run. The C&D1 tells us that the horse is a course and distance winner on one occasion. The D2 informs us that the horse is a distance winner on two occasions. The name of the trainer is F Dettori. The age of the horse is 5. The 11-7 informs us that the horse will be carrying eleven stone seven. Howard Johnson is the jockey in todays race. 68 is the form rating provided by the newspaper. At the top of the list of runners you should find the details of the prize money attached to the race and a figure in brackets indicates the amount the winner will receive. You will also find details on the distance and type of race.


Below the list of runners you will find the betting forecast which is an estimate made the day before the race by newspaper staff. The odds will be in a constant state of fluctuation as soon as the betting market opens. Checking Your Results There are many places to obtain results for previous races including newspapers, teletext, the betting shop, telephone racing lines, etc. When you are checking the results be sure to look out for any factors that will affect the settlement of the bet in question such as Rule 4 deductions and dead heats. Do not be afraid to question a bookmakers settlement of a bet if you think that it has been incorrectly settled. Novices Normally horses do not start competing in races until the age of around 2 years. A novice is a horse that is competing in its first race. Because you have no previous form on which to judge the horse it is wise to avoid backing them. The only indication you will have on such a horses future performance is by looking at the racing record of its parents and the other offspring of these parents. Inexperience is another factor that needs to be taken into consideration before backing a novice. Horses will often be nervous for their first few races. Considering both these factors it is advisable to wait a while before backing a horse. If you wait a few races you have more information to assess the ability of the horse and it will be more experienced and less nervous.


The Weigh-In When a race has been run the winning horse and all the placed horses must report to the Clerk of the Scales within a certain time to be weighed in. This ensures that they were carrying the correct weight during the race. When all is well the weighed in signal is announced. Once the weigh-in has been announced as far as the punter is concerned the result will stand regardless of any subsequent events. A jockey is also weighed-out prior to the race. A jockey that weighs a difference of 2lb or more at the weigh-out is reported to the stewards. Advantages and Disadvantages of On / Off-Course Betting and Tote Betting The main advantage of on-course betting used to be the fact that you did not have to pay 9% tax. Fortunately tax has now been abolished so what other advantages are there? One benefit of on-course betting is the fact that you have the opportunity of assessing the condition of any horse when they are parading in the paddock. Does it look fit, well and in good condition? Is the horse nervous or relaxed? Does his coat have the shine that you would expect from a healthy horse? Another advantage is the fact that you have more choice as the bookies prices vary. The most obvious of all benefits is that you get to see the race live. A large amount of betting takes place on-course before the prices are transmitted to the betting shops, so you are also able to take advantage of the earlier shows.


On-course bookmakers profit margin are lower than their high street counterparts. The reason is the high level of competition at the track and the fact that they do not have the time to calculate exotic multiple bets that bookmakers love due to their high profit margin. One disadvantage of on-course betting is that it is time consuming going to a race meeting plus you have to pay admission and travel costs, etc, which will eat away at your profits. Off-Course The advantages of off-course betting are that bookies shops offer a far wider range of bets and you can bet on virtually any sporting event. They also offer credit and deposit accounts. The fact that prices are not normally transmitted to the betting shop until around 15 minutes before the race and sometimes even later is another disadvantage to betting off-course. The changes that take place prior to the prices transition can be dramatic. Tote Betting Tote betting is a little like the lottery in the sense that all the money staked on each type of bet is pooled and deductions are made for tax and running costs. The balance is distributed to the winners. If you bet to win and your selection comes in first you will receive a share of the win pool. The actual amount you win depends upon how many other people have selected the same winner. If you are the only person to select the winner you will receive all the money in the pool. Always check the Tote when placing a bet. If you were offered two prices of 5/1 and 10/1 would you take 5/1? By ignoring the Tote you may be doing just that. The Tote can offer excellent 31

value, especially at big meetings, on horses that are ridden by jockeys that are unfashionable or from small stables. Remember you are betting against other punters rather than the bookie and sometimes the profits can prove spectacular. The French Tote The most popular foreign betting in the UK is on French racing. The main difference between the French Tote and British Tote is that if two horses from the same stable are running in a race they will be coupled up and given the same prices. By betting on one horse from the stable you will also be betting on the other. Therefore, if horse A and horse B are from the same stable and you place 1 to win at 2/1 on horse A but horse B wins you will still receive 2 in winnings. The operators take-out for the British Tote varies from bet to bet. For example 16% is deducted from the win pool and 24% from the place pool. One problem with the Tote system is that you do not know precisely how much money you are going to win though you can bet at S.P. Generally the amount you win depends upon how many people share the win and the total amount staked. A good estimate of your potential winnings can be reached. Real time shows are transmitted to the Internet and odds close to real time are displayed on racecourse screens and in Tote betting shops. The early Tote shows are misleading and the odds look very big when only small amounts of money are in the pools. The Totes main advantage is that you can place bets with lower stakes.


Tote vs the Bookmaker The opportunity for arbitrage between a bookmakers odds and the Totes odds sometimes arises, although infrequently. Professional gamblers often wait until the last possible moment in order to have the most certain estimate of the Tote dividend. This late money distorts the pool. If a bookmakers price has shortened suddenly and you think you might beat the book by betting on the Tote because the dividend looks like being better than the starting price odds, to make sure you will need to wait until the last possible moment before placing your bet due to this late money. Ante-Post Betting Ante-post bets are bets that are placed in advance of the event in question, either the day before or earlier. They provide excellent value providing that your selection actually gets to the start of the race. The advantage of ante-post betting is that you get better odds than you will just before the race though this is not guaranteed since the horses price could lengthen. Unfortunately, if your horse is withdrawn from the race you lose your stake. However, if your horse is withdrawn and the race is later abandoned you will get your money back. Therefore, it is wise not to throw away your betting slip as soon as the horse is withdrawn.


Sometimes bookmakers will offer ante-post odds with a run. With this bet, if your horse does not run you will receive your money back. The same horse cannot be selected to win more than one race in an accumulative ante-post bet unless a special combined price is on offer. In each-way ante-post betting the place odds are those prevailing at the time the bet was made so if the number of runners is reduced to a number fewer than the number normally qualifying for those place terms the bet is no less valid. Bookmakers claim that they make no money on ante-post bets. They are therefore one of the best value bets around. If you are making a long distance ante-post bet on a horse be careful if the horses chance is likely to diminish by extremes of going. You cannot tell if on the day the going will be in your chosen horses favour. If the draw is likely to be a significant factor in the outcome, it is best to avoid any serious ante-post betting. Different bookmaking firms will have different ante-post prices so shopping around for the best possible price is essential if the bettor wishes to achieve long term profits.



Betting shops have a wide variety of different prices. Some are only available at certain times. Early Morning Prices A soon as the bookmakers open they offer prices on several races, normally limited to handicap races. However, some may give prices on all the races. Often these prices are advertised in the sporting press. As soon as betting begins the prices will change. The events for which early morning prices are quoted occur that day. Some bookmakers allow a certain amount of time, after the shop opens, for customers to benefit from the advertised prices. Other bookmakers guarantee that if their early morning prices are worse than the starting prices they will settle the bet at the starting price. Ante-Post Prices If a bet is placed on an event the day before or even earlier this is known as an ante-post bet. The prices for the larger races such as the Grand National are made available months before the race is to run. Generally ante-post prices are better than the odds offered on the day of the event. The main disadvantage with ante-post bets is that if your selection is withdrawn from the event you lose your entire stake. If there are too many runners in a race the outsiders will be entered into a draw in order to select who will take part. This process is known as balloting out. If a horse is balloted out you will receive your money back. Starting Prices Starting prices are the average prices that the bookmakers are offering at the racecourse at the start of the event in question. Often starting prices is abbreviated to S.P. Board Prices / Shows Bookmakers receive shows of betting from the racecourse approximately 10 minutes before the race is to be run. The prices represent the average prices of the on35

course bookmakers. Once the betting shop has received these prices they will, up to the start of the race, enter a constant state of flux as more bets are placed. Tote Dividends The official Tote on the racecourse quotes Tote dividends. For bets at Tote odds there are dividends quoted to a 1 stake for the following bets... win, place, forecast, tricast, placepots and jackpots. Forecast and Tricast Dividends These are quoted to a 1 stake from the racecourse. When a dividend has not been quoted from the racecourse, for instance in a French race, the bookmaker may offer his own price. Pari-Mutuel Dividends Foreign racing is often shown live in British betting shops. The most popular foreign betting in Britain is on French racing. Pari-mutuel is the name of the French horseracing Tote. The dividends are quoted to a oneFranc stake. Tax is deducted at the racecourse before the dividend is announced, therefore you have no need to pay it. Prices Given in Newspapers When a newspaper prints a race card they normally also give the prices. These prices are meant to be a rough guide only since they are merely the newspapers estimation at what it thinks the prices will be. They vary from paper to paper. Factors That Affect the Price Even though you have taken a price, the odds at which your bet is settled may change if the following happens... Dead Heats If two horses finish the race at the same time and therefore draw this is known as a dead heat. In this case your returns will be halved if you backed one of the winners. 36

However, if three horses dead-heat then your returns will be divided by three and so on. If a placed horse dead heats, the returns are only reduced if there are more places than usual being paid. Rule 4 If a horse gets withdrawn after a book has been made then the prices offered by the bookie will be incorrect. This is because the prices will have been worked out with the withdrawn horse included. When this happens Rule 4 comes into play. Rule 4 allows a bookmaker to adjust the prices. This is called a Rule 4 deduction. This deduction does not apply to your stake but applies to your winnings only. The amount of money that is deducted from your winnings will depend upon the price of the withdrawn horse.


The market for betting begins on-course, at the meeting, and is transmitted off-course to the bookmakers. When you place a bet off-course you can do so at the fixed odds quoted by the bookmaker or you can bet at starting prices (S.P.) in which case you do not know the precise odds you will get at the time you place your bet. The betting market on-course responds directly to the bets being placed at the meeting in question. This kind of market is known as a free market. In a weak free market it takes relatively small sums of money to move the odds.


Bookmakers, off-course, sometimes exploit a weak market to off-set their liabilities. They do this by placing bets at the track with the sole aim of shifting the S.P. This can cut a punters potential winnings. Consider the following example of how bookmakers can manipulate the market. Paul bets 200 at S.P. He is backing a horse currently trading at 4/1. However a large chain bookmaker is laying off bets on-course and this cuts the odds to 3/1, at the last moment. The wagers placed at S.P. at the big chain bookmaker total 200,000. Therefore the liability of this bookie was 800,000 (at 4/1), now it is reduced by a quarter to 600,000 (at 3/1). This represents a cut back of 200,000 for a much smaller sum of money, which the bookmaker used to affect the on-course prices in a weak market. Because the bookmaker manipulated the market reducing the odds from 4/1 to 3/1 Paul will now only win 600 for his 200 bet instead of 800. This practise has been used for a long time by bookmakers as a way of balancing their books or protecting themselves from someone placing a very large bet. For example, if someone bet 10,000 on a horse to win at 10/1, the bookmaker would be liable to payout 100,000 if the horse in question won. If the bookmaker decided he did not want to face all of the liability he would also bet on the horse using the on-course bookies.

The internet has had a dramatic effect in the way many gamblers bet. Available on the net you can find a wealth of free information. Websites such as the one operated by the Racing Post, enables punters to access all the information that 38

is normally only available in the UKs no.1 daily racing newspaper. is another example of a website that provides a vast quantity of gambling information such as racecards, etc. Internet bookmakers also provide a convenient way to place bets. Due to the fact that they also have lower overheads they can and often do provide better value for money in the form of better prices. Another example of the benefits of the internet can be found at odds comparison sites. These websites enable gamblers to compare quickly the various odds offered by different bookmakers. By comparing prices you can obtain better value by placing bets with bookmakers that offer the best odds. Shopping around for the best prices is an essential strategy for making long term profits. The apparently slight differences in prices can make a big difference in the long term. The ascent of the internet has also allowed people to place arbitrage bets. An arbitrage bet is a bet that is practically guaranteed to profit no matter what the outcome. Many people have successfully made a full income from this strategy and all without risking much money. Betting exchanges have also had a dramatic effect on the world of horse racing. By removing bookmakers from the equation punters can bet against each other. For instance if you think a horse has no chance of winning due to some information which you have received you can go to a betting exchange and offer a price to the betting public. This ability to oppose a horse has created a new dimension to the way in which punters can view a horse race. Furthermore, it is not


uncommon to be able to obtain vastly better value than that offered by conventional bookmakers. Gambling abroad with foreign bookmakers on foreign sports and events is also now possible and easy thanks to the internet. You can even find bet calculators to work out your winnings for you. Considering all the benefits, the internet is clearly an excellent tool for the horse race bettor and it is well worth going online. Betting Exchanges Betting exchanges are bringing about a dramatic alteration in the way in which we bet. Betfair are the UKs largest betting exchange. The following information applies mainly but not solely to this particular exchange. Betfair claim to have matched 250 million pounds worth of bets last year. It appears that these exchanges are posing a threat to the bookmaking industry. With a betting exchange there is no bookie. The bets featured are placed there by individuals who chose to bet in the normal way, by backing a selection or by acting as a bookmaker by offering odds to other punters. Bets are matched between people with opposing views. Betting exchanges have a number of differences that separate them from traditional bookmakers. You can back or lay a bet. You can choose the odds you want to bet at. You can obtain better prices. You can bet whilst the game is in play. 40

The terminology used on betting exchanges is lay and back or sell and buy. If you decide to play the role of a bookmaker you will be laying bets by offering a price. However, if you were playing the role of punter you would back a selection. You never know or have personal contact with those who you are betting against. If you see a price quoted but you want better odds you place a request for a better price. However, you do need to be realistic because you have to find somebody prepared to offer you your requested odds and visa versa. The odds featured constantly fluctuate but more so the closer you come to the event in question. This is due to the fact that there are more people in the market. There is no chance of not getting paid or avoiding payment should you lose, as everyone has to deposit enough funds by credit or debit card to cover all transactions. All businesses have to make a profit in order to survive. Bookmakers do this by offering prices that do not represent the true odds. Betting exchanges make a profit by charging a small commission on winning bets and there are no other costs. As a result, the charges imposed by betting exchanges are small in comparison to the value offered in the prices. You can bet in running on some events. This means you can bet while a contest is in play. This tool was normally limited to spread betting.


You can bet on or lay odds for just about any sport. You can even bet on the performance of the stock market. There are no each way bets since all bets are to win. Betting exchanges often offer far better value than traditional bookmakers, therefore your profits should increase the more you use betting exchanges (even after paying the 2-5% commission on winning bets). For instance, a 5/2 chance with standard bookmakers will typically be offered at a price of 3/1 so by placing a 100 bet with the bookie you can expect a winning return of 350. However with the typical exchange price of 3/1 you would expect 400, minus 5% commission resulting in a return of 380. Therefore theres a 30 difference in returns which is a substantial amount. By betting with exchanges on a regular basis the difference in value can have a dramatic effect of your betting bank and long term profits. Betting exchanges operate in decimals instead of standard odds. Therefore 4/5 would be represented as 1.8 and 3/1 would be represented as 4.0. These figures show the total return you can expect if you place a 1 bet. So if you place a 1 bet at 3/1 you can expect 4 represented as 4.0 (See odds to percentage conversion table in the charts and tables section of this book). We recommend that you do not bet on an exchange until you are comfortable with the concepts and rules of these exchanges. Your first visit may prove to be a daunting experience. However, help is available online and you can simply watch the markets in action before getting involved yourself.



A bookmaker assesses the chances of each runner of a race and then allocates each horse a price (odds). A book of prices is then made. The horse that is allocated the lowest odds is the one the bookmaker expects to win. This horse is called the favourite. If another horse shares the same odds they are called the jointfavourite and in the bookmakers opinion they have the same chance of winning. If several horses have the same lowest prices they are called co-favourites. The bookmaker, or bookie, changes the odds constantly as more people place bets. A large bet on a horse will result in its odds being lowered. If a horse is not attracting any bets the bookie will increase its odds in an attempt to attract more bets for this particular horse. On average UK bookmakers aim to make a profit of 17% on a race and they will alter the odds to try to ensure that they achieve this goal. For some books the profit margin will be much smaller than for others. If bookmaker A is offering 2/1 on a horse and bookmaker B is offering 3/1 on a horse bookmaker B would of course be offering the best value. Understanding Odds If a horse is at 2/1 and it won, for every 1 placed on that horse you will receive 2 in return. The amount to the left of the price, in this case 2, is what you receive if you bet the amount to the right. The amount of 43

money you place on a horse is known as the stake. If you win, the money you receive back is known as the returns. For example if you stake 3 on a horse at 3/1 and the horse wins your return will be 3 times your stake. You will therefore win 9. Where the number on the left of the price is greater than the number to the right i.e. 2/1, this is known as odds against. If the number on the left of the price is smaller than the number to right i.e. 1/2 this is known as odds on. If both numbers are the same this is referred to as evens i.e. 1/1. Often odds are quoted with the word on attached, for instance 2/1 on. This means that the odds are really 1/2. If you hear the word on attached to the price simply reverse the two numbers of the price i.e. 2/1 on becomes 1/2. Tax Tax on gamblers was 9% and you could pay it on either your stake or winnings. Fortunately, tax has recently been abolished. This is excellent news for the punter. Calculating Your Winnings Calculating bets is a simple process once you have had a little practise. Win Bets To calculate a win bet is simple. First we find the return to a 1 stake. There are two ways to do this. The first method is to add the left and right numbers of the price together and divide this figure by the right number. For instance, if the price was 6/4 you would add the two numbers leaving you with 10 and then you would divide this figure by 4 leaving you with your returns to a 1 stake - 2.50. An alternative method would be to divide the left number by the right number and add 1. If the price was 6/4 you divide 6 by 4 44

leaving you with 1.5. You add 1 and then you are left with the returns to a 1 stake - 2.5. To settle a win bet you need to multiply the return to a 1 bet by the stake. If you had placed 5 to win at 6/4 you multiply 5 by 2.5 to discover your returns - 12.5. Each-Way Bets Each-way bets actually consists of two bets, one to win and the other for the selection to be placed. The place part of the bet is calculated at a fraction of the win odds. The fractions are either 1/4 or 1/5. The fraction that you divide the win odds by depends on the number of runners in the race. If there are 1-4 runners you can only bet to win. If there are 5-7 runners the place part is calculated to 1/4 of the odds and if there are 8 or more runners the place bet will be calculated to 1/5 of the odds. If the race is a handicap the place bet will be calculated to 1/4 of the odds. All up to win is an expression used where an each way bet has been put on a race with four runners or fewer. It is not possible to bet on these races so the place stakes are put on to win. For instance if you had placed 2 each-way on a race with four runners the all up to win rule comes into play resulting in your bet being altered to a 4 win bet. Since an each-way bet is actually 2 bets, if you placed a 1 each-way bet you will be placing 1 to win and 1 place so your actual stake is 2. 45

A place bet allows your selection to finish several places behind the winner. The amount of places depends upon the number of runners. if there are 5-7 runners you are allowed two places for your place bet and it will be calculated to 1/4 of the win odds. If your selection does not win you forfeit the win part of your bet and therefore only the place part is valid. To calculate the returns for an each way bet that has been placed on a winner first you need to work out your returns to a 1 win bet using the method outlined previously. Then you work out the returns to a 1 place bet. You then add these figures together and multiple by the stake. For instance if you had placed a 2 each-way bet (total stake 4) and it won at 5/2 in a race with 10 runners, you could calculate your returns as follows. First find the returns for a 1 stake on the win part of the bet following the instructions given previously, in calculating win bets. You will be left with the sum of 3.5. Now deduct 1 leaving you with 2.5. Multiply this figure by 1.25 for 1/4 odds or 1.2 for 1/5 odds. Since there are 10 runners in our example race you will be calculating the place odds to 1/5 of the win odds. So 2.5 x 1.2 = 3 The next step involves adding 2. This leaves you with the figure 5.


Finally multiply this figure by the unit stake 2 and you are left with the total returns 10. Examples 1 - 2 each way, winner @ 5/2 (1/5 odds). Total stake = 4. 1 @ 5/2 = 3.5 Find the returns to a 1 stake. 3.5 - 1 = 2.5 Deduct 1. 2.5 X 1.2 = 3 For 1/5 odds. 3+2=5 Add 2. 5 x 2 = 10 Multiply by the unit stake. = 10.00 Total returns. Example 2 - 5 each way winner @ 7/4 (1/4 odds). Total stake = 10. 1@7/4 = 2.75 Find the returns to a 1 stake. 2.75 - 1 = 1.75 Deduct 1. 1.75 x 1.25 (1/4 odds) = 2 1875 For 1/4 odds. 2.1875 + 2 = 4.1875 Add 2. 4.1875 x 5 = 20.9375 Multiply by the unit stake. = 20.94 Total returns. Please note that this method does not work for multiple each way bets. If your each way bet selection comes second you lose the win bet stake. Example - 5 each way 2nd @ 7/4 (1/4 odds). Total stake = 10. 1@7/4 = 2.75 2.75 -1 =1.75 1.75 x 0.25 = 0.4375 Find the returns to a 1 stake. Deduct 1. For 1/4 odds. 47

0.4375 + 1* = 1.4375 1.4375 x 5 = 7.1875 = 7.18

*Because you forfeit the win bet. Multiply by the unit stake. Total returns - you lost 2.82.

Multiple Bets To calculate win doubles, each way doubles and other such multiple bets simply take the returns from the first winning selection and place them on to the second selection and so forth. Obviously if the first selection of your multiple bet loses you forfeit your entire stake. Calculating the Bookmakers Overround The odds offered by bookmakers on a horse are not the realistic chances of the animal in question winning. The bookmaker has adjusted the odds in his favour to ensure he makes a profit. Bookies prices vary from shop to shop and some offer better value than others. Learning how to calculate the profit on a book enables you to make an informed decision on whether it is worth having a bet and it will enable you to isolate the bookmaker that is offering the best value on a particular race. If the profit margin exceeds 20% you are not receiving good value and it is probably worth finding an alternative bookmaker. To calculate the profit on a race first multiply 100 by the number on the right of the price. Now divide this figure by both the left and right numbers of the price added together. Do this for each price in the race and deduct 100 from the total. The resulting figure is the percentage profit made by the bookmaker. Example - Lets look at a three horse race with the following prices 1/2, 2/1, 5/1.


Take the first price 1/2 and multiply the number on the right of the price by 100 resulting in the figure of 200. Now divide this figure by the left and right numbers of the price added together, 3, leaving you with the figure 66.66. Do this for each price and you will be left with 3 figures. Add then together - 66.66 + 33.33 + 16.66 = 116.65. Now deduct 100 from this figure 116.65 - 100 = 16.65. You are now left with the bookmakers percentage profit - 16.65%. If you use our odds to percentage conversion table (featured in the charts and tables section) this process is simplified. Calculating an Overround Book In this example the book is 16.65 overround. Now lets take a look at another example, to see how we can create an underround book. HORSE ODDS A 7-2 B 2-1 C 3-1 D 9-2 E 9-2 Total Overround total 100%) %CHANCE 22.22% 33.33% 25% 18.18% 18.18% 116.91% 16.91%

This is an example of an overround book. Imagine that you are sure your judgement regarding this race is superior to the bookies and you think that horse B does not stand a chance.


By removing B from the reckoning you have removed 33.33% from the book. This leaves the total percentage chance of the remaining horses in the book at 83.58% (116.91% - 33.33% = 83.58%). The book you have created for yourself is underround because it adds up to less than 100% (83.58%). In such a situation you can back all the other horses in the race (ACDE) and still make a profit. If you are right about horse B you cannot lose. To be able to disregard short-priced horses without solid information requires a high degree of expertise. Disregarding un-fancied outsiders is easier. An additional problem with this approach is that you require a large amount of capital to cover all the horses and the percentage return is normally quite small. Important Betting Rules Explained If you use our Ready Reckoner, generally, working out bets is a simple process. However, it is not always straight forward and along the way there are a few obstacles waiting to trip you up. For example, what happens if one of your selections is a non-runner? How does a dead heat affect your winnings, etc? In this section we will attempt to provide some simple answers to these and other questions that may arise, when you are calculating your returns. Dead-Heat If you have placed a win bet and the result is a dead-heat, half the stake is lost and the full odds are paid on the other half. 50

If the bet was each-way or place only; where the selection dead heats for a place, stakes are paid in full unless the deadheat affects the last available place - e.g. 2nd in a race of 5 to 7 runners; 3rd in a field of up to 12; 4th in a handicap race of 16 runners or more, etc - when half the place stake is lost and the full place odds paid to the remainder. For example: 1 Double A and B. A is an outright winner at 5/1 and B dead-heats for 1st place at 4/1. The calculation is therefore 1 @ 5/1=6. 6 @ 4/1 dead-heat is 3 @ 4/1=15 with the remainder of the stake lost. Non-Runners If your bet is single and if your selection does not run then your stake will be returned in full (except for ante-post bets where stakes are lost on non-runners). In Doubles and Trebles etc, the stake is allowed to run on to the remaining selection(s). For instance, if A and B are taken in a Double and A is a nonrunner, the bet becomes a Single on B. If A, B and C form a Treble, then A is a non-runner, the bet stands as a Double on B and C. Each individual line is treated separately for multiple bets with a non-runner. For instance in a Yankee A B C D - the 11 bets are as follows: 6 Doubles *AB *AC *AD BC BD CD. 4 Trebles *ABC *ABD *ACD BCD. 1 Accumulator *ABCD. If A is a non runner*, you will see that the 11 bets become: 3 Singles B, C, D. 6 Doubles BC BD CD BC BD CD. 51

2 Trebles BCD BCD.

Rule 4 The purpose of Rule 4 is to compensate bookmakers when a withdrawn horse has effectively shortened the odds on the remainder of runners but there is insufficient time before the race to amend those odds. When settling, simply find the rate of deduction applicable to the winning odds of the horse (e.g. 3/1 = 25p in the ) and deduct from winnings only (do not include stake). For instance 10 @ 5/1 with a 25p in the deductions are calculated as follows: 10 x 5 = 50 deduct 50 x 25p (12.50) = 37.50 + 10 stake = 47.50. Over / Under-Staking You must ensure that the correct amount of stake is paid when the bet is placed if you want to receive the correct amount of winnings for your bet. Occasionally, however, mistakes will occur and you will pay too little or too much for your bet. This could be due to an error when totalling your bets or because you have miscalculated the correct number of bets for the number of selections chosen. Either way the rules are the same. The excess is returned if you pay too much for your bet. For instance 10p win Yankee - staked 1.50. The bet is settled as a 10p Yankee bet. Win or lose 40p is returned and added to any winnings. If you pay too little, then your return is paid in proportion to the correct amount for the bet. For instance 10p win Yankee - staked 1. You will receive 1 / 1.10 (10/11th) of your winnings. If the return is 22 x 10 = 220 and divide by the correct stake for the bet 220 / 11 = 20. If the bet loses you will not be asked to make up the difference. 52

Too Few or Too Many Selections Another error, commonly made, is to add an extra selection or miss one out. When a selection is forgotten, a non-runner is added to make up the correct number of selections. For instance in a Yankee if the selections nominated are A B and C, a non-runner is added for the fourth selection. Settlement is then identical to the example given in our explanation of non-runners. Where an extra selection is inadvertently added, then the number of bets is adjusted to equal the total number of selections. For instance, 5 selections given in a 10p Yankee with a stake of 1.10, is adjusted to a Canadian (26) bets and the return proportioned 11/26th. Value Of course theres a great difference between backing winners and being a profitable bettor. If the aim of the game was to back winners all you would have to do is back poorly priced favourites which would lose you money in the long run. It is a common opinion that if you aim to be a profitable gambler you need to concentrate on value. The way to achieve good value bets are by trading at better than true odds. This is known as the value approach. For example, a tossed coin can only ever land on either heads or tails. Theres a 50/50 chance that either will happen and therefore the true odds are evens. If you trade at worse odds than this, for instance 4/5, then in the long run you will lose money. If you trade at a price better than evens, lets say 5/4, then in the long run you will make a profit.


Of course you can get great value and still lose. If you bet 5/4 on a tossed coin theres still a 50/50 chance that you will lose money. Also you can get terrible value and still collect. Most punters have hundreds of bets per year and the more bets you have the more you can be confident that the percentages will win out. If you keep betting at 5/4 on a toss of a coin, you may lose on any one throw but you can be certain in the long run you will win. Providing you are constantly trading at value odds, over a period of time, you will win and luck has nothing to do with it. To use this approach you must have an understanding of the true odds otherwise how can you judge whether you are receiving good value? It is therefore essential to be able to assess what the true odds should be. The Profitability of Bets If you were thinking of buying a new washing machine, car or going on holiday would you shop around for the best value and try and obtain the best price. Of course you would. And yet it never fails to amaze me how punters make so little effort to shop around for the best odds. On one bet the difference in return by shopping around may seem small and not really worth the effort. However, over a full season seeking the best prices can easily make the difference between making a substantial loss and making a substantial profit. It has never been easier to shop around for the best prices. You can even find odds comparison web sites that do the work for you. One of the main weapons a bookmaker uses against a bettor is mathematics. Although it is perhaps possible to find a strategy that uses multiple bets to produce profit the fact remains that you are at a major disadvantage if your preferred bet has a high profit margin for the bookmakers. 54

Bookmakers promote their most profitable bets. If you aim to make long-term profits avoiding the bookies most profitable bets is an obviously important tactic. Bookmakers will try all sorts of tactics to make these bets appear good value. The best indication to a bets value is the amount of money the bookmakers make from the bets. The bets with high percentage profits are the bets to avoid. Ideally you want to cut the bookmaker out completely, for instance by betting on exchanges. Betting exchanges can provide much better value since the operators only take a small commission on the bets you place against other punters.


Statistics are the foundation of all good systems. There are many aspects of horseracing that are predictable. The following percentages will vary only slightly from year to year. 20% of all horses in training win over 80% of all races It makes sense to focus on this small group of reliable and consistent horses. If there were, say, 200 running on a particular day, only around 40 would be worthy of consideration. This narrows the field massively. 33% of all Flat races are won by the favourite Around 25% win handicaps and 40% win non-handicaps. These percentages generally increase slightly for National Hunt racing because Jump horses can be more consistent than their Flat counterparts.


Consider the following tables, covering a five year period, that show us that around 74% of all flat races are won by one of the first four in the betting. Around 74% of flat races are won by the first four in the betting. However, percentages of winning favourites vary considerably depending on a number of other factors as the following tables show... Winning favourite percentages can also differ widely from track to track. This information is available every day in the Racing Post in the form of a FAVOURITES BOX for each meeting. You can see at a glance how favourites have performed, in different types of races, over the past four years. Weight 66% of all winners carry the same or less weight than their last run. Recent Form 53% of all winners won or placed in their last race. Distance 60% of winners ran at the same distance as their last time out. The Market 30% of winners start at 2/1 or less. 45% of winners start at 3/1 or less. 65% of winners start at 5/1 or less. 78% of winners start at 7/1 or less. The price bracket of 13/8 to 6/1 produces over 52% winners so you are not missing much leaving alone very short priced 56

favourites. However, you need a good reason to back at 8/1 or over. 67% of winners come from the first three in the betting. One of the first three in the betting is placed around 90% of the time. 87% of winners are returned at odds less than the number of runners. In recent years many trainers run their horses again quickly to capitalize on their fitness. An interesting set of statistics for turf racing over ten years shows that certain trainers make a profit doing this from a strike rate of over 20%.