Horse Racing Betting Strategy: Choosing and Using a Strategy

Horse Racing Betting Strategy: Choosing and Using a Strategy

There are a huge range of factors that inform who will win a race, but adopting a betting system can cut through the swathes of info and help you choose a horse more quickly and consistently.


In horse racing betting, handicapping refers to the process by which punters, bookies and the British Horse Racing Authority determine which horse is most likely to win. In a horse racing system, this involves assigning a statistical value and weighting toward certain horse traits and form, then comparing the conclusion with the odds assigned by the bookies. For example, award points for wins, weights and pace, and back the horse with the most points. Every system is a form of handicapping, and can be tailored, tampered with, combined and refined to produce a system that suits you. So once you see a system working (or not working), you can step up and make it your own.

Backing Second Favourites

A popular system among beginners is backing the second favourite. The principle behind the process is that totally inexperienced punters overback the favourite, with the result that bookies have to price up other runners in order to balance their books, so they offer better odds on other likely competitors. The principle has merits, particularly on lesser races on big race days (like Aintree or Cheltenham) and sellers and claimers (races where horses are priced or auctioned based on the outcome). But essentially it's a good shorthand for spotting overpriced horses

Lay the Favourite

A classic system that follows a similar logic to backing the second favourite, using a betting exchange like Betfair Sports to lay (bet against) the favourite means taking advantage of all of those who back the favourite just because it's heavily backed.

Look for Specialists

When betting on long distance races like the Grand National, you need to know whether a horse has staying power and can hurdle. On sprints, it's all about being fast out of the blocks and showing power quickly. These systems weight specialists to find experts in their field that have been underpriced. This is particularly potent when players can find a specialist in a field of chancers. 1400m races tend to be good for this, because failed sprinters and distance runners are often tried out here.

Hedging with Proven Jockeys and Trainers

A shortcut to find system-busters is identifying jockeys or trainers who have won on a course before. Their experiences can prove decisive, but also, if their horse isn't backed by your system at first glance, they may know something you don't. These people spend their lives planning and preparing, and won't enter a race lightly.

Unfortunately, horse racing betting strategy has been made much more complicated by the rise of sites encouraging payments or, worse still, monthly subscriptions in exchange for their systems. These are rarely worth the cash and often replicate basic models.

If you want to experiment with betting systems, try tweaking the above to take into account other factors. It's not hard to add points for another factor, like weather, or simply to rule out betting on unproven trainers, for example.

To find the latest odds and form, and to place a few practice bets, visit Betfair Sports today!

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