My Philosophy and Systems
Making Money from Horseracing
I started gambling on horses when a friend introduced me to a betting shop when I was at university in 1965. My 2/- bet on a horse called Eloped won me 14/- and I was hooked. Only later did I learn that my father used to run bets for an underground bookie in the 1930s – so it was all in the genes!
For many years I picked horses based on my assessment of ‘form’. In line with the bookmakers’ margins of 13% or so and the, then, betting tax of 10% I probably lost money every year. Whilst raising a family I had to save my cash and took a break from gambling for several years.
In recent years, with the dropping of betting tax and the introduction of Betting Exchanges on the internet – where you can bet or lay horses with your fellow punters with a margin of only 1% – the opportunity to make a profit has increased considerably and my hobby has become a means of making money.
Gambling in casinos, either in person or over the internet, can be fun, but unless you are a skilful poker player, will inevitably lead to losses in the long run because of the casinos’ margins on all games of chance e.g. they win all the money when a zero comes up on the roulette wheel. With horses you can develop knowledge, experience, systems and expertise to give you an edge.
The Racing Scene
There are 14000 horses in training in Britain, with 1400 race meetings and 9000 races a year, so it is difficult to acquire a detailed knowledge and keep it all in your head. Fortunately racing papers such as the Racing Post, daily papers’ racing pages, the internet, form books and form ratings provide all the information you need.
All British and Irish races are now available on two dedicated TV racing channels – At the Races and Racing UK. These are available via SKY, cable and internet streams. Of course a visit to a race meeting has become a great day (or evening) out and facilities at many racetracks are excellent. In my area (South of London) I like Ascot, Sandown Park, Folkestone and Lingfield. (www.bhb.co.uk)
One of the advantages of attending a race meeting is that you can assess the appearance and the fitness of runners first hand.
Taking account factors such as form, trainers in form, the track characteristics, the state of the ground (‘going’) and the draw can produce a short list of horses to consider in each race. Around 60% to 70% of horses in training in any given year do not win a race (9800) leaving about 4200 horses winning all 9000 races, so previous race winning performance is a good indicator of future success.
I use commercial and free ratings which do all this analysis for me. I have found that Adrian Massey and Towerform provide a good record of winners, many at long odds, and produce a consistent profit on their top three or four rated horses. Of course, there can be lean periods at certain times of the year.
For my betting I use the Betfair almost exclusively. This is a betting exchange on the internet which nearly always offers far better odds than betting shops or telephone bookmakers, particularly on outsiders. For beginners there are comprehensive help screens and you can even buy a book ‘Betfair for Dummies’!
The minimum bet is £2 and I tend to bet singly on a short list of runners in each race, varying my stake to ensure a profit if one of my selections win. This way I win on 66% of races and make a sizeable profit when an outsider on my short list wins. Not for me multiple bets, each-way betting or staking systems.
I use software developed by family and friends to help identify horses to back that have a higher chance than the odds offered on the exchange would indicate. An Excel spreadsheet incorporates race details, ratings price information and value odds to provide this analysis.
A Mug’s Game?
Of course adverse publicity from time to time, suggests horse racing can be subject to rogue elements. Horses can be run unfit, at the wrong distance or with a belly full of water to disguise their true potential until the time comes for a betting coup. To me this adds to the intellectual challenge, which is why I enjoy this form of gambling so much. Knowing which trainers operate such gambles, and the signs that go with them is all part of the attraction to me.