Creating Micro-Systems From Changes In Racing

Researched by Patrick Lynch

The trouble with horse racing betting systems is that we’re never sure if and when a change to the sport will affect them. The average punter is guilty of completely ignoring external events in the mistaken belief they have no impact. This is an illogical conclusion. It is hard to believe that a different approach to breeding, an increase in prize money, or more obviously, a change to a track, will NOT affect results.

For many years, British racing had been accused of being in the doldrums. Low prize money was leading to the best horses being snatched away by foreign investors who raced these potential superstars in Hong Kong and America. While the money has increased, there are still a fair number of races with just four-figure sums up for grabs.

For decades, the list of racecourses remained the same, barring a few that folded. When Great Leighs opened in 2008, it was the first brand new course to open in the UK since 1928! It didn’t last long; 9 months in fact! It was reopened as Chelmsford City in 2015.

Whether there are subtle or obvious changes to British racing, the question is:

Can we use them to create a micro-system or two?

As you are surely aware, the average horse racing better system doesn’t last too long. Punters or bookies uncover the ‘secret,’ and the odds tumble to the point where the system isn’t profitable anymore, even if the win percentage remains the same.

It is a constant battle, and only studious and hardworking bettors can hope to survive and then thrive. Logically, finding changes, the more minute, the better, is key in our constant war against bookmakers, and one another! I would encourage you to find these changes, whether it is a change in the Going or the propensity for older horses to win certain events.

Today, however, I am going to look at a couple of recent course changes to see if any micro angles can be found. When creating any system, remember that what happened in the past doesn’t mean it will happen in the future. Try to figure out why a system works. When you do, you’ll know how to create many more like it when your existing ones reach their sell-by-date.

Newcastle All-Weather

Backing Favourites

Newcastle Racecourse is located at Gosforth Park and was first opened in 1882. It held Flat and National Hunt races for over 120 years, but in 2013, the owners of the track announced plans to switch the Flat track to an All-Weather tapeta track. The project was completed in 2016, and the first AW event at Newcastle was held in May 2016.

To date, there have been just over 1,200 AW races at Newcastle so let’s see if we can find any profitable angles. One very interesting fact is that blindly backing all clear favourites on Newcastle’s AW track leads to a Betfair loss of just 1.24%.

In fact, had you backed all clear favourites in 2016, you would have made a profit of over 10% as they won 5% more often than expected.

Focus on clear favourites in Handicap races only, and you would have a Betfair exchange profit of 0.27%.

An interesting micro system looks at favourites in 7f races. Unlike favourites in general, 2016 was a loss over this distance. However, things have picked up ever since with three consecutive years of profit. All told, since the start of 2017, here is how favourites perform over 7 furlongs:

Bets Wins Strike Rate ROI (BF) A/E
118 39 33.05% 9.57% 1.02

This micro system is running hot in 2019 with a 47%-win rate and a Betfair profit of almost 33%.

If you’re intent on getting your money’s worth, it is perhaps wise to focus on favourites with SP odds of 3.00+.

Bets Wins Strike Rate ROI (BF) A/E
76 23 30.26% 23.36% 1.17

The win percentage doesn’t drop much at all, and the A/E figure is much higher. Therefore, it is hardly a surprise to find that the profit increases to 23%. For the record, profit at SP prices is 17%.

Laying Course Winners

There is often a bias towards course winners. I would advise you to go down a different route at Newcastle. It is a risky tactic but one that has borne fruit since 2017. Lay course winners at Newcastle in Handicap races. There is an average of almost three-course winners per race, but they win only 35.61% of races between them.

Moreover, if you laid every single one of these horses, you would win 87.4% of your bets and earn a profit of 12.21%, or 206 units, in doing so.

If this seems too risky, focus on laying course winners in Handicap races who are NOT favourites. Doing so increases your win rate to 91.42%, and your profit goes up to 16.69% or 231.5 units on Betfair.


James Bethell seems to do well from our perspective at Newcastle’s AW track. Here is his entire record:

Bets Wins Strike Rate ROI (BF) A/E
136 23 16.91% 84.08% 1.20

This includes five wins from 21 so far in 2019 for a profit of 84%. The win rate goes up to 19.59% in Handicap races, but the profit falls to 49.5%.

Ben Haslam is another who is worth focusing on at Newcastle’s AW track. He provides his share of nice-priced winners:

Bets Wins Strike Rate ROI (BF) A/E
147 24 16.33% 94.95% 1.39

Haslam is enjoying a terrific 2019 with 12 wins from 39 and a Betfair ROI of 174%. His record in Handicaps only is slightly better with a win rate of 19% and a profit of 119%.

Chelmsford City All-Weather

The theory behind Great Leighs was a sound one. While there is a racecourse for every million people in Britain, there was none in Essex at the beginning of the 21st century, nor were there any tracks in Hertfordshire which one of Essex’s neighbours. As a result, John Holmes, and his son, Jonathan, opened Great Leighs in Essex.

The first race took place in April 2008 with the first public meeting on May 28 of that year. The relative lack of visitor facilities took a toll, and the course was closed in early 2009. It was reopened under the name Chelmsford City in January 2015, and it has held close to 2,000 races on its Polytrack surface since.

As it happens, 2019 is the best year to date for favourites with a win rate of over 38% and a profit of over 5%. It is the first year where simply backing clear favourites at Chelmsford would prove fruitful. In all likelihood, it is an anomaly, and the win rate will return to the 34-35% it showed during the first four years.

2yo Horses

On early angle involved 2yo maiden favourites but there have been just 11 such races since 2017. However, there seems to be a profitable micro system focusing on 2yo favourites in general:

Bets Wins Strike Rate ROI (BF) A/E
268 114 42.54% 6.79% 1.00

It is a higher than average win rate for favourites and has increased markedly in the last year and a half. In fact, if you focus on the data from the beginning of 2018, you get the following:

Bets Wins Strike Rate ROI (BF) A/E
83 41 49.4% 21.33% 1.08

It is hard to argue with an almost 50%-win percentage! I discovered something fascinating, which boosted the profit by a lot. Look at what happens when you bet on 2yo favourites at Chelmsford City at SP odds of 2.10 or greater (again since the start of 2018):

Bets Wins Strike Rate ROI (BF) A/E
51 26 50.98% 41.18% 1.38

The win rate actually goes up! There have only been three such races in 2019 at the time of writing, but there were 48 in 2018; 39 of which were run from August onwards.


David Simcock is one of the most prolific trainers at Chelmsford and is also one of the best for punters. Here is his overall record at the track:

Bets Wins Strike Rate ROI (BF) A/E
257 48 18.68% 18.83% 1.11

He shows a profit without any filters! Moreover, this profit has been available on Betfair exchange every year since the course reopened. His strike rate isn’t fantastic, but that’s because he seldom has the favourite. Only about 12% of his runners are favourites!

Simcock is even better when you focus on Handicap races only:

Bets Wins Strike Rate ROI (BF) A/E
167 36 21.56% 53.56% 1.35

He is having a poor 2019 with just three wins from 31 races, yet the odds you get for his winners are good enough to provide a profit! You’ll also make a profit from backing his horses to place; 41.92% have done so in handicaps for a profit of around 17% by using the Betfair place market.

Final Thoughts on Micro Systems Based on Recent Changes

I decided to keep things simple when creating micro systems based on relatively recent changes. I would encourage you to investigate other changes, regardless of how minor they seem. Remember, if you focus on the same data as other bettors, you will ultimately lose in the long-term.

If you want to find an edge, you will have to work VERY hard for it!

We may not like bookies, but let’s face it, they are constantly adapting to changes. To beat them and your fellow punters, you must concentrate on doing the same.

Many punters are obsessed with finding ‘magic’ systems that provide year after year of profit. In reality, there are a few such systems, but they are incredibly rare. The smart bettor moves with the times, spots a winning trend, and latches on. More importantly, they know when it is no longer profitable.

Here is a recap of what to look for:

Newcastle AW

  • Clear favourites in 7f races with SP odds of 3.00+.
  • Lay non-favourites in Handicap races who are course winners.
  • Horses trained by James Bethell and Ben Haslam.

Chelmsford City AW

  • 2yo favourites, especially those with SP odds of 2.10 or higher.
  • Horses trained by David Simcock, especially in Handicap races.
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