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Horse Racing Tipsters – Are They Worth Your Time & Money?

This is a somewhat awkward topic I have chosen to cover since I work for a website that offers tips on horse racing!

I am personally not a tipster and admire anyone willing to risk their reputation to try and help punters earn a profit at the expense of the bookies.

However, for every reputable tipster with a proven track record, there are dozens (if not more) that give everyone else a bad name.

These are the people with wretched overall records who fluke a win now and then and shout ‘BOOOOOM’ after offering an exclusive tip at 1/3 such as Lionel Messi to score against Levante or Frankel to win his next race!

Genuinely successful tipsters have a lengthy and proven track record and are more likely to try and help you quietly than brag about their exploits on Twitter.

What is a Good ROI?

That’s the million-pound question when looking for reliable tipsters.

Legendary punter Patrick Veitch claims that he earned an ROI of 16.7% as he plundered an estimated £10 million off bookies during an eight-year spell. John McGrath, who was associated with Timeform for 35 years, said his ROI was around 10%.

Alex Bird, another famously successful punter, believed his ROI was close to the 3% mark. Presumably, this does not include his estimated 500 winners in a row which he achieved by spotting the optical illusion in photo finishes to pick the right outcome each time.

However, browsing the Internet I have seen some pretty amazing claims as to the success rate of tipsters:

  • The Rooster: 27.67% ROI from over 1,150 bets from 2014 to 2017.
  • Anonymous: An unnamed tipster with an ROI of 35.1% on over 1,300 bets since 2012.
  • Master Racing Tipster: 37% ROI and 30%-win rate.
  • Bet Alchemist: 15% ROI over a five-year period.
  • Flat Racing Master: 29% ROI from November 2015 to May 2017.
  • Hugh Taylor: 29% ROI over a seven-year period.

The list of horse racing tipsters providing huge ROIs seems to be endless. The question is: “Why are bookmakers not bankrupt?”

The Trouble with Tipsters

The main issue is that there are tens of thousands of so-called tipsters online but only a small percentage are worth a damn. The term ‘survivorship bias’ is used in financial industry to denote a tendency to view existing funds as a representative and comprehensive sample. It occurs because of the overestimation of a fund’s historical performance and general attributes.

Existing funds are more visible and viewed as a representative sample but other funds that have been closed and removed from the market are not taken into account. Therefore, only analysing existing funds is a mistake because no attention is given to the failures. The same thing happens in the world of tipping. You’ll note that successful tipsters tend to boast about their achievements whereas bad ones tend to vanish and return with a different name or website.

It’s a fact that the majority of ‘successful’ tipsters are merely in the midst of a lucky streak which will level off in the future. For all you know, they could have been prominent in the past, vanished, and returned to play punters for fools.

In the world of horse racing tipping, websites and ‘experts’ confuse you with false claims, weird graphs and staking strategies that don’t make sense in the real world. £2,000 profit in a month sounds great until you realise the person is betting £1,000 a time!

When analysing whether a service is worth your time, consider the profit in points per month. If you pay for a subscription, you have to take its cost into account. For example:

  • Your starting bankroll is £500 and the service recommends £10 bets so you have 50 points.
  • The tipster’s average monthly profit is 7 points which equates to £70.
  • The monthly subscription fee is £100.
  • Suddenly, your profit has now become a loss of 3 points.

Where Does the ROI Come From?

The problem with people quoting their ROI is that they are usually using the largest possible price for the horse which was available for seven seconds about nine hours before the race. If a tipster continues to claim that they backed 11/1 shots which were widely available at 13/2 in most places, their 10% ROI suddenly seems inflated.

When you use extremely popular services, there is minimal value because the sheer volume of bets on the selection results in price decay.

How many tipsters tell you precisely how they have calculated their ROI?

Here are four very different types of odds and each will bring you to a completely different profit level:

  • SP
  • Betfair SP
  • Advised Odds
  • Best Odds Guaranteed (BOG)

BOG will naturally provide the highest ROI and there is nothing wrong with tipsters quoting their profit margins using BOG as long as they tell you.

What’s irritating is when they use prices that are available for a couple of minutes and are essentially unattainable. To illustrate the difference, here are the profits of two Race Advisor offerings.

Eddie Lloyd’s UK Racing News Early Bird Tipping Service

Also known as UKRN, you can see the proofing here, Eddie outlines that you will have good and bad spells but will end up on the right side of the profit line.

It began in April 2013 and Eddie has achieved a 21% strike rate from 1170 bets. Here is the ROI according to the four odds types:

  • SP – 3%
  • Betfair SP – 13%
  • Advised Odds – 15%
  • BOG – 23%

There is a big difference between SP and BOG and frankly, for Eddie’s system to show any SP profit in over five years is very impressive indeed. Even at Betfair SP, you’re looking at an excellent profit. By the way, the ROI is even higher when you follow Eddie’s advised staking plan.

EyeCatcher Pro

This service has been available since August 2015 and has a 23%-win rate from 1409 bets. The proofing is available here, and here is the ROI according to each odds type:

  • SP – 9%
  • Betfair SP – 23%
  • Advised Odds – 12%
  • BOG – 20%

One of the best things about both services is the consistent level of profit. There are poor spells but you should be able to jump into either system at any time and record steady profit.

Don’t Forget Sample Size

Ideally, the tipster will have a consistent track record of monthly profit so you can boost your bankroll straight off the bat. However, lots of tipsters are guilty of advertising the profit earned during their best ever spell which is usually a very small sample size.

Rather than going into great detail with complex statistical analysis, let’s just say that in horse racing, where win rates are likely to be in the 20-30% range, you need a LOT more samples to justify blindly following a tipster than in football where win rates are usually above 50% due to shorter odds.

Sport Insights came up with a graph to show that when using a betting system with a 57%-win rate over 2,000+ games, you can be 95% confident that in the long-term, it will have a win rate of over 55%. A 5% margin of error seems okay but may be uncomfortably high for some punters.

Using Master Racing Tipster as an example, his 30%-win rate means you’ll need a lot more than a couple of hundred samples and there are very few tipping services with a track record longer than that. I viewed another website that highlighted the importance of large sample sizes. After 15 days and over 2,300 bets, its system produced a decent 5.77% yield. After several months and over 17,000 bets, the system produced a loss of 0.63%. Incidentally, the average odds used in the system was 9.9 which is admittedly rather high. However, horse racing tipsters routinely tip long odds horses and shout from the rooftops about their 12/1 winner while ignoring their recent 5%-win rate!

Losing Streak

Another issue with horse racing tipsters is that they embark on lengthy losing streaks regardless of how talented they are; that’s the nature of betting. Can your bankroll sustain 30-40 losses in a row? The lower the hit rate, the longer the possible losing streaks.

Strike Rate Probable Max Losing Streak – 50 Bets Probable Max Losing Streak – 500 Bets Probable Max Losing Streak – 1000 Bets
10% 37 59 66
20% 18 28 31
30% 11 17 19
40% 8 12 14

Even if you follow a tipster with a 30%-win rate over 1000 bets, there is a chance you will lose 19 bets in a row. At a 20%-win rate, the potential losing streak stretches to over 30 bets. It is entirely possible that within a 100-bet run, you will win just four or five times.

Should you begin using such a tipster during one of their bad runs, your bankroll could be depleted in a hurry. This is why it isn’t wise to use tipsters with relatively short track records. Also, it is unfair to judge recognised tipsters such as Hugh Taylor when he is going through a dodgy spell.

Strike Rate Probable Max Winning Streak – 50 Bets Probable Max Winning Streak – 500 Bets Probable Max Winning Streak – 1000 Bets
10% 2 3 3
20% 2 4 4
30% 3 5 6
40% 4 7 8

In contrast, the likely winning streaks are low but if you’re lucky enough to get seven in a row with odds of 4/1+, it feels like you’ve won the lottery! Please note that the above are probable maximums; you could feasibly have longer winning or losing streaks.

Incidentally, at a strike rate of 30%, it will take over 400 bets to experience five wins in a row on average and almost 170,000 bets to get 10 in a row! On average, it takes over 3,000 bets to win five on the spin when you have a win rate of 20%.

Final Thoughts

The purpose of this article was not to ‘name and shame’ specific tipsters but rather, to educate you when it comes to using them. Above all, you will need to decide on the betting bank and the stakes you’re willing to risk. For example, do you believe that 100 units will be enough if a tipster’s win rate is 30% and is therefore capable of tipping up to 20 losers in a row?

Experts suggest that your starting bank should be five times greater than the maximum likely losing streak. So, for a tipster with a 30%-win rate across 1,000 or so bets, that is 19 x 5 = 95 units. If you want to bet £10 a time, your starting bankroll would be £950. If you have faith in a tipster, don’t throw the towel in after a bad spell or two. You’re in the wrong sport if you want quick profit!

Finally, research tipsters thoroughly to make sure they are not affiliated with bookmakers. Such charlatans deliberately tip poor value bets and receive payment from bookies!

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Patrick Lynch

Patrick graduated from the National University of Ireland, Galway with an MA in Literature and Publishing but decided he would rather have the freedom of a freelance writer than be stuck in a publishing house all day. He has enjoyed this freedom since 2009 and has written thousands of articles on a variety of topics but sports betting is his passion. While his specialty is finding mismatches in obscure football leagues, he also likes to use his research skills to provide punters with detailed winning strategies in horse racing. You can check out his personal blog on www.lynchthewriter.com or Twitter @pl1982 where he writes content to help small businesses achieve success.

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10 Comments

  1. Without doubt all tipsters are scammers. Hundreds, probably thousands, exist all trying to make a quick buck instead of getting a proper job. Sadly, because there are even larger numbers of lazy idiots who listen to them, some make a living. How many make a long term profit at SP? Very few. SP is the only meaningful criteria to use because most people do not have accounts with every bookmaker under the sun and, even if they did, actually getting the prices quoted by the tipster is nigh on impossible. Also many results are skewed by one big price winner – miss out on that one for any reason and your profit soon becomes a loss. I also detest the ‘we hate the bookies’ mantra many tipsters spew out. On the rare occasion I might win £50 my immediate reaction is not ‘take that Betfred/Coral/whoever’. I am just pleased to win, I don’t feel any better because the bookmaker has lost.

    1. Thanks for reading, Robert. I think it is harsh to call ALL tipsters scammers; although there are a LOT of dodgy characters who excel at marketing but NOT at tipping winners. Your point about being too lazy to perform research is sadly true for a lot of people. As for ‘How many people make long-term profit at SP?’ the short answer is ‘Not many’. I once heard that only 3% of people make a long-term profit in betting overall. As I have sadly discovered with my obscure football betting wins, those few percent are quickly weeded out and restricted. Your points on missing big price winners and not getting the best odds are 100% correct.

  2. A very interesting article and should help people to sort the wheat from the chaff. It made me realise that you are probably better off choosing your own selections.

    1. Thanks for reading, John. Only exceptional tipsters are worth spending any money on. Horse racing is notoriously hard to profit from and with so few people who win, it is hardly a surprise that some people hand over money to tipping services. Most people would be advised to view horse racing betting as a bit of fun rather than a way of making a steady income; just my two cents!

  3. I do make profits from using tipsters, one is paid for, the other is free. However if the price available is less than the one they advise I do not bet. In most cases I do mange to obtain the price they quote. Making a profit at SP is I believe almost impossible, betting at early prices normally gives you the 10% difference that is crucial in making a profit.

    1. Thanks for reading, Michael. The difference between SP, Betfair Exchange and BOG is stark. I agree that long-term profit via SP is nigh-on impossible.

      1. Loved the article and find myself in agreement with other respondents…tipsters are, generally speaking, a waste of time and money, with most ultimately failing, and some miserably so. My advice… ALWAYS take a FREE trial, NEVER bet on any of the selections until you see the results of the trial, and then be highly sceptical about the service going forward.

  4. An excellent article, Patrick, and thank you for taking the time to pass on your thoughts. There is one major obstacle to making any profit from horse racing and that isn’t the tipsters, it’s the bookmakers themselves. Following any established tipsters who show a regular profit will simply result in having restrictions placed on your account(s) or having them closed altogether. I have accounts with a number of online bookmakers but five of them now restrict me. The latest was Betbright. I hadn’t used them in a long time but noticed they were offering the best odds on a horse that I wanted to back. I placed £10 to win at 9/2. The horse was beaten favourite at 9/4 and the following morning I received an e-mail telling me I would no longer be eligible for BOG or any other promotions. I have my own selection method which is showing 150 points profit over a 13 month period and I’m wondering how much longer it will be before others place similar restrictions on my activities. And that’s me only betting to level £10 stakes!! It’s difficult to make an “honest” living. lol

    1. Hi Roy, glad you enjoyed it! Don’t talk to me about betting restrictions!!! Most of my bets go on football and I have been restricted by practically every online bookmaker in the last couple of years. I am in the process of creating an ebook to share my methodology incidentally. Paddy Power recently announced profits of £1.9 billion I think, yet I get restricted for winning a couple of grand. The existing regulations stink and need to be changed.

  5. Interesting article,but i would have liked to see more about some of the horrendous scams that fill our inboxes at regular intervals.I can spot most of them,but a fuller explanation of these would be useful.On the subject of sp i made a living many years ago now placing comission bets on the Northern circuit..Now it was before the tax in shops was altered,but they were paying me to get their bets on usually at first show in the ring.The fact that there was so much more profit in first show than sp for them to pay me shows that there is little profit in sp.

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