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Making a Profit from Favourites at All Weather Tracks

(Last Updated On: June 6, 2016)

In this article I’ll look at the performances of favourites at All-Weather (AW) tracks in the UK. I will focus on Kempton, Wolverhampton, Lingfield and Southwell while leaving out Newcastle since it’s a relatively new AW track.

AW tracks get a bad rap as punters have become convinced that they offer little or no value for money; particularly when backing favourites. Bookmakers depend on ill-informed punters to make profit. They only expect you to look at surface data and make your selections based on what you find. Below, I will dig deeper to see if any surprising results appear.

How do Favourites Perform on AW Tracks?

If you blindly back favourites at any AW track, your ROI is poor at -5.33%. Here is the overall record of favourites at all four AW tracks mentioned above from 2012-2016:

BetsWinsStrike RateP/L (SP)P/L (Betfair)Lay (Betfair)
8662313936.24%-461.91-62.97-494.69

 

Wow! Over 461 units down overall, no wonder punters steer clear of AW tracks as on the surface, betting on favourites seems like a fast track to the poorhouse. Betfair offers a much better outcome but even then the 62 unit loss is extreme while laying favourites is actually worse than betting on them!

Things don’t look much better when you analyse each individual track over the same timeframe:

TrackBetsWinsStrike RateP/L (SP)P/L (Betfair)Lay (Betfair)
Kempton212472934.32%-108.68-5.11-135.77
Lingfield231085336.93%-166.41-61.97-80.46
Southwell121845337.19%-69.97-33.04-43.73
Wolverhampton3010110436.68%-116.8537.16-234.73

 

The strike rate of favourites at all four tracks is remarkably similar. Only Wolverhampton offers any profit since 2012 and that’s only on Betfair. Additionally, it’s clear that Betfair provides punters with the best value as losses incurred using the site are substantially lower than the standard SP.

What About Distance?

Let’s look at how favourites do in shorter races from 5f to 7f to see if sprints could be the way forward. These are the combined statistics for all four courses.

Bets WinsStrike RateP/L (SP)P/L (Betfair)Lay (Betfair)
4079150536.9%-123.4658.18-321.57

 

The strike rate is more or less the average. The overall loss of over 123 units is quite a bit better than the remarkable 461 unit loss over all distances although the ROI is not good at -3.03%. The Betfair profit of over 58 units is encouraging however.

What About Class?

A breakdown of the Class of race should be a little more revealing so let’s check it out. Again, I’m look at races from 5f to 7f.

ClassBets WinsStrike RateP/L (SP)P/L (Betfair)Lay (Betfair)
126830.77%-2.7-10.380.41
21094743.12%34.8440.87-49.38
31153933.91%-3.491.79-9.68
449015331.22%-70.94-43.9211.64
5162163138.93%-101.9-41.66-57.75
6163560136.76%23.8998.54-206.01
7832631.33%-3.164.7-10.8

 

Class 2 races really stand out with a 43% strike rate and more importantly, a profit of 34 units and spectacular ROI of +31.96%. Unfortunately, there have only been 109 such events since 2012 which means it’s a fairly small sample size.

It seems as if Class 6 races also offer some promise as you make an almost 24 unit profit on favourites; this corresponds to a pretty low +1.46% ROI however. With almost 1,800 races since 2012, a little more digging could help us find real value.

Sex of the Horse

Looking at how the different sexes performed in Class 6 events over 5f-7f on the four AW courses since 2012 revealed some interesting results:

SexBets Wins Strike RateP/L (SP)P/L (Betfair)Lay (Betfair)
Colt1857339.46%-0.664.62-16.36
Horse11545.45%3.78.11-5.31
Gelding101936733.65%33.6575.5-146.39
Filly 36814238.59%-1.8917.15-41.25
Mare521426.92%-10.91-6.843.3

 

From this set of data we can clearly see that backing Geldings is your best chance for profit as they offer a 33 unit profit (+3.3% ROI) which increases to a 75 unit profit (+7.41 % ROI) when taking the best odds available on Betfair each time.

So now we know the following:

  • Since 2012 backing favourites on all AW courses would give you an almost 462 unit loss.
  • This loss is reduced to 123 units when you focus on 5f-7f races only.
  • Class 2 races under this set of criteria offer the best profit with over 34 units.
  • Backing geldings that are favourites for Class 6 races under this set of criteria leads to an almost 34 unit profit.

I decided to make things a little more recent and focused on AW track results for favourites in 2015 and 2016 and noticed an instant improvement:

Bets Wins Strike RateP/L (SP)P/L (Betfair)Lay (Betfair)
244085835.16%-173.66-75.02-83.4

 

A 173 unit loss is still horrendous and the ROI is actually worse at -7.12%. I then looked at races from 5f-7f and the results improved slightly:

Bets WinsStrike RateP/L (SP)P/L (Betfair)Lay (Betfair)
111540135.96%-28.1422.23-96.68

 

Now there is a 28 unit loss (-2.52% ROI) in 2015 and 2016 compared to over 123 units in 2012-16. You may remember that Geldings performed well in Class 6 events over 5f-7f from 2012-16 but in 2015 and 2016, they provide a 20 unit loss for an ROI of -3.3%.

Using the same criteria, mares improve their performance with a 10.64 unit profit for an excellent ROI of +23.13%. The trouble is, there were only 46 possible bets during this timeframe.

Conclusion

The belief that finding value in favourites on AW surfaces is difficult is unfortunately true. While matters have improved since 2015, the 265 unit loss overall means detailed research is necessary.

Focusing on 5f-7f events certainly seems to be the way forward as it reduces losses at 123 units but no self-respecting punter should ever be content merely to keep losses to a minimum.

When we dug deeper we found the following criteria on AW tracks yield profit:

  • Class 6 – Geldings – 5f-7f – (2012-2016): 33.65 unit profit; +3.3% ROI.
  • Class 2 5f-7f – (2012-2016): 34.84 unit profit; +31.96% ROI.
  • Class 6 – Mares – (2015-2016): 10.64 unit profit; +23.13% ROI.

What we’ve learned is that finding value from favourites on the four All-Weather tracks takes a lot of effort. In reality, you’re pretty unlikely to ever make a consistent profit on AW favourites and even those that do will find the time spent researching is not worth the razor thin ROI.

While Class 2 races over 5f-7f seem to be the golden ticket, there are relatively few of these events each year.

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.

5 Comments

  1. This doesn’t mean that we can’t find winners at AW tracks. Just don’t rely on favourites. The best route is to back the runners of the top two or three trainers at each meeting especially if the horses are in form and ridden by the stable jockey. And even better if the horse is the trainer’s only runner at the meeting.

    1. Hi Stuart,

      The purpose of the article was to determine if favourites are worth backing on AW courses. Apologies if I implied that AW race betting itself was not profitable. Clearly, when you go beneath the surface there is always value to be had. It takes a lot of hard work and patience though!

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