There’s a lot of information out there about how favourites in horse racing finish, but what about the second favourites?
We know that the majority of winners come from the first four or five in the betting. But when people are looking for betting systems they always start with the favourite.
Of course, there’s a few reasons for that. One of those reasons being that favourites win the most often and generally punters like to have more winners.
But more winners generally means less profit as you sacrifice your return for a higher strike rate.
So what about these second favourites… can we make a profit from them?
In the UK and IRE in 2015 there were 13,003 second favourite horses.
Of these 2583 won for a strike rate of 19.86%.
Not a bad starting point. The only problem is that they returned 8969 to SP and 9869 to Betfair SP. Which once you’ve taken off the 10420 losing bets means a loss of -1451 units to SP and -551 units to Betfair SP.
At a first glance that looks pretty grim.
But… that’s -11% ROI to SP and -4.23% to Betfair SP, which in fact is not a bad starting point. Particularly considering there’s no kind of analysis at all and you would have been betting an average of 36 selections a day.
Let’s look at the breakdown of second favourites by race type:
That provides us with some very interesting information. We can immediately see that on Flat Turf and Chase Turf second favourites perform significantly better and both have a decent quantity of bets.
Let’s focus our attentions on just those race types going forwards. Starting with Flat Turf races…
|<= 7 Furlongs||437||2230||-162.05||-7.27%|
|> 7 Furlongs and < 2 Miles||388||1914||-98.88||-5.17%|
|>= 2 Miles||23||129||-14.83||-11.50%|
And then looking at Chase Turf races…
|>= 2 Miles and < 3 Miles||282||1324||-117.38||-8.87%|
Looking at the original ROI’s and comparing, we can see that we should be focusing on Flat Turf races that are between seven furlongs and two miles and Chase Turf races that are three miles or longer.
But what happens if we look at these to Betfair SP instead of SP:
|> 7 Furlongs and < 2 Miles||388||1914||53.89||2.82%|
If you’d simply bet second favourites in Flat Turf races between seven furlongs and two miles, and Chase Turf races three miles or longer at Betfair SP… you’d have made +92.37 units profit.
Oh yes, that’s after a 5% commission, and with more than 100 wins in both that is also statistically significant.
If you’re looking to find contenders then this can be a great way to start and then use these horses as your shortlist to form read further.
Of course, if you have access to other ratings then you can use these to refine your shortlist further. For example, I’ve looked at a horse’s average speed rating over the same race type and then looked at which horses had the highest (ranked 1) down to the lowest.
Here is what I found…
This allows us to reduce our shortlist of contenders further. Those selections we find with Flat Turf we can further reduce by only considering those ranked four or worse for their average speed figure over the same race type.
You may be wondering why the profit is coming from the horses that haven’t performed as well on this race type and why we’re skipping those horses ranked two and who have made a profit.
The reason the horses ranked one and three don’t make a profit is because the market has already taken account of the fact that they have been the fastest runners on this race type in the race. Because this has been taken into account by the market the odds are now too low for us to make a profit on them.
The reason horses ranked two are making a profit is most likely due to not having enough data collected yet. I would expect to see that profit to get eroded the more bets we place, which is why I have ignored it.
Horses ranked four or worse are being under-estimated by the market which is why they made a profit in 2015.
Looking at our contenders on Chase Turf races we see a similar issue with horses ranked one for average speed over the same race type, apart from this we see a steady increase in Profit as a horse’s rank gets worse.
This kind of linear improvement in Profit is a good indication and again we would want to be concentrating on horses ranked four or worse where the market is underestimating their ability.
You can use these rules to find contenders. Once you’ve found your contenders then investigate them further to determine whether you should place a bet on them or not. You can also use the same process I’ve done here to discover the best way to use different factors to reduce your shortlist further.