Legend has it that the term ‘dutching’ comes from the mobster Arthur Simon Flegenheimer, better known as Dutch Schultz. He was Al Capone’s accountant and was involved in various rackets including a racetrack. Schultz is credited with coming up with the idea of dutching in the 1920s.
It is a system of betting used mainly in horse racing and football. Dutching involves backing several selections in the same event. The idea is to split the stakes in such a way that an equal profit is made regardless of the outcome. However, it is a risky strategy because if none of your horses wins, you lose everything. While it is sometimes lumped in with arbitrage betting, it is completely different because it does not guarantee a profit.
If you have ever been in a situation where you’re convinced one of three horses is going to win, but can’t pick one, dutching is for you.
Types of Dutching in Horse Racing
There are three main forms of dutching.
This is probably the best option for newcomers because it lacks the complexity of other dutching systems. All you have to do is select two or more horses and place either equal stakes or a reduced stake to guarantee a profit.
If you want to dutch with equal stakes, place the same amount on your preferred number of selections. In the screenshot above, putting £10 apiece on the two favourites guarantees a profit if one of them wins.
Alternatively, choose a reduced stakes dutching method where you bet less on the horse(s) at longer odds. In the screenshot above, I have a £10 bet on Topical at 2.26 and £7 on King of Tonga at 3.55. Once again, I will make a profit if either horse wins.
With this option, you limit the total stakes. You can either dutch with the same stakes or alter the stakes to ensure the same profit regardless of the winner. Using the above example with a stake limit of £20, you would bet as follows:
- £12.22 on Topical for a profit of £7.62.
- £7.78 on King of Tonga for a profit of £7.62.
You set the stakes accordingly, so you end up with a guaranteed profit. Using the two favourites for our race above with desired profit set at £20, you would need to stake the following:
- £32.07 on Topical
- £20.42 on King of Tonga
Therefore, you have to risk £52.49 for a profit of £20. It is an ROI of 38.09% but comes with a high level of risk attached.
What Are the Best Races for Dutching?
It should go without saying that you need to remain sensible with your stakes when dutching. Realistically, it is best to stick to one unit a race so if you normally bet £20 on a horse, keep your entire dutching stake to £20. It reduces profit but also increases your chance of being profitable.
It is best to focus on horses at the top end of the betting market although the number of horses you choose is up to you. Most dutching systems stick to 2-3 horses, but those figures aren’t set in stone.
As for the right ‘type’ of race, it is ideal if you can find events with several likely no-hopers. It isn’t unusual to find a 12-horse race with five runners at odds of 33/1+. While one of these outsiders will spring an upset now and again, careful selection of races should help reveal events where the field of contenders can be whittled down quickly. You should also take note of statistics.
Here are a few interesting facts about horses in the top 3 of the betting market; all data comes from the beginning of 2016 in UK races only:
- They make up 70.74% of all winners.
- NH races are the best option with 73.2% of winners.
- NH non-handicap races are even better with 84.43% of winners.
- Focus on NH non-handicap Chase events, and you end up with 88.33% of winners.
- Look at races with 1-10 runners, and the win rate becomes an incredible 91.41%!
Clearly, the best races are National Hunt non-handicap Chase events with 1-10 runners if you want to dutch the first three runners. For the record, in Class 3 races, 96.59% of winners are in the top 3 in the betting market so you would have to be pretty unlucky to pick a losing race! With over 200 Class 3 races fitting these criteria per year, and around 900 when all Classes are considered, you have plenty of opportunities when Jumps season comes around.
Oddly enough, there weren’t any examples of a non-handicap Chases when I was writing this article, so I chose a non-handicap Hurdle instead. It had 12 runners, but NH non-handicap Hurdle races with 1-12 runners are won by the Top 3 in the market 88.23% of the time, so it is hardly a bad choice.
However, as you will see, this particular race does not offer a great dutching opportunity. It is also a maiden which carries its own risks.
The betting market suggests five possible contenders. Even if you eliminate True Companion, is it a wise option also to dismiss Thelunarschooner? If you do and look at Lester Kris, Henry Smith, and Promise of Peace as your three dutching options, you have to decide how much you want to risk.
In this example, I had £30 to spare, so I placed the following bets to get approximately the same profit if any of the three horses wins (£15.74 or £15.75).
- £10.89 on Lester Kris at 4.2
- £10.64 on Henry Smith at 4.3
- £8.47 on Promise of Peace at 5.4
For the record, Henry Smith won the race, but Sad Eyed Dylan was second by 1.25 lengths, relief for the person who offered 64/1!
The race type doesn’t always matter if you believe there is a maximum of three possible winners in a race.
In this Auction Stakes race at Leicester, there is a clear favourite with only two horses likely to spring a surprise. Again, if you have £30 and want to spread the bets to receive even profit, you can earn £9.85 by doing the following:
- £18.28 on Over the Guns at 2.18
- £5.86 on Stellar Comet at 6.8
- £5.86 on Silkstone at 6.8
If you fancy Over the Guns to live up to his favourite’s tag, you can increase the bet and reduce the stakes on the other two. Again, it is an Auction Stakes, so there are risks attached because of the relative lack of experience of the runners. In the end, it would have been a good idea not to throw everything on the clear favourite because Over the Guns was well beaten into fourth place. For dutchers, Silkstone saved the day by winning the race by a neck.
Final Thoughts on Dutching
If the ‘total book’ on the race is below 100%, you could make a profit by backing every horse in the race. However, most races on the exchange have a book of 107% – 109% although I have spotted a 102% book on occasion.
Overall, if you decide to dutch on horse racing, it is best to stick to non-handicap races because favourites win a high percentage of the time. With no handicapper to make the race competitive, the best horses normally win.
National Hunt non-handicap races, in particular, are extremely biased towards favourites with Chase events the least competitive of all, especially in Class 3 races. Focus on these races, but don’t blindly back the top three if there is at least one more contender. Although dutching can be profitable in the long-term, you need a high win percentage to pull it off because a bad run can be very costly indeed.