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Simplifying Horse Racing: The Ultimate Guide

Horse racing is a complicated sport. It’s a sport that contains a lot of numbers. Heck, I’m not sure even math challenges have as many numbers as horse racing. In this guide I’m going to simplify horse racing and winning. I’m going to break it down into its core components so you have everything you need to begin your journey to betting profits.

It’s important to know that winning at horse racing doesn’t have to be difficult. Of course, there are advanced strategies and techniques which, most of the time, will generate a higher profit than the simpler ones. But you don’t need to start with them. A profit is a profit, and once you’re generating a profit, then you can learn more advanced techniques. Get the simple approach working first, and then move forwards if you want to. (but you may choose to just keep it simple!)

Not sure how you’re going to simplify horse racing? Well… that’s where this ultimate guide comes in!


About The Author

Simplifying Horse Racing: The Ultimate Guide 1 This is me, Michael Wilding, (and my son) and I’m the creator of the Race Advisor and the Race Advisor Pro Members Club.

Over more than a decade I’ve found that horse racing bettors try to complicate the process of finding selections. And I know that feeling, I used to do it myself. It’s not surprising considering that there’s a mountain of information available for each horse, and it seems inconceivable that anything simple may work.

I’m here to tell you that, with over a decade of experience helping bettors turn their betting profitable, simple doesn’t just work, it works the best.

This guide is written for those of you who are getting overwhelmed with where to begin your journey to profitable betting, how to get started and what to do. It’s also for those of you with more experience who may be questioning whether it has to be so difficult. Whether you’re new to horse racing or have years of experienced, you’re going to find simplifying is the best thing you’ve ever done.


Chapter 1: Removing The Noise

When you first open a horse race there’s a lot of noise. The best horse racing strategies have between five and eight factors. I’ve seen some with just three and some with ten. However, as a rule of thumb, once you consider more than ten factors you start to muddy the waters.

There’s no way you’re going to find more than ten totally independent factors. If you’re taking into account two factors that measure the same thing, or measure a bit of the same thing, then you’re going to be giving too much importance to that element without realising it.

We’ve tried to reduce the noise as much as possible by providing members with a default race card which only has the essentials on it.

Horse Racing Race Card

But as you can see, at a first glance there still seems to be an overwhelming amount of information.

In order to get over this and remove the initial noise that we’re facing, we’re going to break the card into sections. As we do this we’re going to remove sections from our thought process until we’re just concentrating on a limited part of the race card.

To start, we’re going to ignore everything in the top part of the race card for now, and focusing purely on the race card itself.

Horse Racing Race Card Buttons

On the far left of the race card there are a series of buttons, these contain functions which we’re not going to need at the moment, so we can remove those from our thought process.

Horse Racing Race Card Basic Form

The information that is just to the right of these buttons is the standard horse racing information. You can see the jockey silks, and then we have fields such as cloth number, draw, age, horse name, recent form, jockey, trainers, jockey and trainer strike rates, weight and official rating.

All of this is interesting information, but for the moment all we’re interested in from this section is the Jockey and Trainer strike rate.

Horse Racing Odds Lines

Next we come to the odds lines available within the Race Advisor Pro Members Club, and we’re interested in just two of these. The PR Odds, which is our own odds line, and the BF Odds which are the live Betfair odds.

You’ll notice that some horses BF Odds have arrows next to them. This indicates which way the market is moving, and it’s something we’re not interested in at the moment.

Horse Racing RatingsThat leaves us with the ratings available on the standard race card. There’s a mixture of form, speed, trainer, jockey and compiled ratings (the sort which are made from a number of other ratings compiled together).

In order to determine whether we want to bet on a horse we’re going to need some information to indicate how well it’s likely to perform. We’re only going to need the RR, 5278 CFR, DSLGR. These are the most important elements of any race.

Don’t worry about what these shortenings mean at the moment, what’s important  is that the race card now looks like this…

Horse Race Simple Race Card

There are six items that we’re considering on the race card, nothing more. We’re left with a much simpler set of information to use to find the winner in a horse race.

Here’s what we’ve done:

  • Taken the basic race card and removed the race information from the top
  • Stopped considering any other options which may be available such as pace, horse history etc.
  • Removed unnecessary information such as horse name and jockey name
  • Only considered the six most important elements of a race.

Removing the noise from a race card is the first step in simplifying the process of finding winners. If you’re trying to take too much information into account, if you’re anything like me then it’s going to send your head into a spin.

We’ve got to have clear heads if we want to find the winners.

So… we strip everything out from the race card that is unnecessary and leave ourselves with just the core information that’s needed to find winners.

Because we’re stripping away so much information to simplify, we need to make sure we’re focusing on specific races where are core information is the best at predicting the winners.

Chapter 2: What Races To Focus On

There are many types of horse race in the UK and IRE, and they’re not made equally. This is often considered to be a negative from a bettors perspective. Because we have so many different types of horse racing, it makes the analysis that much more complicated.

Which I guess is true.

But… we can turn it to our advantage!

Depending on the strategy we’re using to find our winners, we can pick and choose the races that we actually want to bet on. Unlike the bookmaker we don’t need to bet in every single race, we can be specific.

Simplifying is all about making things as quick, easy and efficient as possible.

To understand which races we should be focusing on, we first need to understand the information we’re going to use to find our winners.


Trainer & Jockey Strike Rate

The trainer and jockey strike rates are the percentage of winning races a trainer or jockey has had. On our race cards these are defaulted to their races over the last fourteen days.

Horse Racing Trainer & Jockey Strike Rates

In the above example you can see that the horse Abanica’s trainer, Mrs A Perrett, has had a 17% strike rate in the last fourteen days. The jockey, P Dobbs, has had a strike rate of 21% in the last fourteen days.

This means the trainer has won 17% of her races in the last fourteen days, and the jockey has won 21% of his races in the last fourteen days.

PR Odds & BF Odds

We left ourselves with two odds lines. The PR Odds is are created by the Race Advisor’s unique algorithms and show what we believe the odds for each horse in the race should be.

The BF Odds are the Betfair odds currently available for each horse to win the race.

These odds lines provide us with an overview of every horse and how well we can expect it to perform, as well as indicating which should offer value. We’re going to be using the markets heavily in our simplification of horse racing as it’s the quickest way to reduce the number of horses that could win.

RR, 5278 CFR & DSLGR

There are three ratings which we’re using to find our winners. These are..

RR (Reynolds Ranking). This rating is a compilation of all the ratings on the race card. The lower the number the better.

5278 CFR. A compiled form based rating, we use a number of other form based ratings to compile a single rating as a form overview. Rather than provide a raw figure, e.g. 35 or 197, we provide a ranking with the best horse being 1, the second best horse being 2 etc. Depending on race conditions the top four horses will win between 52% and 78% of the time.

DSLGR (Days Since Last Good Race). The rating I can’t let go, it’s kinda like a bad cold, and it’s back again. This simple piece of information is incredibly powerful and forms the cornerstone of the majority of my betting approaches. We want our horses to be performing well recently, yes sometimes we’ll miss the winner, but in the long-term this will work in our favour.


From a closer look at the information we’re going to be using to find the winner, and knowing that “We’re going to be using the markets heavily…” we want to choose races where the favourites win more often.

On average, across all races, the favourite will win 34% of the time.

The first three horses in a race win an average of 68% of the time and the first four horses win 87% of the time!

If you were to bet on the first four horses in every race, you’d only lose 2.20% of your stake at Betfair SP.

This means that in order to make a profit, we’ve only got to find 2.21% advantage.

Now that doesn’t sound too bad!

In order to do this we’ve got to have enough information about the horses for our ratings to make sense. This means we want the first four horses in the market to have had at least three races each for our ratings to be providing accurate enough information about the horse.

Any race where this isn’t the case, we skip and move on.

During this chapter we’ve found…

  • The first three in the market win 68% of the time
  • The first four in the market win 84% of the time
  • We want the first four horses in the race to have had at least 3 previous races

Now that we’ve defined the races we’re going to be focusing on, we can look at the horses in the race and simplify the process of finding the ones most likely to win the race.

Chapter 3: Which Horses To Ignore

Some races have more than twenty runners, and others have just five runners. Obviously it’s far easier to select a winning horse in a race with just five runners. Unfortunately there’s not enough of those races for us to be able to do that.

The good news is that there’s always a few horses in a race that have absolutely no chance of winning.

In a similar way to how we removed the noise from a race card to simplify the process of finding winners, we’re going to do the same for the horses in the race before we start looking for the winner.

We already know that we’re going to use the market heavily, and our race conditions are based on this information, so we’re going to use this information to reduce the runners that don’t have a chance.

At this point we’re going to give some consideration to the bankroll size that you’re going to be using, and we want to keep it as small as possible.

That means we’ll ignore any horse which has less than a 5% chance of winning the race. A 5% chance of winning a race equates to odds of 19/1 or 20.00. So… any horse with odds higher than 20.00 (19/1) can be removed.

Horse Racing Eliminations

Simply sort the race card in order of the BF Odds and find the horses with odds of higher than 20.00. In this race at Bath at 21:10 there is just one, Swendab. Clicking on the X to the left of the horses row will remove the horse from the card.

Now we can use our DSLGR to find other horses to ignore. To do this we sort the race card by DSLGR.

Horse Racing DSLGR

Any horse which hasn’t had a good race in more than 365 days should be ignored. Yes, some of them will win. But they won’t win often enough to make it worth betting on them, so get rid of them.

Regal Miss is the only horse which meets this criteria in our example.

There are just two types of horses we want to ignore, these are…

  • Any horse who has less than a 5% chance of winning the race, which is odds higher than 20.00 (19/1) can be ignored
  • Any horse who hasn’t had a good race (DSLGR) within the last 365 days should be ignored

Now that we’ve found the horses to ignore, it’s time to move on to finding the horses that are going to win!

Chapter 4: Finding Your Winners

This is the fun part of simplifying horse racing. As with everything else in this guide, we’re going to keep it as simple as possible.

We’re going to be betting on the horses which meet at least 3 of our 6 criteria.

Wait… we’ve not set any criteria yet!

But we have. In Chapter 1 we chose six pieces of information that we are going to use to find the winners. In . Chapter 2 we determined that the first four favourites won 84% of the time. In Chapter 3 we used the BF Odds and the DSLGR to ignore horses with only a small chance of winning.

Which means that the remaining horses have already fulfilled one out of the three criteria we require!

  1. They’ve had a good race in the last 365 days

Now we highlight the top four in the betting by clicking on the horses row.

Horse Racing Contenders

When you click on a row with the horse in it highlights it green so you can see it easily. These four horses meet their second criteria as being in the top four of the live BF Odds.

Next we check the Trainer and Jockey strike rate column to see if any of our horses are in the top four for this factor.

Simplifying Horse Racing: The Ultimate Guide 2

In this particular race you can see that there’s not much difference between the runners. None of the trainers or jockeys have performed particularly well in the last 14 days. Toolatetodelegate, Camanche Grey and Shackled N Drawn both have either a trainer or jockey that has had a 7% strike rate, but with so little variation between all the runners, I would choose to consider that none of the horses meet this criteria.

Horse Racing Odds Line

Sorting the race by PR Odds we can see that Sweet Forgetme Not is falling outside of the top four for this rating, but the other three runners meet their third criteria now.

Simplifying Horse Racing: The Ultimate Guide 3

Moving to the RR (Reynolds Ranking) rating, and sorting the race card by this column, we can see that Sweet Forgetme Not doesn’t meet the criteria here either, but the other three horses now meet four criteria.

Horse Racing Factors

Finally we sort the race card by the 5278 CFR rating. This shows us that yet again Sweet Forgetme Not and Ar Saoirse don’t meet the criteria. Leaving us with:

Toolatetodelegate 5/6 criteria met

Cool Strutter 5/6 criteria met

Ar Saoirse 4/6 criteria met

Sweet Forgetme Not 2/6 criteria met

As Sweet Forgetme Not hasn’t met at least three of the criteria, we now ignore this horse.

  • Sort the race card by each rating and see if the horse is in the top four for that rating
  • Make a note of how many ratings the horse is in the top four for
  • Add to this a score of one for having had a good race in the last 365 days
  • Ignore any horse that hasn’t met at least three criteria

Having gone through this simple process, we’ve highlighted the horses which are most likely to win in this race. Yes, sometimes we will have removed the winner, we can’t win every race, but you will get a very high strike rate of winners by dutch betting these horses.

Conclusion

Through this guide we’ve looked at how we can simplify finding winners in horse racing. It doesn’t have to be complicated, and it doesn’t have to take a long time. In fact it’s better if it doesn’t. You should start by keeping everything as simple as possible, and then only getting more advanced later.

I’ve used the software and ratings from the Race Advisor Pro Members Club, which you can trial here. However, you can use the same approach using different ratings and factors should you wish too. The steps are the same and should be followed in the order above of:

  1. Removing The Noise
  2. What Races To Focus On
  3. Which Horses To Ignore
  4. Finding Your Winners

Make sure to keep the number of pieces of information you’re using between three and ten.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this guide, whether you enjoyed it and would like to see more of them, or if I’ve left something out that you’d like to have seen it. Maybe you just want to tell me who you’re betting on this evenings 21:10 race at Bath. Whatever your thoughts, I’d love you to leave me a comment below and let me know.

Michael Wilding

Michael started the Race Advisor in 2009 to help punters improve their betting profits and think outside the box with their betting strategies. To date he has written over 450 articles on the site and recently started UK Racing News which has become a leading news site for horse racing in the UK and IRE. Check out my personal blog or my Google+

6 Comments

  1. This information makes so much sense and I had not thought about it this way. Very enlightening. Will you be moving on to the advanced techniques as well. If you do I would be interested in purchasing the pro membership. Brilliant work.

    1. Thank you very much. Over the coming weeks I will be writing various posts, some will be more advanced strategies, some will be about other elements of betting such as staking, bankrolling, downswings, mindset etc.

      Anything you’d like to see then please let me know 🙂

  2. Very interesting article, but I was disappointed that you narrowed it down to three selections and said all three should be backed. I would much rather have just one selection in a race. Also, you say to look at all races where the first four in the betting have at least 3 previous runs. That would not exclude very many races, and on a busy Saturday you could still have aound 40 races to check, which would take a long time. And finally, you say to start by removing any horse with a price of 20 or more (that’s fine) and also any horse which has not had a good run in the last year. The problem with removing these at this stage is that some of them may be in the first four of the betting, so your list of the first four may not be the true first four; they may include the fifth or sixth (if one or two have been removed). Is this the intention? Thanks for a good article anyway.

    1. Thank you for the comment and feedback, it’s always good to hear from you. Dutching is one of the best ways to get started betting because not only does it confirm the fact that almost no race has a single possible winner, but it significantly increases the strike rate and that hugely decreases downswings, which is better for mindset and for the size of bankroll required. It’s also one of my favourite methods of staking, so I may be slightly biased 🙂 But I completely understand if you prefer to bet on a single horse in a race, I will be writing techniques and approaches for this in the future.

      The aim is to not remove too many races. Having supported thousands of bettors building strategies, it’s very common to want to try and analyse every race. Despite my best efforts, I find that a lot of bettors still do this and rather than simply saying you shouldn’t, I now try and show some approaches where this can be done but you’re narrowing the fields down correctly. Over time you learn the races you prefer and which generate you the most profit and you self-limit. This has proven to be a far more effective way of training to bet profitably rather than setting down fixed rules which often aren’t followed.

      Good question regarding removing a horse in the top four of the market because of the odds. If you removed the fourth horse in the market, then you’d be down to just the top three in the market, you shouldn’t consider the fifth, sixth etc. in the market.

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