I was sent a question recently about how often odds-on horses lose, and how much money they lose. When you bet odds-on you’re getting a very small return on investment if the horse wins, but… the idea is that they win very often!
Here at the Race Advisor we don’t want to guess, we dig into the statistics to find out the truth. So here we go…
All the data I’m going to be using comes from 2013. In that time there were:
The above results are to SP odds, and as you can see there was a loss of -6% and -114.96 units over the course of 2013. That’s a pretty hefty loss. If we were to look at horses that were odds-on to Betfair SP then we get:
As expected there are less selections because Betfair SP is usually higher than SP, and the return on investment is better at -4%. However, this is before we take into account commission!
If we take into account the 5% commission Betfair takes on winning bets then:
Now we can see that the difference between SP and BSP is only very small. In fact, Betfair SP fairs slightly worse because there were 295 less selections but we only lost 13.83 units less than SP. The reason for this is that the average odds for odds-on horses to SP is 1.637 and to Betfair SP, before commission, it is 1.67.
If our commission is 5% then the average BSP odds drop from 1.67 to 1.636. Very slightly worse than SP!
Straight away we can see that betting odds-on horses is a quick way to the poor-house. But let’s dig further to see if it’s possible to find an edge using SP odds.
In the table above you can see that odds-on runners won 59% of the time in 2013. That looks good at first glance, but we know their average odds are 1.637. If we calculate how often these horses should be winning based on odds…
1 divided by 1.637 = 0.61 or 61%
We can see that the odds indicate we should be winning 2% more often than we actually are. To break even on these runners we need to be betting at average odds of 1.69.
Unfortunately, it’s not as simple as only betting on horses with odds greater than 1.69 because this gives us a different group of selections which will change the requirements.
What we have to do is find information that the majority of the betting public aren’t considering. The first thing I’m going to choose is a statistic that I’ve mentioned numerous times in the past, the horses personal all time strike rate. Let’s start by only considering those runners with a strike rate higher than 25%, if they haven’t had a strike rate higher than 25% then should they really be odds-on?
As you can see this makes a huge difference. We’ve removed a large proportion of bets, although we still have nearly 2 selections per day, and we’ve reduced the loss from -114 to -32. Pretty good by only applying one rule!
But, is it reasonable to think that a horse who should be winning 61% of the time (according to the odds) should be considered if it’s only won 25% of it’s races. That’s a difference of 36%!
Personally, if odds-on selections should win an average of 61% of the time then I would want the individual runners to have achieved at least a 50% strike rate in their own career.
And this gives us…
Now we’re talking. Admittedly, we’re down to just under one bet a day, but we’re also only losing 1% of our stake money instead of the original 6%.
So the question is, how do we turn this into a profit?
And that’s a good question. I’m going to achieve this using just one more rule. That’s right, with just two rules we can turn unprofitable odds-on selections into profitable betting propositions. And that’s to SP. If you actually search bookmakers for the best odds, which you should be, then this is going to bring you even more profit.
I’m going to make this profit by using a rating I call DSLW. If you’re a Racing Dossier user then you’ll already be familiar with this rating because it’s included for every single race, every day in your software (as is the horse win percent).
What it stands for is Days Since Last Won. We’re looking for horses to run an exceptional race, most of these odds-on runners win by more than 4 lengths, and so we want to make sure that they haven’t won a race to recently.
Hang on, don’t you mean they should have won a race recently?
Nope. You read it read the first time. We’re looking for horses that haven’t won too recently because, when these horses win they’re raced hard. If they’ve won recently then it’s almost certainly going to be too soon for them to be back out again. Instead, they should be getting at least 30 days rest and gentle racing after a win before being pushed hard again, so I’m going to be looking for horses with more than 30 days since their last win.
But… with the same approach we also need to be aware that horses who’ve gone too long since their last win may struggle to come back to form in the race we’re betting on. With that thought in mind, I’m going to put an upper limit of 90 days since the last win as well.
Doing this gives us:
With just two simple rules we’ve gone from losing 6% on odds-on horses, to making 9% profit at SP!
Okay, admittedly we’ll only be getting just under 3 bets per week on average and 13.05 units a year isn’t going to allow you to retire. But… these selections win 70% of the time. The biggest drawdown in 2013 was just 3.12 units. That means that even using 10% of your bankroll on each bet, you should be more than safe in betting these selections. So, with just £1000 you could have made a profit of £1305 in 2013, a 130% increase in your bankroll.
Of course, you can improve on these results by doing some basic form reading and hunting down the best odds. We are after all, only taking into account three pieces of information. These are…
- Selections must be odds-on
- Selections must have won 50% or more of their races
- Selections must have won a race between 30 and 90 days ago
You’re probably wondering how this has fared so far in 2014. Well, up to the time of writing there have been…
There, you now have a new angle to add to your portfolio and with a little bit of extra time form reading, this can be devastatingly powerful due to the high strike rate it achieves!