When a bet is placed on a horse, there are two choices: a selection system can be used to identify those horses which should be layed to lose or backed to win, or random amounts of money can be placed on randomly selected horses running in randomly selected races i.e. not use a selection system at all.

In my opinion, the use of a bad selection system is better than not using a selection system at all.

This may seem a strange thing to say, but here’s why:-

If random amounts of money are placed on randomly selected horses running in randomly selected races the results and the profits/losses will also be totally random.

This makes it very difficult to analyse the past results in any meaningful way.

Therefore, it will be almost impossible to improve the strike rate and thus the profitability of the system. More importantly, it will be difficult to stem any losses because the reasons for the losses will be totally random and therefore unknown.

If random amounts of money are placed on randomly selected horses running in randomly selected races, then good luck, you may well need it.

If a system is used to select horses, no matter how bad it is, at least the past results can be analysed in a meaningful way.

If the past results can be analysed, then it is likely that those factors which cause the system to win or lose can be identified.

As a result, the system can be modified in order to bring about an improvement in its performance. This, in turn, will lead to an increase in the system’s strike rate and a subsequent increase in the system’s profitability.

So, now you know why it is important to use a system. So where do we find a system?

Firstly, from within ourselves.

Most people who are drawn to horse racing have opinions about horses and the outcome of the races that they run in.

If you are such a person, now is your chance to prove yourself by creating a winning system.

Secondly, if we don’t have our own system and can’t or don’t want to create one, we could consider obtaining one.

Horse racing and betting Internet forums are a good source of systems.

Some may have to be purchased but others may be absolutely free.

Thirdly, we could obtain the tips generated by a system rather than obtaining the system which generates them. Again, the internet is a good source.

Some tips may have to be purchased but others may be absolutely free.

Here is an example of a system which is in the public domain:

The theory behind this system is that it is rare for a horse to be foot-perfect from the start of a race to its finish.

Most make at least one mistake during the course of the race. We therefore need to create a situation where we are able to take full advantage of any mistakes made by our selection.

We should therefore select races that provide as many opportunities as possible for our selection to make an error.

Although horses make mistakes in flat races, there are more mistakes made in National Hunt races due to the fences that the horses are required to negotiate.

Fences provide an opportunity for horses to refuse to jump, to fall, to be brought down by other horses or for the jockey to part company with his mount.

We should, therefore, concentrate on National Hunt, rather than on Flat, races.

National Hunt races, broadly speaking, come in three forms: National Hunt Flat races, Hurdle races and Chases.

We have already discussed, and rejected, flat races so that leaves us with hurdle races and chases.

Fences are generally taller and wider than hurdles. Obstacles which are tall and wide are more difficult to negotiate and are therefore more likely to cause a horse to make a mistake.

We, therefore, need to concentrate on Chase, rather than on Hurdle, races.

In long races, there are generally more obstacles to negotiate. The greater the number of obstacles there are, the greater are the number of opportunities for our selection to make an error.

We should therefore concentrate on long, rather than short, races. 2.5 mile races, and beyond, are ideal for our purposes.

Another reason for choosing long, rather than short, races is because, in long races, horses tire more easily than they do in short races.

When horses tire, they are more likely to make a mistake and when they make a mistake we can profit by it.

Another factor to consider is the state of the ground. The softer the ground, the more likely it is that a horse will tire and the more it tires, the more likely it is that mistakes will be made.

So, 2.5 miles and beyond Chase races run on soft ground or worse will provide us with the best opportunity for our system to succeed.

Now, we have selected the best type of race, we just need to select our horse.

At this point, let us remind ourselves what we need to achieve.

We need to take advantage of a mistake made by our selection. We therefore need to concentrate on those horses whose odds are, at some point in the race, likely to increase the most following a mistake. The more the odds increase, the greater our profit will be.

We, therefore, need to concentrate on short, rather than on long, priced horses since there is more scope for the odds on short-priced horses to increase.

Odds-on favourites are ideal for our purposes since these horses, potentially, provide the greatest scope for the odds to increase.

So, there we have it.

We should select short-priced favourites in 2.5 miles, and beyond, Chases run on soft, or worse, ground.

Now, here’s how we go about profiting from any mistakes that our selection may make:

Firstly, before the race begins, we should lay the short-priced favourite to lose.

We need to place the bet on a betting exchange since we cannot use a traditional bookmaker because they don’t accept lay bets.

We also need to make a note of the odds that we layed our selection at and the stake.

Secondly, we now need to carefully observe the odds on the betting exchange while the race is in progress.

When our selection makes a mistake, the odds will increase.

If the odds become greater than the odds at which we layed our selection to lose, we should back our selection to win using a stake which is less than the stake used when we layed the selection to lose.

The potential profit on the back to win bet should also be greater than the potential liability on the lay to lose bet.

If the back to win bet is matched on the betting exchange, regardless of whether our selection wins or not, we will win.

Here is an example:

Lay bet: Stake: £5, Odds: 1.5, Potential liability: £2.50, Potential profit: £5.

Back bet: Stake: £4, Odds: 2.5, Potential liability: £4, Potential profit: £6.

Now let’s look at the maths:

Selection wins:

So, regardless of the outcome of the race, a minimum of £1 will be won.

The above method is referred to as Arbitraging or Trading and is covered fully in a later article.

There is one question which you must be dying to ask. Why would we place a bet to win on a horse that has just made a mistake? Surely, it can’t win!

Wrong.

In the Hennessy Cognac Gold Cup Chase run at Leopardstown on10 February 2007, the jumping of Beef Or Salmon throughout the race was indifferent and it made the odd jumping blunder.

As a result, The Listener went into the final straight a country mile ahead of its nearest rival, Beef Or Salmon.

The race was as good as over.

Beef Or Salmon was trading on betting exchanges at about 300.0 at this point.

After the last fence, Beef Or Salmon suddenly began to pick up the pace and The Listener began to slow down.

Up the long Leopardstown straight, Beef Or Salmon began catching The Listener with every stride.

Beef or Salmon stayed on to win the race by three- quarters of a length.

The Racing Post wrote of Beef Or Salmon’s win that day ‘that it was a comeback of monumental proportions.‘ The win, by Beef Or Salmon, brought the house down at Leopardstown that day.

You see, in racing, there is no such thing as a certainty.

That’s why it is always best to play safe.

Here is another example of a system which is in the public domain:

Lay horses which have won two or more of their latest races.

For example, if a horse has won both of its last two races, it should be layed to lose.

If it has won three of its last three races, it should be layed to lose etc.

The theory behind this system is that when a horse comes into form, it is entered into races.

As a result, of its efforts in its races, it expends much energy and loses condition.

When a horse loses condition, it loses form.

When it loses form, it becomes vulnerable to losing races.

To win two or more consecutive races causes a horse to expend much energy and lose much of its condition.

It then becomes vulnerable to losing races and should therefore be layed to lose.

This system performed well for almost a year following its introduction into the public domain.

Then, quite suddenly, it began to lose and all the past winnings were quickly lost. To my knowledge, the system has never recovered.

The above systems have been included merely by way of examples.

If you choose to use them, then on your head be it.

Should you choose to ignore this advice, then it is recommended that they are used with extreme caution since neither of them are particularly reliable.