As discussed in previous articles, our greatest asset is our betting bank. It should, therefore, be used in the most effective and efficient manner possible. One way of ensuring this is to carefully select the races that are bet on, particularly with regard to the number of runners in the race.

Although on average, only 35% of favourites win their races, the fewer runners that there are in a race, the more likely it is that the favourite will win.

The table below shows the strike rate of favourites by the number of runners in the race.

number of runners table

Note that the statistic for field sizes between 8 and 9 has been omitted. This is due to the fact that the strike rate of favourites that run in such races is exactly 35%.

The above table relates to races held in the UK between 1991 and March 2008.

Those field sizes in which the race favourite’s strike rate is above the average strike rate for favourites (35%) are shown in bold type.

We now have the data, but how can we make best use of it?

Well, that depends on what we are trying to achieve.

If a selection system identifies favourites which are to be backed to win, we should concentrate on those that are running in races with less than eight runners.

These are shown in bold type.

The strike rates of favourites which run in such races are above the norm (35%).

This provides favourites with the best winning opportunities.

Those field sizes which are shown in normal type are best avoided since the strike rates of favourites, running in such races, are below the norm.

This provides favourites with the worst winning opportunities.

If a selection system identifies non-favourites which are to be backed to win, we should concentrate on those that are running in races which are shown in normal type since the strike rates of favourites which run in such races are below the norm (35%).

This provides non-favourites with the best winning opportunities.

Those field sizes which are shown in bold type are best avoided since the strike rates of favourites, running in such races, are above the norm.

This provides non-favourites with the worst winning opportunities.

If a selection system identifies favourites which are to be layed to lose, we should concentrate on those that are running in field sizes which are shown in normal type since the strike rates of favourites which run in such races are below the norm (35%).

This provides favourites with the best losing opportunities.

Those field sizes which are shown in bold type are best avoided since the strike rates of favourites, running in such races, are above the norm.

This provides non-favourites with the worst losing opportunities.

If a selection system identifies non-favourites which are to be layed to lose, we should concentrate on those that are running in field sizes which are shown in bold type since the strike rates of favourites which run in such races are above the norm (35%).

This provides non-favourites with the best losing opportunities.

Those types of races which are shown in normal type are best avoided since the strike rates of favourites, running in such races, are below the norm.

This provides non-favourites with the worst losing opportunities.

I perfectly understand if the above causes some confusion.

I have therefore taken the liberty of creating the following table in the hope that it makes things a little clearer.

To use the table, simply identify the number of runners in the race that the selection is running in and select the appropriate row from the table.

Now, track along the four remaining columns to the one that best describes the type of bet that you intend to make (back or lay) and the type of horse that you intend your bet to apply to (favourite or non-favourite).

If the selected element of the table contains a ‘Yes’, then the bet has a better than average chance of succeeding.

If the selected element of the table contains a ‘No’, then the bet has a worse than average chance of succeeding and is best avoided.

By way of an example:

Let us suppose that our backing selection system has identified the favourite in a race containing seven runners.

From the table, we can see that, if we track along the ‘6 - 7’ row and look at the table element under the ‘Back Favourite’ column, it contains a ‘Yes’.

Therefore, our bet stands a better than average chance of succeeding.

In fact, if we take a look at the first table in this article, we will see that the strike rate of favourites in races that contain between six and seven runners is 40%.

By way of another example:

Let us suppose that our laying system has identified a non-favourite in a race containing 11 runners.

From the table, we can see that, if we track along the ‘10 - 11’ row and look at the table element under the ‘Lay Non-Favourite’ column, it contains a ‘No’.

Therefore, our bet stands a worse than average chance of succeeding.

In fact, if we look at the first table in this article, we will see that the strike rate of favourites in races that contain between 10 and 11 runners is only 33%.

Therefore, it is highly likely that anon-favourite will win the race. Therefore, the selection is best avoided in this case.

number of runners in a race table explained

Making use of the above table will not guarantee success. However, there is every chance that the strike rate of a system will be improved upon.

The above tables have been reproduced by kind permission of Adrian Massey at <adrian massey horse racing.