How To Avoid Betting On Poor Value Favourites

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How do you identify a favourite whose odds are too short? And how do you profit from them? Here we tell you how to stop betting on horses that simply aren't worth your money.

Betfair has made the notion of bad value a much harder thing to identify. In years gone by one could readily spot those favourites that were very short in the betting for factors other than their actual form. For example if Dettori was on top and had ridden a few winners earlier in the day, the off course firms would step in and send cash to the course to shorten up the price of his later mounts. This would mean that decent value was about for others in the race as layers pushed out their prices to balance the book.

These days the Betfair market completely dominates the prices from first thing in the morning, and the substantial sums traded on each race every day means that supply and demand are matched at a "perfect" price, i.e a price that very accurately reflects the actual chance any horse has.

That being said, it is still possible to find value "away from the crowd" if one focuses on horses at bigger prices and bets each-way with traditional bookmakers and improve your horse racing results. Again Betfair can be a useful guide in the place market where the perfect price established is frequently a lot less than ones a punter can avail himself to.

Where to find poor value and take advantage

An ideal race to find value in is an 8/9/10 runner race where the bookmakers pay three places and very few of the contenders have chances. These type of bets are often found in uncompetitive maidens or novice hurdles where 3 or 4 runners have any ability. Getting these bets on each-way is often more of a challenge than finding winners!

There is little doubt that horses at the front of the market are now overbet and the only long term way to realise this is to price up races to 100 per cent yourself, without using Betfair as a guide. This gives the informed punter a parameter that makes identifying "poor" value favourites much easier.

"Momentum" trading using robots on Betfair has become more and more popular and has created a downward pressure on prices of favourites in many races. Put simply these traders attempt to profit by forcing prices in the direction that volume of money dictates, and coming in and out of the market to create profits regardless of the result of the race.

This stock market style trading brings welcome liquidity and can mean that actual value exists away from these highly traded horses. Again it is up to the astute punter to spot when a short priced horse is a vehicle for trading rather than actually having an excellent chance of winning.

The most common source of underpriced favourites are undoubtedly when a big name stable teams up with a high profile pilot. Put simply there are no secrets in the price when Dettori or McCoy ride any horse for their retained stables. Usually it pays to steer clear of these "hype" horses who are usually underpriced on their actual ability.

Another area is unbeaten horses who have won on their debut at the racecourse. These winners are often hyped up as worldbeaters, particularly by bigger horse racing yards, regardless of the form of the race they have won. Searching for a more exposed consistent runner and betting each-way is a more logical approach against these potential "stars". So often, especially with 2 y-o's on the flat the "could be anything...our best juvenile" turn out to be nothing special. Form always beats hype is a profitable maxim, and hype is never overpriced in this communication age.


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Head of Localisation at bettingexpert