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Is there any edge backing favourites


Although I have personally never been a fan of backing favourites, I am sure many people do. Why people do is probably down to the fact that by backing favourites they will pick more winners than by using most other methods. Unfortunately, very few people seem to be able to make money out of backing these horses that head the market. This could be down to the fact that the majority of punters find it difficult to distinguish easily between a favourite that is good value compared to one that is poor value. To gain an “edge” when betting, you need to obtain value odds for the selection you are backing – this is true regardless of price, and if you can get 11/8 about a horse whose true chance is Evens then you have obtained that necessary value. In this article my aim is to try and find some profitable betting angles when backing favourites. The data for this article is taken from the last 16 completed seasons - 1990 to 2005 - concentrating on flat racing only.

 

Firstly I have done a breakdown of backing favourites in different types of race. I have not included all races, just concentrated on those that show the best returns (loss of 6% or less):

 

Race Type

Favourites

Wins

Strike Rate

Profit (%)

All age maidens

2946

1298

44.1%

–1.7%

3yo maidens

4432

1891

42.7%

–2.2%

Claiming races

5010

1789

35.7%

–2.8%

2yo maidens

8849

3489

39.4%

–3.1%

All age sellers

1637

529

32.3%

–3.9%

2yo condition races

3307

1350

40.8%

–5.7%

 

So these types of races seem the best to concentrate on. I decided then to breakdown the data by course. All courses with a return for favourites showing a loss of 6% or less (in all races) are shown.

 

Course

Favourites

Wins

Strike Rate

Profit (%)

Bath

1623

518

31.9%

–4.7%

Catterick

1552

533

34.3%

–4.4%

Chester

1181

401

34.0%

+1.2%

Epsom

1062

303

28.5%

–3.1%

Goodwood

2272

678

29.8%

–4.8%

Hamilton

1862

614

33.0%

–4.6%

Lingfield (turf)

1802

581

32.2%

–4.1%

Musselburgh

1590

540

34.0%

–3.0%

Newmarket (July)

2015

622

30.9%

–5.5%

Nottingham

2249

702

31.2%

–5.3%

Yarmouth

1958

651

33.2%

–5.7%

York

1811

530

29.3%

–0.4%

 

So we have 12 courses that traditionally have been fairly good for favourites. Interesting that Chester actually makes a small profit! Now to combine race type with these courses to try and find some profitable angles (see overleaf):

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Course

Race Type

Favourites

Wins

Strike Rate

Profit (%)

Bath

3yo sellers/all age sellers

48

20

41.7%

+55.2%

Bath

All age maidens

67

36

53.7%

+23.3%

Catterick

All age maidens

91

41

45.1%

+6.3%

Chester

2yo maidens

131

64

48.9%

+15.2%

Chester

3yo / all age maidens

62

34

54.8%

+18.5%

Epsom

All maiden races

189

88

46.6%

+14.2%

Goodwood

2yo maidens

289

133

46.0%

+9.4%

Hamilton

All sellers

95

39

41.1%

+14.6%

Hamilton

3yo maidens

83

43

51.8%

+13.3%

Musselburgh

3yo maidens

53

34

64.2%

+30.5%

Musselburgh

All sellers

90

40

44.4%

+22.5%

Newmarket (July)

2yo maidens

292

136

46.6%

+15.0%

Yarmouth

All claimers

119

51

42.9%

+10.7%

York

All sellers

21

10

47.6%

+87.6%

York

2yo maidens

194

83

42.8%

+4.7%

 

Combining certain courses with certain race types has produced some winning angles. However, looking at the year by year data, it is clear that results fluctuate considerably. In addition, many of the course samples are small – take the data for York sellers for example. In recent tears there has tended to be just one seller a year at York and despite an extremely inviting figure of over 87% profit, these figures cannot be judged too robust. However, the figures for 2yo maidens at the Newmarket (July course) with 292 qualifying favourites can be viewed as much more reliable.

 

Another angle I have decided to look at is trainers. Which trainers do well when their horse is favourite? Here are some trainers who have made a profit:

 

Trainers

Favourites

Wins

Strike Rate

Profit (%)

D. Barker

82

25

30.5%

+23.6%

R. Brotherton

74

23

31.1%

+21.1%

Mrs H Dalton

18

7

38.9%

+58.3%

E. Dunlop

622

236

37.9%

+3.8%

B. Ellison

129

37

28.7%

+9.0%

D. Elsworth

530

161

30.4%

+4.9%

J. Gosden

1797

709

39.5%

+1.9%

Lady Herries

269

85

31.6%

+10.2%

D. Ivory

55

14

25.4%

+12.8%

D. Loder

752

341

45.4%

+3.2%

Mrs N Macauley

232

70

30.2%

+10.8%

T. Mills

288

94

32.6%

+7.2%

Sir M Prescott

1371

560

40.9%

+0.5%

J. Spearing

147

51

34.7%

+31.4%

S. Williams

309

101

32.7%

+11.2%

 

Several of the lesser known trainers seem to do quite well – not surprising I suppose as their horses will not attract the betting public attention of the bigger stables. One also has to marvel at the performances of John Gosden, Sir Mark Prescott, David Loder, Ed Dunlop and David Elsworth considering how many qualifying favourites they have saddled, and that they have still shown a small profit.

 

Finally in this article I have produced some further statistics for favourites that you might find interesting, rather than profitable.

 

Conditions

Favourites

Wins

Strike Rate

Profit (%)

All races

75793

23211

30.6%

–7.4%

Forecast favourite also

49097

16765

34.2%

–7.2%

Blinkered / visored for first time

1040

269

25.9%

–21.9%

Tipped by Racing Post Spotlight, Topspeed &

Racing Post Ratings

8599

4104

47.7%

–2.4%

Odds 2/1 ON or lower

1921

1420

73.9%

–2.9%

Odds 6/1 or bigger

2466

299

12.1%

–9.1%

LTO winner

19175

5880

30.7%

–8.6%

LTO 8th or worse

6607

1848

28.0%

–2.3%

4 wins in last 4 runs

283

91

32.2%

–20.4%

Maiden with 21 or more career runs

251

66

26.3%

+1.9%

 

There are some interesting facts to take from this table. Firstly horses that are blinkered / visored for the first time are very poor value. The reason being, that the majority of horses do not respond positively to headgear regardless of what you might think. Horses going for a five-timer, (having won 4 on the bounce), are also poor value – this is almost certainly due to poor value in their price. No doubt these animals are over-bet by the general public. Finally, another interesting fact is that you are better off backing a favourite that finished 8th or worse last time they ran, compared to a last time out winner – over 6% better off in fact! Now I bet you did not think that would be the case!








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