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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):
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.
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):
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:
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.
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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