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Laying Supposed Good Things

In the full memebrs area here I offer to check people’s ideas or systems, assuming they are fairly easy to check. One member wanted to know whether horses that were on a hat-trick ( won their last two races and are seeking a third win in a row ) were worth laying rather than worth backing.


I started by looking at all horses who were seeking their third win in a row on the flat. The data was taken from 1990 to 2006 with profits quoted to £1 level stakes and the results were as follows:




Strike Rate









A strike rate of roughly 1 win in every 5 runs and a loss of £14.10 for every £100 staked. In terms of backing these horses therefore, this strategy has some way to go before pushing into the profitable zone. In terms of laying, 14% is too tight in terms of making profits from laying these horses to lose. The reason that this is the case is that even with horses near the front end of the market you can rarely lay at less than 10% above SP, and then on top of that you have commission to take into account. I would estimate that attempting to lay these horse per say would produce losses of around 5%.


When I look for potential opportunities to lay horses, I tend to look for an ROI figure of around –25%. That gives me a small “buffer” zone as I regard an ROI of around –20% as a break-even point. Unfortunately these figures are only estimates, but as long as the horses are not genuine outsiders, then these figures seem to stack up.


At this juncture however, we need to decide whether we look to try and improve matters by finding a profitable betting strategy, or we try to decrease the ROI figure hence pushing it towards a profitable laying strategy. My experience of looking at systems indicated that the laying approach would be the right option. Therefore, I needed to decide whether there were other key factors that either improved the chances of hat-trick seekers or more importantly lessened their chances. My first port of call was to the check the following factors – fitness, class, sex:


1.       Fitness – I suspected that horses off the track for some time would be less successful than those returned to the track quickly. My reasoning being that horses tend to peak for a fairly short length of time and hence a significant break might see some of them finding it difficult to replicate their previous winning form.


2.       Class – in conjunction with time off the track, I summarized that class horses would be more able to defy a long break, and therefore it might be best to ignore top class races.


3.       Sex – having checked numerous systems in the past, fillies or mares contesting mixed sex races can struggle. Hence, this is a route worth exploring.






I felt the fitness factor was extremely important and I researched this first. The results are shown in the table below:


Days since

last run



Strike Rate



7 or less






8 to 31






32 to 79






80 +







My reasoning before conducting the research seemed sound. Clearly, horses that are returned to the track within a week are worth avoiding from a laying perspective, whereas the longer the break, the worse the horse performs both from a strike rate and a ROI point of view.


Combining the class factor with significant time off the track is interesting. I concluded that class C races or lower would be the best to focus on. Hence, hat-trick seekers in class C races or lower, after a break of 80 days or more produced the following results:




Strike Rate








This is becoming a very healthy state of affairs from a laying perspective with a strike rate of worse than 1 win in 10, and an ROI figure of worse than –50%. However, whenever there are positives there are almost always negative points to contend with. This is the case here and the biggest problem we have now, is that this method produces on average only 31 bets a year. We would have to stake fairly significant cash to generate decent yearly profits therefore.


Now if we implement the final idea of restricting these lays to fillies in mixed sex races only, we get the following results:




Strike Rate









Our strike rate is now worse than 1 win in 16, and the ROI is pushing –80%, but just look at the number of bets! Just 114 since 1990 – an average of around 7 lays a year!


Thus, what should we do? Wait for the gilt-edged laying opportunities that could up around 7 times a year? Clearly, this is not a sensible ploy. One option is to ignore the “sex” filter and focus on hat-trick seekers in class C races or lower, after a break of 80 days or more. As we saw earlier that method at least gave around 30 lays a year, of which 90% of them should be successful. However, we could increase the number of yearly bets by running a separate system relating to fillies/mares in mixed sex handicaps. Having researched the idea, sound profits could be made by laying horses off the track for 32 or more days, which increases the scope for more laying opportunities a year. This method has no “class” filter, and the results were as follows:




Strike Rate











Combining our two “final” laying systems we would get the following results:




Strike Rate









Now, there will be a handful of horses that will qualify under both systems, but perhaps a double stakes approach could be implemented as we know that these horses are very unlikely to successfully complete their hat-trick. To clarify therefore, we have produced two laying systems that could be used together to give us around 50 to 60 lays a year:


System 1


1. Horses with last two form figures “11”

2. 80 days+ since last run

3. Class C or lower

System 2


1. Horses with last two form figures “11”

2. 32 days+ since last run

3. Fillies/mares in mixed sex races



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