From time to time during my career, I have been fortunate enough to be privy to ‘inside’ information or, in other words, information that is unknown to the betting public and the bookmakers, regarding a horse that is ‘expected’ to win by connections. Even the most fastidious racehorse trainer cannot expect to be 100% accurate in his or her predictions, but those from whom I have received information (who shall, of course, remain nameless) know, or knew, the time of day and have provided me with many winning bets.
That’s all very well, I hear you say, but what if I don’t know any jockeys, owners or trainers and I don’t want to pay for expensive information from those who do? What are my options, if any, for profitable betting on horse racing?
Well, you essentially have two options. You can become a form student, in the conventional sense, and develop your knowledge of odds, probability and staking to the extent that you feel confident of beating the bookmakers at their own game. Even then, if you make your selections based on conventional factors, such as class, distance, going, recent form and so on, you’re using the same data as everyone else, including the bookmakers, and are likely to draw similar conclusions from it. As a result, unless you’re ‘on the ball’ with regard to obtaining the best odds available, you’re likely to find value, and hence profit, hard to come by.
Thankfully, off-course betting tax is a thing of the past, so you don’t necessarily need to go racing in person to find value but, if you’re not going to use the same information to make your selections as that which the bookmakers use to make a book, how, and where, are you going to find it?
Unfortunately, that isn’t an easy question to answer, but the crux of the matter is to take a broader view of the various factors that affect the outcome of any horse race focus on those factors that are, perhaps, less obvious as selection criteria develop one or more alternative, but nonetheless profitable, selection methods.
Once again, this is all very well in theory but, getting down to brass tacks, which factors should you consider and how can you determine if any selection method based on those factors is profitable in the long-term?
Some suggestions for less-than-obvious factors that you might like to consider, and selection methods based on those factors, will be described in a series of detailed articles to follow. As far as profitability is concerned, it may be possible to determine if a particular selection method has any merit by applying it, retrospectively, to a database of historical horse racing results for, say, the last 10 years. Of course, this may not be possible for all selection methods and, in any case, extensive record keeping going forward will be necessary for any selection method.