If you study and shop around, you will have an excellent chance of coming out on top
Some will say you’d be wise not to take tips from the bookies – after all, they are only interested in taking your money, aren’t they? Not so. James Knight, head of racing at Coral, shares his top tips for punters in their ongoing war with the bookmakers. It could prove wise to listen . . .
Most bookmakers now price up every race the night before they are run. The advantage the punter has is they can pick and choose in which races to bet. Your best chance of winning is to get to know a certain pool of horses inside out. If you’re aware of their subtleties – for example, maybe a horse failed to get cover, was poorly positioned or had no chance from its draw on previous starts – then you’re giving yourself a real chance of beating the bookmakers.
2 Focus on quality
This might sound counter-intuitive as you would perhaps expect the best races to be the most accurately priced. That’s true to an extent, but the edge the punter enjoys here is that the televised races are where the bookmakers fight each other for market share through their pricing. The result is that collectively the firms bet close to zero overround (the mechanism that ultimately gives the bookmakers their profit) on many top races. If you do your study and shop around, you will have an excellent chance of coming out on top in these races.
3 Play ante-post when fields might cut up
Bookmakers are betting on far more races ante-post these days and it’s worth looking out for races that may cut up to fewer runners than the layers expect. For example, if you’re betting on the Cambridgeshire, bear in mind that there will be 35 runners on the day (and extra places on offer), so maybe 14-1 each-way about your fancy ante-post might not look so clever come the off. But there will be races offered, particularly during the jumps season, where if you can find a definite runner ante-post (and you can look out for trainer quotes on running plans) then you have probably found yourself a bit of value.
4 If a price looks too good to be true, tread carefully
If a price looks far bigger than you were expecting, consider when you’re playing and who you’re playing against. If you are betting early with a bookmaker before a market has settled down, then there’s a chance they have made a mistake and you’re getting big value. However, if a horse is drifting violently to a seemingly huge price just before the off, then the likelihood is that someone knows something you don’t. Of course, drifters do win, but there is no question that the late market is very accurate when the smart money is going down, so it pays to proceed with caution.
5 Use the betting market as part of your form study
Form study is traditionally associated with trawling through ratings and watching past videos, but what the betting market has said about a horse on previous starts is something that should be built into your analysis. The late market is a very accurate guide to a horse’s chance and is basically giving you a steer as to the expected form level the horse will run to that day. That information can be invaluable when assessing races down the line. For example, if a horse is punted off the boards on its debut but then runs deplorably, it’s likely to be much better than the bare form suggests.
Pricewise pearls: top tips from the professionals
Want to know how the professionals do it? Top Pricewise tipster; Tom Segal, shares his thoughts and advice on how to pick a winner.
1 Stick to what you know best.
Racing can be incredibly complicated and there are many ways to approach winner-finding, but attempting to use all of them is extremely hard mentally. Work out which method suits you best, whether it be using speed figures or form ratings or whatever, and stick to it because the losers are easier to take when you’ve done all the work that has been successful for you in the past.
2 Watch as much racing as you can.
Race reporters do an incredibly good job on the whole but you have to remember they can only read a race through their own eyes and their own way of thinking. More often than not, you will see a race differently and therefore watching races and making up your own mind about horses is hugely significant.
3 Analysis to paralysis.
The racing media and fans often make racing far more complicated than it really is. Ground and draws are often discussed to near death before a race and then forgotten about when the actual contest is run. None of us really knows the ground and the draw advantage on any given day and they can change quickly, so simply trying to identify which horse can run the fastest must always be the first port of call.
4 The importance of jockeys.
It amazes me that intelligent people still massively underestimate the importance of the jockey. Of course they can’t make a horse run faster than they are able to, but their actions can prevent a horse achieving its true level of ability very easily and do so in every race, every day.
5 Have fun!
Remember, it’s supposed to be fun – it’s only horses running round a field after all. The whole point of having a bet is to find some enjoyment and help us get through the day with a smile on our face. It’s crucial to work out what sort of betting suits your own personal temperament and not to take it too seriously.
Pricewise are a daily tipping service available online and in the Racing Post newspaper. Click here for today’s Pricewise tips.
It’s difficult picking a winner at the races. Sometimes it’s just as effective to pick the funniest name or prettiest silks. However, there are sources that can assist you make an informed decision on which horse to bet on.
The paddock is an excellent place to start. Whilst the horses are paraded round the paddock, punters get the chance to assess a horse’s race fitness and temperament. If a horse is sweating or appears agitated, then this is usually a bad sign. Look for a calm and composed, physically imposing horse. These are usually primed for a good race and fare better.
Reading the race card can help understand how likely a horse is to win. The form numbers represent the position that horse finished in it’s most recent races. A horse who shows consistent low numbers such as ‘124121’, would be preferred over an inconsistent horse with the form; ‘891798’. Letters on the race card are another important feature than help understand a horse’s chances in a race. The letters ‘C’ and ‘D’ represent Course and Distance, which help identify those horses who have won over that distance or at that course before. Utilising all these tools won’t guarantee a winner, but it will help you narrow down the field and allow for an informed decision.
You may notice that in the final moments leading up to the race, the odds may change. This is the effect of other people’s bets being placed. If a horse’s odds are shortening then the support for that horse is increasing. If the odds are getting bigger (drifting) then the support for the horse is weakening. A significant change in odds is worth noting, as this usually signifies heavy support from connections who may know something the rest of the punters don’t.
Who to listen to
The Racing Post has a whole host of professionals and experts who pick winners for a living. Simply grab a copy of the newspaper, download the app or visit the website to find out the latest betting advice. There are also podcasts available online with in-depth race analysis which can give you a great insight into the best races of the day. Click here to see our products.