Most punters will refer to publicly available information when searching for winners on today’s racecard, whether that be the Racing Post, RP website, other newspapers, gg.com, Sporting Life or Sky Sports.
The 1% that are professional gamblers in this game and sustainably profit don’t commonly check publicly available data to make their decisions. They have something else.
That something else is called “an Edge“.
What is a horse racing edge?
A horse racing edge can be defined as “possessing a piece of data or information that the general market doesn’t have access or knowledge of, and then using that information to provide an advantage.”
Whilst many commentators will suggest that there are no secrets ways to make money from horse racing, in my opinion having an edge IS the secret formula.
In order to win consistently and being able to grasp value betting opportunities you have to know something that the market doesn’t.
Three methods of getting an edge that a professional gambler would use
1. Personal Analysis
If you read and take notice of Racing Post comments, commentator and pundit opinion, media and press reports, and even comments made on social media you are not really acting as a professional. This is publicly available information that any (to quote Del Boy in OFAH) “unqualified wally” can give an opinion to. What matters most is YOUR opinion, YOUR analysis and YOUR representation of the race; and who performed well, who jumped well (and who didn’t), who is potentially underrated by the performance and who struggled. Everyone can have an opinion and can sway your opinions and almost create an unwanted bias.
There’s nothing worse than selecting a horse and then changing your mind based on others’ opinions then to find that your original selection wins.
This is the very minimal activity of a professional gambler – the ability to keep personal notes and race reports.
2. Personal ratings
I’ve harped on about personal ratings and their importance many times on HorseSpy and this method gets more winners for me than anything else. Personal handicapping and your own speed figures are assessments in your own personal terms and ONLY YOU have access to them!
If your speed rating for a particular race shows that it was below par in comparison to many other races and lets say that the winner is now favourite in its next race, you have your own data to illustrate that the favourite is potentially not as good as a horse that has a superior rating that only finished 4th in its last race. This demonstrates a higher quality and more competitive race in my opinion yet this 4th place horse will usually command odds of around the 5-1 to 8-1 range. There you have your market value.
In my last post, Preparing for the Jumps: The National Hunt season, I mentioned that it was dangerous to back horses making the transition to chasing from hurdles based on the form shown over hurdles.
This has one caveat. Intelligence.
Yesterday (Sunday 6th October) the market followed Bear’s Affair in the 3:35 Uttoxeter, whereas I received information about a month ago that Le Bec had schooled fantastically well over fences and was a magnificent jumper.
The market followed Bear’s Affair based on last year’s hurdle form, whereas a privileged few of us (including me sharing with HorseSpy members as one of the two winning selections yesterday) knew that Le Bec was overpriced in the market at 11-4.
Being able to jump efficiently and not waste energy in jumping mistakes meant that Le Bec would overturn the previous hurdles form on Bear’s Affair and that meant that Le Bec had a better chance of winning; in which I backed from 11-4 down to 7-4.
Le Bec won by 7 lengths and demonstrated that he was a horse to be followed this season. The interesting point here is that most people will latch onto him AFTER watching this run, whereas the secret here is in the knowing BEFORE the race has even started.
Other methods of gaining an edge
1. Draw Bias
Nowadays this is more difficult to spot as the improvements in course management and the advanced techniques in irrigation and turf care has meant that the whole width of the track is now ‘fairer’.
If you spot a draw bias, or have the ability to see a draw bias in action, this is a powerful weapon in possessing knowledge that the rest of the market won’t have noticed – until about race 4 when the results show that every horse in the high or low draws are dominating races.
2. Track Bias
I dedicated a HorseSpy post to this titled Horses for Courses: Know your UK Racecourses.
Being able to spot how a course suits a particular running style will identify clues to those that are likely to prevail.
If a horse runs against the characteristic and still wins, this is a horse that has overcome a bias and therefore possesses a superior level of ability than the others in the race.
Is a market ‘gamble’ evidence of those possessing an edge?
Sometimes yes, mostly not. That’s my opinion.
There is a devious streak within some professionals as I was taught by a certain person that thought himself as an ‘betting illusionist’.
It was a dangerous game. He would select his horse but if it didn’t meet his requirements on price he would pick on some poor unsuspecting selection at relatively low odds and back that instead so that the market reacted and changed the prices downwards for a ‘false gamble’.
When the market saw prices fall the RP commentator and TV pundits would latch onto it as one of the movers of the day so other mug gamblers would place their stakes on the same selection thinking that this was a professional coup. The prices on all the others would rise of course.
When the price of his real selection got to the desired price (or higher) he would then back it in the 5 minutes leading up to race. Yes, he would lose his stake on the ‘false gamble’, but he made up for it with the increases in the value available in the price rise(s) and the increase in profit margin made his initial losses insignificant.
So my advice is “Don’t follow blind gambles unless you have the intelligence, data and/or knowledge yourself to prove that this is an overpriced animal and that it has a better chance than its odds suggest.”
Possessing an edge in horse racing IS the only way to sustainably profit from horse racing betting. That’s the be-all and end-all.
When that edge becomes compromised or obsolete, to continue profit you need to find another and develop with the times.