Why Does the Market Always Go Against Me? 5 Common Mistakes in Horse Racing Trading 

 September 12, 2023

By  Philip Borrowman

If you've ever dabbled in horse racing trading, you've likely experienced that sinking feeling when the market seems to always move against you. It's as if the universe has conspired to make every trade a losing one, leaving you scratching your head and questioning your strategies.

Have you ever screamed with frustration:

"Why do the odds always go the opposite way to my trade!??"

"As soon as I enter a trade, the price goes against me! Why?"

But before you throw in the towel and label yourself as unlucky, it's crucial to understand that there might be specific reasons behind this frustrating pattern.

In this blog post, we'll delve into the five common mistakes that traders often make, leading them to feel like the market is perpetually against them.

From poor timing and lack of research to emotional trading and ineffective risk management, we'll dissect each issue in detail.

By understanding these pitfalls, you can take actionable steps to turn your trading game around and align yourself with market trends rather than fight against them.

So, if you're tired of feeling like you're always swimming against the tide, read on. This post will equip you with the insights you need to navigate the volatile waters of horse racing trading more effectively.

Tip:1 - Timing Your Trades: The Key to Horse Racing Profitability

The Importance of Timing

In the fast-paced world of horse racing trading, timing is everything. A few seconds can make the difference between a profitable trade and a losing one.

The market is constantly fluctuating, and entering or exiting at the wrong moment can have a significant impact on your trading results.

Common Timing Mistakes

One of the most common timing mistakes traders make is "chasing the market." For example, let's say you notice that the odds on a particular horse are shortening.

You quickly jump in, hoping to ride the wave, but as soon as you enter the trade, the market reverses. Now you're stuck with a losing position that you entered at the worst possible moment.

Another timing error is "overstaying" in a trade. You might have entered at a good point, but greed or indecision keeps you in the trade too long, and you end up giving back all your profits or even incurring a loss.

Tips for Improving Timing

  1. Use Technical Indicators: Tools like moving averages or Bollinger Bands can help you identify optimal entry and exit points.
  2. Practice Paper Trading: Before risking real money, practice your timing with paper trading to get a feel for market rhythms.
  3. Set Entry and Exit Points: Before entering a trade, have a clear plan. Know your entry and exit points and stick to them.
  4. Observe Market Trends: Spend time watching the markets without trading. This can give you a better sense of how odds move and help improve your timing.

Real-Life Example

Imagine you're trading on a flat race where Horse A has been the favorite. You notice that the odds have started to drift from 2.0 to 2.2.

Sensing an opportunity, you back the horse at 2.2, expecting the odds to shorten again. However, just after you enter the trade, a large bet comes in on another horse, causing the odds on Horse A to drift further to 2.4.

Had you waited a few more seconds and observed the market trends, you could have avoided entering at a less favorable time.

Timing is a skill that comes with experience and careful observation. It's not just about quick reflexes but also about understanding market dynamics and acting accordingly.

So the next time you find yourself lamenting about the market going against you, take a moment to assess your timing—it might just be the missing piece in your trading puzzle.

Tip 2: Effective Research: The Foundation of Smart Horse Trading

The Role of Research in Successful Trading

In horse racing trading, knowledge is power. The more you know about the horses, jockeys, trainers, and race conditions, the better equipped you are to make informed trading decisions.

Lack of research can lead to poor choices, which in turn can make it feel like the market is always against you.

Common Areas of Insufficient Research

Many traders make the mistake of focusing solely on odds without considering other vital factors.

For example, you might back a horse solely because it has short odds, ignoring that it has a poor track record on the type of surface the race is being run on.

Another common oversight is not paying attention to the jockey's performance. A skilled jockey can make a significant difference in a race, and their past performances can offer valuable insights.

Resources for Effective Research

  1. Form Guides: These provide comprehensive information about each horse's past performances, jockey stats, and more.
  2. Racing Post: This website offers in-depth analysis, expert tips, and up-to-date news that can aid your research.
  3. Social Media & Forums: Platforms like Twitter or specialized horse racing forums can be excellent sources for insider information and tips. Try the Betfair Trading Community and Caan Berry - they often post helpful tips.

Examples of Poor Research Impact

Imagine you decide to back Horse A because it has the shortest odds in a handicap race. You enter the trade without considering that Horse A is carrying significantly more weight than its competitors due to the handicap conditions.

As the race progresses, Horse A struggles to keep up and eventually loses, causing you a loss in your trade.

In another scenario, you might back a horse without realizing that it performs poorly in wet conditions, and it happens to be a rainy day. Your lack of research costs you when the horse underperforms.


Research is the cornerstone of successful horse racing trading. Without it, you're essentially flying blind, relying on luck rather than informed decision-making.

By investing time in thorough research, you not only improve your chances of successful trades but also gain a deeper understanding of the market dynamics, making you a more skilled trader overall.

Tip:3 - Managing Emotions: The Secret to Consistent Horse Racing Gains

The Detrimental Impact of Emotions

Emotions can be a trader's worst enemy. Whether it's the fear of missing out (FOMO) or the greed of wanting to maximize profits, emotional decisions can lead to poor trading choices.

When you let emotions dictate your actions, you're more likely to deviate from your trading plan, make impulsive decisions, and ultimately feel like the market is against you.

Types of Emotional Trading

Fear-Based Trading: This usually happens after a losing streak. You become overly cautious, missing out on good trading opportunities because you're afraid of incurring more losses.

  • Example: After losing three trades in a row, you see a perfect entry point but hesitate to take it due to fear. The market moves in the direction you predicted, but you missed the opportunity.

Greed-Driven Trading: On the flip side, a winning streak can make you overconfident, leading you to take excessive risks.

  • Example: You've had a series of successful trades and start to feel invincible. You see another opportunity and go all-in, ignoring your risk management rules. The market suddenly reverses, and you incur a significant loss.

Emotional Discipline: The Antidote

The key to overcoming emotional trading is discipline. Here are some tips to help you maintain emotional discipline:

  1. Stick to Your Trading Plan: Always have a trading plan and stick to it, no matter what your emotions tell you.
  2. Set Stop-Losses: This can help you manage your risk and take the emotion out of deciding when to exit a trade.
  3. Take Breaks: If you find yourself becoming emotionally charged, step away from the trading screen to regroup and refocus.
  4. Mindfulness Techniques: Practices like meditation can help you become more aware of your emotional state and make more rational decisions.

Real-Life Example

Let's say you're trading a high-stakes race. You've done your research and have a solid trading plan. As the race starts, your chosen horse takes the lead, and you're tempted to go all-in to maximize profits.

However, you remember your trading plan and the importance of emotional discipline. You resist the urge, stick to your original strategy, and secure a profitable trade without unnecessary risk.

Emotional trading can be a significant obstacle in achieving consistent profitability, particularly if you are scalping, because it requires real focus.

By recognizing the emotional traps and implementing strategies to maintain discipline, you can improve your trading performance and feel more in sync with market movements.

Tip:4 - Risk Management: Safeguarding Your Horse Trading Bankroll

The Role of Risk Management in Trading

Risk management is the backbone of any successful trading strategy. Without it, even the most skilled traders can find themselves in a financial hole.

Effective risk management allows you to survive the inevitable losses and continue trading. Poor risk management, on the other hand, can make it feel like the market is always against you, even when it's not.

Common Risk Management Mistakes

Over-Leveraging: This involves risking a large portion of your trading bankroll on a single trade. While the potential for high returns is tempting, the risk of significant losses is equally high.

  • Example: You have a £1,000 bankroll and decide to risk £500 on a single trade. The market moves against you, and you lose the £500. Now you're left with half your original bankroll, making it much harder to recover.

Ignoring Stop-Losses: A stop-loss is a predetermined point at which you'll exit a losing trade to minimize losses. Ignoring or not setting stop-losses can lead to disastrous outcomes.

  • Example: You enter a trade without setting a stop-loss. The market moves against you, but you hold on, hoping it will reverse. It doesn't, and you end up losing much more than you initially intended.

Strategies for Effective Risk Management

  1. Percentage Staking: Never risk more than a set percentage of your bankroll on a single trade. A common guideline is 1-2%.
  2. Diversification: Don't put all your eggs in one basket. Spread your risk across different races or even different trading markets.
  3. Regular Review: Periodically review your trading history to identify any recurring mistakes or patterns that are hurting your performance.
  4. Use of Trading Software: Tools like BetAngel can help you set automatic stop-losses, making risk management more straightforward.

Real-Life Example

Suppose you have a £2,000 trading bankroll. Following the percentage staking rule, you decide never to risk more than 2% (£40) on a single trade.

You also set automatic stop-losses using BetAngel to ensure you stick to this rule. Over time, you find that even when you have losing trades, your losses are manageable, and you're able to recover more easily.

By implementing these risk management strategies, you not only protect your bankroll but also give yourself the mental peace to make more rational trading decisions.

Effective risk management can be the difference between feeling like you're at the mercy of the market and feeling like you're in control.

Tip:5 - Creating a Trading Plan: Your Roadmap to Horse Racing Success

Why a Trading Plan is Essential

A trading plan serves as your roadmap in the chaotic world of horse racing trading. It outlines your trading objectives, risk tolerance, strategies, and evaluation metrics.

Trading without a plan is akin to sailing without a compass—you're likely to drift aimlessly and make impulsive decisions, which can make it feel like the market is always against you.

Common Mistakes Due to Lack of a Plan

Impulsive Trading: Without a plan, you're more likely to make trades based on gut feelings or short-term market movements, which often leads to losses.

  • Example: You see the odds on a particular horse start to shorten rapidly. Without a plan, you impulsively decide to back the horse, only for the market to reverse and the odds to drift, resulting in a loss.

Inconsistent Strategies: A lack of a trading plan often leads to inconsistency. One day you're scalping, the next you're swing trading, making it difficult to evaluate what's working and what's not.

  • Example: On Monday, you try scalping and make a small profit. On Tuesday, you switch to swing trading but incur a loss. By Wednesday, you're back to scalping. This inconsistency makes it hard to identify profitable strategies and refine your trading approach.

Components of a Solid Trading Plan

  1. Trading Objectives: Clearly define what you aim to achieve, whether it's a specific financial goal or improving your trading skills.
  2. Risk Management Rules: Outline how much you're willing to risk on each trade and set guidelines for stop-losses and take-profits.
  3. Trading Strategies: Detail the strategies you'll employ, under what conditions, and how you'll implement them.
  4. Performance Metrics: Decide on key performance indicators (KPIs) that you'll use to evaluate your trading performance.

Real-Life Example

Let's say your trading objective is to make a 10% return on your bankroll each month. Your trading plan outlines that you'll achieve this by focusing on scalping strategies, risking no more than 2% of your bankroll on a single trade, and setting stop-losses for every trade.

You also decide to review your performance every week using KPIs like return on investment (ROI) and win-loss ratio.

By sticking to this plan, you bring structure and discipline to your trading activities. Even when you encounter losses, they're within the boundaries set by your plan, making them easier to recover from.

In the long run, a well-executed trading plan can be your ticket to consistent profitability and a more harmonious relationship with the market.

If you want to learn a simple In-play racing strategy, check out this guide but don't forget to stick to a clear staking plan.

Mastering the Market, One Step at a Time

Navigating the volatile landscape of horse racing trading can be a daunting task, especially when it feels like the market is perpetually against you.

However, by addressing these five common pitfalls—timing issues, lack of research, emotional trading, ineffective risk management, and the absence of a trading plan—you can significantly improve your trading performance.

Remember, trading is not just about quick profits; it's a long-term game that requires discipline, strategy, and continuous learning.

By implementing these horse trading tips and adhering to best practices, you can turn the tide in your favor and make the market work for you, rather than against you.

Whether you're a novice trader looking for guidance or a seasoned trader aiming to refine your skills, these insights can serve as your cornerstone for a more profitable and fulfilling trading journey.

Thank you for reading, and may the odds be ever in your favor!

Now you know why you keep losing money when trading, you can delve even deeper and read out Top 10 Horse Trading Tips.

Philip Borrowman

I am a full-time marketer and part-time Betfair trader. I have over 10 years of experience in the pre-race and in-play horse trading markets and spend my days writing guides, tips and tricks to help beginner Betfair traders find their way to a profitable second income. Read my story of trading on Betfair.

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