Horse Race Value Betting – A Beginners Guide 

 February 3, 2021

By  Philip Borrowman

So, you’ve decided you want to get involved in the marvelous world of horse racing trading, but you have no clue where to start?

As a beginner you want to focus on value betting to ensure you learn the safest way to trade on the betting exchanges.

Well worry not, because we’ve got you covered!

The good news is that you are not alone, as the process is intimidating for everyone at first (especially if you have no prior knowledge as to how it works).

From all the terminology, to the variety of analytics, and lengthy history of the game, it can certainly be overwhelming for anyone new to the sport.

However, no matter your level or experience or knowledge on the subject, we have you covered, and will hopefully help guide you on your journey into the wonderful world of horse racing!

The history of horse betting was introduced in the United Kingdom during the early 1600’s, however the sport of horse racing dates back to Ancient Greece.

Eventually, it progressed to become one of the most popular sports, and betting markets in the world for centuries to come. And since the invention of online sports betting in 1996, the industry has absolutely exploded.

As I’m sure you can imagine, the system of sports betting has changed quite a bit since it began, as there are far more rules, stipulations, and competition across the globe.

uk horse racing markets

With that being said, the art of betting on horse racing has proven to be one of the more exciting, and profitable ways to enjoy the sport!

Horse racing has proven to be tremendously profitable, but trying to understand all of the different terminology, and strategies used within the market, can certainly be confusing for beginners.

To help make the process a little bit easier, we have narrowed down the best horse racing strategies for beginners, and created a guide outlining the different approaches.

With the three best strategies for beginners being: value betting, the favorite, and pre-race scalping.

1 - VALUE BETTING

So, if you are at all familiar with general gambling terminology, I’m sure that you’ve heard the term “value betting” at some point in your life.

value betting strategy

However, if you are completely new to the market, I suspect you are probably wondering what exactly this phrase could mean.

Value betting can be most easily understood through separating the two words and looking at their individual meanings.

Value simply means that you are receiving a significant return, for the amount you put in.

This could be in relation to work, money, relationships etc.

In this case, value betting would essentially be you placing money on a bet that has a better chance of winning, than the implied odds given to you by the bookmakers.

In relation to horse trading, value betting is a very popular strategy, however it is paramount that you understand that there are multiple different types of value bets.

STATISTICAL ANALYSIS (Value Betting)

The first one may seem like common sense, however it is something a lot of people tend to forget about when they look to place bets. 

Next time you’re at your local horse-racing track, go into it with more of an analytical approach, and look to notice trends like speed figures, distances, and other relevant statistical factors.

horse betting using stats

There are tools such as the Value Calculator which essentially creates a numeric value for each horse in the race, which is determined based on a plethora of elements like the historic form, and the appropriateness of the (likely) race conditions.

Other important analytics to consider when using this approach would be to observe the trainer stats, jockey stats, and find a formula to assess the horses that haven’t raced for awhile (as they won’t have any recent statistics).

Obviously, this approach is very “numbers-heavy”, and so taking this into account, if you don’t feel comfortable with the workload yourself (or know somebody who is), then this could become problematic.

HANDICAPPING (Value Betting)

For this approach you are likely going to need to have very good knowledge on the sport of horse racing. 

There are several factors to consider for each individual race, and you have to decide how these factors are going to affect your overall decision.

Questions you should be asking yourself include:

  • “How often does the favorite horse win the race?”,
  • “What are the average lifetime earnings for each horse?”,
  • “Which horse is the fastest?”,
  • “Which trainer/jockey has won the most?”
  • Etc...

All in all, there are a variety of different strategies within value betting and finding the right one can definitely be tricky.

Bear in mind that this is not necessarily the safest way to bet, there are other ways that are less complicated, and less time-consuming (like matched betting).

For you to commit to value betting, you are going to have to have a solid amount of knowledge, and research done on a certain sport, as well as a lot of spare time.

However, if you are confident in your knowledge, and passion for the game, value betting can be a fantastic way to make a profit.

To summarize, this is a very popular strategy amongst a variety of sports bettors (and rightly so), as if performed properly can provide optimal earnings.

However, with this strategy you will most definitely have to have to most knowledge of the game (and the market), as well as the time to properly execute a game plan.

Value betting is part of 6 beginner friendly trading strategies you can use as a beginner.

2 - THE FAVORITE

Choosing the favorite when going into a race is an approach that seems obvious to most, and yet still cannot be ignored, as the favorites in horse racing win roughly a third of the time. 

One in three sounds almost too good to be true, and yet you’re probably wondering why then doesn’t everybody just bet on the favorites?

favorite horse

Choosing the favorite when betting In any sport is a very popular choice for sports bettors, but especially when it comes to horse racing.

However, before doing so you should know all of the relevant stats, and potential outcomes for taking this route, as it surely is not for everyone.

It’s important to note that favorites win roughly 35% of the time, favorites place (run 1st or 2nd) 55% of the time, and favorites show (run 1st, 2nd or 3rd) 69% of the time.

Taking this into account, betting on the favorite can most definitely be profitable, as long as you go about it the right way.

Assuming that the proper steps are taken, there are certain trends, and rules that (if followed) can put you in a good position to make a very large profit.

For example, it is well known in the horse racing community to always bet on a beaten favorite, meaning if a favorite is coming off of a race in which they lost, then bet on that horse.

Even the best horses are going to lose from time to time, so the odds therefore imply that if they just lost a race, they are more likely to come back and win the next one.

Obviously, while you can make money on betting the favorite, you are still likely to lose two-thirds of the time, so you have to be very careful about which favorites you choose to bet on, and how you go about doing so.

This statistic doesn’t mean to bet on the favorite every single race, because you are likely going to end up losing money in the long run.

Instead, stay disciplined and observe the analytics, taking into consideration the pros, and cons of taking this route.

By doing this you will be able to make more educated picks moving forward.

3 - PRE-RACE SCALPING

Pre-race scalping in the context of horse racing, is the notion of placing a wager initially, and then right before the race begins (as soon as there is a change in the odds), you cash out to make a profit. 

Generally, because this is happening right before the race starts, the odds for that particular race are not likely to jump that much (+2.0 to +1.95), but it is still a quick and easy way to make a profit.

scalping using betangel

One important note for this strategy is that you have to stay on top of the market, and always be aware of sudden changes.

It’s an extremely popular choice for a lot of people, in fact many punters will not only back a horse to win, but also lay the same horse to lose on a betting exchange where there may be a difference between the two wagers.

The key to scalping in horse racing is to be as up to date with the current betting market as you possibly can be.

You should ideally be seeking fast-paced markets where there is a lot of betting turnover, as this will allow for the most opportunity.

Within the realm of pre-race scalping, there are a couple main forms of trading in horse racing such as range-trading, and trend-trading.

RANGE TRADING

Each betting exchange should come with a price range (unlike a regular sportsbook), which will be either big or small depending on the nature of the race, and the market. 

When it comes to horse racing, the small price range is perfect for scalping, as the discrepancy in price will only go up (or down) by a small percentage. So, the idea is to place your lay bet at the bottom of the exchange odds, while backing the horse to win at the top of the bracket.

swing trading with 10 tick profit

TREND TRADING

Another somewhat obvious title, but the idea here is to follow the trends within the market, and adjust accordingly. 

It is one of the safest ways to try and predict fixed odds, essentially, your goal should be to keep an eye out for bettors cutting other’s prices, causing drifts In the trend.

When it comes to pre-race scalping, these are just two ways of using this strategy, and yet they provide great examples of how it can be used to make a profit through horse racing.

Some of the advantages to pre-race scalping is that your money is not in the market for very long (at all), and so there is no risk of you losing your money, having the price adjust unfavorably, and you will get to observe the market, with very little risk in doing so.

However, while you are likely to make some money this way, you are just about guaranteed to be making very minimal gains, as the money line probably won’t move much if it does.

CONCLUSION

To conclude, while there are a plethora of factors to consider beforehand, there are so many benefits for getting involved in horse racing. 

Aside from simply just the monetary gains that can surely be acquired, it also provides a great way to build community, build discipline, and enhance your knowledge in a variety of ways.

The most important thing is that you have all of the required knowledge before investing your time, money, and energy into the process.

You have to consider which strategy is best for your individual needs, taking into account the points mentioned above about each approach.

Throughout this article we were able to narrow down the three easiest strategies for beginners when it comes to betting on horse races.

Now it is up to you to decide which strategy suits your current situation best, which strategy will give you the most satisfaction/security, and (most importantly) which strategy you think will make you the most money!


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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