Clearly there is no such thing as an easy horse race on which to bet, otherwise bookmakers would not exist, let alone drive flash cars. But horse races are not created equal and some are considerably better on which to bet than others are.
A smart man once said that bookmakers have to bet on every race but punters do not. In order to provide their service, bookmakers have to chalk up odds about every horse in every race. Punters do not have to operate under the same arduous conditions. They can pick and choose their races, which is the main edge that they enjoy over their bookmaker rivals, one that the majority of punters still do not comprehend.
Everyone has their thoughts as to what constitutes the best races on which to bet but here are five simple rules to which many successful horse racing punters adhere.
1. No handicap races
Handicap horsing races are the backbone of any major horse racing country’s program. For example, according to the British Horseracing Authority, each year more than half of the races run in the United Kingdom are handicaps, races in which a skilled team of horse racing analysts have tried to give each competitor an equal chance of winning the contest.
Bookmakers are big fans of handicap races because not only do they generate more turnover than non-handicap races but also they are more difficult to predict. Punters ought to stay away from the horse races that bookmakers prefer.
2. No small fields
Small fields are the bane of punters. The average man in the street may think that a race with, say, five runners is a better race on which to bet than one featuring double that number but experience suggests that he would be wrong.
Races with small fields often become slowly run, tactical affairs in which the best horse does not win. One has lost count of how many times red-hot favourites have been beaten in small fields because the early pace was false and the race turned into a two-furlong sprint rather than a true test over the full distance, whatever that was.
3. No long distances
Similar to small fields, long distances have a tendency to produce races that are run at a muddling pace, upsetting all the work that one has conducted in analysing the contest in anticipation of a true test of stamina. It is frustrating to assess a two-mile race only to see the entire field canter the first four furlongs, thereby effectively reducing the competition distance to a mile and a half, particularly so if one has backed a horse that wants every yard of the trip.
Many professional horse racing punters stick to sprint horse races because they know that 99.99 per cent of contests over less than a mile will be run at a genuine pace so they do not have to worry about second guessing in-race tactics.
4. No extreme conditions
Races take place on a wide range of surfaces, from bottomless, heavy ground that has been drenched by rain to rock-hard, firm ground that has not had a drink for weeks.
Very strange things happen when horses race in extreme conditions. First, horses identified as ground specialists start at considerably lower odds than anything else in their form supports. And second, inexplicable results occur with considerably greater regularity than they do at other times.
Some serious horse racing punters do not bet at all when the official ground is on the soft side of good or really firm because extreme conditions have burned them too often in the past. And it is no accident that the majority of punters – both good and bad – have their best results when the races on which they are betting are conducted on good ground.
5. No low-quality contests
Not every race can be of the standard of a Dubai World Cup, Kentucky Derby or Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe but there are sufficient high-quality races for punters not to concern themselves with races towards the foot of the hierarchy.
While such an approach will not suit a horse racing punter who likes to bet on horse races every day, there is a lot to be said for limiting one’s betting to what are known in the game as Black Type races because they show up in black type in pedigrees. In North America, Black Type races are Grade One, Grade Two and Grade Three contests. In most other regions, Black Type races are Group One, Group Two, Group Three and Listed contests. Basically, they are the best of the best.
One major factor in favour of betting on Black Type races to the exclusion of all others is that one can assume that every horse in a high-quality contest is trying to win because of the prizes on offer. Unfortunately, as hard as racing authorities are working to stamp out what could be termed schooling in public, the same cannot be said of low-quality contests in which the rewards are small.
Conclusion: Knowing what NOT to bet on will give you +EV instantly.