Horse Racing Strategy default

Why betting on lower class races makes sense

With the Winter Carnival slowly drawing to a close, many punters will contemplate retiring the form guide and speed maps until the smell of Spring enters their nostrils in a few months time. But while many punters are taking a holiday from the Sport of Kings over the remaining weeks of winter, many smart punters are preparing themselves for one of their most successful punting seasons on the racing calendar.

 

Betting-Odds-Ipswich-Cup-2016

Behind their success are five reasons why betting in lower class races makes a whole lot of sense.

#1 Work out who can't win

Lower grade races usually bring together horses with form from a range of different grades. Some are improvers in lower grades, others have performed poorly in higher grades and the rest have run more often in the actual race grade. Unlike stakes races where runners have earned their place in the race, these races tend to have more than there fare share of runners that just can't win.

With such a mixed lot in a race it is often easier to identify who can't win, leaving you with a decision based on the few horses who haven't been eliminated. One elimination approach involves three sweeps of the form guide.

First sweep you're looking for the "no brainers". Those that you can't possibly see in the action at the winning post. In lower grade races there's usually a greater number of these runners compared to stakes races. For the second sweep you're looking for more specific traits where the runner has weaknesses which will be exposed in the run - distance, track condition for example. Left with a handful of runners after two sweeps you now compare the runners and rate them in terms of recent form, class and consistency.

Key take-away

It's usually easier to eliminate runners in lower grade races. Find an approach that works and stick with it.

 

#2 Class at the distance

The most successful punter I ever met who put a lot of work into assessing lower grade races swore by class at the distance as a key determining factor. While he used a complex ratings approach, his advice to punters who struggled to perform this analysis was to approach class and grade separately. For class he suggested a formula using each horse's prize-money, career firsts, seconds and thirds, to calculate a performance score based on the following formulae:

Performance Score = Number of Career 1sts + (Number of Career 2nds / 4) + (Number of Career 3rds / 8)

 

The Performance Score was then divided into the Career Prize Money to produce a relative prize money score.

Comparative Prize Money = Career Prize Money / Performance Score

e.g. In Race 4 at Eagle Farm this weekend Pajaro is 21-4-6-4 for $374,978 career prize money.

Performance Score = 4 + (6/4) + (4/8) = 6

Comparative Prize Money = $374,978 / 6 = $62,496

The approach then orders each runner according to this score with the highest number representing the classiest horse followed by some sense testing down the list to ensure that no anomalies have crept in.

This basic approach then looks at each horse's performance over or around the distance to identify each runners best run. The approach requires a detailed form guide which shows more than the past few runs so that the punter can identify the best run over this distance and see how it compares to the class he is racing against.

Key take-away

Class and distance form are key differentiators in lower class races.

#3 Less emotion when you don't know the horses

One of the biggest mistakes that many punters make is that they let their heart rule their head. A champion thoroughbred can often play at a punter's heart strings regardless of how they compare against the field. A classic example is when we've won off an ageing champion in the past and we feel that we need to be loyal to the old stager even though we know in the back of our mind that the horse is past his best and probably not up to the field he is racing against. Hanging on to our fantasy of past victories, we take the odds on the horse expecting him to be loyal back.

Punters are less likely to have emotional attachment in lower grade races as they are less familiar with the runners.

Key take-away

Lower grade races decrease the risk of emotional decisions. In the absence of emotion, punters are better positioned to make an objective assessment based on form without any prejudice.

 

#4 Less knowledge, bigger the opportunity

If you don't know much about the runners in lower grade races, the chances are that the majority of the other punters having a go in the race don't either. Less knowledge about runners in the race increases the pricing opportunities for those who make the effort to learn a bit more.

Punters who keep an eye on provincial tracks or horses moving up through the lower grades come into their own when assessing lower grade races.

If you're unlikely to ever obtain that knowledge e.g. no time to do the homework, then there are many punters who are constantly punting and reviewing mid-week, provincials and country meetings and are sharing their betting selections through the Tip Market.

Key take-away

The reduced interest in lower grade races usually creates a greater reward for those punters who take the time to increase their knowledge of lower class runners. If you're never going to get there then follow another punter with proven profitability betting in lower grade races.

 

#5 More over the odds

We run analysis on punters who back winners at big odds and there is a definite trend towards bigger priced winners being backed in lower grade races. We think this is easy to explain. Lower grade races have less interest from the punting public which results in lower liquidity in the betting market. Any market with low liquidity typically creates significant price opportunities.

Key take-away

Less popular races, involves less turnover which creates pricing opportunities.

Mike Steward

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