If you want to lay horses for a living then you need to adopt a professional approach to picking out “false favourites,” or horses which are unjustified in their position as the favourite for a particular race.
As high as 90% of all punters base their selections solely on form which leads to such horses being overbet and therefore a potential laying opportunity. While a horse’s form does count in its favour to some extent, it is not the be all and end all.
Take a look at today’s racecard and pick out the short-priced bookmakers favourites for each race of odds under 4/1. In this article we will attempt to identify some factors which suggest the horse is in fact a “false favourite” and a potential opportunity to lay.
Going. The ground conditions are our first port of call. Some horses are content to run on any type of ground but a lot prefer one type to another. We want to find a favourite which has never run on a particular going before, or a favourite with a poor record on this type of going.
Distance. The second most important factor for identifying potential laying opportunities is the length of the race. Look out for favourites which are stepping up in distance for the first time or a horse which has a poor record at this particular distance.
Experience. If the horse is a short priced favourite despite the race being it’s first run then it should be earmarked as a potential lay. In this situation the horse is usually two years old and running in a maiden race. First-time horses at this age are impossible to judge and it’s price will be based due to the owner having paid a lot of money for it or having a popular trainer.
Weight. If the favourite is running in a handicap race and is carrying significantly more weight for the first time then this could affect its chances.
Date Since Last Run. If a horse has not run for 60 days then it is akin to a footballer lacking match practice! Similarly, if a horse is running again within four days of its last race then arguably it may not have fully recovered. However, some horses are fully capable of running several days in a row so make sure you check past race history.
Field Size. The more horses there are in a race, the greater the chance there is of them getting in each other’s way. This is particularly true of maiden races.
Opposition. Rather than being drawn into analysing the form of other horses in the race, quickly scan the racing history for them to try and find one with similar ability to that of the favourite. You can use the above checklist to try and see whether there is a worthy challenger to the favourite also taking part in the race.
This is of course not a definitive guide to finding a favourite which will lose and you will lay winning horses from time to time. This is inevitable and part of laying horses. When this happens, study the race in more detail and see if there was anything you first missed. Learn from your mistakes and move on to the next laying opportunity.
Start off by paper trading, i.e. not gambling with real money and then move on to laying with small stakes. When you get to grips with the art of laying horses and spotting potential losing favourites, you can increase your stakes accordingly as your bank grows.