horses racing


In order to rise above the ordinary, punters must understand that racehorses are people too.

It’s just that they can’t talk. But they eat, sleep, think and need, just like us! They have off-days and on-days. Most importantly, intelligent punters understand that horses’ performances can’t be predicted by calculators.

Because a racehorse’s performance can’t be predicted with any degree of certainty, punters must get in the habit of betting only when the odds are in their favour.  All the best horse-players have a strike rate, over an extended period, of one in three or 33 1/3%. Like HBO (or Carly Simon), NOBODY does it better.

Once you accept you’re not infallible (your best hope is to win one in three).  Now you can do the maths. Three level stakes bets at even money each will, on average, produce one winner and a level stakes loss of one point. So, obviously, persistently backing favourites is the safest route to the almshouse. Instead, look for races in which your selection is likely to be at 2/1 or longer and has a sound chance of winning.

But that’s not enough. In order to stay ahead of the teeming thousands of losers with the same idea, you should narrow your punting options to those at 2/1, or better whose odds on offer are longer than their real chances of winning deserve. This is called “value”.

To identify these excellent betting options (also called “overlays”) begin by going through the card and selecting the horses with real winning chances in each race. Then prepare your own “morning line” based on your said assessment of every horse’s chances in each race (not just those you like).

To do this accurately, you must know how much your local Tote takes off the top before dividends are declared. In Jamaica, that number is an extortionate 30%. It rarely exceeds 15-17% anywhere else.  This means Jamaica’s Tote takes, in stakes, 143% of the dividend it pays out (100÷70 as the Tote pays out $70 for every $100 it collects).

Knowing this, you can convert your estimated starting odds to percentages in order to complete a realistic morning line. The odds of a horse expected to start at 3/1 (for example) converts to 25% of the Tote (1÷4 as the Tote pays out $4 for every $1 bet on that horse). Converting your estimated odds to percentages and then making adjustments necessary to keep the total percentage for the race to 143% will ensure your line is real. Maybe a horse your first draft morning line had at 9/2 (18%; 2÷11) needs to be adjusted in a second draft to 5/1 (16.5%) or otherwise because the total of your first draft line exceeds 143%.

Once your morning lines are done, you have your foundation. For each race, narrow the possible down to the horse on which actual betting takes up a percentage of the Tote less than your estimated percentage by at least 5%. That’s your overlay. If the horse also passes all other race day tests, including no post parade negatives, it’s a bet.  The system is easier when bookmakers offer their own odds because you can take a bet at current odds knowing they won’t change. If betting in a Tote, delay punting until a minute to post.

You would usually find at least three such overlays in a 10-race card. Betting on these horses only should ensure long-term profit. Bear in mind that, on average, punters are leaving the track with 30% less money than they brought. So, in betting on horse racing “profit” is losing less than the Tote Takeout (30% in Jamaica). The secret to making REAL profit is to bet only on properly identified overlays. These are called value bets. You should seek value at all times just as you’d shop around before buying the pair of shoes that’s best value for money.

Don’t listen to tipsters who don’t arrive in a limousine or drive a Mercedes Benz to tout you. If they were so brilliant or successful they wouldn’t be riding bicycles or taking the bus. Always shop around for value. You’ll find your own miracles. No need for Smokey.



This regular review of local performances is based on REAL times.

Abbreviations: CT = “Corrected Time”; TV = “Track Variant” (a calculation of the effect of track conditions on official times to arrive at “real” or “corrected” times); TVs are in fifths of a second; “minus” means a fast track; “plus” a slow track (e.g. -2 means fast by 2/5ths of a second). Variants beside horse’s names represent the difference between its official time and the grade standard.

Readers have been having a field day from this department recently. Legality, written up on May 3 based on his April 22 run as “equalled Overnight Allowance standard so he’s not done winning” hacked up the following day in an optional claiming event.

Also on May 3, I commented on Kalahari’s April 27 effort in a 4yonw3 that he’d “improved again and his CT (1:41.2) is a full second faster than the grade. Compensation awaits!” Compensation came on May 23 at the value price of 3/1!

Finally, on May 3, I predicted Nuclear Evita, an April 27 winner of a maiden condition event “showed improved form winning by 8 lengths in 1:01.0! Her CT (1:00.1) is 4/5th second faster than nw2 so she can repeat”.

Nuclear Evita was foolishly sent off at the value price of 5/1 for a nw2 (May 25) and duly obliged sending readers of this column scurrying to the payout windows.

Let’s see if we can locate even more value:

May 18, 2019 [TV-0 (Round); +7 (Dr Banner) +6 (Axle Rod)]

Rojorn Di Pilot (-4) making a belated re-appearance, finished strongly (Race 1; 3yonw2/Imported 3yo+ maidens; 1000m Round) clocking 1:00.1 (2/5th second faster than nw3). With more to come, he should win again.

May 23, 2019 [TV-0.2 per 200m (Round) -0 (Armageddon) -3 (Miss Nancy)]

Code Of Honor (-8) is now unbeaten in two career starts. This was impressive beating a high quality field by four lengths (Race 3; 3yonw2/Imported maidens; 1600m; TV-2) in 1:39.3. Her CT (1:40.0) is a second faster than nw3 (2/5th second faster than nw3/OT) so she’s a filly to follow.

Overseas Betting Opportunities (OBOs)

Hard on the heels of readers of May 3’s issue catching the English 2,000 Guineas winner, Magna Grecia, at 11/2, readers on May 17 were told, regarding the following day’s Lockinge Stakes:

….providing the ground is no softer than good, it could provide Mustashry with his best chance to win in the top grade after progressing well through the ranks in four races as a 5yo before not handling the softish ground in the Breeders Cup Mile at Churchill Downs.

The ground turned up good and Mustashry duly obliged at the mouth-watering price of 9/1! As if this wasn’t enough, I told you that May 17’s Notebook Horse Gabrial The OneDEFINITELY has races to win at 10-12f this year” so it was no surprise when he hacked up at Chester (12f handicap; May 25) at 4/1! Turfites, THIS is where you find all the value you’ll ever need! Yum, yum!

Today’s English racing at Epsom features the Oaks; tomorrow the Derby. No filly has been more eye-catching in the lead up to the Oaks than John Gosden’s Mehdaayih who was readily impressive in winning the Listed Cheshire Oaks (11 ½f; good to soft) by over four lengths from Oaks candidate Manuela De Vega. However, she’s short enough in the betting and likely to race on much quicker ground later today. So, at the prices, the one to be on is another daughter of Frankel namely Frankellina equal 2nd in the Group 3 Musidora at York (10½f; good to firm) after losing a good deal more ground at the start than she was beaten by at the line. Her trainer, William Haggas, was clear beforehand that the run would bring her on. She swerved the Lingfield Oaks Trial when the ground went soft. Wherever she ends up (may prefer to go to Royal Ascot) she’s sure to leave this bare form behind and, if she faces the starter today, could surprise the favourite.

I’ve long liked Aidan O’Brien’s Japan for the Derby and he clearly needed his seasonal re-appearance in the Dante (10½f; good to firm; staying on 5¾l 4th) and is likely to turn the tables on all who finished before him.

We close with another notebook horse:

San Donato [3yo b.c. Lope de Vega-Boston Rocker (Acclamation)] ran a big race on seasonal re-appearance in the French 2,000 Guineas considering he had to go wide throughout. His best form last year was as a sprinter, but he’s by a French Derby winner so this effort opens more options for him. The 7f Jersey Stakes at Royal Ascot looks an ideal target.

Good Luck!




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