What If? – Horse Racing Betting Statistics

What If – using software and databases to answer all your statistical type questions!

When we were asked by so many of you to provide the answer to a very simple question we jumped at the chance and simple as it may be, there is a little bit more to it than meets the eye.

This week – what would happen if I backed all the favourites i.e. would I be richer or poorer in the long run?

Everyone knows favourites win more races than any other horse, and it’s pretty obvious the bookmakers rarely get it wrong – but is there money to be made by us poor punters, or is favourite backing (and worse still favourite chasing), the quickest way to abject poverty – or is there a way to turn the figures to our advantage we wonder? Contrary to popular belief favourites only actually win about 32% of all races, but naturally they are at different prices which causes the issues – sometimes a 4/9 shot could be seen as value (depending on the opposition) perhaps in a maiden or a horse outclassing the others in a seller, whereas a 7/1 joint favourite may be a disastrous price (Grand National, for example), so we all need to pick and choose, and statistics can only point us in roughly the right direction. No great surprise when we tell you that the percentage of winning favourite goes up to 45% at odds of below 2/1, but down to less than 23% at odds of 2/1 or greater and even my poor maths can understand that has to be a bad thing!

Just so you know, our database stretches all the way back to 1997 so we have some pretty decent figures to work on, but what exactly did we find? Over the entire nineteen year period a level stake £1 would have led to a loss of close to £15,000 which you would have to admit is far from impressive. Looking at it year by year, not one saw a profit of any kind, with a loss of £446.49 the “best” year on record (2006), and a loss of £1117.91 as bad as it ever got in 2010, not a good year to be blindly backing the jolly!

Looking at it month by month its pretty much the same old story with a total of 39 months making pennies in profit and the rest covering the massive overall losses, but out of interest February and December were the only two months to fail to break the £1000 loss barrier for what that’s worth (not a lot at a guess). Days of the week made no difference whatsoever (bookmakers can take your money whatever day it is, they just don’t care),

For those wondering why we have bothered to get this far, there is (or has been) money to be made backing favourites at certain tracks, and if you had blindly put a £1 on every favourite at a combination of Aintree (£2.32), Bellewstown (£5.80), Chester (£3.25), Clonmel (£1.87), Folkestone (£8.98),  Goodwood (£35.98), Kilbeggan (£35.23), Limerick (£24.91), Lingfield (£27.39), Navan (£21.65), Punchestown (£22.34), Thirsk (£43.65), Windsor (£141.38), and York (£57.45) would have made a grand total of  £432.20 (or £4322.00 to a tenner a bet), not riches we agree but not to be sniffed at, and for future reference, a brief reminder of where the favourites do best – and where they don’t!  We aren’t for a moment suggesting that you never back a favourite (after all, we do!), but blind faith clearly doesn’t work in the long run and we need to be selective with our bets if we want to make a profit – alternatively, just follow our daily tips, you know if makes sense.



If you have a question based on past records and performances, why not let us know and we will try our best to answer in detail for you – here to help as always?

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