Free Handicap Chase System

Free handicap chase system

Free handicap chase system

The best betting systems are often based on contrarian logic or, at least, on opposing 'conventional wisdom'. Wikipedia describes it thus: Conventional wisdom (CW) is a term used to describe ideas or explanations that are generally accepted as true by the public or by experts in a field. Such ideas or explanations, though widely held, are unexamined.

Er, indeed.

In simple terms, good betting systems tend to pick up on illogical biases: misconceptions of the impact of a certain element or behaviour on the chance of a horse.

So it was that whilst watching the racing on Saturday afternoon I was struck with an idea. After my small interest 'action' bet on Cappa Bleu came off at 16/1, as he saw off Tamarinbleu on the run-in by a diminishing head, I noted that the pair of them had been off the track for a long time.

Specifically, Cappa Bleu was returning after exactly twenty months, having had his last start when pulling up in the 2010 Albert Bartlett at the Cheltenham Festival; and, Tamarinbleu was returning for a first run since the 2010 bet365 (formerly 'Whitbread') Chase at Sandown last April.

And I got to thinking that maybe there's a market bias around horses returning off a long layoff. It is often said that it takes 'a great training performance' to get a horse back after a break to win. Whilst, to some degree, that will be true, the market can underestimate the likelihood of a winning return. Or so I thought. So rather than be deliberately contrarian, or simply forget it and align with the conventional wisdom, I decided to run a few scenarios through a system analysis tool.

And the findings were interesting.

I set the 'long layoff' parameter as 500 days, and I focused only on horses running in UK National Hunt races with a chance, which I defined by their being priced at 16/1 or shorter.

The first thing I did was look at the performance of hurdlers and chasers respectively. I found that chasers won at a 17% clip and were highly profitable to follow under such conditions. By contrast, hurdlers only won 9% of such races and leaked cash if followed.

So I honed in on chasers, and looked at how a distinction between handicap and non-handicap chases fared. This time, the strike rates were reasonably similar, with non-handicap chase returners winning 16% of their starts, and handicappers 19% of theirs.

But there was a significant difference in the profitability of the two groups. Specifically, 55 from 344 non-handicap qualifiers won and in so doing recorded a small level stakes profit of 24.21 points (about 7% ROI).

Handicap chasers on the other hand won 51 of 262 races in the same time frame (from the start of 2008) and showed a whopping 131.28 points profit. That's an eye-watering 50% return on investment!

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But I'm greedy and I didn't want to stop there... so I looked at whether distance, ground or class were factors. Class was immaterial, although none of the seven Class 1 runners managed to win. That's too small a sample to be material so I'm happy to leave class out of the equation.

I was surprised that going had little bearing on performance, as I had perceived that those running on stamina-sapping heavy or soft ground would be found out for fitness. I was wrong. They do win at a slightly lower percentage, but still show a profit at industry SP. This is presumably because the market in general shares my (incorrect) presumption that bottomless going will inconvenience long layoff horses, and therefore sends them off at bigger prices than they ought to be, which in itself is interesting.

However, distance did have a bearing on performance, with those runners racing at up to and including three miles significantly outpointing their longer distance racing buddies. So I added in a criterion around race distance, and capped it at three miles.

Those rules, simple as they are, produced a profit of 141.95 points from just 200 bets. Here's the system in its entirety:

- UK only handicap chases
- Off the track for at least 500 days
- 16/1 or shorter in the betting
- Three miles or less for the race distance

So, thank you Cappa Bleu for the win on Saturday. And, more importantly, for highlighting this very interesting angle.


Now then, I've never done this before so forgive this slight deviation from the norm. But for a few weeks now, I've had a visitor staying. To be honest, it's quite uncomfortable having him around. Irritating even.He's always in my face. Or, more precisely, on my face.

Yes, I've been growing (or trying to grow) facial hair in the name of the wonderfully conceived 'Movember'.

If you've never heard of this, it's a charity effort which supports men's health areas such as prostate and testicular cancer research, and I applaud it for bringing such matters to the fore. (We men tend generally to shrug, and say we're fine, even when we've severed a limb!)

Now, at this point, I wish I'd be able to show you some hugely impressive 'El Gringo' face furniture, but alas life dealt me the wonderful card of not having to shave too often, even now I'm into my fifth decade! So it's been a bit of a struggle to achieve the requisite fluff, and I ask you to sympathise with my mediocre mo-age. It's the best I can do... At least there's another nine days to go, so I might make it to partial Freddie Mercury status by then...!

In any case, if you'd like to see just how ridiculous I look (no disrespect to moustache wearers - they suit a lot of people very well. Just not me), then click the link below. If you'd like to contribute a penny or two to a very worthy cause and in some small way legitimize my month of looking even more like an idiot than normal, then that would be hugely appreciated by future cancer sufferers. [Sorry, but that is the grim reality here, despite the fun angle].

Here's Matt's Moderate Mo, and a place to donate to a very worthy cause.

Thanks a million in advance to any reader(s) who support this.


Finally, congratulations to connections of the simply magnificent Kauto Star, who de-mo-lished (geddit?!) a very classy field in the Betfair Chase on Saturday. It was a serious throwback to his glory days and, whilst I'd have difficulty envisaging Long Run jumping so poorly next time in the King George and therefore Kauto beating him there (or anywhere else), this was a remarkable performance in its own right.

It was his fourth Betfair Chase, which can be added to his already glistening and illustrious roll of wins. As well as those four, he also has a quartet of King George wins, two Gold Cup wins (plus a second and a third), and two Tingle Creeks. In total, he's bagged £2,272,891 in prize money, which is also astonishing.

And here's a picture of the old boy back in his box yesterday morning...

Kauto 'you are a' Star

Kauto 'you are a' Star

Also, if you missed the race, you can watch some wonderfully amateur footage of the end of it here:


If that doesn't warm the old cockles on a cold Monday morning, I don't know what will. Actually, how about a Champion Hurdle preview? I'll be looking forward to the first of the Cheltenham Festival 'big ones' tomorrow.

For now though, do please laugh at my preposterous face furniture (Mrs Matt's dad remarked he was surprised as he didn't think anything grew in the shade..!), and if you can spare a couple of pennies, so much the better. Thank you very much if you do. Here's the link again:

Here's Matt's Moderate Mo, and a place to donate to a very worthy cause.


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34 replies
  1. Avatar
    Peter Colledge says:

    Fascinating, Matt. (equine). I too am hirsutically challenged. I support MacMillan and Cafod, but well done for the ‘growth’ area. Hope all the family are well and being supportive.

    • Avatar
      Matt Bisogno says:

      Thanks Peter. All are well currently – long may that continue. And of course I understand your charitable commitments. Trust all is well there too.


  2. Avatar
    ColinB says:

    Nice niche system – I think you may well be underestimating the profit though !!
    You are talking about Industrry S.P. and I assume your profits are based on that.
    Cappa Bleu was 20 on betfair, say 19 after commission. So if you conservatively hike your 141 points by just 15% that is 161 points over 3 1/2 years – many a commercial system wanting a dozen bets a day do not achieve that !!

    Could it be said you are hiding your light under face fungus, if that is not stretching it old saying too far !

    kind regards


    • Avatar
      Matt Bisogno says:

      Indeed it could, Colin. I am very interested to see how this one gets on, and will have it lined up in my ‘testbed’. (I have nearly forty personal systems running in there at the moment!)


    • Avatar
      Matt Bisogno says:

      It’s right there in the post Roy. Forgive me, but if you can’t be bothered to read it, then I can’t be bothered to tell you where it is. We’re all busy, mate! 😉


  3. Avatar
    Dave says:

    Hi Matt
    I’m new to your blog so in for a fresh start,
    Re. H/C Chase system, have checked the paper just now, 1 selection, Ffos Las 2.25 STORMHOEK qualifies, I’m going to give it a 3 month trial and will keep in touch on it.
    Kind Regards, Dave

  4. Avatar
    SEAN says:

    Not sure how easy it would be to do this, but……………

    I would be interested to know the P+L stats by trainer. as there are some more adept at getting one ready after a long lay off than others.

    • Avatar
      Matt Bisogno says:

      Hi Sean

      Funny you should say that. As you know, I’m something of a (huge) fan of trainer patterns, and am looking into it…! The problem is that the sample sizes are very small.


  5. Avatar
    thomas says:

    hi matt wondered what the average price was and what the percentage of horses that got in the first three were would it hve brought in a small amount of more profit or cut don on the losses cheers thomas

    • Avatar
      Matt Bisogno says:

      Hi Thomas

      Average price is around 9/1 on all runners, with winners averaging around 6.8/1.

      Regarding each way, they placed at 31%, which is not a lot higher than the win rate of 22%. It’s not surprising then that these are less profitable to back each way. This makes sense to me, as I’d expect some of them to ‘blow up’ and run down the field or fail to finish.

      In other words, this is a classic ‘binary’ system: they win or are nowhere generally.


  6. Avatar
    Ted says:

    Hello Matt,

    I’m surprised at you. ‘So I honed in on chasers’ from such a literate gent as yourself.


    • Avatar
      Matt Bisogno says:

      Not really Neil – there’s very little evidence for horses shorter than 5/2, though only two of the seven won. I’m not inclined to make a cut-off on the basis of such a small sample, in the same way that I’ve included Class 1 runners despite their not winning. I think the key with the best systems is to leave a few ‘rough edges’ in there, rather than finesse into something that can be argued as back-fitted.


  7. Avatar
    Andy says:

    Brilliant Matt,they’re the kind of systems we like!
    Perhaps there could be possibilities with this on the flat as well.


    • Avatar
      Matt Bisogno says:

      It’s possible Andy. The problem with the flat is that many horses don’t have the sort of extended career that they do over jumps. In truth, I haven’t looked, and I’m loathe to at this time of year. Maybe one for the Spring… 🙂


    • Avatar
      Matt Bisogno says:

      That’s a very interesting approach, Roy. Not sure if it would work, but the percentages suggest it might, unless the ‘binary’ nature of these types is already factored into the place odds. That is, they might already be bigger place odds than you’d expect to have to lay at… Work a look for sure.


  8. Avatar
    Dunc says:

    Brilliant as usual Matt. It’s systems like these that keep us coming back
    Love the new site and looking forward to more gems like this.
    Wonder if you’ll be doing a piece on the king george, promises to be a cracker.
    Any thoughts for the hennessy, I’ve had a punt already on wymott at 12s

  9. Avatar
    tony Mc says:

    Hi matt, i don’t write of ten, but avidly read your blog etc:
    Looking forward to trying your system.
    unfortunately, i am one of the unfortunate sufferer’s of prostate cancer and donate locally. However your ‘mussy’ is nearly as bad as mine…..and i used to have a massive ‘Pancho’ snigger.

    Cheers mate.

    • Avatar
      Matt Bisogno says:

      Thanks for writing in Tony, and great to hear about your former Pancho ‘stosh’. Not so great to hear of the prostate, so I’m happy to help the research effort (with luck). Also delighted you enjoy the blog. Thanks again for the comment.


  10. Avatar
    Eamon says:

    Hi Matt,

    Thanks for this great little micro system. It’ll sit nicely among all my others that I’ve been adding to over the years incl your HC Chase 10-1 to 10-4 one.

    I’ve plugged it into HRB and got slightly different results

    Bets Wins WinStrike SP_PL Places PlaceStrike
    459 74.00 16.12% 105.96 £141.00 30.72%

    I’m not complaining as this is a fantastic SP_PL but I’m just wondering if I’m missing something as I’m getting more than twice as many qualifiers.

    Do you use Proform for running your queries?



    • Avatar
      Matt Bisogno says:

      Hi Eamon

      No, I’m only looking at the last four years’ data (2008-11). I suspect that training patterns are improving and that there are far less unfit beasts returning than there used to be. Or maybe far more impatient owners in the current climate than their used to be!


  11. Avatar
    Eamon says:

    Incidentally, Lindseyfield Lodge is a qualifier of your other micro system tomorrow at 33’s.

  12. Avatar
    Kate Austin says:

    Loved hearing the cheers for The Star! Have to tell you there’s no roof left on the O&T bar at Huntingdon, everyone screamed the place down. THE stat from that race is that KS took 10 seconds off his old course record. As an athletics performance, it’s astounding. I wld love to know how much KS weighed in 4 this. He looked totally fit. None of this need the run.
    Following the gallops wk @ Exeter & on the hill with MMinded was illuminating. Letting himself down, easy striding, using his neck & shoulders. Don’t think he touched a twig when jumping round did he? Joyful.

  13. Avatar
    Steve Thomas says:

    Hi Matt,

    A nice simple system to operate, just how I like them!

    Before I commit myself to following this for the next 4 years!, could you please tell me if any particular months are more profitable than others and are the results split pretty even over the 4 year period or do we have an up and down fluctuation year by year.


    • Avatar
      Matt Bisogno says:

      HI Steve

      Do you want me to back them for you as well? (only the winners though, of course!) 😉

      Seriously, Q4 is the best time, with horses coming back after a season and a summer off. In other words, now is good!


  14. Avatar
    David says:

    Hi; maybe I’m being a bit anal, but it seemed you chose the figure of 500+ days off the top of your head, so I was wondering if additional profitable selections might be found by reducing it to 400+ days?

    Also wondering if reducing price to 10/1 or less would be better long term. I know you got that 16/1 winner, but how often does that happen?

    Sounds really good though. Do you have additional systems of this sort – maybe for sale?


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