Tips and pointers on how to bet on horses at the races: tactics, tools, and instructional information on vital racing statistics to take into account.

Gold Reports: What do the numbers really mean?

As of today, a subset of Gold reports now have two extra columns on them. In this post, I'll outline not just the two extra columns but the whole reporting structure and how best to use them.

Gold-en Reporting

There are currently eleven reports in the Gold suite - more will follow in 2016 - and each has its tell-tale pointers for the day's punting.

The first five in the banner above - called a mega menu apparently, and what you see when you hover on the 'Reports' link in the top navigation - all have individual layouts which I'll not go into here. That's for two reasons:

  1. Their layout hasn't changed from the format displayed in the User Guide (click to download)
  2. I don't want this post to be too long!

The remaining six, from Trainer Statistics top right and all the way through the bottom row, all follow a common format, as follows [click to enlarge] :

Geegeez Gold Trainer Statistics Report

Geegeez Gold Trainer Statistics Report

Allow me to share the layout. The report is split into two areas: the 'control' at the top and the 'content' beneath.

The Report Controls

In the top section, users can define how and what they want to see. For instance, if you like to lay horses, you might change the win percentage filter to be from 'Any' to '10%', and look for fancied runners representing trainers with poor form in the context of the relevant period.

The "relevant period" is whichever blue button on the right that is checked - displaying in a lighter colour. In this example, it is Course 5 Year Form.

The other two blue buttons, to the left, allow Gold users to look at either today's racing or, for you evening students, the following day's action.

Oh, and if you're mainly interested in handicap races, you can select the 'HCAP' filter at the top, to show the report output for handicap races only - pretty neat when trying to sift the "always trying" from the "occasionally tuned up to do a job"!

The Meat of the Matter

Once you've set your parameters, click the big grey 'UPDATE' button and the content area will display those entities - trainers in this case - that fit your criteria. On subsequent visits to the report, your settings will be recalled, so if you have a fixed approach you need only set this once. (You're welcome!)

The content area is split into four parts: qualifying entities, record, profit/loss, and statistical significance. It is the last part which is new, but let me quickly touch on each to set the scene.

The example above has been set to display trainers whose course record in the last five years includes at least 20 runners. All other filter parameters have been set to 'Any'. I have then clicked the column heading by which I want to sort: the default is number of wins, and I have changed it to Win %.

We can see at the top of the content area that the picks of the trainers with runners today on this configuration are Nicky Henderson at Doncaster and Warren Greatrex at Bangor.

Looking to the race record next, both have struck at better than one-in-three under these conditions, and both have a better than 50% place record - which might be of interest to placepot players, as well as exacta/trifecta protagonists.

Of course, we need to consider win/place strike rates in the context of profitability (or 'lossability' if you're a layer), which is where the third set of columns come in. As well as win profit and loss we also calculate each way performance, and that data is displayed to the right of the performance record. Here, we can see that both Hendo and 'the great Rex' have rewarded support - both win and each way - historically in this context, as we might expect having sorted on win percentage.

Clicking on any row in the report will reveal inline information relating to that report row's entries. In the example above, Greatrex has two runners at Bangor, Ballyculla and Ma Du Fou. Clicking on a row in the inline display will open a new window for that race. (The aim is to make these reports both useful and usable!)

A Measure of Utility

And so to the 'new stuff'. The final two columns, on the far right, are A/E and IV. These are measures of statistical significance where a score of 1.00 is the norm (i.e. neither significant nor insignificant). The job of A/E is subtly different from that of IV.

Actual vs Expected (A/E)

A/E, or the ratio of Actual versus Expected, attempts to establish the value proposition (profitability in simple terms) of a statistic. The 'actual' and 'expected' are the number of winners.

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Eh? Expected number of winners? What's them then? Let me try to explain.

So we're happy the actual number of winners is just that. In the case of Nicky Henderson above, he has had 40 winners from 113 runners. Actual then is 40.

But how do we calculated the 'expected' number of winners? We use a simple formula based on the starting price (you could just as easily use Betfair Starting Price or even tote return if you were sufficiently minded - we've used SP), thus:

Actual number of winners / Sum of ALL [entity] runners' SP's (in percentage terms)

which we know at this stage to be 40/ Sum of ALL [entity] runners' SP's (in percentage terms)

To establish a runner's SP in percentage terms, we do the sum 1/(SP + 1).

For instance, 4/1 SP would be 1/(4 + 1), or 1/5, which is 0.20.

1/4 SP would be 1/(0.25 + 1), or 1/1.25, which is 0.8.

And so on...

The sum of Henderson's 113 runners' starting prices in the last five years, calculated in the above fashion, is 32.078.

Our A/E then is 40 / 32.078 which is 1.247, or 1.25 for cash.

We can then say that Hendo's Donny horses have performed 25% above market expectation in the last five years. Based on a reasonable sample size of 113 runners (all sample sizes for these reports are unacceptably small for categorical pronouncements, but in many cases are perfectly sufficient for wagering chances to be taken), we can say that in general terms his horses look worth following.


Important Note!

Before I go on, I want to make it plain that you absolutely do NOT need to understand how the numbers are arrived at. I am adding this info for geeks and the generally inquisitive.

What you need to know is that better than 1.00 is good, and worse than 1.00 is not good (for backers); and that the further away from 1.00 the better/worse the stat may be.


Impact Value

But wait. What if a sample has been skewed by a 66/1 winner? Or two big-priced horses? The A/E figure might look very attractive, but what are the chances of such an event repeating itself?

Good question, and I'm glad you asked! 😉

We use Impact Value to help reveal skewed datasets. Impact Value is essentially a glorified winners/runners ratio, except that it looks at things in the context of the micro (e.g. Nicky Henderson's 5 year record at Doncaster) versus the macro (e.g. all races at Doncaster in the last five years).

Here's how it goes...

IV = %age of Donny 5 year winners trained by N Henderson / %age of Donny 5 year runners trained by N Henderson

To work out the first bit, we need to know how many winners Hendo trained, and how many winners there were at Donny in the last five years overall. We already know Hendo trained 40 winners in that time, but what we didn't hitherto ken is that there were 1177 winners ridden at Doncaster (flat and jumps).

So, our "%age of Donny 5 year winners trained by N Henderson" is 40 / 1177 = .033985 (expressed as a decimal)

For the second bit, we already know that Henderson ran 113 horses at Doncaster in the period, and I can reveal that there were 12146 total runners in that time.

"%age of Donny 5 year runners trained by N Henderson" is then 113 / 12146 = .009303 (expressed as a decimal)

Impact Value therefore is 0.033985 / 0.009303 = 3.652905, or 3.65 to two decimal places.

T'riffic, Matt, but what does it all mean?

It means that, at Doncaster in the last five years, a horse trained by Nicky Henderson is more than three-and-a-half times more likely to win than the norm.

The Perfect Combination

For backers, then, the ideal world is a reasonable dataset - in this context, more than 50 is fair, more than 100 is good - and both A/E and IV showing some way above 1.00.

For layers, the same principle applies regarding sample size but, of course, you'd be looking for A/E and IV figures as far south of 1.00 as possible (and, naturally, prices you'd be comfortable laying at!).

An example, which Sod's Law dictates will now win, is Chantara Rose. Her trainer, Peter Bowen, has a five year record at Doncaster of 0 from 34. This gives scores of 0.00 twice, so one needs to look at the place record too. He's had just six of those 34 make the frame. In that light, Chantara Rose may have her work cut out and can be laid at 7.8.

Important Final Note

It is really, really, really important to note that the report output is best used as a starting point for your deliberations. Moreover, any horse can win any race, so - obviously - wagering on the basis of report output, or indeed on any basis, should be undertaken as part of a long game with a bank that supports and, where necessary, sustains it.

I know you know this, but I just want to be clear that good data allied to good punting sense is the way forward. Geegeez readers generally, and Gold users in particular, tend to 'get' this more than most punters... which sets us up rather nicely to profit from the sport we love.

Me and all of the team here at Geegeez very much hope this information will enhance the value of the 'bare stats' on the reports, and perhaps enable you to see more (or, just as importantly sometimes, less) value in the content of those data lists.


p.s. if you've any questions, just pop a comment below and I'll get back to you.

All Weather Trip Droppers: A Profitable Angle?


A friend of mine swears blind that backing handicappers dropping in trip is like finding gold in the street, but it’s not something I’ve considered as a blanket strategy, for all I can see some merit to the practice, writes Rory Delargy. I quickly ran the numbers to determine how profitable AW handicappers were at certain trips if they had run at further than a mile in similar races last time out. I’ve used handicaps on the AW as a benchmark as we are essentially comparing like for like except for distance (if using turf vs AW, we’d have to consider stiffness of track and softness of the going as variables.

In the results below, Betfair profit/loss is to a £1 stake after 5% commission, and A/E is actual wins over expected wins based on market expectations. Figures show results for last ten years (2005-2015).



Horses Who Raced Over 1m+ On Last Start (AW Handicaps Only)

           RUNS   WINS    BETFAIR P/L   BETFAIR ROI       A/E

5f       224         23           131.32                   58.62                    1.28

6f       550         52           40.98                     7.45                      1.07

7f      4509       501         510.12          11.31                 1.09                                       

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1m     9612       1110       201.86                   2.10                      1.03

The results make interesting reading. Only fair strike rates for horses racing at 1m or shorter after a run over further, but there were profits to be had year in year out by backing those cutting back in trip. These figures improve when we ignore fillies and apply the figures to colts and geldings only, who tend to be more reliable.

It’s interesting what you find when you filter the results by finishing position on most recent start, with the strike rate generally higher in line with previous performance, but the P&L showing a loss for those who had won or been placed over further on their latest outing, presumably the result of being overbet due to conspicuously positive form figures. Backing those who were unplaced last time out (we can assume that for many the failure is due to a lack of stamina), and the figures look better – the table below is for colts and geldings who were unplaced on their most recent start at 1m+.


Colts & Geldings Who Were Unplaced Over 1m+ On Last Start (AW Handicaps Only)


5f            156         15           98.52                     63.15                     1.22

6f            3430       38           150.87                   43.99                     1.33

7f            2406       218         149.51                   6.21                        1.10       

1m          4491       405         277.73                   6.18                        1.08

What is striking is that while plenty of profit comes from those running at 7f and 1m, the ROI is much higher for sprint trips, and that suggests that this is where the value lies. Again, it should be noted that the strike rate in such races is not overly high, but the prices seem to be more generous. My thinking is that most punters betting in a 6f race would prefer to choose a runner who had run well over a similar trip, rather than one which had run moderately over further. That sounds like a logical approach, but the results suggest that such horses are underbet on a regular basis. It’s also worth pointing out that backing such horses makes a profit at SP as well as at Betfair prices, which is encouraging.

I’ve decided to concentrate on races over 5 and 6 furlongs therefore, and am looking for any other means of distilling the profits further. Race class is worth looking at, and while the results in class 2 races are impressive, they come from a small sample (2 wins from 21 runs), with the most robust figures coming from Class 5 and 6 events, which make up the majority of winter AW cards. It’s also best to concentrate on the UK courses, so I’ve removed stats for both Dundalk and Laytown, the latter of which could hardly be deemed an AW track in any real sense.


Colts & Geldings Over 5f/6f Who Were Unplaced Over 1m+ On Last Start (UK AW Handicaps Only)


C5           107         16           96.18                     89.89                     1.65

C6           229         27           147.15                   64.26                     1.56

The most telling figures on our distilled chart is the A/E figure, which shows that for the races shown, those horses we have identified are winning races better than one and a half times more often than the market expects, which is an excellent indicator of future profitability, as is strike rates at or above 12%.

The criteria outlined above show a profit at all UK AW tracks, although the best figures come from Lingfield. On a related note, there are a few trainers who enjoy more than their share of winners when cutting back in trip in this fashion, with Mick Appleby, Dean Ivory, David Elsworth and John Jenkins all having positive profiles, so following their runners who are reverting to sprinting is an angle you should certainly consider.


SURVEY: Your Betting Knowledge

Five questions....

Five questions....

I'm interested in understanding a little more about what you, as a geegeez reader, know about horse racing and betting; and any subjects where you might like to know more. So, below is a short five question survey to see where you're at.

Please do take 90 seconds to complete it, and many, many thanks in advance for your input!


Your Questions Answered…

After you sent in your questions earlier in the week, I've made a start on answering them. I did actually record some video, but there was a problem rendering the slides for that pack. Never mind, it was only five and a half hours yesterday... Aaaargh.

I've split the questions into three groups - Racing, Betting, and Gold - and the first two groups are below. Racing even has a video that works! (I think the Betting one - with 325 slides - was too big for the software to handle...

OK, let's go...

Your Racing Questions Answered

“Hi do you think anything can be done to stop these low fields? Just look at Goodwood today also handicap races so many taken out and you can’t get the 4th place”

  • Patrick

MB – Hi Patrick, yes, this is a really serious issue affecting racing. There are plenty of reasons why it happens, such as:

  • A declining horse population
  • Reduction in the average number of runs per horse per year (perhaps in part down to breeding/training evolution)
  • A growing number of races/meetings
  • 48 hour declarations on the flat and going changes

Much can be done, but the question is whether it will be. Racing’s many stakeholders all bleat like lambs at the slaughter at the very mention of the word ‘change’, and they all consider that their particular issues are the most important. Indeed, in my opinion, racing’s inability to sing a common tune is its biggest threat.

I am personally in favour of 48 hour declarations, because they give me more time to study – and write about – the form. A necessary evil of that is growth in non-runner numbers.

However, other issues such as an – in my opinion – unsustainable volume of races/meetings for the current horse population, and the decline in popularity of National Hunt ownership require direct intervention.

In fairness to the BHA, they recognise this, and in the last couple of months I’ve contributed to a consultation on National Hunt racing, and as of this week I have sight of a race planning consultation document.

The Horseracing Betting Forum, on which I sit, also may make recommendations in relation to the above, though I can tell you the subject hasn’t made it on to a very packed agenda for the first meeting, on Friday 4th September.

It is to be hoped that some solutions can be found, though this clearly won’t happen overnight; or else getting a fourth place in handicaps will become a luxury, and getting a third place less of a common occurrence.


Hello Matt

I trust you won’t mind my superfluous question, it is something from the back of my mind, Has Mikael Barzalona suffered a `fall from grace`? He seems to have gone from a retained rider for Godolphin to a bit-part rider for Freddie Head. Do you know of any reason for this?

Robert Jolly


MB – Hi Bob, Yes and no, I think. Firstly, as with so many sportsmen and women, M. B was a precocious talent from an early age. But his flamboyance – remember that ballsy salute from the saddle as Pour Moi only just prevailed in the Derby? – is not to everyone’s tastes, and maybe betrays a lightness of character not best suited to the work ethic expected in the big yards.


Look at the  most successful jockeys – Richard Hughes, Ryan Moore, Frankie Dettori – and you’ll see a group who are workaholics first and showmen second. Even Frankie, after a Barzalona-esque beginning to his career back in the day, knuckled down to the work rate required to succeed.


MB is still getting some great rides and, perhaps, the example of Dettori is the most pertinent. He’s had more than one ‘second chance’, and is blossoming in his relative dotage this season. I think we’ll see an encore from Mikael in the next couple of years.


Hi Matt,   What does it mean when a trainer says he would like a bit of black type for his horse?  Regards. Ken. MB – Hi Ken, Black type is usually used in relation to fillies and mares, and refers to a first four finish in a ‘Pattern race’ (Listed or Group race). It appears on a horse’s ‘page’ in the sales catalogues, literally in bold type, and is a most attractive attribute for a buyer looking to breed from the filly/mare in question.


Breeding. Why isn’t semen collected from outstanding stallions and used for artificial insemination with further generation mares? Frank

MB – Hi Frank, It is against the rules, quite simply. The business of breeding is huge – much bigger than that of racing – and anything that prolongs the fertility lifetime of a stallion (such as freezing his semen for artificial insemination) is a threat to subsequent crops of stallions and, thus, the business which underpins it.

There are really strict rules around breeding which ensure that no foal can be registered without it emerging from a ‘formal’ mating, all of which is tracked regimentally.

With bulls, breeding is important; but the fact that they don’t compete directly (generally speaking) I presume means the rules can be less stringent.


What’s the reasoning behind naming horses by running several words into one, e.g. Diamondsandrubies? Aodhan OCarroll
buckieboy   - Names are limited to 18 characters, inclusive of spaces, so your example with spaces it would total 19.

Matt, what do the following expressions mean that are commonly used by TV pundits…….well furnished…..recalcitrant and precocious? Dave
MB – Hi Dave, “Well furnished” means the horse has a good physique; “recalcitrant” means it is not the most co-operative (!); and, “precocious” means it has a lot of ability / is very mature early in its life/career.



Your Betting Questions Answered

Here’s a question for you, Matt. Any idea how to knock a losing run on the head? Things have been shocking lately (and all proofed on the Geegeez forum)! Good job I've been following Chris to make up the shortfall. The ups and downs of a life of a punter, eh? Should have got a job in Poundland. Less stress! 🙂


MB – Hi Paul, Losing runs… great question, and one also asked by Keith – thanks to you, too.

There are (at least) two ways to answer this, related, so here goes:

The first is the emotional one. In the teeth of a losing run, we get defensive: defensive about our methods, about backing bigger priced horses we see as value, about the gods conspiring against us, about… well, pretty much everything. When we do this, our ‘arm tightens’: we start looking to back shorter priced horses seeking comfort from the market, we start questioning our approach.

Average losing runs in 1000 bets

Average losing runs in 1000 bets

It is very hard to take. As I speak and write this, I’m in the teeth of a horror run on Double Dutch. Honestly, just randomly picking the top two in a pair of races would have performed better than my considered approach this week and the tail end of last week.

But this is the same approach that put most of 120 points on the board in the first place, and I’m not about to abandon it even in the teeth of a howling gale of poor fortune and, yes, occasionally poor judgement. That leads me on to point two…

The second is the data-driven. If you know your average odds, your strike rate, and other key metrics; if you’re clear about your modus operandi, and if you’ve enjoyed a good spell of success with an approach, it is more likely than not that you’re suffering the necessary losing yang to your historical winning yin.

How to knock it on the head? There’s only one way: stop betting. Period.

Obviously, that extreme measure is not what most of us want to do, nor is it what we should do. So, more practically, we can either reduce stakes – meaning lower losses but also lower profits when the wheel turns again; or we can continue as we have, mindful of the numbers which support such a course of action.

Of course, if you don’t have the numbers to back up a decision to continue, then I strongly advise pausing until you can gather that information. You may find that you’re destined to lose when you look at the bigger picture. Hopefully that’s not the case, but none of us who take betting seriously – even as a hobby – should be ‘hoping’ it’s not the case. We should know unequivocally that it is, or it isn’t.

Good luck – with a solid methodology, things will turn in due course. ‘Due course’ is best described by this ‘worst case scenario’ chart based on average odds.

As you can see, even betting at average odds of even money, you could realistically expect to hit a losing run of ten in a sample of 1000 wagers. At just 4/1, that rises to 31 straight losers; and at 10/1 a whopping 72. So make sure your bank can withstand the worst ravages of a downturn.


Since it worked for me as a boy at Ayr yonks ago I have been a sucker for horses running on consecutive days. It is a bit of a nuisance when there are more than one in the same race though. Do you have any stats? samcarsonps

MB – Hi Sam,

Horses running the day after they previously ran have performed pretty well, though not well enough to win at SP. Saying that, the 1,561 to have run on flat turf since 2003 returned a small (+42) profit at Betfair SP.

Horses running in flat turf handicaps the day after finishing in the top five, and priced at 20/1 or shorter, have done very well.

Specifically, they’ve won 116 of 686 races (17%) for an SP return of 54.45 (8% ROI, better than the banks!), and around 132 points profit at Betfair odds. That’s close to 20% ROI on the exchange.

So yes, there’s definitely something in that…


Hi Matt

My question refers to a recurring difficulty of trying to get funds out of bookie accounts before the winnings grow too big for their liking. I am intending to use back and lay techniques to effectively lose with the bookies but actually transfer the money to Betfair or SMarkets

My question is which sports would you consider best to use? Low odds eg odds on tennis players keep winning and putting money from Betfair into my bookie account and long odds eg golf outrights require thousands of pounds in Betfair to cover that side of the liability

I am trying to get over £2k out of Bet 365 and Skybet and fear for each account


MB - Hi Clive, This is an interesting question, which rather assumes there bookmakers will restrict you based on withdrawn winnings rather than actually winning the bet in the first place.

Now, I’m not party to bookie algorithms, so I can’t say whether that’s a flawed assumption or not – my gut feeling is that it might be.

I don’t really have a strong view because of my uncertainty about your starting premise, but it does seem odd to be risking a percentage of your money to ‘arb’ against yourself. I would just withdraw the cash, and live with the consequences.

Even if the account does get restricted, that in my view is better than giving money away as you suggest. There are ways to open new accounts – though it’s not the sort of thing I can suggest in a Q&A such as this. Suffice it to say that if you wanted to, you’d find a way to.

If you absolutely must trade against yourself like this, your job is to use skill to find false favourites – in any sport. Seems an odd way to go…


Hi Matt, how are you? Do you think it can make a difference in a horse’s performance having previously put up a good performance going either left handed or right handed or does it make minimal difference? I try and look at a race from all angles.   Geegeez gold is the best thing I have ever joined. All the best, Andy

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MB – Hi Andy, firstly thanks a lot for the comment about Gold. That’s great to hear! Now, to the ‘handedness’ question.

First of all, the obvious bit. Horses running on a straight track will be excluded from such a consideration. In flat racing, that’s a majority of races.

Now, to the meat of your question. I’d be confident that, yes, for some horses running at some tracks, the handedness of a course makes a difference.

The challenge is in identifying which horses and, a point which is generally ignored, which tracks. Some tracks, Chester and Pontefract for instance, have very tight turns which make up a significant amount of the circumference of the course. Others, Cheltenham and Chepstow, for example, have much more straight ground giving horses a chance to re-balance even if ideally they’d prefer to race the other way.

Then there is the horse itself. I don’t have enough data to say whether smaller, nippier types might be less bothered by the handedness of a course – and, by inference, bigger nags may have more trouble lugging one way or t’other – but I suspect that to be a reasonable generalization.

Pulling your generous Gold compliment into the argument, this is certainly a piece of information we’d like to incorporate into our reporting at some point, though it’s not top of the agenda at this stage.


Hi Matt, 

Throughout the 80's and early 90's I had a system based on favourites. I figured that if I applied other parameters to the favourites I could increase the win rate from the normal 36% or so to a profitable level. It worked extremely well. I had a consistent strike rate of 83%. It didn't concern me what the price was nor the type of race or the code. I averaged 2.43 bets per week, (yes I did keep meticulous records). My longest winning run was 22 and my longest losing run was 5. I adhered absolutely strictly to the rules, 1lb out in the weight or half a furlong out in distance for example made it a no bet. There was no question of decisions from the heart! 

Gradually from the late 90's my system began to fail until the point when it was no longer profitable. 

I have tried to tweak it without success but all the original rules were perfectly logical and should still be today. 

What has happened since then to make my system fail? You can't say I was lucky because luck doesn't last for 10 years, or does it? Surely not! 

Your thoughts? 


MB – Hi Dave, another great question, and again a two part answer. The first part of the answer is “look at the data”. If you find that the win strike rate of your system picks remains largely constant with when the method was profitable, then it is simply that the market takes far better account of the combination of factors which comprise your system.

Every method has a shelf life in this regard, because the market is an iterative, evolving organism which subsumes all knowledge lobbed at it in the form of wagering pounds.

With the increased accessibility of database technology, the group called ‘favourites’ have never been under closer scrutiny – mainly because backing this group, or subsets therein, gives the highest strike rate. Consequently, any pockets of value have been squeezed, certainly in terms of starting price favourites.

On the other hand, if the strike rate diminished, either instead of or as well as the average odds, then it could be that something material has happened outside of the market. For example, have training methods reduced the effectiveness of your system? Or has the race programme changed in races you were betting? Have the courses you bet altered their drainage, or otherwise amended the track configuration?

There are myriad reasons for change, some more obvious than others. The only constant is that change WILL happen, and if something has worked previously for a period of time, it is very likely it will either reduce or disappear altogether in terms of effectiveness. That’s the price of progress!

Thanks for that great question 🙂 


Dear Matt

Love reading your articles and lots of other stuff from various sources.   As someone with a full-on job, it is difficult to follow regular systems and tips, simply because I may miss BOG prices or just not have the time to get bets on or not have internet access.   That has meant in the past missing good winning days!  (Holidays also get in the way of betting too!) 

Any thoughts on this?   Is trading the markets just before the off an idea you have considered or used?  I am trying out BetTrader software at the moment and can dip in and out whenever I am free. 

I have gone down the road of using free bets, arbitrage and the like to the tune of £3,700 profit in 14 months. 

Have got limited by Ladbrokes, Coral, 888 sport and Stan James but I suspect the front three are getting their house in order with the mergers afoot! 

Cheers and thanks for all your in-depth study.   Hope the Forum goes well on Friday. 


MB – Hi Doug, I’ve put this question under the ‘betting’ heading though, in truth, you don’t seem that interested in betting.

Your approach appears purely market driven, and profiteering in intent. That’s not meant as a criticism as such. Rather, it’s not an area that holds a deep amount of fascination to me.

Can you make money arbing? Yes, absolutely. Do bookies hate arb’ers and close them down? Yes, of course.

But that’s of little consequence to the huge number of people who are making thousands of pounds in risk-free profits. Arb’ers will get closed by all bookies in the end but as most tend not to want to actually bet on the outcome of a race – rather, they merely want to trade the early prices – it is not too much of an issue.

In answer to your question, no, trading the pre-race markets is not my thing. I like form. And horses. And races. And betting!


Hi Matt, thanks for inviting questions from your readers. My problem is that you hear so much about systems that promise the world and fail to live up to expectations. Maybe I am asking too much but I am looking for a system that is not that expensive (no ongoing fees, been stung before) that does not require a large betting bank or complicated staking plans, win bets only which isn't too complicated and doesn't take long to find selections, and is the closest system I can find to ensuring regular decent profits! Then I would be interested. I enjoy betting on horse racing and football. Bet you wish you hadn't invited responses now! Kind regards Gary.

MB – Ah, a good old fashioned ‘golden goose’ question! 😉 No offence intended of course, Gary, so let me put some meat on the goose-y bones. I want to say two things here: One. Ask yourself whether your aspirations, in terms of the risk you’re prepared to take on, and the expense from acquiring the knowledge, are realistic.

If someone has a system that has a once off cost, and doesn’t require a large bank, isn’t very complicated, and doesn’t take long to find selections, and provides regular decent profits… …would they really offer it for a one off inexpensive price? The answer, clearly, is ‘no’. So, if you find a product that suggests it might be this, and it costs £19.99, what should you do?

The short answer is “run a mile”.

The more qualified answer is “run a mile to the nearest trusted review site and check for an unbiased road test of the system”.

And then, if you can, get a second opinion.

Here at we still perform system reviews – as many of you will know – and the reviews are carried out by geegeez readers whose sole compensation is a copy of the system/service they’re reviewing. They have no axe to grind – either positively or negatively – with the vendor, so your first port of call is right here.

The second thing I want to say – and I would like to commend you on this, Gary – is that it is important to understand what kind of system/service will work for you. Although your requirements might be, as you’ve suggested yourself, too much to ask for, you do at least have a good handle on what you’re after. Most people looking at betting systems don’t.

Good things to know about yourself before parting with hard earned include:

-          Do I want to back or lay?

-          Can I set aside a bank? How big a bank?

-          Do I have the time to find selections

- Will I do this every day/most days?

-          Can I handle losing runs?

- How long do I give a system/service before turning it in?

-          Am I prepared to paper trade or bet to small stakes while I get comfortable?

The answers to those questions will tell you, in part at least, whether the problem with (some of) the system(s) you’ve bought lies with the seller… or with the buyer.  There are some truly awful systems and services out there; there are a lot of mediocre ones; and there are a few really good ones. But only in the right hands.

Everyone who puts their faith in someone else – as opposed to trusting their own judgment – must be accountable enough to know that the problem might be with them, especially if they piled in from day one without really knowing much about the service/system background. With so much information – much of it from trusted sources – available these days, there really is no excuse for blatant gullibility.

That was a very long answer, because it was such a great question. Thanks for asking it, Gary!


Hi Matt,

Great idea, have lots of questions, but my main one and the one I have trouble with is staking, I read a lot about having a betting bank and staking a percentage per point/bet either 1% or 2% then others suggest a flat rate like £10 a selection and so on.

In your opinion what is the best way and more profitable way to stake, I’m also asking this as when I watched your video you said you bet £10 on average per bet and up to £50 on fancied ones - Bubbles180

MB – Hi Bubbles, thanks for a question on staking. There were others as well, which I’ll try to answer in this space.

The most important thing to say is that staking really is a personal thing, and it should be based on good data and your own appetite to risk.

On the good data side of things, knowing average winning odds and longest losing runs, over a meaningful set of results, is key.

For instance, Stat of the Day has been running since November 2011. As at the end of August 2015, almost four years, it has registered a profit of 333.24 points (excluding a 12 point exacta, and the fact we’re in front in September already!)

That profit comes from 353 winners out of 1201 bets, a strike rate of 29.39%. Our returns are therefore 1534.24 (1201 staked, plus 333.24 profit on stakes).

That means out average win odds have been 3.34/1, or almost exactly 10/3. Using the table referenced above, we could reasonably expect a run of about 26 or 27 straight losers from 1000 bets. As it happens, the longest losing run has been 19.

But, from a staking perspective, a SotD follower should be working on at least a 30 point bank. And here’s a key thing that you ought to know – and you probably do know, but maybe overlook sometimes:

Your bet stake is governed by the size of your bank divided by the number of points, NOT by an amount you’re happy to bet each day! 😉

So, in the example for SotD, if you have £300 to set aside for SotD, then £10 stakes are the order of the day. If you have only £100 you can ringfence, then £3.33 territory is yours. And so on.

Using a percentage of bank is my preferred staking approach. The percentage depends on the parameters I’ve outlined above – average win odds, mainly, but also your own appetite for risk (where you might add, say, another 50% to the recommended number of points in the bank).

As for my own betting, well stakes in absolute terms have probably moved on a bit since I wrote that. But not a lot, in truth. It’s still about the thrill of the chase – getting it right – than making a living from betting. The mantra of geegeez will always be that fun and profit should be sought in equal measure from betting on horses. They’re most definitely not mutually exclusive!


Why don’t tipsters set up a trade association so that punters know that any service that is a member has a degree of respectability? Any that are not should be avoided by the punter. I not saying that profitability can be guaranteed but least the punter would know he is not dealing with rogues. mackenzie

MB – I’ve often wondered about this myself, Mackenzie, to the point where a few years ago I thought about taking it on myself. The biggest problem is around the rules of entry, and ongoing administration. In short, it would be an absolute nightmare to police.

However, there are a decent number of reputable review sites who will look independently at services over a period of time. It’s perfectly possible for the same service – especially value services that tip at bigger prices – to have a negative review on one site and a positive one on another, based on having a bad run and a good run.

At geegeez, we ask our reviewers to consider more than just profitability. We want to share customer service experiences, ease of getting bets on/finding selections, availability of quoted odds, profit after fees are paid, and so on.

We also try to show the average number of bets, and approximate odds of bets, so that readers can look at even the most profitable service and decide whether it suits their personal betting style.

In summary, a trade association is a great idea… but the practicalities of administering and policing it would be onerous.

Matt, Betting on Racing: What is the difference between an Exacta and a Forecast, why do they pay differing returns?

Cheers, David.

MB – Hi David, these two bets are offered by different operators.

Exacta is a tote bet, and is calculated by divided the total amount bet (less 25% deduction) by the total number of correct prediction units.

Simple example: £100 bet, three correct winning units = £100 minus £25 deduction, £75 divided by three winning units = £25 per winning unit

Forecast, full name Computer Straight Forecast (or CSF for short), is a bookie bet paid based on a complex formula that accounts primarily for the starting prices of the horses, but also takes into consideration such as consecutive racecard numbers and stall positions.

Thus, they are likely to pay different amounts. Exacta is a pretty good value bet generally, especially if you fancy at least one outsider. However, returns are more volatile than with the CSF, where the dividend is fixed, regardless of the number of punters nominating the winning outcome.


Hi Matt…I’m a frequent user of Horseracebase and came across BF Chi score as one of the columns in the system builder. I’m aware the Chi score is an indication of how ‘reliable’ the results/data is (ie not down to chance). I’m not too sure what a larger or smaller Chi score actually means? Is a large Chi score of 10+ good?

Best, Martin

MB -  Hi Martin, Yes, is a great tool for system building. With regards to Chi squared, I’m not an expert but, as I understand it, there is no absolute scale. However, generally speaking higher is better and, again generally speaking, 10+ would be a quite solid level of confidence that results were not a coincidence.

[For those unfamiliar, Chi squared test is a means of allocating a degree of confidence to a set of results in terms of the actual returns against the expected returns; and how likely this was down to chance.]


Hi Matt
Why is there not a uniform R4. One I backed romped in at double figure price and 
Bet365 had a 30% R4 which was fair enough as a strong favourite had been taken out. I also backed it with PaddyPower and their R4 was 45%. Surely it should be the same R4 for all firms,

MB – Interesting question, David. The immediate answer is that different bookmakers offer different early prices, so for example if Fred was 8/1 and Joe was 10/1 on the withdrawn horse, they’d invoke different deductions (in this case, Fred would deduct 10p in the £, and Joe would take 5p in the £).

There are a few things around Rule 4, and its potential manipulation, which have attracted the attention of the Horseracing Betting Forum, a new body designed to try to achieve a fairer deal for punters; and this will be up for discussion at one of the early meetings of this group.

3/10 or shorter = 75p in the £
2/5 to 1/3 = 70p in the £
8/15 to 4/9 = 65p in the £
4/5 to 4/6 = 55p in the £
20/21 to 5/6 = 50p in the £
Evens to 6/5 = 45p in the £
5/4 to 6/4 = 40p in the £
13/8 to 7/4 = 35p in the £
15/8 to 9/4 = 30p in the £
5/2 to 3/1 = 25p in the £
10/3 to 4/1 = 20p in the £
9/2 to 11/2 = 15p in the £
6/1 to 9/1 = 10p in the £
10/1 to 14/1 = 5p in the £
Over 14/1 = No Deductions


I’m a bit concerned at the supposed Paddy Power/Betfair merger. Any thoughts yourself on the subject?


MB – Hi Mondo, I found this one a bit of a head scratcher myself, as I couldn’t work out what the synergies were. Normally, mergers and acquisitions are undertaken on the basis of ‘harmonising’ back office processes and, therefore, saving money; as well as being able to offer new products to a larger customer base.

However, with Paddee and Betfear operating in different spaces – bookmaker versus exchange – the synergy opportunities are less obvious. The best article I’ve seen on this is here:

The author is head of sportsbook at Victor, so knows his onions, and he suggests that it may be Betfair’s in-house technology platform, and its extensibility, which is the major appeal.

So, Paddy’s incredible PR machine, and Betfair’s industry-leading technology platform: that could make for a very big ripple in bookie waters, and other firms may be browning their shareholders’ slacks as a consequence.

It’s very early days, and these things have to be ratified by Government too. But if, as seems likely, this deal goes through, BF/PP will probably become the pre-eminent online firm within a year or so.


Hi Matt,
what are the advantages of using Skrill or similar over paypal or debit card?

MB – Hi Hugh, The main advantage is that you’d have a consolidated wallet. In essence, a bank account outside of your bank account. Most bookies take skrill and skrill are happy to be used for betting transactions.

Others may have further reasons, but that’s really the only one I can think of.

Dear Matt,
It is known you are a successful punter so how do you get your bets on? My second question is how do you pick your horses? By this I mean that I have often read your pieces on placepots and jackpots and perms and the value of the Irish pool, etc. Obviously you are extremely mathematical and is that how you make your choices? Is there any room for instinct or ‘gut feeling’, or is that the road to the poor house? Do you ever have that feeling?

I know this is several questions but i think they are linked.


MB – Hi Philip, thanks for the questions, which I’ll do my best to answer.

First, how do I get my bets on? Like many readers/listeners, especially Gold subscribers, I’ve been restricted by some bookmakers. But I still retain most of my accounts. I don’t back tips – not even Stat of the Day – instead preferring my own judgement; so I don’t throw up a footprint as such.

My betting patterns do not conform to a specific type, and I spread my bets around. The two things which will be conspicuous to any firm taking my bets are 1) I always take top price available, and 2) I’m a few quid in front with most of them.

I’m not privy to why they still take my bets, and speculating on it adds little value. I do recognise that it is unlikely to last, and that’s just the way of it (currently). There are always ways and means of getting a bet on: it is simply how much tail wagging the dog an individual can stomach before setting the hound loose.

Regarding how do I pick my horses, that’s a question which would take a book to accommodate an even relatively comprehensive answer (one day, I’ll find the time for that – it remains a (horribly narcissistic) ambition).

Some pointers though: I’m interested in information most of the market overlooks, or factors in close to off time. Things such as trainer performance with handicap debutants, juvenile first time starts, trainer switches; horses returning to optimal conditions after a series of runs in races they couldn’t win; form profiling more generally; and, more recently, I’ve taken a much closer look at recent trainer form in conjunction with the other factors.

A great book by Malcolm Gladwell

A great book by Malcolm Gladwell

There’s no magic to it, and I back plenty of clunkers. I also hit the skids from time to time, as followers of Double Dutch can attest just now. (Honestly, if there was a shop selling winners, and I had many times the sale price, they’d have sold out just before I got there!)

I do like to bet in tote pools, especially where I think I have an edge. That edge will be when there’s either a carry over (i.e. other people’s money already in the pot) or I have a strong opinion on a couple of races where I think the top of the market is vulnerable.

None of this is especially mathematical, except inasmuch as I look at strike rates, profit and loss, and sample sizes to take a view.

But all of it is mildly contrarian, and tends to either look away from the top of the market for something to back, or looks for reasons to oppose the top of the market (two sides to the same coin in many regards).

With regards to gut feeling and instinct, my suspicion is that people who deploy such things successfully are actually operating against an unconscious methodology which has been finely honed over thousands of races. Malcolm Gladwell’s book, Blink, expounds on this and is as readable a text as you’ll clap hands and eyes on.


Geegeez Gold is, in many ways, the product of my own ‘reverse engineering’ of my unconscious thought processes (insofar as I can unpick them!) and, for now at least, it is proving a solid route to the payout window.

More on your Geegeez Gold questions in the second part of this Q&A.

For now, though, thanks a million for your questions – I hope these answers have added some colour for some of you, and been at least mildly interesting for any of you with enough stamina to get this far!


That's it for this Q&A - I'll be back next week with the Geegeez Gold questions. Thanks a lot for your input and, if you like this format, we'll do it again in the future! 🙂


Ask Me A Question…

Ask me anything (well, almost...)

Ask me anything (well, almost...)

Racing is a big subject area, and betting on racing is too. Both are awash with facts and opinions, some more well known - and worth knowing - than others.

So I thought I'd do a couple of Q & A sessions where you bring the Q's and I attempt to bring the A's. With that in mind, I invite your questions on the following broad subject areas:

- Horse Racing in UK: Race Planning, Handicaps, Training Methods, Stakeholders, and so on.

- Betting on Racing: Good bet types, staking, pool bets, when to bet, favourite angles, and so on.

- Geegeez Gold: Speed Ratings, Instant Expert, Pace, the reports, Then What?, Form Indicators, and so on.

As you can see, there is as much to go at as you'd like. So please feel free to ask any/all questions you might have across those vast subject areas, and I will do my best to answer them. Obviously, I don't have all the answers - or even most of them - but I do have opinions on most things and a degree of knowledge and experience which has been converted into profitability when it comes to betting on racing.

If I can share that with readers/listeners, and it is of value, I'd love to do that.

Below this short post is a comments box, where you are invited to ask your questions. Ideally, you'll nominate one of the three headings above but, if not, I'll add the question to the section I think is most relevant.

Remember, (almost!) no question is silly, except the one you don't ask. So fire away.

I'm looking forward to hearing what is vexing you! 🙂


p.s. if you'd prefer to ask a question via email, you can do that here.

Horse Racing Betting 101: Best of Geegeez

Welcome to Horse Racing Betting 101: The Best of

I've written almost two million words here at, and in amongst that vast swarm of verbosity buzzes the occasional outbreak of punting good sense.

If you'd like to read some of the best of them, you can do so by clicking the image below.

Download: Horse Racing Betting 101

Download: Horse Racing Betting 101


Inside, you'll discover:

- My 10 Steps to Better Betting

- 5 Racing Myths Under the Microscope

- Why Contrast is King when Seeking Value

- Why "Any Fool Can Back 30% Winners"

- How to Find Value in Markets

- How to Understand and Exploit the Handicap System for Profit

- The Full Lowdown on Handicap Ratings in UK Horse Racing

- 10 Ways (8 Free) That GeegeezGold Can Help Your Betting



Flat Turf Handicap Specialists: A Horse Racing System

'Filthy' Luca Cumani: Exploiter of 'caps

'Filthy' Luca Cumani: Exploiter of 'caps

Some Context

I have a lot of betting systems that I track in a sort of 'incubator'. I don't bet any of them religiously, but I get a digest of the qualifiers each day and check various entries that catch my eye.

One of my best performers - and to some degree the inspiration for the Handicap First Run report inside Geegeez Gold - looks at horses having their first start in handicap hurdles. I also have other strong performers that look at flat horses having their first start in a handicap.

Both are of particular interest to me when the horses have been rested since qualifying for handicaps, and when they're stepping up in trip for handicap debut.

Sometimes, in fact often times, a horse is simply no good and no amount of additional distance or time off will enable the animal to win. But often enough, the combination of freshness and a range over which the horse was bred to run can elicit stark improvement. These horses can win at prices, too, as evidenced by the successes this week of Anneani (33/1) and Guard Of Honour (16/1).

Gold subscribers will be interested to know that, as well as the Handicap First Time report, we're planning to introduce a symbol on the racecard itself to flag when a horse is making its handicap bow. Of course, that in itself won't mean it's a good bet, but it will a) show how many in a race are in that particular boat, and b) encourage further digging via the report (we'll hyperlink the indicator to the report for ease of use).

These are the little ways in which Gold race cards are setting new standards for how horse form should be displayed: in a simple, easy to access, time-saving format with stacks of relevant supporting data for those who want to go deeper.

To the meat of today's bloggie. With those systems that I run, I've had particular success with the lower class handicaps. After all, exposed horses running in those races are 'as good as they are', with very little upside potential. Where better, then, to introduce a horse whose light may have been at least partially dimmed from the handicapper's gaze in its initial races?

And I've come to know the trainers who are most adept at this strategy, and who take care of their owners' interests in the process. I've argued at length that clued up punters can profit handsomely from this information, which is far from 'insider'. Rather, it just requires a different focus on the puzzle. This post on the handicapping system is a must read.

Class 5 handicap hurdles are becoming a bit of a specialist area for me, and have been very profitable this past winter with the help of my system research and the Handicap First Run report. There are no Class 6 handicaps over jumps, but there are on the level, and so I thought I'd look specifically at Class 5 and 6 flat turf handicaps.

A quick aside: there is still a handful of Class 7 handicaps, though these are almost exclusively run on the all weather these days. While that grade is excluded from this research, it's probably reasonable to assume similar principles apply.

Your first 30 days for just £1


The System

Here's the system then:

- Class 5 or 6 flat turf handicaps (UK only)
- Horse is 20/1 or shorter and running for the first time in a handicap
- Horse has been rested for between three weeks (21 days) and a year

Overall, from 2011 to now, that system won with 275 bets out of a total of 2252 bets (12.21%)...

...and made a LOSS of 15% on stakes.

That's because not all trainers are made equal at this game. Looking at trainers who had at least ten qualifying runners, and whose win strike rate was at least 20% and place rate at least 33% gives a list of some of the shrewdest operators in the business:

- David (TD) Barron
- 'Raif' Beckett
- Karl Burke
- Luca Cumani
- Rae Guest
- Paul Midgley
- Jeremy Noseda
- Roger Varian
- Stuart (SC) Williams


The Results

That nonet are mostly already known for their handicap exploits, but there remains value in backing their 'cap debutants off a break.

Pretty consistent profit from a selective number of bets

Pretty consistent profit from a selective number of bets

The good news is we've missed nothing this year so far, with all three placing but none winning.

Don't expect there to be three qualifiers a day, mind you. This is a deliberately selective approach and will sit snugly in any portfolio. There will be roughly two qualifiers a week, with most of them in April to July.

Although past performance is no guarantee of future success (duh!), I'd expect there to be roughly 25 points profit at SP (more at early BOG prices or BFSP) from about 50 bets over the season.


How to find qualifiers

Finding qualifiers is easy. Just add these guys to your Geegeez Tracker (other tracker tools are available 😉 ), and you'll be notified of their runners the night before. Just check the race class and days since a run and, from the subset of Class 5/6 21-365 days off horses, check for first time handicap status.

Alternatively, go to the Handicap 1st Run report and sort by trainer name. When you find one of the nine in the list, click his name to reveal all handicap 1st time starters today. Then click on each runner to see if it is in Class 5 or 6, and has been off for between 21 and 365 days.

Click the runner to open the race in a new window...

Click the runner to open the race in a new window...

And soon, as I say, you'll be able to see the 'H1' symbol on the card to tell you whether a horse is having its first run in a handicap of that code (flat, hurdle, chase) today. That will make it even easier to pick these out.


p.s. no qualifiers today

p.p.s. If you're not yet a Gold subscriber, I've extended the one month £5 trial until some time later today. So you can still go here to get on board.


How To Spot Improvers in 60 Seconds or Less…

Today's post introduces a couple of very cool Geegeez Gold reports. Both are designed to help users spot likely improvers, based on trainer behaviour.

Before I introduce the reports, let me outline the reason for them. It's a reason I've touched on before, and I make no apology for revisiting it. Essentially, if you only look at horse form, you are missing a huge part of the puzzle. Especially so when there is very little horse form to go on.

The key to finding value winners is to understand what, if anything, is materially different for a horse today when compared to its last/previous runs; and whether that difference is likely to lead to improvement. Let's look at an example race:




A moderate looking race, and we need to go into the actual form to search for material differences today. Clicking the 'horse' icon in the top menu bar for the race opens all the recent form lines for each horse. Here is that view for the top two horses in the betting.



The top form line is the race in question here (because we're reviewing it after the event), so it's the past form in the green boxes that is of interest.

Look at the favourite, Separate Shadows. On his previous three runs, he was in handicap company (denoted by 'Hc'), including over today's distance (20 furlongs, or two and a half miles if you prefer) and in today's class. And he'd been beaten each time. There was nothing obviously different today so why should he improve markedly on what he'd achieved thus far?

[Isn't it the definition of insanity to do the same thing repeatedly and expect a different result?]

Now look at Crinkle Crags. He had never previously run in a handicap. That is a hugely material difference. First time in a handicap. I've written about this before. AND... he was stepping up three furlongs in distance. AND... he was reverting to good ground on which he ran well on 19th March last year.

In other words, there were numerous material changes for Crinkle Crags, in terms of the race conditions today when compared with his recent runs.

Crinkle Crags was available at 11/2 in the morning, and was backed in to 5/2 second favourite. He won easily.

Your first 30 days for just £1

Spotting these differences will make you money from your betting. But let's face it, if you had to look through all the form of every runner to unearth these, it would be a lot of work. So what if a report could flag some of the differences for you?


Trainer H'cap 1st Run [Code]

reportdropdownIntroducing the rather unsexy-sounding 'Trainer H'cap 1st Run [Code]' report. This report, found towards the bottom of your reports dropdown , shows all horses running in a handicap of that code (flat, hurdles, chase) for the first time today by the trainer's record with such types.

The trainer records can be viewed by one year form, two year form, five year form, and five year course form. The data displayed is specifically for each trainer's runners first time in a handicap of that code.

Crinkle Crags, the example above, was running for Nicky Richards, a trainer who - according to this report - had entered nine runners in a handicap hurdle for the first time in the last year. Five of them had won.

Crinkle Crags made that six out of ten. And then, on Saturday, Un Noble took Richards' record to seven winning handicap first-timers from eleven in the past year.

Un Noble was backed from 6/1 (the price I took) to 11/4, before winning readily. These clues are in the form book, but they're under the trainer record not the horse. Smart punters know this.

Here's an example of today's 'Trainer H'cap 1st Run [Code]' report. (Click on the image to open full size).




In this case, I've filtered for at least '0' win and place profit, and I am looking at the 1 Year Form view. I have also clicked on each trainer's name to highlight their runners today.

As we can see, Anthony Honeyball has run eight horses in handicaps for the first time in the past year. Four of them have won, and another has placed. His four winners were worth a profit of 44.5 units, and included The Geegeez Geegee at 11/1 a few weeks ago!

Miss E Doyle has had two winners and two placed horse in handicaps for the first time in the past year. They were nicely profitable to back both win and each way. And so it goes on.

This report has been in test for a few weeks, due to a couple of issues and the fact it was Cheltenham last week, and it's been finding some great winners. I'm delighted that it's now live and available to all Gold subscribers with immediate effect.


The second report focuses on another material difference between today and a horse's last run. That is a change of trainer. It is a fact that in all walks of life, some people are better at what they do than others. That fact extends to the training ranks, of course.

But how do we know which trainers can improve horses they inherit from other yards? And, more pertinently as punters, how do we know which ones are doing it 'under the radar'?

Simple: Geegeez Gold has a report for it!

The report is laid out in the same way as the 1st time handicap report - with views for one year, two year, five year, and five year course form - and it looks like this. (Again, click the image for a full size version)



As with the first image, this one is also filtered on one year and a minimum of '0' for win and place profit. But these are not necessarily the best filters to use. In fact, my suggested filters can be found in the updated user manual here.

Trainer habits are as crucial to finding winners as horse form, especially when material differences can be discerned from the last or recent runs. These two new reports will help you slice through the noise to some of the most effective winner-finding differences imaginable. You're welcome! 😉

If you're not yet a Gold subscriber, you can put that right here.


If you've not yet sampled the amazing winner-getting tools and tips inside Geegeez Gold, you can take a 30 day £1 trial by clicking this link.


Exactology: The Science of the Lucrative 1-2

Shedding some light on the exacta...

Shedding some light on the exacta...

In this latest instalment of the Oc-Tote-ber series, let's take a look at the exacta, a bet which requires the player to nominate the first and second placed horses in the correct order. The exacta is a pool bet, which means the dividend is declared by dividing the total number of winning tickets by the total pool of funds, after deductions.

For instance, if £10,000 was bet, and 20% deducted for expenses, the net pool would be £8,000. Supposing there were 80 winning tickets of £1 (£80), the dividend would be £8,000/80 = £100.

The game is to find the 1-2's that pay more than they should, and to leave the 1-2's that pay less than they should. So how exactly (or exacta-ly) do we do that?


How Not To Play The Exacta

Before we get to the good stuff, I'd like to debunk a few myths about exactas. Specifically, I'd like to look at some bad bets.

Bad bet #1: First three in the market combination exacta

The ultimate mug bet in exacta terms, this involves six combinations, all equally staked:

1-2, 1-3, 2-1, 2-3, 3-1, 3-2

Because exactas are 'bets of the people' - that is, there is no bookmaker setting the prices, but rather the people playing the bet set the odds - and most people are either lazy or don't have any sort of opinion on a given race, this is where the vast majority of wagering falls.

This sort of bet can account as much as, or more than, half of the total pool, meaning even if the result is the least likely of the six possible outcomes, it is sure to return a deflated yield.

Apart from operating at the very top of the market, and being deeply unimaginative, it also has no merit over a straight win bet.

Imagine that the average payoff for these six combinations was £15 for a £1 stake. That means a £6 bet covering all six combinations returns £15. That gives average odds of 6/4 on your £6 bet. The favourite could well be a longer price than that on its own, let alone the second or third market choices.

You can also expect to be disappointed with the dividend if the second and third market choices finish 1-2, due to the number of other punters that have taken the same well-worn path to the bet - and then the payout - windows.

Here's the management summary: if you think the top of the market will win a race, either bet a win single on your main fancy (or value fancy)... or pass the race. There is simply no point in making a combination exacta including the first three in the betting, ever.

Bad bet #2: Level staking on combinations

A subtle nuance of bad bet #1 is that all combinations have the same amount of money wagered upon them. That means the 6/4 favourite to beat the 4/1 shot has the same bet stake as the 4/1 to beat the 7/2 second favourite (assuming the top three in the market were 6/4, 7/2 and 4/1). This leads to 'prayer mat punting': hoping that the least likely of the six combinations lands even though... well, even though it's the least likely combination.

That cannot be a sensible way to bet. It is slightly more sophisticated - and commensurately more time-consuming - to stake different combinations to different amounts to ensure a more level payout regardless of which of your six combo's cops. Although this is less 'sexy' and involves less scope for the 'big coup', it is also far more likely to return a profit in the longer term.

Blind combination bets are generally not a great way forward in any case, but if you do have difficulty separating three or more horses, then at least stake them according to the likely payouts to reward yourself equally if you're correct about it being between these x horses.

Bad bet #3: Betting 'All' or most with an outsider you quite fancy

This is the chocolate teapot of wagering approaches: something good (chocolate, or an opinion on a decent priced horse) utilized in a completely useless manner (teapot, or betting with 'all').

By using so many options with your dark horse, you completely dilute the value of the opinion. Far better to bet the horse to win, or maybe even each way, than to make an exacta with all/most of the other runners in the race, and hope to catch a second biggie in the first two for a monster return. This is another prayer mat punt.

Bad bet #4: Leaving out the favourite 'because it's the favourite'

I know people who do this. It's daft. They kick themselves when the favourite, which they feared/respected, finishes second to a decent-priced horse. Dividends for bigger priced nags to beat the jolly are often bigger than they ought to be (assuming the bigger priced horse is lower down the market rank than third or fourth).

If you think the favourite looks solid for the frame, you have two choices:

1. If you have another opinion that could 'make' the bet, then play them together

2. If you don't have another opinion, or you think the 2nd or 3rd market pick could join the jolly, move on to another race

Your first 30 days for just £1

You don't have to bet, and if you don't have two good views, then your bet will probably be misguided (i.e. lose) or return less than it should (i.e. be poor value)


If you recognise any of the above traits in the way you bet exactas, now is a good time to review your approach, and to consider an alternative. Below are some alternative methodologies - or exactologies - that you might want to employ.

How To Play The Exacta

Good bet #1: 'Down market' staggered stake combo

In my examples, I've used starting price notation (6/4, 7/2, etc) to highlight the strength of support for each horse. But with all tote multi-horse or multi-race bets, it helps the player greatly to think less in terms of market price, and more in terms of market rank.

Let's look at a 10/1 shot (industry odds) in two different races.

In race 1, a four horse race, there is a 1/16 favourite, and the 10/1 shot is second choice, with two complete no hopers prices at 66/1 apiece.

In race 2, a nine horse race, there is a 4/1 favourite, five more horses priced between 9/2 and 8/1, our 10/1 shot, a 12/1 and a 20/1 chance.

If you expect the tote prices on those two 10/1 chances to be roughly equivalent, you will be badly wrong. The former is likely be around 5/1 on the 'nanny' (nanny goat = tote), while the latter could be as big as 20/1 depending on how 'obvious' it is in the recent form string.

The difference, as you'll have cottoned onto, is market rank. Industry market rank is much more significant than industry market price when translating to tote bets.

If you take just one thing from this article let it be that. It WILL pay you repeatedly.

So, if you have an opinion that the top two in the betting look a bit questionable, but you can't split the next three (or four), play the combinations... but to varying stakes.

A three horse combination is six bets, four horses will be twelve bets, and five horses will be twenty bets. It can take a bit of time to write the varying staked bets down, but your reward is a consistent (ish) return irrespective of which combination bags gold and silver. An example of how to stake this type of bet is below in good bet #2...

Good bet #2: The quite fancied outsider revisited

As touched on in bad bet #3, if you like an outsider, you need to have at least one other opinion to justify betting it in an exacta. For instance, if you think the favourite is weak, you can play your outsider with some of the other unfavoured runners, staggering your stakes higher to lower as you move away from the top end of the market. Let me show you what I mean.

Suppose you like a 12/1 shot in an eight horse race that bets as follows:

6/4 - 7/2 - 4/1 - 6/1 - 10/1 - 12/1 - 33/1 - 50/1

If your only view is that the 12/1 shot is of interest, then exacta is not the bet. Back it to win, or each way if you like.

However, if you think the 6/4 shot might be unsuited by today's going, or class, or pace set up, or whatever, you now have a chance to back up your primary opinion. In that case, you could for instance play the 12/1 with the 7/2 through to 10/1 chances, as follows:

£5 12/1 to beat 7/2
£4 12/1 to beat 4/1
£3 12/1 to beat 6/1
£1 12/1 to beat 10/1

That's a total stake of £13 optimized to smooth the return if you're right about the 12/1 winning. The key here is that your second opinion - that the favourite is dodgy - offers scope to improve the win price on your fancy. In other words, we're looking to get better than 12/1 for any combination of stake and non-favoured runner.

If fear drives your punting bus, and watching the 6/4 fav (or perhaps worse still, one of the rags) finish second to the 12/1 shot will hurt you, then make a small win bet on it as well.

Always remember that playing more than one combination dilutes your return. As in the bad bet #1 example, a 6 x £1 combination exacta paying £15 is not a 14/1 return, it's a 6/4 return. As obvious as that is, it is amazing how many punters delude themselves that they've made a big score, when all they've done is traded off risk against return, by having more coverage for smaller average odds.

Balance is required here, because the polar opposite - habitually taking a single horse to win over a single other horse for second - is a very narrow prayer mat punt too. Somewhere between death by a single bullet and death by a thousand cuts (or permutations) is a sustainable risk-reward equilibrium. Where that pivot point is will vary according to the race type and the nature and strength of your opinions.

Good bet #3: Staggering stakes to emphasize differing strengths of opinion

In good bet #2 above, the staking is staggered to smooth out the likely returns. That assumes that the player has no specific second opinion. In other words, (s)he feels the 12/1 is a fair bet, and the jolly looks opposable. But (s)he has no view on the remaining runners.

In this strategy, we assume that we have a view that a second runner has a better than implied chance. This might be in place of, or as well as, the view about the weak favourite.

Let's use the market from good bet #2, only this time we'll suppose that we think the 6/1 horse is probably the main danger. Although we don't want to lose the value of our main opinion, the 12/1 shot, we definitely want to emphasize our return if the 6/1 runs second. Our staggered stake might now look more like this:

£4 12/1 to beat 7/2
£2.50 12/1 to beat 4/1
£6 12/1 to beat 6/1
£0.50 12/1 to beat 10/1

We've spent the same £13, but loaded up a bit more on 12/1 to beat 6/1. The flip side is that we'll take less of a return - probably something more in line with the equivalent return for simply backing the 12/1 shot to win - if 12/1 beats one of our other nominees. That being the case, a win bet on the 12/1 with small exacta on 12/1 to beat 6/1 is a highly viable alternative play.

In both #2 and this approach, I've not touched on the prospect of the 12/1 finishing second to one of the other selections. Players wishing to insure for this will double the number of permutations - in this case, from four to eight - and should again look to spread the same (or similar) outlay over the additional combinations.

Thus, in #2 above, we might have £2 on 12/1 to beat 7/2, and £3 on the reverse; £1.50 on 12/1 to beat 4/1, and £2.50 on the reverse; £1.25 on 12/1 to beat 6/1, and £1.75 on the reverse; and, 50p either way on 12/1 and 10/1 being first/second.

In #3 here, we'd look to play up the 12/1-6/1 and 6/1-12/1 combo's, whilst splitting the other stakes accordingly.

As you can see, it quickly becomes easy to spread one's opinions too thinly to justify the play... and that's a good thing, because it forces the bettor to have a second thought about whether or not exacta is the correct conduit for investment.

(Fairly) Good bet #4: 'Two against a few'

This wouldn't be the greatest betting strategy in the world, but it is one that recognises the human failing which is the urge to bet, and embraces it! It's what the excellent 'exotics' writer Steven Crist refers to as "Stupid Exacta Tricks", also known as fun or action bets.

In races where you have a bit of an opinion but nothing strong, and where you consequently want to 'limp in', Crist suggests taking a couple at big prices for which you can make a case, and playing them with two or three or four shorted priced runners, though leaving out the front rank in the market.

Obviously, if you fancy the head of the market, or you can't make any sort of case for the bigger priced nags, then it's pass o'clock. But if you can find a pair of piggie possibles, then a bet like this is a reasonable way to engage the action:

A, B with A, B, C, D, E, F = 10 bets

A, B, C, D, E, F with A, B = 10 bets

These are ten bets each, not twelve, by the way, because A cannot be first and second, and neither can B. Should A beat B, or vice versa, the combination appears on both tickets, making for the happiness of a doubly staked winner.


Tools and Tips

You can play the exacta for both UK and Irish racing with Tote Ireland. And when you open an account they'll give you some free bets and other bonuses. Check this page for details.

Also, both new and existing Irish tote players can have a piece of a £200 syndicate bet, if registered and placing €/£25 worth of bets during Oc-tote-ber and up to/including 9th November.

Join me and other syndicateers by placing your qualifying bet(s) here.


Recommended Reading

Steven Crist's book, Exotic Betting, is about the best on the subject. Whilst it relates to US racing in its examples, the approaches and staking advice are generic, and will help any tote punter improve their seasonal return.

Smarter Bets - The Exacta Way: A Simple Process to Winning on Horse Racing is a newer book, written by Keith Hoffman. It's another American text, available from Amazon UK and, as the name suggests, it focuses specifically on the exacta wager.

Tote Tactics #2: Stake Your Way To Success

Welcome to Oc-tote-ber!

Welcome to Oc-tote-ber!

In yesterday's first part of this Tote Tactics series, I showed you a number of ways to make better selections for tote pool bets.

But making good selections is only half the battle. The other part of the puzzle is staking your opinions optimally and, in this post, I want to delve more deeply into matters of staking.

There are two main staking methods - straight line, and full perm - and between them they probably account for 99%+ of all tote multi-race bets. But I'd estimate that they only account for around 75% of all tote multi-race stakes. Let's first look at what those staking methods are, and why they're almost always sub-optimal. And then we'll consider why they don't account for a commensurate amount of all stakes, and which 'smart money' approach does.

Straight Line

As the name suggests, this is the no nonsense one-selection-in-each-race-and-devil-take-the-hindmost approach. In a six leg bet, it has the following shape:

1 x 1 x 1 x 1 x 1 x 1 = 1 bet

It lacks finesse, it lacks coverage, and it normally requires the bettor to get lucky. As a route to profit, it's weaker than most. As a harmless fun or action ticket, why not?

The reality is that in any sequence of three, four, six races, most players will have stronger views about the chances of horses in some legs than in others. Staking singly through the card offers minimal coverage for those weaker opinions. Still, it can be a bit of fun, and the bankroll remains intact if/when the wager bows out.

Full Perm

Keegan and Breitner: full perms

Keegan and Breitner: full perms

No, not Kevin Keegan's barnet of choice. Rather, a full perm is selecting multiple horses in one or more legs in the sequence, and staking every pick equally. For instance:

1 x 3 x 2 x 2 x 4 x 2 = 96 bets

We have a lot more coverage here, with each of the last five races offering at least two chances to move forward. In fact, this example contains 14 different horses. So far so good. So what's the problem?

It is simply that staking your bet this way assumes you have a similarly strong view about the chance of every horse in every leg. That is very unlikely to be the case.

Look at leg five, for example. Here, in this theoretical staking plan, we have four horses running for us. Let us further suppose that they are the 3/1 favourite, the 4/1 second favourite, and two 6/1 chances. Whilst we might feel the 3/1 favourite is vulnerable but don't want to omit it, it is unlikely that we have a similarly strong (or weak) view on the other three nominations.

In actual fact, in this case, if the 3/1 fav was considered vulnerable, I'd be happy to either leave it off the ticket completely, or demote it to a lower status. More of that in a moment.

The issue with this staking approach is that we have gone from one bet in the Straight Line to 96 bets in this incarnation of the Full Perm. This will reward us if we have enough outsiders in the frame - and manage to get enough favourites out of the frame - but we stand a good chance of not returning our initial stake should we not 'luck in' with our less popular choices.

So what to do in order to have a wide (ish) sweep through the races but not slice and dice our stakes to meaninglessness? Introducing ABCX...


In any sequence of races, as I've written, we will almost always have stronger feelings about some horses than others, and we will consider some outcomes more likely than others based on the odds. It makes no sense, then, to weight all of our selections equally given the unequal sentiment in which we hold them.

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For example, we might put a Pick 3 (a US bet requiring the player to pick the winner of three races, bizarrely enough 😉 ) perm together as follows (horse numbers, and odds), ignoring the notion of 'one brave race' (which I discussed in yesterday's post) for the purposes of this scenario:

Leg 1 - 1 (3/1), 3 (8/1), 4 (6/5)

Leg 2 - 2 (2/5), 7 (4/1)

Leg 3 - 4 (2/1), 5 (7/2)

The purest form of permutation would be 3 x 2 x 2 = 12 bets. You would be forgiven for thinking, "Well, it's only twelve bets, at $5 a throw is $60". But if you have a winning ticket with 6/5, 2/5 and 2/1 on it, you'll do well to get your money back. And, according to the market, that's the most likely outcome.

[Note, it doesn't matter if we're talking dollars, pounds, euros, or roubles. It's about the number of units and the division of funds]

So how can we better utilize that $60 stake? By using a weighted perm structure, of course. The one I favour, though by no means the only one, is ABCX. Essentially, we separate all of the horses in our sequence of races into:

A - main fancies, strong chance
B - fair chance, quite like
C - dark horses, value at the price
X - not interested

Let's apply that rationale to our initial bet, noting that all horses not selected have been discarded as 'X'

Leg 1 - 1 (3/1 B), 3 (8/1 C), 4 (6/5 A)

Leg 2 - 2 (2/5 A), 7 (4/1 B)

Leg 3 - 4 (2/1 A), 5 (7/2 A)

Leg 1 has one each of A, B and C; Leg 2 has an A and a B; and Leg 3 has two A's.

When using ABCX, we are saying that some combinations of outcomes are more likely than others. Specifically, it is most likely that we will win with our A selections; it is next most likely that we will win with two A choices and a B; and it is least likely that we will win with either an A and two B's, or two A's and a C.

Importantly, we are saying that if we are sufficiently wrong in our weighting analysis that the result comes back with an A, a B and a C, we have to accept that we lose, despite selecting those horses in our initial wide sweep. This can be a difficult outcome to accept, especially for newcomers, but it is crucial to prevent players from habitually over-staking: throwing cash at the wall and hoping some of it sticks.

Remember, if we haven't got at least one strong opinion, we shouldn't be playing. So, if we snake our way out of a winner by optimizing our staking, we wipe our mouth and move on.

Let's now look at how the original $60 bet might look using the above ABCX ticket distribution.

A much better 'weighted' spread of funds

A much better 'weighted' spread of funds

As you can see, we've spent the same $60 across five tickets.

Ticket #1 has a unit stake of $12 per line, and includes all of the A selections.
Tickets #2 and #3 have a unit stake of $6 each per line, and include two A's and one B each.
Ticket #4 has a $3 unit stake, and includes the C pick from race 1, with the A's in races 2 and 3
Ticket #5 has a $3 unit stake, and includes the B picks from both races 1 and 2 with the A's in race 3

Now, we have an optimal combination of likelihood of success and multiples of the dividend. In other words, if the most likely horses win, we'll have more units of a skinnier divvy, and if some of the less likely horses win we'll have less units of a bigger payoff.

If that sounds complicated, well, it is to a degree. But the good news is, as you might have guessed from the image above, there's a tool to help you with this. Based on American multi-race guru Steven Crist's ticket builder tool, I had my own geegeez variant built.

That tool can be found here:

Geegeez Multi-Race Ticket Builder

And instructions on how to use it (it's pretty simple) can be found here:

How to use the Geegeez Multi-Race Ticket Builder

Although perhaps 1% of UK-based multi-race bettors use a weighted staking method, that tiny minority probably accounts for a quarter of the total pool size in some multi-race win or place pools. That 'smart money' approach is where players of all bankroll should be aiming, effectively staking to ensure an optimal return when successful, almost regardless of the dividend.


In further episodes of this Oc-TOTE-ber Tote Tactics series, I'll be looking at Exacta and Trifecta betting: bets known collectively as intra-race multi's. Keep an eye out for those.

In the meantime, Tote Ireland is offering a piece of a €200 syndicate bet for any geegeez player to stake €25 between now and the end of October. You can bet into UK as well as Irish tote pools with them, and they have a range of other specials, some of which are listed here.

New Tote Ireland players will be eligible for up to €50 in free bets as well as the slice of the €200 syndicate bet if using the exclusive promo code geegeez1 when registering.

Good luck!


Tote Tactics #1: Eight Pool-Scooping Placepot / Jackpot Techniques

Welcome to Oc-tote-ber!

Welcome to Oc-tote-ber!

In the first part of an Oc-TOTE-ber series of articles on tote betting, I'm going to look at multi-race tactics. This post is specifically focused on selection methods, whereas part 2 - which will follow tomorrow - will look into optimal staking strategies. Both hemispheres will improve your ability to navigate the choppy waters of a competitive race card and identify value plays in their midst.

Here are my top eight tips for making placepot selections:

1 Make sure you have time for this

The thing about the placepot, or the Pick 3, or the jackpot, or the Pick 6, is that it involves a number of races. Three in the Pick 3, four in the Irish version of the jackpot, six in lots of other bets. The implication is that it also involves a significant amount of study time to make an informed bet.

The implication is real. It does take time.

If you're in a rush, you'll slip into lazy habits, like looking at the recent form string to the left of the horse's name; or checking for top trainers and/or jockeys; or using the odds forecast to choose your selections.

That is abdicating responsibility, and it puts daylight between your form study ability and your chance of making a successful multi-race wager. Don't do this, unless you know that you're essentially having an 'action' bet, and you're entirely comfortable with that.

If you have very good tools - like the Pace Analysis, Full Form Filters and Instant Expert in Geegeez Gold - then you can get away with around ten minutes a race. If you don't, it's probably more like half an hour per race. Make time, and subscribe to good tools.


2 Ignore the recent form string

As I've said above, using the recent form string next to a horse's name is lazy. Not only that, it is the same lazy tactic used by the vast majority of multi-race (i.e. placepot, Pick 6, and so on) punters. If you do the same as them, you're more than likely to end up on the same horses as them. If you're on the same horses as them, one of two things will happen:

i) You'll all be right and the dividend will pay next to nothing; or

ii) You'll all be wrong, and someone who took a bit more time will scoop up all your collective cash

Either way, there is little or no value in this approach.

Now, let's be clear on something here. I'm NOT saying that you won't end up on the most logical horse from the form strings. Not at all. In fact, quite often you will. But you'll arrive at that destination via the form book, and having assured yourself that the pick is a genuine contender whose recent form was achieved under similar conditions and who has no obvious barriers to progressing again.


3 Look for the fancied P00/ horse

Fancied P00/ horse? Eh? Let me explain. The market is the best guide to the likely outcome of a race, of that there is no doubt. But, luckily, it is far from infallible.

Some of the best plays in multi-race tickets are the fancied nags with no form. Perhaps they're coming back after a long break. Maybe they've got the 'duck egg bracelet' of 000-000. Or perhaps they have more letters than numbers in the string, like PFFU20.

Often, these horses are no-hopers whose form string is a perfectly fair reflection of their ability and chance. But sometimes, it is not. Here's an example from yesterday at Navan. In the last leg of the placepot, a horse called Madeira Classic was running for the first time in 701 days. It had form of 005/. And yet it was a well backed 4/1 second favourite. This horse demanded closer scrutiny. Here's what I discovered when I 'lifted up the bonnet':

Madeira Classic was a stone better off than her previous form...

Madeira Classic was a stone better off than her previous form...

Madeira Classic last ran on the flat three years ago, in September 2011. That day he ran in the Curragh Amateur Derby off a mark of 70. And yet here he was with a rating of just 55, having taking significant and sustained market support, for a trainer (Christy Roche) known to be able to ready one for a gamble.

This horse was largely overlooked by the placepotting public, as the pool shows going into the last leg:

Just 7.5% of the remaining tickets were on the second favourite!

Just 7.5% of the remaining tickets were on the second favourite!

Just 7.5% of the remaining tickets were on the second favourite! As it happened, my A tickets had him, along with #8, and Madeira Classic failed by only a neck to wear down Rocky Bleier, also well gambled (20/1 into 9/1), at the line.

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In what was an unremarkable sequence of results - the other five favourites, two of them odds on, all placed - the placepot paid €69.30 to a €1 stake. My €46 investment returned €242.55. For five favourites and a second favourite.

Easy pickings for easy picking!

Easy pickings for easy picking!

That's the full set of tickets there, including the losers which formed part of the perm. In tomorrow's post, I'll explain more about how I structure my bets.



4 Have an opinion!

I'm often guilty of this myself. I'll decide I want to do a placepot today. That decision is made completely ignorant of whether the conditions suit such a bet. In other words, without an opinion, I'm wading in. Careless. Reckless, sometimes.

So what constitutes an opinion? Various things can help make the decision to bet, such as:

i) A good looking rollover or pool guarantee

I'm usually happy to 'force' an opinion when there's OPM (other people's money) making up my potential return. If a bet was not won on its most recent run - for example, this afternoon's Pick 6 at Tramore has a rollover of €42,766 having not been won for a few days (including when I and a couple of other geegeez readers had a crack on Tuesday) - then other people's losses (including ours in this case) are in the pot to be claimed by today's potential winners.

Obviously, if it looks impossible or you have a short bankroll it probably still doesn't make sense to play. But the odds tilt in your favour with every penny or cent of other people's cash propping up the pool.

ii) You have a strong counter-market view in at least one race

Maybe it's a dodgy jumper in a steeplechase. Maybe you feel the favourite won't act on the ground; or the step up in class pitches him against seasoned and proven animals at the new level. Whatever it is, if you have at least one solid view that swims against the market tide, you'll be disproportionately rewarded if you're correct.

Obviously, there's still the chance that the market leader will oblige. And, worse still, in placepot bets there is the constant spectre of being right, only to see the outclassed dodgy jumper that didn't go on the ground sneak the last place in a photo from a 33/1 shot. Trust me, it happens. Often. Such is the 'potter's luck.

iii) 'Chalky' plays

In America, when a race looks likely to be dominated by the top of the market, it is referred to as 'chalky' (a phrase whose etymology likely harks back to the days of bookies' boards being chalk boards).

Sometimes, like that Navan placepot yesterday for instance, it looks like the favourites will all - or almost all - run solid races. In those cases, if correct, it is possible to chart a very narrow course through the sequence, and stake higher than normal.

Using the Navan example yesterday, you can see that the €1.50 perm was a 1 x 3 x 1 x 1 x 1 x 2 perm. In other words, six lines (€9). The other winning line was a €1 1 x 4 x 1 x 1 x 1 x 2 perm, for eight lines (€8).

Navan yesterday looked chalky. And it was chalky. For it to pay €69.30 was a gift, constructed from a single interesting nag in the last race, Madeira Classic.


The key to making any bet is, as Michael Pizzola, a smart American punter, likes to say, "Let the bet make you". In other words, if you see an angle, play it. If you don't, don't.


5 Back your opinion!

Once you have a view, it is important to have the courage of that conviction. The curse of the multi-race perm bet is fear of failure, whose symptoms are flabby perms, and either over-staking or diluted staking.

You have to be prepared to lose if you're wrong. After all, isn't that the fundamental premise of striking a wager?

So if you fancy the long absent 8/1 chance who was formerly useful and looks favoured by conditions, back your judgement. If it places, and the favourite doesn't, whoop. If it places and the favourite places too, unlucky. If it doesn't place, and the favourite does, no drama - after all, that hardly helps the dividend.

Also, it's no use having a view almost for the sake of it. In other words, if you think the favourite has a very strong chance of making the frame, but you consider the long absent 8/1 shot to have a bit of a squeak if x and y and z happen, play the favourite. Or maybe play them both (though not equally staked, more on this tomorrow).

If the key to making a multi-race bet is to "let the bet make you", then the key to making it pay is not to ignore or dilute your opinions to meaninglessness.


6 'One Brave Race'

I have the notion of 'One Brave Race' when making multi-race wagers. That is, somewhere in the sequence, I have to hang my hat on some sort of banker play. In a placepot, that will almost always be a single horse carrying my wagering hopes through at least one leg. I may, as in the example in 4 above, take multiple bankers, which affords more aggressive staking, or perming elsewhere (or both).

But a pre-defined 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 = 64 bets staking strategy is, frankly, destined to get what it deserves. That is a bookmaker's bet, plain and simple. It denies any prospect of having an imbalance of opinion through six different punting puzzles which is, naturally, faintly preposterous. If you bet placepots like this, please, stop doing it! 😉

A brave race might mean taking two selections on A in a big field, with no B or C plays (more on this tomorrow). It might mean singling (i.e. taking one horse) an odds on shot. Not that brave, granted, but it at least slims down the total permutation.

Remember, every horse at or very near to the top of the market that you can successfully include or exclude reduces your stake and increases the prospective dividend. When I find it hard to isolate a single brave race - usually because of a fiendish hyper-competitive card with a big pool - I will arbitrarily go short on leg one.

Some people like to have a bet running for as long as possible, for the enjoyment of it. And that's fair enough. For me, I'd rather take an early bath than go out in leg six of a whopper. Different strokes for different folks.

Luckily, there are ways to mitigate one's bravery, because we can...


7 Insure a position

Nobody ever said that a multi-race bet has to be made in isolation. If there's an odds on shot in leg one of the placepot, and it looks solid, single it and lay it for a place on Betfair. That's a very cheap way of covering your stake. If the horse places, your bet has cost slightly more. If the horse fails to place, you had a free go into the trappier part of the sequence, and claimed a refund.

If you're still rolling in the last, you can lay your shortest option for a place to return either some or all of your initial outlay, depending on how the dividend is shaping up and how confident you are in your remaining picks. Or you can calculate the smallest winning (for you) dividend, and 'green up'.

And, in short final leg placepot fields, how about taking the uncovered runners in exactas? For instance, let's say we have a five runner race with the first two in the market covered. If the dividend is looking decent, perm the other trio in exacta bets. As with everything, don't do a simple 'box' (i.e. all ways exacta), but rather place slightly more on the better fancied horses to beat the 'rags', and less on the 'rags' to beat the shorter-priced nags.

Note, in each of these cases, it is super-important to check the non-runner situation. If an eight runner race drops to seven runners, you'll get two places in the placepot but still be laying three places on Betfair. Be careful!


8 Have fun!

I unapologetically bang on about this all the time. I don't care if you're a seasoned pro punter who won't eat if you don't find enough winners (how sad, actually), or a 10p patent player. If it's not fun, there's no point: it's just a job, and a dull unrewarding job at that. A form of prostitution, no less.

No, betting is about having fun. Which is not to say it should be about losing. Those who believe that winning and enjoyment are mutually exclusive in horse racing betting really are hopeless cases, clinging on to the badge of 'pro punter' as if their lives depend on it. They don't. If it's that close to the wire, get a proper job and do us all a favour.

Moaning and groaning about 'not getting on'? Play tote pools. You can always get on, and there's always a pool big enough to accommodate your stake. Or set up a network of people to place bets for you. But either way, bore off about accounts being closed. It happens. Move on.

So yes, rant out of the way, let's have some fun! After all, what brings greater joy than a relatively small stake bet, loaded with opinions, vindicated both in the results and in the returns? That is truly the utopia of horse racing wagering. And, for me at least, it always will be. 😀


I'll be back tomorrow with part two in this Oc-TOTE-ber series, looking at optimally staking multi-race bets like the placepot and jackpot. So do look out for that. In the meantime, there's a tasty rollover at Tramore this afternoon with my name on it... 😉


p.s. if you've not signed up with Tote Ireland yet, use code geegeez1 and get a bunch of goodness, as outlined here:

In fact, if you open an account in Oc-TOTE-ber using that code, and bet €25 during the month (up to 9th November)... or if you're an existing Tote Ireland geegeez customer and bet €25 into the pool during the month, you'll be eligible for a share of a €200 syndicate bet. So get registered, get playing, and remember to use the code geegeez1 when you sign up.

Strawberries & Cream – Return on Investment (ROI) & Return on Capital (ROC)

Can strawberries help you bet better?!

Can strawberries help you bet better?!

Strawberries without cream just doesn't taste right for me and in the same way I'd like to share with you a brief explanation of why if you're comparing ROI (Return on Investment) to your systems or tipsters selections that you should also be including ROC – Return on Capital - a less commonly used concept but potentially more important for anyone taking their betting exploits seriously.

ROI is a commonly used benchmark used to compare actual betting returns based on your stakes and provides a simple measurement figure that demonstrates the profitability from the selections calculated. However the ability to understand and calculate Return on Capital (ROC) is perhaps as crucial in order to leverage the most value from your betting bank, assuming of course that you are following Rule 1 of successful betting and actually using a betting bank?

For anyone new to racing and maybe not as “betting worldly wise” as myself or many others (I learned the hard way through bitter experience) the wisdom of following tried and tested rules eliminates many of the mistakes that I and many others before me have experienced. Here is a list of the mistakes that I personally aim to avoid and perhaps at a later date I'll explore the reasoning and rationale behind all of them.

  1. Failure to Use Betting banks
  2. Failure to keep Accurate Records
  3. Failure to Stake Correctly
  4. Chasing Losses
  5. Lack of Value Appreciation
  6. Greed for Instant Wealth
  7. Lack of Discipline
  8. Uncontrolled Emotion
  9. The Grass is Greener
  10. Laziness
  11. Stupidity

Numbers have always fascinated me and it's true to say that the my education wasn't entirely wasted but racing and betting have been the main beneficiaries of my “A level Maths with statistics” and the mathematical links between Strike rate, Correct Staking, ROI & ROC are all crucial to sound betting bank management and it pays to understand the importance of all four, but for today I'll focus on Return on Capital.

So armed with your betting bank - let's assume a starting bank of £2000 and having done your homework you decide that you will only invest in any selection process that generates a minimum historic proven 10% ROI. This means that for every £10 staked you would expect to have a return of £11 generating £1 profit.

However the ROI measurement on its own is only one part of the equation and used on its own can potentially be detrimental to making the most profitable decision as we'll see.

These days nearly every reputable tipster or service will provide their full results and should also provide accurate ROI figures allowing you to compare their historic results and even if you're using your own systems/selections, you should also be keeping accurate records so that you have the historical data enabling you to calculate the ROI of these. So assuming that you have all this information you now have a decision to make and so you shortlist 3 possible selection options, one of which will be chosen and used with your betting bank. For this illustration I'm going to assume that all three have the similar historic Strike Rate (SR) as different Strike Rates would in fact affect the staking, but that's another topic. So let's consider:

Option A – ROI 30%

Option B – ROI 20%

Option C – ROI 10%

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An easy choice on the face of it, Option A is seemingly three times as profitable than Option C, but remember that we want to generate as much profit as possible from our starting £2000 betting bank and on closer examination of all three options we identify the following:

Option A – selections average 3 – 4 per week let's say 200 per year.

Option B – selections average 1- 2 a day let's say 500 per year.

Option C – selections average 3-4 a day let's say 1200 per year.


Now assuming that all three options have a similar strike rate (The Strike Rate will determine our most appropriate staking) we can now easily calculate how much our initial £2000 bank should grow in a full year by using the historic ROI figures of each option with the number of bets to calculate the Return On Capital after one year.

Option A - 200 bets £2000 staked @ 30% ROI = £600 profit.

Option B – 500 bets £5000 staked @ 20% ROI = £1000 profit.

Option C – 1200 bets £12,000 staked @ 10% ROI = £1200 profit.


So surprisingly the lowest ROI option, C, actually generates the highest amount of profit from your bank after a year. Indeed, it was twice as much as option A that had the highest ROI. So whilst you may not be winning as much profit on each bet with option C the fact that you have a much higher number of bets provides for a greater annual profit.

It's very similar to the “pile them high sell them cheap” concept in that you can afford to win less because you are betting on more selections so over a period of time you actually win more.

This calculation is referred to as the Return on Capital (ROC) and in the above example would be shown in percentage terms like the ROI figures i.e.

Option A – ROC 130%: Starting bank £2000 + £600 profit = £2600 after 1 year

Option B - ROC 150%: Starting bank £2000 + £1000 profit = £3000 after 1 year

Option C – ROC 160% : Starting bank £2000 +£1200 profit = £3200 after 1 year

The ROC calculation is used to calculate the size of your betting bank after a period of time, so whilst the ROI figure is important, the ROC calculation is perhaps as crucial in identifying how much your betting bank may grow after a period of time and therefore enables you to leverage the maximum earning potential from your betting bank.

For anyone taking their betting seriously and using a betting bank you really should be considering and calculating both Return on Investment and Return on Capital for your selections.

- Roger (aka maverick99)


A Fakenham Placepot (by way of P6)

New form indicators

New form indicators

In this video post, I wanted to introduce some of the new elements of the geegeez racecards, which are currently residing in a test area but will soon appear live on the site for all Gold subscribers to use.

I've chosen today's Fakenham meeting, and a placepot bet framed around it, as the subject matter. So the video serves two ends.

Actually, it serves a third to some degree as well: it illustrates one or two of my own betting methodologies in practical form. It's quite long, but may be worth persevering with over a mug of tea.


2014 Victoria Cup Preview and Tips

2014 Victoria Cup Preview and Tips

In this video preview, I use the profiling, pace and form filter tools - amongst others - to isolate some value in the Victoria Cup, a seven furlong, 29 runner, handicap run at Ascot on Saturday.

If you don't already have these tools in your corner, watch the video to see how simple they are to use, and what they can add to your form study... and then click the link below to get a free 10 day trial.

You can see more on pace analysis, and how to use it to your advantage, in this post.

Star Jock: The Next Generation

Take young Jason to Hart...

Take young Jason to Hart...

With apologies to Trekkies everywhere, today's post is about up and coming jockeys. It's a two parter. In the first part, I'll tell you about five jockeys on whom I have a very close eye; and in part two, I'll outline how you might do some similar legwork for yourself to track down the next big thing in the riding ranks.

Firstly then, let me introduce you to some guys and a gal that could make you some money in the coming months. They are all apprentice or conditional jockeys, and my research is based on their mounts only when they're able to claim at least a three pounds allowance. That is, after all, a part of what makes them so sought after by trainers.

Furthermore, I only focused on their rides priced at 20/1 or shorter, so as to minimize losing runs. They do ride bigger priced winners, but not on my watch.

The not yet Famous Five then are Harry Bannister, Nico de Boinville, Lucy Gardner, Oisin Murphy and Jason Hart.

The first trio are jump jockeys and the last pair are flat boys. Of the five, I think Oisin Murphy will become unprofitable to follow the quickest. The reason is simply that he's become a victim of his own success. He's a brilliant young rider, who has ridden some high profile winners and that gets noticed.

Jason Hart won the apprentice series on the flat last year, recording a 30.94 unit profit in the process, but seems to have still snuck under the radar to some degree. He actually managed to ride 51 winners from 369 rides (14%) last year, and he's already scored on six of his thirty mounts in 2014 for a profit of a massive 51 points!

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Of the jumps guys, Lucy Gardner rides very few horses outside of her mum Susan's squad, and she's actually never won on a horse trained by anyone else. But the Gardner's are a formidable team, and Lucy's one to keep onside.

Nico de Boinville emerged from the Nicky Henderson stable a season or so ago, and has been riding winners galore since then. Although his main supply of rides - and winners - is guv'nor Hendo, he's also unsaddled in the winners' enclosure for a dozen other trainers in that time, and his services are much sought after. He's a strong and stylish rider and looks set for a bright future.

The last name is perhaps the one with the most upside. Harry (H A A) Bannister is relatively unheralded, but his numbers lend credence to his emerging talent. Only eight winners into his National Hunt career (he's also ridden a couple of flat winners), Harry has spread that success across four different handlers with his boss, Charlie Mann, being the main beneficiary.

Those eight NH winners have come from 59 rides, and were worth a profit of 9.25 points. But, as I say, he's the one I'm projecting forward with, rather than a more established star-in-the-making like some of the others. He's a higher risk proposition but with greater potential upside too.


So how do you spot emerging talent for yourself? The answer is almost unnervingly simple, and lies primarily in the conditional and apprentice jockey tables each season. The key is to take a view fairly early in the season - say two to three months in - based on the data as it stands then.

Another equally crude - and effective - method is to sort the Racing Post jockey stats by the profit column, and look for young riders with a reasonable number of rides under their belt. Then go through their form to make sure the profit isn't as a result of a single big-priced winner.

An example that is on my 'to watch' list - not on the Next Gen Jockey list yet, but could soon graduate - is Charlie Deutsch (12 wins from his 74 rides, +75.66). His figures are skewed by a 100/1 winner, which is why he's on that watch list. But he's getting plenty of opportunities for Charlie Longsdon and the summer is a good time for young jumps jockeys to make a name for themselves.

Callum Bewley and Dean Pratt (winner of the Scottish Champion Hurdle on Saturday aboard Cockney Sparrow) are also of interest when riding non-no-hopers (i.e. 20/1 or shorter).

Meanwhile on the flat, Jenny Powell has started very brightly. She's an apprentice to Tom Dascombe and could come in for some fancied rides in the early weeks of the turf season. And Ali Rawlinson has been going well for boss, Mick Appleby.

A database tool like is also excellent for helping to filter the fancied runs from the no chance ones.

I hope this short post has given you something to ponder and, at the very least, you now know my five 'next gen jocks' to follow. Let's hope they keep winning - and winning at prices - for many months to come.


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