The Practice of In-Running Betting

Pinball Wizard, Part 4: The Practice of Winning

Previously On… Pinball Wizard Betting... We looked at the Theory Of Winning and the utilization of edges. You can read that here. [And part 1 is here, part 2 is here.] Now, we examine the theories being put into practice and how I personally approach the in-running market, writes Russell Clarke.

Clearly there are lots of angles and strategies to try and beat the in-running market. I know a number of successful traders in the market and they use a myriad of methods. Some bet early, some bet late. Some focus on one horse, some follow the top two or three in the market, some follow the whole race. Some will trade every race, some will be more selective. Some bet, some trade, some back, some lay. Some utilise options such as automated trading, some use servants, some trade manually. In short (was that short?!), there are many ways to tackle the challenge and your pathway will depend on your individual strengths and edge.


Pre-Race Preparations: The Crib Sheet

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My day starts with compiling my Crib Sheet for the day. The Crib Sheet is where I will jot down anything that could be useful from an in-running perspective. I’m not looking to analyse form or pick the winner or find value. This makes the process much quicker and very focused. Using Geegeez, I open a race and, if it is a flat race I look at the effect of the draw and the pace. I may change the parameters such as ground to give me a greater sample size if required. Primarily I am looking for extremes. You can see tutorials on how to use Geegeez on the site and so I won’t repeat that here, but my preferred measurement is PRB (percentage of rivals beaten) as this covers all runners in the race rather than a % won/placed. So, if I spot a combination with a low number, I will highlight the horses who could fall into that. As an example, if low drawn hold up horses have a PRB of 0.32, then I will highlight those.

My next stop are the statistics for each horse. Here I use my Report Angles. I primarily use Trainer and Sire Angles and have them set up on my settings as ‘Any’. This gives me a number of stats on each horse and I look for negative numbers with a reasonable sample size. I quickly scan for low IV, low A/E and low %placed for any of my stats. I will then check that the stat is likely to be relevant to today’s race/circumstance and make a note on my crib-sheet of any extremely negative stat that may have relevance. Examples might be a trainer with an exceptionally poor record with horses that haven’t run for 60 days, or with runners in a chase (if the horse is making a chase debut) or a sire with a poor record at a certain trip (if the horse is moving up/down in distance). The point is that the negative stat has to be relevant.

I will then check the write-ups on each horse to look for quirks/idiosyncrasies. These are many and varied. Is he temperamental, does he display any quirks (and do these quirks predicate performance) or show any patterns of form/performance? They can then be checked in his history and I can occasionally unearth gems such as performing below par when sweating, or upset, or when pulling too hard, or when ront-running, or wearing headgear, etc. Again, these are noted on the Crib Sheet.

For each race, I can have any number of notes on any number of horses on the Crib Sheet. I try to keep the list and notes as brief as possible and look only for extremes. I do this for a number of reasons. You can only watch so many horses in-running and I am looking for confirmation of my notes. For example, if I have a draw/pace angle of 0.32 and this is confirmed in-running. Extremes produce better results because they give more room for error and listing marginal advantages/disadvantages would simply produce ‘noise’ in terms of results.

I then make a note of the silks of the noted horses and quickly scan the field to see any similar colours. This is important and will stop you following the wrong horse in the heat of the battle! Finally, I make a plan for the race and all of the noted horses. This is simple and goes along the lines of… “if this is confirmed, do this… if not, do that.” It’s a form of discipline that I have found useful. It sounds like a lot of work, but I can normally complete two meetings in 90 minutes. I only trade when I can do two meetings. This alleviates the boredom between races but allows enough time to paddock watch, listen to interviews and watch horses to post.


The Race Itself…

Ideally, I watch for the ten minutes prior to the start of the race. I look for paddock clues, misbehaviour and running to post. Sometimes, I am looking for Crib Sheet confirmation, other times a horse may enter the Crib Sheet based on something I see or hear in an interview beforehand.

During the race I watch the horses on my Crib Sheet, but also watch the data I receive from TPD (Total Performance Data). TPD place transponders in the saddle of all runners at a number of tracks in the country. These are essentially the tracks you see on Sky Racing. They also cover a lot of American racing. The transponders send information about the speed and position of the runners. They can also measure other data such as stride length, but for the purposes of this series of articles we will deal only with speed.

The data is an array of miles per hour, position, and sectionals, along with a very clever par chart (adapted to account for class, ground and age) for the race, against which you can measure the pace of the race. The team at TPD have gone further still and produced easy to understand numbers that disemminate all the information. Three sets of numbers can be used, Velocity Fluctuation (which measures how smoothly a horse is running), Velocity Error (which measures how a horse is running against the par) and Cadence Error (which measures the cadence of the horse against a par). These are all placed on a scale, with 100 as an ‘average’ and normalized for all runners. These are produced in real time and therefore fluctuate throughout the race. Extremes are easy to spot as they are colour-coded. They are not without fault, as the technology is fallible, but they provide great information for the in-running trader and I cannot recommend them highly enough.

During each race, I continually flick between watching the Crib Sheet horses on the live feed to the TPD visuals, to the market, and back again. This is where the pinball analogy is strongest. I follow the plan on the Crib Sheet and look for confirmations. If I have the TPD numbers for the race, I’m looking for extremes that I can trade. For example, there may be a horse with a high Velocity Error number because he is either a front-runner who is racing far above par (too fast), or, in contrast, a hold up horse in a race that is being run well below par (too slow). Occasionally the stars will align and a Crib Sheet horse will be confirmed by visuals and also have poor TPD numbers.


Execution: Pulling The Trigger

If I’m betting early in the race, my execution is guided by the BSP (betfair starting price), which I have as part of my screen set up. The BSP is the best guide to the chance of a horse pre-race. I covered the wisdom of the crowd in a previous set of articles here on Geegeez. Its importance diminishes as the race progresses, but in the early stages, it is a good gauge of value. Let us say I have a Crib Sheet horse with a BSP of 6.6. If it is ‘confirmed’ early in a race, I will look to place a trade if the price is around that BSP. My logic is that if 6.6 was an accurate price before the race for my Crib Sheet horse and now we have additional evidence via a confirmation, its chances have significantly decreased. If I can lay at 7.2, I would consider that a value entry. If it was now trading at 13.5, I wouldn’t enter, despite the confirmation. I have a similar process for TPD numbers. As the race progresses, I take less notice of the BSP as the additional evidence begins to outweigh the knowledge of the market beforehand.

After an entry, I then watch my trade like a hawk; but I also take note of how other fancied contenders are trading to get an overall view of the market and the race. I view every bet as a trade initially and will exit without hesitation if my reason for entering the trade disappears. This could be that the TPD numbers improve in the race, or, my Crib Sheet confirmation gets reversed in any way, or even (in exceptional circumstances) other fancied runners are clearly running below expectation.

Exiting the trade can either be done gradually by backing the horse with a lesser stake or immediately via the green button. The discipline to ‘take a red’ is vital to avoid a heavy loss. Most of the time, I allow the trade to run and get full value.

In the fifth and final episode… In-Running Aids and Hacks to shortcut the learning curve, PLUS an example day's trading. Read there here.

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