Simple Aintree April System

John Smiths Grand NationalThere are many schools of thought on how Cheltenham form translates at Aintree, and of course, the real answer is that it varies from horse to horse.

But one thing that is true is that an in form horse at either meeting is a horse with a better than average chance. And that's the backbone of this simple little system for Aintree's three day Grand National meeting.

The rules are as follows:

  1. Ran at Cheltenham last time and finished 1st, 2nd or 3rd
  2. Finished 1st or 2nd in the previous race before Cheltenham

And, erm, that's it!

Over the last ten years, that system has found 48 winners from 190 runners, and shown a level stakes profit at SP of 39.62 points. At Betfair SP (and projected Betfair SP), that profit rises to 62.57 units.

Now, there have been losing years as well as winning years, so you need to beware of that. But how about improving the bottom line and reducing the number of bets?

OK then, if you only bet those qualifiers at 5/1 or more each way, you'd have returned 41.88 units of profit at SP from just 68 bets. That's the way I'll be playing this one.

Either way, the message is clear. In form horses which at least placed at the Cheltenham Festival have LIVE chances at Aintree too.

Free Handicap Chase System

Free handicap chase system

Free handicap chase system

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

Er, indeed.

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

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

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

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

And the findings were interesting.

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

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

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

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

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

Your first 30 days for just £1

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

Kauto 'you are a' Star

Kauto 'you are a' Star

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


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

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

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


Free Betting System

Free Betting System



The fortnight after the Arc weekend is always characterized by the racing equivalent of 'a belt of calms' and we are in the midst of that right now. Or, at least dear reader, I am in the midst of that right now.

I have to concede to feeling a little dull and listless myself this morning, with little to report on the horse-y front.

This changeover period is traditionally a difficult time to find winners too, with many of the flat horses being 'over the top' (i.e. having been in training for a long time and been taken to the well once too often), and an equivalent number of the jumps horses 'not fully wound up' (i.e. not quite match fit, and being aimed at bigger pots later in the season).

Whilst I love the Arc meeting, and I have a residual soft spot for Champions Day at Newmarket (where the Geegeez Racing Club members will be headed this saturday after a morning at the stables),  my big favourite is undoubtedly the Breeders Cup, held in the US either in the last week of October or, like this year, the first week in November.

I shall have much more news and opinion on that meeting, where European horses look likely to be well represented, from next week.

Your first 30 days for just £1

The other part of this transitional period is the new jumps season. With its fluent narrative which spans half of the year from October/November to March/April, the jumping game is barely wiping the sleepy dust from its eyes prior to Cheltenham's November Open Meeting (12th to 14th this year). As such, the same principles of treading carefully amongst the fit and unfit applies.

One way to establish the horses that are more likely to be fit is to check on the trainers' recent form table. If you go to Adrian Massey's brilliant website and click on the trainer information tab on the left (or just click this link), you can get a view on trainers from the last seven days, 14 days, 30 and 60 days.

There is also a breakdown of profit and loss. For instance, I can tell you that as of today, Jonjo O'Neill has had just one winner from his 33 runners in the last fortnight. He has two horses at Huntingdon tomorrow, both to be ridden by A P McCoy, and both likely to be under 10/1. Would you want to be backing those?

Conversely, Nigel 'Twist and Shout' Twiston-Davies and Philip Hobbs have 6 winners from 22 and 7 winners from 20 respectively in the same period. Whilst Hobbsy has nothing entered on that Huntingdon card, N T-D has one in almost every race, and I'd be pretty confident he'll hit the board.

Although this is a simple enough exercise, during the changeover months (April and October) it can serve you especially well. Obviously, trainer form is a key element all year round but at this time it is arguably the single most important factor when looking at any fancied runner.

[For the record, those summer jumping Welsh wizards, Tim Vaughan and Peter Bowen have hit the skids in recent weeks, with 0 from 16 and 0 from 15 respectively. Again, this can be a decent angle when looking for low liability lay material.]

So how about if we systematized this? Well, I've had a quick play with Adrian's tool (oh please, stop sniggering at the back there!), and I've come up with a cracking fun system for the months of October and November.

Now I say 'fun', because we're backing horses between 2/1 and 25/1, which means there can be loooooooong losing runs. As such, the approach is probably better suited to fun punts than serious backing. But that's up to you. (In fact, obviously, it's up to whether or not you completely ignore what I'm about to write!)

OK, so here we go:

Months: October and November only
Odds: 2/1 to 25/1
Trainer strike rate last 14 days: 10% or higher
Race Class: 4 - 7 (fitness usually / often beats class at this level)
UK National Hunt only

That's it.

Whilst you'd have made a negligible profit at SP, the big odds that some of these win at (95 winners at 11/1 to 25/1 since 2008) mean you can often get double the SP on Betfair.

The overall figures, to Massey's estimated Betfair odds*, show a profit of 672 points since 2008! That's October, November, 2008 and 2009, plus the first ten days of this month...

*Now, to be clear, I checked a couple of these estimated Betfair odds, and they aligned closely with the Betfair SP. I can't vouch for all runners and prices quoted. So in the interests of total transparency, I can tell you that the returns at industry (i.e. bookie) SP were a profit of 15 points (or 0.5% ROI).

So the system just about breaks even at SP, but with lots of double digit winners in there, Betfair prospectors may very well cash in!

I can feel those doldrums lifting already... 🙂