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In-play trading strategies | Horse racing pace

If you’re betting or Betfair trading in horse racing you’ve probably heard of the terms, frontrunners, lay to back, held up horse and so on. These are terms reserved for the inplay section of the racing. But what does all of this mean and how can we use this to our advantage? And more importantly, how can you get all of that critical information completely free of charge?

Today we’re going to look at the in-play period of horse racing.

How does in-play differ?

In-play betting or trading is driven by how horses prefer to run and also other characteristics, which we will discuss in a second. The important thing to understand is that before a horse race starts it’s driven purely by opinion or the chance that people think the horse has of winning the race. But as soon as the gates fly open, or the starter lets them go on a jumps race, there are certain characteristics that defines how the race is run.

There are three critical stages to look out for at each individual race.

The three stages: start, middle and finish!

So first stage is obviously the start. If a horse gets a good break, then you may find it odds shorten a little bit, or perhaps it doesn’t get off to a good start and the opposite will happen. Over longer races that’s less important because they also get the chance to make up a good or bad start.

Then you obviously have the end of the race where the horse is produced for the win. Here you can judge whether the jockey has got the horse in a certain position to hopefully run on to cross the line and win the race.

Then of course there’s this big section in between which is ultimately determined by the typical pace of the race which determines how the horses like to run.

Why is the pace of the race important?

Horses are pack animals and so they typically move around in herds. Therefore they all have characteristics within them that determine where they like to be. For example some of them will be front runners. Front runners like to be positioned at the front and like to take a leadership role in the pack.

In comparison, you have horses who would prefer to be at the back of the pack and see all of the other horses to determine where they’re running. You also have horses that will like to sit in mid division, so you can even get a mixture of all of those individual styles.

It is a tactic even jockeys consider

The pace of the race isn’t something you only should only consider, when a jockey runs a race they will look at the pace of the race to figure out who they need to track and where they need to be positioned.

If you want a good example of this, Joseph O’Brien actually published on Twitter, his pace notes for the 2016 Derby.

It made for quite interesting read as he’s listed all of the horses within the race where he drew arrows based upon how fast he thinks those horses will run and roughly where they will be in the race. He used that tactic to figure out where he needs to be positioned when he was riding.

When you’re a jockey, that’s absolutely critical. You want to know the strength of the horse, how it prefers to run and then you use that to your advantage. If the horse has very little form line then it’s possible the jockey will not know, but in horses where there is a bit of form they will make post notes and that will determine roughly how that little portion of the race is run.

Where do people often fail in-play?

So when you’re trading on racing, especially when doing something in-play, like you’re dutching or you’re doing a front runner type strategy, how do you find all of the key critical information that you need?

I’ve seen a lot of people look at data from previous races in terms of what price horses have traded at. The problem is that when you’re data mining, it’s sort of statistical deja vu. You’re looking at stuff that has happened, not what will happen. You also have all sorts of anomalies in there that you may not be able to see.

Therefore these people tend to look at the data with their mindset already made up. For example, you could look at a horse that has traded lower by 30 ticks for the last five out of six races so you trade with that in mind. However, that doesn’t actually tell you what happened in those races or why it traded at that much lower price.

It’s much better to get a more fundamental, deeper understanding of exactly what is going on within a race. This is why we’re looking at the pace of the race because the pace and the running styles of individual horses would give you all of that information.

How to use pace maps to your advantage

So let’s get an understanding of exactly what we need to look at and how it influences the odds within an individual race.

There are great free of charge sources that will list out the general characteristics of each of these runners and allow you to determine how the race is likely to be run.

This will help you if you’re actively trading the race or you’re looking at it in-play as it will help you to make a judgement on whether you think the horse is running within its style or out of style. Meaning you’ll be able to anticipate exactly where the odds are likely to go based upon how that particular horse is performing.

Where to find your free resource

Since I recorded this video I’ve had many suggestions on where you can view pace information for free. To acknowledge them I will list the resources here, but also talk about the Racing TV site specifically.

You can find free pace information at: –

If you go to the Racing TV site and go to the races section it will tell you about the race cards that are on today. You will see if you click on a particular race that you will have different options like the form tracker, timeform and other insights.

However, the thing that we’re most interested in is the pace map so simply turn that option on.

What the different shades mean on the pace maps

You can see there immediately, you’ve got access to a pace map which will tell you how the race is very likely to be run. You can use that information to make a selection or do a particular type of trade.

How looking at the likely pace can benefit you

The interesting thing about these pace cards is how often they are accurate as to how the race is likely to be run.

What we’re going to do now is look at an example using the pace to help inform our decisions. If you actually look at this particular screenshot of the pace you’ll notice that the race actually unfolded the way the pace map predicted.

This really demonstrates how you’re looking for a determination as to whether the race is being run in a true manner and that everything is going to play out the way that you would expect.

There are more specific examples that we can look at so you can understand how being a front runner or being held up is likely to influence the outcome of a race.

What to look out for in pace

Mr. Magoo was featured as a horse that could run prominently and at first he did indeed live up to that by taking a lead within a few furlongs into the race.

If we look at the chart you can see how the chart has gradually pulled his price in because not only is he prominent, but he’s managed to hold the lead for a reasonable amount of time.

However, Mr. Magoo still had the issue of being produced for the win. He actually finished seventh in this particular race despite leading because he simply just ran out of steam.

You can see that this combination of a good start and the horse initially running to its style doesn’t always guarantee the result you’d expect. If you run out of energy, there’s not a lot you can do! However, because he was prominent during the key part of the race, his odds did come in.

What to take in consideration when using pace

Within all horse races, there’s an element of randomness in here. For example, with jumps the horse could fall or hit a fence which could disrupt the strategy or over the flat, especially the shorter flat races, the start and finish become much more dominant. This is something you should take that into consideration when you’re deploying a strategy.

If you’re looking at a favourite and you have an automation set up, when you’re looking at those race cards you should consider whether the horse is going to be prominent and therefore will its price begin to collapse. This will bound to happen if there’s less time left of the race and the horse is where it should be, then it’s more likely that the price will shorten if they’re leading.

So you wouldn’t do a lay to back on a favourite in a race that shows those characteristics, you would probably do the opposite. If you’re looking for a lay to back, maybe you’re looking for something that is likely to be held up, which may not be the favourite.

Remember, when you look at the pace cards, you understand what the pace of the race is going to be and where the favourite is positioned then it will allow you to make much better decisions.

What not to do

If you apply a blanket strategy across all markets then it just isn’t going to work. Creating something that just works generically on all basic races is probably the hardest thing to do.

Your role as a better or a Betfair trader is to actually get a strategy and then match it to a selection. That’s ultimately what you’re doing when you’re looking at the pace of a race. You’re trying to identify how that’s likely to influence the odds within your favour.

Now all you need to do is…

What you should do now is combine a beautiful piece of automation with a little bit of analysis and I’m pretty sure you’ll have a profitable Betfair trading strategy!

The post In-play trading strategies | Horse racing pace appeared first on Betfair trading blog | Expert advice from Professional Betfair trade.

Did lower fences make the Grand National safer?

Fallers and the Aintree Grand National

There’s always a lot of discussion around the Grand National as to horse welfare. To tackle one of these issues they made amendments to lower the fences to help tackle fallers. The interesting thing about this is that the jockeys were actually disputing the new lower fences saying, if you lower the fences then the horses will just go at them more and they’ll be more fallers.

This made me think, let’s actually go out and see what the impact of all the different characteristics of jumps have and how that affects how many fallers there are in horse racing and whether it’s safe or not.

Let’s do the science! Myth of not?

Myth one: Does having more runners cause more fallers? Confirmed, busted or plausible?

Firstly, I wanted to explore if congestion on the racecourse actually increases the number of fallers. Would the number of runners directly correlate to the number of fallers, yes or no?

Now, the answer is yes, the number of runners does correlate to the number of fallers, but not in a way that you would expect. When I looked at field sizes, I looked at the average size of the field. Now in comparison to normal races who have around 10 runners, the Grand National is unique in having a total of 40 runners.

To begin, I looked at races with runners between 3 and 17 runners to see what impact the field size had on the number of fallers. The curious thing is, the smaller the field, the more fallers there are as a percentage of the total field.

The Numbers…

Now, it’s quite a small percentage, but nonetheless, that percentage is there. So you can hypothesise that maybe when horses are in smaller fields, they tend to be going for it a bit more etc, but there seems to be a variable that is causing this trend. Whereas in bigger fields generally, you tend to find the jockeys are taking a little bit more care and are perhaps trying to avoid accidents because there are so many runners.

So what do you think? Confirmed, busted or plausible?

Myth two: Do longer distances tire horses, resulting in more fallers? Confirmed, busted or plausible?

Secondly, I looked over distance to see if horses getting tired may be a potential issue within a particular race.

Would you say that tired horses to tend to jump worse or not? Well, the answer is that generally the longer a race is, then you do tend to get slightly more fallers in a race.

The Numbers…

However, it’s actually a tiny percentage and it’s really not an exponential graph. When you’re looking at the minimum trip of two miles, generally the number of fallers is about 2%. Then when it rises to much longer distances like 21 furlongs, you tend to find that it starts to level off.

If you’re looking between two and three miles, it tends to plateau at that particular point. Yes, it does increase, but it’s very slight and it tends to level off fairly quickly in the overall scheme of things.

So what do you think? Confirmed, busted or plausible?

Myth three: does the going effect the chance of fallers?: Confirmed, busted or plausible?

Now the next factor I considered is looking at the going, because the going should be able to give me some information as to how things are likely to go. The interesting thing about this, is once again the difference between different types of going is indeed slight, but it does give you a clue as to what’s going on with the horse in this particular race.

‘the going’ refers to the ground the ground at a certain racecourse.

So which do you think it is? Do you think that depending on what the ground is like at different racecourses produces more fallers?

Well, the answer is that firm ground produces more fallers and when you look at the data, it’s reasonably well correlated.

The interesting thing is, is that when you get into the soft and heavy ground, the number of fallers starts to decline. On the heavier ground, the horses are going to be running slower, but it seems that if they’re running slower and they seem to jump more cleanly. This is pretty much what the jockey’s said when they said don’t lower the fences at the Grand National because the horses will run at them faster.

If you have a tall fence and you have heavy ground, the horses tend to be running slower and they time their jumps just that a little bit better.

Now if the ground is firm and the horses are running at them quite quickly, then that tends to be when there are more falls. It could be that a mis-timed jump is creating half of that issue.

So what do you think? Confirmed, busted or plausible?

Lowering of fences at the Grand National, helpful or not?

So in fact, I think that at the Grand National, that lowering the fences was done to make them safer from the public perspective, but in reality that probably is making them slightly more dangerous. Certainly if you did that across all the race courses, you’d start to see more fallers.

Whereas at the moment, the status quo says that if there is heavy ground, then one or two things will happen. The horse will slow down and have a little bit more time to assess the jump and jump it properly. Or perhaps if the jockey is feeling that the horse is not able to cope with the ground, conditions and the jumps, then he will pull them up.

You can see in the stats that the jockeys are pulling up more horses and heavy ground. They’re not making them jump, they’re not forcing them to jump and they can tell when the horse is responding or not responding properly by taking the necessary action.

In conclusion…

So, from a PR perspective modifying the course has probably been a win. However, from a safety perspective I suspect that it hasn’t been a win and that, in fact, lowering fences and making them easier to jump probably will increase the propensity of there being more accidents.

I haven’t deliberately looked to try and find this outcome, I just looked at all of the stats and was totally surprised, as you probably were, that there were more fallers on firm ground as a percentage of the total field than there were on heavy ground.

Let’s hear what you think – does lowering the fences in the Grand National actually make them safer or is that simply a myth?

The post Did lower fences make the Grand National safer? appeared first on Betfair trading blog | Expert advice from Professional Betfair trade.

Tips for the Grand National Meeting – Aintree

Cheltenham is behind us, and the flat season is officially underway and this weekend we have the last major jumps meeting of the year which is, of course, nations favourite horse racing spectacular – The Grand National.

Grand National Betting

Grand National betting is a craze that sweeps the nation once a year.

Up and down the country people will be gambling in an attempt to find Grand National winners. Offices will be tearing up their favourite newspapers to do a sweepstake. It’s the one time a year that everybody turns into a punter.

The race fuels interest in horse racing each year which is curious as it’s an impenetrable betting market!

To be fair, it’s pretty unique and while Cheltenham attracts the more serious and expert punter, the Grand National is undoubtedly the race that everybody knows and anyone usually has a punt or gets involved in some form or another. That usually throws up some great trading and betting opportunities.

I’ve traditionally done well at the Grand National, it’s a weekend I wouldn’t give up trading. I often find it frustrating as a Betfair trader, not because of the lack of opportunity. But because it is the one time each year I guarantee that everybody asks me for some Grand National tips.

So let’s start with some advice you can give somebody, if they want a bet on the Grand National.

My Grand National trading result from 2019

Tips for picking a winner on Grand National day

Grand national odds show the super competitive nature of the race and that’s a reflection on just how hard it can be to pick a winner out of the 40 horses running on Grand National day. Picking one winner from the grand national runners is a really impossible task. But let us have a go at that so you can give some advice!!

Get some decent odds

If you take bookmaker odds you’re gonna get shafted for want of a better word. So my first real tip for you or anybody betting on the Grand National is to not use a bookmaker. Find a betting exchange to place your bet with, as on a betting exchange if you do happen to win, then you’ll win a lot more money. Placing a bet online is preferrable as well. The competition is fierce with online gambling so you will get a better price especially if you take up a promotional offer. If you use a betting exchange you can use trading software to improve your functionality when betting in different ways.

Don’t back the favourite

Grand National favourites tend to make really bad bets, you may want to lay them. In the twenty years, I’ve been actively watching the grand national live, virtually none have won. When I ran the data over much longer periods, before exchanges, the picture didn’t improve. Bookmakers love to have a story on the national and that tends to shorten the favourite to odds beyond where they are reasonable value. Don’t back a favourite, apart from Tiger Roll and Red Rum perhaps!

Choose something with experience

It’s a good idea to have a horse that has been out racing regularly. Try to choose a horse that has been running fairly recently and preferably one over a reasonable distance, preferably over three miles. Grand National winners have raced eight weeks or less prior to winning the Grand National and only two of the last 21 winners had fallen or unseated their rider more than twice prior to winning.

Age is key to some green, by not being too green

Younger horses have a terrible track record at the Grand National as do older horses. So try and look for horses that are aged somewhere mid-range. When I looked at the stats since 1950 the winner tended to be a nine year old by frequency, with 35% of winners being that age. The range fell into 8-12 year old’s, peaking at nine and sloping away from there.

Matched bet turnover

The Aintree festival starts on Thursday and takes place over 3 days. So the first thing to note is that it is one day shorter than other festivals like Cheltenham and Royal Ascot. Based on past years, I’d expect the turnover for the three days to be between £40m – £50m with around £9m traded pre-race on the Grand National itself.

Most races exhibit similar characteristics and volume is quite high to start with and builds consistently during the day. The Grand National whowever is an active market for most of the day and builds quickly in the last half an hour. The Grand National start time is 17:15 and is an hour later than when I first started trading it many years ago. The later start time is useful as there is more time for money to arrive, but it can skew my entire results on the Saturday to just the Grand National itself. So the pressure is usually on when we approach the big race!

Turnover on Betfair at the Aintree Grand National meeting

Betfair trading on the Grand National meeting

Unlike the Cheltenham festival, you won’t see large chunks of money stacked up waiting to be matched around the current price. So you won’t have the frustration you can sometimes get sitting and waiting for ages for your orders to be filled prior to the big race itself on Saturday afternoon. This will happen on the Grand National itself though and money will arrive in the market earlier and bigger than you would see on any race throughout the year. Generally though, most races will trade like a regular Saturday afternoon with each feature race looking to turnover around £2m pre-off.

Betfair BSP at the Grand National meeting

For such a large field the BSP can still be very will often still be very close to 100%, in fact in two of the recent years it has dipped below, so you could have backed all runners at SP and secured a profit before the runners at the back of the pack even set off. Like some other meetings that we see during the year, that have competitive markets, the overound on the starting price at the meeting is gradually getting tighter and tighter.

Betfiar SP book% at the Grand National meeting

Trading In Running

If you’re looking to lay the field rather than doing so at less than 2.0 as you normally would you might want to look at doing so at slightly odds higher odds somewhere between 3.0-5.0. You will need to get more runners matched to lock in your profit, but the data does show that is more likely than laying at lower odds and that makes sense when you think of the distance and number of runners involved in this race.

Alternatively, you may want to look at DOBing, while none of the eventual winners have come from the top four in the betting since one of the joint-favourite won back in 2008 using a DOBing or back 2 lay strategy on the front 4 usually works quitee well. In seven of the last eight years 2 of the front 3 have traded at 50% there BSP or lower.

All that’s left for me to say is good luck to everyone who trades it and I hope that we get to see a quality race to round this year’s jumps season off.

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Betfair Trading – Golf – US Masters

The US Masters Golf

The first major is upon us and it’s a market that will pull in many millions in bets and trades on Betfair. We have reached that time of the year when we can watch the finely manicured lawns of the US Masters golf tournament. It’s a huge Betfair trading market which I’ve enjoyed for many years, but of course, the big question is how to win something!

Golf is a curious market for me and not something you would expect from somebody whose predominant focus are horse races! You also will gues that, as far as betting markets go, Golf isn’t as popular as other traditional sports betting markets.

However, when I joined betting exchanges way back in June 2000 is was one of the first markets I tackled. It was simply because it often seemed mispriced to me and when I started sports trading, that was what I was looking for. I don’t extensive work now on Golf betting markets and while I could do them more often by adding in a range of PGA tour events to my mix. I tend to focus on the Majors. The first of which is the US Masters.

I like the US Masters. This is mainly because it’s the only major played on the same course each year. This means you can collect a ton of stats on how the course plays and form your strategies around that. It gives me a good guide as to when to trade in and out of a position. You can do this on most courses, but because the Masters is at the same location every year it is much more predictable.

The masters tournament is a bit different from something like the US Open or the Open Golf. For starters it is invitiational, meaning that you can’t be guaranteed the right the play there, like an open championship. So you get a right mixture or players. You could have a seasoned professional, such as Phil Mickelson or Tiger Woods, paired with an amateur player. Past masters champions can come back and play, so Sandy Lyle, Fred Couples and others turn up for a leisurely stroll. It’s perfectly possible for a breakthrough player like PGA Tour’s Tommy Fleetwood, to get matched up with a former legend. This sort of thing can only happen at the Masters as you only qualify for Open championships on merit.

There are some quaint traditions as well. The champions dinner sees last years winner nominate what food is served at the following year’s dinner. At first tee, there is the tradition of previous champions teeing off. Jack Nicklaus or any combination of previous legends get the whole thing started, but age often means that as far as they go. But it’s sort of fun to see new and old.

High liquidity

I prefer US majors to be honest, as the start times are much more UK friendly. The Masters routinely has more matched bet volume than other tournaments and sometimes similar amounts to the British Open. Based on prior years I’m expecting volume to be in the £8m range. In 2012 it was just £4m for some reason, but that seems to be anomalous and the average has been around £7m at first tee on average.

It’s interesting to note that volume has a double peak before the off at the Masters. The night before the tournament volume increases steadily till around 10pm UK time, before dwindling to tiny amounts in the early hours. Next morning, the action starts to pick up at 6am and builds steadily to peak for a second time just before the first tee off time. So if you are looking to get a position on, those are the best times. Prices tend to be pretty static.

How the course plays at Augusta country club

If you are a golf player, when you step up to the first tee you will already know which are the hardest and easiest holes thanks to the stroke index. When trading, knowing the hardest holes isn’t sufficient, you need to know what impact each hole is likely to have on the score. Augusta gives us this chance.

Laying shorter priced players ahead of a trickier part of the course or backing bigger prices approaching easier holes can be a good strategy. Order of play can influence this. If one player has just passed through a trickier section without dropping a shot and is followed by a rival. A lay is a good bet on the chasing player. Any dropped shot or the potential for one will send their price out.

The most likely hole to drop a shot on is the 11th, but variance to par, one of my main metrics, means that a dropped shot is quite likely to occur in bunches. The most expensive three holes on the course are holes 10-12 where on average there is a nearly a 28% chance of dropping a shot.

Players tend to pick up shots on the par fives so holes 13-15 are where players are more likely to do that. There is an average 40% chance you will pick up a shot on these holes. Players are most likely to eagle the 13th, but two holes later is another chance. The last three holes are testing and dropped shots are likely here.

Watch the video to learn how thinking like this during a Golf tournament, can produce a really spectacular golf trade.

The US Masters produced the perfect golf trade

Chasing the leader

One in seven tournaments the first-day leader sees out the whole tournament. But that doesn’t sound as bad if you say the opposite, which is that 86% of the time they won’t. But, of course, some of this is down to how much they lead by in each round.

90% of eventual winners are at least five shots within the leader after day one. This is similar on day two but weighted towards the top of that group and at the end of day three if you are within three of the lead that’s where 86% of the eventual winners come from. Only four of 80 winners I looked at were six shots or more behind on the final day.

Previous year highlights

In 2014 Rory McIlroy was sent off a favourite at 11.5 but had slipped to 110 by the cut. The eventual winner and former green jacket holder Bubba Watson was three shots in the lead and trading at only 3.0 by the cut. McIlroy went from 36.0 to 7.0 in 2011 before losing and just 3.55 from an SP of 8.0 in 2012. In 2013 he was sent off at 15.5 and reached 6.2.

Jordan Speith was on fire in 2015 and couldn’t be caught, in 2016 he traded as low as 1.09 before shooting a seven on the tricky 12th hole to hand the Masters to Danny Willett. 2017 was notable for a huge battle for the title that ended in a playoff between Garcia and Rose. Their prices flip-flopped alternatively as one of them headed for the title. The last two years have been great markets.

2019 was all about Tiger woods, not really expected to win but nonetheless went of in a group of contenders at 20’s. The rest they say, is history.

This year will be be intriguing with Dustin Johnson looking to defend the title as the shortest holder, in time terms at least. Bryson De Chambeau will be looking to try and match his play with his often quoted rhetoric.

The ‘perfect’ trade

There is no such thing as a perfect trade, but in 2017 we came close. Jordan Spieth opened the day three under for the tournament and had a good front nine. That left him seven under on the turn. Holes 10-12 are quite likely to see a dropped shot so the focus on whether he could avoid that. Danny Willett was already through the same section and was having a fine round. So far he had moved from par for the tournament at the open to two under after finishing at hole 12. Holes 13 to 15 presented opportunities to pick up shots and close in on the leader.

Spieth was trading at 1.09 for the tournament but dropped a shot at the 10 and 11. Nerves kicked in on 12 where he ended up in the water twice and then the bunker for a seven on the tricky par three. Suddenly Willett was in the lead just had to try and not drop a shot or two on the final three. With confidence high, he gained one.

It took just 33 minutes for Spieth to go from [1.09] to losing by three shots. That’s golf for you!

General advice

Some of how the Golf plays out depends on the weather, which we don’t know for sure just yet. If it’s consistent then stick with the leaders later in the tournament. If it’s not, then start laying them. A lead of a few shots will get more valuable with each hole played. It’s best to stick with opposing players who have a slender lead to lose on a harder part of the course. Always bear in mind the tougher and easier holes and you will put yourself in a good position to trade out for a profit.

It’s tricky to just pick off one or two selections. So use Bet Angel’s dutching or dobbing tool to capture value on a bunch of them. You will only need one or two of those to have a good round for their price to shorten dramatically and put you into profit. This tends to make sense on the first and second days, but focusing on the leaders in the final two days is where you will find opportunities.

Good luck!

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