5 Horse Racing Betting Strategies That Work (+ Some That Don’t)
Want to know the truth about horse racing betting strategies? What’s working right now, and which ones to avoid like the plague? Then stay tuned; you’re about to learn a valuable lesson.
If you didn’t already know, there are hundreds of horse racing systems available for you to use, with almost all of them promising you a sure-fire way to make a quick profit.
However, you need to be careful.
While some are profitable, most of them will lose you money quicker than a millionaire in a strip bar.
If all betting systems and strategies worked, we would all be rolling in the money as we speak — and possibly banned from the bookies.
In this article, I will share five of the best horse racing systems that are profitable, popular and easy to learn. I’ll show you examples, tips and also provide you with a list of the betting strategies to avoid.
By the time you have finished reading, you’ll have the knowledge needed to smash the bookies and make consistent money.
Let’s dive in.
The Importance Of A Betting Strategy (Take Note)
It’s essential to have a betting strategy because the odds are typically stacked in favour of the bookmaker. If you were to bet without a plan or by not following a simple system, you’re very likely to lose money.
If you’re betting for fun and don’t mind the recurring losses, sure, bet without a strategy; however, if you want to maximise your profits and minimise your losses, you need to stick to a betting system.
The Top 5 Betting Strategies (Profitable & Popular)
The following betting strategies have been carefully selected, and if used correctly and sensibly, they should help you turn a decent profit.
Here they are in no particular order.
The Dutching system is a strategy of selecting more than one horse in a race with the potential to give you a guaranteed profit if either of them wins. As long as the payoff is more than the initial stake for all selections, you’re good to go.
This strategy is ideal for those who strongly fancy two horses in the same race and have a decent bankroll to accept the losses when they occur.
You’re confident that only two horses have a chance of winning the big race of the day. They’re both low priced with odds of 2.0 and 3.0, so probably the first and second favourite for the race.
You have a total stake of £50.
Using an online Dutching calculator will advise you to place £30 on the horse priced at 2.0 and £20 on the horse priced at 3.0.
This will give you a guaranteed profit of £10 if either of them wins the race.
This is known as Dutching and works well if you firmly believe it’s between 2 horses. Of course, it can work with more than two horses, but we’ll stick with two selections to keep things simple in this strategy.
Remember, you fancy the two horses to win, and it’s also worth noting that around 50% of all races last year was won by the first and second favourite for the race.
You can also increase your profits if the prices go up a little bit.
Take a look at the same example as before, but let’s change the odds for selection two from 3.0 to 5.0:
Notice how the profit has risen from £10 to £21.43, and the second selection is still possible to be a second favourite for the race, or at worst third favourite.
Below are a few tips for the Dutching system:
- Study the horses and form before betting
- Only bet when you are pretty sure it’s between two horses
- Always use an online Dutching calculator before betting
- Only risk what you can afford to lose.
- Guaranteed profit if either of your fancied horses wins
- Can bet with low and high stakes
- Higher strike rate
- Diluting your profits by betting on more than one selection
- Not risk-free
The 80/20 horse racing system is a strategy for profit from horses by betting on them to win and get placed on the betting exchange.
You bet 20% on the horse to win and 80% on the same horse to be placed.
You’re probably wondering why?
Have you ever backed a horse to win at short odds and thought to yourself, this has an excellent chance? The horse is cruising and looks like it’s flying, but then you enter the final furlong, and it starts to lag and gets pipped at the post to come second or third.
It happens a hell of a lot.
And there’s a way to counteract it.
As most horses get placed more than they win, betting a different amount on each outcome makes sense.
To profit in this system, you need to back 80% of your stake on the horse to get placed and 20% on the horse to win the race.
You fancy a horse with odds of 3.0, and you have a total of £10 to place a bet. So you put 20% on the win, which is £2, and 80% on the horse to be placed, which is £8.
The horse you picked gets pipped on the line by a nose, and you would typically have lost the bet like so many times before. But this time, you have also backed the horse to be placed with 80% of the stake, so you have profited from the bet.
Here’s the breakdown for the example above:
£2 to win – Lost £2
£8 to be placed – Won £16 profit.
If you would have placed the £10 on the horse you fancied to win (Low odds, probably the favourite), you would have lost it all, but since you decided to use the 80/20 rule, you gave yourself some insurance and came away with a profit because it got placed.
What would have happened if it won?
If the horse had won, your profit would be a further £4 on top of the placed £16 profit.
This is a good betting strategy to add insurance to your low-priced horses getting beat and adding a profit at the same time by backing them to get placed.
- Low-risk strategy
- Profit when the FAV gets beaten again
- Works with low stakes
- You have to keep an eye on the odds
The “Place, Lay System” is a horse racing strategy that involves laying two horses with low odds in the same race. You need to pick a race between 5 and 7 runners as you want the race to only pay for 1st and 2nd in the each-way market.
You profit with this system when one or both of them don’t get placed, which is more common than you probably realise.
To use this system, you’re going to need an exchange betting account with the likes of Betfair and Matchbook.
Here’s a breakdown of how the system works:
- Choose a race with 5-7 runners (7 is better)
- Pick two horses that have relatively low odds. You’re looking for odds of around 1.3 to 1.4, so in total, the combined odds will be around the 2.8 mark but not exceeding 3.0.
- Place a ‘lay bet’ on both of them.
- Profit when one or both don’t finish first or second.
Here’s an example of the bet:
You place a £10 lay bet on Red Rum & Kauto Star. The odds are 1.4 for each horse, so the combined total odds is 2.8, which is fine as it’s less than 3.0.
The liability for each bet is £4.
|Red Rum 1.4 – Liability £4||£10 Lay Bet|
|Kauto Star 1.4 – Liability £4||£10 Lay Bet|
Here’s the profit and loss for each outcome with a £10 Lay Bet:
- If Red Rum & Kauto Star both finish either first or second — you’re down £8
- If Red Rum gets placed, but Kauto Star doesn’t — you win £10 for one bet but lose £4 for the other. If the odds are the same for each horse, like in this example, you will receive the same profit and loss if Kauto Star was placed, but Red Rum wasn’t.
- If Red Rum & Kauto Star are both not placed — You win £20.
The only way for you not to win with this system is for both the horses to finish first and second in the race. While these two horses are likely to be the top two favourites, it’s still a big ask for this to happen frequently, making this system a good possibility for you to turn a profit.
Remember, even if one lay bet wins, you are still in profit.
You’re not turning massive profits with this system, but it is an excellent way to start building a bankroll.
- Profitable system
- Low variance
- Low risk
- Low-profit margin
- Small field races are hard to find
The Yankee bet has been around for many years and is regarded by many as the grandfather of betting strategies. You pick four horses in different races and need at least two to win or get placed — depending on whether you go with a win or an each-way Yankee.
The Yankee bet consists of 11 bets in total. So you have six potential doubles, four potential trebles and one fourfold accumulator.
Example: £1 win Yankie will cost you £11, while a £1 each-way Yankie will cost you £22.
The potential to win big with this bet is what gives it the most appeal. A £1 each way Yankee can pay you in the thousands for a stake of £22, and you don’t have to pick massive odds either.
Take a look at the image below; it shows you the potential winnings from a £1 each-way bet. Notice the odds; they’re not exactly huge odds, are they? Granted, they’re not odds-on either, but you’re talking third or fourth favourites in big meetings like Cheltenham or Aintree.
If you get four winners, you’ll receive a massive return of £32723. If all four get placed, you’ll receive around £550; if two get placed, and two win £683; and if only three get placed, you’ll still turn a profit for the bet.
My Yankee Advice
When using this strategy, you can either go for a win only bet and choose four selections with odds of 2.0-5.0 or an each-way bet and choose odds between 11.0-15.0.
Of course, the big wins are with the higher prices, but you can still profit with the smaller odds.
- Big jackpot wins possible
- Two winners will net you a profit
- Simple bet to understand
- £1 win bet costs £11, while a £1 each-way bet costs £22
I’ll share an ‘Exacta strategy system with you in just a second, but first, let me explain what an Exacta bet is for those who don’t know.
An Exacta bet is where you bet on two horses to finish in first and second place.
Example: If you’re betting on a race that has ten runners, you choose horse number 3 to finish first and horse number 5 to finish second — this is a standard exacta bet.
You have to get them to finish in that order to win unless you decide to bet on them to finish in any order, so horse 5 can finish 1st and horse 3 can finish second. In this case, the bet is called a box exacta, or you may know it as a twist or reverse exacta.
The cost for the exacta bet depends on whether you have placed a box exacta or a standard exacta.
Example: A £2 exacta bet on horse number 3 and 5 will cost you £2 because you’re betting on horse 3 to win and horse 5 to come second (1 combination). However, if you bet a box exacta, where the horses can finish 1st and 2nd in any order, it will cost you double because you are now betting on two combinations, i.e. 3-5, 5-3.
Now for the system.
The idea of this system is to pick two horses that have both been backed in by the punters and the bookmakers. To do this, you need to look at the odds a few days before the race, and then again in the final 20 minutes before the race.
Example: The big race at Cheltenham is at 3.45 pm on Saturday. On Wednesday morning before the race, you look at the odds and see that the bookies have horse number 9 as the favourite; this means they think it has the best chance of winning the race.
You mark that horse down as your first selection.
You then revisit the odds page about 20 minutes before the race starts and look for a horse with declining odds in the betting. For example, say horse number 2 started at 12-1 in the morning, but now has been backed into 10s, then 8s and now the odds are sitting at 5-1 or 6.0.
This means the horse has had significant backing by punters and has the bookies running scared. In other words, there’s a good chance that someone has inside information that this horse has an excellent chance.
You mark down this horse to go with your original choice from Wednesday.
You now have horses 9 & 2 for an exacta, and you place a box bet with these two selections, which means as long as 9 & 2 come first or second in any order, you win a percentage of the prize pool.
While this system isn’t risk-free and has no guarantees, it’s an excellent way to choose your selections for an Exacta bet.
- Cheap stake bet
- Potential to win big
- Good Fun
- Low odds, low profits
- You have to keep checking the odds
3 Horse Racing Betting Strategies That Don’t Work (Avoid At All Costs)
All strategies carry an element of risk for horse racing; even the good ones featured in this article are not immune to losing money.
However, some horse racing strategies are best left alone because they simply won’t work and will eat into your bankroll.
Here they are in no particular order.
The Martingale system is possibly the most well-known and used betting system in the World. It’s a simple process that started in the casino’s and now gets used in horse racing.
The process is to bet on a horse at even money (2.0). If the selection loses, you double your stake on another even-money horse until you get a winner.
If you win, you will receive a profit of double your initial stake.
Example: You bet £1 on horse number 6 at even money, but it loses, so you then bet £2 on a different horse at the same odds, and if that fails, you double the stake again to £4 and bet again on another horse with same even money odds.
The problem with this system is that it’s not unheard of to go on a 12 race losing streak; even longer losing streaks have been mentioned by those using it.
If you were to start at £5 and went on a losing run of ten races, you would need to have £2560 in your bankroll, which is quite a lot of money for most people.
Not only that, sometimes you will struggle to find a horse you fancy to win at even money.
This system is best avoided because you could very well find yourself in a trapped situation where you can’t afford the stake needed to get out. Even if you did have the money to place the bet, you could be risking hundreds to win double your initial starting stake — which in the above example would be £5!
It’s simply not worth doing and will likely get you into a lot of financial trouble.
Beaten Favourite System
If anyone ever tells you to back horses that lost last time out as a beaten favourite, don’t listen to a word they say.
It’s a useless system that will have you losing money fast.
People have this crazy logic, simply because a horse lost as a beaten favourite last time out, it will have a good chance next time out, but there’s more to it than that.
Favourites lose for many reasons, and you’ll need to look at a whole load of other things before deciding to back it again.
Don’t ever back a beaten favourite without a good enough reason.
This system is another one that belongs in the bin.
The idea is to round up the leading tipsters online and in the newspapers and bet on horses with the most tipsters tipping them.
It simply doesn’t work!
If you’re going to use a tipster for horse racing, then you’re better off paying for a professional service that has proof of profit over a 12-month term at least.
Blindly betting on the average of tipsters’ selections is a sure-fire way to lose cash.
Read also: 5 Golf betting strategies that actually work
As of writing, I would say the 80/20 or the Dutching system is the best horse racing system available today.
You can’t, and if anyone tells you you can, they’re lying. However, you can use the systems mentioned in this article to give you a much better chance of turning a wager into a profit.
The bet/place system is probably the safest and lowest variance option.
You’re spoilt for choice nowadays, but I would say to bet on the betting exchanges for most punters. So, Betfair and Matchbook are good options.
Let’s Make Some Money
Many people who read this article will nod and agree with the information knowing that betting with a strategy is excellent advice.
They’ll swear blind that they’re going to use a system from now on, but by the time the next meeting starts, they’ll forget everything they said and carry on betting (Losing) without using one.
But not you.
You know how important they are to your profits and bankroll.
You know how silly it is to bet without a system.
These horse racing betting strategies work; they’re not fail-proof, but as long as you don’t get distracted by poor systems or make silly mistakes, you’ll be withdrawing your money sooner than you think.