Skip to content

Improve Your Punting Part 1: Profitable Jockey’s on Favourites

Profitable Punting

Profitable Punting

Do you fancy yourself as a professional punter, in this article John Burke kicks off the first in a series of 5 which will help the reader make more profit from their punting…

At the start of the year I looked at how you can use favourites to make your betting more profitable and how the Favourite-longshot bias continues to be relevant as ever.

As punters still overvalue the “longshots” and undervalue ‘favourites’ or in other words, favourites are under bet whilst longshots are over bet.

I highlighted how punters still perceive that favourites are invariably poor value, while bigger priced horses provide more ‘value’ when the opposite is much closer to the truth. 

This is the first in a new series on how you can improve your punting. In this article, I’m once again looking at favourites but this time on the impact of the jockey on the fate of the market leader.

On Course Profits free Horse Racing magazine

Stats on Winning Favourite

Turning to the ever reliable let’s take a look at the fate of favourites on the flat, jumps and all-weather since the start of 2015.

Flat Turf Favourites

National Hunt Favourites

All Weather Favourites

Looking at those stats; favourites on the turf have won over 31% of all races, whilst favourites in National Hunt races have been winning 35% of all races.

How does this compare to other market ranks?

Here’s a breakdown by market position for the flat since the start of 2015.

As the above table shows favourites still clearly provide the best return to punters compared to say second favourites or third favourites or those further down the betting.

They have a much better win-strike rate, which means shorter losing runs, less pressure on the betting bank and a good favourite remains one of the best type of bets you can find in horse race betting.  Interestingly it’s also one of those stats that haven’t changed over the years.

So, 31.49% of all flat races have been won by the favourite but you would have lost 7.22% of your betting bank if you had backed them all since the start of 2015. That doesn’t sound a lot. However, if you had put £1 on every one of them you would have made a loss of £1,785.33.

Even if you got 30 winners from every 100 bets, you would need to be averaging 2.33 to 1 on each winning favourite, just to break even and the stats show you would be very lucky to achieve this average price.

We know that flat favourites are winning a third of all races which still means that two-thirds are losing.

I read many years back how most professional punters estimated that 40% of all favourites are ‘false favourites’. The question is how do you eliminate most of those false favourites?

There are plenty of factors you can use to identify favourites that will perform above market expectations and of course more importantly make you a profit. You could use going, recent form, price, class, trainer or jockey and it’s the latter I’m looking at here.

Jockeys Strike Rates – Favourites

Clearly Jockeys play a key role in the outcome of a race through their riding skills, but they also influence how the market prices up a horse. What the punter needs is a jockey who is of course good in the saddle, but the market sees as just below the very best. 

Rather than look at the high-profile jockeys you need to focus on a jockey’s performance compared to market expectations and find those jockey’s that are being underestimated by the betting public and can give you that vital ‘edge’.

When looking at the stats it is best not to over complicate by choosing too many filters You need to have a decent sample size which makes the results more reliable. There’s also the clear and present danger of falling into the trap of ‘back fitting’ the data to make the results look better.

Flat Turf

The table below shows the record of jockeys on flat race favourites since the start of 2015. For the purpose of this research I have looked at jockeys that have ridden at least 100 favourites in that time. I have ordered them by percentage win strike rate.

Looking at those stats the top nine jockeys’: Donnacha O’Brien, Colm O’Donoghue, Frankie Dettori, Seamie Hefferman, Harry Bentley, Adam Kirby, Andrea Atzeni, Silvestre De Sousa and William Buick. are clearly worth following on favourites, given they have demonstrated a consistent ability to win on the market leaders.

This select group of jockeys have produced the following set of results:

National Hunt:

Over jumps the likes of Paul Townend, Daryl Jacob and one jockey who isn’t on the above list in Robbie Dunne. The latter’s record is:

These three jockeys have produced:

You can further break down by looking at the jockey’s record in chases, hurdles and NHF races.


Two of the jockey’s in above table Ruby Walsh & Noel Fehily have now retired but the likes of Jack Kennedy, Paul Townend, Rachel Blackmore, Danny Mullins, David Mullins and Robbie Dunne are performing better than market expectations over fences.


Over hurdles David Bass, Daryl Jacob, Nico De Boinville, Tom O’Brien, Andrew Tinkler, Adrian Heskin, Bridget Andrews and Craig Nicholl are all doing better than the market has been expecting.


In Irish bumper races the likes of Lisa O’Neill, Tom Hamilton, Fin Maguire and Jamie Codd have done well.

Over this side of the Irish Sea, Brian Hughes, Sam Twiston-Davies and David Bass are riding more winners than expected and are jockey’s favourite backers need to have on side in such races.

All Weather

On the synthetics: James Doyle, Andrea Atzeni, Colin Keane and Jack Mitchell have shown the they can get a favourite across the line and between them they have produced the following set of results:

Granted there’s nothing spectacular among the above but at least you wouldn’t have lost any money.

Jockey Favourite Micro Angles

Here are six jockey micro angles.

Daryl Jacob

Hurdles & NHF races only

Riding for Nigel Twiston- Davies

14 winners from 25 runners 56% +12.95 A/E 1.42 20 placed 80% (each way +17.30)

You can back the jockey and trainer’s favourites each-way and make a profit.

Donnacha O’Brien

FlatTurf Only

Handicaps only

Riding for Joseph O’Brien

31 winners from 80 runners 39% +40.76 A/E 1.43 53 placed 66%

Harry Bentley

Flat Turf Only

Riding for Henry Candy

14 winners from 26 runners 54% +12.91 A/E 1,57 15 placed 58%

Adam Kirby

Flat Turf Only

Horses Age: 2-year-old’s only

46 winners from 82 runners 56% +32.51 A/E 1.36 58 placed 71%

James Doyle

All Weather Only


Race Class: 1, 2. 3 & 4 only

33 winners from 55 runners 60% +21.2 A/E 1.34 47 placed 85% (each way +25.94)

Colin Keane

All Weather Only

Race Type: Handicaps

Prize Money: £4,001 and £10,500

28 winners from 70 runners 40% +25.56 A/E 1.32 50 placed 71%

In summary, the most important element of a successful betting strategy is finding horses that win more often than the market expects.

Favourites are as good a starting point as any in finding those horses and when you combine them with a good jockey you have basis of potentially profitable betting strategy.

In part two of this series on improving your punting, I will be examining last time out winners and how you can profit from them.

Improve your punting – II

Improve your punting – III

Improve your punting – IV

Improve your punting – V

Improve your punting – VI

John Burke

If you like to bet at the head of the market with a higher than average strike rate consider joining John Burke’s Consistent Profits service –