Improve Your Punting – Part 5 – Backing Beaten Favourites

Last month I looked at the importance of ‘mindset’ and how the right mindset can improve your punting. 

Well I said at the end of that article that I would be looking at importance of a horses previous starting price. This is the first of two-parts on the subject. This month’s article looks at backing beaten favourites and how you can profit from doing so. The second part of a horses previous starting price will be later in the series.

The decision to look at beaten favourites was inspired by a discussion on the Betting School Insiders Forum on Kieran’s National Hunt beaten favourites system. By the way if you’re not a member of the Betting School Insiders Club then it’s worth giving it a go.

Beaten Favourites: How Do They Fare on Their Next Start?

As we are in the middle of the National Hunt season it makes sense to concentrate on the jumping game for now. As ever the excellent  with its mine of detailed information and stats is the starting point for this month’s investigation.

To get a decent sample size the stats used are from January 1st, 2016 to December 31st, 2019 and cover National Hunt races only.

Below we have the results for all beaten favourites on their next run.

Based on 11,514 results, beaten favourites won 19% of all races next time out and overall, a hefty 9p in the pound would have been lost if you had been backing all qualifiers blindly on their next run.

Whilst the win strike rate of beaten favourites is decent enough how can we improve both the strike rate and make backing such runners profitable.

Were They False Favourites?

Following beaten favourites blindly is clearly not be recommended but many punters do. Plenty of words have been written on the subject and indeed many punters systems are based on backing beaten favourites.

Were those beaten favourites, the right favourites or were they ‘false’ favourites? Now that’s a question that we should be thinking about.

In order to be able to go about answering it. We must first look at what we mean by a false favourite.

What is a false favourite?

Here’s what I consider could be described as false favourites:

  • A change in race code – a horse coming from the All-Weather track cannot be guaranteed to transfer their form when switched to the grass;
  • When the horse running in a handicap but has never previously won a handicap – then there is no guarantee that they can actually win off their present handicap mark;
  • When a horse is still a maiden;
  • When the horse has not won a race on the prevailing going;
  • When the horse hasn’t proved they can win over the distance of the race;
  • Was the horse stepping up in class from its last run?

There are of course plenty of other reasons worth considering as to why a horse could have been a false favourite but hopefully those six examples give you an idea of what you should be looking out for.

Moving on. The key then is to find beaten favourites that were true favourites.

Distance Beaten in Last Race

As good a starting point as any is look at how far the favourite was beaten in their last race.

Those results indicate that the further a horse was beaten the less likely that it will be able to win on its next start.

Beaten favourites that got within 5 lengths of the winner managed to win almost one in four races next time.

The distance beaten filter looks a good starting point for further research.

Now let’s remove any beaten favourites that had yet to win under rules.

Granted the win strike rate hasn’t improved but the number of qualifying bets has been reduced and the loss backing all qualifiers blind is now down to £139.74 to a £1 stake.

Class Move

Looking at those stats it’s clear that we need to focus on beaten favourites that were not stepping up in class from their last run.

If we re-run the Horseracebase results database and stick with qualifiers that were either dropping in grade or running in the same grade as last time, we get the following results:

The win strike rate is now nearing 30% and for the first time we have obtained a profit of £95.89 to a £1 level stake. The profit when backing all the qualifiers to Betfair SP is even bigger at £350.92.

The filters I have added are logical. I have concentrated on those beaten favourites that got close to the winner on their last start, I have not added horses that have yet to win a race and have just looked at horse’s that have either dropped or are running in the same grade of race as their last run.

There’s always the danger when carrying out research based on past results that you accidentally drift into the realms of back fitting. However, in this instance, there does appear to be one final logical filter that may be worth a looking at and its beaten favourites that had had not won previously on the prevailing going.

Once again rerunning the results database and adding the filter:

Wins on the Going: 0

We get these following set of results:

We have an AE value of 1.1. This means to bookmaker SP prices, after deducting over-round you would have won 10p in every pound bet.

The number of bets has been halved and we have three times the return on investment. Once again betting qualifiers to Betfair SP looks the best way to go with profit of £349.02.

You could now of course dig a bit further by looking at those trainers who excel with horses that meet the above qualifying criteria.

Here as a point of interest are the trainers with two or more winners.

Trainers to note with such qualifiers include Neil Mulholland, Nigel Twiston-Davies, Alan King, Dr Richard Newland, Nicky Henderson, Gordon Elliott who all have excellent stats.

If you wanted to go a bit more niche. I think you could do worse than and back this group of trainer’s qualifying beaten favourites.

System 40: Back Beaten Favourites from the listed trainers , when beaten by 5 lengths or less, with no wins on going that have previously won at the same or lower class in National Hunt races

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Here is the breakdown by year:

The win & place strike rates have been consistent over the four years and so has the profit.

The A/E stat of 1.43 is excellent and the Chi score indicate it’s down to the trainer’s skill rather than luck. Whilst the Exp/wins figure shows we are working with a decent sample size.

An average of only 80 bets per year won’t suit everyone but it could be a useful addition to the betting portfolio.

Stop Press:

The trainer results so far in 2020 are:

3 winners from 4 runners 75% +3.73 at BSP

Summary: Hopefully this article has helped to inform readers of some of the pitfalls of backing beaten favourites but also shown that backing the ones with right criteria can be a profitable endeavour.

Good luck!

Until next month

John Burke

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