December 3, 2020

Is narrowing the field the route to profits?

From the Desk of Andrew David

Narrowing the field. Many moons ago when mobile phones were the size of a brick I had regular contact with a pro-gambling friend who specialised in races with small field sizes, usually less than 8 runners.

He would then use a process of elimination of each runner based on his own form study to seek out the winner. In short he would narrow the field down to just ‘2’ likely contenders he felt would be in with a shout and then back the one he thought had the greater chance of winning and place a ‘Saver’ bet  on the other.

It’s a selection method that made him a lot of money and still does to this day I believe, although over recent years I only see him once a year and that once is shortly coming up with our annual Christmas bash.

A night when you can bet the word ‘Betfair’ will be mentioned more than once along with the word Guinness throughout the night!

Anyway here is the type of race he would consider;

Narrowing the field – method

  • Non Handicap Races
  • 8 runners or less
  • A max of 4 runners in with a shout based on their price

He would then put a line through the others leaving just four on his shortlist that he would focus on with laser sharp vision.

First he would check the day’s going and look for the one ‘least likely’ to act on that going. This can be done by clicking on the horses name from the Racing Post and checking its previous running’s to see how it has performed.

Ideally he would look for the one who has failed to win or at least get placed on the day’s going. Ensuring the previous form is evaluated in the same class of race as some may have run in a higher grade that could be a reason for it being unplaced previously so be careful when doing this.

After filtering out the one least likely to act on the ground he would then be left with just three selections on his shortlist.

He would next watch the live ‘Bookmaker’ betting market around five minutes before the actual race off time and look for two that have shown the most positive market moves from their price history.

Next around two minutes before the start he would place his main wager on the one shortest in price, and a ‘saver’ bet on the other to cover his stake on the main bet.

For example – Live betting;

Horse A = 5/2 – 2/1 – 7/4

Horse B = 7/2 – 4/1 – 9/2

Horse C = 5/1 – 9/2 – 4/1

As you can see above the live betting market shows Horse A & C have positive market moves with Horse B drifting in price and so that would be scrubbed from his shortlist.

Therefore he would have his main bet on Horse ‘A’ as that has shown a positive market move and is shortest in price, and the ‘Saver’ bet on Horse ‘C’ who has also shown a positive market move.

Obviously the above is just an example of how he plays and one that works for him. I can imagine once you get a feel for it you could pick these up fairly quickly when looking at the ideal races.

Here’s an example;

narrowing the field

Lalor – Versatile and appears a sort that will go on any going

Kayf Grace – Marginally prefers Soft going.

Mr One More – Won both starts on Good & Soft and so GD/Soft is ideal

William Hunter – Prefers Good but has performed decently on Soft

Out of the above ‘Kayf Grace’ is least likely to ‘act’ well on the day’s going which is a surprise seeing as here’s the morning favourite. In fact all four have shown decent form on the day’s going which is described as Good/Soft so this may not be the best example to use.

However we will leave ‘Kayf Grace’ out as the other three have performed slightly better on Good/Soft.

Next we wait until the live betting market to open and look out for positive market moves for the three left on our shortlist that are; Lalor,

Mr One More, and William Hunter and watch the market until ‘2’ minutes before the race off before we make our move.

The market showed that Lalor opened at 2/1 and went 7/4 and stayed there. Mr One More opened 7/2 and went into 3/1 and William Hunter drifted. So we are left with Lalor and Mr One More as our final two for backing.  Lalor was the shortest price from the two and so the main bet went on that one. The saver bet went on ‘Mr One More’ at 3/1.

You can dutch the two for equal stake if you wish.

Please note:

Also ensure that none of the four shortlisted have been dropped down by two classes or more. So if one of them was running in a Class 3 previously and now running in a Class 5 the race would be scrubbed. A one class difference is fine. 

Here is the result

narrowing the field result

If you placed the same stake on both you would have made a profit, and if you had a saver bet on ‘Mr One More’ and your main bet on ‘Lalor’ you would have broke even.

I’ve played two other races since where my main bet won and another two races were I broke even.

It appears if could be a nice little angle for those into their form study, especially when used on better races rather than the one above where several performed pretty well on the days Good/Soft going.

Above is just the basic strategy my friend started with, nowadays he has added other filters including a ‘Trainer inform filter’ and also a ‘course filter’ to see if the selections have performed well at the track previously. He would also add a ‘first time out filter’ to see which horses run well when fresh.

This is one of many angles where covering more than one selection in a race can pay dividends if judged and interpreted the right way. Also you can see by adding extra filters the building blocks of a successful selection process can build over time and become more accurate.

Speak Soon!

Andrew David

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Steve Carter

Steve Carter is the Associate Editor of On Course Profits magazine. He has relied on his betting skills and knowledge for his income for the past 15+ years. He specialises in horse racing and football betting & trading and knows what it takes to make a living from betting. He is always looking for new angles for himself and On Course Profits readers.

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