Betfair Laying - Taking it further

Taking Betfair laying to the next levelIt is now more than a year since I ran a series of blogs with theintention of helping those who may be thinking of starting out onthat path. When time permitted, along with a

Betfair Laying - Taking it further

Taking Betfair laying to the next level

It is now more than a year since I ran a series of blogs with the intention of helping those who may be thinking of starting out on that path. 

Since then OLBG has also added new articles on the betting school including the excellent laying and exchange advice article.

When time permitted, along with a few others, I occasionally suggested potential ‘ value ‘ Betfair lays on the daily forum. 

These were, and will continue to be primarily during the NH season.

What makes a good lay?

I think there is no hard and fast rule here but consider there is a HUGE difference between the thought processes required when trying to back a winner and those required when looking to lay a loser.

Thought Process

You need to train yourself to find losers, it is alien to gamblers who all their lives have been focused on finding winners.

Backing a horse to win.

Any of a multitudinous number of methods may be employed, but whether it be based on ratings, speed, draw, jockey and trainer combination or simply your own fancy, the object of the exercise is ultimately to find one or more horses that your chosen method highlights as a possible winner.

Having narrowed the field down to manageable proportions, one should seek value and place bets in accordance with the value found.

Those creating their own tissue rather than a system will of course have this part automated as anything better than the tissue maybe deemed a value bet.

If not creating a tissue, it simply becomes a case of what is perceived to be a ‘good' price for any selected horse or horses.

Laying a horse to lose.

Would the same methods work when looking for horses to lay? The short answer to that is, of course, YES but one is likely to end up with a long string of outsiders. 

By that, I mean even a cursory glance through a race card will often identify several that you consider will not win. 

They will usually be outsiders and it is a much quicker process than selecting a few horses from which the winner is expected to come.

Some may be comfortable with this approach but it is certainly not recommended in general. 

A very high strike rate is essential as laying one winner can wipe out the profit from dozens of losers.

OLBG Mares, Cheltenham April

So what are we looking for in a potential lay?

Value, Value, Value.

This is rule number one every time. When looking for a winner one can sometimes find an angle overlooked by sufficient people to make the odds attractive. When laying at the sharp end of the market, you are by definition laying a horse that the majority think has a good chance of winning.

I tend to approach laying ( particularly NH ) from the direction of checking prices first and THEN looking to see if I can find value, primarily amongst the first two or three in the betting and at a maximum price of about 4/1 ( 5.0 on Betfair ).

There are also some horses at slightly longer odds that I will cheerfully lay. 

The reasoning behind some of these is mentioned below.

Many races can be discarded as unsuitable quite quickly by doing this, far more than possible if looking for a winning bet ( unless specialising of course ).

Several things can happen to a well-fancied horse you back that ultimately prevent it from winning.

It may be stating the obvious BUT the same things can happen to a horse you lay.

With NH racing there are many more things that can happen and in general, more time and opportunities for them to happen.

That does not mean discarding the old chestnuts such as going, trip, fitness and many others.

However, when looking to back a horse many things need to be positive before it may be considered a fair bet.

That is not necessarily the case with laying. 

ONE major factor or a combination of two or three secondary factors can be the key to thinking a horse MAY NOT win. This is the crucial part because just as you will BACK losers, it is certain that you will LAY winners.

Laying a winner is no more of a criminal offence than backing a loser although some inexperienced layers will react differently to losing money in this manner compared to backing one of their inevitable losers.

OLBG Mares Hurdle 2012


In general terms, horses in better class races are used to winning races. 

The vast majority in lower class races are equally used to losing them. 

So that is a good place to start, but not all lower grade races merit the same consideration.

I steer clear of Group races at the top end of the spectrum and Sellers ( on the flat ), NH Flat races and for the most part, Hunter Chases at the other.

However, apart from the logic behind it, this is mainly a personal preference.

Jumping Ability

Some horses will have a string of F's and U's in their form line indicating falls and unseated rider.

Whilst there is a difference between standard and brush hurdles, the main differences here are the type and severity of fences at various courses.

Be wary of horses with an apparently poor record at one track and now running where the fences are easier.

Similarly. if a horse has a dodgy record of jumping it may be worth opposing even if many factors would encourage you to back it.


Even top jockeys fall, get unseated, or simply make a mistake. 

Some amateurs and claimers are excellent value and are only getting that allowance due to them not having had sufficient rides and winners for it to be taken away.

Amateurs and claimers with a poor strike rate can be good value to lay. 

The main proviso here is that those losing rides must not be a succession of 33/1 no-hopers.


The top trainers obviously have more winners than most but they also have losers. Horses from these yards often start at shorter odds than justified. Yes, this is a sure-fire way of laying a few winners but it is a source of many short-priced losers.


Experienced horses have an Official Rating (OR) allotted by the BHA. 

There are many that will come close to winning but always just fail once their mark gets too high.

This applies to horses of all classes in handicaps and whilst laying horses that regularly come close to winning may not be good for the old ticker, it may be good for the pocket.

Horses that have run less often ( particularly improvers ) will have a more volatile OR until the assessor can determine the horse's standard more accurately.

Trip and Going

When looking to back a horse it is advisable to see how it has performed over a certain trip or on certain types of ground. 

Although this is a good measure of a horse's winning chances, laying a horse on account of trip or distance ( even a combination of the two ) is far more speculative as NH horses may be versatile over a wider range of distances than their counterparts on the flat.

Few NH horses have a distinct preference for extremes of ground conditions but it should be taken into account where applicable.

Reliability And Consistency

One may like to back reliable, consistent horses expecting to get a run for your money. Perversely this is also a good point when laying. This type of horse can and will have an off day. What is far less likely is that they will suddenly run to a much better standard.

Speed Ratings

A factor that has more relevance when backing horses than laying them.

Left or Right Handed Courses

Some horses have a marked preference for running in one direction. 

This is accentuated when a horse jumps predominantly to the left or right as a lot of ground can be gained or lost.

Other Factors

Any one or more of many other factors may be taken into account when making a final decision but in general, the above guidelines will suffice to form a judgment decision on what to lay.

Paper Trading

Why not give paper trading a try during the summer? with a view to putting your new-found skills into operation for real when the NH season proper gets underway?

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