One of the most frequently asked questions about Horse Racing Betting - "Systems, do they work?"
There are three types of punters regarding systems and during this piece, I will refer to each in passing.
- Those that use systems, lose with systems and think they work.
- Those that have used systems, didn't win and don't accept that they can work.
- Those that have a system, win, don't tell, and are not believed to be credible!
In the most disparaging of fashion, I can testify that those punters that fall into categories 1 & 2 don't know what they are doing, and those in No3 do, but can't prove it.
How to Find a System
I can not even begin to estimate the time and effort I have put in over the years in trying to find a "Golden Egg" system to beat the odds in Horse Racing.
Even as I type this piece, I have a piece of software running in the background on this very laptop, collating thousands of bits (or is it Bytes?), of information from every Nursery run in the month of September for the past 11 years.
It is assessing every runner, in every race distance. At the same time, it is also looking at every 3yo only handicap at every distance between 5f and 12f, and the same again for every 3yo+ handicap over the same distances. Once complete, and this will take a very powerful computer, something in the region of 8 hours to complete, I will have a data set of literally millions of cells of information, which I will filter and play around with for many many hours before deciding on what the strategy will be for the coming month.
Building Systems Can be Boring
.....but stick with it, they can pay!
I do this every month, and I do it every year. For what may end up taking me something between 12-24 hours to complete, I may find one or two worthwhile bets to be struck, I may find twenty. It's a lot of work for a little action. That's the biggest problem with systems. THEY ARE BORING!
Because they are boring, many people you ask, "Systems, do they work?", will answer No2. The reason they do not believe they work is that they have looked at a system but don't understand the system. Don't understand probability and don't have the patience to see a system through.
I wonder how many people have started a system, whether it be a simple one such horses considered best drawn over 6f that are also Racing Post predicted favourite, or more complicated in using the second favourite in the Daily Mirror if the main Tipster has gone for it and it has previous course winning form.
Regardless of how ridiculous an idea for a system is, they all have credence if followed for a certain amount of time.
I have no idea if either of the aforementioned ideas would work, I haven't checked. (if you want to try them, feel free, just mail me 10% if they turn out to be gooduns!)
The main reason punter number two exists is because he wants a system that will provide instant results, instant profits and big ones at that! Well, don't we all? But it doesn't work that way. Sure, systems are born from a single idea, but they are very plant-like in that they need time investment (as well as cash), time to nurture, develop and "create" your winning system. They also have a lifespan and die. But more of that later.
How Long Before a Horse racing System Works?
Patience is Key with Systems
Many systems fail because creators do not give them enough time. With patience, they may not be failures at all!
The single most frequent reason for system failure is lack of patience. You've come up with a great idea.
You've researched it and backtested it against previous results.
You've come across the perfect system that can't fail to provide big profits, it's proven.
So you go to work and back the very next qualifier; LOSE! And the next, LOSE! And the next and the next and you get the picture.
Your average punter does not have the patience to back four losers, hell he may not have the bank after thinking he has stumbled upon the pot at the end of the rainbow, so the system is destined for the trash and the next qualifier isn't bet. You know what happens, BANG! WINNER 10/1! So he bets the next, LOSER! And the system is forgotten.
The maths ignored. (this example at single point level stakes has provided 6 clear points and over 100% return on investment), but these numbers are lost on our punter. He is out of pocket and scanning the paper for a DEAD CERT favourite to recoup the losses. You know what I'm talking about, and if you have been a punter for any length of time you know how it feels. If you don't, you're in denial!
Your System Will Have Losers
Make sure you aware of the losing run expectation. It will happen, so be prepared
You've checked the system over hundred of previous qualifiers, races and bets and it worked. You've experimented with it in real life for only a handful of bets. Did you even realise that within your backtested results, there are losing runs of four, five even six runners?
Do you know what the strike rate of your system is, do you know what level of return on investment to expect? Do you know the average price of not only the qualifiers but the ones that actually win? You have to give your system time, and you have to understand its idiosyncrasies.
Every single little aspect of your system. You also have to know, you're not going to be running around in a Ferrari with a beach-fronted house in the background any time soon off the back of your system, like the guys in the adverts selling them are. They are not really, and you never will be. Sorry.
Systems are a fun and interesting way of betting for number crunching gambling geeks. (like me!). They are boring, almost hobby like. Systems can be winners too. But profits will be slow and steady at best. That brings me on to number 3 answer.
Found a Winning System? Keep it to Yourself!
The more you share your system, the quicker it will fail!
If you find a system that is a winner, DONT TELL ANYONE. The absolute essence of a system is that it has a strike rate at odds that beat the probability set out and given by the bookmaker. It will be small edge, but an edge all the same. And here comes your biggest enemy in systematic betting.
ODDS CHANGE - YOUR SELECTION PROCESS DOESN'T
That's right. It is the foremost reason why systems are perceived to not work and often don't or eventually fail.
Your selection process is set out at Point A, and never changes, but markets and odds change to account for such things.
The easiest way to influence a market is to throw money at it. Throw too much at it, and the odds change, your small edge has now disappeared forever and you won't get it back.
The more people you share your winning system with, the quicker their money will turn it into a losing system by affecting the odds you can get.
So. If you find a winning system that you want to keep, keep it to yourself. Herein lies the next problem, (if you consider systematic winning selections a problem!). When you tell people you have a winning system, THEY WON'T BELIEVE YOU unless you prove it to them. You prove it and kill your system. You don't prove it and continue winning and they think you're a liar. Hey Ho.
It is ironic to say you can't win. So don't mention it at all, and you win all around.
The one thing you will have to do though is not only keeping it a secret but make your system your best friend too.
Know everything about it. Know how it performs at different times of the year, or going conditions, or whether certain trainers are better or worse for your system. Look at your results every day. Be aware of the slightest change. Even without sharing your system, eventually, the odds will change against you. They always do.
There are computerised algorithms being run continually over results, looking for trends. That 's what your system is. A trend. It may remain undiscovered for a time; a month, a year, three years but eventually things will change, and you will have to know your system well enough and understand the past results deeply enough to be able to accept that change and indeed change with it.
You can only stay ahead of the game for so long. It will catch up. It always does. You just have to remain aware and one step ahead. Time investment will allow you that privilege
You can speculate yourselves as to whether you think the time I have spent looking for my system has born results or not. I'm not going to say. If I say I have, to retain any credibility I might have I will then have to give you details of a system and potentially kill it. If I say I have not yet found one, you'll laugh and tell me I've wasted my time.
How I Build a Racing System
What I will do, however, is share with you my research for September across the various race types, age groups and distances I am researching.
I will look for some angles from the past results, that qualify my expectation in sample size, the frequency of runners to ensure they come regularly enough to stave off that boredom and strike rate that is sufficiently high enough to provide a return on investment of at least my minimum expectation with average winners price big enough to complete the prior two tasks.
I shan't be looking for odds on winners with an 80% strike rate. Whilst still profitable, Kudos is hard to come by when suggesting people back odds on favourites. My favourite systems will have average starting prices of winners at over 7/2, and preferably toward 7/1. The only problem with the latter is that one can expect lengthy losing runs, but one winner in 7 runners is sufficient return.
At 7/1 average winner starting price, I would expect to have a losing run of anything up to 2o at a time during the course of the system.
It takes a very patient punter to sit through 20 consecutive losers and continue to throw money at the system. But it's that punter who then hits the three consecutive 7/1 winners to redress the balance long after the other, less patient one, has dumped it, accepted the loss and moved on to repeat the process on the next system, answering the original question with the number 2 answer!
I will give some pointers on past profitable angles for September betting for you to take away and do with what you want.
I would suggest playing with it them, perhaps adding them in to coincide with your favourite, newspaper or internet tipster and back only when they correspond, or come up with some other extra variable, just to give it some differentiation. I shan't track them through the month and provide P&L, but I will pick on or two of the basis ones and give an update at the end of the month as to their success or failure whichever may be the case. There comes no guarantees with this information, and I hold no responsibility for what you do with it.
Past results are just that, they do not predict with accuracy what WILL happen in the future, only what MIGHT! Try the ideas on paper first and only gamble what you can afford to lose.
Where to bet on your Horse Racing System
Once you have your system or are following a system, the next question is which is the best bookmaker to bet on horse racing?
Thankfully OLBG has a really in-depth guide as to the best place to bet on horses.
Getting the best betting odds is key of course, but there are other considerations to be made too.
From the best odds through every other aspect to consider betting with the right bookmaker is the icing on your horse racing system cake.
Where to bet on your system picks?
Getting best odds is key, as are other factors to consider.Read this guide to the best bookmakers for Horse racing
Leave A Comment
If you are interested in Systematic betting on horseracing and have not tried it previously, or were not sure where to start, have a go. Let me know your thoughts, and without giving the details out, tell me if they work or not. Quite often the most successful systems are the most simple. One or two variables and there are thousands of combinations to be thought up, work best and keep the interest.
If you have any ideas on systems you might like me to check back results for, as long as the variables coincide with what my software is capable of, I will run them back if I think there might be something in them. If someone asks me to check all 2nd favourites in handicaps, I will refuse and confidently tell you that it is a system that doesn't work. But give me a go. You might uncover your very own gem.
- What are your thoughts on Systematic betting? Not only for Horseracing but for other sports too.
- Are certain sports better for System betting than others?
- Are there sports that should be avoided for Systems, and why?
- Have you ever bought a System? Did it work or did it fail?
Leave me a comment and let me know