Archive Systems Horse Racing (3FO Lay Betting): Can We Make Them Profit?

I’m going to do something a bit different today, and if it proves popular I will begin to do this more regularly. So if you enjoy this post and would like to see more then please let me know by leaving a comment at the bottom.

Over the years I’ve collected literally hundreds (if not thousands) of betting systems that are no longer available. These have been getting dusty on my hard drive…. until today!

What I’m going to do is to take one of those systems and see if we can make it profitable.

I have no idea if we’ll be able to at the moment because I’m writing this post as I go through the process rather than after it.

I’m not going to share the name of the system, but I will share the rules.

Today’s system is one that is supposed to find profitable lay bets


  1. UK only racing
  2. Handicaps across all race types
  3. Between 10 and 15 runners
  4. Odds at off between 4.00 and 8.50
  5. 3rd Favourite in the market at off
  6. Finished 2nd or 3rd most recently

These are the rules as written by the system creator, and the first thing we want to do is determine what the results of these selections are.

In 2014 applying these rules would have resulted in 554 selections.

You were supposed to lay these selections for between 1.50% and 2% of a 60 unit bankroll depending on how risk averse you are. Let’s assume we’re laying for 2%.

At the end of the year you would have reduced your 60 unit bankroll to just 6.14 units. A loss of just over 70 units and a -2% return on investment.

The selections yielded an 86% lay strike rate and the problem is the odds indicated the selections should be losing 87% of the time.

Which is why a loss was made!


Let’s start by reconsidering the rules. There is one that’s particularly vague:

Handicaps across all race types

Flat turf races are different to flat all weather races which are different to chase and hurdle races.

So it doesn’t make sense to be lumping them all into one category.

Let’s break them down and see how each one fares:

Race Type Profit Wins Losses Bets SR ROI
Chase Turf 11.51 46 5 51 90% 3%
Flat AW 5.75 145 22 167 87% 1%
Flat Turf -60.59 208 38 246 85% -4%
Hurdle Turf -27.21 74 15 89 83% -4%

Immediately we see that the majority of losses are coming from Flat Turf and the rest are coming from Hurdle Turf.

From the two that are left Chase Turf has generated the most profit but has also had the least bets while Flat AW has made a small profit over a much bigger quantity of bets.

If we took just Chase Turf and Flat AW racing then we would get the results:

Race Type Profit Wins Losses Bets SR ROI
Chase Turf & Flat AW 17.25 191.00 27.00 218.00 88% 1.17%

So we’ve already managed to turn this system into a small profit by changing one rule.

The ROI on lay bets is low, but we would ideally like to make this a little bit higher before we add it into our portfolio.

So the next rule I’m going to look at is:

Finished 2nd or 3rd most recently

The authors reason for this rule is that “the betting public seem to treat the placed horses in the same way as the favourites”.

Which seems a little bit generic to me and possibly inaccurate.

So let’s break this down again into more categories:

Last Finish Position Profit Wins Losses Bets SR ROI
1 -32.50 77 15 92 84% -5%
2 30.85 111 12 123 90% 4%
3 -13.60 80 15 95 84% -2%
4 -26.69 82 17 99 83% -4%
>4 -5.13 283 39 322 88% 0%

Immediately we can see where the profits lie, horses whose last finish position was 2.

That would make the new rules…


  1. UK only racing
  2. Handicaps in Chase Turf and Flat AW
  3. Between 10 and 15 runners
  4. Odds at off between 4.00 and 8.50
  5. 3rd Favourite in the market at off
  6. Finished 2nd


Of course, we could take this further by investigating each of the remaining rules further, and I would strongly recommend that you do so.

The question is… should you go and use this immediately now?


Because it still is unlikely to make a profit. Let’s look at the results so far this year:

Profit Wins Losses Bets SR ROI
-12.62 62 11 73 85% -3%

As you can see there’s been a small loss so far this year using these rules.

We can see why because the strike rate so far this year has dropped by 5% from 90% to 85%, and we know that we need an 87% strike rate to break even.

However there are still a significant number of expected selections to come based on the number of selections (123) in 2014.

Which means that maybe looking at the months when the selections generated the most profit should be next?

The alternative is to use these rules as a basic approach to find lay contenders, and then do your own analysis to narrow your selections down further.

Doing this you should easily be able to increase the SR significantly and that would bring this system into a profit again very quickly.

HINT: I recommend that you check out OddsChecker’s pie chart of where the money is going in a race.

Michael Wilding

Michael started the Race Advisor in 2009 to help bettors become long-term profitable. After writing hundreds of articles I started to build software that contained my personal ratings. The Race Advisor has more factors for UK horse racing than any other site, and we pride ourselves on creating tools and strategies that are unique, and allow you to make a long-term profit without the need for tipsters. You can also check out my personal blog or my personal Instagram account.


  1. Great point for discussion Michael. I really like the idea of taking ‘failed’ systems and seeing where they went wrong and then modifying the rules. I will follow this with interest.



  2. Hi Michael, thank you for this interesting read. I would definately be interested in further posts like this.

    Thanks, Allison

  3. “I’m not going to share the name of the system, but I will share the rules.”

    The name of the system is in the title isn’t it ?

    If all these systems are going to be ‘failed’ ones, what’s the problem with naming them anyway ?

    1. Good spot Paul, the name in the title is the name on the guide but not the actual name it was sold under 🙂 The problem with naming them is that I have to give an amount of information out about how they work and because they’re the intellectual property of someone else I need to keep the balance between making sure the system isn’t revealed in its entirety and the name isn’t known.

  4. If nearly all ‘winning systems’ fail surely there’s a laying system in backing ‘winning systems’ to lose.

    1. Good thinking Roy and there is to a degree. But because the lay odds are higher than back odds and the commission needs to be taken off, very rarely can you just turn them to lay bets and make a profit.

  5. Before In had a house fire I had nearly 850 similar such systems, some I found were ripe for reworking, just before my disaster I was looking at the old Dawson system and it was very good at finding losing horses.
    unfortunetley all my figures went up in smoke, but I do remember being impressed by the short prices.
    Its strange that a system that sold so well in the past and gave thousands of winners has just gone cold.

  6. If anyone does not know the Dawson system it was a rating system using the last 3 placings lto.
    1st was 5points 2nd was 3 points and 3rd and 4th were 1point.
    and C winner was 2 pts and Distance was 1pt max rating was 13pts.
    After a while you can rate any race at a glance and of course the highest rated was supposed to win but now they lose

  7. The Dawson System I was sold in the 70’s could not lose & that was a fact.
    You used a particular daily racing paper.
    Principal Meeting. Under each race card there was Time Rating
    You bet the first rated to win one point & recover any loss’s.
    Only problem being with a losing run, had you got a large enough bank and would the Bookie accept the bet.
    The ‘good olde days ‘ one of the offices I used belonged to an ex-boxer. I recall him well, swinging large bags of coins on to the counter ” Boys you keep backing favourites, your not doing any outsiders. Don’t come in again your upsetting the Manageress”

  8. very interesting and a good read sir.i enjoy systems and would like to know where to buy one or two now that the n.hunt is upon us,will follow with onterest.

  9. My initial response was that the system could be used for backing rather than laying (as already mentioned by another reader). Was the 2% ‘stake’ meant to be the liability OR the ‘backers stake’.

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