Finding Value and Making a Profit from Backing Favourites

Guest post written by Eddie Lloyd

Welcome and congratulations on finding this free report on how to make money backing favourites. We have all been guilty of walking into a bookies and placing a bet on the favourite because it somehow makes sense that the vast majority of the public have done their homework and surely got it right?

The Favourite loses and we dig into our pockets to find a few extra quid and then go onto back the next favourite because surely that one will win?

Maybe it does in which case we smile to ourselves, we’ve made a profit and this whole horse racing business is easy, right?

If we’re not heading out anywhere we may stop a little longer and place a few more bets and walk out of the bookies with less money than we went in with. If we’re sensible we’ll walk away after the second bet and be in profit. The problem is over the next few weeks we’ll still end up giving the bookies our hard earned money. Why is this?

Why over a long period of time do we continue to lose money to the bookie? Does he know something we don’t know? Is the whole thing fixed in favour of the Bookie? Is it as corrupt as a lot of people think? Did that jockey not try hard enough in the final furlong?

These questions get muttered everyday in every betting shop up and down the country and yet anyone who thinks these statements to be true couldn’t be more wrong! Why? It’s all to do with the odds.

That’s right, a bookmaker whether it be a high street bookies or an on-course bookie has no inside information, they have no influence as to whether a jockey tries harder in the last furlong and they are certainly not involved in any corruptness!

In fact on a day to day basis if every favourite was to go on and win at one meeting the bookies would lose a LOT of money. The punters would walk away flush.

So how come the bookies seem to prosper? I’ll repeat myself again, it’s all to do with the odds.

Let me explain:

Let’s imagine a 1 mile Handicap race with only 4 horses running. All four horses have exactly the same number of races behind them and have all been given the same weight to carry (I know this never happens but for ease of explaining my point please read on!)

In reality each horse has the same chance of winning.

In a fair world the bookmaker would price each horse up as a 3/1 shot.

How do we know they are all a 3/1 shot?

It is a 100% chance that one of those horses will win, so we divide the 100% by the 4 horses. This gives us 25%

100% divided by 25% = 4

This 4 is the decimal odds which in fractions equals 3/1

So in theory each horse over a 100 races will win 25 times and priced up at 3/1 will mean that for every win we will receive £4 back from a £1 stake.

25 multiplied by £4 = £100

The punter will make no money, neither will the bookmaker. It is a 100% book.

So in order to make his money the bookmaker will look at the obvious signs that the average “mug” punter will look for. The first horse out of those 4 mentioned above will have Kieron Fallon on board. The horse will also be trained by a trainer who had several wins at another course the previous day. The bookmaker’s first job is to make that horses price a lot less than 3/1 in order to lock in his long term profit. Let’s say he prices it up as a 15/8 shot.

The next horse has 1 1 in the last 2 numbers of its form in the paper, punters will love this and back it accordingly, so the bookmaker will protect himself by offering 2/1. We now have a second favourite.

The next horse will be 7/2 and the fourth will be 4/1

We now have a book that looks like this:

Horse1: 15/8 (34.78%)

Horse2: 2/1 (33.33%)

Horse3: 7/2 (22.22%)

Horse4: 4/1 (20.00%)

We find the percentages out of each horse above by dividing the left figure of the odds by the right and we plus one. Let me explain.

15 divided by 8 = 1.875 + 1 = 2.875

We then divide 100 by 2.875 = 34.78

This 34.78 number is the implied percentage chance of the horse winning.

Now if we add all these percentages together as they are above we find ourselves with a total of 110.35%. This is the bookmakers over round. (10.35% over a 100%)

Imagine as I explained earlier that in reality each horse had a 25% chance of winning, we would be looking for 3/1 as the correct odds for that horse to win.

We now have the favourite that we have previously backed in our local betting shop @ 15/8. Ok so it went onto win but what about the other 99 times we have been in the shop?

The 2.875 (this is rounded up to 2.88) which is the 15/8 price that your bet was settled at means that for every pound you put on that favourite should it win, you will receive £2.88 back. Over the next 100 bets your favourite wins 25 races you will receive £72 back (2.88 multiplied by 25 wins). The bookie has kept £28 of your money!!

If you had backed the 4th horse in the betting then over a 100 races it goes onto win 25 times you will at 4/1 receive £5 every time it wins. £5 multiplied by 25 = £125 (£25 profit).

You have now accomplished what a professional gambler does to make his living. By betting on the 4th horse @ 4/1 you have taken value in the price and made a profit in the long run. That horse should have been a 3/1 shot!

So, I hear you ask how do I find these value bets and beat the bookmakers?

It’s not as difficult as you may think!

The first thing we need to do is find out how a favourite has performed in the past. The most constructive way to do this is to look at the last 10 years and see how many times a favourite has gone on to win.

This is where I recommend the excellent site of Adrian Massey which can be found by clicking on the following link

This site enables us to see how a favourite has performed over the last 10 years within certain criteria.

Let’s say that we are looking at a Handicap over 1 mile 1 furlong, Class 5 @ Leicester on the flat. The favourite over the last 10 years has won around 50% of the time.

To find this percentage we have simply input the relevant data of the above race into Massey’s site and this has produced a strike rate of 50% (the horse has won 50 out of a 100 races).  We then divide 100 by the 50% strike rate which equals 2. This in fractional terms equates to even money or 1/1. This means that for every pound placed on the favourite @ evens in a Handicap over 1 mile 1 furlong in a class 5 race over the last 10 years would have resulted in a break even result.

We now need to head over to

and find the relevant meeting and the relevant race, in this case a 1 mile 1 furlong Handicap. Underneath the top four in the betting we find the “Bookies best price percentage”

This will tell us the over-round of the book on average. In this case it is 111.06%. This means that the average bookie is offering a book with an 11.06% over-round (his profit margin built in).

The favourite is priced up @ 7/2

We have now found a value bet. As we now know, favourites have historically won 50% of their races at this type of race at Leicester. So how is this value?

7 divided by 2 = 3.5 plus 1 = 4.5

100 divided by 4.5 = 22.22%

We take the 50% strike rate of the last 10 years and subtract the percentage the bookie is offering

50% subtract 22.22% = 27.78%

We now subtract the bookmaker’s over-round of 11.06%

27.78% subtract 11.06% = 16.72%

We effectively now have a 16.72% better price than we should!

If history repeats itself, then every pound wagered over the next 100 bets @ 7/2 would mean that we would return £225. That’s a profit of £125!

To finish off, I need to stress that the above is not necessarily a selection process as I’m sure you are aware that Horse Racing has many variables and anything can happen.

The above is meant to make you aware of how a bookmaker makes his money. With this information in mind though and a better understanding of how the odds work then you should have a better chance of beating the bookies at their own game!

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. Excellent Article! Clearly written and well explained. I know a lot of people who struggel with this idea of working out value so this should really help them.


  2. Thank you very much for that article, it was a very nice read. Food for thought, gives me a new angle to look at. I always thought value meant picking a outsider or a 3rd favorite. I never thought of picking a favorite and getting value for your money.

    Thanks again.

  3. Hi, I’m afraid to say that the above article is seriously flawed. If, as per example, you say that 50% of favourites have won given those particular criteria. Then surely it is both invalid and incomplete to come to the conclusion that 7/2 offers value simply because 50% of favourites have won. The reason why it is invalid and incomplete is because how do you know what the average/mean price of those 50% favourites is? It may well work out that there is very good percentage of favourite winners in a particular price band. In other words, the 50% of favourites that have won may all (on average) have been very low priced. If, however, you had stated the same criteria and added that the average price of the aforementioned favourites was better that even money, then yes, it would be valid and complete, but of course you didn’t.

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