Finding Winners At Festivals

Personally, I believe that Festival betting requires a slightly different approach to the normal one. The reason is that Festivals only last for short defined periods of time, usually three or four days.

I always advocate long-term betting. It takes a certain amount of time and quantity of selections before you can begin to see how the patterns of winning and losing streaks occur and find out if you have an edge. We also use this time to become comfortable with the selections before we increase our stakes. And, when I say time, I’m not talking about days, I’m talking about weeks and months.

The problem we face with Festivals is that we don’t have weeks and months, we only have a few days. And this means that we need to adjust our approach in order to make profits.

We do this by focusing on analysing the races in a completely different way.

When analysing a Festival race I look mainly for four things…

  1. Horses that have performed so poorly it would take a miracle for them to race competitively.
  2. Horses which have performed so well it would take a miracle for them not to race competitively.
  3. Horses that have been showing improvement over similar conditions and if this continues could race competitively.
  4. Horses that have been showing decline over similar conditions and if this continues will never race competitively.

When you have identified these runners you will be left with a group that don’t fit into either of these categories. These are the average group, the runners that could go either way. They could put in an exceptional performance and win the race, but there is no reason to suggest they will, or they could put in a poor performance and come last.

By doing this we have immediately split the field into potential contenders (groups two and three), of course in some of the most competitive races almost all the runners are in category two or three and these races it is strongly advised we do not bet in.

The next stage is to take a look at the market. I’m not looking to see if I’ve chosen the favourite or anything similar, what I’m looking for is an indication that I shouldn’t have one of my selections (e.g. if a horse is sitting at odds of 250 which may win but won’t happen often enough to make it worthwhile) shortlisted and whether I should go back and take a look at another runner.

If the market has a very strong favourite or second favourite which I haven’t selected then I’ll go back and double check the stats for that horse. Most of the time this is just to confirm that I believe the market is wrong, but it adds to the confidence in the selections.

Very seldom will you complete this process and only have one selection. There is very seldom a Festival race where only one horse has a strong chance of winning. Do not be afraid to bet on multiple selections by dutching them, this can be a very profitable way to bet.

Next comes the staking. This is done differently because we do not have the time to wait for our edge to kick in, there is only a few days and a handful of races. We need to make our profits quickly and move on. To do this I create a separate bankroll for each meeting. This bankroll gets divided by the amount of days and then each day’s bankroll gets divided by the amount of races. This is what I will be betting on each race. For example if I have £1000 then each day of a three day Festival would get a £333 bankroll and on a day with 8 races I would be betting £41 per race.

This is fixed and does not change. At the end of the day any returns are withdrawn. In order to achieve our profits quickly, when I stake I’m looking to bet on as many of the horses that have a chance of winning as possible while still making a profit. I’m not out to get a glory win by betting on one horse, I’m looking to make as much profit as possible with as low a risk as possible. To do this we need to bet as many as the contenders as we can.

Selections are often dutched and bet each-way or to place with 20/80 and forecasts sometimes being used as well.

Over the years I have found this approach to be a successful one and I hope that by sharing it with you, you will also be able to find profits at Festival meetings.

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. Hi very interesting but it would be very useful if you included a race from recent festival and indicate how you approached it.

    1. Hi Dave, I’m not sure how I would do a written version of this, I may look into holding a webinar about this instead.

  2. I was very impressed with the Cambridgeshire results. Please let me know when the next festival or race meeting I will be able to subscribe to.

  3. Thanks Michael it was a good festival and interesting listening to the radio broadcast. I was impressed at the results for the meeting. Your method of dutching seems a sensible way of approaching these bets. I didnt know what dutching was but soon found out when I looked on the web and found the oddschecker to do the hard work for me. Is dutching the way forward for a lot of races. I would rather be in profit with small amounts than lose heaps by betting on one horse.


    1. Thanks Pauline, I use dutching a lot because there is seldom a single horse I think has a good chance of winning the race. It also serves for me to easily be able to increase my turnover and since I work on a high turnover model that is a good thing 🙂

  4. get the jist -wonder if you can point me in the right direction as to what is the ..ultimate pieces of info.I SHOULD USE TO COME TO DECISION AS REGARDS PICKING THE WINNER!!! Thanks Tony. P.S.WHICH FACTORS WOULD YOU PUT MOST EMPHASIS ON e.g would you favour traner form over horse’s ability to handle the going conditions.?

    1. That is the ultimate question Tony and for me it is different in every race. Personally I have found going preference over the distance to be one of the most significant individual factors, I use speed a lot, and then varying measurements of a horses ability. I don’t really use trainers or jockey information very much.

  5. Very impressive tipping Michael. The advice on staking will come in handy if you decide to offer your thoughts on future festivals. Best wishes Jon

  6. As usual Michael your knowledge is priceless.
    I paid on for the recent Newmarket information and unfortunately due to urgent personal matters was unable to get to a PC and participate. Did you get a result with your recommendations.

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