How To Make Ratings Work For You

Todays post is purely due to an email that I was sent by Brian a little while ago. It’s something that really struck a chord with me. The easiest thing to do is to show you what the email said:

“ Hi Michael.

There seems to have been a lot of emphasis on ratings recently and there are loads out there. BHA official rating, RPR, Topspeed, Timeform and several people like your goodself who supply ratings services.

The ratings are only as good as the compiler’s methods/formulae and I have yet to find a rating system where the top-rated alone consistently produces a profit. I often read services claiming that their top 3 produce 55% to 60% of the winners or races but that means you’d have to back 30 horses to get 6 winners so the average odds of the winners would need to be better than 4/1 to make a profit. Are they any better than following the top 3 in the market?

I’d be interested to read about how to make ratings work for you. No doubt they can be used to narrow down a field to a manageable number but it’s the process of consistently finding winners from those shortlists that would interest me. For example how significant are ground conditions, weight, changes in distance etc and how far back is previous form relevant.

Thanks for all the items you’ve posted so far.

Brian ”

As you probably know, everything I do with my own betting is based around ratings. I love them. But Brian has really hit a nail on the head with his questions, and I want to answer some of them today.

The first question, well it’s more of a statement, that I’d like to tackle is…

The ratings are only as good as the compiler’s methods/formulae and I have yet to find a rating system where the top-rated alone consistently produces a profit.”

I would love to say that this rating or that rating is flat bet profitable, but the reality is there are very few (if any) ratings publicly available that are. The reason being that if they were made public they would very soon be over-bet and no longer profitable.

So, my advice would be to focus on how to make ratings work for you. Which is the key to being able to make them profitable again and again.

In order to do that we need to start at the beginning and focus on the very first thing factor that is involved in finding your selections… you!

You are key to making profits and finding winners and you are also a factor. You have your own risk levels, your own ability to cope with losing streaks of different lengths, your own preference on betting long odds or short odds bets, your own preference on how many bets you like to place each day, your own availability and of course… your own bankroll.

All of these things are crucial in determining how you’re going to find your selections and make ratings work for you.

In fact, all these things are crucial in any form of betting.

You MUST understand yourself and your strengths and weaknesses if you’re going to succeed.

And, in order to understand them you have to be brutally honest with yourself. If you can’t cope with losing streaks of more than five or six then admit that. If you only have a £50 bankroll to use then admit that and understand it may take some time to build it. If you have a low risk threshold then admit that and use an approach that has a very low probability of losing bankroll.

Grab a piece of paper and write a list of everything above and put down your own comfort zones for each.

Actually do this and write it down so you have it in front of you.

For example:

I have a bankroll of £500 but I have a low risk level to losing it as I cannot replace it easily. I can cope with losing streaks but would be uncomfortable if a downswing lasted more than four or five weeks. I don’t like betting odds on horses and prefer to bet on runners between 4/1 and 8/1, however I do enjoy the odds long-odds bet. I prefer to have just two or three bets a day and can afford to spend up to one hour a day finding them.

Once you have this you can start to see the beginnings of the type of selections and betting strategy that you’re going to need.

Next you need to be honest with yourself about your expectations from your betting. These are the questions to answer:

  1. How much can I expect to make per month on average?
  2. How long can I expect an average downswing to be?
  3. How would I feel if my bankroll reached 50% of its starting value?

Again, be honest with yourself and answer these questions. For example:

  • How much can I expect to make per month on average?

    I’ve got a £500 bankroll and I want to bet two or three bets a day. That’s around 60 bets per month at a likely maximum of £5 per bet for a £300 turnover. I can expect to make a minimum of 10% ROI and a £30 profit.

  • How long can I expect an average downswing to be?

    I can cope with a downswing to last for four or five weeks, looking at the odds I like to bet at between 4/1 and 8/1 I would expect the average downswing to last around 21 days.

  • How would I feel if my bankroll reached 50% of its starting value?

    I would start to be feeling a little nervous but happy to continue, if it went down to 25% I  would struggle to focus and keep to the strategy.

When you’ve finished this you will have a game plan for the type of approach that you need in order to make your betting work.
Next week, we can now go on to take a look at how to make ratings work for you within the framework that you’ve just created for yourself.

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. Like your honest approach, Michael, as its easy to get carried away, when you have a winner or two. Its a pity more people do not put this into practice in business in general, particularly if you’re self employed and venturing out into the “Big bad world” for the first time. It would limit those business failures.
    Your advice is always most welcome. All the best, John

  2. Thanks again Michael – I have 2 years excel data to make sense of so guidance like this is great. I look forward to next article as well.

  3. Hi Michael

    Brians e-mail is very interesting. As usual your response is relevant. What professional punters expect and do get is a losing run. If you expect to win every bet you place and don’t like losers, don’t bet.

    My site – FormStats posts selections for every race,every day for free. I don’t recommend you back all three selections I post for every race. They are posted as a guide to the best three rated horses using my rating system. I use six factors to arrive at my final rating.

    I have been designing horse racing systems for over twenty years and once had a system that had over 90 factors to create a rating. I backed the top rated selection but when I monitored the results I found that the second rated produced more winners than the first rated. Another Michael philosophy – always record the results of your bets.

    The system I now use is well over three years old and is consistent in its results. Brian suggests that the best three 3 in the market would be a good way of making 3 selections! Sorry, that wouldn’t give you the 16/1 winner I selected today as it was the fifth rated.

    Most punters want tips and as I’ve said previously in Michael’s blogs “I couldn’t hit a barn door from a 100 feet”!

    Michael will no doubt be saying later that if you want to be successful you must work at it. I suggest that you take the three ratings and use whatever you desire to refine them and if you are successful and select the one horse that wins out of the three you will be a very successful punter. (Incidentally, if you do get it to work let me know)

    1. Thanks for the comment Alan, as always very much appreciated. I have removed the link to your site in this comment as you’ve linked back a lot recently and we have to make sure that our comments sections don’t become advertising platforms for other sites.

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