Less Can Be More

Have you ever felt overwhelmed by the sheer amount of information that you need to go through when you’re analysing a race?

You’re not the only one. I get it as well.

It’s something that we bring on ourselves because we want to get the best results.

By wanting to get the best results, and make the most profit possible, we want to ensure that we’ve got every angle covered. There should be no stone left unturned so we can cover every eventuality.

But… we don’t need to do that to make a profit.

In fact quite often by doing that we can turn ourselves into losing bettors because most of the time in race analysis less is more.

And I’m going to help you over-investigating right now.

In order to do that we need to clarify something first. We need to answer the question…

How good do we need to be to make a profit?

You may think that’s a bit of an open-ended question. And it is. But that doesn’t make it any less valid.

The answer is surprisingly simple.

We need to do just a bit more than the average punter.

If we do just a little bit more than the average punter then we can make a good profit. Doing way more than the average punter means we should still make a profit, but the return doesn’t increase at the same rate as the amount of work.

So why bother!

We want to do just more than the average punter to make excellent profits. Without it becoming a 5 hour job to analyse a single race.

And do that we need to start with an understanding what the average punter is going to do.

Now, when I talk about the average punter I mean someone who actually picks up the Racing Post in a bookmakers rather than someone who just puts a pin on a horses name.

The first thing to realise is that most people use the Racing Post to look at form and they’re going to look at the information that is most readily available to them.

This includes:

Last Six Runs
TopSpeed Rating
RPR Rating
Number Of Tipsters Choosing Selection
Spotlight Summary

These are the most common pieces of information that are readily available and what the average punter is going to take into account.

They’re all relevant information. But they’re no use to us because if the average punter is considering them then there will be no value in the odds based on this information and so we can’t make a profit.

However, we can use this list that we’ve made to highlight just how much extra information we may want to look at:


If the average punter is just considering the weight then we could consider the weight the horse is carrying under todays race conditions, compare it to the weight carried under similar conditions in the past and see how they performed.

Last Six Runs

The last six runs on their own are not relevant because they may have been on completely different conditions. We can compare the last six runs that match the same conditions of the race the horse is running in today.

TopSpeed Rating

We could find another speed rating provided by someone else, make our own or look at the Top Speed rating achieved over similar conditions to this race and use the average of those to give us a figure for todays race instead of the standard one given.

RPR Rating

This is similar to the TopSpeed rating and uses it in it’s calculation, so the question is… Do you really want to include it at all?

It is probably better to find, or create, a form rating that is independent of the TopSpeed rating.

Number Of Tipsters Choosing Selections

If the tipsters were any good then this may be worth considering, but since the tipsters that are used in this analysis are generally of a poor quality, do you want to muddy your analysis with this information from tipsters who publicly show that they can’t make profits?

Spotlight Summary

This summary can be very useful but it can also point you in completely the wrong direction. Instead of using the summary as is we could use it to pick our horses names that they think are interesting and we may have missed in our previous analysis and so should go back and look at again. A sort of safety net.


I saved this to the last because it’s difficult to use this in any other way than most punters, but it is a strong indication of how likely a horses chance of winning is and should be considered.

What you’ve done is gone through what you think the average punter will be considering in a race and looked at each element slightly deeper than they will.

This is enough to give you an edge and make you profits.

And we already have an approach that can be used. But don’t let that stop you doing this yourself. Choose a set of race conditions and write down a list of what the average punter is likely to consider in these races.

Then go into each item on the list and determine a slightly better way of doing it to build your approach to analysing those races.

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. Yes that’s me – I’ve been in permanent overload for about 50 years. Strange thing is I actually enjoy it.

  2. i agree because some days i can end up making a case for most runners,then don’t bother betting,
    information over load, but for me Going is the starting point.i only bet in Novice hurdles.

    1. Thanks for the comment Glenn, information overload can definitely have the effect of preventing from moving forwards. What do you do once you’ve assessed ground conditions?

  3. Me too…You see it’s a`woman’s thing Michael. You wouldn’t understand! From infancy women know that
    they are programmed to sort out problems mainly engendered by males and as we age – like your mother-in-law, Wendy and me – the sorting out multiplies; and as the situation reaches meltdown we crash…..But fortunately we are also programmed to bounce back..with a bit of ‘advice’ from guys like yourself……Must go and put on my
    next bet before I am overwhelmed by self-pity again.

    1. LOL Josephine, it is all true. By the time I have finished with the analysis, I am exhausted and too tired to put the bets on or implement the strategy. And being a Virgo (analytical perfectionists) doesn’t help at all. I blame Van Der Wheil, he got me started on ratings.

  4. The information overload can easily creep up you – given the emails received each day, highlighting different ideas and approaches. You can often be led down paths that consume alot of time. I regularly have to review what I doing, and decide if it’s worth the time being taken.

    Just touching on the tipsters, one approach I continue to use is monitoring the free publicly available tipsters. The internet has made it very easy to get their selections. The main advantage is it takes very little time to get selections. I monitor their performance to Betfair SP for win and place markets, split by racing season (derived from date) and Mon-Fri or Weekend (again derived from date). I then rank by archie score. It was often highlights tipsters where selections are ideal for laying. Also there are usually notable differences on weekend selections compared to Monday to Friday.
    Like trainers, I find tipsters are creatures of habit, often using systems themselves to get their ‘Nap of the day’. Some prefer flat, some hurdles.
    I just collect the tipster name, their Nap selection and date – nothing more. I could collect Race class, distance, jockey, racecourse, trainer, age of horse etc, but this would take extra time. At this lower level the number of ‘observations’ wouldn’t be enough to base sound decisions on. For example it would take a very long time to collect enough data to see how the NAP from The Suns templategate performs at Wolverhampton.

  5. thanks for your tips and advice. 1 simple way to get more winners and cut the time spent on form study is to back a horse only in a race with a maximum of 7 runners. there are less horses to look at and less horses to beat your horse.
    also about the damp in your mother in laws s house: it could be from drying clothes inside. the water has to go somewhere. it cannot just disappear. so it builds up on the walls

  6. Hi Michael’
    Couldn’t agree more that LESS is more. I don’t use any of the 7 above statistics, all I need is the trainers current form and that the selection can act on the going. That’s it. I started current system Feb 2011 and
    have never had a losing month since then, i don’t however bet at less than 4/1 bookies SP and that gives me a nice average of 9/1 per win and 2/1 per place.


    1. bit like how i bet stuart
      except i like betting on yankees and canadians
      always each way, and never more than 14 horses in the race
      i like using betfred because they offer treble the odds on 1 winner as long as all the horses on your betting slip are runners (i.e no non-runners)
      ive often only had 1 winner and a placed horse or 2 and still made a profit

  7. In view of the previous comments I have as an exercise just rated every one of tomorrows races in two minutes.

    I attach below the results for Lingfield

    Lingfield Park Wednesday 10th December Going: Standard Surface: Polytrack
    12:30 Download The Ladbrokes App Selling Stakes Wednesday 10th December

    1 Exceedexpe 49.97
    2 Expensive 39.37
    5 It’s Only 27.36

    13:00 Coral Mobile ‘Just Three Clicks To Bet’ Median Auction Maiden

    3 The Gay Ca 41.07
    2 Priors Bro 22.69
    1 Deinonychu 18.03

    13:30 Best Odds Guaranteed On Racing Handicap Wednesday 10th

    5 Thecornish 49.07
    1 Mymatechri 34.09
    7 Classic Mi 30.50

    14:00 Ladbrokes Handicap Wednesday 10th December 2014

    1 Holiday Ma 63.42
    6 Smart Salu 43.80
    2 Evening At 34.26

    14:30 20 Risk-Free Bet At Unibet Handicap Wednesday 10th December 2014

    3 Perfect Pa 56.77
    4 Hasopop 41.16
    5 Barracuda 39.58

    15:00 Coral App Download From The App Store Handicap Wednesday 10th

    1 Rakaan 32.11
    8 Matraash 27.90
    9 Fair Range 26.81

    15:30 Ladbrokes Mobile All-Weather ‘Hands And Heels’ Apprentice Series

    11 Sea Soldie 32.06
    12 Lexington 25.72
    10 Barbary 25.32

    I use 7 factors to arrive at the selections and don’t suffer hang-ups. When analysing races you must be mechanical and forget any thoughts or premonitions. I just have a program that does what is intended – nothing more nothing less.

  8. Hi Alan,
    My system only gives me one selection at Lin today.
    LIN 1530 Same aa your top rated, Sea Soldie


  9. Thanks Stuart for your response. We both picked a wrong un.

    That is the reason why I choose three selections. As I’ve said before couldn’t hit a barn door from 100 feet with a gun! However, I did select four winners out of the seven races. My Holy Grail is to reduce the selections to one per race and that to be the winner. A hit rate of 57% is not too bad.

    Incidentally, I don’t bet on races where the favourite is odds-on or evens. Which reduced my strike rate to 50%
    The strike rate for all meetings yesterday was 58%

  10. Hi Stuart

    An update on todays performance. Not so good today. Strike Rate only 39%. However, I have developed a system that is designed to give me the winner from my three selections

    I have a second system from which I produce attempt to produce High Priced Winners. This system has four selections per race and is for Handicap and Novice races. Excluding Kempton there were twelve races and I selected one horse from the four using the new method. The result was a 50% strike rate and a profit of 44.25 to SP. Unfortunately the four races at Kempton didn’t produce a winner.

    Perhaps I’ve got a part Holy Grail. Will keep on trying!

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