Making Profit from Horses after Long Lay-Offs

With the Flat racing season about to get underway in earnest, punters are scratching their heads trying to figure out ways to bash the bookies. The problem with the start of any season is that you’re struggling to find trends as there is no recent form to go on. One way to circumnavigate this issue is to discover if there are any patterns relating to horses running after a long layoff.

We covered this very issue a couple of months back, but we focused on horses that hadn’t run for 90 days. The data showed that odds-on horses returning after a 90+ day layoff were bad bets. In this article, I am looking at horses with layoffs over 181+ days and focusing on Flat events only to coincide with the beginning of the season.

Initial Impressions

As always on Race Advisor, we attempt to play detective which means finding a broad set of data and whittling it down until we find a potentially lucrative system. Since the start of the 2012 season, blindly backing horses after an 181+ day layoff on the flat offers the following statistics:

Bets Wins Win % ROI (SP) ROI (BF)
11861 1165 9.82% -24.22% -2.5%


As you would expect, the figures are not in the punter’s favour although I am encouraged by the Betfair loss of just 2.5%. That leaves plenty of scope for profit once we investigate further.

The next step was to whittle things down a little by dividing the above statistics into classes:

Class Bets Wins Win % ROI (SP) ROI (BF)
1 1407 193 13.72% -17.86% -2.26%
2 1298 106 8.17% -18.07% -3.35%
3 1293 131 10.13% -27.63% -15.87%
4 2165 215 9.93% -10.8% 31.57%
5 3874 396 10.22% -29.55% -9.9%
6 1824 124 6.8% -35.64% -17.32%


Wow! Class 4 races stand out like a sore thumb. While you lose just over 10% on your investment with SP, the Betfair advantage gives you a fantastic profit of over 31%. It is also worth noting the dreadful win ratio in every single class. The logical next step is to check out the performance of favourites and also take a look at odds.

Are Favourites Worth Following?

Here is the performance of favourites since the start of the 2012 season that has returned after an 181+ day layoff:

Bets Wins Win % ROI (SP) ROI (BF)
985 333 33.81% -5.55% -1.96%


The short answer to the title question is ‘no’ because favourites even give you a loss on Betfair. Let’s see if odds-on favourites (SP) fare any better:

Bets Wins Win % ROI (SP) ROI (BF)
137 78 56.93% -7.14% -5.52%


Again, the answer is ‘no, ’ and there have been relatively few horses that meet the criteria in any case; just 137 in 5 seasons.

I decided to check out the performance of favourites in Class 4 events and found that if you laid every favourite you would have made a profit of 8.4% in the last 5 seasons. On the downside, there were only 179 chances to do so in the last 5 years.


I briefly checked whether or not gender makes a difference and as it turned out, Geldings outperform every other horse. An ROI of over 8% on Betfair is not to be sneezed at.

Sex Bets Wins Win % ROI (SP) ROI (BF)
Colt 1671 273 16.34% -11.34% 1.97%
Horse 223 33 14.8% -29.5% -23.18%
Gelding 5974 519 8.69% -20.78% 8.56%
Filly 3240 290 9.05% -32.11% -16.19%
Mare 787 50 6.35% -43.82% -34.06%


As Class 4 events are the best place to look, I checked out the performance of Geldings in these races, and from 1,255 events since 2012, you would enjoy an excellent ROI of over 43% on Betfair!


There is money to be made right at the start of the Flat season once you know what to look for. From my research, when it comes to backing horses with a layoff of 181+ days, I have determined that you should focus on:

  • Class 4 races
  • Geldings
  • Laying favourites in Class 4 races

Patrick Lynch

Patrick graduated from the National University of Ireland, Galway with an MA in Literature and Publishing but decided he would rather have the freedom of a freelance writer than be stuck in a publishing house all day. He has enjoyed this freedom since 2009 and has written thousands of articles on a variety of topics but sports betting is his passion. While his specialty is finding mismatches in obscure football leagues, he also likes to use his research skills to provide punters with detailed winning strategies in horse racing. You can check out his personal blog on or Twitter @pl1982 where he writes content to help small businesses achieve success.
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