What is the 04 System & Is It worth Your Time and Effort?

Finding a genuinely profitable horse racing system in the long-term is a joyful experience. This is mainly because countless systems don’t, and never will work. Even today when there is so much good information available on sites like Race Advisor for free, the betting public still want that edge.

That’s why people who sell inefficient betting systems prosper. They may not have a clue about horse racing, but they know how to sell. In this case, they are selling the notion that you can beat the bookmakers. Then there are the countless horse racing forums online. Peruse anyone, and you’ll doubtless find punters with brand new systems which they trial on the site. Some work, most of them don’t. One which caught my eye is the 04 system.

Sneaking Under the Radar

Also known as Nowhere Fourth, the 04 system was apparently quite popular in the 1970s and 1980s and was believed to be a profitable system for 2yos in particular. Then, Godolphin and others began buying expensive yearlings and completely dominated 2yo racing.

The ‘04’ in the system refers to the horse’s most recent form figures. These days, ‘0’ is the form figure for any horse that finishes outside the top 10. In days gone by, horses that finished fifth or worse were given the form figure ‘0’. The idea behind the system is to find improving horses that are still under the radar and hopefully land a few nice priced wins or places.

How Do Nowhere Fourth Horses Fare For Punters?

I checked out the performances of horses that finished 10th or worse in their second last race and fourth in their previous race. All races must have 10+ runners, and I will look at figures from the start of 2014 onwards. Here are the criteria:

  • 2014-2017
  • Upcoming race has 10-20 runners
  • Horse finished 4th on its last outing
  • Horse finished 10th-40th on its second last outing (does not include horses that didn’t finish the race)

Across all codes, here was the result:

Bets  Wins  Strike Rate ROI (BF)
2590 183 7.07% -22.88%

It isn’t a surprise to see such a poor return; the 2590 bets come from 2413 races. One way to make money here is to lay such selections as you would earn a profit of 14.04%.

You will fare even better with lay betting on National Hunt only with a profit of 21.37% although 2017 would have seen a slight loss. Focus on Class 2, 3 and 4 races in all codes and your laying profit is a whopping 32.9% because only 6.5% of these horses win. Thus far, the ‘04’ system looks a bust but let’s refine things a little.

After looking at a variety of angles, the most profitable one I could find was Class 5 National Hunt races which look something like this:

Bets  Wins  Strike Rate ROI (BF)
120 16 13.33% 45.08%

You would actually make a profit in each of the last 5 years; 2014 was the worst year with a profit of 9.89%.

What About the ‘Old Days’ Version?

As I mentioned, horses that finished fifth or worse in years gone by were given ‘0’ as a form figure. As a result, let’s look at horses that finished 5th-9th in their second last race and 4th in their last race. When you include all codes since 2014, the results look like this:

Bets  Wins  Strike Rate ROI (BF)
8809 716 8.13% -12.42%

Better than the miserable performance of the first system but still quite poor. Things are a bit more encouraging when you focus on flat only:

Bets  Wins  Strike Rate ROI (BF)
3475 288 8.29% 0.17%


You’ll make a sliver of profit, but more importantly, with almost 3,500 bets, there is room to filter. When you focus on Class 4 Flat races only, you end up with these figures:

Bets  Wins  Strike Rate ROI (BF)
423 41 9.69% 14.21%

While 2017 saw a significant loss, you would have made a profit in each of 2014, 2015 and 2016.

Final Thoughts on the ‘04’ System

I got the idea to check out this system from reading a forum on a now-defunct site. While the system itself is not defunct, it is a difficult one to get to grips with. You can make a good profit in Class 5 NH races, but with only 30 or so qualifiers a year, it requires a lot of patience. As expected, horses that finish nowhere and then fourth are usually available at big prices. Alas, this also means low strike rates and lengthy losing streaks. I am not saying to avoid using the system, but it isn’t something I would personally recommend.

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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