How You Can Find Favourites To Lay Quickly, Using Disparity

A few weeks ago I was invited by Betfan to host a webinar called Ask A Pro, and share how to find favourites to lay. The concept was that we would get three professional bettors and tipsters on the panel and I would quiz them with the questions asked by the audience. I thought that this was a superb idea. After all, it can be very difficult to get in touch with pro-punters to ask the questions that you want answers to and so I readily agreed.

The webinar took place a few days ago and I am sure that some of you reading this would have joined me on it. That is all great, but what has this got to do with how you can find favourites to lay, and what is disparity?

Well towards the end of the webinar I talked about a method that you could use to highlight favourites to lay. It was prompted by a question I saw come in and there wasn’t time for me to give an example of what I meant, which is why I am writing this today. I want to show you exactly what I meant. If you couldn’t make the webinar then don’t worry, I have put a recording of it at the end of this article so you can watch it at your leisure.

The method that I am about to describe should not be used on its own. It should be used in conjunction with your own analysis. If you have a favourite you think could be a good lay then this method can help to confirm your suspicions.

In order to use this method you will need to be available to look at the Betfair market during the racing day. Go to the race you are interested in and  you will see a screen similar to the one below. Please note that you should be doing this as close to race time as possible, ideally just a few minutes before, but due to having to take screen shots I am doing it well in advance of the race and so the markets are not completely formed.

You must also do this using the old version of Betfair because the new one has a bug that prevents the information that we need from displaying.

Disparity Guide 1

Find the favourite and click on the little graph icon on the left hand side of the horses name, as shown above. This will open a popup window on your screen like the one below.

Disparity Guide 2

What we are interested in is the Total Matched On This Event and Betting Summary – Volume. The current back odds of Goldstorm are 2.46 and we are going to work out what the odds should be based on the amount of money bet on this runner. To do this we do the simple sum…

Betting Summary – Volume divided by Total Matched On This Event

23,311 / 45,185  = 0.52

We then turn the result of this sum into odds by doing…

1 / 0.52 = 1.92

So we can see that based on the current money being bet into the market this runner should actually be 1.92 although the odds on offer are 2.46. Pretty good value at the moment, although this may change closer to race time which is why the closer to the offer you do this the better. Finally we want to find out what the disparity is.

The disparity is simply the difference between the odds we have calculated and the odds on offer. To get this we take the odds on offer and divide it by the odds we calculated. e.g.

2.46 / 1.92 = 1.28

Anything above one indicates how much better the odds on offer are than what we calculated and anything lower than one indicates how much worse the odds on offer are. It doesn’t matter which way this goes but what we are looking for is for this number to be 1.30 or higher, or 0.70 or lower.

If the horse is favourite and meets this criteria then these runners have proven to be very bad value to bet on to win. What this means for us is that if our own research indicates this horse may be a good lay we now have excellent confirmation that this is a good bet. Alternatively if we have another runner in the race that we feel is stronger we can bet on this runner to win with more confidence.

As I mentioned in the beginning, this is designed to be used in conjunction with your other form reading methods but if you do it will become a powerful part of deciding whether to place a bet on the favourite or not.

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. Anything above one indicates how much better the odds on offer are than what we calculated and anything lower than one indicates how much worse the odds on offer are. It doesn’t matter which way this goes but what we are looking for is for this number to be 1.30 or higher, or 0.70 or lower.

    I can see how if the market price is a lot lower than what the total volume shows than it may be a value lay as it’s being overbet, but would like to know what the reason for a lay might be if the volume is showing that the price should be lower a lot lower than market, Is it that the market price is indicating that it’s not as strong a contender as what the volumes are showing?

    1. You have pretty much nailed it Dingo, and also a disparity that is this wide indicates there is a lot of uncertainty in the runner. Don’t forget that this should be used in combination with your own analysis.

        1. Gerry I do not suggest using this technique for backing in this format, it can work but the information needs to be looked at slightly differently. The purpose of this strategy is to use it alongside your analysis of the market favourites, which should be done before applying this strategy. If you then apply this strategy and focus on favourites with a disparity of 0.30 or more in either direction as lay bets you will be heading on the right line.

          1. The principle can be applied for all runners in the market, both backing and laying, but the disparity statistic of 30% indicating a poor bet on the favourite is specifically for favourites.

    1. What you must remember is we are not using them as “value” in terms of pure odds, we are looking at the disparity between the odds and the actual money bet into the market. So 0.70 isn’t representing a 30% value it is representing a 30% disparity and statistically favourites with this much disparity (in either direction) make very good potential lay bets. When combined with some of your own analysis this can turn into a very profitable strategy for finding favourites to lay.

  2. Ok, I’ve been looking at the disparity at certain horses and have found that 5 mins before race it’s confirmed my lay bet, 2 minutes before race it’s still at 1.90 which is quite a disparity. Then about 1 minute before the race it’s gone down to 0.9. This has been typical of the horse I’ve been looking at. How can this be accurate when one minute it’s confirmed my lay bet and the next it’s hasn’t?

    1. 1 minute before the race you will have a lot of traders jumping into the market and closing out trades moving money around etc…you want to do this before that. You will see this on all favourites.

  3. hi
    ive just did a quick calc on the 5.20 kempton today monday 25 feb
    19.380 div by 35.593=0.54= 1div by o.54=1.85
    betting price 2.62 div by 1.85=1.41 is this a lay bet or a value bet because its 0.77 better can you please explain

    cheeers frank

    1. This strategy is not specifically looking for value. What it is doing is checking the disparity between price and money bet on the horse compared to money bet in the rest of the market. This is a market based phenomenon. Statistically if you look at favourites with a disparity of 30% or more around 5 minutes before the race, these are very bad bets if backing them. Using this knowledge combined with your own form reading of the race to see if the market favourite has competition is a very effective way of finding favourites to lay. We aren’t actually interested in whether the disparity indicates that the odds are high/low (I just wanted to explain what that means) for the purposes of this strategy, all we are interested in is that the disparity is more than 30% in either direction.

  4. Just to clarify here, are we saying that any horse where the disparity is above 1.3 may make for a good back bet and any below 0.7 has potential for a good lay bet?

    1. No, we are only looking at favourite lays here. If the disparity is more than 30% in either direction, that is less than 0.70 or more than 1.30, then the horse is statistically a good lay, but I recommend you use this alongside your own form reading to confirm this before betting

  5. Hi.
    Very interesting article.
    A question come to mind: should it be back or lay depending on disparity being above 1.3 or below 0.7 (or other way around).
    It is like fundamentals of economics….demand and supply….etc.
    Definitely a “new” way of watching markets.

    1. Thank you for your comment. This is for lay bets as historically when a selection has a high disparity, in either direction, then they are poor bets because there is a big difference between what the price should be based on the money matched and what it actually is.

  6. Interesting article but how to make 5 minute calculations with constantly changing odds and money, you would have needed software to make these calculations in real time.
    For your information, the video of the webinar is no longer available.

    1. The more you do it the more you will get a feel for what it is without the calculations. Thank you for letting me know about the webinar. I have removed it from above as Betfan have removed it from their channel.

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