Where The Heck Do I Start To Be A Profitable Bettor?!

It was a comment on a recent blog post that has inspired today’s post. There are many strategy based articles amongst the couple of thousands published here on the Race Advisor and his question was…

Where do I start?

There are so many possible avenues, things to investigate and different ways to approach your betting then it can be very easy to become overwhelmed with information overload.

Today I’m going to attempt to answer this question.

I say attempt because the approach I use here may not suit everyone. It will certainly suit a lot of people but I can’t guarantee it will be a good fit for everybody.

However this is the approach I use. It’s an approach that has worked well for me and you can use it as it is or take the principals and adjust them to suit you.

When you start looking at analysing a horse race, it’s a big puzzle. There are so many different factors to take into account and so many different ways you could find selections it very quickly magnifies to a proportion where it’s hard to see the wood from the trees.

It’s at this point that most punters choose to use Google to find approaches which have worked for others.

And unfortunately that just confuses the matter even more because…

There are thousands of approaches that people have tried and tested, often they never let you know the final results of the approach or how to try using it yourself and of course very often… they don’t work.

All that you’ve managed to do is add to the already vast amount of possible ways for you to find selections.

So here is how I decide the approach I’m going to take…

I start by choosing very specific race conditions

Horse racing has many types of possible horses racing in many types of possible races. Each of these races have their own characteristics that determine the type of horses which are most likely to suit it.

Think of putting a sprint runner into a marathon, there’s no way you’d expect them to win. It’s exactly the same for horse racing.

In our members area I was recently helping somebody who said they were interested in handicap races. When I asked what type of handicap races they said “all”.

That is way too broad.

If the race is a sprint, middle or long distance race then the types of horses that will be better in it will be different.

If the ground conditions are extreme then again this will suit different types of horses, as they would if the ground conditions where more standard.

If the race is flat then it will be different to the races over jumps and if the prize money is high, or the class of the race is high, then the competition is going to be totally different to those at the lower end of the scale.

As a minimum you should start by choosing a:

  • Race Type
  • Distance Range
  • Going Type
  • Number Of Runners Range
  • Class

You may even want to consider only choosing races with certain classifications as well.

But that’s only going to mean I have one or two races a day to analyse?

Is what I can hear some people saying. And my answer to that is… Yes.

That’s the point!

If you’re finding five or six races a day on average that meet your race criteria then they’re probably too broad.

Being specific is the key to understanding.

It allows you to focus on the factors that are relevant for a very specific set of circumstances. Because there’s just one or two races a day to analyse you spend more time analysing and less time trying to analyse lots of races, which means… you do a better job.

There’s plenty of time to start looking at more types of race conditions when you’re already making profit in one.

Become an expert in one first and then spread your wings.

So step 1 is… choose a very specific set of race conditions.

Once you’ve got those you’re well on your way.

I know that we haven’t even begun to look at how to analyse those races yet. But this post isn’t about how to analyse races. This post is about how to get started choosing a strategy to analyse races, prevent overwhelm and actually start taking action towards your goal of profitable betting.

So whats next?

Well let me go through the next three steps quickly.

Once you’ve got your race conditions your analysis should take you through these three stages:

  • Find the Eliminations – in this stage you’re looking for the horses that have no chance of performing. The complete no-hopers. You want to remove these runners as fast as possible so you don’t waste time on them. Depending on your race conditions you may only be finding two or three but it could be as many as half the field or more.
  • Find the Contenders – in this stage you’re looking from the runners that are left after the eliminations for the horses that are likely to perform well in the race. Not necessarily win but be up there with a good chance of threatening the leading horses.
  • Determine How To Bet – this is the final stage, sometimes called the wagering stage. Just because one horse is most likely to win the race doesn’t mean that it’s the best horse to bet on. It may be that the odds are too low to offer any value so it’s not a good long-term betting proposition. Or it may be that there isn’t a single outstanding horse and you need to spread your bets over three or four runners. This is where you determine how to place the best bet.

Great, you now know you need to start by being specific about your race conditions. You know the stages you need to go through in order to find selections.

What do you do next?

Next you take your race conditions and write a list of up to ten factors that you think are the most relevant measurements of a horse’s likely performance in your race conditions.

Once you’ve done that you’re all set to start looking for a strategy to use.

You now need to find one strategy for each of the three stages above.

Of course, I’d recommend you’d search through all the strategies on Race Advisor but you can use any website you like to find these.

How do you choose one?

Don’t agonise over the decision. What you have now is a process. Choose an approach for each of the three steps above that feels good to you and works for the amount of time you have available.

And then test…

You don’t have to get each of the three strategies you’re going to be using right first time. You just need to start using them and paper trading.

Perhaps you’re finding that there are too many horses after stage one, then you need to find a new strategies for eliminations.

Or maybe you’re selecting three or four horses and often getting the winner but that’s not the one you’ve bet on. So… you’d need to test a new strategy for stage three.

You can use pretty much any strategy with this framework. It’s the framework that’s important. This framework gives you a structure to build your own betting approach own, an approach that will be unique to you and work for you.

If you’ve enjoyed this post, have any questions or are already using this too effect then please leave me a comment below. I’d love to hear from you.

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. I get the selections I am going to bet on from a specific place. They run in all sorts of races, and I cant eliminate any race type (yet) From thirty/forty races available to bet on, I have narrowed them down to o bets for several days, to six bets on one day. (that’s the most races that has met my criteria on any one day) They all lost by the way 🙂 Even so, the approach I take, blindly backing everything that meets my specific criteria, makes me a consistent 10 points profit per month, at least for the 7 months I have been using it. I do no form study what so ever. There might be a month around the corner, that will wipe out my entire bank, I don’t know, because I haven’t encountered it yet.

    At least 50% or more of my selections lose. To be fair I do look at the basics. No of runners, class, jockey/trainer percentages, days since last run, but there seems to be no pattern. I cannot find a way to separate the winners from the losers, If I could find a way to do that, or at least the majority, of losers from winners, I would be quid’s in. Less bets, but more profits. Bearing in mind the information, I’ve given you.

    How do I do that Michael?

    Kind regards,


    1. Thank you for the comment Marilyn, a good question. Out of interest are you using a staking plan?

      Losing more than 50% of your bets is normal, in fact it’s normal for most pro bettors to lose 70% or more of their bets.

      You will certainly be able to optimise this but you need to start by keeping records. Keep records of all race conditions and any other relevant information. I would start by checking against separate race conditions. For example, you may find that races where the majority of runners haven’t run before lose a significantly higher proportion than those where the majority of runners have had at least 5 runs.

      Go through different conditions and compare. That’s the first place to start 🙂

      However, when you start testing always do this with a new bankroll and keep separate records for it. Never adjust a strategy that’s working for you live. Keep running that one and use a smaller bankroll to test your variations of it.

      1. I use level stakes Michael, and without giving too much away. All my selections are last time out winners.

          1. Sure, but it could be improved. If you think you could help with that, perhaps you could email me.

            Kind regards,


          2. Generally you’ll find that as ROI increases the strike rate decreases because the higher profits are coming from horses at longer odds. So a balance between your comfort with losing streaks/strike rate and the ROI is important.

            Start by doing what I mentioned above 🙂

  2. Hi Michael

    I have my RESULTS data in distances and Course – Finding Trnrs/Jockeys – average times of theses specific conditions seems so general that I wonder what I am missing or what I should be looking in these specific conditions – A bit more on how to use the past results analysis would be welcome. I don’t have the state of play ( ie pre race ratings and course ) that existed before the event.


    1. Thank you for the comment Peter, a great question but the answer will be too long to fit in a comment so I’ve made a note to write an article about how to use past results for analysis.

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