Why Backing the Favourite is a Disastrous Move

When a lot of people initially get into betting, they think it’ll be easy, stick a tenner on the favourite, it’s bound to win! Isn’t it? Well as many of you are aware, that is not quite the case.

There is a statistic floating around that suggests the favourite goes on to win 33% of its races. This is possibly one of the vaguest statistics I’ve heard in my life and incredibly general so when it comes to betting take this with a pinch of salt… A big pinch!

So what’s this article about?

Well we’re going to look at the consequences of back the favourite 100% of the time and then we’ll look a little more in-depth and how you can improve your chances of profiting from backing the favourite. Although the title suggests it is always disastrous, it is in fact only disastrous when you don’t know exactly what you’re doing and how to improve your chances.

Backing the Favourite in EVERY Race

All you have to do is look on Sporting Life at some of the recent races to see how often the favourite is winning. The favourite is shown with a lowercase “f” to make it clear to see how often it is winning. You should notice that it is less common for the favourite to win over other horses.

Backing the favourite will often mean you are backing a horse at odds of no higher than 3.00 and that’s if you’re lucky. You will often have odds of 2.0 to 2.5 which will just about double your money and that is if you win. Even if we take the general statistic of 33% and you double your money on these bets, you will still make a loss overall.

Improving your Chances of Picking Winning Favourites

Of course, there’s a lot of factors that it comes down to as to how well a favourite will run. Has it been running well in the past? What is its competition like? Has it been successful at this track before?

Previous Form – The first thing to pay attention to is the horse’s previous form. Has it run well in its last races? If a horse has been running pretty well then chances are that it will continue to do so. If this is the case then you would consider this horse as a favourite worth backing. Knowing how to pick a horse with good form is essential to your betting.

Other Horses – You now need to look at the other horses in the race. Is it facing tough competition? One of the easiest ways to do this is to look at the price difference between the favourite and the second favourite. If the odds are pretty close, then I would avoid backing this horse to go onto win. If you’re seeing a different of 1.5 or more then chances are it is a clear favourite.

Record at the Track – How well has it run at this track before? Has it run at all at this track? Two questions you should look at answering when deciding on whether to bet on a horse or not. If it has run well and has a good track-record, then consider backing it. If it is new to the track then chances are it won’t perform as well as expected.

You should now be able to improve your chances of picking winning favourites… Favourites that go on to make your profit.

Race Advisor

The Race Advisor is one of the leading blogs on betting in the UK. Our goal is to help you generate more profit from your betting than you’re currently doing. With thousands of blog posts and some of the leading horse racing analysis software out there, if you’ve got a question about betting then we’re here to make sure you get the right answer.


  1. Picking a horse with form is obvious but I just make a rule:-
    Do not bet the Favourite as there is not much value, unless it is more than 2/1 then it is an OK consideration. When it comes down to joining new things and systems this is my take on it.
    I am a life time member of S.I.A. Sports Investment Alliance.
    Oxon Press.
    I commend them to you. Covers all sports including American sports.
    I have a new rule not to pay for any more services until I have got some return from those I have already. I need to build a Bank up.
    They have been very good in the past and paid for quite a few good times, it is just this Rain that is preventing me from investing in many horses. for the other sports it is a case of mind set.

    I just do not have the time to look at football leagues to find the games, Football is just like Cricket to me it bores me as too does Tennis but I have all of these advisors giving me the low down on who or what is the likely out come of the Match or Race. They provide tools too.

    The one constant at the moment is the Rain and when all of my systems and advisors agree with each other they are on the same loser! When speaking about horses.
    I am not sure that they have been so good in the Tennis and Football area either as I said, I do not have the interest in them. However I can say they have been good in the past when I did follow them but is was a headache for me.
    As horses are my interest and they come along with all the other sports that is why I sitck with them and as I said I have a life time membership.
    I also have lifetime with FL Racing software and yearly membership of Post-Racing.Net 500 club.
    and of course I get the daily download from Race-Advisor to put on my spread sheet. so I feel I have the best but the Rain is going to skew results in most things especially horse racing so I am prepared to keep my money in my wallet and wait to see how the results come out as weather changes.

    1. Hi there I’ve just joined ron post racing so far so good mind u just wondering how to stake every race. Just wondering about fl sortware is it any good? I used to back favs all the time but slowly but surely I’m backing outsiders and doin ok so far

      1. It has been a while since I looked at it, it depends on what you are wanting the software to do. It is a tool to help analyse races and if you use it in the right way then I would imagine it can be very effective.

        There is usually much more profit in outsiders than favourites!

  2. One thing that gets my goat is tipsters who recommend that we should back short priced horses each way. I think they do it because they haven’t do ne any work on the race.and are playing safe. I would be interested in your views on each way betting. I can see some merit in place only betting but the odds have to be right to make it worthwhile.I do back each way but usually prefer the odds to be 10/1 or greater

  3. Your claim that 33% winning favourites is “possibly one of the vaguest statistics I’ve heard in my life” is based on what?

    1. The reason that I claim this to be ‘vague’ is that it is incredibly general. It doesn’t take into account the type of race, the type of horses, the length of the race, the course, the jockey, the horse, the form of the horse, the odds and so on.

      That percentage would change A LOT I bet, if you were looking at the percentage in which the favourite won a 8 runner, 1m4f race compared to the favourite in a 15 runner, 3m race.

      I just feel that this 33% statistic is far too general and shouldn’t be focussed on when betting.

      1. What could be more vague than saying the “percentage would change A LOT”? Does it, in fact, go or down and by how much?

        1. I’m not suggesting that I know these % values for every possible combination of race types/courses/forms and so on. All I am saying is that the 33% value should not be taken as a given.

          The only reason that I said it was so that people didn’t think that if they were to back the favourite in 100 races then they would win 33 of those bets. I just don’t want people to think it works that way.

  4. year 2010.clear fav=8730 wins 2933 strike rate 33.6% win at sp 92% (for every £100 spent you lose £8)even counting joint favs over 10,000 still same results.

    1. I was merely suggesting that the 33% value was a bit vague/general and that when it comes to betting on horse racing, don’t take this 33% as a dead cert. Yes, overall in horse race, each year, around 30-35% of favourites go onto win.

      I agree this value is correct, 2009 was 33.9%, 2008 was 33.3%

      I was simply suggesting that you shouldn’t base EVERYTHING around this value and you shouldn’t base a system specifically on this value as it fluctuates depending on several elements.

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