Ten Tips for Laying a Horse

The opportunity for Australian punters to be able to lay horses to lose has only existed for about 10 or so years now.  So it’s perhaps not surprising that the concept of lay trading is still quite foreign to many punters.

Lay betting requires a dedicated approach since Betfair is a very efficient and competitive exchange (not a bookmaker) containing more than its fair share of professionals and other smarties. A lot of mug money makes it to the totes but that’s not the case with Betfair. Majority is smart money, being smart with your punting money is all about planning before you start punting.

So don’t go thinking you can employ a haphazard or under-researched lay betting approach and still come out on top. One punter I know tested out using the exact same lay odds as a well-known bookie, thinking that he would just piggy back on their work, have zero overheads and reap the rewards. Well that punter got hammered because

(a) the strategy was unproven and

(b) the pro’s at Betfair only pick horses that are over their true odds.

The strike-rate on horses that he got matched on was very high so he quickly abandoned that approach.

But there’s no reason for this perception of lay-trading as a dangerous and complex past-time to continue any longer. In fact, if you’re not using lay betting as a key strategy in your approaches then chances are you’re missing out on an excellent opportunity.

We all look at races at some stage and know that some horses just cannot win that particular race.

Like any punting or other discipline, you need to research an approach that has stood the test of time and has no logical reason to suddenly start failing now.

Here are 10 important factors you can look for when considering which horses to lay:

(1) Gun run last start and fell in – the horse may have a ‘1’ next to its name but if it had the absolute perfect run and only just got up, it may well be under the odds today.

(2) End of a long preparation – just like humans, horses can get tired and stale so your lay betting shortlist might include horses that have had more than 5 or 6 starts this session.

(3) Poor jockey – examples here are the hoop may have a poor record on a favourite, at this track, or in the last 30 days. Or today’s jockey may be as experienced as it’s last start rider.

(4) Bad barrier – we have mentioned many times that inside barriers are over bet, so consider laying these horses particularly if they are get-back types.

(5) Heavy track – wet going can throw up surprise results so look at those unproven in the ground or with no recent wet track form. Also consider laying horses that raced on a heavy track last start, because that can be a real gut-buster that hinders its chances next time out.

(6) Back markers – horses that get back in their races are a lay traders best friend because they win a much lower percentage of races than on-pace types. The everyday punter loves to back horses with a barnstorming finish, but they’re much more likely to produce a hard luck story than a victory.

(7) Hype horse – boom horses go bust every Saturday and it’s the lay bettor’s job to find those with a possible chink in their armory. Money can be made by going against horses starting short today based only on one good run. Great lays are horse that win their first and only start, go into a small field at their next start at odds of $1.20.

On a $100 lay your liability is only $20, your return is it loses is $100, no brainer risk factor. Especially for it is a low grade country event.

(8) Peak run – don’t assume that a horse is like a machine and will simply reproduce the same effort as last start. Many horses can’t repeat a last start peak and can actually regress many lengths. (check old stats)

(9) Trainer patterns – some trainers have their horses ready to go first up, while others let them find fitness before being at their best 3rd or 4th up. Know your trainers.

(10) Poor sectional times – some horses may have appeared impressive last start at face value, but have run sub-standard times.

The best approach to finding good horses to lay is by assessing what the tempo will be like and where your horse will be in the run. Speed maps help like those offered on www.racenet.com.au  and how many starts it has had in that preparation.  Just remember we all get tired so do horses.

What punters forget is:

It takes 8 weeks to get horses fit enough to start racing, 3 to 10 starts there is 18 weeks or more.

Horses race two ways, hit a peak and plateau (08411168) or they peak and go into a trough for one or two starts then peak again (X1018518). All horse just about do the same in every preparation.

With setbacks as well, take everything into account

“We quite often see races where there is a slow tempo and a horse that is an out the back runner find it a struggle to make up the ground, especially if it is a track with a short straight. You will win more races with fit on pace runners and win more lay trades with the back markers.

More times than not these horses are unable to run quick enough closing sectionals to catch the leaders who have had it easy up front and can display a turn of foot from on the pace. Some of the back markers can win of course, but not nearly as many as the market would suggest. If you do your homework and know your horses, you will get it right more times than not.