How to Win at Horse Racing: Betting Strategies

There are many factors that go into winning in horse race betting. You might get lucky by choosing a few runners that look good on the surface, but there is actually a wide range of systems that can increase your chances of winning, both simple and complex. 

After you study a field and learn about which horses are set to run in a given event, you might want to utilize some of these betting strategies: 

Bankroll management

Bankroll management might not seem like a betting strategy, but it is actually the most important one of all. Expert handicappers do not even win all, or even a majority of their bets, so strong bankroll management allows you to spread out your wagers over multiple races.


By developing a bankroll management strategy, you are protecting yourself from running out of funds during those inevitable periods of losses. Even if you do lose multiple races in a row, this strategy will help you still achieve long-term winnings. 


To put this long-term bankroll management strategy into practice, you should never wager over 1-5% of your bankroll in a single race. At the same time, you might want to put more money on simple bets and lower money on exotic bets since wagers like Win, Place, and Show are easier to hit than Superfectas. 

Back the Beaten Favorite Strategy

Once you have a solid bankroll management system, you can start looking at how to improve your bets with a dedicated strategy. One of the more simple ones is the Back the Beaten Favorite strategy. 


The Back the Beaten Favorite strategy works by playing off the public’s doubt following the defeat of a favored horse in a race. Following the defeat, the public will usually bet against that runner and cause the odds to be lowered. 


At this point, you wager on the horse despite betting going against him or her. This is based on the belief that just because the favored horse lost a race, it does not mean the runner will perform poorly next time out. When you place money on this horse, you are betting that he or she just suffered a one-off defeat.


Recent Winners Strategy


Even more simple than the Back the Beaten Favorite is the Recent Winners strategy. With this approach, you choose a race to wager on and study the race form, paying special attention to the runners’ past performances. Among the entire field, you want to identify a horse that is coming off a recent victory.


The Recent Winners strategy relies on a previous winner returning to the current race in good form. You are betting that he or she will win once again, but the downside is that these runners often come into the races at lower odds, so it is a safe bet with no real high potential for winnings. 

The Statistical Lay

If you want to take things a bit further with a complex betting strategy, the most popular one is the Statistical Lay. This strategy relies on you wagering against a runner, and it is based on a Lay bet, which takes place when the bettor becomes the bookmaker, wagering against an outcome instead of on one. 


For example, the Statistical Lay strategy means you will bet on one of the runners that is not the expected winner. 


To break this strategy down further, it works best in races with 10 or more entrants. After finding a race, you choose three favorites and study their odds, and out of these three, you need to select the ones with odds between 2/1 and 4.8/1. The last step is to take the one with the lowest odds and wager against that runner.


Statistics show that the Statistical Lay strategy results in a profit 83% of the time, but there are a few more key factors to this approach. For example, you should really only use it with Grade 1 races, as they offer more detailed information on the entrants, enabling you to identify the weak favorite.

Studying the Programs

While these strategies can help you develop a profitable betting approach, you should take some other steps before jumping right in.


It is important to study the race program for every race you want to bet on. You should learn as much as you can about all of the runners, and these programs offer a ton of information regarding speed figures, past performances, jockeys, equipment changes, injuries, and more. All of this could impact which betting strategy you use, or if you even use any at all for that race.  


By studying the race programs and paying attention to all of the big races and their lead-ups, you will set yourself up to develop a long-term winning approach that makes use of these effective betting strategies. 


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