The Betfair Exchange is the perfect platform for in-running horseracing betting. Alan Thompson tells us why and points us in the direction of commonly used strategies that can be employed for successful punting
Betting in-running on the horses on the Betfair exchange can be volatile but the rewards can be big and, done right, offers an opportunity for profitable betting.
Horses can refuse to race, they may fall at the first or last fence, jockeys make errors, equipment failures like saddles slipping - all these things can change the market in a split second. However, you can gain an edge if you do your homework and learn to expect the unexpected.
Everybody has an opinion on how a race will be run or why a particular jockey or horse didn't win a race. Well, now you can try putting your race reading knowledge and skills to the ultimate test by using your own judgement to strike your bets live in-running.
There are many ways you can get involved but it's important to understand what you are up against. When you are sitting at home watching on your TV, you have to be aware that there is a delay on the action and there may be people with faster pictures. Mobile devices and wireless connections are a reality, and people will always strive to gain an advantage.
If your strategy is to just back the selection in front with yards to the line or lay something that looks like being pulled or has fallen, you're almost certainly going to lose in the long-term. The first rule is that you need to be smart and have a strategy!
I am a strong believer that there isn't a one size fits all strategy for successfully trading in-running on racing. I have heard so many systems and techniques that are meant to produce long-term profits but I am yet to come across one that actually works. There is no "holy grail" strategy.
However, that doesn't mean you can't profit from trading in-running, but it will take some research and analysis. There are many different strategies but they mainly fall into two categories - profiling the horse or profiling the type of race and likely conditions.
I believe you can gain the edge required to win in-running by learning that certain horses have tendencies to run consistently or that certain races produce certain outcomes.
While some horses are front-runners, some horses prefer to be held up; others travel extremely well but don't always finish that well, while others are out-and-out stayers and look like they could go round again. If you can identify a horse's characteristics you already have a key part to defining a strategy.
Below are two of the more frequently used in-running strategies explained...
This is a strategy often mentioned in betting forums and by tipsters, involving identifying horses that will trade at a short price in-running. For instance, if you back a horse at say 5.04/1 for £10 and lay it back at 2.56/4 for £20 you would be guaranteed to make £10 whether the horse won or lost. Sounds great, but the key to this being a profitable strategy is to identify horses that will consistently trade short in-running.
Front-runners and strong travellers are the types of horses you need to be able to identify in order to profit from this strategy. One way to identify these types is to investigate their in-running trading histories which can be found on the Timeform website.
Here you can find the starting price and lowest in-running prices matched in previous races. When analysing this data though you need to also take into account whether the selection was running in a similar type of race, distance, ground and class. You must also analyse the opposition - where there any other front-runners in the race? This could have caused your selection to lead or possibly go off too fast and race the other front-runner for the lead.
The golden rule is that if a horse has traded consistently lower than its starting price and it is in a similar type of race, there's a good chance it will do so again.
Lay the Field
As the name suggests this is more a strategy for a type of race rather than an individual selection.
This strategy requires you to place lay orders in the system for EVERY runner in the race with the aim of laying multiple selections to achieve an overall profit. Depending on the odds you choose to lay at you need a certain number of runners to trade at your target price in order to be successful. For example if you layed the field at 2.01/1 you would need two or more to trade at 2.01/1 or less to profit, three selections at odds of 3.02/1 or less, four at odds of 4.03/1 or less and so on.
So the question is where can you find multiple or low selections to lay at this price? It revolves around identifying races that look competitive or have certain criteria. As an example I like to use this strategy in amateur rider races or hunter chases especially if they are at "demanding" tracks.
As an example one of the best meetings I have found for this strategy is the Hunter Chase meeting at Cheltenham run every year at the end of April/beginning of May. This meeting (since I have been monitoring it 2009) has consistently produced races where horses have been beaten at short prices, including the 2013 meeting that produced nine horses turned over at evens or less and the 2009 that yielded 10 evens of less losers including four in one race!
Once you are confident about using this strategy you can then enhance it by adding more prices - for instance 2.01/1 then 1.75/7, 1.351/3, 1.171/6 - enabling you to produce a bigger profit. The shorter the horse trades and is beaten at, the bigger the winnings. Of course the downside to doing this is if only one horse trades at these prices then you will lose more.
Keep your Bet
When playing any in-running strategy you must remember to use the 'Keep' option on your Betfair betslip. To do this change the At In-Play option for your unmatched bets from CANCEL to KEEP
This means that once you have analysed a race or selection and have identified a strategy you want to use, you can place your in-running bet or bets before the race goes in-play. The reasons for doing this are twofold.
1. Get ahead of the competition - the sooner you get your in-running bets in the system the higher up the queue you will be, enabling you to get matched faster.
2. Distractions - there is nothing worse than spending time researching and analysing a race only for you to miss it or it go off before you have all your bets in.