The Age Old Debate: Early vs Late

When is the best time to get on?

professional punter

Ask a bunch of smart punters what their biggest challenge is, and more than a few of them will tell you that it’s trying to predict which way the market will go.

It’s an age-old conundrum: is the horse I want to back likely to drift from it’s current quote, or will it firm? Anyone who can successfully predict the market movements at a high rate is able to lock in a certain profit and make money regardless of the result of the race.

That all sounds great, but unfortunately predicting the future is very difficult!

So the question remains… do I bet now, or do I wait?

The correct answer lies in a number of different variables and they can vary from race to race. But is there an approach you can adopt that will ensure you get it right more often than not?

To answer that question we need to look at how a betting market is framed. It’s something that has changed a lot with the corporatisation of the bookmaking industry.

The fact is that most bookmaking firms don’t do any form. They clone other prices and ‘play heads’ amongst their client base by cutting winners at the earliest opportunity. That’s a generalisation, but one that’s reasonably accurate these days. One outlet – almost always the TAB or Bet365 – puts their fixed prices up first. They have analysts doing this for them, but they’re limited in number and also under heavy time pressure to get the markets up early. Once they go up they will adjust prices based on the limited early action.

Soon after they’ve published their markets, everybody else just follows. All the corporates have software that simply clones a mix of other bookie’s prices. The only decision they have to make is what weighting percentage they give those other bookies. For example, their odds might be based on 20% of five other bookies. Or 50% TAB and 5% of 10 other bookies, and so on. That’s why prices tend to remain in lockstep and also why they all move so quickly. There is a domino effect where most bookies move on air, rather than action.

So while they may have some external set of numbers come in at some point to give them context, all most bookies really do is copy prices from their competitors. Jobs for form analysts and odds compilers are on the decline since these roles have been largely replaced by automation and administration.

Across all bookmakers in the country, there may only be just one person or a very small team doing the form. Which means there is no “wisdom of crowds” in the early prices. It’s one person’s opinion, and it’s shaped from there by the opinions of punters who bet.


Punters who are lucky enough to be allowed on early can snap up erroneous prices, but the truly big players don’t get involved until raceday.

Minimum Bet Limits allow all punters to get set from 9am on the day of the race, so that’s when the weight of money from smarter punters starts to move prices. The market just follows the money, especially the dollars coming from shrewd punters.


While there’s a wide range of opinions on any race – since that’s what makes any market – the majority of races are narrowed down to only a few winning chances. It’s very rare that the “range of opinions” – ie, the weight of money – spreads across a majority of horses in the field. Smart punters and the big syndicates we hear so much about will generally narrow it down to a few in the market and these horses will firm.

So what does all of this mean for the punter?

If you’re a sharp punter – or you’re following a sharp punter like someone on the Champion Bets roster – then overall, you’ll probably be on the side of the pro’s and bots which means your horses will remain steady or firm in the market more often than not. This makes sense because if the SP trends towards your rated prices then you’re well on the way to winning.

We’re constantly reviewing the betting of the team here at Champion Bets, and our analysis backs this up: on the whole, their selections firm in the market and you’re better off backing them early if possible. Of course this is a general rule, but across the long-term the market flucs will get it right.

So if you (or the punter you’re with) also consistently gets it right, then it follows that your selections will generally shorten. This means that as a general rule you’d be well advised to get on as soon as you can. The very important key to all of this, of course, is ensuring you’re with a smart punter!

Trev’s Bets is now open for the first time since 2017 – and for a very limited time only.

Pro-punter Trevor Lawson – who has 17 years of experience behind him – will send you his early mail each Melbourne metro race day morning.

From there, all you have to do is ‘bet and forget‘ – it’s that simple.