Caulfield quaddie
  • Some punters are tremendously strict about only backing overlays on their rated prices
  • Is this the only way to approach horse racing? Are there other ways to bet successfully?

Racing.com’s Daniel O’Sullivan published an interesting series of articles over the weekend: his Key Punting Lessons. Check it out here, it’s well worth a read

One section in particular caught our eye – You don’t have to price horses and only back overlays:

“Around 20 years ago I developed a concept of ‘betting on profile’ rather than relying on technical overlays against my assessed prices,” says O’Sullivan.

“I’m sure I wasn’t the first to think of it, but the key point is that since doing that, I haven’t looked back.

“By profile, I’m talking about the characteristics about a horse and the tendency for those traits to make it under or over-valued by the betting market.

“You will be far more successful as a punter backing a horse you really like at $2.40 against your assessed price at $2.50, than you will taking $7 about horses you price at $5.50.”

With many punters and analysts preaching the importance of price, it was interesting to read an different take on things. So we thought we’d ask a few of the pro punters in the Champion Bets stable their thoughts, and get an idea of the differences in their approaches.

Mark Rhoden

NSW Winners analyst Mark Rhoden – who tends to focus his betting around the top of the market – sees the merit in the approach.

“I see what he’s getting at,” said Mark.

“Since the start of 2018, my top picks that are more than 6% clear in my market are profitable regardless of assessed price, and so like Daniel I’m far more inclined to steer towards the top picks. And the further away from the top pick I get, the bigger the value edge required to make betting worthwhile.”

Trevor Lawson

Illustrating the different approaches that punters have, Melbourne racing analyst Trevor Lawson is much stricter about betting to his prices.

“As he says everyone has a different approach, and there are plenty of ways to win. Personally, I tend be very anal with my prices and don’t take under my marked price,” said Trevor.

“To me if I’m willing to take less odds, why try and price them accurately in the first place? I’d end up doing it sometimes but not others. So sticking to the odds gives me structure.

“The example is taking $2.40 about the $2.50 chance. Based on the market being correct over time, it’s only taking 1.66% under the rated price. Whereas taking $7.00 about a horse you’ve marked $5.50 is about a 4% difference.

“And every situation is different. It’s not about the market been accurate over a period of time, it’s about what’s a better bet in this one occurrence you’re facing. You may have worked as hard as you can to get the horse $2.50, so $2.40 is not value, but you may been kind to the horse you marked $5.50, so have so have something up your sleeve.”

The Professor

Finally, Queensland Winners analyst The Professor says it’s important to get a feel for the market when assessing what to back.

“I can see where he is coming from and everyone is different, but for me if you are happy to take the $2.40 about a $2.50 shot, then you have probably actually had the horse closer to $2.00”

“The question is whether that $2.40 shot is starting even money or starting $3.00, and if you are in front taking the $2.40 in the long term.

“If the $7.00 shot you have marked $5.50 is on average starting $4.50, and the $2.40 shot you have marked $2.5 is starting $3.25, then I know which one I want to be on.

“If those horses are largely shortening and you are winning on them then it follows that you should be marking them shorter.

“There is no doubt a role for the subjective feel of what price a horse is going to start and I think that is largely down to knowledge of the market and what horses tend to firm and drift.

“I will always have a price for a horse – at the very least just based on my ratings – but I don’t always fine tune that price, particularly at lower grade meetings. So that feel for which way the horse’s price is going to go is a big factor in whether to bet or not.

“For myself I know that my edge is generally away from the favourites and I tend to play in races where I think the favourite is too short and will drift. On the way I do things, I generally mark horses relatively hard. So it’s difficult for me to get things really short, and on occasions I have missed opportunities where horses have positive factors but I haven’t got them short enough. The question is if, over the long haul, those horses are a winning proposition

“What I try to do is take the feedback from the market and if those horses are consistently firming, I will try to be more aggressive with my pricing when a horse shows up again with that same positive factor.”

So… what’s the lesson here?

Really, it’s the age-old saying… there’s many different ways to skin a cat!

Successful punters certainly don’t all stick to the same method. That’s what the betting market is… a weighted combination of everybody’s different approaches and opinions.

While some punters are very strict about only betting to price, others use their prices differently and have levels of flexibility depending on a number of factors.

It’s part of what makes it “The Great Game”!

O’Sullivan also expanded on his thoughts to add further to the discussion.

“It’s certainly possibly to win using a traditional price and get the overs… I would never suggest otherwise,” he said.

“My point is that pricing accurately is an additional skill that takes a lot of practice and is difficult to do well.

“It’s beyond the vast majority of punters and more the domain of very serious, experienced and proven successful punters. What I wanted to stress is that you don’t need to do it to be a successful punter.

“I’m proof of that over the last 15 years as are a number of other pro punters. So if you’re out there frustrated by the belief that the theory says you have to price them and back the overs, then hopefully my lessons and approach is inspiration that there are other ways.

“My key point is… of course you can do it that way, but it’s not at all necessary.”

Join the winner's list this Spring Racing Carnival.

Six of our best racing analysts will join forces to bring you their Best Bets every Saturday.

With a focus on the big race meetings and the Group 1 features, this is the ultimate Spring tipping service.

Click here for all the details on this great "bet and forget" Spring membership.