The opportunity for Australian punters to be able to lay horses to lose has only existed for a few years now.So it’s perhaps not surprising that the concept of laying is still quite foreign to many punters. Lay betting requires a dedicated approach since Betfair is a very efficient and competitive marketplace containing more than it’s 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. 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 trialled offering the exact same lay odds as a well known bookie, thinking that he’ll 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 just cherry picked horses that were over their true odds. The (winning) strike-rate on horses he got matched on was very high so he quickly abandoned that approach. But there’s no reason for this perception of laying 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 approach then chances are you’re missing out on an excellent opportunity. 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 it’s 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 prep.
(3) Poor jockey – examples here are the hoop may have a poor record on favourites, at this track, or in the last 30 days. Or today’s jockey may be a downgrade from last start.(4) Bad barrier – we have mentioned many times that inside barriers are overbet, 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) Backmarkers – horses that get back are a layers 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 armour. Money can be made by going against horses starting short today based only on one good run. (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. (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. Rick Williams is the Senior Form Analyst at Champion Picks and says 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. “We quite often see races where there is a slow tempo and a horse that is a backmarker is hard in the market. More times than not these horses are unable to run quick enough closing splits to catch the leaders who have had it easy up front and can display a turn of foot from on the speed. Some of the backmarkers 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.” Next week we’ll look at staking for lay betting so that you can get the risk versus reward equation in balance.