Horse Racing Betting Systems – 5 Ways to Win at the Track

There is an absolute ton of horse racing betting systems out there. However, none of them is foolproof, which I hope doesn’t bother you.

If it does bother you and you decide to continue searching for a proven strategy that wins you money every time, then I urge you to stop… and think about what you are doing.

You are searching for something that does not exist. If it did then there would be no horse betting, as it would be unprofitable for bookmakers to offer odds… and so no market would exist.

In this article, we’ll look at:

  • 5 horse racing betting systems.
  • How you can ensure a profit.
  • Horse racing betting for a living.


Horse race betting explained

5 Horse Racing Betting Systems

1. Beaten Favourites

If a horse is a strong favourite to win a race, but in fact loses, then people start to think that the horse has a problem. They think it’s on a losing streak.

This is a human bias where people get burned by a loss… and remember the pain of it. They find it hard not to associate defeat with that event, and so (unjustly) over apply negative sentiment to it.

Therefore the odds on the horse go up in the next race.

Bookmakers have to balance their book. Even if a good horse is having less money than it should wagered on it. This makes beaten favourites good horses to bet on (Some say that it is better that the horse has been rested before making a bet on it.)

This system identifies undervalued horses, and so “statistically” should return higher amounts in the long run.

Note: Yes, “statistically” is important here. If you flip a coin 10 times “statistically” you should get 5 heads and 5 tails. But there is nothing in the laws of physics that can stop 10 heads or 10 tails coming up.

2. Dutching

The best horse racing bets to make are ones where you are guaranteed a win. This horse betting system relies on placing two or more bets that give you a profit regardless of the outcome.

Imagine you have two horses, A and B, with the following odds:

  • Horse A is 9/1 or 10.0 in decimal odds.
  • Horse B is 4/1 or 5.0 in decimal odds.

You need to bet different amounts on the two horses, that will give you the same profit whichever horse actually wins. You don’t need to work this out as you can just use a dutching calculator.

In this example you bet $33.33 on horse A. You’ll get $333.30 if it comes in. This means you get a profit of $233.33.

And you simultaneously bet $66.66 on horse B. You’ll will get $333.33 if it comes in. This means you get a profit of $233.33.

Magic!… if you can find a race with only two horses that offer you good prices.

Of course you won’t be able to. So, this system again relies on historical statistics.

The stats say that the winner comes from the top three favourites in a race, a majority of the time. I don’t want to quote a specific figure. It will depend on the type of race and the actual odds on the horses.

You need to find a race with a large field of more than 10 horses, and pick two of the top three runners that have generous odds.

3. Progression

If you are looking for a horse racing betting strategy that doesn’t involve a lot of form checking, then it is likely that a “progression” system is what you will come up with. Progressions involve increasing the amount that you wager if you lose.

This should mean that when you eventually get a winner, you will recover all your previous losses.

For this system, you don’t need to understand a load of different types of horse racing bets. You just need to back the favourites.

As you may know, these systems can see your bets spiral out of control very quickly, if you have a long enough losing streak. Therefore you need to use historical statistics to give you a chance of avoiding huge runs of losing bets.

The statistic to use is that favourites win roughly a third of the time.

The key here is “roughly” as it will depend on the course and the weather etc. but it is “roughly” correct. You need a bank to bet with and you only risk 2% each first bet.

If you start with a bank of $1000, then you will bet $20. The odds on the horse really need to be evens or better for this to pay off.

If you win, then you walk away and bet again the next day.

If you lose, you bet $40.

And if you lose again, then you bet $80, $160 and so on.

Statistically, at any given meet, you are unlikely to go on a losing streak of over 6. But it’s not impossible. Hence the danger of progressions… and the need for balls of steel when the bets get higher.

4. Each Way Insurance

You can use the fact that an “each way” bet pays out when a horse places, as insurance on a “bet to win”.

First, you need to pick a horse that you are confident will at least place. Let’s say this horse is priced at 10/1.

An each way bet of $100 dollars would cost $200.

  1. The win part of the bet would give you $1100. That is 10 times your $100, plus your original $100 back.
  2. The place part of the bet pays one quarter of the odds. This would give you $350. That’s 2.5 times your $100 plus your original $100 back.

If the horse only places, then you make a profit of $150.

That’s $350 minus your original $200 bet. You use that potential $150 and place a second win only bet on the same horse.

So, you now have a $200 each way bet and a $150 win only bet on the same horse.

If the horse wins:

  1. You receive $1450 from the each way bet.
  2. And you receive $1650 from the win only bet.
  3. This gives you a total of $3100.
  4. Take away your original stake of $350 and you have a profit of $2750.

If the horse only places then your winnings from that net out against the win only bet… and you lose nothing.

Of course if the horse fails to place, then you lose the whole lot. So, you need to be sure the horse will at least do that.

5. The Statistical Lay

Laying is simply taking the other side of the bet. So, if you back a horse to win, the bookmaker is laying that horse… meaning they are betting that it won’t win.

You need access to a betting exchange to use this system. In a betting exchange you can make back and lay bets.

  1. Find a race with 10 or more horses.
  2. Identify the top three favourites and take a look at the prices being offered on them.
  3. If any of those odds are between 2/1 and 4.8/1, you should lay the horse with the lowest odds.

Statistically, when the three favourites in a race with ten or more runners have these odds, they only win 17% of the time. That means laying them will result in a win 83% of the time.

This one is straight from the betting exchange Betfair. But I wanted to include one system that relied on laying horses rather than backing them. This is because laying is…

How to Ensure a Profit

The reason for including the last system is because when you start to consider lay bets, then you are approaching a more concrete way to make money from gambling.

If you can access a betting exchange, then you have access to probably the best way to bet on horses possible. That is, you can lay all the horses in a race and attempt to over round your book. This ensures you a profit whatever the result.

And if you hadn’t already worked it out, that would make you a bookmaker… and bookmakers are the only ones who consistently make a profit out of betting on horses.

Horse Racing Betting for a Living?

It’s possible but, sadly, as with all gambling there has to be a loser. And if you are betting against a house (ie. Not just a bet between you and a friend), then the house will win more than they lose.

For you to make money out of a horse betting strategy, you have to win more then some of the other players. So, you have to be smarter than the average punter.

Horse race betting systems mostly rely on historical statistics as the bedrock of their justification. Unlike most casino games, where the odds on any given outcome do not change, with horse racing, individual bookmakers decide the odds on each horse.

This means that you can take advantage of human errors in pricing the horses.

As with all systems you are going to lose sometimes, so you need a money management strategy. You need a bank to cover your losing streaks and you need to have faith in your system.

This is where mindset comes into play, because if you start to doubt the rules you are working to, you may miss opportunities or even make careless bets.

Have you tried any horse racing betting systems? Do you think horse racing betting for a living is a viable option? Have you used a betting exchange? Please leave your comments below.

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