Cheek Pieces
Cheek Pieces

Betting markets

How I find value in the market

In Dave Nevison’s book “A bloody good winner” he mentions that he often makes his own “tissue” (SP forecast) for races. (At least I think he did but having looked through the book again I can’t find it).  The benefit of doing this is to find the value, based on your own opinion, in a market. It’s an analytical approach to quickly identify which runners, based on your own assessment, have been over (or under) priced by layers.

This is more difficult in today’s betting environment where markets are well established before the day of the race due to exchanges and more ante-post or “five day stage” markets. I understand that producing your own tissue won't be everyone’s cup of tea, it’s time consuming and often involves a lot of work for no reward (particularly when the market agrees with your own tissue.

[If you are already aware of how a market is formed I suggest you skip the next section as it may come across as condescending.]

Basically, the prices shown as fractions (e.g. 9/4, 7/4) represent percentages. In order to work out the %, divide the bottom number by the top number plus 1. e.g.

2/1 (Decimal: 3.0) = 1 divided by (2(+1))  = 0.333 (33.33%)

7/4 (Decimal: 2.75) = 1 divided by (2.75)  = 0.363 (36.3%)

The combined odds of a layers ‘book’ must total over 100%. Typically the total might be 110% meaning the book is over-round by 10%, the 10% being the bookmaker’s margin the objective being that theoretically the bookmaker will show a profit whichever horse wins. If the total odds of a market total less than 100% then the book is over-broke meaning you could back every horse in the race and show a profit whoever wins. Obviously, layers can’t allow their prices to be over-broke as they would quickly go bust. However, there are occasions where this happens, usually when the markets are particularly competitive such as the Cheltenham festival.  The Supreme Novices Hurdle on day one of the Cheltenham festival is probably the most competitive race market of the year as the bookmakers want to lure punters in to hopefully gain their custom for the week and the 2017 renewal was priced-up as follows:

Ballyandy                                               4/1       20.0%

Beyond Conceit                                   20/1       4.8%

Bunk Off Early                                     15/2       11.8%

Capital Force                                      100/1       1.0%

Cilaos Emery                                        22/1       4.3%

Crack Mome                                        12/1       7.7%

Elgin                                                      33/1       2.9%

Glaring                                                  80/1       1.2%

High Bridge                                         18/1        5.3%

Labaik                                                   50/1       2.0%

Magna Cartor                                    250/1       0.4%

Melon                                                     4/1      20.0%

Pingshou                                              50/1       2.0%

River Wylde                                          9/1      10.0%


The % total is 93.4% - meaning that if you backed all of the runners proportionately at £1 per % point (e.g. £20 Ballyandy, £4.80 Beyond Conceit, £11.80 Bunk Off Early etc (you’ll  get the drift) including 40p on Magna Cartor!) it would cost £93.40 but you would have a return of £100 whatever the outcome. £20 on Labaik at 4/1 returned £100 – n.b. 40p on Magna Cartor at 250/1 would have also retuned £100 had it won. The SP’s returned at  121.3% giving on-course layers a profit margin of 21.3%. None of the other races on the card were over-broke on morning odds, the handicaps wouldn’t be, but the Arkle was only 103.5% (SP: 133.6%) and the Champion Hurdle was 100.2% (SP: 118.5%). Although you couldn’t guarantee a win on these races it highlights an enormous opportunity for exchange punters to “trade” as they were virtually guaranteed to be able to lay every runner at lower odds than the prices they could backed them at in the morning of the race (assuming they have unrestricted access to the best morning prices). Incidentally the Gold Cup on the Friday of the festival was so competitive that the layer’s morning prices were 95% (SP: 120%).


So, having given a background to how markets are formed I will explain what I do to form my own tissue. I start off with the odds based on probability. In a four-runner race, mathematically (not allowing for any other factors that affect a horses chance of winning) each runner has a one in four chance of winning, three-to-one against (1 divided by 4 = 25%). I start by pricing up each runner at 3/1 and then adjust the odds based on my own opinion. I try to avoid looking at any markets or trade SP forecasts at this stage so as not to influence my own opinion. Thwe following is an actual example of my approach:


32 Red Casino Maiden Stakes (Class 4) 3-y-o (Newcastle - 17th February 2017)

                                                          My tissue            BOA*

BOWBAN                                             3/1                         5/1

ELITE ICON                                          33/1                     100/1

EXCEL AGAIN                                      7/2                          3/1

REDARNIA                                        100/1                     250/1

RIVER WARRIOR                               33/1                      200/1

SAXON FLAMES                                   3/1                         9/4

SPIRIT OF HAYTON                             3/1                         9/4

CORAL PRINCESS                              50/1                       50/1


* BOA = ("best odds available" at morning prices)


My first impression was that it's a straightforward maiden that I'd narrowed down to four with a decent chance of winning so I had them all at around 3/1. I had a slight preference for Bowban and when I saw the market I was surprised that Saxon Flames and Spirit Of Hayton were 9/4 joint-favs with combined odds of over 60% (13/8 ON) I decided that Bowban was now a decent each-way bet at 5/1 (at a fifth the odds I would get my money back, including the win stake, if it only placed). I also backed Redarna to small stakes at massive odds on Betfair win and place markets as I thought that too was over-priced. The race result is irrelevant as it is just an example (but if I was reading I would want to know the outcome so here goes):


1st           Excel Again 4/1

2nd          Bowban 9/4 JF

3rd           Spirit Of Hayton 9/4JF


So, I only got my money back, apart from the few quid I threw at Redarna (4th 200/1) but my opinion was correct and I would be happy to have 5/1 on a 9/4 joint fav any day of the week which is the point I’m making regarding searching for value in markets. Before you think I’ve picked an example that shows my tissue in a favourable light compared to the layer’s odds compilers, a footnote to the race is that Saxon Flames (5/2) broke down (sadly fatally injured) when disputing second place (and I thought would have beaten Bowban). So I didn’t get it completely right.

By the way, my prices are only a guide and my book is to around 100% it doesn't matter if it is over-broke as I'm not laying my prices. I rarely lay runners even if they are shorter than my tissue. I may not want to back them for one reason or another but it doesn't mean I would lay it either. It may be too short in my opinion but it doesn't mean it not the most likely winner. I only lay the occassional odds-on runners that I think should be odds against.





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Latest results

"I'm keen to take an each-way chance with Megabucks making his chasing debut under rules. This winning pointer has wasted little time over the smaller obstacles before embarking on a chasing career...and at 10/1 looks a decent each-way bet. " 2nd 3/1 fav


"Speredek thrives on heavy ground and ran an encouraging race over hurdles in a competitive race last time out... as a course winner he ticks all the boxes.

1 point win @ 9/4"  WON 10/11


"Sustained support for Snaffled has resulted in Magic Pulse being widely available at 9/4 and I can't resist having a piece of that. The filly ran an eye-catching race over CD last week going down by only a short head, up 2lbs but dropping in grade she looks to have a decent chance."  WON 2/1


"I was expecting Pulsating her to be shorter than 2/1. Impressive over C/D two starts ago she has excuses for last time out defeat and can resume winning ways in this grade." WON 2/1


"The 2m in a hot race would have been sharp enough for Knockgraffon last time out and he can benefit from a step back up in trip.

1 point win at 4/1"  WON 7/2


"Tikkanbar each-way at 11/2"  WON 3/1


"Merie Devie is being backed as if defeat is out of the question but Duca De Thaix is a bit of value at 11/2 to turn the tables...he ran a great race after such a lengthy lay-off and may be under-estimated. 1 point win @ 11/2" WON 4/1


"Petticoat Tails had a valid excuse for her disappointing effort first time out , prior to that her bumper form is outstanding, as long as she hurdles well she can take this on the way to better things; 2 points win @ 2/1 WON 13/8


"Really keen on the chances of Kildisart  (2nd 3/1 <  9/2) on his handicap debut and I expect him to be well supported on the day. Golan Fortune is worth a saver."  WON 7/2 < 9/1


"Candesta may be worth taking a chance with at a decent price with the gelding now 9lbs lower than his last victory a year ago. His last run is better than the bare form as he raced against a track bias and his run can be marked up."  WON 5/1 (adv 7/1)


"Kings Odyssey looks to have been targetted at this race after falling in last year's renewal and he carries 7lb less this time around. He should be spot-on for this after a debut over a trip too short for him. (3rd 9/1)...I suggest a two-pronged attack on the race with Guitar Pete. His effort in the BV Gold Cup can be excused as he was virtually brought-down. Prior to that he beat Splash Of Ginge and Sametegal impressively at Wetherby and should go well again"   WON 9/1


"Cap Du Nord has already been supported and is now favourite. The lightly raced gelding has been aimed at this race for a while (a race won by the yard’s Limited Reserve last year) he starts handicap life off of 100...1 point win"  WON 9/2


"Maria’s Benefit (Ludlow 1:30) is another who can follow-up off of a revised mark, she won impressively the last day and wasn’t given enough credit. 1 point win @ 9/4" 



"No account bet but I suggest a small stakes interest in Mala Beach at 9/1...the selection ran an eye-catching comeback at Galway after a long absence and should go well here with ideal conditions." 

WON 12/1


"Delusionofgrandeur...loves the track and has a good opportunity here after some steady improvement this season. 1 point win @ 13/8 " WON 6/4


"Thomas Campbell is a good thing and must be backed (@ 7/4). Absolutely hosed in the last day and with James Bowen taking over he's effectively only 3lbs higher with the step-up in trip likely to bring further improvement" 

WON 13/8


"Houblon Des Obeaux looks to have been found an ideal opportunity to return to winning ways. He gets in here over a stone less than when a good second to Many Clouds in the Hennessey two years ago when conceding weight to the winner... he could be thrown in here and is worth backing @ 3/1".  WON 5/2


"Louis Vac Pouch is really progressive and ran a cracking seasonal debut to finish so close to the principles in a race that couldn’t have worked out better and if he improves again for the step-up in trip he looks a good thing here. 1 point win @ 3/1"   WON 5/2


"On A Promise won comfortably last week and goes again here without a penalty for that win. Although I rarely put-up NH horses at under 2/1 I do think 11/8 is worth taking here."

WON 10/11


"Red Rising is a short-priced fav for the staying handicap Hurdle but I'm keen to take him on on with Steely Addition. The Hobbs' gelding has shown steady progression to-date and looks likely to continue to improve. After falling on his seasonal reappearance when looking in need of the run, he returned to win with a bit in hand at Wincanton and looks capable of going in again under a penalty here."  WON 4/1


"Cue Card & Coneygree... at 8/11 the pair I would prefer to take them on with Bristol De Mai each-way at 9/1. The selection looked like a live Gold Cup outsider last season and with the yard in flying form he looks the value"  WON 6/1


"One runner who doesn't appear to be ground dependant is Elgin who had a decent novice season and has already had a seasonal debut to ensure he is fit enough today. Either of the Henderson horses could be thrown in here but I don't think anyone is sure which will come out on top and I do feel that the selection is a bit of value against the pair at around 7/1."  WON 6/1


"Hydraenga offers a bit of each-way value at 15/2; she boasts top-class form up to 10f and her pedigree suggests 1m 4f will bring about further improvement."   WON 4/1



"KEW GARDENS has solid Group race form and can capture this listed event; as a son of Frankel (aligned with stamina on the dam’s side) he should relish the extra two furlongs and looks a good thing. 2 points win @ 7/4"   WON 13/8


"WITHHOLD has been laid out for the race...but I think he could be chucked in here off of 87. After finishing second to Blakeney Point (now rated 23lbs higher) he then beat London Prize giving it 8lbs and that too is now 23lbs higher (and has places claims here) 2nd 16/1. Given a prep for this over and inadequate 12f  - Withhold should be spot on for this and has to be a knocking each-way punt at 12/1"  WON 5/1


"The winner will certainly need to stay this 10f in soft with a stiff finish and that should benefit Austrian School being a half-brother to NH Chase winner Tiger Roll. The selection didn’t look at home on testing ground last time out and should go close"  WON 100/30


"Motown Mick has a really progressive profile and the form of his previous races is solid. A 5lb rise for his win last time out isn’t harsh" WON 7/1


"Raheen House carries a Group 3 penalty for this listed event it doesn't leave him exposed on ratings and he will find this easier than the St Leger. He can be backed at 5/1"  WON 9/2


"I've missed bigger prices on Shady McCoy in the opener but the gelding can still be backed at 5/1.Back on a winning mark, he's run over C/D in the Gigaset International entitles him to go close with a step down in class here"  WON 13/2


"Rastrelli really caught the eye as a Nursery type when winning at Brighton and can continue his improvement by upholding Appleby's record in the race."  WON 7/2


"Decent racing in Ireland on Sunday and I expect to have some advice for Naas. Already among the early prices I think Ellthea is a bit of value at 20/1"  WON 10/1


"Aclaim ... his run in the Diamond Jubilee when, despite a troubled passage he finished just behind some of the top sprinters over an inadequate 6f, is the outstanding piece of form on offer. Ignore his Goodwood run as the race was a farce and since then he was just touched off in a Group 1."  WON 3/1


"Somewhere Secret

(16/1) could be a bit of each-way value against some exposed rivals..."  WON 11/1


"Graphite Storm  - slightly unlucky when runner-up at Newbury, he's only been raised 2lbs for that. Off the back of that he has a great chance of going one better today in an arguably weaker race. It wouldn't take much easing in the market to suggest getting involved (c 9/4 - 5/2)."  WON 9/4


"The Wagon Wheel had excuses for the last two runs and if you forgive those two efforts has a live e/w chance at a big price.."  3rd 22/1


"Oh It’s Saucepot

will take a good deal of beating, she's improving with racing and can defy a 6lbs increase.”  WON 3/1


"Hyde Park has ability but is clearly quirky and temperamental but with the drop in grade he's worth a punt at 12/1"  WON 8/1


"I am really keen on the each-way chance of Secret Advisor at 11/1; throw out his run last time out on testing ground at Goodwood, his penultimate start was second to Stradivarius and returning to 1m 6f here he has a live chance at a decent price."  WON 5/1

"I'm all over Mustashry, beaten 1/2 length by Firmament at the corresponding meeting, he's proven on the course. Last time out he won a decent race at Chelmsford beating Masham Star and leaving the impression that a step-up would bring further improvement. A must bet at 3/1"  WON 5/2

Fidaawy - advised at 14/1 (R4) - WON 11/1

Flaming Spear - WON 10/1

Important Mission - WON 7/1


Mazyoun - WON 100/30 (adv 9/2)



Selections are proofed to RACING INDEX not all Twitter bets are recorded and each-way bets are rarely proofed as each-way. Note the results are reported at SP/BSP not at the prices advised.