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.



A good example of what I consider to be value is: in 2015 the BHA introduced the Jump racing 'Triple Crown' bonus of the Betfair Chase, King George & Cheltenham Gold Cup. Bookmakers were quick to offer prices and while most were quoting around 16/1 named horses such as Don Cossack or Vautour, Stan James went 40/1 "any horse" this was an obvious error by the layers and I was quick to take advantage; how could the price possibly be 16/1 for a specific horse or 40/1 any horse (including Don Cossack etc)? [footnote: Cue Card's fall at Cheltenham meant I did not collect from Stan James].







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Latest results

"Wadilsafa went into the notebook after Ascot where he pulled hard in the Hampton Court and I think the drop back in trip should help him settle and he should be backed here at 11/4"  WON 7/4


"The form of the maiden that Magical Wish (5/4) contested first time out has been franked and it would take something decent from the newcomers to prevent it going off odds-on"  WON 8/13


"Today's NAP is Horseplay... I’ve been hoping to see this filly back at 1m 4f after her cracking effort against Coronet  at York. That piece of form is the best on offer here and although she’s yet to win at the trip she’s bred to stay... a little disappointed to see her made fav here, at 11/4 she's worth a bet."  WON 11/4


" bet and as I think Bet365 have made a mistake pricing up Letsbe Avenue 15/2. The Lawman gelding really caught the eye on seasonal debut at Sandown when slightly unlucky and he is expected to come on for that, off of mark of 75 he has a great each-way chance ..."  WON 16/1


Pilaster won a decent novice event at Chelmsford and the daughter of Nathaniel should relish the step up in trip... she should be backed at 5/2”  WON Evs


" Newmarket Aces reoalily catches the eye after his impressive win on Derby day and is too tempting even at a miserly 9/4"  WON 4/1


"Next best in on official ratings is Aljazzi and based on her excellent run against Qemah in last year's renewal she has to be the each-way alternative to the fav at 5/1"  WON 9/2


"I was pleased to see some firms price-up with Weekender as fav ..the 9/4 has gone but you can still get 2/1 Marmelo (NAP)"  WON 11/8


Mullins with five runners giving it a County Hurdle feel. Based on her excellent run in the Cesarewitch I’m going with Lagostovegas – 1 point each-way @ 11/1"  WON 10/1


"Blue Point... may be the each-way angle of the race. His form with Harry Angel last season entitles him to have place claims here and is worth an interest at 8/1"  WON 6/1


"God Given has by far the best form in the race and ran a cracker on seasonal debut at Ascot in a race where the form has been franked; that was only a listed event but she is expected to come on for that run back against her own sex (WON 9/4)... Crimson Rosette has it all to do on ratings but she has place claims and would be my idea of a bet at 28/1 (2nd 14/1)"


“Alfie Solomons was a real eye-catcher on debut at Newbury where the colt reportedly ran green and can improve again here.”  WON 6/4


Derby Day only two bets:


Diocletian WON 33/1 and Dash Of Spice (WON 11/4 < 4/1)


"My pick for the Irish 1,000 Guineas is Alpa Centauri each-way (20/1) hoping she can return to form on better ground"  WON 12/1


York Dante week:


Afaak - WON 9/2 (adv 15/2)

Time Change - WON 11/4 (adv 9/2)


"James Watt is a confident nap ; the colt won very impressively on his debut at Brighton and the runner-up won a competitive maiden at Chester last week... I advise a bet at any odds againstWON 2/1


"Titus was a classic contender as a 2-y-o after defeating Venice Beach but like many Of Weld’s last season never have his true running... having moved to Declan Caroll he was smashed into 9/1 for the Spring Mile before floundering in the testing conditions... he is expected to show considerable improvement today."  WON 5/1 (adv 10/1)


"Pettochside is worth an each-way interest at 11/2 with most of the field looking exposed." WON 7/1


"A very difficult start to Newmarket’s Craven meeting but I do like the chances of Mjjack. Well supported when disappointing first time up at Doncaster, he'll appreciate a return to 7f and better ground. Skybet go 5 places at 13/2 which is a decent each-way bet" 

WON 7/1


"I had Thomas Patrick ear-marked for the handicap chase but I didn’t expect him to be fav, it’s a race I would be looking to play each-way...with enhanced place offers he looks a safe e/w pick at 5/1"  WON 3/1


"...Kilfilum Cross should be backed (WON 15/8) and at the day’s only flat card at Wolverhampton the best race of the night is the Conditions Stakes where Doctor Sardonicus (WON 3/1) is my idea of the fav with a draw and fitness advantage over Goldream." 1 point win on each


"...take a punt on the complete outsider Under The Phone @ 20/1. Robin Dickin’s gelding is lightly raced for a 9-y-o and can be forgiven he last run after the best part of two years off the track. A previous course winner he returns on a lower mark than for his last chase win. This isn’t a great race and at that price he’s worth an each-way bet."  3rd 11/2


"Potters Legend ... is now 9lbs lower than when a "staying on" 4th in last year's Kim Muir and has hinted at return to form of late... - 1/2 point each-way @ 11/2"   WON 9/2


"Euxton Lane has a bit to find with De Rasher Counter but is more progressive . A winner last time out, he was clearly up against it taking on Global Citizen the time before that and can continue his improvement here with a further step-up in trip - 23 points win" 

WON 2/1


"Members were advised to back Balko Des Flos e/w at 12/1 ante-post - if you did you now have e/w 3 places with a maximum 7 runners. If you didn't, I'd suggest waiting for confirmation that Douvan is out [14/1 in revised market]." 

WON 8/1


"Portrait King... as we saw with the first and second in the Welsh National, teenagers cannot be written off in these marathon tests. I think he has at least an each-way chance and suggest a place bet" " 3rd 33/1



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.