Seeking Value in Betting Forecasts

Seeking Value in Betting Forecasts

Value can come in many shapes and forms. Some favourites can be good value, some mid-range priced horses can represent very good value, and of course those at bigger prices still can be exceptionally good value if they have conditions to suit. Value is something that is subjective, and often-times misunderstood by punters, so I want to show you how simple it is for punters to spot real value, without having to resort to tissue prices, ratings, etc. It’s all there, done for you, in the betting forecast!

Every major newspaper, online horse racing portal, and racecard provide betting forecasts for the racecards they publish. They employ ‘race readers’ to go through the race and form an opinion on the chances of each horse, and then generally translate their thoughts into a betting forecast at the bottom or the racecard.

Now the key here is to identify which race readers are the best at reading the race and forming a solid opinion. There are some better than others, but believe it or not I have been looking at this over the last few months and is pretty good at it! Another good one of course is the Racing Post, and then there is SportingLife at

In most instances the betting forecasts are similar, maybe rearranged a little bit differently, with each horse having a different odds forecast, or position in the betting, but by and large they can be relied on to a large degree to do what I am about to show you – which is how to find value at the top end of the market!

Ok, the best thing to do is open the race cards for each of the above sites, and write down the top 4 in the betting forecasts as they see them. This will generally see you having about 4-6 selections possibly, depending on the view of the race reader and their interpretation of chance equated to odds.

Once you have your list, then write down the betting forecast price next to each one from each of the publications. A spreadsheet is good for this, have 3 columns next to each horse and write the odds in decimal format for each of the betting forecasts from sites next to each of the horses. Once you have done this you should have a good picture of the overall view on a selection in this race expressed in an odds range.

Now, as we have decimal prices in our spreadsheet, calculate an average of the odds the selection is currently available at next to each of the selections.

Then go to and grab the best market price you can see for each one and record that on the spreadsheet in the 5th column. There is an example of this that I knocked together earlier below to show this in action. The race is for tonight so I don’t have the result. Even if those selected lose, the methodology is sound here and I wouldn’t be sharing it if I didn’t believe that it worked long term.

Now, in a 6th column we want to see what ‘value percentage’, or what ‘bookie advantage’ we have with each of these selections. In some instances you will immediately see a big negative number next to some of them (I would consider anything less than 100% as a negative from a value perspective – the bookie has this one!), this is because they are basically running for the bookie and there is no advantage in backing them. And remember, we are only working with the top 4 horses in the betting forecast here, so each of these is deemed to be a contender in the race according to the race readers.

Anything approaching 100% or better should be looked at closely as a possible selection to keep an eye on. We get this figure by dividing the market odds by the average odds. This is just a quick ‘value check’ indicator to give you a starting point. You can get more serious with this using the very good spreadsheet on Betting Tools that has all this in place already, just grab the top 4 in the betting forecast (including any joint ones at the odds).

Eliminate any that are overbet, or have a negative percentage, and concentrate on those that have a positive percentage… but this doesn’t automatically mean we have a bet just yet.

Chelmsford 2.40

You can see in the above example that Dutch Garden is a HUGE negative for me, the bookies want this horse and they can have it at those odds. But Fingals Cave is in the watch zone, as is Van Huysen, I would be very interested in those if the figure goes to 150% or greater. And Oak Bluffs, well some of the best race readers in racing deem this to be on average around a 7/1 shot and we can buy his chances to hit the frame at double those odds, around 14/1 – game on each way there I think!

Same goes for Red Invader, the race readers think that this one should be on average around 10/1 and we can have this one running for us to hit the frame at around 28/1 – game on again, 2 in this race at those odds against the front 2 in the market. We look to either hit the frame for a decent return, or cause an upset at the odds and have it right off!

If the figure is just below, or around 100%, leave it alone for now, but keep watching the market for it to drift. I love drifting horses! The more they drift, the more money I make when they win or hit the frame, and believe me drifting horses can and do place and win! The market is not the gauge as to how the horse will run, it is just an indicator of what they think the chance is, but one where they get it wrong a lot of the time also. Some of my best wins have been on big drifters, so when I see one going out I love it!

Ok, so we have our list of selections, potentially the best 4 or so horses in the race according to some of the best minds in the industry who have put together the betting forecasts.

We have determined to what degree each is running for the bookie or the punter.

Now, all we have to do is ‘bargain hunt’ the markets looking to secure a good margin on any selection which has a figure around, or above, 125% ideally (but preferably 150%+) in that 5th column! These are the horses that will represent real value against those running for the bookie.

Now, this may sound very simplistic, but believe me it works, and it is easy to do. The best time to do this is late evening before the bookie punters hit them in the shops the next morning. I backed Jack Of Diamonds at 6.50 the night before he won yesterday and he went off at 7/2 SP. There is a real advantage to price fishing in the evening before the bookie shops open the next day. You absolutely strip the bookie margin out and place the odds in your favour by doing this. They won’t all win, but if you can back 7/2 shots at 11/2 they don’t all have to in order to make good profits!

This is a very simplistic value-hunting method that I know absolutely works if you follow these instructions to a T.

The other thing is, I would seriously not bet on any horse under 4/1. Set yourself this as a ‘selection filter’, UNLESS the horse is a massive profit opportunity showing a big value percentage, in which case I would possibly make an exception maybe. But it is a judgement call and I personally think 4/1 is a good bottom price ceiling to establish. Look for something bigger than that price to provide real value and a good return against those running for the bookie and get them beat.

This is something as a punter you can do, without any knowledge of ratings, tissue prices, value even. As long as you know the basics, can spot when the odds are in your favour, you are in business and I would be very surprised if you couldn’t make money with this simple method long term – in fact I would bet that over time you will!

Think about it… some of the best minds in the racing industry have done all the legwork for you, they have compiled a betting forecast based on their reading of the minds, you have a consensus view on prices via the average, and you have a market to compare it against to find value. It’s a recipe for success as a punter.

AND, never be worried about backing 2, even 3 selections in a race. If the odds allow it, go for it. Some of the best returns I have ever had is when I have had a couple or more running for me, used in conjunction with a good value selection method it firmly puts the odds in your favour.

Now, this won’t work every day, there will be days when the favs win, but on days where they don’t there is a wide open opportunity to be right there with the horses that can beat them.

The other great thing about this selection process, this horse racing value seeking methodology, is that you don’t have to bet big stakes to make a decent profit from this. The returns soon add up at the odds and the winners more than compensate for the losers.

If I was just starting out ‘value seeking’ this is how I would do it. Start with the basics, understand the concept, see the returns that can be achieved over time, and milk it for all it’s worth! Backing horses that can and will win at odds in your favour and not the bookies. Of course if you win to much using this method you may kiss your bookie account goodbye… but hey, there are plenty of other bookies and if all else fails there is always Betfair! Not a bad problem to have really if you are on the winning side of horse racing I am sure :).

Remember this very important fact… the market will always OVERSTATE the chances of a selection winning at the top end of the market, and UNDERSTATE the chances of a selection winning at the other end. It’s how they make their money. They want you to think a horse is a ‘sure cert’ at low odds, it sucks punters in to parting with their money easily. Not every market fav deserves to be there, and when they are turned over all punters do is line the pockets of the bookies who layed them at odds much shorter than they should have been. The market lies! Believe nothing of what you hear, and only half of what you see… that concept has served me well over the years.

With Cheltenham coming up, this is a good method to use. You want to be looking for horses that can run well, at a backable price, to either win or hit the frame – and you are looking for a nice profit when they do. This is a great way to filter out those running for the bookies and setting yourself up for a good Cheltenham by backing value selections that can win time and time again at decent odds.

It’s a fact that 83% roughly of all races are won by the top 6 in the betting. By focusing your attention on the top 4 in the betting forecast on consensus opinion of race readers, you are not only eliminating the guesswork and form study, but it is an immediate value seeking strategy that takes just a few minutes per race to find good selections that have the potential to run well, with odds in your favour, and get a result.

Anyway, hope you find this useful. With Cheltenham coming up, there will be a goldmine of opportunities to profit from betting horses that can win, and this value hunting method, as simple as it is, can very possibly be the difference between having a profitable Cheltenham, or a losing one. Back enough Cheltenham selections at the right odds and you are sure to have a good one.

Designed to get you thinking – backing ‘fancy’ is a sure recipe for disaster, backing value is a sure recipe for success (in my mind anyway!).

Until next time…

3 thoughts on “Seeking Value in Betting Forecasts

  1. matt

    Another great column BV. I knew nothing of this until now. I have already been through all today’s races seeking the value and found a few here and there.

  2. Gareth Vaughan

    It’s a good idea and I use something a bit similar to try and quantify some value.
    One slight snag is there’s no RP forecast until the morning of the race -poss use the free timeform one ?

  3. John

    Yeah decent post BV, just cant resist one little petty dig – at your “bottom price ceiling”.
    Do you walk around your house on the bottom ceiling? lol.
    Just something to look out for for anyone trying this, sometimes in bigger fields you will identify a couple of selections in the same race, which others will too and they’ll be backed in. Suddenly another couple of runners become the value selections, but dont panic, you can always lay off the ones you backed at earlier higher prices.


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