Getting Started with Horse Racing

What is an Overlay and Underlay?

Use your own rules with our summarised information or find value with our prices we provide you. Finding value is relatively easy. Firstly you need to understand overlays and underlays. The easiest way to describe an overlay is by way of example. Consider the analogy of coin tossing. In a hypothetical situation, lets consider that a newspaper is full of tips on a coin tossing event and the public money weighs towards "heads" and "heads" ends up on the NSW TAB at $1.80 and "tails" $2.20 (assuming no TAB margin). You are probably thinking, "tails" is now looking great value! Lets consider why you think this.

  • You subconsciously gauged that the probability of each situation winning, ie "heads" and "tails" were both 50:50.
  • You then converted each probability into a price, ie 50% = (1/50%) = $2.00.
  • You then considered that the odds on offer for "heads" was under the probability of winning, ie $1.80 is less than $2.00.
  • You then considered that the odds on offer for "tails" was over the probability of winning - great value ie $2.20 is better than $2.00.
  • You then considered that the "tails" bet was an overlay at 1.1x ($2.20/$2.00).
You have just passed the first level of understanding overlays. Underlays are just the opposite, for example "tails" is a bad overlay but a good underlay. Underlays are used for laying.

How do we work out our Market Prices?

Firstly you need to note that we provide market prices not ratings. Ratings are very different to prices. Ratings do not show you the probability of the horse's chance of winning, prices do. For example a 100 points rater, does not indicate its chances of winning, however, a $2.00 priced horse has a predicted 50% chance of winning. Our prices are based on our strike rate over many years of data. We check things like a horse's speed, class, jockey, trainer, running position, barrier, weight, track performance, distance performance, going performance, tenacity, strike rate, risk and so on. So a horse we price at $2.00 means exactly that, 50% of all horses won in our database under the same scenario. Historically speaking, we are 100% accurate, but in reality there will be an error.

This is an important factor to remember:- Even if we were 100% accurate, our prices are the minimum prices to accept just to break even. So betting on a $2.80 horse that we rate $2.80 is ludicrous. This is because even if we were 100% accurate, you'd only break even. Also or prices include the bookie margin to reflect what to expect with TAB's and Bookies. Therefore the bare minimum overlay level would need to be 1.2x, just to break even. Betting on our top raters that are underlays is no different than the misguided public taking "heads" in our coin tossing analogy - they can only lose in the long run.

What's one approach you can adopt?

Following on with the analogy, we provide steps 1 & 2 by working out the chances a horse has to win and then the prices. Your role is to complete the remaining steps 3-5. You need to look for odds greater than our market estimates for the same reason why you would take "tails" in our analogy above, we provide the probability of a horse winning, you look for where the value is. That can be with the bookies or any of the TABs around the country. With TABs though, you need to bet near jump time to ensure that the same overlay will occur at jump time. There are also great services on the web that offer the best price from all 3 TAB services. Check your jurisdiction though as some offshore betting may be illegal.

The basic rules

  • Discipline and patience is virtue. If you are the type that needs to bet every race then this approach will not work. If you are the type that changes his/her betting plan to suit the mood, this approach will not work. You must remain diligent to your plan and be prepared to wait for the opportunities to arise.
  • Determine the overlay value to run and stick with. The actual correct way to work it out is as follows.
    For example, a 1.5x overlay on our rating of $4.00 would $6.00
  • Determine what quality racing you want to follow. We recommend for starters to follow Metropolitan Saturday racing. By definition, these races are on Saturdays only and at city tracks. You can find these races by a code. The (M7) on the top line of the Easy Form shows you this is a Metro Saturday race. You really need to be able to master city racing first before attempting lower grade tracks.
  • Determine the horses you want to follow ie TOP 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 or 6. We recommend either the TOP 1 (top selection only) or all TOP 4 selections, but the final approach needs to be determined by you (we can not make too many recommendations because we can't have all members following the same plan).
  • It may also be profitable to follow profitable tracks and avoid low-performance tracks. Please check here for past performance results. These tables also include the rules, exclude Heavy tracks, Insufficient Form Races and Races with Race data 5 or less.
  • Have the right mindset. You are no longer the market follower but the market leader - the "sheep" at the track are waiting for your move!

Helpful Hints

  • If you are at the track, it is better not to wait for betting fluctuations to determine what the professionals are betting on. Our market prices in conjunction with our Confidence Factor ratings provides you with the best information at hand, and it's your move that the followers at the track are waiting for! If you plan to bet the top horses in the market, and our Confidence Factor is high and the overlays are there, take the bookie overlay whilst you can, the odds typically come in as a result of your bet along with the other professionals. This will become more evident as you use the system, especially at the track.
  • If you are in the habit of reading or listening to media tips - we suggest you avoid them. The tipsters confidence will cloud your decision. Even worse, you might miss an overlay bet and bet on a losing tipsters tip! We have looked at many main stream tipsters best bets and they should be called "Best strike rate - Worst Profit". Think about it, there is always going to be too much public money on these horses and the returns are just going to be poor. Bookies know that people will want to bet on them at lower odds, so they are more than likely going to try to give the lowest odds possible. If you have the discipline, access the media to gain a further advantage. Look for tipsters information that affect the market and may justify why the weight of money is on a particular horse. This is what you want to find, weighted money on one horse which opens up overlays on others. Start by checking the 2KY tips, Late Mail and Skychannel, these three tipping sources that guide most of the market. The other horses will increase in value and you should be well informed to wotk out what is value and what is not. An alternative is to avoid the race or if you are more aggressive, lay the horse - the probability is on your side to make a profit if you can get similar TAB odds. Some of our internal laying strategies rely on how many public tipsters pick a horse, the more the better!
  • If a horse is under our market, then look on. This follows our bet for investment philosophy. Sometimes however, it is hard to pass or bet against the top-rater, especially a very popular one. So use your own discretion, especially if you bet for pleasure, but make sure it does follow some objective rules. For example, take unders only if it is a distance star (+++) and has a jockey rating less than 10 (this is an adhoc example only).
  • Don't spend time on analysing raw form - we have done this hard work for you. Maximise your efforts in checking barrier trials, horse fitness, last start video runs, debut horses etc. This may allow you to eliminate some of your bets. If you need to set up a form filter, we suggest that you use the Easy Form data. This information is not subjective, so you can be assured that the information has no bias and consistent each week.
  • Start thinking that all horse's have a chance of winning. Each horse's chance of winning can be expressed in terms of odds. Our odds statistically indicate these chances. A $2.00 horse has a 50% chance of winning. A $4.00 horse has a 25% chance of winning and a 75% chance of losing. Once again we have not included the TAB margin in these examples. Don't despair if your overlay bet doesn't win in one race - this is a numbers game - long term you should win. We are openly showing you that our $4.00 pick will only win 1 in every 4 races or cynically lose 3 in every 4 races - think like this and it will be easier to understand why an overlay is so important and not every horse will win.
  • Be careful with place betting and exotic betting. You must try to achieve overlays with these as well. These days, TAB's and Betting Exchange/s offer fixed place betting, so do some bookies. Look for the overlays! With Exotic punting, it is a lot harder, but we provide links to follow overlays on quinellas and exactas (but these are not fixed odds so be careful of the market fluctuations). You will find that our top 5 selections will win a lot of trifectas. However, you will lose long term boxing the top 5. One alternative is to use the Exacta combinations we list and box the remaining of the Top 5 for 3rd. This has not been tested it is only an example. The secret to most exotic punting is limiting your combinations and surviving on low strike rate high returns.
  • For the casual punter who does not want to consider overlays etc but wants to dabble in the exotics market, we suggest standing out the top 2 selections for first and selections 3 & 4 for second on a quinella card. For example, 1/2, 3/4 for $4 (1 unit). For trifectas, consider two cards, 1, 2/3, 2/3/4/5 for $6 (1 unit) and 2/3, 1, 2/3/4/5 for $6 (1 unit) for races with 7-12 starters.
  • If our framed market for a horse is well under the bookie or TAB odds and the horse starts to shorten quickly in the market, it may represent a "good thing". The place market is a good indicator of this in the TAB market. Once again, if the win market shortens quickly and the place pool lags behind considerably, we have found that the horse is well in the betting.
  • Exotics without favourites pay extremely well. So if we consider a short-priced favourite to be a great underlay (Lay) - why not take a quinella without this favourite? If you can ride the losses, a big one awaits!
  • Comparing the tips of other main-stream services is a good option. However, the market price usually reflects this widely known position and typically offers poor value. Sometimes tipsters tips run at good overlays and these are definitely worth taking, but you might have a hard time trying to find double or higher overlays so stick with something that's realistic like 1.5x. Many of our existing subscribers also use their own final selection process with excellent success. At the least, you will be more comfortable with your bet if you know we have also rated your selection a good chance.
  • Use Easy Form to create your own filters. Your additional effort should make it more rewarding for you when a horse wins. Some things to look for are front runners at leaders tracks. Very light horses or simple combinations such as betting on the top tip that is also the top class and lowest risk etc.
  • Another helpful approach is to set an upper limit on the HRT price you will consider a horse at. This ensures that you maintain a good win strike rate. For example, you may decide to only bet on horses that we frame at $2.50 or less but are still considered an overlay.