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Andrew Mount’s Myth Busters – Do Beaten Favourites Make Good Bets on Their Next Start?

With plenty of live action on terrestrial TV this week, it is a good time to get ahead of the bookies. Andrew Mount returns to arm you with the best of his betting info by looking into beaten favourites in this week’s Myth Busters column.

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When I first became interested in betting on horse racing in the last 1980s, I remember asking a regular punter in my local betting shop ‘why did that last winner have BF next to his name in the paper?’ ‘Beaten favourite, mate’ was the answer. But why bother pointing this out in print? Is it a significant factor when it comes to assessing a race? Take a quick look at today’s Racing Post (Tuesday, July 9th) and you’ll spot several BFs, including this one in the 5.17 at Pontefract…

Yesterday (Monday, July 8th) there were ten runners in Britain who were beaten when starting as SP favourite (including joint or co-favourites) on their latest start, with five winners for a profit of £9.88 to a £1 level stake at SP but is this a profitable betting strategy over a longer period?

Since the beginning of 2021, there were 24,277 runners in Britain who had the ‘BF’ tag with 4313 scoring (17.8% strike-rate) for a loss of £4,711.34 to a £1 level stake at SP (-19.41% on turnover). The expected number of winners based on their prices was 4381.59 giving an A/E figure (actual over expected) of 0.98.

The easy conclusion to reach is that we should oppose last-time out beaten favourites and maybe even lay them as a group on the exchanges – had we done so on Betfair to £1 stakes we’d have made a profit of £1092.66 (after 2% commission), which is +4.5% on turnover. However, within that group of 24,000-odd runners there might be one or two profitable areas and it’s worth delving a little deeper…

Days since last run

Splitting the runners by DSLR (days since last run) makes interesting reading….

All date ranges make a loss but the WAX (winners against expected) score for the 0-7 days period is positive (2.64), as it is for those off the track for 150 days or longer (17.63). We’d still make a loss by backing the qualifiers blind, but these runners are worth looking at more closely, especially those returning from a break of 150+ days, as the absence after their beaten-favourite efforts suggests a valid excuse probably caused by a physical issue.

First-time cheekpieces

Beaten favourites in first-time cheekpieces had a good strike-rate in the study period…

…and backing only the hurdlers would have returned a healthy profit (+£44.81 to a £1 level stake at SP)…

Jockey Claim LTO

Beaten favourites who were ridden by a jockey claiming a 7lb allowance had a good strike-rate on their next outing…

…we’d have made a loss by backing them at SP but that becomes a profit if using the Tote or Betfair. The Flat runners

(turf and AW) who were ridden by a 7lb claimer again showed a profit at SP…

Class Droppers

I had expected beaten favourites dropping in class to be a good putting angle…

…but those dropping by at least one grade have a negative WAX score and return a loss of 17.25% on turnover.

Horse Sex

Colts who were beaten as favourite on their latest outing have a useful record…

…but still show a loss at SP (+3.0% on turnover at Betfair SP after comm). However, splitting the runners by handicap    or non-handicap races is quite revealing…

…the runners in non-handicaps show a tiny profit at SP and a profit of 18.88% at Betfair SP (after 2% comm).

To summarise

As a general rule beaten favourites don’t make good bets on their next start, though there are some exceptions – colts in non-handicaps, hurdlers in first-time cheekpieces and horses ridden by 7lb claimers on the Flat who were also ridden by a 7lb claimer last time out.

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