Handicap Racing Secrets

By Martin Blakey

In previous articles I have been guiding you through how to spot well-handicapped horses using many different aspects of form reading and handicapping. This month I want to draw your attention to those short priced favourites that need to be avoided from a betting point of view. This then allows us 2 options.

The first option? The betting exchanges afford us the opportunity to know oppose these badly handicapped favourites – LAY them

The second option? Simply put, we can avoid the short priced favourite and look at bigger priced alternatives to BACK.

Day in, day out, I see horses at short prices that have won last time out in a handicap, and are then being asked to improve again and win off a much higher handicap mark than they have ever won off before. I never touch this type of horse as they are always bad value, and not very many horses are capable of running up a winning sequence in handicaps, especially in the lower grade races.

The following examples will guide you through how to eliminate these bad value favourites. You can then use this information to eliminate them from your calculations, or of course lay them to lose on the betting exchanges.

EXAMPLE 1. (If you would like to follow this example, please take a look here http://www.racingpost.com/horses/horse_home.sd?hors e_id=709932

Friday March 5th.

Lingfield 4.45. KERSIVAY. 9-4 fav (unplaced)

In this race, Kersivay was sent off as 9-4 favourite based on the evidence of its win two days earlier at Kempton, a race in which it ran off a handicap mark of 69. This was the horse’s first handicap win in 19 races on the flat, and after that win the horse was raised 6lb to a mark of 75. (By going to the above web address, you will note the OR column-this signifies the official rating, referred to here as the “handicap mark”)

A good rule of thumb guide is that 1lb is equal to 1 length in horse racing terms, so if we equate that to the 6lb penalty that “Kersivay” was given for winning last time, this means that the horse will need to improve another 6 lengths in order to win again. Bearing in mind that the horse only just held on by the skin of his teeth to win at Kempton ( if you use the above link, you will see that on the 3rd March Kersivay won by a nk – a neck), it was a big ask for him to carry a 6lb penalty and win again. In the event, “Kersivay” was not up to the task and trailed in 7th and well beaten.

The race was actually won by Sapphire Prince who was running off a mark 8lb below its last winning mark, so very well in by comparison to the favourite.

EXAMPLE 2. If you would like to follow this example, please go here http://www.racingpost.com/horses/horse_home.sd?hors e_id=671786

Friday March 5th.

Lingfield 1.20. KIPCHAK. 13-8 Fav. (unplaced)

Again, a very short priced favourite in this race that had won last time out, and as a result had been raised 6lb in the handicap. Kipchak had run in 35 flat races, and had won four handicaps but never off a mark higher than 69. It was now running off a mark of 75 so needed to show an awful lot of improvement to win again.

So here is a horse being asked to run off a mark way above anything it has achieved in all its previous races, yet it is sent off at 13-8 favourite.

Kipchak was well beaten, trailing home in 6th place, and again proved that you must avoid these horses that are running with a penalty from a serious betting point of view.

I know that laying horses to lose is now very popular since betting exchanges came on the scene and targeting this type of horse will put you on to some false favourites that really are far too short in price for what they are being asked to do.

All this information can be found in the form pages of the Racing Post, and I have covered handicapping and reading form in my previous articles, so you should have no problem identifying these false short priced favourites.