One of my key objectives over the coming year is to formulate a one-a-day system, which is easily implemented by the layman, and largely does not rely solely on exhaustive form analysis.

The main resource will, of course, be The Racing Post in our search for perceived weakness that can enable us to get a short priced horse beaten.

There are a number of ways that one-a-day laying can be approached and a number of steps we can take initially to begin to shortlist likely candidates:


It is important with one-a-day laying to concern ourselves with price, because with this type of selection system, the most suitable staking plan will, I suggest, be level stakes – e.g. we look to divide our betting bank by, say 10, or 20 and bet 1/20th as our stake. There is another staking plan, called graduated staking which will enable us to cast the net out to bigger prices

Level stakes laying

If we were to undertake level stakes laying, then it would be wise to narrow our field of choice to horses that are odds on or just over evens. A suggested cut off price for lays can be anything from 2-4 (decimal odds) – the equivalent in fractional “traditional” terms being evens to 3/1.

So the first thing we must do is to go through the racing on Betfair and write down all horses below odds of, say, 4. This will give us an area of focus. Personally, I would include all candidates e.g. from Ireland and the UK. Many a time have I seen a shortie in Ireland lose, be it in a 2 year old maiden race or a long distance hunter chase or typically competitive handicap.

We can now whittle this list down in any number of ways

General analysis

There are a number of different aspects to a single horse that may leave it at a price shorter than it should be or with a perceived vulnerability: an Achilles heel that COULD leave that horse exposed to defeat by one of his rivals. A lot of the new findings in last month’s WRWM can be easily transferable to these short priced qualifiers e.g. draw bias (more pronounced over shorter distances), is the horse a top weight in a handicap (here I will include not just flat races but jumps races too),..

Here are a few more key areas we can factor in if we want to do a fuller analysis. Remember I made the distinction between flat and jumps racing last time and how we had to approach each code differently? Let’s look now at how we should approach each code as far as short priced one-a-day lays are concerned


Going is a key area of concern over the winter months during the jumps season. Heavy going is prevalent more often than not and any question mark over a horse’s ability to tackle heavy ground is a plus for us, the short-priced layer.

As far as the flat season is concerned, we very rarely face soft conditions, but we will face good to soft ground conditions at times and if a short-priced favourite is running in these new conditions then we must factor that in as a layer.

From a different perspective, any horse coming from the all weather to the turf, or vice versa, may find that transition difficult to cope with, or at least there will be a question mark that we can factor in.


Weight can play an important role in anchoring short-priced favourites especially if they are running over extreme distances e.g. 2 miles 6 furlongs +. I have highlighted it before: if your short-priced favourite is a multiple handicap winner, especially over the jumps, then not only will he find it more difficult to continue winning, but he will also have a higher weight to carry. Top weights in flat handicaps are worth following as a layer – so it follows that if our short-priced favourite is top weight in a handicap, then that is a positive from a laying perspective.


With flat racing, shorter distances favour the layer. More to go wrong in a short space of time. With jumps racing the longer distances, especially if coupled with soggy ground and a burden weight for the short-priced favourite, will stack the chips in our favour.

Class of race

I have mentioned this before and it is equally as applicable to the flat as the jumps. If a horse is rising in class, especially for the first time, he will be encountering probably stronger horses and this is a plus for us.


The term debutants could be used to encapsulate a number of different areas – debutant at the distance, at the weight, on the going, on the all weather, on the turf, or just to racing itself. This latter area is something we can exploit well, with particular reference to short-priced favourites on the flat in maiden races, who are debutants and are priced purely on the reputation of the stable/jockey/trainer. These short-priced favourites become even stronger lays especially if most, if not all, of the other horses in the same race are debutants to racing themselves. The jumps equivalent, I suppose, is National Hunt flat races, known as bumpers.

Field size

This is common sense isn’t it? The bigger the field, the more horses we have running for us, but can we not also argue that a well fancied horse in a small field will have an artificially low price because the opposition is scarcer than if he were in an 18-runner race? I have actually been trialling a backing system which focuses on 5-7 runner fields, and believe me, these short-priced horses do not win to the percentage I would expect given the scarcity of the opposition. So, it is advisable to concentrate on races where there is a short-priced favourite and we have say, 12+ runners running for us. But don’t dismiss small fields, especially if you have noted that the short-priced favourite is, say, changing surface to the all-weather after exclusively being campaigned on the turf, or faces different going etc.

Previous winners

I do like to target multiple handicap winners, and on occasion also target horses who are installed as favourite (within our price limit) perhaps based o the fact they won their last race. It is always advisable to take a look at the circumstances of the last win – was it in the same size field? Were any other horses hampered in running? What about the winning distance? E.g. a neck or short head victory is hardly conclusive evidence of a follow up this time around. Was that win in the same class of race? Did the horse have a favourable draw last time out, which significantly influenced (positively) his chances? I hope you get the idea. Do not take the fact that a horse won last time out as conclusive proof that he will do so again.

Trainer and jockey stats

A cursory glance at the trainer and jockey strike rate at the particular course, not only overall, but also specific to the horse’s age and race type, can help temper confidence in the lay or help us to leave that short-priced favourite alone. A jockey with a 25% strike rate wins 1 in 4 of course. Who’s to say that today’s horse will be that one in four? A jockey with a 7% strike rate is a lot better for the layer.

Other horses

short-priced horses will generally have a price gap to the second favourite. If you are so inclined you may like to take a look at the 2nd/3rd and 4th favourites to see if they pose a realistic threat to our potential lay.

These are just some of the areas you can look at when weighing up whether a potential lay who qualifies by price, will become an actual lay.

Of course the more negatives the better.


•   Blinkers/Headgear: Look out for horses wearing blinkers or any form of paraphernalia for the first time – this could be construed negatively and hence beneficial to the layer.

•   Days since last run: Horses with extreme absences to overcome could be looked at as a little ring rusty. Horses quickly turned out after a fairly long race need to be considered for the “bounce factor” – will a horse running over 3 miles 4 days ago, and running over same today have got over initial exertions?

•   Course: Has a horse run at the course before? We all know about the undulations of Epsom for instance, or the unique aspects of Brighton, or the killer uphill finish at Towcester. Any short-priced favourite unfamiliar with a course can provide us an opportunity to get it beat.

Distance travelled to get to the course: Some people look at distance travelled as a possible pointer to backing a horse. “The trainer wouldn’t have driven all this way for nothing, surely?” This is an argument, as is a long distance in a horsebox and the possibilities of an upset horse on arrival at his destination.

Filly taking on the colts: a potential weakness and an opportunity perhaps for the filly to be “bullied out of it”?

Race types

There are a number of races I have found where taking on a short-priced favourite is a worthy consideration.

Maiden hurdles: Time and again short-priced favourites have failed to deliver in these races. I’m not saying this is a rule carved in stone, but if you have a doubt about a favourite in a maiden hurdle then laying is a distinct possibility. These horses haven’t won before over the hurdles. Look out too for maiden novice hurdles

Hunter chases: Especially in Ireland, I would actually consider laying the ultra short prices.

Novice stakes/claiming stakes: Mostly on the flat, and ESPECIALLY over sprint distances, favourites can be very ropey.

Maidens: As already mentioned, short-priced horses there by reputation or only after a sole encouraging previous outing may be considered good lay material.

Multiple handicap winners: We have probability on our side the longer the winning run continues – the probability that we are edging closer to a loss as the weights go up after each successive victory.

The above is not a short cut at all, and we must be reactive.

How about a shortcut?

The Postdata table in The Racing Post can offer you an at-a-glance facility to looking at a horse’s abilities in a number of categories

As you can see, a basic guide is offered for each horse as regards trainers’ form, going, distance, course, draw, ability and recent form.


In the final analysis, if you are not using a mechanical system, your opinion is what will determine your final selection.

The trick is to wait for an opportunity

Yes I did say one-a-day but, hey, some days the racing is incredibly bad and there are no opportunities. Never try to make a horse fit the criteria by including a few ifs and buts into your analysis. If you are looking to lay short prices then you must wait until the boxes are ticked. You can lay 10/1 shots all day, but then you face the liability issue. The opportunities will certainly come, don’t worry about that:

One-a-day laying relatively bigger prices

This is where the graduated staking can come into play. With this option you can use fixed-liability laying – yes you will control your losses if the horse actually wins its race, and you can include bigger priced horses who, pricewise, do not have as great a chance of winning as the market leader, and further, have more weaknesses in their profile.

Let’s say, for example, you have £100 starting bank. You want to limit losses to 10% of the bank or £10. Let’s see what price you can lay up to get a return. Calculations do not include commission for simplicity sake:

Evens or 2.00: Fixed Liability £10: Potential Return £10

2/1 or 3.00: Fixed Liability £10: Potential Return £5

3/1 or 4.00: Fixed Liability £10: Potential Return £3.33

4/1 or 5.00: Fixed Liability £10: Potential Return £2.5

5/1 or 6.00: Fixed Liability £10: Potential Return £2

It’s easy to calculate. Decide on your fixed liability. To calculate how much you place as a stake to ensure the fixed liability, simply divide that fixed liability by odds -1

In the above example a horse is priced at 5 to lay on Betfair. Our fixed liability is £10.

£10 divided by odds of 5 minus 1 (4) = £2.50.

Increase you fixed liability and you can cast you net further into the higher prices. Increase your liability to £20 and you can lay up to odds of 11 to win £2.

One-a-day laying a bigger prices

The liability issue is a key factor here. A reader has been trialling one system, which is rule based and qualifiers can be as high as 10 in odds. The results have been very encouraging indeed. The system lays to a fixed liability of 35% of the bank. I cannot name it here as I think it was a limited copy system and has been taken off the market.

Resource list

There are one-day lay tipsters as I have highlighted in previous newsletters in the Systems and Tipster Roundup. A new kid on the block is Run by James Jary who wrote his eBook on laying on the exchanges. It was hardly earth shattering information, and was better presented by Kris Jackman’s “How to lay favourites for a living” which I have already covered in previous newsletters. This is by the by. James Jary is now offering a tipping service, which I believe, could be worth following. I was promised a phone conversation with Mr Jary but that is, as yet, not forthcoming. I just get the feeling that he could deliver the goods long term so am striving to get a test for his tipping service .

For an update on other one – a-dayers please check the Systems and Tipsters Round Up.

One WRWM readers – Ray – looks to have developed a highly encouraging one-a-day mechanical system where previous results (it must be noted to starting prices and not actual Betfair prices) have produced profits consistently, and profits are the key. His recent 100% record was punctured by a loser at the weekend, again at very short odds – under 3, so no great liability loss issues. I will have begun beta testing Rays lays by the time you read this and am hopeful for the future with this system.

What Ray shows you too is that there are no real “experts” with eBooks. A degree of common sense and personal application, combined with TAKING ACTION, and you can save your money on these eBooks and develop your own system though paper trading and back testing (although back testing is not really an ideal format for system creation because you can be influenced to change criteria to include more winners – criteria that may not be workable long term)

Ray has a website at which may be worth checking out.

Bottom line

Patience is the key with one-a-day betting. Waiting for the right moment, where we have identified a favourite with an Achilles heel (preferably 2!). Laying shorter prices means that we will not get a bet everyday. For those looking for a literal one-a-day, you will, by necessity, have to look at the higher priced horses and then look to match your staking plan to absorb the huge liabilities – this is where the fixed liability money management will come in.