handicap horse racing

How does Handicap horse racing work?

In Handicap horse racing, the better horses are given a disadvantage. Conversely, the worse horses are given an advantage. This is done by making the horses carry different weights. A handicapper decides the weight (this weight is known as the impost) each horse should carry. The total weight of the jockey, saddle, and weights (lead) will equal the impost. The weights are carried in lead pads (saddle pads). In Great Britain, there is a central system, operated by the BHA who assign weights. Weights can change (e.g. be increased if a horse wins a race). The most famous handicap race in the world is of course the Grand National. Another example is Australia’s Melbourne Cup.

So, if the horses have been handicapped, how do you go about picking a winner?

  • You could look at the horses form (e.g. past performances, giving more weight to recent performances).
  • You could look at the ability of the jockey.
  • Also look at the condition of the ground. If it has been raining recently, the ground may be soft. If there has been a lot of sunny/dry weather the ground may be hard. How do the horses in the race perform under the expected condition of the ground?
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national hunt racing

What is National Hunt Racing?

In National Hunt Racing, there are obstacles* on the course (as opposed to Flat racing, where there are not). The two most iconic and well-known horse races of any kind held in Great Britain, the Grand National and the Grade 1 Cheltenham Gold Cup, are National Hunt races.

  • The majority of the National Hunt races in Great Britain take place in the winter months, rather than summer. There is a good reason for this, as the race courses should be softer in winter (as of course there should be more rain). As horses have to jump obstacles, this makes it a lot less dangerous than in the summer months.
  • National Hunt racing can take the form of either hurdles or steeplechases.
  • In hurdles races the obstacles the horses must jump are hurdles. There will be a minimum of eight hurdles in any race. These hurdles have a minimum height of three and a half feet. The races are between two to three and a half miles.
    • A well known example of a National Hunt hurdles race is the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle, which is a Grade 1 race – this race is the first race on the first day of the Cheltenham Festival.
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Grand National facts

What is Flat Racing?

In Flat Racing horses with the best speed or best stamina (or both of these) have the advantage, depending on the distance of each race. Jockeys also play a major part as they have to be able to get their horse to do the right thing (e.g. ‘ask’ them to go faster or slower). Thoroughbreds are the most common form of horse breed you will see in this form of racing. Natural grass race courses (also referred to as turf) are the most common. You will see some races run on synthetic or all-weather tracks (especially for flat races run in winter). Flat Racing generally takes places over shorter distances than National Hunt racing, and there are no obstacles in Flat Racing (as the name suggests).

Flat Racing (in Great Britain, at least) takes the form of (1) Conditions races, or (2) Handicaps.

  • In a Conditions race, horses carry weights. Females carry less weights than males. Older horses carry less weights than younger horses. Less successful horses carry less weights than more successful horses. Conditions races are not handicap races – as the weights are allocated according to the predetermined conditions of the race (not by an handicapper).
  • The most prestigious of the Condition races are the Pattern races (which are usually called Group races).
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horse racing explained

Horse Racing Explained

There are 2 popular types of horse racing that take place in Great Britain: these are Flat Racing, and National Hunt Racing. In this ‘Horse Racing Explained‘ article, we explain the difference between these two types of the sport. We also explain what exactly a furlong is (a common term you will hear in relation to the length of horse races).

  • Flat Racing – run on courses where there are no obstacles present (i.e. it is flat). Distances for Flat Racing are between 5 furlongs 2 miles to 2 miles 5 furlongs 159 yards. Some of the best examples of flat races are the Royal Ascot festival, and the five races known as the British Classics – 1,000 Guineas (Newmarket), 2,000 Guineas (Newmarket), The Oaks (Epsom Downs), The Derby (Epsom Downs), and St.Leger (Doncaster).
  • National Hunt Racing – run on courses with obstacles, taking the form of a Hurdles race or a Steeplechase race. They are generally run over longer distances (2 miles to 4 and a half miles) than the Flat Racing mentioned above. The best examples of National Hunt Racing are the Grand National (Aintree) and the Cheltenham Festival.
    • Please note slightly confusingly, there are also National Hunt Flat Races (also known as Bumpers) – which are run under National Hunt rules, but there are no obstacles on the course (13 – 20 furlongs are common distances for these races).
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starting price

Is it preferable to take the Starting Price?

When you place a bet on a horse race, instead of taking the fixed odds price on offer you might be able to place a bet at an unspecified Starting Price. Sometimes for future races, which haven’t been priced up by your selected bookmaker, you can only place a bet at the Starting Price (SP).

When you place a bet at the SP, you do not know in advance what odds you are getting! So, why on earth would you want to take this option? Odds on horses can fluctuate, in the build up to the race. When the race start time comes closer, it is clearer what the conditions will be like (e.g. is the ground heavy or soft, will it be raining or really hot at the time of the race), if any other horses have withdrawn, and if the horse has any issues etc. Odds can thus fluctuate for many reasons, including the amount being bet on a horse. So, with lots of money coming in, the price is likely to go down and vice-versa. In the UK, a panel decides the starting price (it should be the same regardless of which bookmaker you use), based on how they view the fluctuations of prices.… Read the rest

wisdom of the crowd

How does Wisdom of the Crowd affect odds?

  • Wisdom of the Crowd refers to the phenomenon that a large number of individuals in a group, will usually be able to make better decisions than any individual in that group.
  • For example, at a funfair say their was a big jar with an unknown amount of marbles. People were asked to guess the number of marbles (with the closest getting a prize). If you took all the guesses and averaged them (provided there was a sufficient number of people in the group) it would usually come close to the actual number of marbles in the jar. Obviously, the more people who participated the closer to the actual number you would get.
  • This happens, because individual noise is filtered out.
  • In the case of betting odds, Wisdom of the Crowd also has an effect as bookmakers are forced to lower prices getting a lot of betting action (and increase prices not getting a lot). So, highly backed outcomes get their prices lowered, and less well back outcomes get their prices increased.
  • However, for Wisdom of the Crowd to work people have to be making rational and independent decisions. In the case, of marbles in the jar at the funfair this may be the case.
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forecasts tricasts reverse forecasts reverse tricasts

What are Forecasts, Tricasts, Reverse Forecasts, and Reverse Tricasts?

Forecasts, Tricasts, Reverse Forecasts, Reverse Tricasts – these bets involve picking horses that will finish in the top two or three positions, in a single horse race. These bets can be useful if the favourite (the horse usually most likely to finish 1st) has a low price. The winnings are usually worked out using the starting prices of the horses, using computer software.

  • Forecasts (Straight)
    • In horse racing betting, if you would like to predict which horse will win, and which will will be the runner-up (i.e. finish second), you can place a Forecast (known as Exacta or Perfecta in the USA).
    • If you place a Forecast, if you get the winner right your profit AND original stake is used as the new stake for the runner-up. If you get the runner-up right as well, you will get a return.
  • Tricasts (Straight)
    • If you would like to predict which horses will finish 1st, 2nd, and 3rd (naming the horses that will finish in each position), you can place a Tricast ((known as Trifecta in the USA).
    • Again, the winnings on the 1st horse (including stake), is used as the new stake on the 2nd horse, and the winnings on the 2nd horse (including stake) is used as the new stake on the 3rd horse.
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mitigating accumulator overround disaster

Mitigating accumulator overround disaster

Accumulators allow you to combine multiple bets, and potentially win big when all your selections win. Accumulators may seem great news to casual gut instinct bettors. After all, they offer the chance to win a lot of money for a small amount gambled. However, for the value bettor who is looking to potentially make a long term profit from betting, accumulators pose a great problem! We have already discussed the notion of overround Рbookmakers will want to build in a profit margin on the markets they offer. However, when overrounds are multiplied it can be a big problem for the bettor! Hence, we are posting this Mitigating accumulator overround disaster article.

Let’s say you place a double (2 selection accumulator), with both bets having an overround of 12%. To calculate the combined overround:

[(1.12 x 1.12) multiplied by 100] minus 100 = 25.44% overround

Bookmakers would love you to place this accumulator, rather than 2 single bets. As an accumulator the total overround is more than double the individual overrounds.

Let’s say you place a 4 selection¬†accumulator, and all four bets have a 12% overround. To calculate the combined overround:

[(1.12 x 1.12 x 1.12 x 1.12) multiplied by 100] minus 100 = 57.35% overround

As an accumulator the total overround is a lot more than quadruple the individual overrounds.… Read the rest