There is one question I have always wanted to know the answer to and it is one which I watch every weekend and especially around the time of the Cheltenham Festival.
If there are six horses in a race, how do the bookies know which one should be the favourite and how do they all agree.
The simple answer is that whilst the bookies cannot see into the future, they do have very detailed pictures of the past. They will know the last time each horse raced on a soft track, how many jumps each horse has faced in the last month. They will know how they have compared to each other of the course of the last year and they will have been tracking their form.
Every bookie will belong to a gambling house or company and these will employ teams and teams of people, who are just assessing the statistical outcomes of all previous races. They will know the horses inside and out. They will know how the temperature affects the comfort of the horse. They will be able highly-accurately predict how a horse will run on soft ground compared to good-to-soft ground. They will even know if having weight affects each horse differently in the race.
They will have studied the recent form and weights of the jockeys. They will know the ins and outs of the jockey’s contracts and know the impact that these factors will have on the outcome of the race.
All of these factors will be assessed individually and then summarised into one simple looking set of odds. A 1/2 favourite will have nearly everything going in its favour, but any horse which is over 100/1 will have very little going for it.
It never ceases to amaze me, as to how close the bookies all seem to get their odds. They will have different calculations, different factors in the equations and yet, somehow, they will all predict the same winner and have somewhere near the same odds for that winner.
If they were routinely wrong, it would be brilliant. You could go to Cheltenham, having studied the latest and most up-to-date Cheltenham Festival betting odds and know you were going to have a winner.
Instead, reading a guide is not a luxury, if you want a competitive advantage over the bookies. In fact reading and knowing the guide is one of the few essentials to any day at the races. The little nuggets of information are always going to be the difference between hoping that a bet might come home and expecting to see your horse right at the front of the pack.
If taking a mere ten minutes out of your day seems like to much to do, then you really should stick to picking your horses by their names. Choose one which is funny, you have just as much luck with funny names as you do with trying to predict the form of the horse, without any form guide.