Is It Worth Betting on the Outsider in a Horse Race?

Are you the type of punter who bets on favourites or outsiders?

Both have strength and weakness.

Each to their own, you might say. If your betting pays, you don’t need to listen to anyone’s opinion but your own. However, if you are losing hand over fist you need to question why. Gambling is about having answers to questions. They will never be one hundred percent correct but if you are betting with your emotions or knee-jerk reactions you will pay a hefty price.

Cold, hard cash.

If you are a favourite backer, you don’t need me to tell you, your win strike better be high. Even if you are a very successful gambler, you will be talking about a return on investment (ROI) of 10 or 20% (if you’re lucky). So many people bet on favourites but, on average, about 30% win. That number should be a sobering thought. It details that you are going to struggle to win without being selective. All gambling should be skill based. If you are betting on luck then you need to go watch TV and go do something less boring instead.

An important part of betting is your stake. There are books written on this subject so a short paragraph can only detail one or two thoughts. However, I would suggest whether you bet odds-on or 100/1 shot, you bet level stake. This may sound crazy but if you don’t you will find you bet less on the bigger priced winners when they are ones that make your season.

Ask my brother who bet £20 at 200/1 and won £4,000.

If you don’t bet on outsiders you don’t have to think about much more than the jolly.

But what are the true odds of a 50/1 horse winning, let’s day, a two-year-old race?

It very much depends on the horse. I’ve seen a number of rags (outsiders) win easily. Clearly, they should never have been such huge odds. It happens from time to time. In general, you don’t need to be a Professor of Mathematics to say most horses priced 50/1 should be double or triple those odds.

I’m sure you have seen a 250/1 shot with the bookmakers priced 999/1 on the exchanges.

I’ve recently concluded a study which shows the price of every winner for a 2yo Flat turf seasons. This gave me an opportunity to review the success or failure of horses at speculative-priced odds.

You would be surprised how few horses win at giant odds.

For example just 46 horse won at odds priced 20/1+. The biggest priced winner being priced 150/1.

Quite startling only 8 horses won at odds bigger than 33/1. This data didn’t include handicaps or plating class.

It shows the likelihood of a horse winning at big odds.

This doesn’t mean to say the horse at shorter starting odds hasn’t been substantially backed. My good friend, Eric Winner, tipped a horse at 100/1 and its starting price (SP) was 12/1. However, this insight leads most punters to think betting on outsiders isn’t a good bet. In fact, most bookmaker’s profit is made from these, often, luckless flutters.

It doesn’t mean you cannot win a fortune for a small bet.

It happens.