HomeRacing irishDo outsiders in horse races ever win?

Do outsiders in horse races ever win?

There is no doubt about how popular horse racing continues to be in many countries. It is evident by the number of people who bet on Irish racing or that follow UK horse racing.

Of course, Irish and UK racing is now at a halt thanks to the coronavirus pandemic, but this does not mean there is no racing to enjoy globally. Betting on Preakness Stakes in the USA is still allowed as racing is carrying on there – this is a similar picture to places like Australia where horse racing has been allowed to continue for Aussie fans.


One question that many people have when betting on horses is just how often do the underdogs win? After all, they are the horses with bigger odds and which bring greater returns when they are successful. If you could work out how often they win, it might be possible to formulate a winning strategy around this information. That could come in very handy when betting online at future events such as, for example, the Galway Races 2020.


Underdogs win more often than you think 


To answer this question correctly, you first have to look at how often favorites win in horse racing. While getting a definitive figure for all types of racing and conditions is difficult, the generally accepted winning rate for favorites is around 35%. If you take the underdog to mean any other horse in the betting that isn’t the favorite, this means they win about 65% of the time. Of course, things are not quite as simple as that, unfortunately! 


As everyone in racing knows, there are underdogs, and then there are real underdogs. The chances of a 100/1 shot winning, for example, are pretty slim – they simply do not win many races. Most of the 65% of horses that win that aren’t favorites usually come from the first five or six in the forecast. The trick, however, is being able to look through the card and see which of those not favored heavily may have enough to clinch victory.


But what type of information should you consider? 




Form is a significant factor when looking at underdogs on a card. Information on a horse’s form is readily available online, so it is a no-brainer to look into this. It is generally best to study the last few races to give an overall indication of form and whether they can repeat a previous win or build on confidence from recent place finishes. If the underdog you are looking at has fallen or has been unplaced in its last five starts, then it might be wise to ignore it.


Class of race 


Each race will be in a specific class, with Class 1 being the best. It is worth bearing in mind which class of race the underdog you are looking at is running in before betting. The horse, for example, might have poorly performed in higher class races recently, which explains its current underdog status. If the race you are looking at is at a lower class where it has performed well before, that is a good sign. In simple terms, it might well win this race due to running against more inferior horses than before. 


Jockey/trainer/horse combo


Some jockeys just gel with particular trainers while some horses perform well for certain jockeys. This can be the sort of thing which other punters miss, hence why a horse may be lower in the betting than they should be. Check online stats to see if the horse has done well with today’s jockey before – even if they have done badly with other jockeys in the past few races. It is also worth seeing if the horse’s trainer has a winning relationship with the jockey in question. These things often follow repeating patterns and are worth knowing about.


Course and distance 


Horses can be creatures of habit, and this can be a secret weapon when looking for horses to win that are further down in the betting. If an underdog horse seems to always run well at one particular course, you might want to bear that in mind. Horses also get used to running certain distances and tend to be better at some than others. Have a look at the distance of the race in question and see how well your horse usually does over that. If you have an underdog that has won before at that course and distance, you could be onto something. 


Underdogs can and do win 


As noted above, horse racing favorites only win 35% of the time. That leaves the majority of races being won by those lower down in the betting. While backing rank outsiders to win is not usually advised, finding good value underdogs to win can pay off. The critical thing is to do your research first and find a good selection benchmark to identify the underdogs worth backing.


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