Malcolm's Value Method
This page describes how I decide on which horses I back.
Note that this article is based upon the principle of Value Betting, or Betting with an Edge. If you are unsure of what Value Betting is then please first read this discussion on Value Betting.
There is nothing missing from here. Everything that you need to know to replicate what I back is given all, one one needs each day is the Daily CSV file from the Members' Area and, of course, the current prices available.
This shows how I select my main selections. There are times when I manually cherry-pick horses but these form only a small part of my betting strategy whereas this value betting approach constitutes about 95% of my selections each day.
The whole crux of this method is based simply upon getting value. The other requirements are there to reduce the number of selections, to improve the strike rate and to decrease the drawdown. These other requirements, as you will read, are optional but everything that I do is disclosed here.
If the explanatory text after the rules seems too much, then just simply follow the rules below verbatim, and that will be sufficient.
- - The price available has to be at least as good as the Value Price
- - No National Hunt Flat
- - Either top rated, or has a Probability of at least 13.8%
- - Within 10lbs of the top rated
- - At least five runners
- - Non-zero 1 Year Class Differential
- - Either top rated, or rated last race within the top eight
All Weather Racing
- - The price available has to be at least as good as the Value Price
- - Within 7lbs of the top rated
- - Positive 1 Year Class Differential
- - Either top rated, or rated last race within the top five
- - Handicap only
Explanation - Turf & All Weather
These have, after much deliberation here, been split into two categories. I had hoped to find a unifying system for both the turf and the all-weather but, after a long period of analysis, I decided that the all-weather filters needed to be that little bit tighter than those for the turf.
This is the one rule that is absolutely non-negotiable.
If the price of the horse doesn't exceed the value rating listed in either the PDF or in the CSV file then it's not to be backed.
In the PDF file the value price is at the far right hand side of the data, in the second to last column. The data is given as fractional odds, such as 13/2.
In the CSV file the fractional odds are given in column AV. However, in column AW the odds are given as a probability value (i.e. between zero and 1.0).
If one wishes to convert the probability into decimal odds then all one does is to invert the probability which is just another way of saying divide that figure into 1. For example, a horse with a probability of 0.25 is 4.0 in decimal odds (this is done by dividing 1 by 0.25), which is the same as 3/1 in fractional odds.
This a mandatory rule for both the Turf and the All-Weather racing. In fact, it's a mandatory rule for any selection that I make, even the manual cherry-picks.
If I can't get the value price, then I am not on it.
Turf: Optional Rules
All of these rules below are optional. Feel free to remove any of them and, equally, feel free to modify any that you wish.
These are the rules that I have implemented and am sticking to. Your view on some of these may vary and you may decide to discard any or all of these, or change them to suit yourself.
The reason why we have these rules is to reduce the number of selections. Yes, just backing the value horses should be enough in itself but there is a balance to be made between backing all of the value priced horses and suffering the inevitable drawdown from backing everything.
So some form of middle ground has to be found in which a level of profitability is maintained and in which the drawdown isn't too horrendous.
The permutations are endless when it comes to these filters and one has to settle on something. These are what I have decided upon.
No National Hunt Flat
This should be rather self-explanatory about its exclusion from my selections. Quite simply, for the most part, it's awful racing with little or no form and I prefer to avoid it. Your view may differ to mine and, if so, you may wish to include National Hunt Flat races in your selections.
I have, quite simply, chosen not to.
Now there are other races that you may wish to avoid. Some people have a natural aversion to, for example, Hunter Chases but as I find that these are, perhaps surprisingly, profitable I am still backing horses in Hunter Chases: even the maiden hunter chases!
This figure for the Value Of Probability (or VOP) has been chosen here because it's just on the inside of 14%.
This percentage of 13.8% was chosen because I wanted a higher strike rate than previous years when I went for 10% as a minimum price, and I was willing to sacrifice a number of value winners to maintain a good strike rate.
I know of people who have chosen 9% as their minimum figure and some have even gone down to 7% as the minimum price. The lower the VOP the greater number of selections one will have, the lower the strike rate but this will be off-set by the number of larger priced winners.
I have chosen 13.8% for my minumum VOP and, in time, I may run a second betting account with a lower VOP. The figure you choose here is up to you.
The top-rated 'get-out' clause needs some explanation. Sometimes in a race with lots of runners, even the top rated horse may not have a VOP high enough to qualify and I have decided that no matter what the VOP is for the top rated it could be selected.
The County Hurdle at Cheltenham, in 2018, is a case in point. The top rated won at a fantastic price even though its VOP was low (but, of course, still the highest in the race). Again, you may choose to not allow top rated horses a 'bye' from this clause and you may decide on a different minimum VOP.
I have, as I have said, chosen 13.8%. You may choose different.
Note that this applies to both the turf racing and the all-weather racing for me.
Within 10lbs of the Top Rated
This is somewhat similar to the above VOP requirement in that I have chosen to look at horses that are rated within 10lbs of the top rated horse.
This tightens up the selections a little, but some of you may decide to drop this requirement altogether or to keep this one and drop the VOP requirement. Of course this value could easily be changed to 15lbs or up to 7lbs behind the top rated.
This can be found on the PDF files by looking at the Rating value and then looking down the list until we see a horse whose rating figure is more than twelve pounds behind the top rated's Rating. Alternatively, in the CSV file column OK has this information.
Number of Runners
This is a personal choice. I don't like backing anything in races with fewer than five runners.
You may feel the same or you may feel that you prefer races with a different minimum set of runners. I've simply said that I don't want to consider anything in races with fewer than five entrants.
Non-zero 1 Year Class Differentials
This is something that I have found that really has a positive impact on the drawdown, the strike rate and the profit.
I have experimented with having to have a positive one-year class differential and that was good, but I was missing out on a good number of winners and, as always, it's a juggle between over-filtered and not having enough filters.
I also experimented with having non-zero 1 year class differentials that weren't lower than -5.0, but that was getting a little over-filtered for my liking. So, in the end I went for non-zero 1 year class differential figures.
What does this actually mean? Well, it simply means that this horse has run in this race type in the past year and, therefore, should know what it's doing.
If this filter is excluded then the profit will increase but so will the drawdown and the balance, to me, is in favour of this filter.
In the PDF file the value can be seen in column 'dd' under the main ratings block and in the CSV file the column you will want is FY.
Last Rated Within The Top Eight
It's been commented on, time and time again, that horses which win with good prices have been well rated, either this time, or the last time.
Sometimes it could be said that it appears that the ratings get the selection "one race early" and after some research we found that there's something in this.
Anyway, to cut a long story short, I decided that this was a good filter to exclude all horses which were rated ninth, or lower, in the horse's previous set of ratings. This does seem to cut down the drawdown at, yes, some winners.
Again, if you feel that this is one filter too many, or it could be slackened or tightened then this is up to you.
The exception to this rule for me is that if the horse running today is top-rated then we needn't look into its past; it's a top rated horse after all and I am keeping it in.
This information isn't available within the PDF document but is available within the CSV file in column OJ.
All Weather: Optional Rules
All of the below are optional rules. I have to make it known that over the last couple of years I have fallen out with the all-weather racing and I have found it hard to maintain an interest in it.
However, with an awful lot of research I found that the only way that I could maintain an interest in this aspect of the sport was to tighten the filters a little. This is why my filters for the all-weather are mostly similar to the turf with one or two exceptions.
Again, these are the optional filters and nothing here need be set in stone and this is an explanation of my filters. You may choose different filters to these, not to use these filters, to tighten or even slacken them. It's up to you, but these are mine.
For some reason I didn't explore the number of runners required so I let races with fewer than five runners go through. Perhaps I shouldn't have but as I don't have this restriction I think that it's right for me to tell you about this excluded filter. Of course, it's up to you whether you wish to use this filter or not.
The same criteria applies to the all-weather racing as it does the turf racing, so no further explanation is needed here.
Within 7lbs of the Top Rated
This is somewhat similar to the above turf racing filter but slightly screwed down that little more, so that I am only looking at selections within seven pounds of the top rated horse.
Positive 1 Year Class Differentials
A slightly stricter version of this filter compared to the turf counterpart. There I permit myself to allow horses with negative or positive (but not zero) one year class differentials. Here, for the all-weather, this one year differential has to be greater than zero. Negative values and zeroes are not permitted for me.
Last Rated Within The Top Five
Again, another tightening of the filters. Either the horse this time has to be top-rated, or last time it had to be rated within the top-five of that race. And, as ever, feel free to change this if you wish.
This is the only time that I take a note of whether a race is a handicap or a stakes race.
Frankly, I find that I am all over the place with the stakes (non-handicap) racing on the all-weather. My figures show that with all of the above filters in place on the sand there is this one filter left that really needs to be implemented.
The non-handicaps return poorly, the handicaps is where all my profits with the above filters over the years lie. So, quite simply, with this method I will never back a non-handicap all-weather runner.
This is, in fact, such a strong filter that it could well be mandatory, but I will leave what you do up to you.
Last Price Filter
There is one final filter: even though we always back value horses, I never bother with anything that's available under 9/2.
If the value price of a horse is, for example, 4.0 (i.e. 3/1) then I will put an order in on the exchanges for 5.5
I know of some who have their own methods similar to mine, but looser, and have decided that a minimum price of 10/1 is right for them. So, you may decide to have a minimum price requirement and set to a different value to mine. Again, it's up to you.
Most days there are a few of us who post our selections up on the forum for other members to read and follow, if they wish.
Mine, as you will have read above, are based upon the minimum VOP of 13.8%. Others who post may have chosen a different VOP value of, say, 9% or 7%. Or they may have decided to slacken other filters or demand that the minimum price has to be the tissue price and has to be at least 10/1 rather than my choice of 9/2.
Each are profitable and will they will return a different profit and, of course, will require a different number of selections.
But the point is this: the selections are posted by a number of us each day to share and a good number of members just simply wait for these to appear and to follow these selections without having to trawl through each race's prices in turn to see which horse is value.
So, if what I have written does sound interesting but the hard slog of going through each of the races in turn sounds too much, and I can appreciate it if it does: then just pop onto the forum on the morning of the racing.
And this is basically what I do each day. Of course what I back will be different to what you back depending on the prices available.
I try to get on with the exchanges early on but if I think that the price may drift out I have now learned to take half now and the other half at Betfair SP. I learned this lesson when a horse I was going to back was over 100/1 on the exchanges and I thought that it would drift out further. But, no, others had the same idea and it won at something around 20/1.
As I have said in this wall of text this is what I do day in and day out. I sometimes cherry pick on the quieter days and, even then, I make sure that I always get a value price.
I hope that this helps.
If you have any questions then please contact me via email or on the forum.