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Recently at Winform we investigated a phenomenon that resulted in the average price of favourites in the last race of the day being higher than for previous races. Why is it so? Is it because of the need for punters to "get out" on the last race of the day?

We asked Sydney rails bookmaker Bill Murphy, whether or not this could be true, or is it simply one of those urban fables associated with Racing. Bill Murphy confirmed that while he hadn't actually thought about it, he did on reflection agree that there was certainly more betting action and that bets were across the board. This certainly frees up markets more than in early races where bookmakers have difficulty laying (accepting bets) on all runners. There is also the possibility that by that time of the day, the drinkers have lost some of the inhibitions and will bet bigger.

Next we deferred to Dennis Walker of The Rating Bureau. Dennis is probably Australia's foremost racing analyst and also the most knowledgeable of all Australia's racing statisticians. Dennis's answer was that perhaps it wasn't the fact that it was the last race of the day. It was perhaps because of the fact that race clubs tended to put the biggest field of the day towards the end in an effort to build turnover and keep the crowds there. Dennis searched his extensive Neddybank database and found that as the races went on the average field size increased. Also it was noted that the class of the runners involved increased.

At Winform we found two things. Firstly, we found more winners in the early races and secondly, the average dividend of the winners was less at the beginning of the day than at the end. This proves a point. One of Racing's myths is that you should leave alone maidens, races for 2yolds and 3yolds yet these races figure prominently in any early race program.

To put it into perspective, we found that the average winning dividend in Race One was $4.41 but by Race 8 the average dividend had increased to over $6. The dividend increased by 36% but the strike rate had declined by 21%. The bottom line is that our take out figure had improved for late races by 37% so we guess that informed knowledge beats the "get out" brigade everytime.

Perhaps punters needn't hurry to be first in the gates after all. Instead, spend your time looking at the form for later races and improve your strike rate. In the end you will be walking home a winner.

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