Back fitting: Shooting an arrow at a tree and then painting a target around where the arrow lands.

Horse Racing Systems Guide

FlatStats has many resources for fans of horse racing systems. At this site you can read articles on how systems are created, examine the results of existing systems and even create your own systems.

Our comprehensive Racing System Builder feature allows you to extract 'datasets' or small chunks of data from our massive horse racing results database. For example, you can extract datasets for Top Weights in Nurseries, Next Day Runners, or even Grey horses!

Once you have extracted the data you can view a report, which will show you the results of the system. The report is quite comprehensive and can show you where and when your system does best so you can quickly learn how to get the best out of your system.

You will be able to see the results of backing your system during different times of the year, at various courses, or in different types of races etc. You can even see the results of backing your system when the horse is favourite, is dropping in class, or has a female jockey on board!

If you are into laying horses on the betting exchanges you may be interested in the Laying System Builder section. Here you can test laying systems based on the Betfair SP.

Do Horse Racing Systems Work?

There are many systems that do indeed work. These can be simple systems based on a unique stat such as 'Back Sir Michael Stoute horses having their first run of the year'. Or they can be a bit more complex such as the 'All Weather Male with Good Recent Form' system.

There are some systems out there that do not work but with a bit of extra information can work.

e.g. Maiden Favourites System.

Punters back favourites because they are perceived to have the best chance of winning in the race. If you back all favourites in every race you would make a loss of about 7%. Clearly this is not a profitable system.

Favourites do better in some races though, and if you did a bit of research into favourites in maiden stakes races you could discover a system like the Maiden Favourites System. This is a very simple system, which has returned a profit of 8%.

Why Systems Fail

Systems fail mostly because the core rules are all wrong to start with. A punter creates a system with rules that are not sound and then proceeds to back fit the system to make the results look good.

Back fitting is like shooting an arrow at a tree and then painting a target around where the arrow lands. In other words you are making the system fit the results. What usually happens is a punter thinks of a basic idea, looks at the data, and whittles away at the data until the results look good. This is not a sound way of creating systems and will lead to the system failing sooner rather than later.

Examples of back fitted systems include rules such as:

  • Only back the horse when priced between 2/1 and 8/1
    Why 2/1 and 8/1? Why not 3/1 and 9/1?
  • Don't back 3yo or 9yo horses
    Why 3yo and 9yo? Why not 4yo and 8yo?
  • Best with field sizes of between 11 and 13 runners
    Why 11 and 13? Why not 12 and 14?

If a rule cannot be justified, then it is probably best not to use it. Only if there is a specific reason why the rules should be used should it be included. An example of this could be: 'Only back colts and geldings'. If this rule was applied to an all weather system then it is justified as there is a distinct gender bias on the all weather, which is advantageous to male horses.

Systems can fail if the punter does not hold his nerve and ride out any (inevitable) losing streak. This all boils down to money management. If the punter does not stake an optimum amount on each horse, and prefers to place amounts based on hunches, or luck then he is going to find his bank becoming volatile and ultimately end up depleted.

A whole new topic can be started on staking plans but suffice to say: if a punter does not understand that he needs to control his stakes when the heat is on then he may as well forget the system from the start. Overbetting after a win, underbetting after a loss, or missing out a few bets to save money is not a sound way of betting and will ultimately deplete the bank.

Another reason why systems fail is that some of them are boring to operate. The strike rate and profitability maybe good but the number of contenders it produces is low. Each day punters would have to check the racecards manually to find a system bet. This could go on for ages and many punters will just give up on the system.

One way to get around is this is to us the FlatStats System Alerts feature. This takes all the hard work out of finding contenders. Create your system, set the 'Alert Me' option to on and each day the racecards are scanned and any system bets found are listed on your own horse / system alerts page.

Paper Trading Systems

One important piece of advice for horse racing systems: do not paper trade your system.

Many punters prefer to test drive a system before they commit to backing it with their cash. This is totally wrong for the following reasons:

  • You will only start backing the system at the peak of a good run
  • You will never learn to master the emotional side of betting

When a system has been created a punter may sit on it for a while; watch the results go by to see if it is worth following. The punter may wait a few days or a few weeks anxiously recording the profit and loss each day.

The problem with this is that the punter will only dive in on a crest of a wave. He will only start backing the system after it has had a good run of fortune - a run that would be unlikely to be maintained.

Assume research has shown that a system has achieved a 40% strike rate and returned a 15% profit over time. Now assume that you want to paper trade this for a few weeks ...

If the system is on a losing streak (such as only hitting a 30% strike rate and returning a 10% loss) would you start backing it? The answer is you should because if the system is sound, and that a 40% strike rate is expected, then the recent results are just a temporary downturn, which should pick up.

The paper trading punter would not start backing the system at this stage. He would wait until it hits a lucky streak of 45-50% strike rate and return a 30% profit - one that could not be maintained. At this time he would be so excited with his profitable system that he would dive in at the peak of a lucky streak that is more than likely the start of a downturn.

The emotional side of betting is one of the hardest to learn. You can operate some of the best systems around but if you do not know how to handle the winning and losing streaks - if you can not handle the heat - then ultimately you will be backing more at the wrong time and less at the right time and your bank will diminish very quickly.

With paper trading you never get to feel the pain and elation of losing and winning, as it is not your money. It is akin to classing yourself as a successful property developer just because you play a lot of Monopoly.

Bet on Systems like Investing in the Stock Market

No sensible investor would invest all his or her money in one company. The sensible investor will have a portfolio that covers different sectors of the stock market. Some shares may go up, some may go down. But in the long run you should not fail to make a profit from investing on the stock market.

The same method should apply to systems. If you create a portfolio of different profitable systems covering the various types of racing throughout the year you should be able to make a consistent profit. If some of the systems go bad the others should keep the portfolio afloat.

You can see a good portfolio of different system in the FlatStats Free Horse Racing Systems page. This portfolio has systems for the flat turf and all weather and covers different types of races and conditions such as handicaps, claiming and selling races, and quick returners - systems that are different and can be followed all year round.

Why not research and create your own portfolio of systems? Use the FlatStats System Builder feature to extract datasets and research your ideas. Use the FlatStats Alerts feature to do all the boring work of scanning the racecards each day looking for contenders. Research your systems, create alerts, and follow your bets.

Join FlatStats today and start creating your own systems.

Related Articles and Resources

Article created 3-Nov-08. Stats may have changed since.

A Guide to Creating Horse Racing Systems

  • Comments from Greenbananas
    • Thu 10th Jul 2014 17:06
    • Greenbananas

    What information is used to create a rating and colour code...thanks

  • Comments from Pittsburgh Phil
    • Fri 11th Jul 2014 11:27
    • Pittsburgh Phil


    Our ratings are based on value stats for the Sire, Trainer and Jockey. We also use an Earnings Per Start Figure for the horse and also compensate for any draw bias. You can read more about how the ratings are created here:

    FlatStats Horse Racing Ratings

    Colours are used to determine positive or negative stats. On some pages the ROI% is used where blue is strong profit, red is big loss.

    On other pages the A/E stat is used. Blue colours have high A/E whilst low A/E figures are red.

    FlatStats Stats Colours

  • Comments from Lawrence McDermott
    • Sat 12th Jul 2014 07:26
    • Lawrence McDermott

    Backing a horse that is within a length of the winner last race at similar distance and surface shows a profit in US.
    Is this true in the UK and or Ireland? If so show stats please.

  • Comments from Pittsburgh Phil
    • Sat 12th Jul 2014 12:50
    • Pittsburgh Phil


    This is not profitable as-is but you may be able to find a profit if you drill down into different race types or at different race courses. More information here:

    Creating a System Report for Within a Length LTO

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