How to Avoid Poor Value Favourites

Published: 1st February 2019
Author: Joe Kizlauskas
Last Updated: 7th January 2021

Avoiding Favourites that Offer Poor Value

Horse Racing comes as a sport with arguably most the distinctively outlined favourites as almost every event and race will come with a participant most fancied by the bookmakers and punters alike. The most important thing to understand straight from the beginning is that favourites are not exclusively formed by a horse’s true value and its probability to win a race. However, by opinions which – let’s face it – vary to a great extent and can be quite deceitful and misleading in terms of odds and prices given which is the aspect we are most interested in the end as punters.

Not that deceitfulness is their true nature of course. However, as self-conscious and self-respecting punters we all want to become, we need to learn how to deal with the public leniency.

Identifying favourites in a horse race is wrongfully conceived as a comparison of the prices and odds horses are given for a certain event which is why identifying favourites and – ultimately – avoiding poor value favourites holds great importance in betting on horses.

Favourites come in different forms and can often be disguised by public perception. It is up to you to learn to see them for who they really are. With enough practice, it really can be done to that extent that it becomes second nature.

Once picked out favourites can be avoided for bets completely. Knowing that a 2/1 favourite will not win a particular race opens up a possibility to pick a 50/1 underdog for a howler and that is a strategy that can yield results once in a blue moon. However, if you are keen to make betting a long-term hobby, profession or simply a pastime, you need a different approach.

Betting beginners who are just dipping their toes in the horse racing waters, therefore, need to understand the beauty of laying poor value favourites.

The invention of betting exchange sites has allowed us to take advantage of those under-priced favourites and horses that do not have as good a chance to win as the offered odds are there to suggest. Through a betting exchange, a punter can bet against a favourite – on a horse to lose – in the fairly same way that the traditional bookmakers offer betting on winners. Laying poor value favourites is a low-risk strategy and a much better betting option than betting on that 50/1 underdog.

Still, in order to bet against a poor value favourite, you still need to know how to successfully identify one. Here are some aspects you need to take into consideration and angles that are supposed to help you broaden your horizons in this regard:

Form and Statistics

If a horse won – or ran well – yesterday, this particular animal is no way guaranteed to have another great day today. Current form and statistics are a great way to pack your bags with valuable info but, like anything else, they can also be quite misleading.

Sticking to stats blindly is going to cost you dearly and instead of jumping in and hoping that a horse will follow through this time as well is a bad value bet. You need to remember that today’s race will see a particular horse being forced to defy a weight rise in a better class and he might be perceived as a 2/1 favourite but consecutive wins are getting difficult to predict, which makes laying this particular favourite a much sounder choice.

Unbeaten Horses

Debut winners will often get presented as public favourites and world-beaters in some races. The horse racing public has a weak spot for rising stars and talents that are expected to bring a sudden explosion of joy among the conceivably consistent 2-year-olds whose form will almost regularly beat the hype.

The 3-year-olds and plus in handicaps where an experienced animal will regularly triumph against an improving youngster is a good choice to bet on and against, whether with your regular bookmaker or a betting exchange site.


When it comes to jockeys, it all comes down to marketing. A notable name in the business is bound to attract money at the races. This ultimately forces bookies to price down the horse, sometimes undeservedly and invaluable much to the detriment of unsuspecting punters.

Big-name horses come with liabilities and will be bet in exchanges to reduce the odds on the horse in order to limit the potential losses. Therefore, betting on favourite jockeys is more likely a steer away bet than any type of a valuable lay bet.


Some stables, and more precisely owners or trainers of a particular horse will often be overpriced through market overreaction. Trainers will often fail to produce a fair assessment on their horses and give them far too much of a credit they deserve whereas results will not account for such confidence.

Once you have polished your touch for a poor value favourite, you will be urged to make a clear strategy on how to monetise on your knowledge. Avoiding the favourites offers an easy way out, whereas betting on these horses at the exchange guarantees profits for those who do their homework and keep on improving their skills.

Money management strategy is very important and the fixed stake strategy is the one that is recommended for laying favourites. You are advised to keep your lay stakes around 1% of the betting bank as it will allow you to make sure any anomalies do not affect your balance. Set the timeframe and come back to check on your balance, but always reset it to 1% in order to follow your profits through. Hitting the betting arena with a preformed opinion that most horses at the forefront of the current market are considered to be over bets will keep you tiptoeing around the market and help you win by finding the cracks and exploiting them.

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About Joe Kizlauskas

Joe is a seasoned iGaming copywriter and speaker who has been in the business since 2015. He's written more words on all elements of iGaming than he likes to remember, and he's contributed material to a number of well-known brands. Joe may be seen playing 5 a side, at the gym or playing games on his Playstation when he is not writing.