What does lay the favourite mean?
In sports betting, to lay the favourite means to bet against the favourite in a race or competition.
In sports like horse racing, laying the favourite may be a more logical and profitable alternative than backing the favourite. This is because your bet will win no matter which horse wins the race, provided this horse isn’t the antepost favourite.
Why lay the favourite?
Even in races where the antepost favourite wins relatively frequently, it’s very unusual for an antepost favourite to win more than 50% of the time. In simple terms, this means that favourites are more likely to lose races than to win them.
So if you back the favourite on a regular basis, you’ll lose more often than you’ll win over the long term. If you lay the favourite, you stand a better chance of winning more than you lose.
Another factor that makes laying the favourite a good strategy is that favourites are often underpriced, even on betting exchanges. An underpriced favourite translates into reduced liability on your lay bets and better profits in the long run. It’s relatively easy to track how well antepost favourites perform in specific races by reviewing the race histories. We have compiled a selection of the best Group 1 races to lay the favourite here.
When to lay the favourite
Although laying the favourite can be an effective betting strategy, it’s important to note differences between handicap and non-handicap races. It’s also best to focus on the top races – including Group 1 and Grade 1 races – when using this strategy.
Handicap and non-handicap races
Races in which handicaps are applied need to be treated differently to races in which horses all carry the same weight. Although favourites tend to have very poor records in handicap races, the higher prices on the favourites can take a big chunk out of our bankroll if your lay bet loses.
As a rule of thumb, it’s best to avoid laying the favourite in a handicap if it’s priced over 5/1. In races that don’t use handicapping, favourites have better records, so a lay bet you place has a higher probability of losing. As a result, you should aim to reduce your liability – to protect yourself, generally avoid laying favourites priced over 2/1.
Group1/Grade 1 races
When you start applying the strategy of laying the favourite, it’s a good idea to focus on Group 1 and Grade 1 races. Statistical data for these races is easier to obtain and handicaps aren’t used. An added advantage is that the favourites in these races are far more likely to be underpriced. This is because the races attract larger numbers of inexperienced punters, who drive down prices by putting their money on the favourite.
Where to lay the favourite?
We recommend the betting exchanges offered by the following betting operators to place your lay bets:
- Betting exchanges have opened up a new world of opportunities for savvy punters.
- Learn more about exchange betting, which allows punters to set odds and bet directly against each other.
- An introduction to lay betting – what it is, the pros and cons and links to important lay betting strategies.
- The ins and outs of lay betting on horses. What should you consider to maximise your profits?