As you know, I live in France.

As a result, I am only allowed bet on French horse racing via the state owned PMU (the French tote.)

You can read all about betting on horses in France here… Why a PMU ain’t your average bookies…

However, rather than just picking the one horse that I think will win…

I make a number of bets on a number of horses in the same race.

And I bet on the top rated horse in a number of different ways.

How does that work?

Firstly, I have to rate the race.

I only look at Listed, Group or Graded races.

These tend to get show in the Worldwide Stakes section on the Racing Post.

I then use the formula for Advance Ratings that I explain here… How I Created the Ratings.

It takes me about 20 minutes to rate an 8 horse race.

If it looks like a good race (I need to rate at least 80% of the horses, or rather, once rated, 80% of the horses need to have a rating of greater than 0%.)

I then plot a graph of the ratings and, if that looks good (I think of it as having the right shape.)

The graph below shows what I consider the perfectly shaped graph.

The numbers aren’t important, it’s the shape that counts.

An explanation…

The vertical axis shows the actual rating of each horse.

The horizontal axis shows the ratings ranking – the top rated horse has a ranking of 1, the second rated 2 and so forth.

Now, what makes this chart so interesting is that the top rated horse is rated far higher then the second and third rated horses.

It’s highly likely that the top rated horse will win the race.

There’s decent difference in ratings for the second and third rated horses compared to the ratings for the fourth and fifth rated horses.

And, finally, the fourth and fifth rated horses are far enough higher rated than the remaining horse.

Even better, I’ve managed to rate every horse in the race.

How I bet the race…

Even though it only takes me 20 minutes to rate the race, it’ll take about 40 minutes to work out all the bets.

Firstly, you need to understand that, in France, we bet in 1.50 euro increments.

1). Obviously I shall be backing the top rated horse to win. I will almost certainly be staking 6 euros on the top rated horse to win (Simple Gagnant.)

2). Now, things can go wrong so I’ll also place bet the top rated horse with a stake of 9 euros (Simple Placé.)

3). And, if things go wrong, it is highly likely that second rated horse will go on to win so I will stake the second rated horse at 1.50 euros to win (Simple Gagnant.)

4). I will also cover all bases so I will stake the third rated horse at 1.50 euros to win (Simple Gagnant.)

5). It is logical that the second rated horse will be laced so i will place bet second rated to 3 euros to be placed (Simple Placé.)

6). And I will also place bet the third rated horse to a stake of 3 euros to be placed (Simple Placé.)

7). I will also bet the forecast for the top rated horse to win the race and for the second rated to come second to a stake of 6 euros (Couplé Gagnant.)

8). And I will bet the forecast for the top rated horse and the second rated to come first and second in either order at a stake of 12 euros (Coupleé Placé.)

9). I also bet the trifecta for the top three rated horses. This is available on any race with 8 runners. I win if the top three rated horses come first, second and third in any order. I will use a stake of 3 euros (Trio.)

10). I almost have to bet the top 4 rated horses to first, second, third and fourth in any order to a 3 euro stake (Multi 4.)

11). And, finally, I bet the top 5 rated horses to first, second, third, fourth and fifth in any order, once again, to a 3 euro stake (Multi 5.)

12). If the race is the Quinté+ race, I will do a bet on the top five rated horses. Those horses have to come in the top five, in the correct order – this is only available on one race a day but the PMU chuck in a million euros to the pot. The cost of this bet is 2 euros (Quinté+.)

The total cost of these bets is 45 euros (47 euros with the Quinté+.)

Now, I have to say, that the actual stakes will vary from race to race; the stakes I show above are just an example.


There are other bets that I can do but only online.

I far prefer to do my betting in person.

One of reasons might just be that my local PMU (betting shop) is also a bar, a restaurant and has a beautiful terrace overlooking the waterfall at the end of the lake..


I like to think of it as my outside office.

Weirdly enough, I can’t bring myself to actually watch the race – far too stressful for me.

I prefer to take myself outside with a nice cold beer and think about what I am going to do with my winnings.

I can go weeks without a bet; I can rate about 5 or 6 races a week (they have to be Listed, Group or Graded races) but, even if I can rate those races, if the ratings aren’t the right shape I don’t bet on them.

Over the years I have become far more selective about the races I bet on.

Until last year I used to bet on two to three races a week.

Last year, because of all the disruption, I only bet on about 30 races.

This year I seem to be getting an average of 1 race a week.

However, I do paper trade those races that I don’t actually bet on, just to see if there is a slightly different strategy

When the top two rated horses are far higher rated then the third rated horse and the top rated horse is significantly higher rated than the second rated horse, I will paper trade those two horses using the following bets (as listed above but to different stakes)… 1, 2, 3, 5, 7 and 8 as shown below.

So far that strategy is proving very successful and, when I am 100% confident in it, I’ll start betting for real.

I’m a very patient man.

Doing this would give me an extra race (sometimes two) a week to bet on and, from what I’ve seen so far, might even be more profitable that my current strategy.

I should say that I only bet on the proper races; not the horse and cart races which, to be honest, I haven’t got a clue about.

A similar approach could be used in Britain and Ireland but you would have to put the multiple bets on at the bookies.

Then again, in Britain and Ireland you have access to Betfair so you could add so laying into the mix.

I am quite surprised that more people don’t use this strategy – or perhaps they do but just aren’t talking about it.

I hope that this explains my philosophy of betting on horse racing.

Thank you for reading.

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As always…

My kindest regards



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