How Often Does The Favourite Win A Horse Race?

How Often Does The Favourite Win A Horse Race?

When watching horse racing or studying the form one of the first things you may identify is which horse is favourite (or “jolly”)to win but how often does the favourite win a horse race?

A favourite usually wins around 30-35% of the time and the second favourites usually win around 18-21% of the time. The further down the market you go the less likely the horses are to win hence the lower percentage of higher odds winners over time. NOTE: This figure is based on different studies over the last 10 years or so and is subject to change.


There are caveats based on the 30-35% figure which means that it depends on what was studied, for example, some studies may have been based on 8 or more runners and some 8 or fewer.

Larger fields such as The Aintree Grand National have over 40 runners meaning the favourite has a much tougher job of winning and thus the percentages on larger fields are likely to be a little lower than the 30-35% quoted.

The country also plays a part too, different countries not only have different grounds, courses and weather but different grading structures and handicap ratings to name but a few.

Jump racing and flat racing will also affect the chances of favourites, some favourites can win the race yet fall at the last even when clear and even in flat racing things can go wrong.

There has been occasions where horses can be “spooked” by a fox or a bird on the track during a race or even humans entering the course by accident or to protest.

How Often Does The Favourite Win A Horse Race?
image by @devine_images

Dirt Is More Favourable For Favourites Than Turf

Tons of factors affect racing which is why its so hard to find a winner sometimes, one study (conducted by BetMix using Angler data) found that favourites were more likely to win on dirt than on turf.

This is more than likely because dirt or all weather surfaces are less affected by the elements unlike turf which has multiple goings and different horses prefer different ground types on turf whereas dirt is usually one going (standard).

Handicaps in whihc one study found had seen the success of favourites at 32%, which fits within the range of our average however when this wa spslit between non hadnicaps and handicaps the figures were 26% and 39% win rate for favourites respectively.

Why Does’nt The Favourite Win Every Horse Race?

When it comes to Horse Racing yes the favourite is from a bookmakers and most punters point of view the most likely horse to win the race.

But it only actually wins around 1 in 3 races overall on average, this is because one the bookmakers can sometimes put up a favourite based on form and facts only for punters to back another horse into favouritism based on specualtion alone or fomo.

More than 50% of races run in the UK are handicaps, this also affects how many favourites win because in these races horses that are winning are given extra weight and horses that arent go down in the weights.

Though this should equal the palying field, it is arguably open to manipulation,a trainer could send a horse out and instruct the jockey to hold the horse up and not to win or palce in order to lower that horses handicap and weight in its next race (giving it a technically unfair advantage).

Horse racing is affected by so many variables it basically make sit impossible for a favourite to always win, they can fall (over jumps), refuse to race, injure themselves during the race and so on.


So, to answer the original question how often does the favourite win a Horse Race? once more…

Basically the overall average percentage of favourites winning horses races is 30-35% but there are many factors that can affect the eprcentage either making it higher (handicaps) or lower (non handicaps) for example.

Ground and course also affect the percentages quite a bit woith some courses having higher win rates than others and some course shaving lower.

Should you want to use backing favourites as your strategy for exmaple it would certianly pay to look up the win rates at each dirt (all weather) course, in handicaps to increase your chances a smuch as possible.

You could also consider a horse racing tipster too, as contrary to popualr opinion they dont alla dvise favourites and yet still make profit long term.

Thanks for reading one of our horse racing betting guides we have compiled a number of useful posts for horse racing and football punters so chekc them out and show your support by sharing them on your socials.

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