Betting analyst Matt McCann offers advice on successfully navigating Puntersland

Countless times I have sat at my computer ready to pounce on any fixed odds ‘overs’ on the dogs and yet still missed out because I had been just a fraction too slow in noticing the opening prices being displayed and someone else had beaten me to the punch and within the blink of an eye, the quote I was chasing had become little more than a mirage.

Initially when I was faced with this dilemma, I frantically searched for any other corporate bookie that was up on the same meeting in the hope that attractive odds were still intact elsewhere, but with the fixed odds landscape becoming increasingly automated, price fluctuations occur rapidly right across the industry marketplace and so it fast became a pointless exercise in attempting to shop elsewhere. There had to be a better Plan B.

Fortunately, the same automatic processes that can limit your ability to secure top odds when markets are first released also follow predictable patterns and abide by certain rules very late in betting that the average punter can exploit as they try to redeem value from a marketplace that they were unable to capitalize on earlier.

The simple fact is that the corporate bookmaking firms cannot turn off every price for every runner because the robotic pricing tools that they use are bound by competitive market percentage requirements at regular intervals, so if they turn one price off then they must push another runner out and this is never more evident than during ‘airtime’ – the precious last minute of trading when the dogs are approaching the starting boxes and turnover increases seven-fold due to the flood of money invested from next-to-go customers.

As this surge in betting activity happens, it is worth remembering that just like a car lot, the actual box numbers themselves vary in marketability and so the likelihood exists that a dog who was originally well supported can edge back out again in price if an automated trading platform is forced to accommodate a substantial influx of late money for a supposed favorite jumping from an easy sell such as box 1, whereas the middle draws are far less desirable to the retail punting dollar regardless of speed map suitability.

Sometimes a fixed odds opportunity presents itself late despite there being only a minor difference regarding box positions. There was an interesting case at a recent meeting at Sandown Park with West On Finn opening up at $3.5 from the red yet starting at $2.6. From his only comparable run, he had gone around at $4.4 from box 2, while my price assessment for Indy Matilda if she had of drawn the coveted red box in the same race was also around the $2.6 mark. Instead, she jumped from right next door in the ‘checks’ with a favorable map, but eased in betting with $3.7 available at the death. The favorites had flipped primarily due to the box draw commodities market … and Indy Matilda saluted!

Obviously, numerous other factors impact a runner’s odds but once you have deemed a pricing influence to be superficial then it may pay to reassess your betting strategies in the last few moments of trading rather than concern yourself with the agony of missed opportunities hours before.