Boxing Day racing is one of the biggest horse racing days of the year. Jockeys, trainers, owners and horses are all back from their Christmas break. There are lots of meeting all over the country. The King George is run. Boxing Day is also a big gambling day, with large race course attendances, and the betting shops are full because everyone is off work.
But where we ask is the shrewed bettor, among all of this? If he has any sense he is in the pub having already made his Christmas money.
Bookmakers’ over-rounds on bank holidays are enormous, and none more so than on Boxing Day. It is their last chance to end a good year. It is no coincidence that the large plc’s like Ladbrokes and William Hill, have their financial year-ends on 31st December. The on-course bookmakers will have put the finishing touches to their self-assessment tax returns over the break, and need a good Boxing Day to settle what they owe at the end of January. Horses with Evens chances will be chalked up at four to five on; a fair few outsiders will snatch it on the line; and the odd one to ten on in a small field won’t get home. Fine, if you have studied the form or have a good tip, back it, and if it wins you have done well because the price you will get vastly overstated its chances of winning.
To make money at Christmas we need to go back in time, to 22nd December in fact, the last day before the Christmas racing break. Here, at Bangor, Southwell and Wolverhampton the Christmas Tree in reception might look a bit worse for wear after yet another Christmas party last night, but everyone is in a good mood. The hands are looking forward to the stable party tonight and the jockeys are wondering what their favouring owners might gift them for Christmas.
What is the result of all this jovial interaction, the fancied horse fly in. Expect an average favourite win rate of 40% (it is usually 33%) and second favourites do well to. Have a sensible staking plan and stick to favourites. A favourite has not failed to win at least one race on a card on 22nd December in the last 25 years. Contrast this to Boxing Day where in 2014 two cards failed to yield a winning favourite; with one card in each of 2013 and 2012. The longest number of races it took one to win was 7, but most oblige in the first or second race on the card. Don’t expect them all to be odds on either, prices have run up to 4/1 and there are plenty at 2/1 and 5/2. So there is a strong historical indication to back each meeting until a favourite obliges then walk away, or study the results and come up with your own conclusions:
Year. Meetings separated by semi-colons; results in race card order; favourite winners prices. Missing years no meetings.
2014: 3/1; LL 1/7; LLLL 7/2
2013: 5/4; L 4/6
2012: 3/1; LLL 4/1; LLLLLL 7/4
2011: 11/8; 11/8; 13/8
2010: L 10/3; L 9/2; L 7/4
2008: L 6/5; LLLL 5/2; L 11/4
2007: LLL 9/4; LLLL 10/3; LLLLL 5/4; 13/8
2006 LL 7/2; 9/4; 5/2; LL 11/8
2005: LLLLL 6/4; 4/5; 10/11
2004: L 7/4; LLLL 10/11; LL 5/2
2003: L 7/4
2001 8/11; 4/1
1999: 11/10; 7/4
1998: L 7/4; L 1/5
1997: 2/1; LLL 2/1
(KEY: In 1997 there were 2 meetings on 22nd December. At the first the 2/1 favourite won the first race; and at the second the favourite failed to win the first three races but won the fourth at 2/1.)