Back to Lay Trading on In-Play Betfair Markets

We’ve teamed up with one of the world’s leading educational Betfair traders, Caan Berry, to provide you with a comprehensive how to guide.

In this addition to his series, he dives into why third party betting tools are a must for any serious trader.

He also concludes that in a technologically advanced world, it’s never been easier to make your betting pay.

With the right tools and know-how, the ordinary bettor is gifted and has an edge over the less-educated.

In this article he explain why – whilst showing you how and where to get started with Betfair Trading software.

For more from Cann Berry, check out his book: ‘Betfair Trading Made Simple’.


The benefits of exchange use aren’t always clear to the average bettor. However, this article shares something unique.

By the end, you’ll be seeing things in a completely different light.

Racing enthusiasts will find they already have a soft lead…

What Does Back-to-Lay Mean?

Backing to lay is the nickname given to a horse racing trading strategy. This approach relies on exchange liquidity and a horses running style.

Because Betfair Australia offers in-play betting markets, the end user is able to place two opposing bets on the same selection, while the race takes place. Doing it at the right prices means a guaranteed profit.

If you’ve seen a betting market in-play you’ll have noticed the prices move around quickly and in line with what’s happening at the track. If a horse gets a soft lead, the price contracts. If it can’t keep up the price will lengthen.

Backing to lay exploits these market movements.

The aim is to correctly identify a horse that routinely likes to run ahead, backing it at the start or the race and then placing the counter-bet (lay bet) once it takes the lead. Simply put; if the horse leads, you cash-out for a profit.

Race Analysis

So with the technique explained your thoughts are probably moving toward horses that regularly lead their races. You may even know some already.

There are two main points to bear in mind when analysing a race for the back to lay strategy:

  1. How competitive the pace is
  2. How reliable the front-runner’s behaviour is

This is extremely important to remember. Having a repeat front-runner in a race where there is lots of competition for the pace is useless.
Similarly, having a horse that has led a couple of times isn’t reliable enough. It’s all about quality, not quantity. Personally, I focus on the uncompetitive races.

You should also be strict in what you expect to see and how you handle the trade, as we’ll discuss next.

Plan of Execution

Now it’s time to think about how you should manage this situation. Doing is often harder than understanding, so I’d advise laying out some ground rules before you place a back-to-lay.

Once the race starts your thinking time is limited, panic-betting never ends well so be as specific as possible in planning the first trade.

Here’s a loose set of suggestions, assuming you’ve found a stand-out leader in a weak race:

  • Place the back bet at the start or extremely close to post time
  • Have the corresponding lay bet in the market already at your target price
  • Decide when you will change your exit if things don’t go your way
  • Make note of what you expect to see happen
  • Have a maximum loss threshold pre-set in your mind

Then, stick to the rules!

New traders go wrong with this strategy through poor discipline and greed in most instances. Finding a solid front-runner isn’t all that hard after all.

So with that in mind, what will you do if things shouldn’t go your way? You need a plan for limiting the potential downside.

Actions On:

There’s only really one action to take: closing out the position early.

But when should you do it and why?

Making a list of pre-defined exits before the race is a good idea. There’s nothing left to umm and ahh about in the heat of the moment.

Situations that lead to an early exit could be:

  • Jockey restraining the horse’s enthusiasm
  • Another horse being ridden hard to lead
  • A slow start/being boxed in early

You may even want to extend these actions to pre-race. In most instances, it’s quite obvious if a horse is ‘buzzed up’ or not. Typically, they are the ones that lead.

Either way, if anything deviates far from your expected set of circumstances you should be looking to close out, without hesitation.

Example of Backing to Lay

Here’s a quick example of a back to lay trade, created by Betfair UK.

As you can see; Camerooney is a die-hard front running horse almost every time.

If you’re using Betfair Australia or UK, the strategy remains the same!

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