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Betfair SP

For years the majority of bets on UK horse racing have been settled at Starting Price (SP). These odds are determined by the on-course bookmakers and represent prices available in the betting ring at the time the race started.

Get Better Odds Than SP

One of the best ways to make your betting more profitable is to consistently achieve better odds for your selections than the returned SP. There are several ways in which this can be achieved, but they each have their disadvantages:

Take an early bird price, when bookmakers first price up a race in the morning
Often the price doesn't last long before it is cut by the bookmaker and they often limit the amount you can bet at the price available.
Take a live price in the betting market in the 10 minutes prior to the start of a race
Requires you be available in the 10 minutes prior to the race, which is not practical for most people at work.
Take the odds being offered by punters on one of the betting exchanges
Requires access to the betting exchange during the day and offers no guarantee the price will not be bigger by the time the race starts.
Offer odds via one of the betting exchanges
Will provide better prices than if you take the odds being offered, but you run the risk of your bets not getting matched
Use a betting bot to place bets via the betting exchanges at a predefined time before the race
Will often get you good odds, but most incur a monthly subscription fee, which will offset the increase in profits, especially if you're only betting to small stakes.

For many the best option may therefore be to bet at Betfair Starting Prices (BSP). You can place your bets as early as you like and wont need to be available just prior to the start of the race. There is no restriction on the size of your bet (although if you place really large bets, it may affect the Betfair SP odds). You are not guaranteed to beat the odds of the regular SP, but the BSP is determined by balancing bets from customers, who want to back a horse, with those who wish to lay the horse. Because there is no bookmakers edge built into the odds being offered, it is likely you'll achieve better odds than those returned at SP.

Laying Horses To Lose

Punters who lay horses to lose have always had the problem of knowing when best to lay their bets. Especially difficult for anyone having to work and not able to place their bets during the most active betting period, 10 minutes before the start of each race.

The choice when placing the bets early has always been, should you take the odds on offer at the time or should you ask for odds in the hope of getting your bets matched. When laying a horse early that gets well backed, you can often find the odds you got matched at are well above SP. Given the betting market support, these horses often go on to win the race and you find yourself losing more than you needed to.

Proofed Results Based On Betfair SP

BSP is now used in the proofing area to illustrate the tipsters results performance. For lay bets the BSP represents a definitive price that anyone could have received for their lay bets and therefore most accurately shows profits that could have been achieved following the tipsters selections.

For selections to back results performance is still shown based on SP, but in addition results are also shown based on BSP, to illustrate the additional profit that could have been achieved by getting the better prices.

The above screen shot shows performance of the top 10 backing services over the previous 6 months, up to 29th April 2010. The BSP profit figures take into account commission at 5%. It clearly shows the increased profits that can be achieved betting at Betfair SP.

The Introduction of Betfair SP

Betfair introduced SP prices for UK and Irish racing on the following dates:

13th December 2007 UK Win Bets
10th February 2008 Irish Win Bets
18th February 2008 UK Place Bets
28th February 2008 Irish Place Bets

It is from these dates that BSP odds are used for the proofed results. Prior to that odds of 15% above SP are assumed for the BSP comparison.