Horse race betting systems using steamers and drifters

In order to make betting on steamers and drifters successful it is important to be able to select in advance which horses may steam and which might drift. It is safe to say that it is information that moves odds in the betting markets for horse racing. This can be propaganda and hype, as we mentioned earlier, for which inside knowledge is important. Knowing the true facts rather than relying on opinion is very important. Many winning systems and tipsters rely on this insider information. There are some reliable indicators to help select a horse who will steam or drift in advance.


Weather conditions play a massive role in effecting a horse chances of winning. Rain will change “the going”, for example, from good to soft. Good wheather forecasts are important. If the forecast changes the odds will change. Remember wheather forecasts too far in advance can be meaningless. Do some research first to see how forecasts effect the odds.

[box type=”info” style=”rounded” border=”full”]’The Going’ refers to the state of the race track. An official at the track inserts a stick into the race track. For British turf racing ‘the going’ is classified as hard, firm, good to firm, good, good to soft, soft, and heavy.[/box]

So, it can be good to use a reliable wheather forecast a certain amount of time before the race. This is a strategy that can highlight potential horses days in advance. Alternatively find the most recent and reliable wheather forecast 1day before the race.

If the wheather on the day of the race is significantly dfferent: enough to change the confitions from what was expected, then there could be an opportunity. It is these unexpected changes in wheather that can leave odds being to long or too short.

Which horses should we shortlist to keep an eye on?

Select horses that have either stamina or speed. A race horse will very rarely have both. A horse needs more stamina to perform well on soft ground because it uses more energy. But, on firm ground a horse with speed will out run one with stamina.

Lets look at some examples where the wheather changes on the day;

conditions change from good to soft; horses with stamina should steam (odds shorten)

This does not work very well in reverse unless the ground dries out more than expected. You would need people at the race course to provide you with information for this.

Forecasts change indicating conditions will change from good to soft;

You can expect the odds of horses with stamina to shorten. Back the horse as quickly as possible. Wait for the odds to change. After the odds shorten lay the horse.

A horse known for speed would be less likely to win and the odds should drift. Here you should lay the horse to lose first (when odds are short) and back the horse later after the odds lengthen.

What problems can occur when using wheather changes to help select steamers and drifters?

If the wheather forecast changes again the odds may not change as you expected. The solution here is to place a saver bet that should cancel the other bet (it should be the exact opposite). If you can’t get the exact oposite matched the result would either be a small gain or a small loss. Set an amount of time to leave before you take action by placing a saver bet.


If a jockey is injured his races are allocated to other Jockeys. If there is a significant difference between the capabilities of the replacement compared to the original then the odds will move. For example, a skilled jockey is replaced by someone with less experience (the odds lenghthen). Or vice versa (the odds shorten). A good knowledge of the Jockeys enables traders to identify how well they will perform in different circumstance (good or soft, for example). If a Jockey is eliminated try to find out who will be replacing him immediately to ‘get in’ before the odds change. Or, if the jockey is so good or so bad that any replacement jockey will move the odds there is no need to wait. A good source of information for racing form of jockies is the Racing Post.

A great source of information about Jockeys and the horse is the trainers website. In some cases the Jockey’s post information on the website for all to see. For example, the can give an indication of which horse they will be riding or if the horse will be ridden in that race at all. The Racing Post has a directory of UK horse racing trainers. From the webpage you can link to the trainer’s website to get all the latest information. This will help you place bets before the crowd if you keep up to date with the website. With some sites it will be possible to sign up to their information feed, so that you get a notification each time new information is added.

Anti Post

Another selection method is to identify horse races that have the odds priced up very early. This gives plenty of time for other factors to effect the price. These include, changes in weather or forecast and the Jockey.

The Grand National Steeple Case is an example of where you can find early odds. Focus on a horse with the most stamina or the most speed, one or the other. After hightlighting a horse which could drift or steam there is a couple of ways to trade.

1) Back or lay the selection as early as possible and wait for the odds to change. Then you can place the other side of the bet (back or lay) when you have a profit margin you are happy with.

2) After highlighting a horse to back or lay wait for a change in conditions. Which will effect the odds. Then back or lay as quickly as possible to ‘get in’ before the odds change.

Behavioural changes

Get to know your horses and it is possible to spot abnormal behaviour. Sometimes a horse acts strangley due to anxiety or excitment about the race. This means they are burning up energy they need for the race. The following characteristics can indicate a horse who’s odds are likely to drift; sweating profusely, rearing up, and kicking the hind legs. It is important to know about the horses in advance because in some respects this kind of activity can be normal and the horse can go on to win the race.

Betfair can help select a horse to trade

Below you can see one row for captain cool. There are 3 columns that show the last 3 odds that have been offered by Betfair members. Shown as deimal odds in the image below. Underneath the decimal odds is the unmatched bet value. Money that has either ‘backed’ on the left side in blue or ‘layed’ on the right side in pink. It is unmatched because other Betfair members have not decided to accept those odds and match the other side of the bet. Add up the total of unmatched bets in the back columns in blue and add up those on the lay side, on the right side in pink.

What are the risks?

Technical difficulties with internet connection or PC.

The odds may not change at all or not enough.

The odds may change in the wrong direction.

When these events happen the first bet you placed has to stand. This either produces a complete loss, a small loss or break even.

Rules of thumb.

Only bet with what you can comfortably lose.

Stick to a system rigidly and record results. Use the results to tweak the system or strategy.


When the odds for a horse steam or drift if creates opportunities for betting.

A form of arbitrage trading allows traders to make back and lay bets on the same selection to produce a profit.

Trading steamers and drifters on Betfair requires the trader to be able to idenfify potential drifters and steamers. The key word is potential. You must predict which horses are liekly to steam or drift before it happens.   The best systems are always used in isolation without too many people repeating the same process.  Experience has shown that the best way to develop a winning system is to learn horse race trading and to share ideas with other people.  A betting club is a great place to do both.  The best betting club to for trading horse would be Betting School, check out the Betting School review.