Tissue Prices and Ratings Explained

If you follow me, or have read any good horse racing books, you will have come across the term ’tissue’ or ’tissue price’ and maybe wondered what on earth it is. So the purpose of this article is to try and explain the term and why it’s so important to understand how tissue prices can have a very positive effect on your long-term betting.

Tissue prices are a set of prices that are constructed from ratings converted to probability in most instances, though they can sometimes be constructed without this first step. However, in most instances, a number of factors are first combined to arrive at a rating figure, and then that rating is converted to a percentage. This makes calculating the tissue price easier.

For example, if the probability figure suggests the horse has a 20% chance of winning, then that is essentially 5/1. If the horse is calculated as having a probability figure of 25% then again that equates to around 4/1.

You will often see this in the Racing Post, they provide a ’tissue price’ or betting forecast based on their estimation of chance, and this is usually seen at the bottom of the race card for each race. It is a guide as to what their race reader considered to be ‘fair odds’ for each runner, expressed in fraction form.

It is rare that 2 odds compilers will come up with exactly the same price for each selection, the process is subjective, but most of the time they will reach the same conclusion in as much as the favourite is x horse, it’s just the tissue price that may differ. I have noticed this on the Racing Post site and the Sporting Life site – they might agree the first 3 in the market, but oftentimes they disagree as to the order sometimes, and the prices apportioned to each as a tissue price more often than not.

Tissue prices are very useful, in fact I would go so far as to say they are essential. A good set of tissue prices can mean the difference between making a long-term profit, or just lining the pockets of the bookie repeatedly. If you read my previous article, is your selection running for you or the bookie, then you will hopefully by now realise that bookie prices do not accurately reflect chance, the best guide to the chance of a horse winning is you, not the market. The market can point you in the direction of a winner sometimes, but often the prices are so prohibitive that it’s hard to make a long-term profit following market moves because by the time you are on the edge being punted has long gone.

So why use tissue prices? The answer is simple… they help find value bets. If you can find a horse that’s 5/1 on your set of tissue prices, and you can back it at 10/1, then you have a huge advantage over the market. You don’t need a lot of 10/1 shots winning, that are effectively 5/1 shots, to make a substantial profit over time – and this should be your main objective, finding horses that are way overpriced and punting them at odds more advantageous to you than the bookie. When this happens you effectively wipe out the bookie margin and place the profit potential firmly in your wallet.

A long time ago I use to use a set of ratings produced by Infineform (www.infineform.com) and found them to be very good for a long while until I progressed pass them, but I will use them now as an example to show how you can find possible value by converting ratings to odds, and then looking for real price discrepancies to punt at odds in your favour instead of the bookies:

Race: Sedgefield 14:20

Sedgefield 2.20 Runners

So working off a set of ratings from Infineform we can see that the rating is converted to chance first of all and then the chance is converted to decimal odds as a guide to fair price.

In the ‘Offered’ column is the odds currently available and the ‘Value %’ signifies to what degree the horses are currently running for you or the bookie.

You can see that the current situation shows that the main contenders, Seventeen Black, Charlie Wingnut and Chasma are all fairly heavily priced in the bookies favour right now, but at the other end of the odds spectrum with selections like See the Legend, where the target odds are 6.65, the current price on offer of 13.00 looks like a pretty decent value bet each way.

In this sort of race I would only concentrate on those horses that have a target of less than 10.00, otherwise you are betting big price outsiders with no real chance of winning. At least this particular horse has a decent chance of winning, or hitting the frame, and the odds on offer provide real value.

While this is not a complete science, it’s a good way to form a set of prices based on ratings, and have something to compare the selection to in order to determine whether or not the odds on offer are better or worse than they should be. In effect you have a tissue price from the set of ratings which can then be used to compare the prices on offer against the odds you have generated.

Again, in this instance I like to see a 100% value% in my favour, or thereabouts anyway. It provides a safety buffer of sorts.

In this particular race Chasma won, but was heavily overbet, returning 3/1 SP. Charlie Wingnut came 2nd at 7/2, and Seventeen Black came third at 10/3. The bookie made a nice profit on this race with that result, as he would have layed them all at fairly short odds so it wouldn’t have mattered to him which one won at those prices, they were covered!

As you can see, the ratings you use can drastically affect the prices you generate as fair odds, or tissue prices. The more accurate the ratings, the more reflective the prices are you are working from.

I have found commercially produced ratings are better than free ratings. That’s not to say that free ratings are no good, but unless they are compiled with a high degree of accuracy they are pretty much worthless in my mind.

I see more and more people using ratings and formulating their own tissue prices, or fair odds, and this is great. Dynamite in particular has started doing this and there is an interesting thread in the forum detailing some great ideas about how to do this.

The source of your ratings, or the way you compile them, is very important. A poor set of ratings will generate disappointing results, but a good set of ratings can be a goldmine. I use a commercial service to provide my collateral form ratings, and then use 30-40 factors to produce a tissue for each race. Most of the time the horses I have priced up at 10/1 or less win, which is encouraging, but it’s when a horse that’s shorter on the tissue price than in the market appears that I pay particular attention. I go back through to double-check every fact first of all, then if it all looks good and there is no apparent reason for the discrepancy, then it’s a possible bet at the odds.

Ratings provide a ’rounded’ view of each runner in the race I feel. It allows you to look at all the positive and negative factors incorporated into 1 single figure – and it saves a lot of time. Using a median figure, you can quickly narrow down a race to just those main contenders, and then focus on them solely to find the winner. In most instances horses below my median rating figure don’t win, so they can be discarded with a fair degree of accuracy. Those above the median figure are those most likely to win the race, and any with strong positives and a low tissue price stand out at that point. It’s just a matter of determining whether the odds they are available at make it a good value bet.

Obviously, this approach is not suited to everyone, we all have our own way of doing things. This is a more ‘scientific’ approach to horse racing and because I enjoy the challenge of pitting my selection skills against the market I find this aspect of horse racing the most interesting and profitable for me personally.

The other positive aspect of ratings is that besides just highlighting 1 betting opportunity, there are sometimes many opportunities, maybe several horses in a race at decent odds that can be backed against a weak favourite that is either below the median rating figure or has strong negatives that suggest it just cannot win the race, despite what the market says to the contrary.

Regardless of what ratings you use, how you view value, how certain you are of the strength of a selection… there are going to be times when your horse or horses just don’t win. No set of ratings will guarantee success all the time. No amount of value hunting will guarantee a profit all the time. Like all things ‘horse racing’, it’s just another weapon in our armoury in the constant fight against the bookie and the market in general.

Some places to start if you are interested in looking at ratings in more detail:

* Infineform – www.infineform.com (concentrate on horses rated >= 60 and <= 85 here with LM >= 30 and CTY >= 80). The higher the HD and HG figure the better, but you want HD to be >= 80 and HG >= 50 for best effect. Good indicator for first time head-gear as well as it is highlighted.

* Timeform – www.timeform.com (Commercial service)

* Form Genie – www.formgenie.com (Commercial service – about £60 per month)

* Racing Research – www.racingresearch.co.uk (Expensive, about £10 per day, but excellent)

* Form Ratings – www.formratings.co.uk (Commercial service, untested, free trial)

There are a load more out there, it’s just a matter of looking around to see what’s on offer. The ones I have noted above I have either used in the past, or have heard good things about. Like all things, they are not guaranteed but do provide a reasonable service. Form Genie in particular looks interesting now they have switched to a web-based system and I have used them a long time ago for a few months and found their ratings to be very good with a good number of decent price winners from their top-rated and dutch selections.

Timeform again is very good, an industry standard in many instances.

Racing Research is very good also, Dave Nevison used to swear by these ratings when generating his own tissue prices.

Hopefully you have found this post of interest, will get a few more written now I have shaken the flu.