Does the Dutching Betting System Really Work in Horse Racing?

The phrase ‘go Dutch’ generally means to share the cost of something equally, whether it’s when settling a restaurant bill or taking a taxi home following an evening out.

In a betting context, Dutching is the act of sharing out your stake across two or more runners in a market, whether that’s equally or on a proportionate basis to their odds or your prediction as to which is the most likely winner.

Dutching is perhaps best observed in horse racing. We know that there can be only one winner of a race, but by backing two or more runners we can increase our chances of finding that elusive champion, albeit at the cost of eating into our potential profit margin.

Dutching: In Application

Let’s take a look at this summer’s racing, where punters will be placing their Royal Ascot bets with relish in the year of the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee. A renewal like the King’s Stand Stakes has, at the time of writing, two outstanding favourites – Golden Pal and Nature Strip – with the rest of the field priced at odds of 10/1.

Assuming we wanted to somehow bet on both of the market principles, is Dutching the right way to go about it?

Playing the Percentages

You could, of course, back either Golden Pal or Nature Strip if you had a particular fancy about one or the other. The former has, after all, recently been described as an ‘awesome specimen’ by trainer Wesley Ward. However, that accepts the risk that you might pick the wrong horse and lose, so maybe there’s a sharper way to play it.

We can Dutch the two horses together at their current odds of 7/4 and 11/4, and rather than staking 50/50, we might bet a little more on Golden Pal (the ante-post favourite) and a little less on Nature Strip – let’s say 0.6 units on the former and 0.4 on the latter.

Now let’s work out where we stand on the numbers front:

  • If Golden Pal wins, we make 1.05 profit from our 0.60, minus Nature Strip’s 0.40 = 0.65 net.
  • If Nature Strip wins, we make 1.65 profit from our 0.40, minus Golden Pal’s 0.60 = 1.05 net.

So, as you can see, we can net a similar return with split staking across the pair, and while there’s a chance we could lose on both fronts if an outsider takes the spoils, Dutching can work where two selections in a market are head and shoulders above the rest.

In our King’s Stand Stakes example, Golden Pal has an implied probability of winning of 36.4% from odds of 7/4 and Nature Strip 26.7% from 11/4, so we can cover more than half of the book and still profit. But, as we know, horse racing can be unpredictable, and an outsider taking the line in first place scuppers the whole thing.

What About Forecast Betting?

If you are having a flutter on Royal Ascot, or any other sport/event where there are two clear market principles, then forecasting is another possible option. A straight forecast would require you to back the 1-2 in the correct order, which naturally increases your risk but also pays out a greater rate than prescribed in the Dutching example above. So, a 1.00 stake on Golden Pal to finish first and Nature Strip second would yield a net of 6.38, but our stake is lost should the latter win or any other horse in the field finishes first or second.

With a reverse forecast, we can back both possibilities in a 1-2 combination. We have to place two bets – so, in this example, that would be 0.50 units apiece – but yield a profit in two potential ways:

  • 1st – Golden Pal, 2nd – Nature Strip = 0.50 pays 3.19 net
  • 1st – Nature Strip, 2nd – Golden Pal = 0.50 pays 3.69 net

So, there are a few betting systems that can work – mathematically speaking – where there are two favourites that are likely to dominate. But, as ever, the success of any system is in being able to spot where the market principles are worthy of such an accolade while avoiding those ‘weak’ favourites that can derail a punter’s ambitions.




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