As we hurtle inexorably towards the year's next big punting challenge, Royal Ascot 2013, I found myself pondering which of the five days is the easiest in terms of finding winners. This was a follow on from a pet theory I've had for a few months now, which goes something like this:
The first day of a Festival meeting typically has the most non-handicap action (Cheltenham, Aintree, Royal Ascot), therefore it should be the easiest day to win money. Moreover, as the meetings progress, so it goes more difficult to find winners.
In the above theory, I'm assuming that shorter odds mean it is easier to find winners, and longer odds imply it's more difficult to find winners. And I set about putting this to the test, using the data in the excellent horseracebase.com database.
Looking at the last five meetings at each of Cheltenham, Aintree and Royal Ascot, this is what I found. I removed the highest and lowest priced winners from each day across the five year period (i.e. two from thirty Tuesday races at Royal Ascot, two from thirty Tuesday races at Cheltenham, etc) as outliers, and reviewed the remaining races
The opening day of Royal Ascot was indeed the easiest card of the week over the last five seasons, with an average winning SP of 7.15/1, marginally ahead of Friday at 7.33/1. The hardest two days of the Royal meeting have been Wednesday (average 9.56/1) and Saturday (8.84/1). This may not be surprising given that those two days host the Royal Hunt Cup and Wokingham handicap respectively.
At Cheltenham, the picture was somewhat more linear: Tuesday has been by far the easiest day of the week, with an average winning SP of 8.5/1; and Friday has been the toughest, with the victors paying an average of 11.47/1. Wednesday and Thursday followed the script perfectly, with the former slightly easier than the latter.
Meanwhile, at Aintree, Grand National Saturday is - again, unsurprisingly - the toughest day, averaging out at 15.6/1 (help!). But I was slightly surprised to note that the Thursday (10.21/1), featuring a number of Grade 1 races, has been more difficult for winner-finding than the Friday (9.88/1).
Here's the full picture:
|Tuesday||7.15 (1)||8.5 (1)|
|Wednesday||9.56 (5)||11.14 (2)|
|Thursday||8.41 (3)||11.3 (3)||10.21 (2)|
|Friday||7.33 (2)||11.47 (4)||9.88 (1)|
|Saturday||8.84 (4)||15.6 (3)|
So what does this all mean? Good question!
In absolute terms, the easiest day of three Festivals on which to find a winner, has been the opening day of Royal Ascot. So, if you struggle there, and you're generally a follower of the top end of the market, it could be a long way home to Saturday...
Wednesday and Saturday may be days for small stakes, or perhaps sitting out the bigger handicaps (where most of the bigger priced horses pushing the averages up, have emerged), while Thursday and especially Friday look made for punting.
My theory broadly holds up, with the first day at Royal Ascot and Cheltenham being the easiest of the week in relative terms, and Aintree's opening day being a close second. And Cheltenham and Aintree's closing day has been the hardest of those weeks, with Royal Ascot's final day being the second toughest of the quintet.
The message here might be 'get stuck in early, and go home early'. But where's the fun in that?!
A couple of other Royal Ascot notes for you, both related to BetVictor, who continue to excel in terms of offering racing concessions for the big meetings.
Firstly, geegeez - as well as offering wall-to-wall coverage of the big meeting next week - will be running a tipping competition, where you can win yourself up to £200 in free bets. Whoop whoop, I hear you cry. They'll be paid by Victor into your BetVic account. So, if you haven't yet got one, that's a very good reason to address the situation.
[Note, you can play just for fun and kudos, but you might be kicking yourself if you win and you haven't got an account. Prizes are only eligible to accounts registered before the start of the competition, I'm afraid]
And secondly, if that wasn't a good enough reason to bet with Vic next week, then here's another. Their latest concession is 'No Lose Hughes': place a bet on any Royal Ascot race, and if Richard Hughes is placed you'll get your money back as a free bet on net losses up to £25 per race.
I did some digging to see if this was a good offer or not, and I can tell you it probably IS a good offer. Here's why:
Over the past five seasons, Richard Hughes has been in the places on 26 of 109 horses he's ridden at Royal Ascot. That's a place strike rate of 23.85%, meaning you'd be insured on roughly one in four Royal Ascot wagers if you bet every race.
However, looking at the breakdown from year to year, it's fair to say that Hughesie had a shocker last year, with just one of his 22 rides hitting the board. This was untypical, of course, as previous years had yielded 9/27, 6/22, and 7/20.
Obviously, he's likely to have a better chance in some races than others, and delving more deeply into the data I deduced the following...
In line with yesterday's overall findings (see this Royal Ascot piece), the areas to focus are 5yo's or younger, and horses priced at 12/1 or shorter. When Hughes has ridden a horse in this context, he has placed 37.74% of the time, and has been profitable to follow blindly! (Small profit of 8.59 units)
So there you go - two very good reasons to open an account with BetVic ahead of next week. There is, of course, a third: they might be best price about the nag you fancy, and you should always bet best price, especially when - as with Victor - it's best odds guaranteed.