All Weather Trip Droppers: A Profitable Angle?


A friend of mine swears blind that backing handicappers dropping in trip is like finding gold in the street, but it’s not something I’ve considered as a blanket strategy, for all I can see some merit to the practice, writes Rory Delargy. I quickly ran the numbers to determine how profitable AW handicappers were at certain trips if they had run at further than a mile in similar races last time out. I’ve used handicaps on the AW as a benchmark as we are essentially comparing like for like except for distance (if using turf vs AW, we’d have to consider stiffness of track and softness of the going as variables.

In the results below, Betfair profit/loss is to a £1 stake after 5% commission, and A/E is actual wins over expected wins based on market expectations. Figures show results for last ten years (2005-2015).



Horses Who Raced Over 1m+ On Last Start (AW Handicaps Only)

           RUNS   WINS    BETFAIR P/L   BETFAIR ROI       A/E

5f       224         23           131.32                   58.62                    1.28

6f       550         52           40.98                     7.45                      1.07

7f      4509       501         510.12          11.31                 1.09                                       

1m     9612       1110       201.86                   2.10                      1.03

The results make interesting reading. Only fair strike rates for horses racing at 1m or shorter after a run over further, but there were profits to be had year in year out by backing those cutting back in trip. These figures improve when we ignore fillies and apply the figures to colts and geldings only, who tend to be more reliable.

It’s interesting what you find when you filter the results by finishing position on most recent start, with the strike rate generally higher in line with previous performance, but the P&L showing a loss for those who had won or been placed over further on their latest outing, presumably the result of being overbet due to conspicuously positive form figures. Backing those who were unplaced last time out (we can assume that for many the failure is due to a lack of stamina), and the figures look better – the table below is for colts and geldings who were unplaced on their most recent start at 1m+.

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Colts & Geldings Who Were Unplaced Over 1m+ On Last Start (AW Handicaps Only)


5f            156         15           98.52                     63.15                     1.22

6f            3430       38           150.87                   43.99                     1.33

7f            2406       218         149.51                   6.21                        1.10       

1m          4491       405         277.73                   6.18                        1.08

What is striking is that while plenty of profit comes from those running at 7f and 1m, the ROI is much higher for sprint trips, and that suggests that this is where the value lies. Again, it should be noted that the strike rate in such races is not overly high, but the prices seem to be more generous. My thinking is that most punters betting in a 6f race would prefer to choose a runner who had run well over a similar trip, rather than one which had run moderately over further. That sounds like a logical approach, but the results suggest that such horses are underbet on a regular basis. It’s also worth pointing out that backing such horses makes a profit at SP as well as at Betfair prices, which is encouraging.

I’ve decided to concentrate on races over 5 and 6 furlongs therefore, and am looking for any other means of distilling the profits further. Race class is worth looking at, and while the results in class 2 races are impressive, they come from a small sample (2 wins from 21 runs), with the most robust figures coming from Class 5 and 6 events, which make up the majority of winter AW cards. It’s also best to concentrate on the UK courses, so I’ve removed stats for both Dundalk and Laytown, the latter of which could hardly be deemed an AW track in any real sense.


Colts & Geldings Over 5f/6f Who Were Unplaced Over 1m+ On Last Start (UK AW Handicaps Only)


C5           107         16           96.18                     89.89                     1.65

C6           229         27           147.15                   64.26                     1.56

The most telling figures on our distilled chart is the A/E figure, which shows that for the races shown, those horses we have identified are winning races better than one and a half times more often than the market expects, which is an excellent indicator of future profitability, as is strike rates at or above 12%.

The criteria outlined above show a profit at all UK AW tracks, although the best figures come from Lingfield. On a related note, there are a few trainers who enjoy more than their share of winners when cutting back in trip in this fashion, with Mick Appleby, Dean Ivory, David Elsworth and John Jenkins all having positive profiles, so following their runners who are reverting to sprinting is an angle you should certainly consider.


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9 replies
  1. Everyone calls me Paul says:

    Cheers Rory. Looks like a very nice angle, persuasively presented.

    On a general note, do you filter results over time to determine if an edge is ever lost as the market corrects, or would the samples then generally be too small?


    • helynsar
      helynsar says:

      Hi Paul, should probably have shown that in a table, but the first thing I’d do with any set of figures is to break them down by year to ensure there isn’t corrosion over time, or indeed that they aren’t skewed by freak results. Rory

      • gympierich says:

        if these figures are based on ten years then are we looking at 4.3 winners a year on average?

        • helynsar
          helynsar says:

          Yes, and that’s why it’s more of a point of interest than a system to go to war with. I’ve not done much research on the same angle on turf, but I’ll fiddle around and see if there is something robust enough to give a regular number of qualifiers while still maintaining profitability. There have been 6 winners from 38 runners so far this year (6 from 36 last year), which leaves punters using this as a system twiddling their thumbs between bets, but hopefully it’s something to stir an interest in the wider angle. Rory

  2. Rog says:

    Hi Rory, I have never been a massive AW fan but your articles are making it seem much more interesting. Like a lot of profitable methods it looks like you would have to have the stomach for backing plenty of losers, but I wouldn’t mind giving it a try using your select list of trainers at just one AW track to start with.

    • helynsar
      helynsar says:

      Hi Rog, if you’re going to focus on one track, I’d recommend Lingfield, but it’s worth pointing out that while the strike rate isn’t huge, the number of qualifying bets would be very small, so it wouldn’t put a big dent in your betting bank! Rory

  3. pearcyy says:

    Hi Rory,
    Love this article as I love a micro system but confused around the criteria. I’ve tried to put this into the system builder on HorseRaceBase as….Today’s race data AW/Handicap/2005-2015 and Horse Last Race AW/Handicap/Distance 8.5f-16.5f – and when I run a breakdown on today’s race distance, I get nowhere near the number of runners/qualifiers that you have in your first table.
    Any help would be massively appreciated.

    • helynsar
      helynsar says:

      Hi Sam,

      Can you try using last race as 8f-16.5f and see if that looks roughly the same as mine (The previous run should be at a mile and further, rather than further than a mile, and a lot of the results will be from horses running at a mile exactly). Because I’m using a different system builder (Proform), there me the odd anomaly, but the figures should be pretty much the same. Rory

      • pearcyy says:

        Hi Rory,
        More qualifiers but no where near the amount that you have. It may be because with HRB you have no option to select ‘horses last run over AW was over 8f or further’. So the system narrows the criteria to those horses whose LTO was on AW 8f+, I take it Proform lets you select to compare against the horses last run over AW, regardless of whether it ran on the turf in between those?
        So if I put Today’s race data as AW/Handicap/2005-2015 and horses LTO as AW/Handicap/Distance 8f+ – I only get 87 qualifiers over 5f versus the 224 that you get?

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