Betting Mastery Video #1: Setting Yourself Up to Succeed

In this first video, I want to talk about the building blocks of success as a bettor on horse racing. It starts more fundamentally than which horse should I back or in which race should I bet, as you'll discover...

Geegeez Gold FAQ

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The Importance of Pace in 5f Handicaps: Part 5

This is the fifth instalment in a series of articles looking at pace bias in 5f handicaps, writes Dave Renham. In previous articles (the first of which is at this link, subsequent ones linked to from there) I have looked at a variety of angles including examining courses, as some offer a stronger front running bias than others; I have looked at the Geegeez pace ratings and how top rated pace horses have performed in terms of win percentages and profit/losses; I have also looked at predicting pace.

The Actual Front Runner

In this article I am going to focus solely on the actual early leader (front runner) of each race to see whether there are any patterns or decent angles that can be gleaned from the data. I have looked at 200 races once again focusing on handicap races with 6 or more runners. I have not used races where it was unclear who led early (this happens roughly 3 times in every 100 races). At this juncture, it is important for me to note that I term the front runner or early leader to be the horse that takes the lead within the first furlong. If a horse has led for 50yds and then is overtaken I assume the front runner to be the horse that took the lead after 50yds, not the horse that led just for 50yds. For the record in most sprint handicaps the horse that takes the lead in the opening strides is still leading after 1 furlong.

My first idea was to look at the leaders and what their position had been in the Geegeez pace ratings. To recap, horses on the Geegeez pace-card have their last four runs highlighted with the most recent run to the left and each horse has an individual total for their last four runs. 16 is the maximum score and 4 the minimum (this is assuming they have had at least 4 career runs).

To begin with I decided to split the runners into “thirds” like I have done in the past for draw bias. Hence in a 12-runner race, pace rated 1 to 4 would lie in the top “third” of the pace ratings, those rated 5 to 8 in the middle “third”, and those rated 9 to 12 in the bottom “third”. It should also be noted that I also adjust the pace positions when there are non-runners – for example in a 10 runner race if the 3rd highest pace rated horse is a non-runner, then the horse rated 4th becomes 3rd, 5th rated becomes 4th rated, etc. Here then are the figures where the leaders/front runners came from in the pace ratings broken into ‘thirds’:

Top third of pace ratings Middle third of pace ratings Bottom third of pace ratings
69.5% 24% 6.5%


As you can see the early leader came from the top ‘third’ of the pace ratings roughly 7 races in 10; in addition horses from the bottom third of the pace ratings took the early lead just once in every 15 races on average. This is a positive result – perhaps the result we might expect, but it is good to see that the Geegeez pace ratings clearly help in terms of pinpointing the area where we are most likely to find the actual front runner. It is also interesting to note that in races of 12 or more runners the early leader came from the top third of the pace ratings just under 75% of the time; in races of 8 runners or less this figure dropped to 64%. This suggests, albeit with relatively limited data that using the pace ratings to try and find the front runner works best in bigger fields.

To add some more ‘meat to the bones’ I have split the pace ratings into halves rather than thirds and the table below shows the breakdown:

Top half of pace ratings Bottom half of pace ratings
85.5% 14.5%


Hence, when you are trying to predict the front runner in a 5f handicap, the Geegeez pace ratings look the best starting point. If you can essentially narrow the potential front running candidates down to 50% of the field or less, you are giving yourself a much better chance of predicting the early leader.

As I have mentioned in previous articles, front runners in sprints over this minimum trip do have a huge edge – in this sample 22.5% of all races were won by the early leader and 51.5% of front runners made the first three. Hence the more often we can successfully predict the front runner the better.

In terms of the 200 early leaders in this sample, I next looked at their last two races and combining these last two pace figures (maximum of 8). Here are the findings:

Pace total (last two runs) Number of races ‘led’
8 47
7 44
6 50
5 37
4 16
3 2
2 4


Thus, 70.5% of all leaders had scored 6, 7 or 8 points in total when combining their last two pace scores. This data has a similar pattern to the top ‘third’ data for the last four races, as one would expect.

Just imagine if you were able to predict the front runner in every race - you would make a huge profit. Indeed if you could achieve this correct prediction around 70% of the time I would estimate you would still make very healthy profit; remembering even if the horse you picked as the front runner does not actually lead, it can still win!

In my fourth pace article I noted that just under 40% of top pace rated horses did actually lead; I did not though look at horses that were 2nd or 3rd pace rated. This time I have, and in 146 of the 200 races (73%) the early leader had been in the top three of the Geegeez pace ratings.

As I hope you can see, the Geegeez pace ratings do give an excellent indication of pace set up in a race. Whether you use the top third method; the last two runs method, or the top 3 in the ratings method.


In Play Options

There are of course other punting options in terms of front running ideas. One such idea is to trade the front runner ‘in play’. The argument for this approach is logical – front runners lose around 3 and a half times more often than they win so why not trade? Horses that lead in 5f handicaps generally contract in price so why not try to make the most of this fact? Now you could trade to achieve a free bet – eg back the horse at 11.0 pre-race and lay in play at 6.0. If the horses loses you get your stake back; if it wins you have a winning bet at 5/1.

Another option for traders is ‘dobbing’ - dobbing is a term I came across a few years back – I am not sure where it originates from, but basically ‘DOB’ means ‘double or bust’. Essentially if our bet/trade is successful, we double our original stake, if it is not successful we ‘bust’ or lose our stake. It may be easier to explain by giving you an example:

Let us imagine you back a horse pre-race at 8.0 for £10; in order to create a potential DOB you try and lay at half the odds for double the stake – so a lay at 4.0 for £20. If the horse hits 4.0 or lower in running, your lay bet will be matched and regardless of the result you will win £10 (less commission). Here is the simple maths behind the two potential winning outcomes - if the horse goes onto win the race you get £70 returned from the ‘back’ part of the bet; you lose £60 on the ‘lay’ part of the bet giving you that £10 profit; if the horse does not go onto win, you lose your £10 stake from the ‘back’ bet, but gain £20 from the lay stake – again giving you a £10 profit. Naturally, if the lay part of the bet is not matched you will lose your £10.

There are other ‘in play’ trading methods/options/ideas when it comes to front runners, but I don’t want to get bogged down looking at too many of these. Suffice to say, front runners tend to contract in price; some see their price drop dramatically.

In relation to this, one thing I wanted to look at was at what point was the early front runner overtaken? The longer a leader leads over 5f, in general the shorter the price will become ‘in play’. Here are my findings:


At what point was the front runner overtaken? % of leaders
Not overtaken (led all the way) 22.5
Overtaken in final half furlong (within 110 yds of the finish) 14
Overtaken between the furlong pole and half a furlong from the finish 19
Overtaken 1.5f from the finish to the furlong pole 23
Overtaken between the 2 furlong pole and 1 and half a furlongs from the finish 13
Overtaken before the 2 furlong pole 8.5


This should make pleasing reading for would be ‘in play traders’ – over 55% of front runners are still leading at the furlong pole; nearly 80% are leading 1.5 furlongs from the finish. There will be many of you reading this who have seen your horse lead at the furlong pole only to get swallowed up or beaten close home; perhaps now you have a trading option/idea which could potentially take away some of that pain in the future!


Actual front runners by odds

Finally, I looked at the prices of the horses that led early. Here is a breakdown:

  • There were 61 leaders that started 5/1 or less;
  • There were 52 leaders that started between 11/2 and 9/1;
  • There were 51 leaders that started between 10/1 and 16/1;
  • There were 36 leaders that started 18/1 or bigger.

So a relatively even split. Again this is almost certainly good news for ‘in play’ traders as there is excellent scope for trading front runners that start big prices. Indeed of those bigger priced runners (18/1 or bigger) 17 of the 36 were still leading at the furlong pole (a handful of these went onto win).

I hope you have found this article interesting and given you further food for thought. Maybe there should be a Geegeez competition next flat season to see who can pick pre-race the highest percentage of front runners in 5f handicaps. In fact it doesn’t have to be restricted to 5f races – maybe 5 to 7f races. Anyway, one for Matt to think about perhaps!

- Dave Renham

Nursery Nuggets: Betting in 2yo Handicaps


On 5th July the first of more than two hundred nurseries - 2yo handicaps -  programmed for 2018 was staged, at Haydock Park. They are a feature of the second half of the calendar year and, due to the unexposed nature of many of the runners, have often been considered off limits to large swathes of punters.

But nursery handicaps are just like any other group of races: they have distinct characteristics which require a primary focus in certain key areas. Happily, there are plenty of data on which to chew and from which to attempt to draw meaningful inferences.

In this post, I'm going to focus on nurseries since 2014 - four years' worth - and in the UK only. I'll exclude the five races already run in 2018 at time of writing, so we have complete years from 2014 to 2017.

During that time 8618 runners contested 972 races, none of which culminated in a dead heat. There are therefore 972 winners in the sample. Average field size can quickly be calculated as 8.67, meaning plenty of opportunities for each way punters (609 of the 972 races had eight or more runners). Let us try to determine some characteristics which separate the winners from much of the rest of their fields. To do that we'll start with an old adage I heard in my formative punting years, but first some context...


"Back the top weight in 2yo handicaps"

I don't know who first coined this, or why. It is predicated on good sense inasmuch as horses tend to win handicap races in descending order of weight rank. That is, the highest weighted horse wins most often, the second highest weighted horse wins next most often, and so on. But nothing so straightforward was ever missed by the market, meaning backing top weights in handicaps will send you skint quicker than an afternoon playing find the lady on a grubby street corner.

Ignoring those races - amateur riders and the like - where horses are asked to carry in excess of ten stone (the pattern is the same), the below shows the effect of weight carried on win percent in all flat handicaps in UK between 2014 and 2017.

Win strike rate in UK flat handicaps, 2014 to 2017, by weight carried

Win strike rate in UK flat handicaps, 2014 to 2017, by weight carried


That is what one might call a pretty robust correlation. More weight equals a greater chance of winning. But here's how that chart looks when expressed as return on investment at starting price...

Return of investment at SP in UK flat handicaps 2014-17, by weight carried

Return on investment at SP in UK flat handicaps 2014-17, by weight carried


What this basically tells us is that, ignoring the most lightly weighted horses, there is a vague consistency in losses down to around 8-04 (eight stone four pounds). In other words, although more weight equates to more winners, from a betting perspective it amounts to similar losses almost regardless of the equine's impost.

[In the image above, I hovered over a data point merely to illustrate that further intel can be gleaned from these charts; there is no specific relevance of highlighting the 9-13 group of horses].

The above preamble is intended as context for what follows, namely a similar perspective on nursery handicaps. This is how the diffusion of weight affects a horse's chance of winning in such races:

UK nursery handicaps, 2014-17, performance by weight carried [max 9-07]

In the image this time, I've included one of the variables on the left hand side, so you can see I've truncated the weight range at 9-07. This is because there are a handful of runners which carried more than that, some of which won at 100% (i.e. one from one), thus skewing the line.

We can see the trend generally follows the 'all age' flat handicaps superset. Below is the impact of weight on ROI in nursery handicaps, and as can be seen it offers a far less clear picture:

ROI by weight in UK nursery handicaps, 2014-17

ROI by weight in UK nursery handicaps, 2014-17


Not only do lower weighted horses win less often, they also lose more cash. Meanwhile, at the top end of the weight spectrum, we have a couple of spikes either side of nine stone that creep comfortably north of break even. Of course, in the general sense it's not especially helpful because there's no reason why horses carrying 9-01 should be more profitable than those carrying 9-00: it's just a quirk of the data.

But there is something of an ROI cliff at around the eight stone mark, and horses carrying less weight than that in nurseries can generally be treated with contempt. The reality is that many of them are simply not good enough to ever win such a race, perhaps any race.

Getting back to our "back top weights in nursery handicaps" starting point, the next chart shows win strike rate and return on investment (SP) by weight rank:

Win percent and ROI by weight rank, UK nursery handicaps, 2014-17

Win percent and ROI by weight rank, UK nursery handicaps, 2014-17


Ignoring the obvious outlier (rank #19) with its big priced winner, the blue bars show how win strike rate diminishes as we drop down the weights; and the orange bars show how one would have lost less by sticking to the higher weighted runners.

As interesting as this may (or may not) be, it is academic for those of us looking to butter our bread. As with absolute weight, so weight rank confirms that one will lose money more slowly rather than win money following higher rated, and therefore weighted, horses.


The value of experience in nursery performance

All juveniles intending to run in nursery handicaps must have either won their first two races or run at least three times. In both cases, the lack of racecourse evidence and/or experience can lead to horses improving significantly as they strengthen up and get the hang of things. And, yes, as they are presented with a test for which they might have been bred.

We can examine the bearing this has on nursery handicaps by looking at performance by number of career runs. Here, received wisdom says that a horse's best chance of winning may be when stepping into handicap company for the first time. But the data do not bear that out:


Nursery handicap debutants (0) win at a rate of 10.77%, whereas those having their fourth nursery start or more win 13.1% of the time. Those with intermediate levels of experience win incrementally more. There is then a correlation between amount of handicap experience and an increased win chance. But what of profitability?


Here, an interesting picture begins to emerge, although still somewhat ambiguous. Looking at exchange prices, we can see that not only are those with more nursery experience more likely to win but, unlike those carrying bigger weights, they are also profitable to follow (at exchange prices).

Greater experience in nursery handicaps should be considered a plus for a horse.


The virtue of ratings

Although there are occasional blind spots in the public consciousness such as, arguably, the benefit of experience in nurseries, a better way to get an edge is to create or derive some information not available to the masses. That could be a system, methodology or a set of ratings.

Geegeez Gold publishes Peter May's 'SR' ratings under license and they reveal some interesting things in the context of nursery handicaps. This next chart shows nursery win rate by SR rating rank:

Win strike rate by SR rank, UK nursery handicaps 2014-17

Win strike rate by SR rank, UK nursery handicaps 2014-17


The top rated horse in nursery handicaps in the four year study period won 18.44% of the time for an SP profit of - drumroll please - 0.95 points! While nobody ever went skint taking a profit, an ROI of 0.1% is more for your institutional investors than us profit-minded adrenaline junkies.

But it is a pretty good starting point to look at thing like race distance, weight, going, field size, market rank and class. One needs to be a little careful not to fit the story around the data, but it might be reasonable to assume that shorter distances - and therefore more consistently truly run races - would fare better from a rating perspective (when that rating has both a speed and form element within it). Likewise, perhaps bigger fields should yield better results for the same reason. And, based on earlier conclusions, those carrying more weight may be expected to at least win more often if not show a profit. Finally, perhaps ratings will manifest themselves as a marketable differentiator of class.

SR and Race Distance

Starting with race distance, we get some credence to the 'shorter distances are better' perception, as follows:

Top-rated SR, by race distance, UK nursery handicaps, 2014-2017

Top-rated SR, by race distance, UK nursery handicaps, 2014-2017


The pure sprinters at five furlongs have won almost one in four when top-rated, and have been profitable to back blindly to boot. Indeed, taking all sprint race distances - which I generally classify as seven furlongs or shorter - we see a pleasing hit rate, supported by a solid place strike rate, and a solid ROI:

Runs Wins Places Win % EW % Win PL EW PL ROI A/E IV
708 137 288 19.4 40.7 69.66 1.64 9.84 1.02 1.73


SR and Weight Carried

Next we can see the distribution of top rated nursery runners by weight carried. Top weight in such races is generally allocated 9-07, and it is interesting (though not altogether surprising) to note the strong coincidence of top weight - which equates to top official rating - and top SR rating.

Distribution of top-rated SR nursery runners, by weight, UK 2014-2017

Distribution of top-rated SR nursery runners, by weight, UK 2014-2017


But what of profitability? Here, an interesting anomaly emerges:

Impact of weight carried on top-rated SR horses, UK nursery handicaps 2014-2017

Impact of weight carried on top-rated SR horses, UK nursery handicaps 2014-2017


Those 9-07 horses, with their confluence of top public and private ratings, are notably unprofitable to follow. My assumption for this relates to the public element - that is, officially top-rated - and to the aforementioned 'back top weights in nursery handicaps' mantra espoused by so many for so long.

What is more interesting is that immediately below the top rated/top weighted, there is a full stone range in the weights where backing top SR runners yields both a high strike rate and an SP profit. Nevertheless, I'm not entirely comfortable with discounting the top weights: the pursuit of sustainable profit is rooted in sensible logical analysis. Conveniently discounting strands that don't fit is a surefire way to secure disappointing outcomes thereafter!


SR and Going

I struggled with this one a fair bit when I saw the output. Why? Because there is a correlation in the data that looks plausible. But I just cannot find a way to explain it. Here's what I mean:

Top SR in UK nurseries, 2014 to 2017, by going

Top SR in UK nurseries, 2014 to 2017, by going

The firm ground category consists of six runners, of which none won (as you can see from the above), but five were placed! Good to firm and good ground have produced slightly lower win strike rates than slower surfaces but the place strike rates are broadly comparable, leading to my discomfort in 'conveniently' excluding faster turf.

Lawns on the soft side of good or slower, and all weather surfaces, have been highly profitable. I will leave it to the reader to attempt to justify quick turf runner excommunication...


SR and field size

What of field size? My hypothesis is that bigger fields, and therefore more reliably run races, should yield better results, in terms of profit if not strike rate (there obviously being more horses to beat in the latter case). The data don't really support the hypothesis, however:

Runners Runs Wins Places Win % EW % Win PL EW PL ROI A/E IV
2-5 114 39 59 34.21 51.75 5.98 -4.84 5.25 1.15 1.53
6-8 326 68 142 20.86 43.56 6.87 -29.74 2.11 1.06 1.47
9-12 364 51 135 14.01 37.09 -6.90 -56.51 -1.90 0.84 1.44
13+ 118 12 33 10.17 27.97 -5.00 -10.37 -4.24 0.84 1.46


We would of course expect strike rate to diminish as the number of runners increases; but the theory of more truly run races leading to better results for top SR horses holds little water, notwithstanding that all runner groups are within fine margins of break even one side or the other. In short, there's little of positive or negative utility in field size.


SR and class

My premise with regards to class is that the ratings may fare better in better class races; the rationale is that in such races, where many unexposed recent winners or good grade placers lock horns, the winner may be underestimated by the market but not by a private handicap (which is, in essence, what any set of 'unofficial' ratings are).

This time the theory does seem to stand a test.


Class Runs Wins Places Win % EW % Win PL EW PL ROI A/E IV
2 91 16 37 17.58 40.66 28.08 36.91 30.86 1.25 1.73
3 77 19 32 24.68 41.56 11.17 -3.20 14.51 1.18 1.77
4 195 42 83 21.54 42.56 3.28 -23.84 1.68 1.02 1.53
5 291 52 113 17.87 38.83 -40.20 -78.02 -13.81 0.96 1.57
6 268 41 104 15.3 38.81 -1.38 -33.31 -0.51 0.84 1.63


Without wanting to get too unequivocal, there are some strong looking patterns. Actual versus Expected, a measure of the value proposition (more info here), slides in a linear manner from best class to worst, with Class 2 to 4 offering degrees of positive expectation.

In profit terms, all bar Class 5 have made a surplus at exchange odds, and even the 40 point-losing at SP Class 5 fares close to even at exchange prices. A focus on better races looks a beneficial means of deploying the Peter May SR figures in nurseries.


SR and the market

There are so many ways to slice and dice the dataset, and one more is to overlay market information: odds and / or odds rank.

Odds Runs Wins Places Win % EW % Win PL EW PL ROI A/E IV
Odds on 20 14 16 70 80 3.79 2.50 18.95 1.18 3.78
Evs to 2/1 100 39 62 39 62 -1.41 -16.39 -1.41 1 2.78
85/40 to 7/2 200 59 109 29.5 54.5 32.07 13.87 16.04 1.15 2.37
4/1 to 6/1 237 32 88 13.5 37.13 -48.50 -100.73 -20.46 0.8 1.25
13/2 to 10/1 213 15 61 7.04 28.64 -77.00 -118.82 -36.15 0.64 0.66
11/1 to 18/1 112 9 27 8.04 24.11 20.00 16.00 17.86 1.16 0.8
20/1 + 62 4 11 6.45 17.74 65.00 85.25 104.84 1.7 0.73


This is quite interesting, there appear to be three distinct areas: a profitable and high strike rate top of the market; an under-performing mid-market, in both profit and strike rate terms; and a surprisingly robust 'long tail' for those who can suffer losing runs in the pursuit of big winners.

The thirteen winners priced at 11/1 or bigger SP paid an additional 109.94 points at Betfair SP. Even taking out the 50/1 scorer (95 BSP), Celestine Abbey, still leaves 64.94 extra units of profit at BSP. But anyway, if you're backing the rags, why would you exclude the best of them?!


Conclusions / Pulling it all together

From the beginning of July to the end of the calendar year, there is a nursery handicap - or two, or three - almost every day. Knowing how to play the odds specifically for such races is an edge most punters don't bother to look for; and it is one where a few rules of thumb may help separate out a lot of the losing chaff.

The first relates to weight: those horses carrying eight stone or less won less than 5% of the time, and lost a massive 57% of stakes at SP across 356 runners. The story is broadly similar longer term: since 2009, 58 from 1142 were able to win (5.08%) for an ROI of -43.46%. Ouch.

Treat nursery runners carrying eight stone or less with grave suspicion.

In terms of experience, more is definitely better, both in terms of winning chance and profitability. In the four year sample period, it was shown that horses won more often with each additional run in nursery handicaps and, moreover, that with at least two prior nursery starts were profitable to back at exchange prices.

Favour experienced handicappers in nurseries.

So far so generic. But still, using nothing more than a daily paper, you ought to be able to find qualifiers for a system - more than eight stone, more than three prior nursery runs - that has made a profit of 27.46 points at starting price and an enormous 251.9 points at Betfair SP in the four year review period.

How can Geegeez Gold's ratings assist?

We've seen earlier in this article how our SR figures are most effective in shorter races, specifically at up to seven furlongs. Back top rated SR horses carrying more than eight stone at distances of seven furlongs or shorter has yielded 136 winners from 689 runners (19.74%) and a profit at SP of 71.66 points. I don't have the exchange data yet, sadly, but this group includes the two biggest priced winners from the 11/1+ analysis above, those two being worth an additional 51.31 points at Betfair SP. So let's be conservative and call it 150 points profit on 689 bets (21.77% ROI).

I couldn't justify logically leaving those 9-07 top weights out, but if you can, you might be able to replicate the better historical rate of 114 from 585 for 102.67 points at SP. <<< Caveat emptor: you need to be comfortable that there's a legitimate reason to exclude the top weights.

Focus on top-rated SR horses at distances up to and including seven furlongs.

Going was likewise difficult to assimilate: the data say strongly that top-rated SR's perform best on softer than good or all weather surfaces, but there is no obvious reason why faster surfaces should yield lower strike rates and poorer ROI's. Of course, the fact that we licenses the ratings means they are 'black box' to us and, therefore, that we/I cannot discount that there is something in the algorithm to support what those data say. I'm still struggling though...

It may pay to focus on softer turf and all weather...

Those are three solid guiding principles which are worth committing to memory/the notebook:

1. Treat nursery runners carrying eight stone or less with grave suspicion.

2. Favour experienced handicappers in nurseries.

3. Focus on top-rated SR horses at distances up to and including seven furlongs.

For fun, and as something to add to my QT Angles watch list (facility coming soon, I promise!), I'm going to add the following which may make more experienced punters cringe even though I hope I've sufficiently explained/excused/caveated/apologised for each element in what preceded:

- More than eight stone and less than 9-07 (top weight generally)
- Top-rated on SR
- Seven furlongs or shorter
- Softer than good, or all weather

It looks very good, but it may be that the veneer hides something less credible. Please handle with care...

Year Runs Wins Places Win % EW % Win PL EW PL ROI A/E IV
2014 86 16 35 18.6 40.7 86.70 96.92 100.81 1.04 1.66
2015 107 26 45 24.3 42.06 6.55 -2.16 6.12 1.26 2.17
2016 86 16 34 18.6 39.53 25.16 15.42 29.26 1 1.75
2017 114 30 53 26.32 46.49 40.09 36.41 35.17 1.42 2.33

I will personally also manually check for levels of experience when such runners crop up, as we don't currently have such variables in our Query Tool.


Nursery handicaps are a significant part of the flat programme book in the second part of the season, and I hope that the above has offered a few morsels worthy of consideration when playing such races.

Good luck!


p.s. this post was put together primarily with the aid of Geegeez Gold's Query Tool, which enables users to ask questions of our database and to display the answers to those questions in numerous table or chart output formats. Gold subscribers can try Query Tool here.

Non-Gold subscribers can register a free account here, or sign up for a trial (or renew a previous subscription) here.

The Importance of Pace in 5f Handicaps: Part 3

In my first two articles I looked at pace in five-furlong handicaps focusing primarily on courses, writes Dave Renham.

Part 1, which then links to Part 2, can be found here.

The data suggest that some courses offer a much stronger pace edge than others. However, all the research points to the fact that front runners in 5f handicaps have a definite edge almost regardless of where the race is being run. When I say ‘definite edge’ perhaps I should clarify that front runners win far more often than statistically one might expect.

To recap, when I talk about pace my main focus is the initial pace in a race and positions the horses take up in the opening couple of furlongs. As mentioned before the Geegeez website splits pace data into four groups - Led, Prominent, Mid Division and Held Up. These groups are assigned numerical values – led gets 4 points, prominent 3, mid division 2 and held up 1. When I used to tip ‘back in the day’, I created similar pace figures, but used values from 5 to 1, and also used the last six runs rather than the last four. I don’t think there will ever be a ‘perfect’ method for creating pace figures, but I am sure the Geegeez method is as good as any.

Horses on the Geegeez racecard pace tab (data view) have their last four UK/Ire runs highlighted, with the most recent run to the left and each horse has an individual total for their last four runs. Hence the highest last four races pace total a horse could achieve is 16 (four 4s), while the lowest is 4 (four 1s). This is assuming of course that they have had at least four career runs.

With such an advantage in 5f handicaps it makes sense to investigate ways of trying to successfully predict the front runner. One starting point would simply be to look at the horse’s combined pace figures in the race in question and choose the horse with the highest figure. Let us look at a recent example to help make this idea clearer to the reader. The race was run on the 31st May at Hamilton – it was a 5 furlong handicap with 7 runners. Pre-race the 7 runners had the following pace totals:


5f sprint pace tab example

5f sprint pace tab example


One difficulty for predicting the front runner in this particular race was that you had three horses at the top with very close figures. Also none of the runners had led a race early in more than one of their last four starts meaning that they were not ‘out and out’ front running trail-blazers. As the race panned out, the three most likely front runners took up the first three positions early on: Jabbarockie led narrowly to Jacob’s Pillow who in turn raced just ahead of Dapper Man. Hamilton’s 5f favours front runners reasonably strongly, as can be seen from the green pace ‘blobs’ in the image, and not surprisingly perhaps the winner and runner up came from these three.

As we can see, this race panned out in a very similar way to how the pace figures had predicted it would. However, correctly predicting the front runner of the top three rated was clearly not ‘a given’. This of course is one of the problems with blindly going for the highest rated pace horse. Having said that, one would expect the highest rated pace horse to lead far more often than the lowest rated pace horse! My aim is to look at this idea in more detail in the future.

For this article I am using a slightly more simplistic approach. I am focusing on the most recent race only. To begin with I looked at horses that gained a pace figure of 4 (by leading early) last time out in a 5f handicap to see what pace figure they achieved in their very next run. I was hoping of course that a decent percentage led early on next time out. Here are my findings:

Pace figure

(next run after leading over 5f LTO)

4 3 2 1
% of runners 42.5% 39.2% 8.3% 10.0%


This is quite encouraging with 42.5% of runners leading on their very next start. In addition less than 20% of them raced midfield or further back in the pack early on. At this juncture, it should be noted that horses that were taken on for the lead last time out scored slightly lower in terms of leading next time (led roughly 34% of the time). These are the horses that gained comments such as ‘with leaders’, ‘disputed lead’ etc – for the record these runners still gain a 4 score for these comments.

I then looked at the data for horses that had gained a 4 pace score last time out in 6f handicaps. 6f races are still considered sprints, and the front runner generally has an edge in these races too. However, this edge is less strong than it is over 5f. I was intrigued however to see how the next time out figures panned out – would last time out front runners, lead again? This is what I found:

Pace figure

(next run after leading over 6f LTO)

4 3 2 1
% of runners 31.0% 44.4% 12.5% 12.1%


Down to around 1 in 3 who managed to lead next time, although 75% either led or tracked the pace (which I guess can be taken as a positive). The figures for horses that were taken on for the lead last time out again scored lower (just 21% of these runners led next time).

It seems sensible given this initial data to concentrate on 5f handicaps for the remainder of this article. This does not mean we cannot gain a pace edge over other race distances too, but I feel the front running bias works best over the minimum distance of 5f.

My next port of call was to look at horses that had gained a pace score last time out in 5f handicaps of 1 – these are the horses that raced at the back of the pack LTO. I was hoping to see that they predominantly raced at the back of the pack early on in their next run, or at least did not lead early very often. This is what I found:


Pace figure (next run after a pace score of 1 LTO over 5f) 4 3 2 1
% of runners 7.9% 35.5% 22.1% 34.5%


Interestingly a pace score of 3 has been achieved the most, although a score of 1 was not far behind. Pleasingly from a research point of view only 8% of runners that were held up at the back LTO scored a 4 and led early on their next start. The stats suggest therefore that horses that gained a 4 pace score LTO in 5f handicaps are over 5 times more likely to lead next time out than horses that gained a 1 pace score.

There are of course many factors that determine how likely a horse is to lead – not just their pace score over their last four runs, or their pace score LTO – but as I have alluded to earlier the pace competitiveness of the other runners in the race. One huge factor that has to be taken into account is the draw at certain courses. If we look at Chester over 5f one can see that it is extremely difficult to lead from a wide draw. In handicaps with 8 or more runners horses from the top third of the draw have managed to take the early lead just 13% of the time. This drops to a measly 7.5% when there have been 10 or more runners. Chester is not unique in that respect either – Beverley in 5f handicaps (10 runners or more) has seen the top third of the draw lead early just 16% of the time whereas the bottom third of the draw has assumed an early advantage 52% of the time. Thus the draw must be factored in at some courses.

I looked next at whether leading in a bigger field made it more likely you would lead next time – my theory being that to lead a bigger field would need more early pace than if you were running in a smaller field. I looked at 5f handicaps with 12 runners or more, and it should be noted that if the race had split into more than one group, I chose the overall leader only. However, the figures virtually matched the overall 5f figures as the table below shows:

Pace figure (next run after leading over 5f LTO in a 12+ runner race) 4 3 2 1
% of runners 42.4% 39.8% 7.6% 10.2%


My next port of call was looking at horses that had won a 5f handicap LTO by making all the running – these runners earn comments such as ‘made all’, ‘made most’, ‘made virtually all’, etc. My theory was that horses in form that had led LTO were more likely to lead on their very next start. This time, the data backed up the theory:

Pace figure (next run making all or making most over 5f LTO) 4 3 2 1
% of runners 51.2% 36.8% 4.8% 7.2%


For the first time we exceed the 50% mark in terms of horses that lead.

Perhaps at this juncture it is worth elaborating on why being able to predict the front runner in 5f handicaps is worth the effort. It has been noted that front runners win more often than they should statistically, but the key point is that they potentially offer huge profits. Now clearly you are never going to be able to predict the front runner all the time, but the higher percentage you achieve, the greater your chances of making decent long term returns.

Finally in this article I want to offer another approach in terms of trying to predict the front runner in 5f handicaps – this is simply focusing on individual horses that traditionally have shown a desire to lead early. Now, this is likely to limit your potential bets considerably but if you were able to create a list of say 25 such horses you would have a good chance of turning the stats in your favour. Let me look at one such horse – Bosham. At the time of writing (June 1st 2018), Bosham has raced 67 times in his career and has led early in 41 of those races – this equates to 61.2% of the time. We can improve upon this by digging a bit deeper into his record: it improves to 63.8% in 5f races; in 5f races in single figure fields (9 or less runners) this improves to 71.4% (from 21 races); in 5f races running round a bend this improves to 76% (from 25 races).

Bosham last raced on the 31st May at Chelmsford over 5f. This race was also a good example of when the Geegeez pace stats for the last four runs have worked perfectly. These were the runners in the race with their pace totals:


Bosham was a very likely leader on a speed-favouring track, and prevailed at 7/1

Bosham was a very likely leader on a speed-favouring track, and prevailed at 7/1


Bosham looked the most likely front runner having led in each of his last four starts and so it proved. Of course if you had looked at his career record this would also have pinpointed him as a likely front runner. Another positive was that he had a decent draw in 4 which meant he was close to the favoured inside rail. As it turned out, Bosham led early and went on to win relatively unchallenged at 7/1. For the record the joint-second rated pace runner, Crosse Fire, a 16/1 shot, raced in second early on before fading into fourth in the final furlong.

The data in this article cements the fact that early pace is be a highly significant factor in horseracing, and 5f handicaps in particular. Geegeez Gold offers users the insight for any race within the Pace tab, and subscribers are strongly encouraged to take some time to get to grips with it. Such time investment is quite likely to generate a robust financial return.

***Part 4 can be viewed here***

- Dave Renham

p.s. if you're not yet a Gold subscriber, you can get a taster of the pace functionality either by registering as a free user and checking the pace in our free Gold races (up to six daily), or you can take a 30 day trial for £1. Click here to start your trial.

Instant Expert v2.0 is LIVE

It's live, the new Instant Expert v2.0. Or maybe we'll just continue to call it Instant Expert, eh?

Most importantly, if you're in the Remain camp, do nothing and Instant Expert will continue to display the data as ever it did. However, if you're an Instantexpiteer (see what I did there? Not great, granted) then you'll want to have a watch and a listen to the below videotape, which explains all...

There is also an updated User Guide that outlines the changes. You can get that from the link on the My Geegeez page.

Part 2: The Importance of Pace in 5f Handicaps

In my first article I looked at pace in 5-furlong handicaps focusing on the running style bias angle. The figures clearly showed a huge difference between the front running chances of horses depending on which 5f course he/she was running. In this second part, we will revisit the course angle and aim to offer a more complete picture.

To recap from the first article, when I talk about pace my main focus is the early pace in a race and the position horses take up early on. The Geegeez website splits pace data into four groups - Led, Prominent, Mid Division and Held Up. These groups are assigned numerical values – led gets 4 points, prominent 3, mid division 2 and held up 1. On each Geegeez racecard these figures are assigned to every horse in the race going back four UK or Irish runs.

We can use these numerical figures to create course and distance pace averages. I have done this by adding up the pace scores of all the winners at a particular course and dividing it by the total number of races. The higher the average score, the more biased the course and distance is to horses that lead early or race close to the pace. Here are the 5 furlong handicap C&D pace averages for all turf courses in the UK.


Course 5f pace average 5f Pace Rank
Lingfield (turf) 3.33 1
Chester 3.3 2
Epsom 3 3
Catterick 2.97 4
Ripon 2.97 5
Redcar 2.88 6
Chepstow 2.86 7
Hamilton 2.85 8
Nottingham 2.84 9
Thirsk 2.82 10
Windsor 2.78 11
Musselburgh 2.77 12
Newbury 2.73 13
Beverley 2.72 14
Leicester 2.72 15
Pontefract 2.69 16
Goodwood 2.64 17
Ayr 2.63 18
Newmarket 2.58 19
Haydock 2.57 20
Wetherby 2.56 21
Bath 2.54 22
Doncaster 2.51 23
Salisbury 2.5 24
Sandown 2.5 25
Brighton 2.49 26
Carlisle 2.49 27
York 2.47 28
Ffos Las 2.38 29
Yarmouth 2.24 30
Ascot 2.24 31


Lingfield (turf) tops the list, but in truth they have very few 5f handicaps so we perhaps out to take this figure with the proverbial pinch of salt. Chester comes next which is no surprise based on the stats from the previous article. In that article Chester had exceptional winning percentages for front runners and very poor percentages for hold up horses. A 3.3 C&D pace average is huge, so let us look at Chester 5f in more detail.

Running style

Chester 5f

Wins Runners Strike rate (%) IV
Led 31 88 35.23 3.38
Prominent 21 194 10.82 1.04
Mid Division 5 109 4.59 0.44
Held Up 4 194 2.06 0.20


As can be seen, 52 of 61 Chester races have been won by horses that have either led or raced prominently. Essentially these figures indicate that the winner is almost six times more likely to be racing in the front half of the pack early on, than the back half.

Epsom are third on the list but they have only had 25 races so, as with Lingfield turf, the data is limited. Let us instead look at the Catterick who lie fourth on the list. Catterick have had 145 races so a bigger sample to breakdown:


Running style

Catterick 5f

Wins Runners Strike rate (%) IV
Led 47 196 23.98 2.51
Prominent 65 672 9.67 1.00
Mid Division 15 175 8.57 0.93
Held Up 18 473 3.81 0.4


The stats for Catterick are not in Chester’s league in terms of pace bias to front/prominent racers, but the tendency is still strong. Front runners especially have a very potent edge. Digging deeper, if we focus on races at Catterick with 12 to 14 runners the pace bias does increase significantly:


Running style Wins Runners Strike rate (%) IV
Led 15 66 22.73 2.88
Prominent 22 227 9.69 1.23
Mid Division 5 88 5.68 0.72
Held Up 4 201 1.99 0.25


37 of 46 races were won by early leaders or horses that raced prominent early. The winner is roughly four more times more likely to be racing in the front half of the pack early on, than the back half.


At this juncture I decided to dig a little deeper looking to see whether the going made a difference to the overall 5f course pace averages. In the past I have heard two contrasting theories connected with front running horses which would potentially affect the course pace average on a specific type of going:

Theory 1 – horses that lead on softer ground are difficult to peg back because horses find it harder to accelerate from off the pace on such going;

Theory 2 – horses that lead on firmer ground are likely to get less tired at the front due the faster conditions and this accentuates their front running edge. (Plus on quicker ground the race is likely to be run in a shorter overall time again meaning the front runner is expending less energy).

So which one is true – or is neither true? If front runners do have a bigger edge under certain going conditions it will push up the overall course pace average.

I decided to split the results into two – races on good or firmer; and races on good to soft or softer. Here are the course pace averages for all 5f handicaps split into these going types:


Going Course Pace average
Good or firmer 2.72
Good to soft or softer 2.67


As we can see the difference is minimal and not statistically significant. I plan to look at more extremes of going when I have time – looking at soft or heavy versus good to firm or firmer. However, looking at these initial figures, I am not expecting to see a huge variance.

My final area of research in this article is concerned with ‘class’. There is an argument, which I believe is a fair one, that the higher the class, the harder it is for horses to lead from start to finish – due to the more competitive nature of the opposition. Hence, at courses that run more higher class handicaps one might expect their course pace averages to be lower as a result. How to calculate ‘class’ at a particular course is difficult – do you use class levels, prize money, average Official Ratings across all races? I have decided to use a relatively simplistic approach by creating average class levels for each course by adding the class levels for each race and dividing by how many races there were. Hence, for example, if a course had had 10 class 2 handicaps and 10 class 3 handicaps their class average would be 2.5. Here are the course class averages for 5f handicaps (lowest class averages at the top):

Course Course Race Class Average Course Class Rank
Chepstow 5.47 1
Hamilton 5.43 2
Catterick 5.32 3
Brighton 5.26 4
Ffos Las 5.12 5
Beverley 5.11 6
Yarmouth 5.08 7
Bath 5.03 8
Carlisle 5 9
Nottingham 4.96 10
Redcar 4.95 11
Lingfield (turf) 4.92 12
Musselburgh 4.85 13
Ayr 4.77 14
Leicester 4.67 15
Ripon 4.57 16
Wetherby 4.56 17
Pontefract 4.53 18
Salisbury 4.45 19
Windsor 4.44 20
Thirsk 4.09 21
Goodwood 4.04 22
Newbury 4 23
Sandown 4 24
Doncaster 3.85 25
Haydock 3.79 26
Newmarket 3.64 27
Chester 3.02 28
Epsom 2.81 29
York 2.8 30
Ascot 2.62 31


As you would expect, most of the Grade 1 courses are near the bottom of the table. Three of these courses - Ascot, York and Epsom - have the most competitive 5f handicaps in terms of class.

To see if there is a correlation between course pace averages and average course race class I have ranked both lists next to each other, and produced an average rank. For there to be a strong correlation you would expect the majority of the courses to be in similar positions in each column – in other words the higher course 5f pace averages should correlate with the lower course class averages; likewise the lower course pace averages should correlate with the higher course class averages.


Course Course Class Rank (low>high) 5f Pace Rank Class / Pace Average
Catterick 3 4 3.5
Chepstow 1 7 4
Hamilton 2 8 5
Lingfield (turf) 12 1 6.5
Redcar 11 6 8.5
Nottingham 10 9 9.5
Beverley 6 14 10
Ripon 16 5 10.5
Musselburgh 13 12 12.5
Brighton 4 26 15
Bath 8 22 15
Leicester 15 15 15
Chester 28 2 15
Windsor 20 11 15.5
Thirsk 21 10 15.5
Ayr 14 18 16
Epsom 29 3 16
Ffos Las 5 29 17
Pontefract 18 16 17
Carlisle 9 27 18
Newbury 23 13 18
Yarmouth 7 30 18.5
Wetherby 17 21 19
Goodwood 22 17 19.5
Salisbury 19 24 21.5
Haydock 26 20 23
Newmarket 27 19 23
Doncaster 25 23 24
Sandown 24 25 24.5
York 30 28 29
Ascot 31 31 31


At both ends of the list, sorted by Class/Pace Average, we have the most valid correlations. For instance, Catterick, Chepstow and Hamilton all strongly favour front-runners and all host a majority of low grade five-furlong handicaps.

Meanwhile, Ascot and York, as well as to a lesser degree Sandown, Doncaster, Newmarket and Haydock, all generally host high class sprint handicaps where the early pace holds up less well.

I hope you have enjoyed this second instalment and, as always, comments are welcomed.

***Part 3 can be viewed here***

- Dave Renham

The Importance of Pace in 5f handicaps

This is my first article for and before I start I would like to share with you my racing background, writes David Renham. I have worked for the Racing Post as a Spotlight writer and the Racing and Football Outlook as a trends ‘expert’; I have also written several books, mainly on draw bias, back in the early 2000s. And I have been a tipster with some success – and some failures! In all, I have written over 700 racing articles for magazines, newspapers, and websites.

Matt asked me to write on an ‘ad hoc’ basis which suits me as I have a full-time job outside racing at present. I hope you will find my articles interesting, useful, and ultimately lead to some profitable betting opportunities. However, as we all know, making money from backing or indeed laying horses is not easy. You need a combination of many things I believe – hard work; a good understanding of what you are trying to achieve; some sort of specialism as I feel there is simply too much racing and too many horses to gain a handle on if you don’t specialise; and, last but not least, a bit of luck.

For this article I am going to discuss pace in a race. When I talk about pace my main focus is the initial pace in a race and the position the horses take up early on. One of the many useful aspects of is the pace section and the stats I am sharing with you in this article are based on the site’s pace data (found in the Pace tab on the racecard).

The pace data on Geegeez is split into four - Led, Prominent, Mid Division and Held Up. Let me try to explain what type of horse fits what type of pace profile:

Led – essentially horses that lead early, usually within the first furlong or so; or horses that dispute or fight for the early lead;

Prominent – horses that lay up close to the pace just behind the leader(s);

Mid Division – horses that race mid pack;

Held Up – horses that are held up at, or near the back of the field.

So after each race all the horses are assigned points in regards to what position they took up early in the race. Leaders get 4, prominent runners 3, horses that ran mid division 2, and those held up score 1. Geegeez has over 1,059,000 runners’ pace comments scored, from a total of about 1,100,000. [The others are things like unseated rider at the start, or where there is no discernible pace reference in the comment].

If you click the pace tab on the website you are presented with pace data regarding the specific course and distance of that race, and pace data for each horse covering their last four UK or Irish runs. For this article I am concentrating on the course data and creating pace figures for specific course and distances – namely handicap races run over 5 furlongs. I have always been a fan of sprint handicaps and early pace in sprint handicaps generally gives a bigger advantage to front runners than races over longer distances. In addition to this, some courses offer a bigger advantage to front runners than others as you will see.

The first set of data I wish to share with you is the overall pace stats for 5f turf handicaps (minimum number of runners in a race 6):

Pace comment Runners Wins SR%
Led 3450 637 18.5
Prominent 9987 1078 10.8
Mid Division 3187 235 7.4
Held Up 8465 567 6.7

Horses that led, or disputed the lead early, have a huge advantage in turf 5f handicaps. So, if we could predict the front runner or front runners in each race we should be ‘quids in’, and indeed would be. Unfortunately, it is not an exact science and how best to do this I will leave for a future article.

Best performing 5f handicap tracks for front runners

My aim for this article is to show you the differences in the course figures for 5f handicaps and how some courses are more suited to early leaders/front runners than others. Here are the courses with the best strike rates (minimum 40 runners):

Course Front Runners Wins SR% P/L SP IV
Chester 88 31 35.2 120 3.38
Catterick 196 47 24 177.71 2.51
Hamilton 170 39 22.9 130.29 2.04
Beverley 197 44 22.3 167.29 2.51
Epsom 50 11 22 45.5 2.96
Nottingham 219 48 21.9 224.08 2.32
Leicester 88 19 21.6 60.75 1.91
Windsor 160 34 21.3 100.31 1.9


Chester has amazing stats for early leaders: the tight turning 5f clearly suits front runners and, when combined with a good draw, front runners are clearly hard to peg back. Another round 5f, Catterick lies second with excellent figures also. Keep in mind that the average strike rate is 18.5% for all courses over this minimum trip.

Worst performing 5f handicap tracks for front runners

At the other end of the scale here are the courses with the poorest stats for early leaders/front runners in 5f handicaps:

Course Front Runners Wins SR% P/L SP IV
Newmarket (July/Rowley combined) 88 12 13.6 -8.37 1.19
York 106 14 13.2 21 1.78
Haydock 146 18 12.3 -18.17 1.25
Sandown 119 13 10.9 -19.37 1.04
Yarmouth 96 10 10.4 -39.58 0.86
Ascot 98 8 8.2 -30.5 0.99
Doncaster 90 6 6.7 -32.5 0.81


It is interesting to see York in this list – York is often considered a decent front running track, but not according to our figures.


Chester performance by number of runners in race

Looking at Chester in more detail, we can split the data by number of runners:

Runners in race Front Runners Wins SR% P/L SP IV
6 to 8 36 18 50 90.5 3.65
9 to 11 35 11 31.4 23.5 3.22
12 to 14 17 2 11.8 6 1.46


Here at, data regarding number of race runners is calibrated slightly differently to my table, but you are able to change the figures on the site to suit your own personal requirements.


Overall performance by number of runners in race

As we can see from the Chester figures, the smaller the field size, the better it has been for front runners. The general perception of punters I believe matches the Chester data – in other words most punters believe front runners are more likely to win in smaller fields. It makes sense I guess as there are less rivals to pass the leader. However, is this really the case? Here are the data:


Runners in race Front Runners Wins SR%
6 to 8 1214 264 21.7
9 to 11 1205 223 18.5
12 to 14 624 106 17.0
15+ 407 44 10.8


The stats back up the basic theory, but a 17% win rate for early leaders/front runners in 12 to 14 runner 5f turf handicaps is a strong performance, especially when you take into account the likely prices of such runners. Hence, one could legitimately argue that the best front running value lies in the 12-14 runner range.


Best performing 5f handicap tracks for hold up horses

Of course, early leader/front runner stats are not the whole story when trying to build up a ‘pace’ picture of each course. We need to look at the stats at the other end of scale – those for hold up horses. Firstly a look at the 5f courses that offer hold up horses the best strike rates:

Course Hold up horses Wins SR% P/L SP IV
Yarmouth 195 27 13.8 -33.04 1.16
Bath 332 41 12.3 -9.5 1.1
Brighton 258 30 11.6 -68.97 0.89
Newbury 99 9 9.1 -31.92 0.82
Salisbury 66 6 9.1 -23.5 0.8
Leicester 178 16 9 -51.87 0.79
Carlisle 192 17 8.9 -55.25 0.82


Interestingly you would expect these courses to match those that have the poorest stats for early leaders/front runners (see above). However, only Yarmouth appears in both groups. Hence the importance of not just looking at the ‘led’ data in order to appreciate pace biases at particular courses.

More materially, perhaps, all courses are firmly negative at SP, and most have an impact value of less than 1, meaning such types are less likely than horses with other run styles (1 meaning the same likelihood).

Worst performing 5f handicap tracks for hold up horses

Now a look at those courses with the worst strike rates for hold up horses:

Course Hold up horses Wins SR% P/L SP IV
Chepstow 187 10 5.3 -104.42 0.5
Musselburgh 746 39 5.2 -346.17 0.5
Ripon 200 8 4 -122.42 0.38
Redcar 307 12 3.9 -200.92 0.41
Catterick 473 18 3.8 -312.17 0.4
Epsom 113 3 2.7 -98.25 0.36
Chester 194 4 2.1 -160.5 0.2


Chester, Catterick and Epsom appear in this table – courses that appeared in the top 5 for front runners. However, once again the correlation between good courses for front runners / poor courses for hold up horses is not as strong as one might expect.

What can be said with a degree of confidence is that these tracks are graveyards for hold up horses and such runners make abject bets in the main.

Summing Up

So how should we use the data discussed in this article? There are numerous ways to do this, some of which I will elaborate upon in a future article. Ultimately however, it is important to appreciate the differences between each course and distance in 5f handicaps, especially their configuration and favoured run styles, points which should inform your betting when you decide to use pace data as part of your betting strategy.

For example, if you feel you have found two ‘nailed on’ front runners in two different 5f handicaps, at say Chester and Yarmouth, you need to appreciate that whoever front runs in the Chester race, has, according to past data, over 3 times more chance of winning than your Yarmouth trailblazer. Of course your ‘nailed on’ front runner might not lead early but that is not really the point I am trying to make!

I hope you have found this article interesting and potentially useful from a betting perspective. If you have yet to use the pace data on, I hope I have sown some seeds of interest and that you may start to think about how to incorporate pace handicapping into your betting armoury.

- David Renham

** You can read Part 2 of this series here **

New to Gold: Report Angles

Today, I'm pleased to introduce you to the latest Geegeez Gold feature, Report Angles.

As part of our commitment to extend greater flexibility and configurability to Gold users - in plain English, to let you do more of what you want to do! - we've created an aggregator for all reports. You can set it up as you wish, or not at all if that's your wish.

More details are in this video, and in the article beneath.

N.B. All angles are turned OFF by default. Read/watch on to discover how to turn them ON.

Report Angles: Overview


Report Angles highlight content from Gold’s existing set of reports against today’s runners as displayed on the racecards.

That is, for each report, there are now – as of December 2017 – a group of pre-set parameters which, when matched, will be flagged against a runner on the racecard.

Using the example from above, the Trainer Statistics report might have the following pre-set parameters for its Type 1 (i.e. 14 Day Form) sub-report:

  • 10+ runs
  • 30%+ wins
  • A/E 1.25+

Where a runner satisfies those criteria, it is highlighted on the racecard as such. There will be pre-sets for every report sub-type, e.g. Trainer Stats report will have four pre-sets, one each for 14 Day, 30 Day, Course 1 Year, and Course 5 Year.

Users will be able to select any or all of the pre-sets to be displayed on their racecard views. They will also be able to edit or restore to default the pre-sets. However, a user may only have one custom view of each report sub-type.

Report Angles are automatically built into the ‘My Report Angles Settings’ page. Users have the ability to activate, deactivate, amend or restore to default each Report Angle. They cannot create new Report Angles, however.


Report Angles: My Settings

Users can select, de-select, amend and/or reset the Report Angles configuration on the My Report Angles Settings page. However, users cannot create or delete Report Angles, though they can disable/enable them.

The page is found at and looks like this:

The Report Angles Settings page displays the report titles (i.e. TJ Combo, etc) on the left-hand side, with settings displayed for the selected report sub-types (e.g. 14 Day, 30 Day, Course 365 Day, Course 5 Year).

For each report/type combination, there are editable parameters as per that report’s individual report page. For example, below are the editable parameters for four sub-types of TJ Combo report:

N.B. Different reports have different parameters – users are advised to check each one individually, at least the first time they configure the settings.

At the bottom of the screen are three blue bars. The first, “Save Settings”, enables a user to save any changes made within the selected report.

The second, “Reset Defaults”, reverts the selected report to the ‘factory settings’. The third, “Reset All Defaults”, reverts all reports and sub-types back to their default settings.

N.B. These defaults are NOT optimal. Rather, they are presented as a balance between limited data and too much data appearing in the report. Users are encouraged to experiment with the settings to find the appropriate volume of report output.

Each report sub-type has a tick box next to its name. Selecting/de-selecting the ticks will include/exclude a sub-type from the report and racecard view.

Clicking the on/off buttons top RIGHT will select/de-select all tick boxes for a report.

Clicking the on/off buttons top LEFT will select/de-select all tick boxes for ALL reports.


Report Angles: The Report

Once a user has selected and/or activated report angles and parameters, all qualifying runners will appear on a report on the My Report Angles screen. The report looks like this:


Each row in the report table is clickable, and will open the race in question in a new window. All columns are sortable to enable users to configure the view to suit personal taste.


Report Angles: Racecard Inline

The racecard has been updated with a new ‘report’ icon, containing a numerical indication of the number of angles matched. Clicking the icon will reveal inline the qualifying Report Angles, as in the below example.

There is also a new icon with a ? in the top icon menu. Clicking this icon will open Report Angles in the card for all runners. Clicking again will close them.


Getting Started with Report Angles

By default, all Report Angles are switched off. To turn them all on, use the 'ALL On' button top left on the Report Angles Settings page. Alternatively, and preferably, take a few minutes to set the Angles up as you would have them.

The default settings, when all Report Angles are switched on, can be seen in the below table.


Report Angles are intended as an aid to successful betting; they are not to be used as an end in themselves. That is to say, Report Angles may highlight interesting elements about certain runners but, as with all other approaches, a more holistic consideration of the puzzle will always yield better results.

Good luck, and I hope you enjoy this new feature as much as I have been during the testing stage.


Pace Maps: Predicting the Future Just Got Easier…

The whole point of betting on horses - betting on anything - is being able to accurately predict what will happen in the future. The more 'yesterday' information we have, the better able we are to forecast 'tomorrow'.

In Britain, horse racing punters were traditionally in the dark: for years, there was nothing more informative (ahem) than the little alphanumeric sextet of recent finishing positions to the left of a horse's name. 'Professionals' bought the Sporting Life and, more recently, Racing Post. This gave them a huge leg up on other newspaper readers, but was still seriously deficient in terms of projecting what might actually happen in a race.

The advent of the internet has, slowly it must be said, changed things; finally, punters are able to access a raft of insightful data which genuinely can give them the edge over the bookmakers. This edge is greatest in the early markets, where many of the horse race odds lines are algorithmically constructed: Deep Blue versus Kasparov this is not. The software creating the early markets is not exactly sophisticated, which means we don't need to be chess grandmasters to find the ricks.

Looking at past form cycles and profiles - that is, when a horse comes into form and under what conditions - is a blind spot in the algos, which focus too heavily on recent form. The starting price markets are much more efficient of course, but nobody bets SP, do they? Do they?!!

One of the last major vestiges of unpublished form, in Britain and Ireland at least, is pace. Pace can mean different things: it can be precise, by virtue of sectional times; or it can be more general, defining a horse's run style. In most of the established racing betting nations - Hong Kong, Japan, US - sectional times are ubiquitous. Commentators are able to quantify the speed of the horses in-running by a split time stopwatch in the corner of the screen.

Here, we have no such aides - the usual "who's going to pay for it?" arguments - but what we do have, and more so than in many of the aforementioned racing jurisdictions, are detailed in-running comments. These allow a bettor to work through past performances and develop a picture in the mind's eye of each horse's run style. It's laborious, for sure, and I know for a fact that most jockeys riding in Britain gather their understanding of how the races they're riding in will unfurl in this manner. Until now...

Geegeez Gold has had pace information, in the form of a data table, for quite some time. And, yesterday, we moved things up a notch by converting the numbers into a picture: a pace map. Pictures are much easier for us humans to understand than words and numbers. Consequently, we can get the gist of something - like, for example, how a race will be run - in just a second or two when the data is presented in pictorial format.

So, welcome to Geegeez Gold's new Pace Graphic view. It's not Deep Blue, and nor was it imagined by the genius of Kasparov (it was me, actually), but it does instantly visualise how a race might be run based on the last four UK/Ire runs of the horses in it. And that means its users have a significant edge on other punters, either in time or awareness terms or, in most cases, both.

It lives in the existing PACE tab, and looks like this:

In this race, Whos De Baby looked like he'd get a clear lead. That's exactly what happened, allowing him to finish 2nd at 12/1

In this race, Whos De Baby looked like he'd get a clear lead. That's exactly what happened, allowing him to finish 2nd at 12/1


In this example from yesterday, Whos De Baby was predicted to be 'Probable Lone Speed', meaning he was expected to be able to set his own pace and try to make all. He very nearly did, finishing a good second at odds of 12/1.

Below is a video where I show you the what and how of the new Pace Graphic. If you're familiar with pace and how to use it in horseracing there may be little new therein. But if you're still trying to get to grips with the importance of pace, and which scenarios to look out for, you really should watch it.



There is more information in the User Guide, which can be downloaded from your My Geegeez page here; and there is an 'introduction to pace' video here.

Geegeez Gold continues to be committed to provided the best information for punters in the most consumable, readily understandable format, so you know more than your competition (other punters, not bookmakers) in less time.

If you're not yet a Gold subscriber, you can join us here. That page includes a link where readers who have never tried Gold before can get their first 30 days for just a pound. Thereafter, Gold is £30 per month. If you're serious about getting ahead with your horse racing betting, I don't know how else you can have this sort of a chance for less than a pound a day. Granted, I am a tiny bit biased... 😉

Good luck, and thanks for reading/watching.

The (Occasional) Influence of Draw

In today's video post, I've looked at the paucity of meaningful draw information on horse racing websites.

Naturally, is an exception - in fact, I strongly believe we have the most detailed and user-configurable draw tool for British/Irish racing.

But as punters, we have to be careful around draw data, because much of it is half-baked or plain wrong.

Take a look at this short video...



Register for Geegeez Gold £1 Trial

Updated User Guide, including Draw and Query Tool 'how to'



In this post, I want to share a new feature which is going to be available very soon. I also want to politely remind you that today (Friday 27th January) is the last chance to secure your discounted (for life) Annual Gold subscription.

Let's cover that off first.

Geegeez Gold is continuing to invest in innovation. After this week's latest 'bell and whistle' enhancements - Pace Predictions on the pace tab, and Proximity Form on Full Form Filter - we have a much bigger enhancement in early stage testing. More on that below.

Unlike some publishers, we don't increase our prices for existing subscribers. Instead, we prefer to reward commitment and early adoption, by offering our best subscription rates to our most loyal community members, and by guaranteeing that the price at which you sign up is the price you pay for the lifetime of your subscription.

This means that, regardless of what new features we introduce or how much a subscription might cost in the future, you get the lot for the price now. That's only fair, after all, because without your investment in Geegeez Gold, we are unable to re-invest in you.

So, no big fanfare, but just to say that today is the last day you can lock in your subscription for 68p a day (£249 annually). From tomorrow, the annual price rises to £297 (81p a day), which still offers two months free against the annualised monthly subscription of £360 (99p a day). That's the very best value you can get, so if Gold is something you currently enjoy, and/or if the new feature highlighted in the video below excites you, then now is the time to upgrade.


YOU CAN UPGRADE HERE (make sure you're logged in first!)


Oh, and if you're currently a free subscriber, you can use that same link to upgrade directly to Gold Annual. One fee, swallowed (!) now, gives you full 'access all areas' for the entire year of 2017 - both flat and jumps, UK and Irish - and into January 2018. Nothing more to pay.

Enough already, because I think you probably already know if this is something you want to do... If you're still unsure, here's a sneaky peek at a 'COMING SOON' feature...




What do you think? Anything in particular you'd like to see included? Leave a comment and let me know.


p.s. here's the upgrade button one last time. Best value racing form for 2017 lives here

VIDEO: Using Trainer Snippets for Profit

Trainer Snippets is one of the newer Geegeez Gold features, and it's a brilliant insight into how trainers operate. I've written about the content before here, but was asked if I could record a video on the subject of Trainer Snippets. Well, Barry, happy to oblige (and thanks for the prompt).

In this video, I explain what Trainer Snippets are, the two places to find them, and why and when they're useful. I also highlight a few examples using this afternoon's racing.

I also reference A/E and IV in the video, with a link to more info on that. For expediency, .

Anyway, on with the show. I hope you find it useful...


Best Regards,


p.s. you can get a one month free trial for just £1 here

How to Find Winners When There is Little Form in the Book

It's Newmarket's Future Champions Weekend today and tomorrow, comprising eight races restricted to two-year-olds only. Such contests are notoriously tricky from a betting perspective, because we have little or no form to go on. Worse, most of the contenders are still unexposed to a lesser or greater degree meaning they can be expected to improve on what they've demonstrated so far. So how do we frame a puzzle like this?

The first thing to say is that, personally, I'm not a massive fan of such heats. I prefer an established level of form in the book, with only one or two possible (and predictable) improvers: for instance, a low grade handicap with a horse stepping up markedly in trip and another running for the first time in a handicap after a month off the course.

But still, there are times when I'm forced to have a view on races with little form, the most everyday of which is when selecting a six race placepot sequence.

Here are six ways to get a handle on a minimal amount of form... Oh, and by the way, most of these approaches apply equally to a novice hurdle at Chepstow in January as they do to a juvenile Group 1 in October at HQ, so keep an open mind in terms of the usable context of these hints.

1 Horse Form

The most obvious and logical place to start is always the form book. Incomplete as the picture may be, the basic ability indicators are located right there. The Instant Expert, which I would never use as 'alpha and omega' for this - or indeed any - job, does offer a view on the story so far. As you can see from this example, taken from tomorrow's Autumn Stakes, it is only a partially complete puzzle.

Autumn Stakes Instant Expert

Autumn Stakes Instant Expert


Note two things in particular:

  1. The large number of grey boxes. These denote the absence of form for a given horse under one or more of today's conditions. For instance, Rodaini has yet to race over the distance of a mile, nor in a field of 8-11 runners. That latter point is a touch misleading because he's won in a seven runner race and a twelve runner race, too. [Side note: I personally use field size - and going - primarily when the race is run on an extreme, i.e. very small field or very large field; heavy or firm going]
  2. The number of red boxes where there is only one run to go on. It is extremely dangerous to draw strong conclusions from the evidence of one run, especially using the 'win' view on Instant Expert. Take a look at these two views of The Anvil:
The Anvil should not be discounted in spite of a line of red on the 'win' view

The Anvil should not be discounted in spite of a line of red on the 'win' view


On the win view, it would be easy for an inexperienced - or cursory - eye to discount The Anvil's chance. But the place view, superimposed below for contrast purposes, reveals a very different opinion on his prospects.

Closer inspection of his most recent form line informs that he was a fast-finishing second over course and distance last time out in a better race: a Group 2 compared with today's Group 3.

However, getting back to the main image, we can also give Montataire a chance. He is the most exposed in the field, with eight runs already to his name, and he's achieved more than most of these. The question is whether he is now susceptible to those who have a lot more to come and, on the evidence of his last run - behind The Anvil - the probability is that he is.


2 Speed Ratings

Although, like with the form in the book, the race times in the book are a retrospective on the contenders which fails to account for future improvement, they can be very useful for two reasons.

Firstly, it is often hard for the casual punter to discern between one set of form figures that read '11121' and another. Naturally, we should be more sophisticated in our outlook than that but, largely through conditioning - looking at very partial racecards in the printed press, predominantly - the eye still wanders to the numeric string at the left of a horse's name.

Ratings, especially speed ratings in juvenile races, help us to form a hierarchy from the pile of similar looking form figures.

Secondly, because most two-year-olds are inexperienced and immature, they tend to race 'with the choke out' (i.e. the go as fast as they can for as long as the can, with limited ability to proportion their energy for the task in hand). This means that most juvenile races - typically run at five to seven furlongs before October - are not tactical and the numbers are generally more reliable than might be the case in longer runs.

Here's an example for this afternoon's Cornwallis Stakes, to be run over the minimum trip of five furlongs. Battaash is the highest rated on Geegeez Speed Ratings (SR column, his rating 94), and we can see that his only poor run was on soft ground. We can also see that he's 16/1.

He's not raced on good to firm ground before, so that's a question mark - one that we will look at shortly - but he might be overpriced. At least we know he can run fast in what will be a fast-run event.

Top Speed Rating, and 16/1 in the Cornwallis Stakes

Top Speed Rating, and 16/1 in the Cornwallis Stakes


3 Subsequent Form Value

Another way of separating the good 123's from the not so good 123's is to look at what has happened to the other runners in those races since the wins and places were achieved. Here at geegeez, we use something called 'Then What?', which you can see in Battaash's form lines above, and also in the below: a view of the form for those to have previously run in the 4.20 this afternoon, a maiden fillies' race.

Which of the runs so far have worked out best? 'Then What?' has some suggestions

Which of the runs so far have worked out best? 'Then What?' has some suggestions


In the above, there are a couple of very interesting points to note. First, the favourite, Highland Pass, has run relatively slowly (48) thus far, and none of the three horses to come out of her races since have made the frame. It's a very small sample but doesn't light my fire when invited to accept 7/2 about her chance.

Compare that with the 68 and 65 rated fillies - the top two speed figures in the field (though plenty are making their debuts today, more on that shortly) - and she has some stepping up to do.

Vigee Le Brun is top rated, and her run has seen one winner from four to exit the race to date. Note, however, that her prior start was on soft ground, versus good to firm today.

The 65 filly is Paradwys, whose two runs have worked out well. Moreover, the most recent was over seven furlongs on good to firm, on the July course here at Newmarket. Clicking on the form line opens up the result, where we can see that all of the runners to finish in front of Paradwys that day to have run again since, have won. Now that's more interesting; and she's a 12/1 chance!

Will punters be in Paradwys this afternoon?

Will punters be in Paradwys this afternoon?


4 Trainer Form / Patterns

First time out, second time out, first time in a handicap, second time in a handicap, up in trip. When a horse does something new, or we have little form to go on, the habits of the trainer can help fill in some of the blanks.

A horse called Fleabiscuit runs in the Group 1 Fillies' Mile this afternoon. She's run once, and she won. No horses have emerged from that race - less than two weeks ago - so how do we know if Fleabiscuit has a chance today?

Her speed figure gives her plenty to find but, with just one run to her name so far, she could step forward significantly. Take a look at her trainer's form:

Trainer Hugo Palmer's record offers plenty of hope

Trainer Hugo Palmer's record offers plenty of hope


Hugo  Palmer is in perma-good form. He's been scoring at a near 40% rate in the past fortnight, and better than one in four over the entire month. He has the champion jockey-elect riding for him, and note Palmer's 'snippets' in the blue box above.

They show his performance over the last two years under certain relevant conditions. For example, we can see that he's got a nigh on 30% win rate with last time out winners. Moreover, he has a 27% strike rate with horses making their second racecourse start.

These are rock solid numbers, as we might expect from geegeez's implied man of the year. Fleabiscuit is probably not experienced - or talented - enough to win a race of this stature so early in her career. But she's not definitely not, and at 20/1 her trainer's record offers cause for optimism.


5 Sire Form

Earlier in this post, I mentioned a filly called Vigee Le Brun, whose one run came on soft ground, as opposed to today's good to firm. How could we know if she'll act on today's surface? The short answer is that we cannot know that; but what we can do is look to her sire for clues.

As with trainers above, geegeez also publishes Sire Snippets, attempting to shine a light on the two-year performance of stallions. Here's Vigee Le Brun's sire, Dark Angel:

Dark Angel's Sire Snippets in the context of this race

Dark Angel's Sire Snippets in the context of this race


We can see that Dark Angel has a close to 12% win rate overall in the last two years, which is incredible on 2264 runners. We can also see that two year olds and sprinters perform above the overall benchmark, at 12.22% and 12.63% respectively.

But what we can't see is how Dark Angel progeny have fared on good to firm ground. The reason for this is that the going can - and often does - change from when we publish this data to race time. Fear not, however, for we have that covered.

On the main race card, the going can be changed from a dropdown, and the revised going will reflect in both Instant Expert and Full Form Filter. In this case, we don't need to change the going, so we'll head straight over the FFF.

Dark Angel 5 year going formDark Angel 5 year going form

Dark Angel 5 year going form


As you can see, I've selected the Sire option top right, chosen Vigee Le Brun from the horse dropdown, then 5 year form, and going.

The Race Record box shows me Dark Angel's five-year record on today's (good to firm) going. It's 12.74%, which is again some way above his two year batting average overall, offering hope to backers of this filly.

I could also take this a step further and add distance to the filter, to see how Dark Angel's have fared over seven furlongs in the last five years.

Dark Angel five year distance and going form

Dark Angel five year distance and going form


Interestingly, this drops the win percentage back a good bit, and upon checking the two year form I noticed that it is even lower, so that would be a concern.

Full Form Filter is a very flexible tool, and its sire option is one of the most under-used elements of the entire arsenal.


6 The market

At the end of the day, in races where there is limited racecourse evidence on which to base a judgment, the market can be an insightful predictor. With a filly like Vigee Le Brun, I'd be very interested in whether she had taken support in the early skirmishes. Checking an odds comparison function, such as the 'Odds' tab on Geegeez, will shed some light.

Both Paradwys and Vigee Le Brun have taken support

Both Paradwys and Vigee Le Brun have taken support


During the time I've been writing this post, we can see that both Paradwys and especially Vigee Le Brun have taken support. They're not the only ones to be fancied, but this certainly helps - with confidence if nothing else - in making a wagering decision, allied to what we've learned for ourselves in points one to five of course!


Many people, including myself, use Gold mainly when the level of form is thoroughly exposed. But I hope the six suggestions above offer some food for thought in terms of how we can get a few inside lines on those where it is all in front of them. Gold is full of hints, tips and pointers, for all types of race. We just have to go a little 'off piste' in some situations. 🙂


p.s. Gold trial: 30 days access to the full Gold toolkit, speed ratings, tips, forum threads, reports, tracker, prize tipping league and more. One pound.


If you've not yet sampled the amazing winner-getting tools and tips inside Geegeez Gold, you can take a 30 day £1 trial by clicking this link.

“The Reverse Rule 4” Method

Few things are more frustrating than having a chunky Rule 4 deduction from a good bet, where you didn't even fancy the horse which was withdrawn.

Naturally, the chance of your bet winning is enhanced by the reduced number of rivals, and in any case you might have been wrong not to 'like' the withdrawn horse. But still, it's a situation that is frequently frustrating.

So, in today's video post, I want to highlight a way to put the boot on the other foot.

This strategy is actually about race selection as much as anything, and I know that is an area many readers struggle with - after all, there is rather a lot (ahem) of racing.

Enough with the verbiage and on with the show... click the video below to find out how to put the "Reverse Rule 4" to work for you.





If you have any questions or comments on this, do scribble them below, and I'll try to answer them.


p.s. For those who may be interested, below is the slide deck from the presentation (though most of the value is in the video walkthrough).



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