Dave Renham: A synopsis of 6f and 7f AW Draw/Pace

In my last article I examined draw and running style combinations in five-furlong handicaps on the all-weather, with the main focus on front runners (those horses that take the early lead).

That article showed that on turning AW courses over the minimum trip (8+ runners), it was much easier to lead early from a lower draw compared to a higher one. That much is simple geometry: horses drawn low are closest to the rail and hence have less distance to travel to the first corner than their wider-drawn counterparts. It is worth noting that the positioning of the first bend can make a difference, as can the tightness of the turn.

However, the most surprising finding from the first article was that higher drawn horses that take the early lead actually go on to win more often than early leaders drawn low. I still cannot quite get my head round why this may be the case. As stated in that previous piece, I have always assumed that it is likely to have been quite an effort to pass so many horses to get to the lead from a wide draw. In addition to this, these runners probably would have had to run slightly further to achieve this.

Since writing the article I have tried to come up with a logical explanation for why higher-drawn horses have been able to win more often when leading early. Perhaps once these wide drawn runners get to the lead, the jockey on board tries to slow the pace down slightly in order to give his horse a breather, knowing that it would expended more energy than is ideal over that first half furlong or so.

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More likely, though, is the impact of physics. As can be seen from the crude mock up below, a horse drawn inside has the best chance to get to the turn in front because it has the least distance to travel; but, once it gets to the turn the horse may need to decelerate in order to navigate around. Conversely, although a wider drawn runner has less chance to reach the turn in front - due to the potential of other horses inside to show early speed - on the occasions that a wide-drawn horse faces no pace contention, that horse can negotiate more of the turn at greater speed due to the angle at which it approaches the bend.

This of course depends on the location of the bend in relation to the start of the race. There is also a rule about jockeys staying in lanes for 100 yards, which might be described as 'loosely observed'. Regardless, hopefully it is clear how the less frequent wide drawn leader might win more often.

The impact of stall position on speed into the first turn

The impact of stall position on speed into the first turn


This is simply conjecture but in certain cases this could be what is happening. It might another day be worth looking at the new sectional timing data on Geegeez and matching it to those races where wide drawn runners had led early and gone onto win.

In this article I am going to look at six- and seven-furlong handicaps to see if similar patterns emerge in terms of draw / front runner combinations. Newcastle will be ignored as these distances are raced on a straight track there, but I will include Southwell this time as the six and seven furlong trips are raced around a bend there. Thus, we have six courses to look at: Chelmsford, Dundalk, Kempton, Lingfield, Southwell and Wolverhampton.

All-weather 6f handicaps (8 + runners)

Let's start by looking at draw / front runner combinations over six furlongs in handicaps. I only ever use handicap races for this type of research as non-handicap data is far less reliable. As mentioned in the first piece, the draw is split equally in three – low, middle and high - and hence one would expect, given a level playing field, that the ‘led early’ percentages would hit around 33.3% respectively from each section.

wdt_ID Course & Distance Low drawn led% Middle draw led% High draw led%
1 Chelmsford 6f 40.23 33.20 26.56
2 Dundalk 6f 53.13 28.13 18.75
3 Kempton 6f 40.32 32.66 27.02
4 Lingfield 6f 41.16 32.43 26.40
5 Southwell 6f 42.30 36.39 21.31
6 Wolverhampton 6f 34.53 30.55 34.92

For five of the six courses we see that once again the early leader is more likely to come from the lowest third of the draw – those drawn closest to the inside rail. Only Wolverhampton bucks the trend and this is probably because the first bend is more than a quarter mile from the start. That presents less of a positional advantage to the inside stalls and, essentially, the quickest horse from the gates should lead regardless of draw position. Dundalk seems to favour lower drawn horses the most with the bottom third of the draw producing more than half of all early leaders under these conditions.

The following table is another way of illustrating how much more likely low drawn horses are to lead than high drawn ones – I used this approach in the previous article and have replicated it for this range. It has been calculated by dividing the "low draw led%" by the "high draw led%".

wdt_ID Course & Distance Low% / High%
1 Chelmsford 6f 1.51
2 Dundalk 6f 2.83
3 Kempton 6f 1.49
4 Lingfield 6f 1.56
5 Southwell 6f 1.98
6 Wolverhampton 6f 0.99

Compared to the five furlong data these figures are not as high, but nevertheless if you are keen to predict the front runner, which we know is potentially a profitable angle, then horses from lower stalls do lead early significantly more often than higher drawn ones.

If we take Wolverhampton out of the equation and focus on the other five courses at six furlongs, when we increase to 12 or more runners the front running bias to lower draws does increase:

wdt_ID Low drawn led% Middle draw led% High draw led%
1 45.80 34 20.20

Under these circumstances the lowest third of draw is around 2.3 times more likely to produce the early leader of the race. This stronger bias mirrors the data we saw when analysing five-furlong handicaps. With higher draws starting further away from the inside rail in bigger fields, it is even harder for such horses to get to the early lead.

For the record here are the figures for Wolverhampton, where there have been over 300 qualifying races:

wdt_ID Low drawn led% Middle draw led% High draw led%
1 33.79 34.47 31.74

A very even split – with that long run to the first bend it seems that bigger fields do not make it more difficult for high drawn horses to lead early.

Moving on, let us now look at win percentages for the early leaders from each third of the draw at the six courses. Here is the six-furlong handicap data for eight or more runners:

wdt_ID Course & Distance Low drawn leaders race win% Middle draw leaders race win% High draw leaders race win%
1 Chelmsford 6f 20.39 17.65 20.59
2 Dundalk 6f 17.65 12.96 16.67
3 Kempton 6f 13.50 16.67 15.67
4 Lingfield 6f 16.67 17.95 25.20
5 Southwell 6f 18.60 18.92 23.08
6 Wolverhampton 6f 10.39 13.97 12.78

I mentioned at the beginning of this article that in five-furlong handicaps (at Chelmsford, Dundalk, Kempton, Lingfield and Wolverhampton), wider/higher drawn horses that take the early lead rather surprisingly go onto win more often than horses leading early from low draws. Over this extra furlong we can see that the courses give us a more even profile in terms of eventual win percentage. Having said that higher drawn horses that lead early still win on average slightly more often than lower drawn leaders. At Lingfield and Southwell, for example, higher drawn horses that take the early lead go onto win roughly one race in every four.

This even looking playing field is replicated when we combine all the 12+ runner data. Merging all courses together we get these win percentages:

wdt_ID Low drawn leaders race win% Middle draw leaders race win% High draw leaders race win%
1 13.26 14.64 12.92

As I have already alluded to, before researching and writing the five-furlong article I had expected that five- to seven-furlong races run around a bend would give horses that led early from a low draw much more chance of winning than those from a high draw. I had expected this bias against higher drawn horses to get even stronger the further the horses had to travel. It seems that for this theory I was right at least – it is harder over six furlongs than five furlongs for higher drawn early leaders to win. However, I had not expected higher drawn horses to still be more successful, in 8+ runner races at least, than lower drawn ones.


All weather 7f handicaps (8 + runners)

Now let's look at draw / front runner combinations in seven-furlong all-weather handicaps:

wdt_ID Course & Distance Low drawn led% Middle draw led% High draw led%
1 Chelmsford 7f 40.97 26.87 32.16
2 Dundalk 7f 55.43 25.72 18.84
3 Kempton 7f 42.18 34.73 23.09
4 Lingfield 7f 41.18 28.88 29.95
5 Southwell 7f 48.01 31.13 20.86
6 Wolverhampton 7f 49.74 27.37 22.88

All six courses this time show that the early leader is more likely to come from the lowest third of the draw. Dundalk once again provides the strongest bias, while at Southwell and Wolverhampton it is significant too. To perhaps illustrate this more clearly I have once again created a table showing the figure that is calculated by taking the low draw led% and dividing it by the high draw led%:

wdt_ID Course & Distance Low% / High%
1 Chelmsford 7f 1.27
2 Dundalk 7f 2.94
3 Kempton 7f 1.83
4 Lingfield 7f 1.38
5 Southwell 7f 2.30
6 Wolverhampton 7f 2.17

Interestingly it seems that in general lower drawn horses find it easier to lead over seven furlongs than at six. Again, on some tracks, notably Wolverhampton where the seven furlong start is in a chute on the brow of a bend, geometry plays its part.

Increasing field size to twelve or more runners enhances the front-running bias of lower drawn horses (as it does, too, over five- and six-furlongs).

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wdt_ID Low drawn led% Middle draw led% High draw led%
1 49.31 29.29 21.40

Once again bigger fields give lower drawn horses a better chance of leading early.

The below shows the win percentage of early leaders from each third of the draw at the six courses over seven furlongs (8+ runner handicaps).

wdt_ID Course & Distance Low drawn leaders race win% Middle draw leaders race win% High draw leaders race win%
1 Chelmsford 7f 19.35 16.39 10.96
2 Dundalk 7f 12.42 12.68 11.54
3 Kempton 7f 14.48 10.44 10.74
4 Lingfield 7f 12.55 17.90 17.26
5 Southwell 7f 15.86 18.09 14.29
6 Wolverhampton 7f 11.50 13.81 11.16

This is quite an even set of figures when looking at the courses as a whole. Nevertheless, we still see that higher drawn horses which lead early are not at any real disadvantage. Those general themes are still true when we combine all the 12+ runner data from seven-furlong all-weather handicaps. Grouping the six turning courses we get these win percentages:

wdt_ID Low drawn leaders race win% Middle draw leaders race win% High draw leaders race win%
1 13.22 11.60 13.30



The above contains some interesting insights which may be combined with what we learned about five furlong handicaps on the all weather last time.

Like with races at the minimum, it may be easier to get to the lead from a lower draw over six and seven furlongs, but don’t be put off by a potential front runner drawn high. If your wide-drawn horse does lead, it has just as much chance of going onto win as a front runner drawn low.

Although these are not quite the startling statistics from the five-furlong article, to my eyes some of the findings are still surprising.

Personally, I am still shaking my head not quite believing what I have discovered over the past two articles. I just wonder how many bets I have ignored over the years due to a potential front runner being drawn high. Far too many!

- DR

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6 replies
  1. Blueeyes
    Blueeyes says:

    Many thanks for the interesting and instructive article.
    I have avoided backing high drawn horses for many years and will now have to reconsider in the future.
    Clearly potential front runners drawn high should not automatically be excluded.
    I will save this article. A brilliant piece of work.
    Thanks again.

  2. therams1962
    therams1962 says:

    I for one will not be ignoring a front runner i fancy ever again now .Great insight into the draw and leaders on the AW.

  3. davevart
    davevart says:

    interesting article but a factor not considered (and one I think is more significant in trying to turn a profit) is the effect the draw has on price…..all well and good backing 1 & 2 at chester over 5f but has the ‘draw effect’ made them shorter than they should be ie.non value bets. A difficult one to analyze I accept but ……

    • Matt Bisogno
      Matt Bisogno says:

      Hi Dave

      You can check that on Query Tool. But, more materially, I think Dave R is steering us towards outside drawn front runners, which continue to make a profit at many turning tracks.

      Moreover, he is referring to a combination of draw AND run style. The latter element is not fully factored in to most punters’ considerations. For example, backing horses which led from stalls 1 and 2 at Chester in 8+ runner 5f handicaps since 2009 would have won you 10 of 28 bets for a profit of +37.32.

      This research goes way beyond ‘back the inside draw’, Dave. Might be worth re-reading with that in mind.


  4. davevart
    davevart says:

    Fair comment….as soon as I posted my comment I realised I’d missed the point of the article!

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