LADY AURELIA (Frankie Dettori) makes all to win The Queen Mary Stakes Royal Ascot 15 Jun 2016 - Pic Steven Cargill / Racingfotos.com

Dave Renham: Top jockeys’ pace profiles

In this article I will revisit my love of pace in horse racing, focusing again on jockeys – more specifically the top 10 jockeys in terms of strike rate, writes Dave Renham. My first article on jockeys focused mainly on how they had performed on front runners – this article is a broader piece looking at all running styles. The data presented herein were produced from the excellent Query Tool, a part of Geegeez Gold.

 

Recap

To recap, on the Geegeez website the pace data is split into four categories - Led, Prominent, Mid Division and Held Up. Here is a breakdown on what they essentially mean:

Led – 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.

On Geegeez these running/pace styles have a number assigned to them – led (4), prominent (3), mid division (2) and held up (1). This helps number crunchers like me when it comes to research.

 

Overview

For this article I have looked at a large period of data (1/1/14 to 6/7/19) including both turf and all weather racing (UK only). I have initially looked at all races and all distances (handicaps and non-handicaps).

The jockeys in focus are shown in the table below alongside their overall record in all races and with all running styles combined. They are listed in alphabetical order:

Top 10 UK Jockeys, Overall Performance 1st Jan 2014 - 6th July 2019

Top 10 UK Jockeys, Overall Performance 1st Jan 2014 - 6th July 2019

 

Below are are some base figures from which to work and to use as a comparison when breaking the jockey data down. In this table are the aggregate figures for all jockeys in terms of their record with different pace/running styles*:

*NB The difference between the 36,467 runs in the first (jockey) table and the 35,792 runs in the second (pace) table is accounted for by runs which are deemed not possible to score from the in-running comment. Geegeez Gold's database currently has around 96% coverage of pace scores overall, whereas in these samples the coverage is a little over 98%.

Aggregate performance of top ten jockeys, by run style, all scored flat runners 1/1/14-6/7/19

Aggregate performance of top ten jockeys, by run style, all scored flat runners 1/1/14-6/7/19

 

Those who have read previous articles on pace will know both that more races are won from the front than any other position, and that it is much easier to win from the front over shorter distances. The pace results for all jockeys clearly indicate that the nearer to the front they ride the more likely they are to win. It is much harder in general to win from the back half of the field, a point worth taking away from this piece if it was not already ingrained in your betting thoughts.

 

Front Runners

Let us now look at how these jockeys fared individually when they took the early lead:

Top 10 Flat Jockeys, performance when leading, 1/1/14-6/7/19

Top 10 Flat Jockeys, performance when leading, 1/1/14-6/7/19

 

Very good records for all riders as one might expect, but the higher A/E values for Atzeni, Buick, de Sousa and Tudhope catch the eye. In addition their strike rates and returns on investment are all above the average figure for the ten jockey superset. Let us break down their front running figures by distance. Firstly Andrea Atzeni:

Andrea Atzeni, Front Runners 1/1/14-6/7/19

Andrea Atzeni, performance on front runners, 1/1/14-6/7/19

Andrea Atzeni, performance on front runners, 1/1/14-6/7/19

Atzeni has stronger figures over sprint trips, as would be expected from what we know from previous pace articles on this site, but he is very solid at any distance (limited data over staying trips) - a good and successful jockey from the front, and a candidate to 'mark up' when riding a probably pace setter you like.

William Buick, Front Runners 1/1/14-6/7/19

Now William Buick:

William Buick, performance on front runners, 1/1/14-6/7/19

William Buick, performance on front runners, 1/1/14-6/7/19

Very strong figures from 5f up to 9f, more especially at sprint distances; but rock solid over any range.

 

Silvestre de Sousa, Front Runners 1/1/14-6/7/19

Onto de Sousa:

Silvestre de Sousa, performance on front runners, 1/1/14-6/7/19

Silvestre de Sousa, performance on front runners, 1/1/14-6/7/19

Personally I’m a big fan of de Sousa – I think he is a great rider from the front and to me he is an excellent judge of pace. His figures support that: very consistent across all distances and impressive A/E.

 

Danny Tudhope, Front Runners 1/1/14-6/7/19

Finally onto Danny Tudhope:

Danny Tudhope, performance on front runners, 1/1/14-6/7/19

Danny Tudhope, performance on front runners, 1/1/14-6/7/19

Tudhope’s figures are much better at shorter distances (9f or less), although the data for 10f+ is fairly limited.

 

A Frankie Snippet

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Before moving on from front running data there is one more stat to share and that concerns Frankie Dettori. He seems a particularly good judge of pace in small fields when leading early.

In races of 6 or less runners, when Dettori has taken the early lead he has won just under 50% of the time (33 wins from 67 rides; A/E 1.28). Compare that with the overall figures for all top ten jockeys whose combined strike rate is 35% with an A/E index of 1.

 

Prominent Runners

Let us next review prominent runner data. Firstly for all ten jockeys side-by-side:

Top 10 Flat Jockeys, performance when racing prominently, 1/1/14-6/7/19

Top 10 Flat Jockeys, performance when racing prominently, 1/1/14-6/7/19

 

Frankie Dettori, Prominent Runners 1/1/14-6/7/19

Again, that man Frankie Dettori’s figures are extremely solid when it comes to racing prominently. Solid but not profitable from a punting perspective. However, one area where Dettori seems to excel, when he races close to the pace, is in better class races, as the table below clearly shows:

Frankie Dettori, prominent runners by race class, 1/1/14-6/7/19

Frankie Dettori, prominent runners by race class, 1/1/14-6/7/19

 

I suspect Frankie's strong record in Group and Listed races is due to the fact that he knows the horses he is riding at this higher level extremely well. Hence he is able to judge when to challenge from his pace tracking position. Noting these figures, it should also come as no surprise that Dettori has a much better record in non handicaps compared to handicaps as shown:

Frankie Dettori, prominent runners by handicap or non-hcap, 1/1/14-6/7/19

Frankie Dettori, prominent runners by handicap or non-hcap, 1/1/14-6/7/19

 

Jim Crowley, Prominent Runners 1/1/14-6/7/19

Jim Crowley has the best A/E index as well as strong stats all round when he races his mounts prominently. Crowley seems to do best at middle to longer distances in this context: focusing  on races between 10 and 14 furlongs his record reads an impressive 103 wins from 419  rides (SR 24.6%) with an A/E index of 1.28. It is also worth mentioning that Crowley has a remarkable record when racing prominently at Nottingham, scoring 46% of the time (24 wins from 52 rides). Limited data yes, but interesting to note nonetheless.

 

Midfield Runners

Time to switch to the mid-division data for our top jockeys:

Top 10 Flat Jockeys, performance when racing midfield, 1/1/14-6/7/19

Top 10 Flat Jockeys, performance when racing midfield, 1/1/14-6/7/19

 

As would be expected from our understanding of pace position and its impact on win prospects, there is significant drop for all riders; but Dettori, Moore and Tudhope retain reasonable records. Dettori remarkably scores over 24% of the time in races of 10f or more (23 wins from 94 rides; A/E 1.12); meanwhile Ryan Moore has done well when riding for Aidan O’Brien - shock, horror - with 19 wins and 18 places from 66 runners.

 

Held Up Runners

And so to the top ten jockey records when their horses have been held up off the pace. Here are the base figures:

Top 10 Flat Jockeys, performance on hold up horses, 1/1/14-6/7/19

Top 10 Flat Jockeys, performance on hold up horses, 1/1/14-6/7/19

 

As with the midfield data these figures are relatively moderate. Rather than calling out our top riders, this highlights the difficulties jockeys face when riding waiting races. Not only have they got ground to make up on the front rank, but often they have to negotiate traffic problems when trying to do so. It should also be said that, within the 'hold up' dataset are horses who may be green/unfancied in their early starts or for whom it is a case of 'not today'.

It is interesting when looking at bigger field data for these jockeys with all running/pace styles considered. In races of 16 or more they still win 18.1% of the time on front runners, but on hold up horses this drops to just 6.7%. William Buick has a particularly poor record in these big field races on hold up horses scoring just 3 times in 77 attempts (SR 3.9%).

 

TJ Combo by Run Style

Finally in this piece I have looked at trainer / jockey combinations – reviewing the relationships with specific trainers for which each jockey has ridden the most. I have two columns which show the breakdown by pace/running style and the relevant pace percentages for each pace/running style. For example if a jockey had ridden 200 times for the trainer and led in 46 of the races this would equate to 23%.

 

Andrea Atzeni / Roger Varian 

Atzeni/Varian Combination, by run style, 1/1/14-6/7/19

Atzeni/Varian Combination, by run style, 1/1/14-6/7/19

 

It may be interesting to note that the Atzeni / Varian combination do not seem great fans of sending horses out into an early lead, with little more than 10% of their partnership being asked to dictate. They seem to be much happier tracking the pace.

 

William Buick / Charlie Appleby 

Buick / Appleby Combination, by run style, 1/1/14-6/7/19

Buick / Appleby Combination, by run style, 1/1/14-6/7/19

 

The Buick / Appleby pairing has an excellent record when sending out their runners to the front early on – over 40% have gone onto win. It comes as no surprise therefore that they have taken an early lead in just under 1 in every 5 races, almost twice as often as Atzeni/Varian by contrast.

 

Jim Crowley / Charles Hills 

Crowley / Hills Combination, by run style, 1/1/14-6/7/19

Crowley / Hills Combination, by run style, 1/1/14-6/7/19

 

I wonder if the data connected with hold up horses for this combination is known to either Crowley or Hills. Surely if they saw these stats they would NOT hold up 33.3% of their runners! Having said that, there's a strong possibility that many of these are immature types running for experience: an A/E of 0.53, while pretty mediocre, suggests that not a huge amount more of these are expected by connections to win. Nevertheless, it's a big red light for such runners.

 

Frankie Dettori / John Gosden 

Dettori / Gosden Combination, by run style, 1/1/14-6/7/19

Dettori / Gosden Combination, by run style, 1/1/14-6/7/19

 

Check out these two masters of their respective crafts: strong stats throughout as one might expect. Johnny G front runners with Frankie on board will keep the wolf from the door!

 

James Doyle / Charlie Appleby

Doyle / Appleby Combination, by run style, 1/1/14-6/7/19

Doyle / Appleby Combination, by run style, 1/1/14-6/7/19

 

As with the Buick / Appleby combination we see a decent percentage of runners that take an early lead (20.56%). In addition, a very high percentage race prominently for this combination (44.24%). However, the profit/loss figures are less impressive, making them avoidable if not necessarily opposable. 

 

Adam Kirby / Clive Cox

Kirby / Cox Combination, by run style, 1/1/14-6/7/19

Kirby / Cox Combination, by run style, 1/1/14-6/7/19

 

A first mention for Adam Kirby, who has demonstrated strong ability aboard front runners, particularly for Clive Cox with whom a high A/E index of 1.39 is bankable. Kirby is a hard man to pass on the front end!

 

Ryan Moore / Sir Michael Stoute

Moore / Stoute Combination, by run style, 1/1/14-6/7/19

Moore / Stoute Combination, by run style, 1/1/14-6/7/19

 

A good strike rate for hold up horses, but this is probably more down to the fact that Sir Michael has numerous top quality horses that could win regardless of running style (as well as Ryan Moore being a superlative jockey). Only 1 in 9 horses are sent  into an early lead, despite the impressive 35.9% strike rate from this approach.

 

Oisin Murphy / Andrew Balding

Murphy / Balding Combination, by run style, 1/1/14-6/7/19

Murphy / Balding Combination, by run style, 1/1/14-6/7/19

 

The Murphy / Balding combo have done very well when taking the early lead or racing prominently. When backing a horse from this pairing I would want to be fairly sure that the horse was likely to race up with or close to the pace. 

 

Silvestre de Sousa / Mark Johnston

de Sousa / Johnston Combination, by run style, 1/1/14-6/7/19

de Sousa / Johnston Combination, by run style, 1/1/14-6/7/19

 

Anyone familiar with the Mark Johnston modus operandi will not be surprised to see the high percentage of front runners – just under 1 in 3 have been sent to the front early. This is far more than any of the other nine 'top pair' combinations in the sample. He is a trainer who understands the importance of racing up with the pace and, with his fit horses and a top pace judge in de Sousa, they are a front end dream team.

 

Danny Tudhope / David O’Meara

Tudhope / OMeara Combination, by run style, 1/1/14-6/7/19

Tudhope / OMeara Combination, by run style, 1/1/14-6/7/19

 

Excellent front running stats once again here, with supportive A/E and IV figures. Horses expected to adopt any other run style will not be marked up on the basis of pace, though they do still consistently more than might be expected (see IV column).

 

Summary

I hope some of the data / thoughts shared in this article will prove useful in your punting. My personal betting revolves around pace more than any other factor; be it for straight betting or in-running plays.

I firmly believe pace offers an edge that is difficult to find anywhere else these days, and readers are encouraged to acquire as many pace angles to support their betting as is practical. The Geegeez Query Tool (QT) is ideal for this, and angles such as the above can be saved within the QT and flagged both in a daily report and within the racecard.

[Editor's note: when using QT for pace, it is - of course - not possible to know which run style a horse will deploy before the race has been run. As such, angles should be set up with a note in the title, e.g. 'when leading', and the pace maps consulted for such potential qualifiers]

- DR

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17 replies
  1. Avatar
    msalway2018 says:

    One question on pace, does anyone have any experience of what is the most reliable number to sort the horse in, i.e. last 2, 3 or 4 runs? It can differ hugely, and I just wonder, maybe it is last 2 runs as often trainers will chance tactics with a horse when they start expecting it to win, i.e. they may hold him up in one race just to give him an education but then start to adopt more prominent tactics.
    I generally find, highly sweeping statement, but prominent or horses which like to lead generally win more in racing. that natural inclination a horse has to lead makes them a likely winner of a race

    Reply
    • Avatar
      Matt Bisogno says:

      My view, which is not definitive but rather the way I do it, is that on exposed handicaps with horses who have run lots I go 4 runs; in 3yo handicaps I go 3 or 2 depending on the amount of form available (I much prefer handicap form, as run style can suddenly change when horses nice to handicaps).

      Hope that’s useful. It’s basically a judgement call based on the reliability of the established form.

      Matt

      Reply
  2. Avatar
    JB says:

    If there is a better article this year, that can improve your betting on horses, than this one I want to see it. It’s superb!

    I just hope Dave hasn’t let the cat of the bag. If there’s an angle that’s not really being exploited by punters it’s pace.

    You can use the Query Tool to play around with the pace rankings and I can assure you it will improve your profitability no end.

    Reply
  3. Avatar
    tankman14 says:

    One of the best articles I’ve read on horse racing full stop. Stellar work picking out the angles and I’ll certainly be going through the query tool to add these angles to my others.

    Reply
  4. Avatar
    Bubbles180 says:

    Possibly one of the best write ups i have read, very clear, concise and informative, will be using this to my advantge thanks Dave Renham

    Reply
  5. Avatar
    graham says:

    Fascinating article as you would expect from David. To put this into practice though will require fast pictures will it not? I have ATR and RUK but both several seconds behind.

    Reply
    • Avatar
      Matt Bisogno says:

      It will take pace maps to predict how a race is likely to be run. Geegeez, and some others, have these.

      Matt

      Reply
  6. Avatar
    LHall2011 says:

    Fascinating stuff here. I’ve currently hit a bit of a wall with handicaps on the flat and I know Morden and Potts have suggested pace is the edge in days gone by. When we discuss ‘pace’ do we think that it’s as ‘simple” as backing prominent
    / lead horses as suggested or should we still analyse the pace setup of a race? Seems there are so many factors to consider. Where to start?!

    Reply
    • Avatar
      Matt Bisogno says:

      Definitely still need to analyse the pace. If a race has four that want to lead, it’s going to be difficult for any of them to maintain their effort of what are likely to be very fast early fractions. But, in an even paced race, being near the front is a huge advantage.

      Of course, the challenge is knowing which horses will be near the front. Our pace maps are a huge leg up with that but they’re not clairvoyant: stuff can and does change. That said, I personally never bet without checking them, and I strongly advise any Gold subscriber to do likewise.

      Matt

      Reply
  7. Avatar
    synthesis742 says:

    Thought-provoking article. Thanks.

    Is there any plan to add the expected pace from the race cards (rather than the post-race fact) into the query tool? Being able to see slices of the aggregate A/E when using the expected pace in these sorts of analyses would be very useful and actionable.

    Reply
    • Avatar
      Matt Bisogno says:

      Hi

      No, there’s no plan to do that for the following reason: our Query Tool data is updated twice daily, which means it cannot account for non-runners. A likely leader who is withdrawn will affect the shape of the race significantly, and we have no technical way of amending the ‘expected pace’.

      However, there are plans to include a horse’s run style from its previous two races. That should given an indication of horses’ probable run style (unless something is materially different today, like a change of distance or race code).

      Matt

      Reply
  8. Avatar
    handicracker says:

    I think this is the best article I’ve ever seen – not just on this site but anywhere. Thank you Dave for all your hard work compiling this.

    Reply
  9. Avatar
    Dave Renham says:

    Thanks for all the positive comments on the latest pace article. Predicting race pace and what style each horse is likely to adopt is obviously key. Not easy but as Matt says the pace maps will help as will the most recent runs and the pace style adopted therein. On the question of in play and quick enough pictures – I think the Betfair live stream is pretty close – better and quicker I’m guessing than ATR and RUK.

    On a personal level one thing I could do with is detailed in play data – then you could look at say the trainer combos and see what is generally happening to a horse’s price that is let’s say running mid pack or at the back. Generally the early front runner contracts in price fairly quickly; especially over shorter trips and/or having a relatively easy lead. Hence usually the edge has gone if you then try and back a leader in play. When I have watched live in running markets mid div / hold up horses sometimes maintain their price, sometimes drift and very occasionally shorten slightly. If their price in general does not get too many ‘ticks’ bigger, let’s say around the middle of the race, then there should be laying options for the laying fans. More research needed but that is one of my zillion ideas!!

    cheers

    Dave

    Reply
    • Avatar
      Dave Renham says:

      Yes I backed Communique on Betfair, but actually set a trade so did not win as much. However, a win is a win!

      Reply
  10. Avatar
    future says:

    hi dave , very good article , would something like this work on the other code of racing national hunt , if so could you do another article sometime on the best 10 jockeys .

    Reply

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