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There are lots of ways to bet on horses. Win, place and each way are just the beginning: such bets involve a reliance on one horse winning or nearly winning, the outcome of which provides players with a (usually) known return.

I've long mixed up my 'singles' betting with more elaborate plays. Known as exotics in the States, such wagers tend to involve predicting a sequence of events: either the first two (or three or four) home in a race, or the winner (or a placed horse) in each of a number of consecutive races.

Incidentally, although this article will not explicitly cover bets such as fourfolds and accumulators with traditional fixed odds bookmakers, the principles can be applied and, where readers are able, best odds guarantees leveraged.

In this previous post - written ten years ago now - I outlined how to play, and win, the tote placepot. The principles outlined in that post remain true now and, of course, they extend to Colossus Bets place pools, Irish Tote placepots and indeed any multi-race place pool bet. Let's recap.

What are pool bets, and why are they of interest?

Pool bets involve all players' stakes being invested into a pot, from which winning players are paid a dividend after the pool owners have taken their commission. That means the objective is not only to find 'the right answer' but also for that correct answer to be less obvious than most players expect. It generally is.

Multi-race pool bets can offer an interest throughout the afternoon for a single ticket; and, if a few fancied runners under-perform, they can pay handsomely in relation to fixed odds equivalent wagers.

Let's consider an example of such a bet, in this case a placepot from Thursday's card at the 2020 Cheltenham Festival. The gross pool - that is, the total bet into the pool - was £823,150.20. After takeout, the pool operator's advertised commission from which all costs are paid, of 27% the net pool was £600,881.40.

That pot would be divided between the number of remaining - and therefore winning - tickets after leg six, with the dividend declared to a £1 stake. Players can bet in multiples from 5p upwards.

In the first race that day, the favourite, Faugheen, ran third, with 4/1 Samcro winning. 361,390.13 units went forward to leg two.

In the second race, all four placed horses were towards the top of the market, including the unnamed favourite. 146,064.28 units went to leg three.

The third race, the Ryanair Chase, saw 2/1 second favourite Min beat 16/1 Saint Calvados with the 7/4 favourite in third. Most of the remaining pool money prior to the race, 114,468.48 units' worth of it, went forward to leg four, the Stayers' Hurdle.

In that fourth race, around 83,000 units (nearly three-quarters of the remaining pool) were invested in Paisley Park, who ran a clunker and was unplaced. This race was the kingmaker on the day, just 2,198.41 units (less than 2% of the running-on total) successfully predicting any of 50/1 Lisnagar Oscar, 20/1 Ronald Pump, or 33/1 Bacardys.

As the warm favourite won leg five, 854.56 units contested the final leg, the Mares' Novices' Hurdle. Here, the very well-backed second choice of the market, Concertista, beat stable mate and 9/1 chance Dolcita, with a 100/1 shot back in third.

From a total of 823,150 tickets, and a net pool of 600,881.40, there were just 235.01 left standing after the six races. Thus the dividend paid

600,881.4 / 235.01 = £2,556.83

Because of something called 'breakage', see TIF's explanation here if you're interested, the dividend is rounded down to the nearest 10p, meaning every winning £1 ticket was worth £2,556.80. A 5p winning line would be worth 5% of that amount, or £127.84.

Let's talk about the takeout

The commission a pool operator levies for hosting the pool is usually referred to as the 'takeout'. In multi-race bets, some people consider that the takeout - 27% in the example above - is too high. But it needs to be considered in the context of the number of legs in the bet, and the perceived difficulty of landing the bet. The first part is more easily quantified.

For example, if the place pool for a single race has a 20% deduction - which it currently does in UK (ouch!) - then a six race accumulator in the place pools would result in 73.8% of stakes being 'taken out'. Double, triple and even sextuple ouch!

The actual per leg takeout on the tote placepot is around 5.1%, or 0.051, compounded six times; which leaves a 'live stake' of [1.00 - 0.051=] 0.9496 which equals 0.73 (1.00-0.73 = 0.27, 27% takeout).

Takeout takeaway: You don't need to understand the maths, you just need to know that there is relative value in the placepot compared with single leg win or place pool bets.

How can this be value?

Pool bets are another market, along with fixed odds and exchanges, framed around the same product, horse racing. Thus, they do not always offer the best value.

If you want to back the favourite, doing it on the tote is probably not the best option (though UK tote are currently offering an SP guarantee match, which locks in some insurance for the majority of times when the tote dividend on a winning favourite will pay less than SP). Still, you'll generally get better value on an exchange than either the tote or a fixed odds bookmaker can offer.

But if you want to bet a longer-priced horse, it will normally be the case that exchanges or the tote offer better value than fixed odds bookies.

And if you want to play a sequence of win or place bets - let's call them a placepot or Win 6 - you may get better value with a pool operator.

If you only like fancied runners in the sequence, you will have no edge in a pool and are better off betting either a fixed odds multiple or parlaying your winnings in exchange markets.

But if you have an eye for an interesting outsider - and, as a Gold subscriber, you are far better placed to see such horses than the vast majority of bettors - then multi-race sequences are for you!

Remember, the objective is not just to be right; but to be right when the vast majority of others are at least partially wrong.

Basic Staking: how players get it wrong

The nature of multi-race betting means that optimal staking is almost as important as picking the right horses. Again, I've written about this before but it's plenty important enough to reiterate here.

Smart pickers of horses often confound their own attempts to take down big pots by either under- or over-staking. A six-leg sequence involves the player selecting one or more horses per leg, the total number of 'bets' on the ticket being a multiple of the number of picks per leg.

Thus, a player picking one horse per race will have 1 x 1 x 1 x 1 x 1 x 1 = 1 bet. He or she will also have a very small chance of correctly predicting the required outcome unless he or she is either very lucky or most of the fancied horses make the frame/win. The former is not what this mini-course is about, the latter is generally self-defeating in the long-term.

This, then, is not an optimal way to bet such sequences.

'Caveman' Permutations

A very common approach is to select two horses per race in a permutation (or perm for short). Twice as much coverage per race gives a better chance of finding the right answer, but it also invites the user to invest far more cash in a somewhat arbitrary manner. We can write the calculation for the number of bets by using 'to the power of six' (representing the six legs in the wager). Thus:

2 horses per leg = 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 = 26 = 64

3 horses per leg = 36 = 729

4 horses per leg = 46 = 4096

and so on.

As you can see, this quickly becomes expensive. Moreover, it is deeply sub-optimal. We won't necessarily feel we need the same amount of coverage in an eight horse race with an odds on favourite as we will with a twenty-runner sprint handicap, so staking them the same doesn't make a lot of sense. Again, such players are aiming to get lucky rather than playing smart.


A way to whittle the number of perms in one's bet is by deploying 'bankers', horses which must do whatever is required - win, or place - as a solo selection. Adding a 'single', as they're known in America, to a six-leg sequence can make a lot of difference to the number of bets. Such an entry makes a 'to the power of six' bet a 'to the power of five' one, as follows:

2 horses per leg with one banker = 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 1 = 25 = 32 bets

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3 horses per leg with one banker = 35 = 243 bets

4 horses per leg with one banker = 45 = 1024 bets

and so on.

Using two bankers ratchets up the risk of a losing play but also dramatically further reduces the numbers of units staked:

2 horses per leg with two bankers = 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 1 x 1 = 24 = 16 bets

3 horses per leg with two bankers = 34 = 81 bets

4 horses per leg with two bankers = 44 = 256 bets

and so on.

So, for instance, a ticket with two bankers and four selections in the other four legs would amount to 256 bets, whereas four horses per leg through a six-leg sequence would be 4096 bets. At 10p a line, that's the difference between £25.60 and £409.60!

Any single ticket perm, where all selections are staked to the same value (e.g. 10p's in the example above), is known in the trade as a 'caveman' ticket. This is because it still doesn't properly reflect, in staking terms, how we feel about our selected horses and can be considered unsophisticated or a blunt instrument.

Advanced Staking: How to get it right

So if those approaches are varying degrees of how not to stake multi-race bets, how should we do it?

Hardcover Exotic Betting : How to Make the Multihorse, Multirace Bets That Win Racing's Biggest Payoffs Book

The answer is a strategy known as 'ABCX' which has long been used but was first expounded in print - to my knowledge at least - in a book by Steve Crist, the US writer and punter, called 'Exotic Betting'. It's quite hard to get hold of nowadays, especially this side of the pond, but is well worth about £25 if you'd like to get seriously into multi-race (or multi-horse in a race, i.e. exacta, trifecta, etc) bets. Crist writes fluidly and with familiarity, so it's an easy read in the main, though some sections are necessarily a little on the technical side.

The ABCX approach requires players to assign a wagering value to each horse in each race, like so:

A Horses: Top level contenders, likely winners, or horses which you think are significantly over-priced while retaining a decent win/place chance. In this latter group, a 50/1 shot you think should be 20/1 need not apply; but a 20/1 shot you make 5/1 is fair game (notwithstanding that such a disparity normally means you've made a mistake).

B Horses: Solid options, most likely to take advantage of any slip ups by the A brigade. Generally implying less ability and/or betting value than A's.

C Horses: Outside chances, horses who probably won't win but retain some sort of merit. Often it is a better play to allow these horses to beat you, or to bet them as win singles for small change to cover stakes.

X Horses: Horses that either lack the ability, or the race setup, to win (or place if playing a place wager), and which are thus excluded from consideration.

This approach works a lot better for multi-race win bets than for placepots and the like. In the latter bet types, it is usually sensible to focus solely on A's and B's, with C picks going in to the same discard pile as X's. The exception to that rule of thumb would be days like the Cheltenham Festival where the pools and the field sizes are huge: the only sensibly staked way to catch one of the placers in the Stayers' Hurdle would be on a C ticket!

Once this hierarchy has been established, a means of framing the selections into a bet - or bets - is required. I have used multiple tickets to optimize my staking for more than a decade and if you are not doing likewise, you are losing money, simple as that.

The good news is that, while the mechanics I'm about to share are somewhat convoluted, I had a tool built to do all the grunt work - which you can access for free in Part 2 of this two-part report. 🙂

Staking multiple tickets using ABCX

As I say, the heavy lifting will be done by a tool, details of which I'll share in the concluding part. But it is instructive to be aware of the maths of ABCX. The way I almost always use my A, B and C picks is as follows:

- All A's: 4x unit stake

- All A's except for one B pick: 2x unit stake

- Mostly A's with two B picks: 1x unit stake

- All A's except for one C pick: 1x unit stake

Let's take a recent example from a Win 6 - predict all six winners - at Clonmel. This was actually a rare occasion when I went 3x on the 'All A' ticket as I didn't feel strongly I was playing with value in my corner. In truth, given it was the last day of racing in UK or Ireland for most of four weeks at least, I wanted the action... ahem.

My ABCX (the X's not shown) looked like this:


As you can see, I had two A's in leg 1, three A's in leg 2, nine horses spread across A, B and C in leg three (as well as unnamed favourite), three on A and three on C (plus unnamed fav) in leg 4, a banker A in leg 5, and five A's with two B's in leg 6.

In terms of the actual picks, I moved the 279F group in leg 4 from B to C to reduce stakes, and I took a contrarian view in the last race where 7/11 were the first two in the betting: I didn't especially like them but I didn't want to let them beat me completely either. The 136810 group of A's represented the next five in the market. That was a bold play which paid off this time.

In leg five, #3 was the 4/6 favourite in a short field of chasers, the smart horse Bachasson.

The image above shows my picks in the ticket builder tool. What it doesn't show is the part-permutation tickets the tool created for me, or the associated stake values. So let's introduce those now.

At the top of this image, there is a series of check boxes where a user may decide which combinations of selections he/she wants to play. In this case, and indeed most cases, I have selected all of those possible options.

Beneath each ticket is a further trio of check boxes where users may amplify stakes. As you can see, ticket 1 has a 3x amplification (would normally be 4x for me), tickets 2 and 3 are 2x unit stake, and tickets 4-6 are 1x normal stakes.

The ticket breakdown is:

Ticket 1: AAAAAA - 3x stake
Ticket 2: AABAAA - 2x stake
Ticket 3: AAAAAB - 2x stake
Ticket 4: AACAAA - 1x stake
Ticket 5: AAACAA - 1x stake
Ticket 6: AABAAB - 1x stake

The total amount wagered across these tickets was £214.80.

Ignoring the absolute cost and its relation to your own level of staking, consider that cost against a full perm 'caveman ticket' of

2 x 3 x 10 x 7 x 1 x 7 = 2940 bets, at 10p = £294.00

But it is not the £80 (approximately 25%) saving in absolute cost that is the smartest component here. Rather, it is the fact that my stronger fancies - and the more likely sequences of winners - are amplified to more than 10p.

We'll cover the use of unnamed favourites later. For now, suffice it to say that this is a means of a) keeping more tickets alive, and b) playing up the merit of the favourite. I use this tactic a lot in multi-race tickets and will discuss it in more detail anon.

It takes less than three minutes for me to place six tickets as per the above. Sometimes, I have as many as 20-25 tickets and it takes 12-15 minutes. That, clearly, is more time than it takes to place a single caveman ticket; but my extra effort is frequently repaid in the return.

The winning sequence at Clonmel looked like this:

Leg 1: #3, 6/4 favourite, an A selection

Leg 2: #13, 7/1 (drifted from 7/2), an A selection

Leg 3: #6, 9/4 favourite, an A and a B (FAV) selection

Leg 4: #7, 9/1, a C selection

Leg 5: #3, 4/6 favourite, an A banker

Leg 6: #1, 15/2, an A selection

There were three shortish winning favourites in the six-race sequence, and the winner of leg 2 was a strange price, given it had been strong in the market all morning at around 3/1, 7/2. It bolted up by 17 lengths!

The dividend, to a £2 stake, paid £10,710.85. My 5% unit was worth £620.21 including consolations for four- and five-out-of-six.


You can hopefully make out in the above that there was only 0.05 winning units. That, of course, was my ticket shown above, which means there will be a £10,000 or so rollover to the next Irish race meeting, whenever that may be.

The six tickets paid out as follows:

Ticket 1: £80.43 consolations

Ticket 2: £57.42 consolations

Ticket 3: £3.80 consolations

Ticket 4: £3.81 consolations

Ticket 5: £620.21 winning ticket, plus consolations

Ticket 6: £1.90 consolations


Total payout: £767.57

Total profit: £552.77

Approximate odds: 5/2


There is an important note in the totals above. The approximate payout on this bet was 5/2. Not 100/1 or 1000/1 or another big number.

With the safety net of consolation dividends, I am happy to stake more, relatively, in search of a bigger absolute (i.e. monetary) return.

This is another subject to which I'll return in Part 2, along with when to play, using unnamed favourites, taking insurance, the value of the early markets,  syndicates/cash out features and, of course, the ticket builder.

In the meantime, if you have any questions, please leave a comment below and I'll try to respond in the second part.


Did you miss me? I missed myself. I think that was only the second blank week since I started my musings more than eight years ago, writes Tony Stafford. I relayed my withdrawal symptoms to the boss and he gave me the all clear to resume, but no 4 a.m. Monday for me. The other day, the phone rang and I looked at the clock, it was 8.45 a.m., the latest I’d awakened in decades.

There’s been a slight confusion whether these offerings have been musings or meanderings – the latter term hardly describes my physical movement over the past three housebound weeks.

No racing, football, cricket or anything else. Just three-hour daily afternoon sessions with eons-old reruns on Channel 120 – ITV4, the place we see ITV racing when 103 is tied up – of Minder, The Professionals and The Sweeney from around 1980.

Sometimes, when I was the editor of the Racehorse magazine at that stage of my career – doubling up with my Daily Telegraph job to help pay off Mr Lippman – we’d be out for lunch In Battersea and see them filming The Sweeney. – Sweeney Todd, Flying Squad for those of you without the rudiments of Cockney rhyming slang.

In those days I had a fair knowledge of day-to-day form. Racing was not encumbered with anything like the volume of bookmaker-benefiting dross of today, but I had an opinion on pretty much every race, just as well as I had to make a selection in them all each day for the Telegraph. Even holidays brought no respite from the sausage-machine of racing and betting even if most of it was not televised.

Now we see it all, except in Covid 19 Great Britain there’s nothing to see. There’s only Hong Kong twice a week or the odd still-soldiering-on action from one or two tracks in the US. I rarely bother with either.

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Then suddenly, on Saturday, the 18th consecutive day without horse racing in the UK, we had the Computer Grand National, 40 runners over what passed quite impressively and realistically for the track. The horses’ gaits and strides over the fences, while a generation up from the early betting shop “jumps” computer tracks, still had an artificial look about it. I suppose it would!

What struck me again, and I’d mentioned it after the autumn Aintree meeting, was the totally-unexpected difference to Becher’s Brook. Where the horses used to have to stretch to clear the gaping breadth of the brook while ideally half-turning in midair to take the immediate left turn towards Valentines, they now appear to go straight on. The fence has been rendered pretty innocuous in fact and its computer-model looked even more straight-forward on Saturday. That’s a big loss for purists, but then 30 fences and almost four and a half miles is test enough for most people.

Anything computer-generated needed human input to provide the data for whatever device crunched the numbers to elicit the result, so the outsiders in the market almost by definition, were most unlikely to prevail. Punters, or even in many cases, non-punters, because in normal times plenty of once-a-year bettors break their annual disinterest with racing and have a flutter on that Saturday in April at Aintree, grabbed at the chance of relieving the present torpor.

Trainer Ian Williams had the initiative to set up a sweepstake on the race, offering handsome prizes for the lucky few to secure horses “finishing” in the first four. As I said, the computer was hardly going to reward those of us unlucky enough to land on a rag.

In the old days, I’d invariably had a Grand National fancy on the day of the weights, always tipping and backing it at that stage, and enjoyed plenty of winners over the 30-year spell. Those were the times of office sweeps when unfailingly I’d get one of the outsiders. Yesterday my name came out alongside the 66-1 shot Peregrine Run. I can safely say I’d never previously heard its name and marvelled that his black and red colours were relatively prominent for much of the “race” before wilting away as 66-1 shots were bound to do.

It seemed after the event that Ian reckoned around £4,500 had been earned for charity from that single event. I think he had multiple – possibly four – full fields, so the offers of expensive meals for two in a top Birmingham restaurant, champagne breakfasts for four at his stables quite close to the Second City and other lesser prizes were recycled and put up for auction by at least one of the winners.

On his What’s App feed, Ian even showed pictures of his stable’s real horses gently exercising with the riders all keeping appropriate Social Distancing. For those of us who did take part, it was great to see somebody bringing enjoyment at such a time of fear and unease.

When I first got to know Raymond Tooth, one of the main reasons we met was the input of Derek Hatter who had known Ray in business for many years. Derek dropped out of our little team around six years ago when already just into his 80’s and it was sad to hear that his elder brother Sir Maurice Hatter had died aged 90 last week. Sir Maurice was a great man in charity work with his wife Lady Hatter for many years and the news of his death made me wonder if Derek is fit and well.

So where are we now? After a couple of weeks, I’m reading almost a book a day; am surprisingly rubbish at sudoku; only slowly taking off the surplus pounds from the last year’s excesses – probably solely because there are no more Set 1 breakfasts at the café – and am still in the early stages of a fitness regime.

Meanwhile horses have to be exercised and fed, although most jumpers will have been “roughed off” with the BHA announcing no jumping until July, concentrating on a return to Flat racing before that. The jumps trainers will have had some respite in that at least the weather has become much more Spring-like with the prospect of new young grass on the horizon in place of the bare and flooded fields of winter enabling turning out.

Everyone is raring to get going again, but as Derek Hatter always used to say when discussing anything to do with money or life. “Everything’s the same all the time, it’s just different numbers!”

The key will be those graphs which will hopefully show a slowdown and then downturn in deaths and new Covid 19 cases. At the moment, the total to have died in the UK is fewer than 5,000, which is less than one in 10,000. As one of the leading healthcare experts suggested last week, the UK will be “doing well” if the death toll is restricted to 20,000. That would be around one in 3,000. If you stay healthy and stay safe at home, as I intend to continue to do, we should hopefully all be around when the world gets back to normal. Different numbers.

In this bonus module, Part 3b, you'll learn about something I call 'mark up' angles. These are snippets of information which are not necessarily worthy of a bet in their own right, but will help me to form a view on a horse in the context of a race.

Again, if you've not seen the previous episodes, I urge you to start here.

In this bonus recording, we'll look at mark up angles for:

- Sires

- Wind surgery runners

And we'll also look at horse profiling within Query Tool. Adding a few of these to your Tracker for the upcoming flat season will be a VERY good use of an hour or two during this downtime!

Here's the video - I hope you like it.


p.s. If anybody has any questions, I will be happy to record a QT Q&A session to help you get you out of the blocks as quickly as possible.

The draw and potential draw biases is where my interest in horse racing began, writes Dave Renham. Back in the late 1990's I remember reading some excellent draw articles by Russell Clarke in a magazine called Odds On and I was hooked. Within days I was doing my own research using my Superform Annuals and pen and paper. This progressed to putting data into computers using excel.

I dread to think how much time I spent collating data. My main memory is working on my computer from 10pm to 2am on a regular basis. However, in those days the hard work was worth it because it was still a very under-researched area and draw biases were quite strong at certain courses. In addition to that, it was at a time before racing computer programs were commercially available.

It is over 20 years since I wrote my first book on draw bias and how things have changed since those ‘good old days’. At this juncture, it needs to be pointed out that many of the draw biases that were around 15 or 20 years ago are either not as strong as they were, or have disappeared completely. For many years draw biases provided punters with money spinning opportunities, me included. Virtually all my decent winning bets from around 1997 to 2006 were influenced by the draw in some way.

However, as with most things, when a good source of highlighting winners is found, within a few years the edge starts to disappear. This is very much a horse racing trait - good ideas gain an initial edge because the majority of people do not use that winner finding approach. As time goes on however, the betting public and the bookmakers catch up, and as a result the prices tend to contract and the value begins to disappear. This has happened with the draw, and to confound the problem course officials started using other means of negating potential draw bias. Running rails are now moved in order to keep horses off the fastest strip of ground, and better watering and drainage systems mean that most straight courses are far more even than they were back then.

The draw has had massive exposure in the past, and with people realising the edge is disappearing, the subject is beginning to assume less importance. However, before we begin to write off the draw completely, I still believe there is an edge for the educated draw punter. I maintain that at certain tracks a poor draw can still all but wipe out the chance of a horse, while a good draw increases one’s chances considerably. The trick perhaps is to find biases that may be more subtle, or at least which most punters are less aware of.

During this period of racing inactivity I plan to look at a few individual courses in depth, focusing primarily on draw bias but looking at pace aspects as well. The first course that will be put under the microscope is Pontefract.


Pontefract is located in West Yorkshire and is a left-handed track that is undulating with a stiff uphill finish in the home straight. Indeed the lowest point on the track is around the six-furlong start while the finishing post is the highest point, meaning both the five- and six-furlong sprints are testing.

The course is around two miles in length and, something I didn’t realise, is that originally it was around four furlongs shorter. Being left-handed one would assume that lower draws may have the advantage over high drawn horses at some distances, but the proof of the pudding, as always, will be in the eating!

For this article I am using key tools on Geegeez: namely the Draw Analyser, Pace Analyser and Query Tool. The period of study is a long one – going back to 2009, but I will examine more recent data in detail too.

My draw research has always focused on handicap races only. My belief is that handicap races give a better and fairer data set as such races are generally competitive affairs. When analysing each handicap race, I divide the draw into thirds - those drawn in the bottom third (low), those drawn in the middle third, and those drawn in the top third.

It should also be noted that I also adjust the draw positions when there are non runners – for example if the horse drawn 3 is a non runner, then the horse drawn 4 becomes drawn 3, draw 5 becomes 4 and so on. On a completely fair course the winning percentages for each "third" of the draw should be around 33% each. The differences in the percentages will help to determine the strength of the bias. The good news is that the Draw Analyser on Geegeez makes exactly the same splits, and is also capable of calculating draw by the advertised stall in your racecard and the actual stall, accounting for non-runners.

In my experience, I consider there to be two types of draw bias. Firstly, clear bias towards one specific section of the draw; this is the strongest possible bias. Secondly, one can get a bias against one specific section of the draw.

Another key factor to take into account is field size: for potential draw bias to exist I maintain there needs to be a reasonable number of runners in the race, and eight or more runners is the figure I have chosen. Draw bias is far more likely to be prevalent in larger fields as horses will either be forced to run wide (hence having further to travel), or be forced to run on a part of the track where the ground may be slightly slower. If the data set is big enough I will look at bigger field data where I feel it is appropriate.

OK time to crunch some numbers.


Pontefract 5 furlongs (8+ runner handicaps)

There have been 89 qualifying races - five-furlong handicaps with eight or more runners - during the period of study. Here are the overall draw splits:

Despite the track being left handed and the 5f distance having a bend to run round, low drawn horses do not dominate. The A/E values below suggest that the low drawn horses are overbet and are essentially poor value:

For the record, if you had bet every horse from the bottom third of the draw at £1 per bet you would have lost £136.34; backing all middle draws would have lost just £9.62 at starting price.

In the following table individual draw positions have been broken down for 5f 8+ runner handicaps at Ponte:

A few individual stalls made a profit but clearly there is no pattern to this so I would not be advocating backing certain draws in the future.

Field size seems to make no difference in the draw figures, but I was keen to look at whether the going made a difference. Back in the late 1990s and early 2000s when the going got testing in sprint races at Pontefract, horses tended to head towards the near rail in the straight giving higher draws an edge. Unfortunately for the minimum distance we only have 15 handicap races that have occurred on soft or heavy going; but, interestingly, lower draws have won 9 of the 15 (66.66%). That's far too small a sample from which to make any concrete conclusions; however, the 6f stats may give us more data to work with and may hopefully will show correlation.

Regarding 5f soft or heavy ground runners, you would make a very small profit backing lower drawn horses each way (£3.03 to £1 level stakes).

Let us look at pace and running style now. Here are the overall figures:

An notable edge for front runners can be observed. Moreover, better than 52% of horses that took the early lead went on to finish in the first three. This implies a strong front running bias.

On good ground or firmer the front running bias gets even stronger – early leaders win 20.48% of these races with an IV of 2.15. On good to soft or softer, conversely, front runners have failed to win any of the 22 races. It will be interesting to see if a similar pattern emerges over 6f.

Lastly for the five-furlong range, a look at draw / pace (running style) combinations for front runners in these 5f races:

Due to the left handed nature of the course/distance one might have expected more leaders to have come from the lowest draws. Interestingly, though, those horses that led from the bottom third of the draw (low) only managed to win three races from 39 attempts (SR 7.69%); A/E 0.51.

Horses that led early from middle draws went on to win over 25% of the time giving a positive A/E of 2.66. One additional stat is worth sharing: horses drawn in the bottom third of the draw (low) that were held up early have a dreadful record, winning just 2 races from 98 with an A/E of just 0.17.

Pontefract 5f Handicaps (8+ runners) Summary

The draw seems to be fair with no bias, while from a pace perspective front runners do have an edge.

Early pace is generally far more material than stall position.

Horses held up from a low draw have a terrible record.


Pontefract 6 furlongs (8+ runner handicaps)

 There have been 153 qualifying races over six furlongs during the period of study. Here are the overall draw splits:

There seems to be a small advantage for lower draws here. It may not be hugely significant but is worth further investigation. The A/E values correlate to a certain extent as shown below:

Your first 30 days for just £1

A look again at individual draw positions and how they have fared over time:

Stalls 1 to 3 have decent individual A/E values and stall 2 has secured a long term profit. However, backing this draw blind in the future looks a less than robust way to produce a profit. I would be encouraged, however, if a horse I fancied was drawn in the bottom three stalls – this would be an extra tick in the box as it were.

This graph, which shows IV3 (the average Impact Value of a stall and its closest neighbours, e.g. 456), helps to visualise the table above from a 'likelihood of winning' perspective:

Looking at field size, low draws have the strongest edge in smaller fields (races of 8 or 9 runners). There have been a decent number of these races – 62 in total. The draw split for winners as follows:

The A/E value for low drawn horses edges up to 1.06 here. It seems therefore that a lower draw is more preferable in smaller fields. It is nothing to go ‘crazy’ about but a lower draw under these circumstances does look preferable.

What about the impact of the going in Ponte handicaps over six furlongs? It was noted above that, on soft or heavy ground in 5f handicaps, low draws seemed to have an edge albeit from limited data. In handicaps over a furlong further, the soft or heavy draw stats look as follows:

Again this data set is quite small (21 races), but a look at the win and placed data - table below - strongly suggests a lower draw is preferable:

For the record, backing all low-drawn horses EACH WAY on soft or heavy ground would have secured a profit of £19.57 to £1 level stakes.

Next follows a table illustrating the effect of pace and running style:

An edge for front runners again, while hold up horses have a relatively moderate record. When looking at 5f races earlier it was noted that front runners did better on firmer going and had struggled in testing ground. Unfortunately, from a statistical point of view at least, the complete reverse is the case here with front runners having performed far better on testing ground: indeed from the limited sample they have won over three times more than would be expected statistically. So one potential theory goes out of the window!

Again, we'll close out the distance review with a look at draw / pace (running style) combinations specifically for front runners in 6f handicaps:

As with the 5f range, horses which are drawn high are less likely to get to the early lead - in this case approximately half as likely as those drawn middle or low. There is little to choose between low and middle drawn horses in terms of getting to the early lead.

However, it should be noted that higher drawn horses that got to the lead have managed to go on to win almost 20% of the time.

Pontefract 6f Handicaps (8+ runners) Summary

To conclude, the 6f trip seems to offer low drawn horses an advantage which appears to increase in smaller fields.

The bias towards lower draws has been stronger on softer ground where, conversely, higher draws have struggled more.


Pontefract 1 mile (8+ runner handicaps)

Most people focus their draw attentions at sprint distances, but a mile for me has always been the key distance at Pontefract in terms of the draw. From my previous research, lower draws traditionally had a decent edge over a mile so let’s look at the current data. There have been 142 qualifying races which gives us a really good chunk of information:

As expected the low draw bias is strong, with the A/E values not surprisingly following a similar pattern:

And here is the performance of each individual draw since 2009:

Draw 2, as it did over 5f and 6f, shows a blind profit. The A/E values for draws 1 to 3 are good as one would expect. This table does show quite neatly the draw bias in operation – several columns show this such as the win% column, the ew % column and the A/E column.

Once more, the IV3 chart brings the point home:

As this mile trip indicates a strong bias it is worthwhile checking a more recent subset of the data to confirm the long-term perspective. Focusing on the last four seasons (2016 to 2019), during which time span there were 54 races, gives the following splits:

These are similar results albeit a slightly lower win percentage for the bottom third of the draw. However, it ratifies the bias which has been around for years remains alive and kicking.

A  solid footnote is that in the past four seasons 23 of the 54 mile handicap races with eight or more runners were won by horses drawn 1 or 2 (SR 42.6%). Compare this with just eight wins achieved by the two highest drawn horses.

In addition, for those who like ‘exotic’ bets, you would have made a small profit if you had permed the lowest two drawn horses in every race in £1 reverse exactas: £14 profit from a £108 outlay. Of course an exacta is a pool bet so it is difficult to exploit potential draw biases in this way as such ideas, if overbet, would contract the returns. Having said that I have personally had much success in the past perming certain draws at certain tracks.

Back to the complete data set (going back to 2009) and a look at mile handicaps by number of runners - specifically looking at fields of 8 or 9 runners - there have been 53 races with the following draw splits:

A stronger bias it seems for lower drawn horses in small fields. The A/E values back this up as is shown below:

There also is a strengthening of the bias in bigger fields albeit from a relatively small sample. In races of 14 runners or more, 19 of the 30 races (SR 63.3%) have been won by the bottom (low) third of the draw.

Turning attention to the state of the turf, the win percentages for low drawn runners are extremely uniform and I have found nothing of note there.

However, with regard to pace and running styles, there are some factors to keep in mind. Here are the overall stats:

In racing in general, as the race distance increase so front running biases start to diminish. However, at Pontefract there is a stronger front running bias over a mile than at 6 furlongs. I found nothing of interest when delving into going considerations and field size, so nothing extra to report there.

Finally over this mile trip this is how the draw / pace (running style) combinations look for front runners in 1 mile handicaps:

These stats demonstrate that it is much easier - or at least more common - for a horse to lead from a low draw over a mile at Pontefract. Having said that, high drawn early leaders have gone on to win slightly more often in percentage terms. Horses that race mid division or are held up when drawn in the top third of the draw (high) have won just 7 races from 285 runners.

Geegeez Draw Analyser has a heat map to help visualise this, here displaying IV:

Pontefract 1 Mile Handicaps (8+ runners) Summary

The mile trip at Pontefract shows a significant draw bias to lower drawn horses. It is one of the strongest mile biases in the UK, if not the strongest.

From a pace angle, it is preferable for a horse to lead or track the pace.


Pontefract 1 mile 2 furlongs (8+ runner handicaps)

The final distance to be examined in this article is a mile and a quarter. The configuration of the track means that there is an extra bend at this distance as compared to the mile trip and hence one would expect low draws to again have a decent edge. There have been 107 qualifying races from which to find angles:

On first view this looks a very strong bias with lower draws dominating and higher draws seemingly at even more of a disadvantage than they were at a mile. The A/E values back up the raw win percentages as a measure of profitability:

Indeed backing every horse drawn in the lowest third over ten furlongs at Pontefract (8+ runner handicaps) would have returned £39.90 to a £1 level stake.

Individual draw data next, and can stall 2 make a blind profit yet again??!!

Yes! Stall 2 has made a blind profit again - meaning it has been profitable at every individual distance up to 1m2f - as have stalls 3 and 4. Again, this table helps one visualise the strength of the low draw bias. Would I consider backing draws 1 to 4 ‘blind’ in the future? No, but it is clear that these draws must be the primary focus when analysing these races. Here is the IV3 chart to bring that home:

Time to check out more recent data to see whether the bias has been as strong over the past four seasons (2016-2019). There have been 33 qualifying races during that time, giving these stats:

Whilst it is not quite as strong, that could simply be down to the smaller - less reliable - sample size. It still indicates that low draws have a substantial advantage over higher ones.

Moving back to the complete data set (2009-2019) the low draw bias seems to strengthen considerably as the field size grows. This makes sense as the extra bend potentially helps lower drawn runners and impedes higher drawn runners who have to race wider. In races of 12 runners or more, 20 of the 31 races (SR 64.52%) have been won by the bottom third of the draw (low). The A/E value stands at a very healthy 1.25.

Indeed moving the goalposts up further - to 13+ runners - low draws have totally dominated, winning a huge 17 of the 22 races (SR 77.27%). The A/E value for low drawn runners is an uber-impressive 1.53.

Looking at going data there is something which stands out albeit from a limited sample. Races on soft or heavy seems to increase the strength of the low draw bias. From 21 races 15 were won by a horse in the lowest drawn third of the field. That equates to over 70% and an A/E of 1.55. Of course with limited data one cannot be too dogmatic, but these figures are still highly promising.

A look at the pace / running styles figures next:

Front runners have a stronger edge than I had expected, winning twice as often as most other run styles: maybe that extra bend near the start helps.

And finally, the draw / pace (running style) combinations for front runners in 1m2f handicaps:

Lower drawn horses as expected lead more often and roughly four in seven of them go on to finish in the first three. High drawn horses tend to struggle when racing mid division or when held up. This was also the case over 1 mile as we saw; over 1m2f such runners have won only five races from 207 runners.


Pontefract 1m2f Handicaps (8+ runners) Summary

The 1 mile 2 furlong distance shows a similarly strong low draw bias to that at a mile, and it seems that bigger fields may accentuate this.

Soft or heavy going may also strengthen the bias but that notion is based on limited data and so a watching brief is recommended.


Fingers crossed, in the near future we will see race meetings start again at Pontefract and, when they do, I hope these stats will help point you in the right direction in the ‘fight’ against the bookmakers.

- DR

This series of articles and videos has been designed to help inquisitive racing fans to understand more about the sport they love. Whether for betting or another, perhaps breeding research, purpose, there is much intelligence to be gained from looking beyond headline numbers; and Query Tool is a feature of Geegeez Gold which facilitates just such digging.

In the first part of this third part - part 3a - it is time to get into some examples. The angles highlighted have been selected in such a way that they provide a small amount of statistical 'nutrition' in and of themselves; but I hope their real value is in leading the viewer to conduct his or her own research along similar - or very different - lines.

I very much hope you enjoy it.


p.s. I strongly encourage you to take a look at the first two parts before diving into this one.

You can find Part 1 here

And you can find Part 2 here

p.p.s. the subtitles took a very long time to add, but that doesn't mean they're useful. Please do leave a comment and let me know if they enhanced your enjoyment or were irrelevant. I'll not be offended - far from it, if I don't have to spend another nearly six hours of my life doing that again, I'll be delighted!


Full video transcript

So before you start pressing or clicking any buttons in anger the first thing to think about is a scenario.

What we essentially want to do is test hypotheses or theories or ideas that we have.

Using the Query Tool

So what kind of scenarios can you see?

A few examples would be trainers in certain situations like maybe early season trainer form or trainers.

Maybe trainers by jockey, maybe big trainers

Not their number one.

What about the impacts of wind surgery? We can look at that, we can look at first time after a wind op.

Any number of times after wind op. We could look into the sires or jockeys or racecourses from a draw pace perspective. There really are any number of possible scenarios to dig into.

In the remainder of this video what I'd like to do is highlight some

examples of a given scenario. So for instance,

I will evidence one trainer and we'll find a jockey to go with that.

But you of course you go away and look at...

With trainers there are any number of UK and Irish trainers who have had

400-500 runners per year so they have big sample sizes to work with and you won't always find

valuable angles. Sometimes, very often, you'll come up dry but the whole point is if you if they were all profitable then everybody would be at it and the fact that we have to work a little bit harder not a lot as you'll see but a little bit harder represents a barrier to entry for a lot of people as well of course as not having

ccess to a tool like Query Tool


One other thing that I want to say before I start I've been asked a couple of times about parameters how should I set things up Matt? What sort of win strike rate should I look for? Where should I be with A/E and IV? What kind of return on investment should I be looking for?

The answer to this question is it's up to.

The key thing to think about win and to a lesser degree place strike rate they basically tell you how long you'll

go between drinks. A lower strike rate will mean you need a bigger bank and more discipline: if you can't handle losing runs you need a high strike rate to keep you

in the game as it were, and so there's no point researching an angle with a 10% hit rate because you could very easily go 35

qualifiers without a winner, and that's not going to work for you.If you normally bet quite short and you need lots of winners to keep you engaged then you're going to be looking you need to be.

The win percentage maybe 25 or 33%, you need to set it high

to suit your tastes.

Likewise if you want something that wins often you can use IV and say one and a half on IV and that's going to give you certainly relative to the peer group it'll give you

those qualifiers who win

one-and-a-half times or more than average. The point I'm trying to make, and it is a really important point,

worth taking time with upfront, is that

the angles that I show you,

and the angles that you research,

they might be exciting in terms of their profit or their ROI...

But if they don't fundamentally suit the way you bet,

you're going to give up on them.

This applies to any system or service you might be interested in trying as well: if the fundamental metrics of that

angle or system or service are not aligned with the way you see the betting world, with how you want to...

you appetite for risk,

the number of bets you want to place, another one is your tolerance for losing runs.

If the metrics don't match up against

those things which are personal to you

the angle is going to fail for you. Not necessarily because it's a bad angle or a bad system or service, but because it doesn't meet your personal requirements.

I hope that makes sense. It's a really, really important point and, actually, if you take nothing else away from this video, please take that away because that will stand you in good stead going forward. You need to find something that suits you. Not everything will.

Ok good right now let's crack on the first thing I want to look at then I'm recording this on the last day of March we are in a lockdown this year 2020 you might be in 3 years time content will remain valid in its conceptual form the data will obviously move on I hope I hope we have some racing in the next few years so for the 31st of March is traditionally,

in any normal year we would have just had

Doncaster and the Lincoln.

And we'd be started in the flat turf season.

I'm going to kind of pretend that the flat turf season has started and I want to look at early season trainer form.

So to do that I'm going to

MONTH and I'm going to choose March, April, May.

That's my early season.

I'm going to go to the RACE

box, just going to look at UK for now but obviously we could do this in Ireland as well.

RACE CODE, Flat Turf and Flat AW.

That kind of gives us a look at those trainers who in the month of March have been in good form on the all-weather which

gives us hope that they will take that early season form into the turf, but it also doesn't preclude those who don't bother with AW and go straight to the grass. So that's that, race code, so I'm going to change it two years as well.

I'll just click GENERATE REPORT and see where we're at.

And we've got 27,000 runners there.

Just a reminder of the filters so far we got lost two years March April May flat races in the UK.


Now look at this data by

Trainer. I'm going to now look at RUNNER

I'll click the

TRAINER radio button, now this is the order by button. I'm sure I referenced it in part 2 but just as a reminder: the left-hand radio grey disc, if you select one of those in this case, TRAINER

And then hit GENERATE REPORT which I'll do in a second.

Summary box instead of just having this overview row

will have a breakdown by whatever you chosen to order by: in this case trainer. But it could be jockey, gender, it could be headgear, whatever, so let's hit the Generate

Report button and see what happens. It might take a few seconds to come back.

Because it's quite a big dataset.

And there we are.

All sorts of guys and girls in this list sorted alphabetically by surname we've got these with, like,.

two runs and three runs and they're not really any use to us so I'm going to apply some filters in this.

Anyway, these boxes here. Hopefully my cursor

is making a nice yellow circle where I'm clicking.

I'm going to say.

At least 20 runs, although that feels like not enough probably.

I'm going to set my win percentage at 15 which is roughly 1-in 7 and again you know that might be to low for some people; I'll set my each way to 33%.

And I'm going to do 1.25.for

A/E and IV which will all be familiar now because you checked out the information from parts 1 and 2 in this three-parter.

Ok so I'm going to click update and as you remember this is a list alphabetically ordered and it's alternate row shaded. When I click update it's simply going to

hide those rows of data that don't match my parameters here. It's not going to look as pretty as it's not re-ordering, it's just hiding them so I'll click update.

And you can see that we've now got a much

smaller subset of data

for the last 2 years.

What I'm going to do is I'm going to

extend that out maybe to the

last five years

And obviously this is

150 percent

bigger data set than the previous one. We've got a few more entries in here, now what I like to do as a starting point is I sort

Actual over

Expected, high-to-low, like this.

I can see something else that I haven't done.

Oh I have, yes, Paul Nicholls has had a few runs on the flat.

Hmm, interesting.

I am interested in

Karen McLintock.

I'm not sure Garry Moss is training anymore, his sample size is much smaller as well.

Philip Hide not training any more.

I think we'll just go with those for the minute.

I'd better make these 1, I'm not sure I got enough data in the set.

Obviously what I'm doing here is I'm

mucking about with the parameters

to get a bigger, slightly more to look at in the first instance.

I'm kind of interested in

most of those. I'll just stick with these top...

He's definitely not training any more, I don't think he is.

These are quite small sample sizes.

I'm going to leave it at that just with those three there.

What I'm going to do if I just go back to TRAINER on RUNNER and if I open this box up,

by clicking not on the radio, not this side just clicking anywhere in here.

You will see that

those +'s that I selected

have... those trainers have appeared

within the trainer selection box. So if I now click generate report it's just going to bring back those three rows.

It's really important to remember to clear these because all of a sudden you will be wondering where the data is and it is there but it's hidden because it's not satisfying these parameters at the top.

I've done that now.

So I've got 3 trainers that I'm

potentially interested in early season.

Now I'm looking at Paul Henderson,

it's a smaller sample, just 22 runners.

And there's basically no profit there.

For all that the A/E is strong, it's just not going to give enough action I don't think.

So I'll remove him and you can see that the tick's gone there and Generate Report to get rid, so I've got two trainers of interest and just to remind us of our filters.

We got the last 5 years.

UK flat races March, April and May.

And you could actually just set that up

as as an angle as is.

And when Karen McLintock and Adrian Keatley have runners in the UK on the flat

in the early part of the season you would get notified on your...

within the race cards and on the report, that's actually something else I wanted to touch on so let's quickly do that. In the previous video I told you about

how to check your QT

Angles qualifiers.

And I told you about the report.

Which I now can't find, of course.

I didn't mention and I wanted to touch on here.

Is how they show up in the race card. As you remember there's no racing at the moment, so I can't show you how they show up in the race card but this is what happens.

You will see something like.

You would see a number that isn't 0 in the blue number column.

In this case it's a 1.

When you click on that, it will show you the angle in question.

and the Profit/Loss. Basically the data/metrics from that angle.

Now if you can't remember what the parameters were for the angle, if you just hover over it as I am now.

This will happen:

It will bring up your parameters.

Just over it and it will show you, in this case I did the last five years up to 24th July 2018.

5 Furlong flat handicaps.

With these five sires. So I quite like sprint sires.

Obviously the title 'Turf Sprint Sires' is very helpful. I could have put 'Turf Sprint Handicap Sires' or whatever, but this is a little angle that I have saved.

I wouldn't necessarily be backing this horse; it would just be another piece of data that I would throw into the mix when I was looking at this race.

So that's something that I wanted to bring out: the QT Angles

displays on the race card with the

blue numbers. Clicking on them shows the angle in question, hovering over the angle shows the parameters that you set up for that angle.

OK, good.

Right, let's go back to it.

So what I'm going to do I'm actually just going to save that as it is. Now, some people...

Good discipline really is to say right that's my...

That is my five year data...

But why don't we have a look at that, before we save it, let me have a look at it by year.

And make sure that, for instance,

all of the winners didn't come in one season.

You just quickly...

I've selected year here.

Clicked Generate Report and I'm going to sort it by year.

And we can see that...


Very few qualifiers.

In the full years 2016 through 2019 we can see that there was an approximately, well, there was a 20 plus percent win strike rate.

The each way strike rate was promising as well.

The win P/L has been a bit variable and last year was lower.

Quite a bit lower.

This year.

Two of them have placed so it's in the same bracket.

On a meaningless sample size of four.

It's too early this season obviously we lost the racing now.

I wouldn't be worrying about this year.

So I'm interested in this but I can see a

general degradation of the profit and the A/E figure reflects that as well.

I would be happy to save this Angle and as I say use it advisedly rather than backing these horses blind: it would just be an aide memoire to me that McLintock and Keatley

are trainers to keep on side in the early part of the season.

So then I'd add that to

my QT Angles.

"Early Season Trainers", Add Angle,

And then that's done.

And, of course, like everything else they're all zeros, but that is one angle and you could have an early National Hunt season trainers one, a summer jumps trainers one.

You could have a

sa Summer jumps by track angle. So there are lots of different... this is one example, but there are lots of different other ways that you could cut this data.

So that's the first one. Right let's look at trainers and jockeys now so I'm going to hit my reset.

I'm actually going to refresh the page entirely.

Now this time I'm

going to look at

two years of data

I'm going to go to.

Ireland, just for fun, just to change things up a bit.

I'm going to sort by trainer.

Just do that because I want to see who's got the most


There probably is some merit in looking at trainers who maybe only have 30 or 50 runners a year.

But really I think the value is looking at the big

Big datasets.

And looking at things that

are maybe less obvious

to the man or woman

in the street.

I'm just going to change this to FLAT (TURF/AW) again

And now we've got a small subset, well, we've got a large number of trainers but a small subset of

essentially volume trainers.

The trainers I'm going to be interested in

I want 100+ wins

And that's going to quickly sort things out.

And then I'm going to sort

High to low.

Your first 30 days for just £1

And let's have a look at Aiden O'Brien. Let's select Aiden.

Generate Report, and that's going to bring just him up. I've got to remember to clear

my filters data here.

Now, I'm gping to say, show me Aiden O'Brien's runners in the last 2 years on the flat.

Sorry Aidan O'Brien Irish runners in the last 2 years on the flat

by jockey.

Click the JOCKEY radio button, click generate reports and then in my summary box.

I got all the different jockeys that Aiden has used in the last two years. Now again we've got these ones and bits and pieces, they're not really meaningful so let's sort by

wins and we'll say, "right well we're just get rid of

anybody with

less than

20 runs", let's say.

Small subset here, again sort by A/E.

And we've got.

Messrs Hussey, Moore Donnacha O'Brien,

Emmet McNamara, Seamie Heffernan,

Paidraig Beggy,

and Wayne Lordan.

Wayne Lordan

is an immediate chuck out and if you're a layer that might be interesting: an A/E of 0.53.

on 150ish.

runners is terrible.

In fairness to him, he's almost always on a second, third or fourth string but nevertheless...

And again you'd need to check

Betfair SP because he might be riding some massive priced horses, but on the face of it these are eminently avoidable.

19 out of 20 get beaten.

5 out of 6 are not even in the frame.

These are not horses to go to war with generally.

At the other end Ryan Moore is quite interesting: 34% strike rate and a small profit, in fact a reasonable profit

at SP. So we'll have a look at Ryan.

Let's take Ryan Moore and Hussey and O'Brien is now training so he's stopped; we'll have McNamara and Seamie Heffernan as well.

The reason I've done that is I've got them here now so what I can do is I can look at them individually and I still got these names here to come back to. I'm going to have a look at

Ryan Moore first.

I want to look at

a bigger data period.

So I'm going to go back 5 years.

And I'm going to sort by year.

And order this by group.

You can see here...

that essentially

what happened

in the last 2 years.

Is not replicated in any of the previous three.

This is kind of precarious territory now because we're not seeing

a replication of the Actual

over Expected, we're not seeing a replication of the profit and loss.

We are seeing that in the last couple of years Ryan's IV has risen.

Now, our job as researchers

is, if you remember the point from part 1, of logic logic logic...

If we can come up with a reason

for this, if we can explain why

in 2017

It was not good, and in 2018 it was good,.

then we've got a bit of a chance.

And there is one credible reason, and it is this.

If I go back to RUNNER

and JOCKEY. And I'm just going to look for

this guy, Joseph O'Brien.

So if I do that and then sort by


Right now what I want to do is I'm ging to go to my dates and sort that by year.

And what we can see is that

Joseph stopped riding in 2015.

So that would partially explain

these data here. So 2015

Joseph had

plenty of the good Aiden horses.

It doesn't explain 2016 and 2017.

Notwithstanding that the A/E figures for those years are kind of more acceptable than

this one here.

When Ryan was competing in Ireland with

Joseph for the Aiden

rides (apologies for

first name terms).

So where do I get to with this? And again these are the kind of situations that you'll find yourself in when you're doing this.

You've got some kind of make value judgements.

Actually I should have cleared that I don't think it's going to make and difference.

I should have cleared that before.

So we've got a situation here where recent history is promising.

Longer-term history less so.

We've got kind of a partial explanation.

We've got a full explanation for the year 2015.

You can see that as Joseph stopped riding - in 2015 Ryan Moore only rode 27 of Aiden's horses in Ireland.

And in subsequent years he's ridden more, as you can see; and that is probably a factor in these numbers I think on balance it's definitely something worth

keeping in mind because it's the kind of thing...

It's one of these 'Hidden in Plain Sight' angles, it's the sort of thing that everybody thinks must be overexposed.

And it's potentially not.

Now what you might do this in the last 2 years there's kind of 200 runners there you might look at whether it's 2 year olds or Group races only you might look at

which particular

race types

O'Brien and Ryan Moore have combined with for the most success.

And that might be your angle.

This is a trainer / jockey combination and, you know, who would have thunk that

O'Brien, the best trainer in the world or certainly in Britain and Ireland, and Ryan Moore, the best jockey in Britain and Ireland, I think both of them have only got one peer and they're a partnership as well.

Gosden nd Dettori

Who would have thought that those highest of high-profile trainers and jockeys would be

borderline profitable to follow blind.

It really is quite remarkable and it's and it's worth knowing.

Saving it to your angles if that's something that you want.


Let's do a slightly less obvious one.

This time I'm going to look at

UK trainers on the flat.

The last 2 years here, you see that there.

And from my RACE conditions I'm going to say UK.

Race code.FLAT (TURF/AW)

And then I'm going to look by trainer.

This is quite big dataset, so it will take a minute for the data to filter in. The query is complete and then it takes a second for your browser to order the data my browser is being told what to do.

And it's got to create this very big table.

And that takes a minute or a few seconds to do.

Right again we've got very small numbers in here so I'm going to sort by number of winners.

So I can see where a sensible cut-off point is.

And 150 wins

gives us plenty

to go at.

Sort by win strike right, now we can see that we've got David Evans who has

volume but low strike rate. I don't really want these

super low strike rate trainers so I'm going to put 10% in.

which actually doesn't get rid of many.

I just leave it like that I think.

So we've got quite a bit of data to go at.

Some trainers,

like Mark Johnson uses Joe Fanning and Franny Norton

extensively and there actually aren't that many left around that. Other trainers like John Gosden will.

use Frankie and Rab Havlin for the vast majority of his. Let's have a look at Johnny G actually.

And Karl Burke

And maybe Roger Varian

So what we've got here are

three trainers who all perform better than average, one of them is a standout and that is Gosden.

We're going to look at Gosden first and again if you remember we can just deselect the other trainers.

That's Johnny G's - again forgive familiarity - that's his overall 2-year

record on the flat. I want to look by jockey.

Select the JOCKEY radio button and generate report and here are the data.

Robert Havlin has had the most rides and winners in the last two years Frankie is quite selective.

Let's sort by A/E.

And again we want to get rid of the small sample sizes.

Let's say at least 15 wins,

Now we've got a much smaller

more meaningful dataset. The first thing to look at is Frankie (Dettori).

See he wins 30% of the time


So let's have a look at that actually overl the last 5 years, I think it might be a profit over the last five.

Break-even, but at exchange prices that will be a profit. We'll go back to two years.

So we got Oisin Murphy, Jim Crowley, Frankie Dettori, Rab Havlin, Nicky Mackay and Kieran O'Neill.

The strike rate for Nicky and Kieran is 20% or lower which in the context of the group

is not really at the level I would like to be, so we'll look at just these four guys.

So we've got four here now.

What we can do is

Rob Havlin.

It's going to be hard, I mean there might be some situations where he's

profitable to follow.

Potentially when he's on a second string so when

he's riding

a horse at

a bigger price to Frankie.

That might be something worth looking at, you can do that with odds by selecting him but I'm going to

deselect him for now.

Generate report and I've got three in here.

I want to look at these guys over the longer term, we could just quickly look at Frankie but I want to look at.

Oisin and Jim as well.

And we can see that

Oisin Murphy

When he rides for John Gosden

I mean ridiculous...

It is a small sample size.

And these 30% numbers

certainly Frankie's, on

a bigger sample size are remarkable.

If you're betting in a race where Gosden

has got one of these jockeys up and you're not betting it

You've only got 70% of the winners to go at. Now that might be absolutely fine.

It's kind of a meaningless or misleading start in and of itself but you need to know that these guys are winning a lot of the time. Whether they're profitable or not is another question: in the case of Oisin Murphy who is

the retained jockey for Qatar Racing and it may very well be the case that

a lot of those 50 horses that he's ridden for Gosden in the last five years were for his retained owner.

That's by the by, what we need to know is that this is a guy worth following. So you might save this angle as...

Gosden and Oisin.

And add it to your setup and then when they have a qualifier you get your Gosden and Oisin...

You get your blue number here and it will tell you the numbers and you'll be able to factor that into your overall consideration of that race. It might be you might want to bet those blind or you might want to bet them more selectively as I do. But either way you have that data right in the card there and also on the QT Angles Report.

So those are jockeys and trainers. Maybe we'll just look at one more. Let's go back to

RUNNER and we'll look at the trainers.Let's have a look at Karl Burke

So I've selected TRAINER Karl Burke and I've still got this by JOCKEY.

I want to look at Burke's

rider selections in the last 2 years.


Again I'm going to sort it. I want to get rid of the small numbers so let's

cut that off at 50, that's fine.

Sort by A/E.

Ben Curtis is the guy that kind of immediately

jumps off the page.

Let's have a look at Ben.

Now what I want to do is I want to look I want to look by year.

How's things.

Let's go 5 years and extend it out a bit.

That year actually if we look at

the win strike rate in recent years,

2017 and onwards, you can see that the strike rate is around


But last year was down.

This is one, again it's another value judgement, you've got to kind of say,

"Right, obviously if I got a year like

2017 or 2018 I'd be thrilled to be following these but if I got a year like 2019 where the strike rate was down

and I might be in the hole a fair bit at some.point,

would I be able to stomach that?"

The answer for most people is NO

Only you know the answer for you.

I'd be absolutely fine with this because, again, I'm not backing them religiously anyway. I'm missing winners but I'm missing plenty of losers as well by being selective.

What I want to do with Karl and Ben.

is I want to

look by MONTH...

I want to see, because most trainers have seasonal ups and downs, and looking at trainers by month is a valid thing to do, and often it is

quite instructive.

So I've selected order by MONTH and Generate Report. .

Now we've got some interesting


Remember our filters, specifically Karl Burke when Ben Curtis is riding

On the flat in Britain in the last 5 years.

See that there are some ups and downs here and the easiest way to

visualise this is with the CHART.

This is something else I wanted to show you: when you've got a...

When you've got a number of

variables in your parameter, so I've got 'by month' here and I've obviously got 12 months - 12 variables in my parameter.

Or 12 parameters in my variable, I'm not even sure which of those is right! Anyway,

what our charting software does is it takes half the dataset, or sometimes a smaller percentage. But if you click .

in the top chart,

it will show you everything. Now sometimes, if you've got like a 1000 trainers in here that's going to be not going to be able to make sense of this so what you can also do is if you click and drag

you can select

a section.

of the chart to look at in more detail. And when you've got 1000 in here that selection I've made there which is, what?, about a quarter, that's still going to be 250-odd so I might actually be only wanting to

look at a smaller subset like that.

A single click and you'll get the full dataset. Right, so here we've got Burke and Curtis.

It's sorted by Win PL I'm going to sort it by A/E, which is a good friend of mine and again clicking in the chart [to view all data].

What we need to note here.

1.0 is the line of interest in A/E (and to a lesser degree IV).

And what we can see here.

In the early part of the year.

Certainly January-February March.

And the late part of the year - October November December - this is a period that obviously aligns with the all-weather.

Karl Burke and Ben Curtis have had a good time of it.

In the summer months,

less so and particularly less so between

July, August

and September

I mean that's perfectly legitimate in my opinion.

To accept that seasonality I mean if you look at strike rate.

The average for the year, you can see this at the bottom, it's 16% overall.

And in July it's 10% or 9% in August it's 5%.

And in September it's

12%. It's much lower

than the overall averages in

April May are much lower as well so I wouldn't be including June and excluding April and May.

I'd be either including April and May as well as June, or excluding April through June, if you see what I mean. You've got to put logic behind the theory: now in this case the logic is probably these guys are

mustard on the all-weather and we can very easily check that. If we just

select the ON button here it's going to put all the months on I'm going to take out

May to September.

Is a little bit convenient maybe.

I'm going to do that, and then life looks more rosy obviously but what I want to do now.

Is I want to look at


There actually isn't a huge amount of difference.

So the theory about

most of their winners being on the all-weather is debunked.

They look absolutely fine on the flat turf as well so that's interesting that's good. One other thing that I might look at is by handicap or non-handicap.

And again.

Much better in handicap so might though it is profitable in

win profit and loss

terms in non-handicaps but if you look at the A/E that would give you cause for a slight reservation. Certainly

all of the metrics are better in handicaps.

I might change that to handicap and I might revisit my dates and see if that makes

any difference in the summer months.

And actually what it does

is it kind of reinforces

the previous date range

that we selected, which

was October through to April.

So if we delselect the summer months

We've now got...

We've essentially combined the two scenarios we've looked at so far which are kind of a sub-season.

It's sub-season trainer form with trainer by jockey.

Generate the report and we've got a nice little angle here which has been extremely profitable. It's worth looking at by year.

And we can see again that there was a

losing year in 2016.

So, again, are you comfortable with that? The answer might be no.

Generally speaking this is an approach that in the last few years has been a really

good one to have onside, so I'd always be mindful of Burke and Curtis

teaming up in handicaps in in the trainer's good times, which are October through to April.

That's an angle that I think it's worth saving.

So that's saved to my Angles now..

I want to show you one more. I am conscious of the length of this video and I might break it up into two recordings.

I will do that so I'll do this last one on trainers.

Actually I have got one more on trainers, so I'll do that in a part

3b if you like, and some people will obviously have got the general idea by now and choose not to look at

the angles highlighted in Part 3b, others will want to look at those as well.

I mean I would encourage you to look because I think,

not so much for the specific angle, but there are some more scenarios I'm going to highlight which might give you ideas to go and research on your own.

And I think there's plenty of value in that.

Let's go we're going to do another trainer jockey combo.

I do loves me a trainer jockey combo as long term

subscribers will know.

This time we're going to look at Red Raif, as I

somewhat unflatteringly call him.

Mr Beckett, who is an excellent trainer.

And a passionate man.

Somewhat political and not fully aligned with my own view of

the world. But that doesn't make him right or wrong, it just makes us different.

Anyway it is his ability to condition horses that we're interested in here so let's retain focus on that.

Beckett as you can see has a 16% strike rate in the

last two years. If we extend that out to five years, we can see he retains a very consistent strike rate.

And if we look by year,

we can see that he's...

...ignore this part year which is unrepresentative, as you can see by the number of runs, but in the main he

is consistently around 14% to

20%, average 16.5%, very solid overall figures from which to work. So what I want to do is I want to look at...

As you can see down the bottom here we've got two and a half thousand runs

So we've got a bit of data to work with..

So let's see if there are some sensible subsets within that.

We might look at

RACE CODE for flat turf and flat all-weather.

We can see that his strike rate again is consistent.

Nothing really

of interest there.


Is he better with sprinters or middle distance horses? He doesn't have a huge amount of runners

at sprint trips.

The ones he does are largely

consistent in strike rate terms, so

nothing really going on there.

Handicap or non-handicap?

Hmm, now that's interesting.

The strike rate is not

massively different, but it is notably different, kind of 10%.

16 + 10% of 1.6 - 17.6 and it is 17.43, let's call it 9% better in handicaps.

And we've got a bit of a chance looking at the A/E figures here and Win PL on a big sample size so I'm going to look at

'Red Raif' in handicaps.

And then we've got this summary number. Now let's look by


That's interesting.


Longer-distance races look

potentially more interesting.

But what I really want to look at is by jockey.

So let's open up the JOCKEY radio button.

Generate report

And get rid of some of these meaningless .

samples, so let's say we want.

we'll start with 20+ and work up from there.

Sort by Actual / Expected

And we've actually got some really interesting players here.

Now Fran Berry has retired and he and Pat Dobbs used to ride a lot for Ralph Beckett, as did

Richard Kingscote as you can see. They had the least good data in terms

of A/E and indeed

in terms of Impact Value which is a reference to strike rate as well so they are easily excluded.

Higher up the list we've got

the likes of Sylvestre De Sousa, Josephine Gordon

I think if we put a

win strike rate of at least 15%

Get rid of some of these so we can focus more clearly and an each-way strikerate of 33%.

Now we're getting to the juice of it. And a problem with Sylvestre is that he's a fantastic jockey - that's not a problem - the problem is that everybody knows he's a fantastic jockey.

Even in this loaded situation, Beckett in handicaps, where

he places his horses very well clearly.

The strike rate is high but we're never going to be able to get rich with this guy.

I think I'm going to look at the other four

You could do more with this but really, it might be worth looking at gender - Beckett is extremely good with training fillies and mares. He's won the Oaks a number of times.

There's not really much difference.

Male horses tend to win more often the female horses.

That's just a function of

genetics I suppose; age is worth having a look.

I just want to sort this by group, so I can get a feel for the linearity of it, if you like.

Rather than cherry-picking

based on A/E

or profit.

Most of his runners are in the 2 to 4 year old age group, it might be worth focusing only on the the younger horses: 2 and 3 year olds.

I think that's probably a legitimate thing to do.

In this example I'm going to leave them all in but you might choose to focus only on those that small group you can see that they're the sort of 5, 6 and 7 year olds have very few runners. They've had 34 runs between them whereas 2-year olds alone in handicaps have had 45 runners in the period so I'm just going to leave it as is and

I think we've got a nice little trainer jockey angle here so Ralph Beckett in flat handicaps.

When he uses Oisin Murphy, Rob Hornby, Louis Steward or Harry Bentley. Now this is a five year view and again it's definitely worth looking at the year by year breakdown.

We can see that there's a

gorgeous consistency here that is an angle researcher's dream such is its

annual profit and its strike rate of

20+% (again, ignore this year because.that's

a small number of runs in the year so far). I mean that's really quite interesting.

We might look by month as well just to see if he has any seasonality to his form.

The easiest way to do this in a chart.

The 1.0 line is here and we see

again in June and July

High summer when trainers are running horses left, right and centre,

firing a lot of bullets,

it's quite difficult to retain

the higher strike rate.

And that has an impact on profitability and therefore A/E.

You might choose to leave

June and July out; I'm not seeing enough there to justify it for me so I'm going

to leave them all in.

Notwithstanding that June and July are

slightly less appealing.

I think it's a really solid angle and I'm going to save it to my QT Angles.


Alright and that's another angle.

And that is enough for this video I think. I hope

you've seen some interesting angles there. More importantly, I hope you see

some of the considerations that we need to work within when we're considering what might be an approach that suits us and when we're considering

the legitimacy of

data in terms of

it's long-term or future profitability potential.

And I hope this may have inspired you or encouraged you to maybe have a crack at researching some angles yourself. If it has and you've watched this video from the blog...

Please do leave a comment with anything that you'd be happy to share. You might want to keep some of them for yourself, and that's fine, but if you're happy to share that would be fantastic as well. Even if it's

a generic approach.

So, again, like a scenario that people could go away and look at their own


OK, enough already, this is Matt Bisogno saying thank you very much for watching this part 3a

of the Query Tool series. I hope you got some value from it, I'll be back the part 3b very soon.

But, for this one, byee for now.

In Part 1 of this three-part series looking at horse racing betting angles, I talked about research principles: about knowing what works for you, about the importance of logic and a lot more besides. It's a foundation piece for the next two parts and, if you've not read it yet, I'd strongly encourage you to do that first. Here's the link: Horse Racing Betting Angles Part 1

Parts two and three are video-based for now, though I will endeavour to get transcripts at some point. The middle piece, then, is below, and it provides an introduction to Query Tool, Geegeez Gold's main research module. It can be used to drill down on courses, horses, trainers, jockeys, sires, damsires, and plenty of other things besides.

In this video, you'll discover what Query Tool (QT) is, where it lives, and how it works. You'll see how to visualise your analysis, display qualifiers and, best of all, save your research so that it is recalled when relevant, i.e. when there are qualifiers in the day's racing. Click the play button to watch Part 2.

In Part 3, which you can look at here, we'll look at some examples of angle research, produced with Query Tool. Each example is one element of a group of entities which can be researched. As such, there is ample opportunity for curious readers/listeners to try things out for themselves. Look out for that in the next couple of days.


To win at betting on horses, or indeed anything, one needs either to be lucky or to be smart. Ideally, one needs to be both. The best tactic of all is to use smarts to make your own luck, and that is how we'll proceed in this three part series. In this first episode we'll consider the cardinal principles, without which anything that follows will be precarious as a basis for betting decisions.

What is a betting angle?

Let's start at the start, and define what exactly is meant by a betting angle. For me it's a deliberately vague term because I don't want to be reduced to mechanistic wagers spat out by my computer's 'brain', even if whatever comes out is a direct result of what I fed in. I'd rather be advised or reminded of a nugget of information when I'm previewing a particular race.

Put another way, if my research tells me Trainer X has a great record with Jockey Y that will generally not be enough in itself for me to place a bet. But it will encourage me to look more closely at the overall profile of the runner around which Trainer X and Jockey Y are combining.

In other words, I want as many extra pieces of information - snippets which will generally be unknown to the vast majority of punters - as possible when I'm weighing up a race. What I don't want to do is simply back a list of horses generated from my angles.

That is system betting, and it works for a lot of people. If that's you, you will find plenty of utility in this series, but my main focus is on micro-angles which will add a point or two to the case for a given runner without necessarily commending it as a bet.

Betting angles then are snippets of information which can help decipher a race and potentially identify a dollop of otherwise unseen value.

No system or angle is God

Horse races are loose forms of organised chaos. An average of ten large animals, steered by small animals, with each other and/or obstacles in their way: there is plenty of scope for things to go wrong. Unsurprisingly, things frequently do go wrong. Thus the best horse often does not win. Rather, the best suited horse to conditions, or the best placed horse from the break, or the horse that makes the fewest mistakes, usually wins.

These kind of 'chaos variables' are generally not factored in to the price of horses at the top of the market, meaning such horses can not normally be considered value bets. Their chances are well advertised by the good judges in the racing media and the weight of money from lazy punters ensures their followers will eventually suffer death by a thousand poor value betting slip paper cuts. Or something like that.

My point is that we need to build in enough latitude to account for what used to be known in my software development project management days as OSINTOT's ("Oh Sh!t I Never Thought Of That"). Stuff happens, regularly in horse races, and our wagering approach must be sufficiently resilient to handle it.

No system is perfect, no angle immune to the bettors' scourge, variance: again, as I like to say, "after a good run expect a bad run; after a bad run expect a good run". Such is the nature of the beast.

For ultra-contrarians, the best time to get involved with a proven tipster or a solid-looking betting system is in the howling teeth of a downturn; after a bad run expect a good run. But only if you firmly believe in the underlying merit of the approach behind it.

Designer babies

We all want to be beautiful/handsome. And we all want to back big-priced winners on a regular basis. But, sadly, we have to play the hand we're dealt. You might have smouldering Dean Martin looks, but I get reminded more often than I'd like about my better than passing resemblance to Mister Bean. Such is life.

And so it is with betting systems. We hanker after the golden goose, the method that gets all the girls. But that's not what we need. What we need is a steady little portfolio of pointers that keep us honest, content and on the right side of both the bottom line and sanity. That is achievable, sustainable, and far more nourishing than a golden goose. How B-O-R-I-N-G would life be then?

This game is about little fish tasting sweet. It is about the thrill of the chase, about engagement and fun: solving the puzzle lower down the lists where others have fallen into its top of the market traps.

There is no such thing as a golden goose system, thank the deities. But there are myriad in's that offer slivers of value, shards of profitable light, to those who care to seek them out.

This series is for you.

A bit about you

On that point, then, let's talk about you.

One of the best pieces of business advice I ever received was to create customer avatars. A customer avatar is a very specific definition of the core client of a business.

Understanding this has helped to stop focusing on 'all horse racing bettors' and home in on 'horse racing bettors who know they want more information than is available for free elsewhere, and don't mind getting their hands dirty in the quest to find their own value picks'.

That's less catchy, and is a very (VERY!) small subset of 'all horse racing bettors', but I can talk to almost every single one of these guys - you guys - as an equal, and expect that what I say will largely resonate with your own general outlook on the racing and betting game.

Back to you and, specifically, your betting approach. If you've read this far, you almost certainly are interested in finding your own betting angles - the good Lord Sugar knows this introduction has been long enough to disqualify those who are not!

But a betting angle that works for you will not necessarily be the same as one that works for me, or that works for the next reader. Some examples will help.

Betting Angle A has a 3% ROI on more than 10,000 selections. That's 300 points profit. Nice right? Well, maybe.

Your first 30 days for just £1

What if Angle A identifies 40 bets per day? What if the average odds of winners are 25/1?

The downswings with an approach like that could run to many hundreds of points. To operate it profitably would require a very large bank, very small unit stakes (in percentage terms), and titanium sphericals. The profit is attractive to all; the modus operandi suitable for very few.

Let's try another.

Betting Angle B has a 9% ROI. It finds roughly 40 bets a year and has been profitable in four of the last five years. In the other year, it lost 28 points. Could you handle that loss and still retain belief in the angle? You probably could if you were being selective when playing it, and if the 40 bets were in a particular context - for example, early season trainer form.

Whether you could or you couldn't, the key here is that while we may all be similar in terms of our general aspirations from the game, we are all different in how we can scratch that itch.

We have different bankrolls, different appetites to risk, different styles of betting, different amounts of time to invest in finding our bets, and so on.

That diversity is to be celebrated: it ultimately means we'll land on different horses and back winners on different days. It won't stop any of us from being profitable or from enjoying our betting as long as we recognise our own terms of reference before getting stuck in.

It is very well worth taking a few minutes to think about your approach, and how optimal that approach is for you. If you use our Bet Tracker tool, you'll have a better insight than most into the way you bet, what works and what needs more thought.

What to look for in a good system/angle

The first thing to say here is to refer back to the previous section: make sure any angle you identify looks sustainable in terms of the way you play. If you need a winner every third qualifier there is little point in deploying an angle with a 10% strike rate; you'll give up on it after a few losers which, almost inevitably, means before you've made any profit.

If you only want to place one of two bets a day, there is little point in identifying a great angle with an average of six bets a day. You'll immediately feel uncomfortable with the different staking and wagering regimen, and that is not a position of strength from which to enjoy the sport.

Any research you undertake needs to be mindful of how you bet: how often, how risky, and so on.

A good system, then, will speak to you personally in terms of its numbers. It will fit your appetite for risk, volume and available time. If it doesn't, it's only a matter of time before you pull the plug, profitable edge or not.

Aside from the personal elements, there are generic precursors to good angles, too.


The first, and most crucial, component of angle research is logic. An angle should be explainable in a shortish sentence and, if you were explaining it to a fellow punter, she should not spit out her beer in disgust at the case you make.

It is never enough to reason, "well it's profitable". If you can't explain why it is profitable the approach is very likely built on foundations of sand.

It might be fine to have an angle based around big trainers' performance in Saturday handicaps. But it would never make sense to create an angle around performance on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays, for instance. There's simply no underlying logic.

Likewise, trainer angles where there are gaps in the months which qualify make no sense; conversely, however, plenty of trainers have certain parts of the year/season when they're in bloom. As long as there is a consecutive nature to the period, that may well be predicated on the schedule of the yard's year.

Just think 'why' for every variable within your angles. If you can't explain it, you should probably bin it.

Less is (usually) more

The always compelling Tony Keenan wrote about focus for optimal betting decisions in this excellent article. In it, he refers to neuroscientist Daniel Levitin's contention that we should unburden the brain by placing information in the physical world. Keenan talks about 'to do' lists as an example but it is equally true of betting angles: we should move these from our cluttered crania to, well, to a query tool or other aide memoire.

He goes on to reference Levitin's work on something called optimal complexity theory. Here's Tony:

...the idea that too little information is no good but so is too much. This applies with any decision we make, like buying a house or car say. Having too many parameters to consider leads to confusion in decision-making, with humans apparently unable to process more than ten variables for any choice, the optimal number being closer to five.

Betting angles should be simple in the main, predicated on sound logic, and often 'hiding in plain sight'. The more convoluted they are, the more likely the creator has added an extra variable or two to filter out some inconvenient truth. This is a subjective area and one where common sense is our greatest ally. Less is usually more.

Be wary of small sample sizes

The nature of looking at horse racing statistically, which is essentially what angle research boils down to, is that we are invited to make inferences on insignificant sample sizes. The conundrum is thus: too large a sample and the angle is well known and profit gone, too small a sample and the angle is unreliable and may be a fluke.

So what to do? Two things...

1 Seek a happy medium

Somewhere in between those two unsatisfactory sample size groups is a reasonable amount of data and the chance of profit continuing in the short- to medium-term. Where possible, look for as big a sample as you can. An angle with eight winners from ten runners looks fantastic, but how sustainable is that? It's impossible to know on such limited evidence.

One thing we can do in such situations is to widen out the search. For example, if Sire Z's progeny have had eight all-weather sprint winners from ten runners, how does that compare with his turf sprint winners? Or with his all-weather runners overall? We're looking for greater assurance in larger numbers. Chances are we'll still be dealing with relatively small samples, but we'll have a better feel for the sustainability of the micro-micro-sample of ten runs.

2 Proceed with caution

Wise men say only fools rush in
But I can't help falling in love with you

So sung the immortal Elvis Presley, and he wasn't wrong. Once you've satisfied yourself that there at least might be merit in an angle, go forward carefully. Do not rush in. Only fools rush in.

Such angles are prime contenders to be considered in the context of the race overall rather than bet blind. For instance, a trainer with an excellent record with handicap debutants from a tiny sample: is there anything else about this runner to corroborate its chance? Has it been off for more than a month? Is it stepping up in trip, or down in class? Is there a notable jockey change? Has there been money for the horse?

It doesn't take long in most cases to see whether the qualifier should be a 'proper' bet, an 'action' bet, or a watch and squirm job. (For me, there is no such thing as the last named. I'm either betting to win a few quid, or I'm betting to win a cup of tea and a sticky bun, or I'm not betting and I won't cry if the horse wins).

Profit is not the best measure

Most angle researchers have an unhealthy obsession with the Profit/Loss column. Of course we are trying to secure a positive return, but there are any number of traps for the greedy punter whose alpha and omega is pee and ell.

Harking back to what suits a particular bettor, and mindful of the small sample sizes that often manifest, it may be prudent to focus on each way percentage, percentage of rivals beaten (PRB) or percentage of rivals beaten squared (PRB^2). The last named pair, especially PRB^2, are very interesting metrics that will make their way into Geegeez Gold later in 2020 and I will cover them in greater depth at that time. For now, though, Gold users might look to each way percentage as a way of - somewhat artificially but perfectly legitimately - extending the sample size in question.

In terms of profitability, A/E (Actual vs Expected, more information here) is a solid barometer of ongoing value. It's a simple enough concept, where an A/E of greater than 1.00 is considered a positive, an A/E of less than 1.00 is considered a negative, and the further away from 1.00 the number, the better or worse is the expected merit. The A/E column can be found within Geegeez Gold's Query Tool, a tool that will form the cornerstone of parts two and three in this series.

Review, and Realise

Once you've found your angle(s), stored them, and started to bet them, there are two important 'maintenance' jobs to take on. The first is one of review. No matter how large or small the research sample was, every qualifier thereafter swells the knowledge base. Returning to your set of angles on a regular - maybe quarterly, but it depends how much action an angle throws up - basis is excellent discipline. Don't get too hung up on profit and loss from quarter to quarter, but rather focus on whether the horses looked likely beforehand, took a degree of support, and ran well even if in defeat.

Through this review process we start to realise - make real - the angle. A trainer becomes someone whose methods we get to know; likewise a sire, or a course profile, or whatever. We must make friends with these entities, ask questions of them, become more familiar than the market. This is a lot easier than it might sound, particularly in terms of the early markets, which are heavily focused on 'top down' information such as basic recent form, newspaper tipsters and fashionable trainers and jockeys.

'Bottom up' intel - first start in a handicap, favourable draw/pace, no name trainer with his job jockey, and the like - is factored into the market later. This late intelligence is generally underpinned by people close to yards who want to bet, and they can't get a meaningful bet on until nearer the off time. As angle punters we have to second guess them: we'll generally not nick their price, but can nab a few quid at 'ignorant odds' before the smart money arrives.

More often than this, though, are the occasions when we realise that the first flush of love was misguided; that we rushed in as fools, or maybe merely flirted dangerously with a dataset which failed to substantiate itself for the application of further evidence. Reviewing and rejecting these false dawns (no offence, Dawn, if you're reading!) is as valuable - arguably more valuable - than finding a great angle: the first job is to try not to lose money, the second job is to try to win money.

Nothing Lasts Forever

The final point to make in this overture to Angle Research is that nothing lasts forever. You will know you have found a great angle if the strike rate remains largely the same over time while the profit diminishes to a loss. That is simply a function of market awareness and is the lot of any and all statistical edges.

The game, of course, is to continually reinvent our portfolio.

Every week, month or year, there are new trainers waxing and old trainers waning. Likewise sires and, to a lesser extent, jockeys. Tracks change their drainage and, in so doing, reverse their draw biases. Surfaces get relaid and the front-running bias is mitigated as the kickback to later runners becomes less severe.

It's the circle of life, and all the joy within: there is always something else to learn, to discover, to deploy.

Evolve or die: this is the angle punter's mantra.


In part two of this series, which you can review here, I'll introduce you to Query Tool: what it is, where it lives, what it does and how it does it. And in part three, we'll work through a series of examples: micro angles which can be deployed as they are but, importantly, which are singular examples from rich seams whose nuggets are waiting to be extracted by the inquisitive Gold miner! 😉

Check it out here.


In my previous article I confidently put up several reasons why I didn’t think Goshen could prevail in the Triumph hurdle, writes Jon Shenton. I guess on a technicality I was correct as he unseated at the last when bounding clear in a freakish incident. A hollow victory, even more hollow if you consider that this left Burning Victory – a filly, more on those below – to saunter home, another horse who was consigned to the discard pile for the race, predominantly due to the trainer’s (Willie Mullins) poor Juvenile record at the festival at 0-from-41.

Despite the back to the drawing board nature of the result, research in one area can pay dividends in another. Penicillin was discovered by accident, after all! Hopefully, a poor one-off result in the Triumph can be appeased through a steady stream of winners inspired by some of the research that went into it… if we ever get any more racing here in Britain.

The juvenile hurdle programme covers racing for three-year-olds only (before January 1st) and four-year-olds from the New Year when all horses age by a year. The data in this article relates to the juvenile programme only where horses are racing against the same three or four-year-old age demographic. It excludes three- or four-year-olds running in all-age novice or open company.

Let’s first consider three general pointers to help assess a juvenile field. All data in this article has been generated through the excellent horseracebase.

Fillies underperform in Juvenile Hurdles

The first consideration relates to the gender of the horse and their relative performance.

The message in the table above is crystal clear in terms of the fairer sex paling in comparison to the males in juvenile contests. Basically, a filly is little more than half as likely to win as a colt or gelding based on Win% (Strike Rate). Amazingly, by backing all male runners you would have out turned a small profit to Betfair SP (based on 2% commission), albeit there are some very juicy prices on the machine propping those numbers up significantly.

Clearly the rough and tumble of juvenile hurdling seems to be more of a stretch early in the career of a female horse. Whether this is physiological or mental in nature I don’t know, but the statistics are unequivocal. In fact, the true picture is actually slightly worse as the data table includes all juvenile races, some of which are for fillies only (so there must be a female winner). Analysing the races where both male and female horses compete against each other the picture is even bleaker, see below.

Fillies are gifted a seven pounds weight-for-gender allowance too. These numbers suggest that is not enough to level the playing field amongst the juveniles. An A/E of 0.67, strike rate of 6.3% and a loss of over half of stakes at SP means such runners have to overcome a huge red flag in terms of general punting. However, as mentioned in my introduction, Burning Victory is a filly. One with a trainer who had a pre-festival record of 0-from-41 in juvenile races. There are general trends and pattern-busters. C’est la vie.

Headgear on Juvenile Hurdlers is sub-optimal

Another area worth looking at is the application of headgear, usually in the hope of focussing the equine mind on the matter in hand. For whatever reason, these go-faster stripes have often attracted my attention. As a result, I’ve frequently bottled a potential bet because my fancy is up against a runner in first time headgear. However, in the case of the young hurdle division I won’t be bottling it next time, not based on headgear at least.

This table shows performance by the accoutrements worn (excluding tongue-ties). Those without headgear clearly fare better than adorned rivals. Quite like playing golf in my limited experience! Cheekpieces are only a minor negative but as the more extreme headgear is applied, the lower a performance in general is delivered.

[It should be noted that the massive Betfair figure (P/L (BF)) comes from a quintet of massive-priced winners, including one that returned a Betfair SP of 1000!]

Whilst this is interesting enough, there is some deeper info which can further help with context.

This table shows results by the number of previous runs a horse has had with the exact same headgear arrangements. It relates that if a horse is wearing headgear for the first time (Prev in Hdgr = 0), performance is moderate, with a strike rate of around 7.5%. Once headgear has been worn more than once, the numbers equate more to the unaccoutred level of performance. This makes sense: if an animal runs badly in headgear the first time it was applied, that plan is likely to be consigned to history for subsequent runs.

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The bottom line is that first-time headgear is a substantial negative on a juvenile hurdler: if connections are reaching for such a solution in a juvenile campaign it suggests in broad terms that they feel there is a problem to solve. Not even Burning Victory was wearing headgear!

French-Bred horses are more mature and race ready

One thing that’s mentioned in the racing media frequently is a belief that horses bred and/or taking their formative racing steps across the other side of the channel are more mature. The argument thus goes that they perform better as juveniles than the British and Irish competition in the UK.

Here is the performance picture based on breeding origin.

As can be seen, the win rate for French-bred juveniles is notably higher than British- or Irish-bred runners in such races: chapeau to the French.

As an interesting aside, the record of fillies originating from France is relatively strong, despite the generally moderate overall performance of females, something worth bearing in mind.


Trainers of Juvenile Hurdlers

The below table shows the records for UK Juvenile Hurdles from 1st Jan 2010 to present day by trainer. It contains the top dozen in terms of victories over that period. The table is ranked by number of wins.

Alan King

Alan King is comfortably the winning-most trainer on the list with approximately 50% more victories than the behemoth Henderson and Nicholls operations. Despite the glittering array of winners, profitability appears to be limited, King’s runners generally very ‘well found’ in the market.

However, whilst panning for precious metal I found a potential nugget worthy of closer inspection.

The above data displays the yard’s juvenile record by the number of previous runs the horse has had over hurdles (in the UK). One line stands out, markedly so and just to be clear, it’s the top one: King juvenile debutants over hurdles have a strike rate of over 30% and are profitable to SP. Whilst performance is perfectly respectable in subsequent outings for the horses, the numbers do regress in a somewhat linear fashion from that initial watermark and are subsequently overbet, with very heathy strike rates yielding losses.

If you want to play with fire, for the first-time hurdlers there isn’t a winner at a price bigger than an SP of 10/1 from 10 attempts (with only one placed horse).  For me though, any King juvenile runner is on the radar for their first spin over jumps regardless of price; I’ll leave the 10/1 threshold to you to decide.

Gary Moore

Next, it’s appears to have been a valuable exercise picking out Gary Moore for due consideration. Exceeding market expectation with an A/E of 1.19, this yard is clearly one worth following in terms of juveniles. Notably, as with Alan King’s runners, it appears that catching Moore entries in their fledgling hurdle days is the optimal time. The table below supports the assertion.

That is quite a stark difference between the two rows of data, leaving little doubt that Team Moore have their young hurdlers ready to compete at a relatively early stage in their development.

I wonder if this is due to the many new hurdlers from the yard that go into a National Hunt career off at least a run or two on the flat given the dual-purpose nature of Moore’s operation. In fact, evaluating some of the juicier priced winners contained in this potential angle, a fair number appear to have had at least one, sometimes several, uninspiring runs previously on the level (or in National Hunt Flat races) before winning first time up over jumps.

These numbers relate to Gary Moore-trained horses making their debut over hurdles where they have run in the UK previously but have not won in their career to date. It’s certainly a micro with too-good-to-be-true numbers and only a handful of qualifiers each year, and it may well be one or two years between drinks; however, ignore a flat maiden Moore debutant over hurdles at your peril.

Finally, it would be slightly remiss not to mention the Henderson and Nicholls yards, as backing both blindly in juvenile hurdles has yielded a small and surprising profit.

Nicky Henderson

For Henderson, a couple of huge priced winners (Une Artiste at 40/1 and Protek Des Flos at 25/1) add a shine to the numbers which may or may not be sustainable over time. However, using some of the themes from earlier in this article it may be a worthwhile exercise paying close attention to his first-time hurdlers that have been imported from across the English Channel.

Although it must be said that two thirds of the profit to SP has been delivered from the aforementioned Protek Des Flos, the figures still stand up fairly well excluding that skewing winner.

Another way to play Henderson juveniles might be sticking to the big races with them.

The competitive Class 1 races yield reasonable returns, with a lower, but still highly respectable, strike rate than other classes. This table perfectly illustrates the difference between backing winners and seeking long-term profit: if you want winners then backing Seven Barrows runners in lower-class races will pay out over a third of the time, but long-term profit will be tough to attain given the magnetic attraction of punters to the Henderson brand in these shallower contests.

Paul Nicholls

In terms of Ditcheat trainer Paul Nicholls, performance is solid across the board. While it’s tough to find a specific edge based on the data, it (obviously, perhaps) remains a sound approach to treat juveniles from this yard with respect. Backing Nicholls juvenile hurdlers is not a get rich quick scheme, but nor is it a get poor quick one!


The below summarises a few specific Juvenile Hurdle angles to back where desired.

  • Alan King first time juvenile hurdle runners in the UK
  • Gary Moore first or tecond time juvenile hurdle runners in the UK
  • Gary Moore first time over hurdles with no previous career victories on the flat (or National Hunt Flat races)
  • Nicky Henderson first time juvenile hurdlers originating from France
  • Nicky Henderson runners in all Class 1 juvenile hurdle races

I hope that this gives you a head start for the resumption of racing, whenever that may be. Until then, keep well.

- JS

For those of us to the east of the Irish Sea, we are having to currently having to cram on unfamiliar subjects if we have any aspirations of passing our daily wagering examinations. Today's test features a three hour 'paper', starting at 2pm, on Naas Racecourse. For those whose betting at the track has hitherto been blind, this post will attempt to at least partially sight!

Naas Course Constitution

The track is left-handed and has a straight five- and six-furlong piste. Mile and seven-furlong races begin in the chute furthest from the 'pin' on the image below, with ten-furlong and mile and a half races beginning in the straight just after the bend past the finish line.

Races at a mile and a quarter favour fast starters and/or inside draws as there is a dogleg almost immediately, whereafter the course gently arcs left-handed to about the six-furlong point. There is a further left turn with about half a mile to go meaning wider-drawn runners can have plenty of additional distance to travel; there is, however, a half a mile or so straight in which to make a challenge, so the key is not to get hung out wide on the turns.


Naas Draw / Pace

5f races

The five-furlong track has had a fairly pronounced low draw bias. That said, at the start of any new season it is important to look to see whether previous biases still hold; often, track maintenance undertaken in the close season can reduce, nullify or sometimes even reverse a previous bias. As things stand, then, the Naas five-furlong picture looks like this:

Those data are based on races at the track since 2009 with 10+ runners, and relate to 'actual draw' - that is, having removed non-runners from consideration (so, for instance, a horse drawn nine but with two non-runners inside him becomes 'actual draw' seven).

The Impact Value (IV, right hand column) for low-drawn horses is 1.48, which means they are nearly one and a half times as likely to win a race compared with random.

At, we devised a metric called IV3 to smooth the curve on individual stall performance. It simply takes the average of a stall and its nearest neighbours: for instance, the IV3 for stall six comprises the sum of the IV for stalls five, six and seven divided by three. The IV3 graph for Naas 5f races looks like this:

We can see a collection from stall four to ten at around 1.0, but higher draws are significantly unfavoured while berths one to three, especially stall one, have a notable edge.

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But draw is not a one-dimensional consideration. Rather it needs to be considered in the context of the early pace horses are able to show. The below heat map illustrates the impact of both draw and run style and is clear about the importance of a very prominent early position, in terms of place percentages at least. Those held up, especially from a middle draw, have neither the pace nor the track position to compete generally.


1m2f races

As can be seen from the course image above, the ten-furlong range suggests it should strongly favour an inside draw, especially with pace to take advantage of that track position. The data support the logic:

We can clearly see the impact of a low draw on both win and place percentages, and with a strongly positive IV. The Actual over Expected (A/E) figure of 1.32 also implies the market hasn't fully factored low draw importance at this time.

Again, the IV3 chart is unequivocal:

Overlaying pace once more reveals that a low draw coupled with a 'led' or 'prominent' run style is a very big - and profitable - edge.


Naas Trainer Form

Overall Trainer Form

The top trainers in flat races at Naas in the five years from 2015 are as follows:

There are few surprises at the top of the overall list, with Aidan O'Brien lording over his peer group in terms of both strike rate and number of winners. From a punting perspective, the runners of Eddie Lynam and Andrew Oliver offer cause for hope.

Naas Handicap Trainer Form

The handicap picture looks different; here we have a number of trainers with solid win rates, numbers of wins and profit figures. Samples are smaller but still not inconsequential, with the likes of Aidan O'Brien, Jim Bolger, Ger Lyons and Jessica Harrington to the fore. These are four of the pre-eminent handlers in the land and they have all been profitable to back in Naas handicaps in recent years!

A word of caution with regards Joseph O'Brien. His seven winners have come at a cost of -27.75 points: clearly they can win but the market overestimates their chance.

Naas Early Season Trainer Form

Focusing only on the months or March and April at Naas, and we are in danger of slicing and dicing our way to statistical irrelevance (assuming we'd not already passed that point!)...

Again, the big guns of APOB, Ger Lyons, and Jessica Harrington are profitable to back. The place strike rates of Michael O'Callaghan, Tommy Stack, Ado McGuinness and Damian English all support their small numbers of winners and suggest they're worth keeping on side in March and April at Naas.

At the other end of the spectrum, Jim Bolger's strike rate in recent seasons has been a cautionary note, while Dermot Weld's horses also look overbet for all that they have a very solid place strike rate.

This article was researched using the Draw Analyser and Query Tool features within Geegeez Gold.


Just nine days ago my over-riding thought as I contemplated the very strong card at Kempton was still how awful it was that Goshen had been cruelly robbed of his rightful crowning as the best four-year-old hurdler in memory, writes Tony Stafford. Sympathies for Gary and all the Moore family and the owners were intruding ahead of the general feeling that I’d witnessed one of the great four days of Cheltenham.

Just over a week later, along with everyone in the country, if not the world, apart of course from China where it started and where they now claim there have been no new cases for several days - sure! – even Goshen has been put at the back of the brain.

Looking back, there we were, between 53,000 on the first day and 65,000 on Friday talking, greeting and breathing on each other. A good proportion of racegoers at any time are in the older age group. Now 1.5 million of us senior citizens around the country are to receive letters telling us to stay at home for three months to help “damp down” in Boris’s words, the dreaded Coronavirus.

I’ve already effectively remained in the house under instruction from my wife, who will not be receiving such a letter. My only relief from the embargo has been three short taxi-service one-way trips to drop her at shops that have been denuded of fresh meat and fish, bread, pasta, toilet and kitchen rolls and household products. She did yesterday, though, and much to my amazement, come home triumphantly brandishing a copy of the Racing Post, cost £3.90. I wonder what the publication’s 110 journalistic employees are doing to keep that listing vessel above water?

Every day for the past week I’ve been pondering whether I’ve had it, got it or am incubating it ready to transmit to anyone I meet – which pretty much begins and ends with Mrs S. Yesterday she started a daily exercise session, prompted by my difficulty with putting on my socks without sitting down. It couldn’t have been too taxing, but today and on subsequent days it will be ramped up. Whatever you can say about people born and brought up in the old USSR, especially in Siberia, they can be pretty relentless!

I was thinking last Tuesday that the UK racing no-spectator model might work, but that stopped after one day. Then on Wednesday the Irish decided to race on crowd-free, so on Saturday we had Thurles on Racing TV and South Africa’s two meetings on Sky Sports Racing. Somehow, my copy of the Racing Post arrived in time to have a look at the 4.10 from Thurles in which a horse I’d seen run well recently over two miles, stepped up in trip and class for a beginners’ chase.

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He’d previously won a hurdle over three miles and was trained by Joseph O’Brien, so more than enough reason to have a good look. I thought he would be around 6-1, checked and found he was double those odds, and had a tiny tickle. Backed down to 9-1, Thermistocles proved once again that young Mr O’Brien can win any race over any discipline at any level and sound jumping and stamina enabled this eight-year-old to beat a strong field with some comfort.

Sky Sports Racing also had yesterday’s Sha Tin card which started at 5 a.m. and featured, almost four hours later, the Hong Kong Derby with its £1 million-plus first prize. Local jockey C Y Ho was entrusted with the ride on the 3-4 favourite Golden Sixty and as he brought him towards the straight he was right at the back of the 14-strong field; meanwhile Aussie rider Blake Shinn sent the 290-1 shot Playa Del Puente into a long lead on the inside. Ho and Golden Sixty came wide, gradually gained ground, but still had at least three lengths to find a furlong out.

Instead of the frenzied tumult had the Sha Tin stands been as usual full of punters, there must have been almost an eerie silence that accompanied the favourite’s continued run which bore fruit three strides from the finish.  The Australian-bred Golden Sixty, a son of Medaglia d’Oro, has now won ten of 11 career starts, and never had a winning margin more than just over two lengths in any of them.

While everything is on hold here – I can imagine just how frustrated the few UK trainers nowadays that concentrate on early juveniles must be feeling – Ireland actually stages its first turf Flat meeting of the year today at Naas. Joseph and his father Aidan both had entries in the first two-year-old race of 2020 in Europe but Aidan’s runner, Lipizzaner, participates.

In between the sparse live fare available, there have been some interesting offerings on the specialist channels and one commentator for whom my regard has grown greatly in recent months has been Mick Fitzgerald. I confess it took ages to get past that gratingly-harsh accent but in a long discussion with John Hunt on Sky Sports Racing the other day he spoke very intelligently on the challenges facing trainers and jockeys, not to mention owners. His thoughts, not least his compassion, equated to the attitude of the Prime Minister and Chancellor as they announced the tightening up of measures to stop the virus.

But now I must return to Goshen. Anyone who saw the Triumph Hurdle on Friday the 13th of March will have been convinced that the margin – some say a dozen lengths – that he held over his toiling rivals coming to the last where he made his calamitous, race-ending mistake, would have been considerably extended by the line.

David Dickinson, the BHA handicapper responsible for two-mile hurdle assessments, had the job of putting the race on a numerical footing. We don’t see the Irish ratings, so the two horses that finished first and second under sufferance, Burning Victory and Aspire Tower, the latter who had a 152 mark pre-race, do not appear on the BHA ratings list.

But Allmankind, Navajo Pass and Sir Psycho, who finished third, fourth and fifth, went into Cheltenham on ratings respectively of 148, 139 and 147 and finished within a couple of lengths, close behind the second who was almost three lengths adrift of the winning Willie Mullins-trained filly.

Dickinson has left Allmankind and Sir Psycho on their existing marks, choosing to raise Navajo Pass to 147, which neatly makes this race a true ratings barometer. If Allmankind is 148 then presumably Aspire Tower could be dropped to 149 from 152 in Ireland and then the winner 152 (less the 7lb filly allowance she benefited from) thus around 145. Of the others Solo, rated 157 after his Kempton Adonis Hurdle romp, ran a stinker and has dropped to 152.

So what to do with Goshen? He was 151 going into the race and on the way he just scooted away from as we have seen some already decent opposition into an overwhelming last-flight superiority, I thought it the best performance (until he exited of course) ever by a four-year-old. I think it was probably only challenged by Our Conor’s 15-length victory seven years earlier which brought a 161 rating.

If the eventual winner had been male, the rating would be 152 and she was hardly going to reduce the margin, yet Dickinson has bottled it! He has chosen to raise Goshen to only 158, in other words suggesting he would have beaten the runner-up by six lengths. Ridiculous, indeed shameful! Not only have Goshen’s connections been robbed of a massive prize and well-earned recognition, the performance has been dimmed for no other reason than small-mindedness.

Goshen should have got at least 165 as I suggested here last week, and that would only have reflected his maintaining the margin to the line, when that seemed a conservative prospect. It’s not an easy job, I realise that, but when it hits you between the eyes, have the decency to admit it!

- TS

Saturday's pick was...

3.10 Thurles : Sizing Pottsie @ 9/4 BOG fell at 9/4 (Led, mistake 7th and slight mistake next, pushed along and joined when fell 2 out) Aside from the fall, the jumping wasn't really up to scratch for this level.

Monday's pick runs in the...

3.30 Naas :

Before I post the daily selection, just a quick reminder of how I operate the service. Generally, I'll identify and share the selection between 8.00am and 8.15am and I then add a more detailed write-up later within an hour or so of going "live".

Those happy to take the early price on trust can do so, whilst some might prefer to wait for my reasoning. As I fit the early service in around my family life, I can't give an exact timing on the posts, so I suggest you follow us on Twitter and/or Facebook for instant notifications of a published pick.


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Hong Kong @ 10/3 BOG a 14-runner, Flat Handicap for 3yo over 7f on heavy ground worth £26,549 to the winner...


This 3 yr old colt has already won in the mud here at Naas when scoring by two lengths over 6f last October and his breeding suggests he'll be better in time than his current mark of 88 would intimate.

He is trained by household name, AP O'Brien, who has won this race twice in the last seven runnings and is also 55 from 170 (32.4% SR) for 36.5pts (+21.5% ROI) here at Naas on the Flat with horses sent off at 7/1 and shorter over the last three seasons, including...

  • 37/111 (33.3%) for 38.8pts (+35%) over 6f to 1m
  • 24/78 (30.8%) for 25.5pts (+32.7%) with 3 yr olds
  • 19/68 (27.9%) for 17pts (+25%) in big (ie 12+) fields
  • and 7/19 (36.8%) for 12.6pts (+66.2%) on Soft to Heavy/Heavy ground

...whilst for a broad AP/Naas micro, try 2 & 3 yr olds @ 6f-1m in fields of 7-16 runners = 28/75 (37.3% SR) for 47.1pts (+62.8% ROI).

And that's possibly/probably enough to justify the selection today, but as Hong Kong is now returning from Group 3 action at Newmarket to make a handicap debut here, it's also worth looking at AP's runners making a handicap debut on the Flat and if we do that we see 38 winners from 164 (23.2% SR) for 105.4pts (+64.3% ROI) over the last six seasons, including of note/relevance today...

  • 34/122 (27.9%) for 102.2pts (+83.8%) at odds of Evens to 10/1
  • 28/116 (24.1%) for 85.7pts (+73.9%) with male runners
  • 26/110 (23.6%) for 95.7pts (+87%) with 3 yr olds
  • 19/65 (29.2%) for 91.4pts (+140.6%) over the last two seasons
  • 17/62 (27.4%) for 83.3pts (+134.4%) in races worth £13-75k
  • 9/26 (34.6%) for 37.8pts (+145.4%) at 7f
  • 7/23 (30.4%) for 28.3pts (+122.9%) here at Naas
  • and 5/25 (20%) for 32.3pts (+129.2%) under today's jockey, Seamie Heffernan

...and an AP/hcp debut micro? 3yo males at Evs to 10/1 over last two seasons = 8/23 (34.8% SR) for 28.3pts (+123.1% ROI)...

...but first...a 1pt win bet on Hong Kong @ 10/3 BOG as was offered by BetVictor, Hills & Ladbrokes at 8.05am Monday whilst Coral were a fraction longer, but as always please check your BOG status. To see what your preferred bookie is quoting... here for the betting on the 3.30 Naas

Don't forget, we offer a full interactive racecard service every day!


Here is today's racecard

P.S. all P/L returns quoted in the stats above are to Betfair SP, as I NEVER bet to ISP and neither should you. I always use BOG bookies for SotD, wherever possible, but I use BFSP for the stats as it is the nearest approximation I can give, so I actually expect to beat the returns I use to support my picks. If that's unclear, please ask!

Back in September, I spoke to three punters about what they thought were the most important things when analysing a race, writes Tony Keenan. You can read the full article here but one thing that stood out was that each placed a lot of value on the detailed watching of replays, looking for the nuance of a horse’s performance, things that made it better or worse than the bare form.

Watching replays or race-reading is not the only thing in analysing a race – there is no point in a horse being an amazing eye-catcher if it was doing it against yaks the last day and is significantly up in grade now – but is a vital part of the overall picture of form, times, ground, pace and such.

Race-reading is both difficult and time-consuming, and sometimes monotonous as the replays can yield little; but for those that can stick with it, it should continue to offer an edge in the markets because it is subjective: what one race-reader will see as gold, another will see as dirt.

I want to stress that I am no expert in this area – as a punter I am probably a jack of all trades, master of damn all-type – but I do plenty of it as part of my analysis. Some real authorities on race-reading will understandably keep their thoughts on the subject to themselves but I would recommend reading both Hugh Taylor and Rhys Williams and their columns on attheraces for insight on the subject.

Hugh’s daily tipping article invariably takes some of its basis in race-reading while the whole gist of Rhys’ pieces are horses that shaped better than the result in the past week. There is much to be learned there.

As for my own race-reading, I prefer to do it at a few days’ remove from the races themselves when things like times and sectionals and trainer comments are available to get a fuller picture. Sometimes when you’ve had a bet, your judgement can be clouded and an apparently bad ride may be blown out of proportion; it may well have been a poor effort from the jockey but perhaps not as bad as you think. Pocket-think is a thing.

So – with all this in mind –  I’m going to have a look back at the four Grade 1 races on the Tuesday of Cheltenham just gone to offer some thoughts on race-reading and what – I think – was the key factor in each race. Readers will likely be very familiar with these races and if they have some time on their hands over the coming weeks (!), they might like to have a look back at some of the rest or even care to contradict my view!


Supreme Novices’ Hurdle

Key Factor: Pace

The Supreme was a strongly-run race, indeed overly-strongly-run, per the excellent Simon Rowlands (again on ATR); the time of the race was broadly similar to the Champion Hurdle but the novices went much harder in the middle part of the race and raced less efficiently as a whole.

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My interpretation is that the race suited horses being held up as those racing prominently were always going a little harder than ideal. Missing the break is not ideal in the average race but it might have suited Abacadabras here as it meant he was in the right place pace-wise; you can argue he’s hit the front too soon (very possible as he has a history of quirks) but I would be over-playing his tardy start.

As to an eye-catcher, I would be inclined to look to those that raced close up, with Captain Guinness as good as any. He was the least exposed runner going into the field with just two starts, had taken the preliminaries well, and settled better than expected. After a wide trip, he had every chance when getting brought down two out (had been hampered at the previous hurdle, too) and, given his trainer, it would be no surprise if he proved better over fences.


Arkle Novices’ Chase

Key Factor: The Start

Notebook and his potential to boil over at the start had been one of the talking points ahead of the Arkle and while he didn’t seem to lose the plot completely when a standing start was needed, it may have had a more subtle effect as he didn’t run his race; the winner was a stablemate that didn’t seem particularly fancied and, moreover, Notebook had beaten the runner-up well at Christmas.

Another interesting thing about the start was what happened with Global Citizen. Ben Pauling’s eight-year-old had impressed when making the running in his previous spin over fences and was a regular front runner over hurdles; but, while his jockey wanted a prominent position again here, he didn’t break well which may have caused him to jump moderately.

There were other positives in his performance, too. The ground would have been on the soft side for him and he got badly hampered by a faller four out and, thereafter, had to make his move out wide in what was the hot part of the race. He looked likely to have been a good third only to fade after the last. He hadn’t run in the calendar year either so, while Aintree is not an option this year, there should be other days with him on speed-favouring tracks.


Champion Hurdle

Key Factor: Nothing

I’m saying nothing was important here to draw attention to the trap that I sometimes fall into when reading a race: there are occasions when a race is just clean, the form is what it is, and searching for an eye-catcher is forcing the issue. I think the Champion Hurdle might be one such race.

The pace was even, the winner was the favourite and clear pick of the home team, the next four home Irish-trained; it looked a case of the UK horse being a star amongst a moderate crop in her own country while the Irish two-mile hurdlers have depth but no standout and if they raced against each other the results would often be different.

One could make a case that Sharjah has come from a long way back which was less than ideal but that is how he is ridden; when they tried to track the pace and Honeysuckle at the Dublin Racing Festival, it backfired and he didn’t run to form. In any case, he was within a length jumping the last and got beaten three.


Mares’ Hurdle

Key Factor: Jockeys

Bizarrely, this race became the main talking point of Tuesday’s card, not only because the odds-on favourite got beaten but also because Willie Mullins came as close as he does to throwing a jockey under the bus straight afterwards when speaking about Robbie Power’s ride on Stormy Ireland:

There was a miscommunication turning for home, maybe, maybe Robbie thought one of our horses was behind him rather than Honeysuckle, it looked like he just gifted the winner a huge gap while Paul was going on the outside, there you are, these things happen…Stormy probably didn’t go fast enough, she should have been going much faster to take the sting out of the rest of them, there was no pace…a little frustrating.

I suspect he was correct that riding and the pace were the key factors in the race. Power seemed to be doing what was best for his mount, waiting in front on a mare that was not a total cast-iron stayer at the trip on heavy ground at a stiff track, and she had just put up her best effort over two miles at Naas on her previous start. That pace would not have suited Benie Des Dieux who has posted her best efforts over three miles but whether she should be setting a pace for a more fancied stablemate (but not in the same ownership) is a discussion for another day.

If there was a plan for Power to shift off the rail before home turn to allow the favourite through is neither here nor there, but he did move at that point which allowed Honeysuckle a clear run through whereas her main rival had to go the long way around. What Mullins did not mention, however, is that Rachael Blackmore had squeezed Paul Townend out of his position behind the leader after three out and that forced him back after which he seemed to panic a little and pulled wide, a move that could well have been costly, the winning margin half a length.

There’s a strong possibility the result would have been different on another day with different rides or a stronger pace and a rematch would be fascinating. It is also worth mentioning that the third, Elfile, deserves some marking-up too as she got hampered as Benie Des Dieux made her move before staying on which isn’t ideal as she’s more about stamina than speed.


As I've said, it is often difficult to review a race clinically in its immediate aftermath, the pocket's heart often ruling the form judge's head. But, with the dust now settled on the Festival and most people finding themselves with a few more hours to spare, the replays may reward time invested in the search for horses to mark or down.

- TK

The Complete Guide to 3yo Handicaps and ‘Hot Form’
(and the Effect Coronavirus Could Have On This Flat Season)

The Hot Form report on is my favourite report on the site and pretty much my favourite function of geegeez alongside the pace and draw data available for each race, writes Sam Darby.

The principle behind ‘hot form’ is rock solid: if other horses have come out of certain races and won or run very well (especially in a similar or better grade) then it stands to reason that is a ‘hot race’.

Runners which finished in close proximity to those who have come out and won or run well are likely to be in a similar position to do so as well on their next start; some more so than others, but we’ll get into that a little a later on.

Three Is The Magic Number

One of the most profitable areas of the sport that hot form can be applied to is 3yo handicaps.

Every flat season begins with hundreds of well handicapped, lightly raced 3yos raring to go. Inevitably, many of these horses are going to end up in the same races as other very well handicapped, lightly raced 3yos in the early part of the turf season. There are only so many races in each class at each distance, after all.

Some of the well handicapped runners in these races will only be able to finish 5th or even 6th but will go on to win on their next start in races that aren’t quite so hot.

There are some classy 3yo only handicaps that tend to work out well each season. These include the 7f handicap run at Newbury the day before the Greenham Stakes, the 7f handicap that takes place on the Wednesday of York’s Dante meeting and also the 10f London Gold Gup run on Lockinge Day at Newbury.

The last-named race was won by Melbourne Cup winner Green Moon in 2010 (Dubai World Cup winner Monterosso was 2nd) and treble Group 1 winner Al Kazeem picked up the 2011 London Gold Cup before going on to much bigger things. More recently, in 2015, Time Test won this before landing a brace of Group 2s amongst other honours.

A sure sign of a strong 3yo handicap is several top trainers entering handicap debutants or previous handicap winners. Unsurprisingly this tends to happen in the 3yo handicap races with the best prize money on offer.

It’s not just the obvious big handicaps that provide us with horses to look out for in the Hot Form report. An average looking 5f Thirsk handicap, 7.5f Beverley handicap or 10f Redcar handicap can be just as likely to produce multiple future winners, albeit in lower grades. And these future winners are likely to be more under the radar as far as bookmakers and their markets are concerned.

When Hot Form Becomes Scorching Hot

One of my favourite examples of hot form, and the race that highlighted to me just how profitable this angle could be, was a previous incarnation of the 7f handicap run at Newbury the day before the Greenham Stakes mentioned earlier run on 16th April 2004. At this time it was run over an extra furlong, so a mile, and it was the race that got me started down this very profitable path.

The results and subsequent form can be seen below:

1. African Dream

Won this off a mark of 94 and then won his next 2 starts comfortably, both in Group 3 company. He was eventually rated 19lbs higher than his rating in this race.

2. Red Lancer

Ran well here off a mark of just 80. He was beaten a short head in handicap company next time out but won the Chester Vase comfortably after that run. He was eventually rated 30lbs higher than his rating in this race.

3. Gatwick

He was rated 83 when running in this race and won his next 2 starts in big field handicaps before winning again later in the season. He was eventually rated 25lbs higher than his rating in this race.

4. Zonus

Zonus was rated 83 in this race. He was unlucky not to win on both of his next 2 starts but eventually won by 5 lengths at 8/1 a few runs later and proved 17lbs ahead of the handicapper in this race.

5. Red Spell

Competing off 79, he was the lowest rated runner in this race and came out and won his next start at 10/1 and followed that up with a 2nd at 7/1. He was eventually rated 35lbs higher than his rating in this race.

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6. Frank Sonata

Rated 90 here, Frank Sonata won next time out at the Dante meeting at 33/1. He would win 2 of his next 3 starts too before running in the St Leger. He was eventually rated 21lbs higher than his rating in this race.

7. Freak Occurrence

He followed up this effort off a mark of 85 with a place at 20/1 but eventually he lost his form and didn’t win for another 6 months. One of the few unprofitable horses to follow from this race.

8. Border Music

Border Music was beaten almost 13 lengths in this race off a mark of 80 but the form of the race was so strong that he produced form figures of 32234 in similar class handicaps on his next 5 starts which included a 16/1 place in the race immediately after this. He was eventually rated 23lbs higher than his rating in this race.

9. Jedburgh

After finishing 9th in this race, beaten 13.5 lengths off a mark of 93, Jedburgh was placed at a price of 25/1 next time out from the same mark. He wouldn’t win that season but was still eventually rated 13lbs higher than his rating in this race.

There was a 5+ length gap between 9th and 10th so the remaining 6 runners in the race can be considered to have just been making up the numbers.

The form figures of the first 9 runners home on their next two starts combined were:


If you had placed £20 each way on every single runner in the race on their next 2 starts you would have won £2,422!

What makes it even more amazing is that those figures are at SP. Many of those winners were available at much bigger prices early on.

How To Find Hot Races

The least labour intensive method of finding these races is to use the Hot Form report on a daily basis. Whenever this report highlights a horse running either today or tomorrow that has come from a hot race you can check the races in question and add any other runners of interest, that don’t have entries in the next 48 hours, to your trackers/alerts/notes.

If you want to get really ahead of the curve you can consistently look back at the results of every 3yo handicap to see which races those horses that are winning or running well have come from. You’ll soon spot the races that are beginning to work out well.

Two or three weeks after most races have been run you should see at least one or two horses will have run since to give an idea of the strength of the form. Races that are beginning to work out well (perhaps the 6th came out and finished 2nd next time or the 3rd has won since) can be bookmarked and checked regularly.

Why 3yo Races In Particular?

The classic generation tend to be much more lightly raced than their older counterparts. This gives us several advantages.

The first is that, however well handicapped we think a horse may be based on a run in a hot race, it’s likely they are going to improve again from the experience of the previous race and prove even better handicapped than we thought.

Even more improvement can be unlocked as 3yos change trips, usually going up in distance. For example, a stayer is probably only going to find opportunities at a mile and a quarter, maybe a mile and a half in April. It can be obvious that some horses are going to find 14f+ their ideal trip in time, and if they run particularly well in a race run over shorter they can be massively marked up, proving a strong bet when racing over further. Stepping up in trip several times will often offset any weight rises the handicapper has dictated.

Arguably the most profitable time to be backing 3yo handicappers is when they begin competing against their elders regularly in mid-summer. In 3yo only handicaps many races will contain several “could be anything” types in competition with each other. This puts a slight doubt over our bets even if we are confident we have a very well handicapped horse on our hands. Against older, more exposed runners such doubts are less prevalent. Then of course there is a weight for age allowance which tends to favour the younger generation over longer trips.

What To Make Of Subsequent Form

The more wins or strong runs from the subsequent form of a race, the more confident you can be that those who ran well in the race but are yet to run will replicate the subsequent runs of the other horses. This is simply because you have more evidence that the form was hot.

In determining how many runners to track from a hot race consider each runner’s proximity to those who have franked the form since. If the 5th and 6th in a race come out and win or run well and the 7th was only a neck behind those then chances are the 7th is similarly well handicapped as the 5th and 6th. If the 8th was three lengths further back, then that runner – and any behind him – may be of less interest. Of course, in this example the 1st to 4th are going to be most interesting going forwards in all likelihood.

It’s also important to mark some of the runners from each race up or down depending on how favoured they were by conditions. There is a ton of data on about course pace bias and this, alongside draw data and also analysis of the pace of the race, can help to show the best runners to follow.

For example, in a ten-runner race at Chester that has worked out well, the 4th is probably going to be of more interest going forward than the runner up if the runner up was well placed from a low draw off a slow gallop and the 4th was held up from stall nine, even if two lengths separated the pair. Likewise, horses that ran well in spite of ground conditions can be marked up.

Another angle that shouldn’t be underestimated is that of class droppers. Upon finding a hot race make an extra note of any runners that might be capable of dropping in class. If they’ve run well in a strong race in a higher grade they could find a very easy opportunity further down the handicapping ladder. Any runners that appear in both the Hot Form report and also the Class Move report (for dropping in class) should be seriously considered.

Beware False Positives

Some 3yo handicaps will seemingly start working out very early on only to fail to throw up any further winners. The first runner to come out of a particular race, having finished 3rd for example, could win next time out giving the impression the race in which it took bronze was hot form.

If you’ve spotted this race early you’ll probably end up backing the next couple of runners from the race. It’s not uncommon for those two to run poorly and the race not to be hot form at all.

In these circumstances it’s likely that the 3rd home that won next time out was simply below par when 3rd and/or has improved significantly since. That or the race it went on to win was very weak.

In the same way that a horse that finishes 2nd or 3rd in a strong race will often have run better than a horse that wins a poor race, it’s important to consider the relative strength of subsequent form, not just the finishing positions achieved. It’s worth noting that’s not always possible if nothing has since come out of the race and that can just be the price of doing business in this kind of race.

Which Other Races Can Have ‘Hot Form’?

Any kind of race, in any code, can be strong for the grade and produce future winners. Three-mile chases full of seemingly exposed horses can still end up as hot form.

The reason I choose to concentrate on 3yo handicaps, other than the advantages that are set out previously in this article, is two or three months of going through handicap results at the beginning of the season can give you a year or so worth of runners to back. Many runners will take breaks after running in a hot race and not be seen for many months so they can be backed when reappearing later in the year.

The frustrating thing is lots of horses that have run in hot races are simply never seen again or sold to race abroad with better prize money on offer.

Another reason why 3yo hot form can be better to follow than older horses is because these horses have had fewer opportunities to become badly handicapped. If a 3yo handicap debutant ran well in a hot race it’s easy to make a case for it being well handicapped.

If a race full of exposed, older horses is working out well there is always a question mark over some of the remaining runners who ran well in the race: if they are well handicapped, why did they fail to win their previous three or four races off the same sort of mark? Sometimes there are valid excuses, sometimes there aren’t. That’s not to say those runners don’t go on to win also, it just creates more doubts ahead of backing them compared to the 3yos.

How Does The Coronavirus And Lack Of Early Flat Season Racing Affect This?

It’s impossible to be 100% sure and it probably depends if racing does indeed return in May as hoped.

There is reason to believe this could be the best season in a long time when it comes to finding hot races.

With fewer opportunities to run these well handicapped 3yos ahead of the big meetings such as Royal Ascot, it could result in much bigger fields than usual and force more well handicapped runners to compete against each other.

Instead of finding hot races where a couple of the seven or eight runners are of interest going forward, we may be now tracking six or seven runners from a 16-runner race. Bookies and punters tend to favour horses that have 1s, 2s and 3s in their form figures so we could see some seriously underestimated, well handicapped runners with form figures that are more often than not 5s and 6s rather than 1s and 2s.

With trainers likely to be keen to get a few runs into horses before those big targets they could be turned out slightly more quickly than normal which will also mean we can form a view about which races are becoming ‘hot’ quicker than usual.

Things could of course go the other way, though. Many of these ‘group horses in handicaps’ might end up skipping handicaps and going straight for bigger targets to make up for lost time. That’s part of the great uncertainty that makes betting on horses, and especially in 3yo handicaps, such fun!

- SD

A quick update from me in the attached video, covering:

- Where we are with Irish racing

- What to do about your subscription

- Why we're dropping the paywall for now

p.s. Annual subscribers, if your subscription is not due any time soon, please keep it open for now. Contact me when we're racing again and I'll ensure you get either an extension for the downtime or a pro-rated refund. Thanks.

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.

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.

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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).

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