Punting Angles Using Sires & Damsires: Part 2

Last month I started a new series of articles looking at sires and damsires, writes Dave Renham. To recap, sires are the fathers of the respective horses and can have a significant influence on their offspring; damsires are the maternal grandfathers and can also bestow certain characteristics on their daughter's progeny.

In the first article, we saw that certain sires had strong traits; for example Casamento’s runners are better suited to longer distances with his offspring twice as likely to win at 11 furlongs or further than at sprint trips of five to six furlongs.

In this second article my focus will continue to be sires and I will be sharing some additional insights looking for positive or negative angles. I will also be concentrating on two-year-old races where sire stats can be extremely useful as we have limited, or often no, horse form to go on.

This piece is not completely ‘time sensitive’ because there are some sires who have had runners in ten or more seasons and I want to analyse individuals in more detail if I can.

Record of sires in 2yo races

Below is a table of the top 20 sires of 2yos, in terms of strike rate, between 2016 and 2020 in the UK (minimum 200 runs):

Sharmadal is the only sire in profit and, sadly, he passed away last year. He should have a crop of 2yos for the 2021 season and possibly a small one for 2022. However, the first sire I wish to look at in more depth is Kodiac.

Kodiac

Kodiac, a son of Danehill, was a decent handicapper as a racehorse and went to stud in 2007 with his first runners hitting the racecourse in 2010. He holds the record for the most 2yo wins in one season and his progeny include Campanelle, Best Solution and Hello Youmzain.

I want to share Kodiac's record with juveniles in the UK going back to his first crop in 2010, firstly breaking it down by individual years:

Looking at the yearly strike rates, Kodiac has been relatively consistent with rates ranging from 10% to just over 16%. Losses overall are around 14p in the £ but, using best odds guaranteed or the exchanges would get this loss down to probably about 2-3p in the £. I now want to break the data down by level of experience (2010-2020):

Kodiac’s strike rate with his runners on debut is solid at nearly 13%. The average strike rate (SR%) on debut for all sires stands at just 7.74%, hence Kodiac progeny seem fairly well primed and ready for their first outing on a racecourse.

Horses normally improve considerably between that first career run (debut) and their second start. Kodiac’s runners are no exception, and have won over 17% of races on their second starts as a 2yo and actually made a blind profit, which is unusual. Comparing again with all sires it should be noted that backing all sires blind on their second start would lose you around 26p in the £.

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My next port of call was to look at trainer records and compare their 2yo performances with Kodiac-bred runners. I have only included trainers who have had 45 or more runs:

There is a real mix here, ranging from John Gosden's 29.17% to Tim Easterby at just 2.04%. However, Clive Cox is the most interesting one for me – his overall strike rate of 1 win in 4 (25%) is impressive and he has had 16 different 2yos sired by Kodiac, 12 of which won at least once as a 2yo. That equates to 75% of these horses winning a 2yo race. Compare this to Charles Hills who has had 23 different 2yos sired by Kodiac, but only six of those proved successful in their first season (26%). To give you more context, 44.26% of Kodiac 2yos have won at least one race as a 2yo, well above the Hills figure of 26% but well below the 75% Cox figure.

We noted when looking at the yearly breakdowns that Kodiac juveniles are consistent. Indeed this consistency can be seen to best effect when examining performance on different underfoot conditions. The graph below shows the strike rate on specific goings:

The percentages range from 13% to 14.89%. So if you are backing a Kodiac two-year-old, it seems you do not need to worry about whether it will be effective on the going.

 

Kingman

I now want to move onto a new sire on the block, Kingman. Kingman was a four-time Group 1 winner when racing, winning seven of his eight career races. His only defeat came in the 2014 2000 Guineas when he finished second. It perhaps comes as no surprise, then, that as a sire he has started with a bit of bang. His stud fee in 2015 was £55,000 and, six years later, that fee has nearly tripled to £150,000.

He tops the 2016 to 2020 2yo strike rates (see first table above) and I want to examine his juvenile progeny data in more detail. While it is still relatively early days, and he does not have the large data set of a Kodiac, there are still some trends that seem to have emerged already.

Let us look first at distance. Kingman 2yos have so far displayed a distance bias to 7f more as the graph shows:

There also seems a bias in terms of male runners outperforming female runners at this early stage: we are working with quite a small data set (164 runs for males and 150 runs for females) which is why I have included each way (win and placed) stats, too, in the graph below.

 

The win figures correlate extremely well with the each way stats – at least so far.

One area where the male dominance can be seen is when we compare the record of male horses making their 2yo debut compared to females. Males seem much more mature and ready to run from the ‘get go’. There have been 72 colts or geldings sired by Kingman making their debut at two thus far, of which 20 have won (SR 27.78%) showing a profit to SP of £54.94 (ROI +76.31%). In contrast the 65 fillies making their racecourse debut as two-year-olds recorded just six wins (SR 9.23%) for a hefty SP loss of £43.33 (ROI -66.66%). The each way SR%s correlate once again with males winning/placing 64% of the time whereas the percentage for females winning/placing is under 25%.

I now want to move away from individual sires back to general observations.

Comparing 2yo debut run to 2yo second career start

When looking at Kodiac earlier in the piece, I broke his progeny performance data down by career start number. Now I am going to expand this review to all sires that appeared in the initial table by comparing strike rates with their progeny on debuts against their second runs (as a juvenile). For this I have looked at data going back to 2010:

In the final column I have divided the 2nd run strike rate by the debut run strike rate to give us a type of Impact Value. It is not a ‘true’ IV so I’ll call it a Comparison Strike Rate (CSR). The higher this figure the more improvement the runners show on their second run compared to their debut.

As we can see by looking at that final column there is quite a difference in the CSR figures in some of the sires. Frankel’s runners for example have a CSR figure of just 1.10 – of course this is partly due to his exceptional strike rate of over 21% on debut.

The sires of most interest in this table are probably those with CSR figures above 2.00, namely Acclamation, Clodovil, Due Diligence, Gutaifan, Mehmas, Muhaarar, Requinto and Toronado. You can really expect their runners to improve considerably from their juvenile debut run to their next start as a 2yo, an angle which should help in establishing value and potentially throwing up some decent betting opportunities.

 

Comparing 2yo turf runs with 2yo all weather runs

In the next table I wanted to compare turf strike rate with all weather strike rate. Again I have produced a C.S.R. figure by dividing the turf SR% by the all weather SR%.

A CSR figure of 1.00 indicates the sire is equally effective on both surfaces. Figures well above 1.00 give the edge to turf performance; figures below 1.00 suggest progeny of those sires are more effective on all weather surfaces, purely in terms of juvenile win strike rate.

Looking at either end of the spectrum will isolate differences which are significant enough to be potentially interested in. For example, Frankel’s progeny at two are clearly far better on turf than on the all weather, scoring nearly twice as often on the former. There is a logic here in that such expensive acquisitions will rarely be tried on artificial footing until they have suggested that they fare poorly on grass. Likewise, New Approach seems to be a strong influence for turf over sand. But the reverse is true when we look to the bottom of the table, at Toronado and Sea The Stars: their juvenile offspring are currently showing a clear preference to all weather surfaces.

Finally I wanted to look at some sires you might wish to consider avoiding in terms of 2yos, generally at least. Below is a list of those sires whose strike rate in the last 5 years (2016-2020) has been below 8%. Clearly it is as important to be aware of negative angles as it is of potentially positive ones.

As the first two articles in this series have hopefully shown, sire research can unearth some very useful stats and angles. Geegeez will assist any curious subscriber via both the Profiler and Query Tool.

Good luck!

- DR

Punting Angles using Sires & Damsires: Part 1

After spending the past three years on geegeez almost exclusively looking at pace angles, I am branching out into a different ‘sphere’ today, namely sires / damsires, writes Dave Renham. The plan is to write a series of articles on this topic in an attempt to give geegeez punters an edge over the general betting fraternity.

First off, a quick 101: sires are the fathers of the respective horses, and they can have a significant influence on their offspring. Damsires are the fathers of the respective mothers of the horse – maternal grandfather, if you will – and these, too, can have a bearing, though it is generally considered that this further generation influence is less strong. In this series of articles we will examine whether this is true or not and, if it is, where we ought to focus our attention.

The cost of buying a racehorse can vary greatly, from thousands of pounds to millions. Age, equine conformation (physicality) and, most importantly, pedigree (horses’ lineage / ancestry) influence the price. Normally the better the pedigree the more expensive the horse.

Let me share a human example where lineage / ancestry seems to be having a strong influence. The young American golf sisters, Nelly and Jessica Korda, are taking the LPGA tour by storm. Their father is Petr Korda, a Grand Slam tennis champion in the 90s, while their mother is Regina Rajchrtova, a top 30 tennis player back in the same era. Good ‘stock’ certainly counts there.

Returning to racing, and for this first article I will be concentrating solely on sires. The data is taken from the period 1st January 2016 through to 31st December 2020 (five full years) and all profit/loss has been calculated to Industry Starting Price. For the vast majority of the article I have used the Geegeez Query Tool.

Firstly, let us look at the sires with the highest strike rates in all races during the period of study (minimum 400 runs). I am only including sires that are likely to have a significant number of runners this season:

 

As the table clearly shows, backing sires ‘blind’ is not a great option (duh). Just one sire, Farrh, has made a profit to SP with all his runners in the past five full seasons. Obviously we should be able to beat Starting Price returns in the real world, but it does show that we have to dig a lot deeper when analysing sires. And all those of us who like to get our hands dirty in the data say amen to that!

In order to try and profit from sire data, one sound strategy is to look at individual sires in more detail to try and spot patterns, strengths and weaknesses. I am going to look at a few in that context where I have unearthed some hopefully useful angles.

Teofilo

Teofilo, a son of Galileo, won at Group 1 level twice as a 2yo and was unbeaten in that first season racing (5 from 5). Unfortunately, he got injured and never raced again. However, he has been successful as a sire and has passed on some strong traits of which we should be aware.

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Unsurprisingly, perhaps, he has a good record with 2yo runners, boasting a strike rate of 16.84% during the study period. However, we can break the data down further to give us interesting comparisons, as the graph below shows:

As can be seen, male juveniles comfortably outperform females, runners win more often at 7f or more than over shorter distances, and Teofilo-sired runners much prefer the turf to the sand. Combining those factors - male 2yos over 7f or more on the turf (2016-2020) - saw 65 runners qualify with 17 winning (SR 26.15%) for a very healthy profit of £66.53 (ROI +102.35).

No Nay Never

No Nay Never is a relatively new kid on the block with 2021 being only his fourth season as a sire. As a racehorse, No Nay Never was a Group 1 winning sprinter and hence it may come as no surprise that his progeny are showing a liking for shorter distances.

Horses sired by No Nay Never win about 3 times more often over 5-6f than they do when racing over a mile or further.

Casamento

Casamento proved as a two-year-old in 2010 he was one of the best colts of his generation when finishing second in the Group 1 National Stakes before going onto win the Group 2Beresford Stakes and finally in that year the Group 1 Racing Post Trophy over a mile. As a sire his runners are typically far better suited to longer distances: his runners are twice as likely to win at 1 mile 3 furlongs or more, as compared to sprint trips of 5f to 6f. The graph below shows this neatly:

Sadly, we'll not be seeing many more of Casamento's progeny as he passed away in February 2020.

Big Bad Bob

The sire Big Bad Bob caught my eye due to some relatively unusual findings. I noticed that his record as a sire was superior when racing left-handed compared to when racing right-handed. Famously Desert Orchid was far better going right-handed than left, and we often hear trainers allude to a directional preference, so I know certain horses do have this type of trait; maybe some sires do, too. Essentially, Big Bad Bob’s strike rate when racing left-handed (around at least one bend in a race) is 1.5 times greater than when racing right-handed.

In addition to this I analysed all of his runners in more detail and found that of those that raced left-handed, 41% of them managed to win at least one race going in that direction. For all his runners that raced right handed only 19% of these managed to win a race going that way round. Now these stats may have happened by chance, but 41% versus 19% is too big a gap for me to believe that it was entirely down to luck.

Big Bad Bob also displays a distance bias similar to Casamento. The bias is not quite as strong towards longer distances but it is still significant. Horses over racing at 1m 1f or more have by far the best record.

Swiss Spirit

Swiss Spirit is a relatively new sire with 2017 seeing his first runners on the racecourse. He was a decent sprinter when he raced winning at Group 3 level and twice finishing runner up in Group 2 events. It is interesting to note, though, that as a sire his sprinters have performed no better than his 7f to 1 mile runners. In fact, in strike rate terms they have been slightly inferior. However, there is one huge deviation that is extremely interesting. That is his record with male runners compared to female runners. I think this is best illustrated in a table rather than a graph:

As you can see there is a significant disparity in strike rates and naturally this impacts the profit/loss returns. Backing all male runners blind would have lost you just under 16p in the £ to SP compared with 59p in the £ if you backed all of his female runners. The A/E values show a strong correlation, too.

 

Dawn Approach

Dawn Approach was a top notch miler during his career and as a 3yo won the 2000 Guineas and the St James’s Palace Stakes. Unbeaten as a 2yo he ended up winning 8 of his 12 career starts.

Like Swiss Spirit, Dawn Approach sired his first crop of runners to race in 2017. Also like Swiss Spirit his male runners have to date outperformed his female runners by nearly double in terms of strike rate (male win SR% 11.76%; female win SR% 6.56%). However, it is the pace angle I find most interesting.

Below is a graph comparing the win strike rate of Dawn Approach against the strike rate of all sires when looking at different run styles: front runners (leaders); horses that track the pace (prominent); and horses that race mid-division or towards the back (Mid Div / Held Up).

The progeny of Dawn Approach have been very successful when taking an early lead, but really struggle when racing from off the pace (Mid Div / Held Up). To illustrate this further I have looked at all the horses that have taken an early lead and examined their record in more detail. 65 horses have led early in at least one race and 25 of them have gone on to win at least once (38.46%). Compare this to all horses that have showed the running style of racing off the pace. Of these horses, 112 displayed this running style at least once and only 13 managed to win when racing in this way (11.60%).

Horses do have preferred running styles due to a variety of factors (some don’t like crowding for example, while others seem to thrive when racing in a pack), and hence it could make sense that certain pace traits may be passed on by individual sires.

I hope this piece has whetted your appetite for this new phase of my geegeez research sharing. In my second article I will reveal another collection of interesting data and stats. In the meantime, if you're interested in doing your own digging, both the geegeez Query Tool and the Profiler tab within the racecards offer a treasure trove of insights and are very easy to use.

- DR

Past Pace as a Predictor of Future Performance, Part 2

This is a follow up piece to the article I shared with readers earlier this month, writes Dave Renham. In that article I highlighted any horse aged four or older, that in the 2019 flat season ran at least ten times in sprint handicaps (5-6f). This gave me 303 individual horses to review from which I started to examine their individual run style data for each race they ran in 2019. This included all their races, both handicap and non-handicap, and over any distance; and it accounted for over 4,000 races.

Run style (pace) data on Geegeez is available for every single race, both flat and National Hunt, and is split into four sections:

Led – the horse or horses that take the early lead;

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

Mid Division – horses that race between the middle of the pack but in front of the rear ‘quarter’;

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

Points are assigned to each running style with leaders getting 4, prominent 3, mid division 2, and hold up horses 1.

My aim for the first article was to try and determine whether recent pace data was a good predictor of future run style. I think the numbers in part one proved that beyond reasonable doubt. In this article I am going to dig still deeper and share more pace stats with you.

 

Last four starts

Geegeez pace maps provide pace / running style data for each horse for up to their last four UK/Irish runs. Full career run style records can be found in the Full Form section of the cards. As I have chosen to examine horses aged four or older that have raced numerous times already in their career, the data collected always contains their pace scores from all of their previous four runs, thus the pace score totals for each horse can vary from 16 (four races where they have led early) to 4 (four races where they were held up).

Let us first look at how likely a horse was to lead if they had led early in at least one of their last four starts; comparing this with horses that didn’t lead in any of their last four starts.

 

As the graph shows there is a huge difference between the figures. Horses that have led early at least once in their last four starts, went onto lead 26.7% of the time next time out; those horses that had not led in any of their last four starts took the lead just 6.3% of the time on their next start.

It is clear therefore that a horse that has not led in any of its recent races is unlikely to lead early in its next race: approximately one horse in 16; whereas horses that have led at least once in their four previous races have a slightly better than 1-in-4 chance of leading early next time.

Let us now analyse how likely horses are to lead on their next start when we compare how frequently they led in their most recent four races.

 

I have tilted the graph horizontally just to mix things up a bit! There is essentially good correlation here – the ‘led in all 4’ percentage is slightly lower than the ‘led in 3 of last 4’, but that is probably down to the fact that the ‘all 4’ sample was relatively small and possibly slightly skewed.

All in all, horses that have led consistently in their most recent runs will lead more often than horses who have led less regularly, who in turn will lead more than horses that have not led recently.

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Those that had led exactly once LTO

Before moving on I want to take a quick look at horses that led in just one of their last four starts, the reason being that I wanted to see if the position of that run made a difference. Here are my findings this time in tabular form:

This was a slightly disappointing set of results in truth as I was hoping to see a greater difference between the top percentage in the table and the bottom. However, there is still reasonable correlation, with those who led most recently more likely – relatively, at least – to lead again this time.

 

Horses with pace scores totalling 13 or 14 in their last four runs

When discussing running styles / pace and, in particular, when looking at the last four runs for a particular horse, it is perhaps easier to think of it in numerical terms following the 4, 3, 2, 1 points system allocated by Geegeez. I looked at horses gaining 15 or 16 points in their most recent four starts in the first article, and below are data for horses that have scored either 13 or 14 points in total. These are the possible combinations that produce 13 or 14 points.

Each set of four pace scores do not necessarily occur in the order shown above: a 4,4,4,2 pace combination, for instance, could occur in four different ways in terms of the order of pace styles in the last four races:

There is nothing mind-blowingly significant about this, I just felt it important to clarify that there are different orders of the same combination.

I wanted to understand how likely a horse with 13 or 14 points was to lead on its next start when we compare the number of 4s (number of times it led early) in its last four runs.

Horses that have led just once in their last four starts (one 4) would have any combination  of 4,3,3,3; those who have led twice (two 4s) could have either the 4,4,3,3 combination or the 4,4,3,2 combination. Different combinations of 4,4,4,2 and 4,4,4,1 would have seen a horse lead three times in their last four races (three 4s).

 

This graph illustrates what one would hope – the more 4s (early leads) in their last four runs, the more likely they are to lead in their next race. Roughly 45% of horses that had different combinations of 4,4,4,2 or 4,4,4,1 led in their next race.

 

Horses with pace scores totalling 11 or 12 in their last four runs

Next, using the same idea, we will look at total pace scores of 11 or 12 achieved in the last four races.

To save time I am not going to go through all the possible combinations of 11 and 12, although it is possible to create these totals with no 4s (e.g. 3,3,3,3), one 4 (e.g. 4,3,3,2) or two 4s (e.g. 4,4,2,2).

Again, I am looking to see how likely a horse with these points totals was to lead on their next start when comparing the number of 4s in their last four runs. First let us look at the data simply comparing zero 4s in the last four runs to at least one 4:

There is a significant difference here for horses with an 11 or 12 points pace total. Horses that had led at least once are far more likely to lead next time when compared with horses that have failed to lead in any of their last four starts. Now let’s compare zero 4s with one 4 and with two 4s:

 

Horses with 11 or 12 points go on to lead next time 27.7% of the time if they have led in 2 of those last four starts (two 4s). In turn those who led once (one 4) go onto lead 17.7% of the time. As we know from the previous table those who have not led in any of their last four starts (zero 4s) have gone onto lead 11.4%.

This is yet another clear example that more 4s in recent runs really does positively impact the chances of a horse leading next time.

 

Horses with pace scores totalling 9 or 10 in their last four runs

Here is a table comparing zero 4s versus one or more 4s for horses with pace totals or 9 or 10. For the record there is only one combination where two 4s would occur with a score of 10 (4,4,1,1), and it is not possible with a score of 9.

Once again the number of 4s in the last four starts does make a difference in terms of the chance of the horse leading next time out. The more 4s, the more likely they will lead again.

 

Last six runs

To finish I wanted to dig a little bit deeper still and look at the last six runs rather than the last four. What I have done is to create pace averages over those six runs. Again the maximum average would be 4 (six 4s) and the minimum average 1 (six 1s). I have split the averages into groups to see if the horses with higher averages are more likely to lead next time than lower ones. Here are my findings:

This table shows perfectly what I had hoped it would: horses with the highest pace averages over the last six runs lead more often than the rest, with excellent correlation between the decreasing averages and the decreasing percentages.

I further calculated the average pace figure for each group on their next start. In other words I added up all their pace scores on the next start and divided by the number of races/runs. Again we have excellent correlation as this graph shows:

Horses that have a pace average of 3.50 to 4.00 for their last six starts have produced a pace average of 3.26 on their next start. Those averaging 1.00 to 1.49 yield a much lower next time out average of just 1.53. Again, there is excellent correlation between the latest six-run pace average and running/pace style next time out.

 

Summary

In this article I have focused on the pre-race prospects of finding the percentage chance of horses that will lead early. The rationale is, I hope, obvious: we already know that such horses have the potential to secure us a profit if we can consistently predict which one is going to take the early lead in a sprint handicap. However, the final table, below, looks at the chance of being held up next time using our last six race pace averages, just to prove this approach helps us to predict hold up horses, too!

The table again correlates beautifully, this time in reverse, with the lowest six race pace averages having by far the highest percentage of hold up horses next time.

As we know, Geegeez provides the last four pace figures with a last four race average; for those keen to dig further, using the last six races (found in a horse’s Full Form) seems to work equally well.

As a final note, below is a 'cut out and keep' reference to the four-race data in these two articles which should prove very useful for those who bet in older horse sprint handicaps.

And finally finally, the percentage chance of each run style based on a horse's last four pace scores and the number of times it led:

I hope you'll find that useful.

- DR

Past Pace as a Predictor of Future Performance

As regular readers will be fully aware, I have a huge interest in pace and the potential biases they can create, writes Dave Renham. Hence 2021 kicks off with another article examining this pivotal aspect. The research for this piece has been a bit of a labour of love which began with me collating a huge amount of data while looking for predictive patterns around run style.

Firstly, I highlighted any horse aged four or older, that in the 2019 flat season ran at least ten times in sprint handicaps (5-6f). I wanted to avoid younger horses as they were less likely to have developed a running / pace style. That gave me 303 horses from which to analyse individually. I then took these horses and gathered their individual pace data for each race in which they competed in 2019. This included all of their races, both handicap and non-handicap, and at any distance. Having said that, over 91% of all races were still 5f or 6f sprints with the vast majority handicaps. This totalled roughly 4300 individual pace scores (!) which is a decent sample to study.

To recap, you can get run style data on Geegeez, and this is split into four sections - Led, Prominent, Mid Division and Held Up. Here is a quick explanation of which type of horse fits which type of pace profile:

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

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

Mid Division – horses that race in the middle of the pack but in front of the rear ‘quarter’;

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

Geegeez also assigns points in regard to which position they took up early in the race. Leaders get 4, prominent runners 3, horses that ran mid-division 2, and those held up score 1.

My aim with this data crunching was to see how relevant recent pace data is in terms of predicting future pace. I have touched upon this in a couple of previous articles, but I wanted to go into far more detail here. The reason pace prediction interests me so much is that I know that front runners have such a huge edge in sprint handicaps. Indeed, in 2019, if you had been able to predict pre-race the early leader or leaders in 5-6f handicaps in the UK you would made a profit to SP of £5700 to £10 level stakes. That equates to around 35p profit in the £.

At this point it is important to say that we have to be careful how we compare, for instance, last time out (LTO) hold up performances with LTO front running performances; the problem is that in each race there are always more hold up horses than early leaders, so we need to account for that in any comparisons made. Having said that, hopefully how I present the data will make sense and, more importantly, be ‘fair’.

 

Horses that led early last time out

My first port of call was to look at horses that had led early LTO and to see what running style they showed in their next race. There are two columns in the bar chart which I will explain underneath.

 

 

The orange columns show the percentage of horses to show that particular running/pace style in all of the races in this study. Hence leaders accounted for 14% of all runners, prominent racers for around 39% and so on. This is our ‘control group’ data if you like.

The blue columns in the bar chart show the percentage of horses that displayed that particular running/pace style after having led early LTO.

As the blue columns show, LTO leaders are much more likely to lead next time compared with the ‘norm’ (control group data). Just under 35% of LTO leaders led again in their next race. This figure is around two and a half times larger than the overall base figure of 14%, and implies that a LTO running style can be highly significant. In addition, it was noted that more than three quarters, 77%, of last day leaders either led or raced prominently next time compared with only 23% that raced in midfield or in rear.

 

Horses that were held up early last time out

It is always best to look at the extremes, so I’m moving from LTO front runners to LTO hold up horses.

This next graph is set up in the same way with the orange columns showing the percentage of horses which displayed that particular running/pace style in all races (our control group). The blue columns this time show the percentage of horses that showed that particular running/pace style after been held up LTO.

 

 

This picture is almost a complete reverse of our first graph, as one might hope. Over 45% of horses that were held up LTO showed that same running style in their next race. As you can also see it is very rare for LTO hold up horses to lead early next time. Just 4.8%, less than one in twenty, of hold up horses in this exposed handicapper sample have gone on to lead next time out.

I think it is useful to compare the two sets of figures now without the control group data (orange column). So the graph below compares early leaders LTO (in green) with hold up horses LTO (in red), and their subsequent run in terms of pace / running style. It shows the massive difference between the two:

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Clearly LTO running style, whether it be a front-running preference or a hold up one, clearly does influence the next run. Indeed, this graph shows us that it is seven times more likely that a horse will lead if it led LTO compared with one that was held up LTO. Likewise, it is around 4.5 times more likely that a horse will be held up if was held up LTO as opposed to one which led last time.

 

Horses that raced prominently last time out

Moving on to those that raced close to the pace LTO and their subsequent next run. Again I have reinstated the overall ‘control group’ data (orange) as our comparison.

 

 

There is a more even looking graph this time, although LTO prominent racers are more likely to race front half of the pack rather than back half in their next race. (Led/Prominent running styles occurred 62.3% in their next race versus Mid Div/Held Up on 37.7%).

 

Horses that raced mid division last time out

With last day midfield run styles, we also see a more even looking percentage comparison. However, only 9% of horses that raced mid division LTO went onto to lead next time compared with our base figure of 14.1% for all races. This is worth noting on what can be considered a meaningful sample size.

 

 

Comparison of LTO data for horses that took the early lead

I’d now like to combine the data for all horses that led early and compare the chance of it occurring in relation to their most recent run style. We have seen this individually on the four orange/blue graphs, but it is useful to see the comparison on just one graph. The figures on the left axis are, as previously, percentage chances of leading.

 

 

This neatly shows the importance of the LTO running style in relation to the next race, especially as there is a lovely correlating sliding scale. LTO leaders (LL) led next time more than twice as often as those who raced prominently (PL) last time; and they in turn led nearly twice as often as those that race mid division (ML) last time; and last day midfielders led almost twice as often as those held up (HL) last time.

 

Comparison of LTO data for horses that were held up

Comparing the hold up horses’ data in the same way, we see the same type of correlation, but in reverse, if you like.

 

 

The LTO running style is a key marker yet again. Horses are far more likely to be held up if they were held up LTO (HH). Likewise, horses that raced mid division LTO are more likely to be held up than those that raced prominently LTO. Finally, only about one in ten of LTO leaders are held up in their next race (LH), quite often when they inadvertently miss the break.

 

Horses that led early in both of their last two starts

I wanted to go a step further and review those horses that had led in both of their previous two races to see which running style they assumed on their next run. Again I will show the comparison with the overall pace data for all races (our control group in orange):

 

 

As the graphs indicate (blue bar on the far right), nearly 45% of horses that led in both of their previous two starts led again next time. In fact, fully 86% of them led or raced prominently in that follow up race.

We have already seen that one LTO run in terms of running style/pace is a good indicator of what will happen next time out. This data seems to show that the last two runs combined are an even better indicator (which is what would be hoped, of course). This is hugely significant and shows why you should start to take note of race pace data here on geegeez.co.uk if you haven’t already.

 

Horses that were held up in both of their last two starts

To the other extreme, and horses that were held up on both of their last two starts. The hypothesis is the reverse of the previous graph with the highest blue bar on left (highest percentage for hold up horses) and the lowest on the right (for leaders). Here are the data:

 

 

We see precisely the type of result that we had forecast. Over 57% of horses that were held up off the pace in both of their last two runs were held up again. Just 2.7% of them went onto lead next time out. Again it is useful to compare each individual blue bar with its orange neighbour (the control group). It helps to show that even though more horses raced prominently next time than raced mid division (21% v 19%), in reality prominent racers were well down on their overall figure of 38.7%.

 

Performance based on pace score of last four runs

For each race on the geegeez.co.uk pace maps, we are presented with the pace figures/running styles for up to the last four UK/Irish races (users may look at the longer-term run styles via the ‘RS’ column in Full Form. The racecard also provides a total of those last four runs. The maximum score is 16 (last four races saw the horse lead each time) while the minimum is 4 (last four races saw the horse held up each time).

In my study I have over 3000 sets of 4 consecutive races for individual horses. Hence this is a huge sample under analysis. In the table below I have collated the percentage chance of a specific running style occurring in conjunction with all of the last 4 race pace totals between 4 and 16 inclusive. Hence we are expecting to see horses that have a pace total of 4 being far more likely to be held up in their next race as compared with hold up horses, for example.

Similarly, horses scoring 16 points in their last 4 runs, we are hoping to see many more leaders next time as compared with hold up horses.

Here is the output:

 

 

The figures in the table correlate strongly.

For example, a total pace score of 4 (held up in the last four races) has seen almost two-thirds of these horses being held up again next time. Compare that with a paltry 1.4% of horses that have gone on to lead next time.

At the other end of the scale, horses with a total pace score of 15 or 16 went on to lead in their next race almost 45% of the time, with only one in twenty of them being held up.

This table is a powerful recommendation for using past run style data for the basis of your pace prediction. It is impossible to accurately predict what running style every horse will show in every race but using the Geegeez data gives you a huge advantage over the wagering crowd. If you carefully choose specific races, such as older horse sprint handicaps, this will also increase your chances of successful prediction.

 

An Example: Pace Edge in Action

To finish, here is the type of race we really want to be looking for:

 

 

This was a 6f handicap race at Catterick in October. Only one horse had a pace total in double figures, Dirchill, with a decent score of 14 as well as leading in both of his last two starts.

He was five points clear of the next runner, which is a huge margin, and when examining the last four races of his eight rivals, 27 of those 32 races had seen them display either a hold up style or a midfield one. Also the historical Catterick 6f stats strongly favour pace setters over mid div/hold up types (see the green and red blobs at the top of the image).

 

The result is shown below:

 

Dirchill made all the running to score at the tasty odds of 15/2.

Running Well Against a Pace Bias, Part 2

In the first half of this two-parter, I started to look at something I term as ‘negative pace bias’, writes Dave Renham. The basic idea is to find races where there seems to have been a strong pace bias with a view to highlighting horses that have run well against it. I mentioned last time that one can never be 100 per cent certain whether there has actually been a pace bias in a race or not but, generally speaking, one is going to be right many more times than one is wrong.

To recap, there are two ways a pace bias could play out. Firstly, races where horses close to the pace from the start dominate: here we are looking for any hold up horse that has run well. And secondly, one where hold up horses end up fighting out the finish, in which case we look for prominent racers or race leaders that have run well.

As before, I have looked at bigger field – races of 15 or more runners – from UK turf flat and all-weather racing in 2020. In the first piece I looked in detail at five races and the subsequent form of highlighted runners; in this one I will look at another quintet of big field negative pace bias races.

Continuing in chronological order, and starting on 4th July, with the Derby.

 

RACE 6 - 4th July – 4:55 Epsom

One of the most iconic races of the year, the Investec Derby showed a strong pace bias this year as the result and race comments below imply:

 

This was an extraordinary race where the early leader, Serpentine, just gradually increased his lead in the final mile until he was over ten lengths clear with three furlongs to go. He basically slipped the field, and it was a triumph of pace setting by jockey Emmet McNamara.

What was equally remarkable was that the first three horses home stayed in those positions for most of the race. Not only that, all three were huge prices which, for me, strengthens my belief that there was a bias that day for those who raced close to or up with the pace.

Also don’t be fooled by the words ‘held up’ in Kameko’s in running comments, because as it says he was ‘held up behind leaders’ and for virtually the whole race he was positioned in 4th or 5th.

English King and Mogul did best of those who ran midfield for the first part of the race and they are the horses that seemed to have run best in terms of performing against the bias.

In English King’s next run on 30th July at Goodwood he finished 4th, but can you guess who won that race? Yes, it was Mogul, who scored at a decent enough price of 9/2. English King has run once more since, finishing 6th at Longchamp, while Mogul finished 3rd at York before scoring another victory at Longchamp in September (price 6/1). All in all, another good outcome for the approach.

 

RACE 7 - 5th July – 3:15 Haydock

For the next race we travel north to Haydock a day after the Derby. The Old Newton Cup is a decent Class 2 handicap, which this year strongly favoured horses coming from off the pace as you can see from the following race comments.

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Seven of the first eight raced midfield or in rear early and only The Trader, who finished third, was close to the pace. Therefore, The Trader is the horse to take out of the race on the negative pace bias angle. He has run twice since, finishing 3rd at Ripon and then 4th at Newcastle. No future win yet but the Ripon race result with the comments are definitely worth sharing:

 

As we can see, the jockey on The Trader dropped his rein a furlong out. Not only that, he also got his whip tangled up. I think we could legitimately argue that he should have won that race, but for those two unfortunate incidents. Even with that happening he was only beaten by a neck and a neck.

 

RACE 8 - 8th July – 8:40 Newbury

Newbury next and a long distance handicap.

 

In this race, six of the first seven home came from off the pace with only Tralee Hills in 4th racing prominently. Clearly, Tralee Hills was the horse to take out of this one. He has run four times since with his results shown below:

 

As we can see he has not made the frame subsequently in four starts and in truth all runs have been relatively poor. Initially I thought it was interesting that Tralee Hills had been ‘held up’ in all starts since when trying to look for potential reasons or excuses. However, looking at his career record, he has actually raced close to the pace in just three of his 25 starts. The remaining 22 saw him positioned midfield or in rear early. If I had the opportunity to speak to his trainer, I might point out that racing prominently is a running style that may in fact suit his horse!

Over both articles, this is the first race of the eight I have looked at where, to date, the follow up results have shown no positivity. This highlights, of course, that no method or angle is fool proof, as I have indicated many times in the past.

 

RACE 9 - 17th July – 12:35 Beverley

A class 6 5f sprint handicap is next on the agenda with the first two, and the fourth home returning big odds.

 

As the comments indicate, six of first eight home raced rear (four) or mid-pack (two). Pivotal Art, who raced close up and finished 3rd, has only raced once since when well beaten into 10th on the all-weather. The sixth horse home, Newgate Angel, who had led until the final furlong returned to the same course and distance on 12th August. In a slightly weaker contest, he proved that the previous run had indeed been a good one, by winning relatively cosily at odds of 7/1 (result below).

 

It is interesting to note that Newgate Angel was drawn in stall one on both occasions, a favourable box for a front-runner at Beverley – when getting the run of the race.

 

RACE 10 - 17th July – 3:40 Beverley

The final race in review is a race later on the card that same day at Beverley. This time it was a 1m2f handicap.

 

This was another race where the pace setters struggled with five of first seven home held up out the back early on. The two horses to buck the trend were Ideal Candy in 3rd and Motahassen who finished 5th. After watching a video of the race I had a slight preference for the latter even though he finished two places behind Ideal Candy. My reasoning was that Motahassen raced a little wide early but despite this soon took up a position in 3rd. By halfway he was still close up in 5th and then in the straight he did not take a particularly direct line, veering and changing direction a couple of times.

Since this race, Ideal Candy has run poorly on five occasions with a best finishing position of 6th. Motahassen has fared better finishing 3rd next time before winning at the fourth time of asking at Redcar in October.

Whether one would have stuck with him for four runs is another question. However, if you did, you would have been rewarded with excellent winning odds of 12/1.

 

The five races in this sample have not been as ‘successful’ as the first five but, having said that, I believe over the ten races the angle has produced an impressive set of future results.

**

Putting ‘Negative Pace Bias’ to work for you

If you want to check out other races for yourself, you can do this through Query Tool on Geegeez, using the following step by step method:

  1. Select 2020, UK, flat turf, flat AW, 15+ runners
  2. Go to Qualifiers tab and sort by position (this is in order to get the race winners)
  3. Click on the winner to go the race result
  4. Select 'Comments' to view the in-running comments
  5. Note any positive efforts against a bias
  6. Go to back to number 3 and repeat the process.

 

Step 1 is something that can be tinkered with – those were just the parameters I chose. I have yet to check Irish races, but the same principle should apply so you could add that if you wish. Likewise, this method can be applied to National Hunt racing, too. Furthermore, you may want to limit races to handicaps only, as I would guess they work better in general, and of course you could look at slightly smaller field sizes to include races with, say, 12 to 14 runners. I would be wary of going below ten runners, personally.

When choosing races that fit your ‘negative pace profile’, this becomes more down to the individual. I tend to look at the first six to eight finishers and look at the split between pace horses (leaders/prominent racers) versus non-pace horses (horses who raced midfield or rear). Even then, I have no hard and fast rules, but clearly there has to be an imbalance between the two.

To conclude, I continually ‘bang on’ about pace bias and how useful it can be for punters. I hope these two articles may have swayed any ‘remainers’ to switch their allegiance!

Running Well Against a Pace Bias, Part 1

As regular readers of Geegeez will know I have a particular interest with running styles / pace in a race, writes Dave Renham. I strongly believe it is an area that remains misunderstood by many and essentially dismissed as unimportant.

In this piece I am going to examine a way to use pace to find future betting opportunities, something I call ‘negative pace bias’. To that end, I have looked at big field races (15 or more runners) from UK flat racing in 2020. This includes all weather racing, although the vast majority have been on turf as four of the six UK all weather courses have field size limits of 14 or less. Races with larger fields were chosen simply because I thought it would be ­easier to spot a potential pace bias.

So how does one determine whether there has been a potential pace bias in a race or not? Before I attempt to answer that, please note the word ‘potential’: it is important to say that one can never be 100 per cent confident that there has actually been a pace bias in a race or not. However, I think it is possible to be reasonably sure in certain circumstances.

For example, if you are watching a race and the horses that dominate the race have all raced up with the pace from the start, then it can be assumed that there has been a pace bias towards more prominently ridden animals, and against hold up horses. A reverse pattern could emerge of course with the race finish fought out by hold-up horses with all those racing up with the pace fading out of contention. Even in those scenarios, this method is far from an exact science. What is when it comes to racing?

Also, naturally, I am writing this article retrospectively. However, I do use this angle with my own betting and some of the races highlighted are ones I noted at the time, certain horses from which I ended up following.

In order to be able to write this article I needed to go through all the qualifying races and see if either of the two pace bias angles occurred. The key idea from here was relatively simple and hopefully logical. Once a race had been found where there seems to have been a pace bias, I looked for any horse who seemed to have run well ‘against’ this bias. More about these horses shortly.

In terms of finding the races I used the race comments in the Geegeez results section. From there I then watched the race video online to ensure the race panned out as the comments had indicated. [You don’t necessarily have to do this, but I personally like to see the bias for real as it were].

Normally I would expect to find one horse that may stand out given the circumstances outlined above, occasionally there maybe be more, but rarely will there be more than two; after all, if there was, then there probably wasn’t a strong enough edge in the race.

To summarise, we are looking for horses that have probably run much better than their finishing position may have initially indicated. Once finding a horse in my research that fitted the criteria, I reviewed how it ran in the races that followed. The hope or even expectation of course was to a see a ‘win’ in the finishing position column soon afterwards; and the sooner the better. After all we are trying to find a method that produces future winners that we will bet on.

Back briefly to the ‘now’ as it were. If you find such an ‘eyecatcher’ horse, as punters we have the difficult decision regarding how long we go on backing it in the future. Do we back it ‘blind’ in the next race? If we do and it loses, do we back it a second time, a third, a fourth, etc until it wins? Because we need to realise that it might not win within the next three or four races, it might not even win again within the next ten or twenty. Do we instead back it any time it runs in the next 4-6 weeks? Do we look at future races on a case by case basis digging deeper before making a final decision whether this is the right time to back it?

Deciding upon the right approach is essentially impossible and is all down to individual preference. I guess the ‘results’ from this article may help shape a method – should you decide there is sufficient mileage in what follows. For the record, I personally make decisions on a race by race basis and each horse will remain on my ‘pace horses to follow list’ for three or four runs maximum. If and when a horse wins it is invariably removed from my list.

At this point it is worth mentioning that when I am testing new ideas for the first time, like this one, I am very systematic to begin with. This is because a rules-based approach is much quicker when all I want to do is to get a ‘feel’ for whether an idea shows merit. During any testing phase I check results in two ways. Firstly I focus simply on the next run to see if they would have returned a profit, and secondly I look at the next three runs but will STOP AT A WINNER (should there be one). This is a variant of the method Nick Mordin used in his iconic book ‘Winning Without Thinking’ where he used the next three runs regardless on various ‘systems’.

Now I won’t be able to examine every race in 2020 that ‘showed’ a pace bias along with its aftermath, otherwise the article would become more like a thesis! However, there is still be plenty here to get our teeth into. The following are in chronological order the first ten ‘pace biased’ races I found, in the hope that they offer a variety of future outcomes. There is a lot to look at so what follows are the first five of those ten races.

RACE 1 - 7th February 2020 – 4:35 Chelmsford

As you can see below this was a 15 runner class 6 handicap over 1 mile. Looking closely at the race comments, you will see that the first four finishers raced up with the pace, as did the fifth despite an awkward start. Horses 6th all the way down to 15th raced midfield or at the back. To me this race showed a very strong bias to horses that raced near the front.

Two horses catch my eye. Bird To Love who finished 6th and Zayriyan who finished 7th. These were the best of the midfield/held up runners with only a head separating the pair at the line. Both were around three lengths behind the winner. The 8th placed horse, Irish Times, was a further 2 lengths back and it makes sense to me to ignore that one.

Before discussing what happened next, this was not a race I noted at the time. I’m giving a bit away here by saying I’m wishing I had.

Both Bird To Love and Zayriyan raced again just under three weeks later. Amazingly they reappeared in the same race, again at Chelmsford, but this time over a quarter mile further. The result is shown below:

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Not only did they fill 1st and 2nd in their very next race, but there are two other things that also stand out. Firstly, look at the distance they beat the third by, over five lengths. Secondly look at the prices: if you had backed both at SP you would have made a 24-point profit. The straight forecast paid over 293/1, while the exacta returned a mouth-watering 514/1.

Of course, amazing outcomes like this are rare, very rare; and I’m gutted I missed it at the time. I doubt I would have been brave enough to have backed the 1-2, but I am fairly certain I would have backed both horses individually.

Before getting carried away, though, this type of result occurs extremely rarely; it just happens to be the first ‘qualifying’ race I found in 2020.

RACE 2 - 16th June – 4:40 Ascot

Royal Ascot often has big fields and this 19-runner race seemed to show a relatively strong held up pace bias. Four of the first five home and six of the first eight came from off the pace. The first eight horses with their comments are showed below:

Summer Moon did clear best of the prominent racers, hanging on for 3rd, so from a pace perspective he was arguably the horse to take out of the race. Land Of Oz was the next best of the ‘pace’ horses, finishing over five lengths further back in 6th. It still looks a decent enough effort considering it was a long distance slog, but Land Of Oz has not raced since. It will be interesting to see how he performs when he returns to the track.

Let’s now look at Summer Moon’s record including this race and subsequent ones:

As we can see next time out he ran a shocker at Sandown although to be fair he had gone up in class to a Group 3. Back in handicap company he came 8th next time, beaten five lengths, before winning at York at the rewarding odds of 18/1. For the record, this horse did appear on my radar after the Ascot run, but after his Sandown flop I unwisely crossed him off my list of horses to follow: a frustrating outcome for me considering he won within three races at such good odds.

RACE 3 - 17th June – 2:25 Ascot

The following day another Royal Ascot race again showed what seemed like a hold up bias:

Although the winner raced close to the pace, as did the 5th, they were the only two from the first 11 runners home that did. The remaining nine came from off the pace. Horses that win despite a bias are still horses to be interested in. Now, of course, if they won a handicap they are going to go up in the weights, which potentially makes winning more difficult in the near future. However, they still should be of interest as we know horses in form can run up winning sequences, and we also know – or believe – that the horse overcame a pace bias to win. In this case, the winner Hukum stepped up to a Group 3 next time at Newbury (15th Aug) and continued the winning thread at odds of 4/1.

Arthurian Fable, the horse who finished 5th, went on to win a handicap two races later as shown:

All in all, this Ascot race worked out extremely well from a negative pace bias perspective.

 

RACE 4 - 18th June – 2:25 Ascot

The Britannia, a mile handicap at Ascot for 3yos only, is the next race I found. Big field handicaps over Ascot’s straight mile traditionally tend to favour horses from off the pace and even more so on softer ground. The Pace Analyser shows how the strong the hold-up bias has been since 2009 on soft/heavy ground in 1m handicaps (albeit from a small sample):

This race was no exception and conformed to the hold-up pattern. The winner won extremely impressively having been way off the pace early, but both Finest Sound (2nd) and Overwrite (6th) appeared to be ‘negative pace’ horses to note the race. The first seven home and their race comments are shown below:

Let’s look at the subsequent runs of Finest Sound and Overwrite. First Finest Sound:

To date just two more runs; a decent third next time out at Newmarket before a poor run at York. Meanwhile, Overwrite returned to the track 10 days later at Windsor winning a class 2 handicap:

The price of 11/5 was perhaps a bit disappointing given he was 40/1 when 6th at Ascot, but this race again highlights that following horses that have run against a pace bias have the potential to win soon afterwards.

RACE 5 - 20th June – 4:10 Ascot

One of the big handicap sprints of the year, the Wokingham, provides the next example:

Five of the first seven finishers raced from off the pace which seems a common theme at the Royal meeting regardless of distance. Hey Jonesy however, made all the running to win which not only looks a fine effort in the context of this specific contest, but when looking back through the history of the race it becomes clear that leading from start to finish in the Wokingham is nigh on impossible: in the last 30 renewals of this big field cavalry charge (going back to 1991) no horse has previously led from start to finish. The closest was Selhurstpark Flyer back in 1998, who led the centre group that day but was not the overall leader until hitting the final furlong. Hence this seems an even better performance than it originally looks. However, all that glisters is not gold, and Hey Jonesy has been well beaten three times since his big day in June, as we can see:

In many ways, that’s a good outcome because it reminds us that all approaches are fallible, and that sensible staking and managing our expectations are pivotal mental attributes even when deploying a solid strategy.

Back to the Wokingham, and Stone Of Destiny, who finished 6th, is another horse that caught my eye having raced prominently. He was beaten less than two and half lengths. Although he was well beaten in his next two runs he then came 2nd before prevailing at 16/1 in another marquee event, the Portland Handicap at Doncaster.

The question all of us should be asking at this point is would we have followed Stone Of Destiny until this Doncaster run? It is back to that quandary again, being down to individual preference with no right or wrong answer. Here are two of the possible ways it could have gone:

  1. Stone Of Destiny having run two poor looking races in a row in his next two runs is discarded after race 2;
  2. After doing some post-race analysis you notice that six furlongs may be a bit of a stretch for this horse. Let me elaborate on the reasoning you may have used to reach this conclusion. In the actual race he was 2nd with just over half a furlong to go before fading slightly into 6th. That meant he had won just once in 12 attempts at the six-furlong distance with the sole win being on debut in a novice event. Overall, his five-furlong record was better with two wins from nine including a class 2 handicap win at Ascot in the summer of 2019. It looks that although potentially effective at 6f, those last 100 yards, especially on a stiff track like Ascot, are a few steps too far. Hence it would be likely that you would upgrade his Wokingham run for not only running well against a pace bias, but also potentially battling his own distance bias, too.

It is almost certain therefore you would have backed him at Ascot next time over 5f (11th July), a day on which he reared at the start which severely compromised his chance. Most people would immediately forgive that run if they’d seen it. His second subsequent run was at Goodwood in the Stewards’ Cup back over 6f (1st August). This is a much easier 6f so you may have backed him again hoping he would just get the trip, or you may have swerved.

He again ran well for about five furlongs before fading badly in the final eighth of a mile. Once again he had credible excuses. His 3rd run after the Wokingham was at Sandown back over 5f. This would probably have looked a great opportunity and indeed he ran very well, finishing 2nd.

So although three races in, Stone Of Destiny would still look like he is knocking at the door. You therefore decide to back him again next time dependent on conditions. The race as stated earlier was the Portland at Doncaster and although it says the distance is 6f on his race record (see above), it is actually 5f 140 yards. This equates to just over 5½ furlongs, though nearer six than five. You feel he is certainly worth a chance at this interim distance. He goes on to win as we know at 16/1. Happy days!

Both of those two scenarios could have emerged and I wouldn’t argue against anyone who chose either route. There are of course many other ways this could have played out and a good number of those I’m sure would have been logical as well.

*

So there we have it. Five races in and I have another five races to share and analyse in the second half.

All in all there have been some very positive signs for this method to date, albeit from an extremely small sample of races. Will the next five work as well? Honestly, I think it is highly unlikely that they will, and I certainly cannot envisage a similar outcome to the first race I looked at. But you never know. Let’s hope that we don’t draw a blank with the next five finding no future winners at all!

Also next time, I’ll show you how I researched this, and how you can find your own negative pace biases using the Geegeez toolkit.

- DR

 

Pace Analysis in Action: A See-Saw Day

In this article I am going to go through a betting process / approach that I used over a day of racing primarily deploying the pace data found on Geegeez, writes Dave Renham. When there is a strong pace bias at a particular course and distance I would argue that this is the most important factor to take into consideration. The aim when studying each race is to hopefully pinpoint value selections using pace as the key consideration.

Different punters have different approaches to how they bet. Some vary staking, some stick to a price band, some dutch more than one runner; for me I tend to steer away from short prices and I am not averse to backing two or three runners in the same race. I am not saying this is necessarily the best strategy, but it is a strategy I am most comfortable with. I also often bet each way – again not the method for some but it is frequently my preference.

Some days can pass by with limited or no pace betting opportunities; however when looking at the racing for Monday 12th October 2020 there were several races that caught my eye. I always lookout for certain courses and Musselburgh is one such course. On this Monday there were races that potentially offered us a real pace edge. Below I will look at each one individually and go through how I ‘tackled’ each one; as you'll see, it didn't all go my way - far from it - but the value game is about profit, not winners, and one good score was enough to finish in front.

1.30 Musselburgh – this was a 7f handicap and my starting point was this screenshot from Geegeez:

 

As a numbers man I prefer looking at the ‘data’ view rather than the graphic or heat map option and I order the four-race pace totals highest to lowest. I also change the going to cover all possible goings as my starting point and then narrow down to more specific goings when required. From the article I wrote about Musselburgh I know the bias seems to strengthen on softer ground as this graphic when looking at good to soft to heavy going shows:

 

I also adjusted the numbers of runners depending on the data set; here, with it being an 11-runner race, I have used 10 to 12 runners. If the data set was small I would increase this to perhaps 9 to 13 or 8 to 14.

Looking at the horses now, the race was not stacked with pace. Kupa River has the highest pace score of 14 having led early in two of his last four starts. Looking further back he has only led three times in the last ten runs. This tempers my enthusiasm in terms of him leading. I’m not saying he won’t, maybe the last four runs have persuaded the trainer that racing ‘on the front end’ is his best tactic. Alix James is next highest on 13 having led once and raced prominently three times in his last four runs. Going back further he has led in four of his last seven starts winning twice. There is a potential excuse, too, for perhaps not leading on his last two runs as he was drawn wide at both Ayr and Haydock making it difficult to cross to the inside and lead. There were three other horses that had led once in their last four starts but none of them had a long term front-running pace profile.

So Alix James looked the most likely front runner to me in a race of little pace. His draw, though, for the third race running was high (away from the inside). However, before putting a line through him I wanted to look at the draw/pace combinations data which you can find in the ‘draw’ tab of the race in question. Here I found some good news:

 

As can be seen, being drawn high is not such an insurmountable challenge for horses to a) get to the lead, and b) be successful. Inside draws (low) do lead more often but in reality there is little in it. High draws actually have the best strike rate which is a clear positive.

Alix James looked the pace angle to me so I just wanted to check other factors about this horse. I noted he was two from two at the course having won over course and distance in July on good to soft. He was only 2lbs higher here and the class of the race was the same. The main ‘fly in the ointment’ was his last run when he was beaten out of sight when favourite. Last year I noted he ran very poorly at Ayr in September but, eight days later, returned to form finishing a decent 3rd at Chester: he had proved he can bounce back from a poor run.

My conclusion was that Alix James was the value option. If he led early then there was an excellent chance he would at least hit the frame. He was forecast at 14/1 but the best I managed to get was 15/2 BOG. I backed him each way as I felt, with a shortish priced favourite and a race lacking depth, that was the right call.

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What happened in the actual race?

The start of the race panned out as planned with Alix James getting to the lead; however, he was never in complete control up front and despite still being in front three furlongs from home, he started to fade in the final quarter mile. He finished a pretty distant 8th of 10 in the end (there was a non runner).

Conclusion: I feel it is really important to have a personal debrief after each race whether your bet was successful or not. It is part of the learning process and, believe me, you never stop learning regardless of how experienced you think you might be. I suppose the key question, irrespective of result, is always ‘would I make the same decision next time given a similar set of circumstances and data?’

My answer to myself was, if given the same type of scenario in the future, yes I would probably make the same decision. I correctly picked the front runner: the long term 7f stats at Musselburgh show that if you consistently pick the front runner you will generate long term profits.

 

2.30 Musselburgh – this was another 7f handicap – Class 2 this time.

 

At first glance this was more competitive than the first race from a pace / front running perspective, at least when looking at the last four run pace totals. On closer inspection though the top two in the list, Three Saints Bay and Muntadab, were the only horses to have led in their past four races: Three Saints Bay three times and Muntadab once. Both horses had decent long term pace profiles - Three Saints Bay had led in seven of his last 13 races and Muntadab in nine of his last 13. The stats were strongly suggesting that one of these two would lead early. Both had decent form on good to soft and both had won on soft.

The concerns for both was recent form. Three Saints Bay had failed to reach the frame this summer in seven starts although on the positive side he had finished close over course and distance on July 1st (beaten ¼ length when 3rd of 6) and three starts back had led at Beverley into the final furlong before fading late on. Musselburgh is an easier 7f than Beverley and also around 90 yards shorter in distance. Muntadab won at Epsom back in July but since then had been well beaten in his last six runs. On the flip side of course their poor recent form had seen them both look potentially well handicapped.

Best prices early doors for the pair were 9/1 on Three Saints Bay and 33/1 on Muntadab. I thought Muntadab offered some value at such odds – you don’t have to be right very many times at this sort of price to make money in the long term. Hence I went each way for Muntadab but decided to go with Sky Bet at 28/1 as they were offering four places. I felt Three Saints Bay was priced about right but I knew he was extremely well handicapped and that he had been very well backed last time out (16/1 into 17/2). Therefore my guess was that he would start shorter than 9/1 and if he did then the 9/1 would offer good value.

What happened in the actual race?

Well I was right about Three Saints Bay as he was backed off the boards late into 4/1 joint favourite. He also got to the front early and dictated the race but perhaps went slightly quicker than ideal. He was still leading into the final furlong before being nabbed around 150 yards out. He was beaten 1½ lengths back in 2nd, while Muntadab was possibly a little unlucky at the start and was forced to 'stay in his lane' as the horse drawn inside him kept him from cutting across. To make matters worse the jockey then went much wider after about 50-100 yards ending up nine horses from the rail and, from there, he was never going to challenge. His finished 8th.

Conclusion - Ultimately racing is about getting value and getting 9/1 early (albeit with a small rule 4) about Three Saints Bay was a value bet. Muntadab was not competitive this time, but as I said earlier you don’t need many big priced runners to win to make money in the long term. If given the same race profile in the future I think I would make the same two bets.

 

3.00 Musselburgh – 5f handicap was next on my list of races to check out:

 

The front-running bias at 5f is not quite as strong as the 7f bias but it is still pretty strong and this was a very simple and quick race for me to decide upon one selection. Autumn Flight is a habitual front runner having led in his last six races and also 12 of his last 14. Add into the mix that on good to soft or softer he had won four times and been placed a further four times from 15 starts, and he looked the logical call. He was also 12/1 early morning and with a short priced favourite this looked a solid each-way bet.

What happened in the actual race?

Autumn Flight did get to the front but perhaps had to expend more energy than ideal in the first furlong. With two furlongs to go he was still leading and seemingly going well but by the final furlong he was being joined at the front and gradually slipped back finishing a close up 4th.

Conclusion

By the time this race was run the going was soft and getting more testing by the minute. When I had dug down into the pace data the previous evening the good to soft to heavy stats for front runners still showed a front running bias for this field size. However, if I had checked only the soft or heavy stats I would have noted that it becomes a much more level playing field. Whether that would have put me off the selection I’m not sure but it would have made the decision more difficult.

Looking at the pace profile of the race I had expected that Autumn Flight would have had a relatively easy lead, but he needed to be rousted quite vigorously to get in command by the end of the first furlong. Ultimately, this, coupled with the more testing ground, cost him in the final furlong – even so he was only beaten by 1½ lengths. I think overall the bet was a decent one being one place away from getting a return for my money.

 

3.30 Musselburgh – the second division of the 5f handicap.

 

As with the previous sprint this race has a clear pace angle with Somewhere Secret. The concern was the draw as he drawn furthest from the rail. Generally at Musselburgh the early leader grabs the rail and therefore I wanted to check the draw/pace combinations data once again to see whether a low draw was a big disadvantage for a potential front runner.

 

As can be seen, from a win perspective a lower draw would have been ideal; however, there is little in it in terms of the place data and, actually, front runners have made a small each-way profit even when drawn low. Somewhere Secret had form on easy ground (four of his five wins had come on good to soft or softer) and at an early 8/1 BOG he was my first pick.

Another horse that interested me was Glory Fighter. At first glance he was not the archetypical 5f horse that I would normally be interested in. In his last three runs he had dwelt and lost lengths early; in fact, he totally blew his chance in his most recent race rearing at the start. However, two starts back, he had finished 7th beaten only 2 lengths, despite a dreadful start. Earlier in the season, Glory Fighter had won two races in August, importantly not missing the break, and racing close to the pace. My eye was also caught by the jockey booking of Jamie Gormley, who had ridden him in his first two starts of the season back in June. That horse and jockey combo combined to be placed both times and Gormley had raced prominently in one race and led in the other. If he got away on terms I thought at double figure odds he would have a good chance. One of those successes this season had been on good to soft so he had shown he could act with cut in the ground. I got 10/1 BOG on Glory Fighter.

What happened in the actual race?

Somewhere Secret tried to force the issue but never got to the lead and ultimately it was the outside draw that was his downfall. He raced competitively but never got close to the rail and, by the time he entered the final two furlongs, the writing was on the wall: he finished 7th. Glory Fighter on the other hand read the script; thankfully he did not miss the break and raced close up in 5th early. He was produced at exactly the right time, hitting the front around the furlong pole and winning relatively well in the end. His 12/1 SP was an added bonus.

Conclusion

This race perhaps shows that you do sometimes have to look more deeply into the pace figures and the ‘in running’ comments. Glory Fighter could easily have missed the break for a fourth race running and that probably would have scuppered his chance, but these are the decisions as punters we have to ponder. Also, as stated earlier, the going had deteriorated from when making my decisions/selections, so I would tentatively suggest I got lucky here. Having said that, there is plenty of truth in the saying you are better to be lucky than good!

*

So there you have it – a bit of mixed bag of results but that’s racing. It is important to point out that making profits is not really about finding winners. If you want to back lots of winners then back favourites! If you want to make long term profits then you need to find an edge and value selections – I believe pace can undoubtedly give us that edge.

- DR

Hexham Racecourse Pace Bias

In this third instalment looking at pace biases at National Hunt courses, we will look at the picturesque Northumberland track at Hexham, writes Dave Renham.

When discussing the word pace my main focus is the initial pace in a race and position the horses take up early on. Some pundits talk about the running style of a horse: this is essentially the same thing.

The Pace Analyser and Query Tool on geegeez.co.uk are places where you can research pace / running styles to your heart’s content.

Pace data on the site is split into four – Led (4), Prominent (3), Mid Division (2) and Held Up (1). The numbers in brackets are the pace scores that are assigned to each section.

For this article I am again concentrating on data going back to 2009 with races of eight or more runners. My main focus when looking at pace will as always be handicap races, but for National Hunt racing if the non-handicap data indicates any biases I will share those data also. Hexham is the course in focus today.

The course is left-handed and a mile and a half in circumference and is considered to be severe and undulating. The hurdle course is shown below:

 

 

As can be seen there are six flights in total, three each in both the back straight and the home straight. The chase course has ten fences in its circuit and a separate home straight with a single fence to navigate.

 

 

Hexham Hurdle Pace Bias

They run over three main distances in hurdles races at Hexham, namely 2m, 2m 4f, and 2m 7½f.

Hexham 2m Hurdle Pace Bias

Here is the handicap hurdle breakdown (8+ runners):

 

There is a marginal advantage for front runners but in general this is a fairly even playing field in terms of early pace. The each way placed percentages are often an area I look at, and the graph below helps demonstrate how even the splits are here. The held up figure is lower but not significantly so.

That said, front runners have an Impact Value of 1.47 which implies they are almost one-and-a-half times as likely to win.

It is also worth sharing the non-handicap data at this trip as there does seem to be a pace bias:

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There has been a definite advantage to those horses that have led or raced close to the pace (prominent). Quite often the reason for this is the fact that some non-handicap races can be rather uncompetitive, especially novice events. Having said that, these stats are strong and with good correlation between strike rates (both win and each way).

 

Hexham 2m4f Hurdle Pace Bias

In the past few years they often move the rail so the distance here can change a little from the advertised two and a half miles. The handicap hurdle breakdown with eight or more runners over this trip looks thus:

 

If there is an advantage, it is towards prominent racers but, unlike the shorter trip, there seems little in it from a pace perspective.

However, when we dig deeper into ground conditions it looks as if there could be a pace bias against front runners as the going eases. On good to soft or softer, front runners have secured just one win from 35 runners: this equates to a very low win strike rate of under 3% and poor A/E and IV values of 0.35 and 0.31 respectively.

 

Hexham 3m Hurdle Pace Bias

The handicap hurdle data over this longer trip looks like this:

 

We see that front runners and prominent racers have a clearly superior record here with a good correlation across all stats. If you had managed to predict the front runner in each three-mile handicap hurdle here since 2009 you would have been rewarded with excellent profits both for win and each way wagers. Easier said than done, of course!

Below is a graphical representation comparing strike rates (win & ew) for each pace figure over this trip which emphasises the positive correlation:

 

Before moving onto chases, it should be noted that this front-running edge seems to strengthen on better ground, whereas prominent runners fare much the best when it is more testing.

On good ground or firmer, front runners have won nine races from 43 (SR 20.9%) with a strong A/E value of 1.89 (IV 2.43).

Whereas on good to soft or softer, those close up but off the lead won 16 races from 102 runners (SR 15.7%) with an IV of 1.56 and a level stakes profit of +25.64.

 *

Hexham Chase Pace Bias

Over the bigger obstacles at Hexham they primarily race at the following three trips - 2m , 2m 4f and 3m. There is one race each year over the marathon four-mile trip, too.

Hexham 2m Chase Pace Bias

Up until 2015, they officially raced over 2 miles ½ furlong so I have grouped the data together. There have been 40 qualifying races (8+ runner handicap chases):

 

Wow!

This is one of the strongest National Hunt pace biases in the country; not only do front runners enjoy a huge edge, but horses that race in the second half of the field early have a quite dreadful record. The pie chart below gives a powerful pictorial representation of the bias (it shows % of races won by each pace section):

 

Good luck if you're backing a patiently-ridden horse in a Hexham two-mile handicap chase!

When the going is on the soft side, the message is even more stark, as if that was even possible:

 

Hexham 2m4f Chase Pace Bias

There have been a decent number of handicap chases with eight or more runners over this trip (59 races in total). Here are the stats:

 

Another very solid bias to front runners who again show a clear edge. It is not as strong as the shorter distance but still extremely significant. Prominent runners also have a reasonable record while hold up horses have at least been more competitive than they were over the shorter trip.

 

Hexham 3m Chase Pace Bias

Up until 2015 they officially raced over 3m1f as well and I have incorporated those stats with the three-mile figures. The handicap pace splits are as follows (8 + runners):

 

This longer trip still readily favours pace horses but the strength of bias against those that are waited with is not as strong as over the two shorter distances.

 

Hexham 4m Chase Pace Bias

There have been only eight handicap races over four miles and the data is far too limited to dig into.

**

Hexham National Hunt Pace Bias Summary

In conclusion, the running style bias towards those leading and/or racing prominently at Hexham is far stronger in handicap chases than it is in handicap hurdles. Here is one final graph comparing win and each way strike rates between front-runners and hold up horses in handicap chases over the three different distances:

 

The graph beautifully illustrates that

a) the front-running bias is strong across the board,

b) the pace bias does diminish a little as the distance increases; and,

c) front-runners have a significant edge over hold up horses regardless of distance.

Hexham is definitely a course to keep an eye on from a pace perspective.

 

Carlisle National Hunt Pace Bias

When discussing the word pace our primary focus is the initial pace in a race and the position horses take up early on, writes Dave Renham.

The running style of the horses is another way some pundits describe it. geegeez.co.uk includes a pace section (the Pace Analyser) where you may research this angle to your heart’s content.

Pace data on the site is split into four run styles – Led (4), Prominent (3), Mid Division (2) and Held Up (1). The number in brackets is the pace score that is assigned to each section.

For this article I am again concentrating on data going back to 2009 with races of eight or more runners. My main focus when looking at pace will be handicap races, but for National Hunt racing I do also look at some non-handicap data. CARLISLE is the course under scrutiny today.

The course is a little over a mile and a half in circumference and is considered to be a stiff, galloping track. The hurdle course is shown below:

 

As you can see there are three flights in both the back straight and the home straight.

The chase course has nine fences of which two are open-ditches.

The fences are considered to be fairly easy at Carlisle.

 

Carlisle Handicap Hurdle Pace Bias

They run over three main distances in hurdles races at Carlisle namely 2m 1f, 2m 4f, and and 3m 1f.

N.B. it should be noted that on Geegeez the 3m 1f trip comes under the 3m 2f (26 furlongs) bracket for research.

 

2 miles 1 furlong – here is the handicap hurdle breakdown (8+ runners):

 

There is a definite edge toward runners that race up with or close to the pace. Below shows a graphical comparison of the A/E values, which helps illustrate the pace bias visually.

 

1 - Held Up / 2 - Midfield / 3 - Prominent / 4 - Led

 

Interestingly, of the 12 front-running winners, 11 had raced prominently or had led on their most recent start.

In non-handicaps, however, the picture is less clear cut as we can see:

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Front runners do well again while hold up horses look at a severe disadvantage. However, horses that have raced midfield fared surprisingly well. This gives us a slightly confusing picture so it seems best to concentrate only on handicap races therefore from a pace perspective over this 2m 1f trip.

 

2 miles 4 furlongs – in the past few years they have raced half a furlong either side of 2m 4f (so 2m 3 ½f and 2m 4½f) so I have lumped these similar trips together. Let’s examine the handicap hurdle breakdown (8+ runners):

 

A fairly level playing field here with no edge to any particular running style. Front runners though seem to have under-performed and it actually looks a disadvantage to lead early in such races.

Onto the non-handicap data:

 

In non-handicaps a pattern seems to emerge if we focus on the place percentages - they seem to suggest that in reality horses that race close to or up with the pace have had the advantage. The IV figures also suggest this, although the A/E values for hold up horses offers us conflicting evidence: they have won infrequently but occasionally popped up at a big price.

 

3 miles 1 furlong – at Carlisle there have been races of 3 miles ½ furlong up to 3 miles 1½ furlongs. On the Geegeez site you need to combine the 3 miles and 3 miles 2 furlong data to get all the relevant qualifying races. A look at the handicap data:

We see that hold up horses have the best record here – they have the best strike rate, too, which is rare, and by far the best A/E figure.

Below is a graphical representation comparing the A/E values for all pace scores across all distances:

 

1 - Held Up / 2 - Midfield / 3 - Prominent / 4 - Led

 

In general, we can see that in handicap hurdle races at Carlisle, as the distance increases the front running bias at the shortest distance (2m 1f) becomes a hold up bias at the longest distance (3m 1f).

The figures for hold up horses (1 / blue bar), prominent racers (3 / grey bar) and leaders/front runners (4 / yellow bar) all correlate in terms of the switching of the pace bias as the distance increases; horses that race mid division (2 / orange bar) don’t quite fit the same pattern but that is largely due to a slightly skewed performance (in my opinion) at 2m4f.

Non-handicap races over this extended 3 mile trip are rare – just nine in total going back to 2009 and only three of those had eight or more runners. Hence the data set is far too small to analyse!

 

Carlisle Handicap Chase Pace Bias

Over the bigger obstacles at Carlisle they race at 2m, 2m 4f, 2m 5f, 3m and 3m 2f. I will lump the 2m 4f and 2m 5f data together to give a bigger data set. I am also going to look exclusively at handicap data as there are very few non-handicap races at any distance where eight or more runners have taken part.

 

2 miles – 27 qualifying two mile handicap chases, so a relatively small sample:

 

Despite the smallish sample we can be fairly confident that front runners have a strong edge here. The closer you race to the pace the better and prominent racers have a decent record too. Hold up horses have struggled, shown by the poor strike rate and very low A/E and IV figures.

 

2 miles 4 furlongs to 2 miles 5 furlongs – there have been a decent number of handicap chases with eight or more runners combining these distances (55 races). Here are the stats:

 

Front runners enjoy a clear advantage over this distance, too, with figures that are very similar to the two mile data set. Horses that race midfield or at the back early again struggle, although hold up horses perform marginally better than they did at the minimum distance.

It seems that the pace bias may accentuate as the ground softens. On soft or heavy going, front runners have won over 25% of the races with an A/E value of 1.94 (IV 2.48). On good to soft or faster, this drops to under 17%.

 

3 miles – they generally race at 3 miles ½ furlong. Here are the handicap chase data (8 + runners):

 

For the third distance in a row we can see a strong front running bias. Hold up horses actually perform around par which is a clear improvement when compared with the two shorter trips.

 

3 miles 2 furlongs – the final distance to examine for handicap chases with 8 or more runners:

Again front runners have a good record, as do prominent racers. Hold up horses perform extremely poorly which surprised me considering the data from three-mile races.

Let us now look at all the handicap chase pace data graphically in terms of A/E values.

 

1 - Held Up / 2 - Midfield / 3 - Prominent / 4 - Led

 

This graph once again compares each distance pictorially, and the yellow bar (leaders) is clearly best overall, and at each individual race distance. At three of the four distances the grey bar (prominent racers) is clear second best.

Carlisle, in terms of handicap chases, seems to have a reasonably strong pace bias across the board – there is significant value in handicap chases at Carlisle in front runners and to a lesser extent prominent racers.

*

Before closing, I want to share one more graph with you. This looks at the performance of prominent runners and leaders combined in terms of field size in handicap chases across all distances. I have noticed before that quite often a pace bias gets stronger as the number of runners increase. That again seems the case here. I have plotted both A/E and IV figures to illustrate this:

 

 

As can be seen there is a steady rise in performance from smaller fields (8 to 9 runners) through to bigger fields (12+ runners).

 

Carlisle National Hunt Handicap Pace Bias Summary

To conclude, handicap chases offer the pace punter the biggest edge at Carlisle. In hurdle races the picture is less cut and dried, although there is definitely a front running bias in handicap hurdles at the shortest range, while over 3m 1f hold up horses fare best in the handicap sphere.

Newton Abbot Pace Bias

As we move into the Autumn it is time to switch attention to pace angles and biases in National Hunt racing and specifically at individual National Hunt courses, writes Dave Renham.

As I have noted many times before, when I talk about pace my main focus is the initial pace in a race and the position horses take up early on. The racecards on this site have a pace map for each race, as well as a tool to research pace bias, and the stats I am sharing with you in this article are based on the site’s pace data.

The pace data on Geegeez are split into four groups – Led (4), Prominent (3), Mid Division (2) and Held Up (1). The number in brackets is the pace score assigned to each group.

For this article I am concentrating on data going back to 2009 and, unless otherwise stated, on races of eight or more runners. Again the main focus will be handicap races, but often I will dip into non-handicap data too. Newton Abbot is the first course to be coming under the spotlight.

The course is a tight 1m2f oval with longish straights and is considered to be sharp in nature. The hurdle course has five obstacles, two of them in the home straight. One of the five hurdles is jumped on the first circuit only:

 

The chase course has seven fences with three flights quite close together in the back straight and 2 further flights in the home straight.

 

Newton Abbot Hurdle Pace Bias

They race at four distances over hurdles at Newton Abbot: 2m 1f, 2m 2½f, 2m 5½f and 3m 2½f.

Our first port of call is the shortest of the four distances.

Newton Abbot 2 miles 1 furlong Handicap Hurdle Pace Bias

Here is the handicap hurdle breakdown (8+ runners):

We have a level playing field here: hold up horses (the '1' group) are a slight disadvantage, but it is relatively minor.

 

Newton Abbot 2 miles 1 furlong Non-Handicap Hurdle Pace Bias

In non-handicaps the picture is slightly different as we can see:

Front runners have a much better record in terms of win percentage and Impact Value, but before we get too carried away the A/E values across the board suggest there is no real value in front runners. This is because generally such races are less competitive and often those at the front tend to be the more fancied runners. This simple graph shows a pictorial comparison of A/E values in non-handicap races. The pace values are on the horizontal axis.

 

 

I have looked in more detail at these non-handicap races in terms of ground conditions. When the going is fast (good to firm or firmer) things look like this:

 

There are only 19 races in the sample but there emerges a pace bias, with front runners clearly doing best. Prominent racers have a reasonably good record also, while horses positioned mid-division or held up early seem to struggle. Despite the sample size being small, there is good correlation between the SR%s, EW%s, A/E and IV figures which gives me more confidence in the hypothesis.

When we look at the data on softer ground (good to soft or softer) the picture is quite different:

We have 25 races with softer underfoot conditions and it points to the complete reverse of the fast ground output. The bar chart below offers a pictorial comparison of the A/E values. The blue bars represent firmer ground, the orange softer ground.

 

In summary, the most interesting pace angle in non-handicap hurdles at 2m1f seems to be connected with the going. Firmer ground seems to favour pace horses; softer ground seems to favour horses that are patiently ridden, more especially those that race midfield (though the place percentages mean the softer ground arena is less concrete).

 

Newton Abbot 2 miles furlongs Handicap Hurdle Pace Bias

It should be noted that when analysing this trip on Geegeez using either the Pace Analyser or the Query Tool, you need to set the distance parameters to 2m2f to 2m4f. This is because within those tools races beyond two miles are grouped together in quarter mile distance brackets.

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Here is the handicap hurdle breakdown (8+ runners):

 

As with the minimum distance handicap hurdles, we see a fairly even spread of run styles with no edge to any particular group.

 

Newton Abbot 2 miles furlongs Non-Handicap Hurdle Pace Bias

In non-handicaps the pattern is similar with no clear edge to any pace section; however, hold up horses have really struggled as the table below shows:

 

A 2.1% strike rate for hold horses with a very low A/E value of 0.35 suggests we want to avoid these runners at all costs. The place percentage is also well below other run style groups.

 

Newton Abbot 2 miles 5½ furlongs Handicap Hurdle Pace Bias

There have been 113 races over this trip since 2009, so this represents the biggest sample to date:

 

A bigger sample and a very consistent set of results: the A/E values range between 0.81 to 0.87, while the strike rates - both win and place - are similar also. There is little to report then pace wise, although when the going gets soft or heavy, (which is rare at Newton Abbot as the vast majority of their meetings are run between April and September), hold up horses have won 6 of the 14 races.   

 

Newton Abbot 2 miles 5½ furlongs Non-Handicap Hurdle Pace Bias

Non-handicap races over this trip are less prevalent (49 in total) and here are the pace stats:

 

In such races there seems to be a slight edge for front runners, but it is not a potentially profitable angle. Those coming from the latter half of the field have a poor record which, as previously stated, may be at least in part to do with a relative ability limit.

 

Newton Abbot 3 miles 2½ furlongs Handicap Hurdle Pace Bias

On to the longest distance for hurdle races at Newton Abbot and at this range there have been just handicap races (48 with 8+ runners in total). Again due to the use of distance range brackets when looking on Geegeez you need to select races of between 3m2f and 3m4f to catch all the qualifying races:

 

At this longer trip, front runners have a clear edge and you would have made a small profit if backing them blindly at SP. The A/E value of 1.3 is a decent one, although we need to be slightly careful as the place percentage is less impressive/consistent.

 

Newton Abbot Hurdle Pace Bias: Summary

At Newton Abbot over hurdles you generally have to dig a little bit to find pace angles. In my opinion these are the four most promising:

  1. In non-handicap hurdle races over 2m1f, front runners have the advantage on good to firm or firmer going.
  2. In non-handicap hurdle races over 2m1f, horses coming from off the pace have the advantage on good to soft or softer ground, more especially those that race mid division.
  3. In non-handicap hurdle races over 2m2½f, horses that are held up are at a big disadvantage.
  4. In handicap hurdle races over 3m2½f, front runners have a solid advantage.

 

Newton Abbot Chase Pace Bias

They run over three distances the shortest of which is just more than two miles:

Newton Abbot 2 miles ½ furlong Handicap Chase Pace Bias

There are not many races in total but here is the breakdown for handicap races with 8 or more runners:

 

From this small data set it appears that horses that race up with or close to the pace have an edge. This is a common trend across most courses for handicap races over a shorter distance. Hold up horses have a very poor record  with a win strike rate of just 3.45% and an A/E of just 0.28).

Before moving on I thought it would be interesting to compare the A/E values in 2m1f handicap hurdle races with 2m ½f handicap chases. The blue bars are handicap hurdle, orange are handicap chases:

 

The upward sloping nature of the orange bars helps to illustrate the much stronger pace bias that  exists to front runners in handicap chases than hurdlers at this shorter distance.

At Newton Abbot, handicap races over this distance often see smaller fields so below are the handicap data for seven runner or less handicaps too.

 

We see a similar trend here, though the pace edge is not as strong in races with fewer runners.

 

Newton Abbot 2 miles ½ furlong Non-Handicap Chase Pace Bias

In terms of non-handicaps at this distance there have only been 2 races with 8 or more runners. Instead, below are the data for 7 runner or less races:

 

Front runners enjoy a strong edge here and have proved profitable to follow. Of course, as mentioned elsewhere previously, predicting the front runner is not an exact science so making blind profits from front runners is not as straight forward as first appears.

 

Newton Abbot 2 miles 5 furlong Handicap Chase Pace Bias

A decent number of handicap chases have been run with 8 or more runners at this distance since 2009. Here are the stats:

 

An edge again exists for horses that race up with or close to the pace. Hold up horses have a poor record again and l would steer clear of horses that have tended to rate further back in recent races.

 

Newton Abbot 2 miles 5 furlong Non-Handicap Chase Pace Bias

As with the shorter distance there have been a limited number of non-handicap chases at 2m 5f so I have lumped all the data together without the usual field size threshold:

 

Front runners have a fairly good record, but when looking at the A/E values things seem relatively even across the board.

 

Newton Abbot 3 miles 2 furlong Handicap Chase Pace Bias

The longest trip at Newton Abbot now (8 + runners / handicap chases):

Front runners and those racing prominently have the clear advantage at this distance and, in general, you want to be handy. There is a good correlation across win and place strike rates, profitability, A/E and IV values.

All 11 wins from front runners have occurred in races on good going or faster and the bias is clearly stronger on better going. The A/E value for front runners confirm the strengthening of the bias as it stands at a very impressive 1.87 on quicker turf.

 

Newton Abbot 3 miles 2 furlong Non-Handicap Chase Pace Bias

For non-handicap races there have been only eight races with 8 or more runners so I will again look at all non-handicap races at this distance, without the field size restriction:

28 of the 30 races (93.3%) have been won by horses that raced close to or up with the pace. However, it should be noted that these runners have provided just under 70% of all the runners. All in all though it looks far more preferable to lead early or race prominently.

 

Newton Abbot Chase Pace Bias: Summary

For chase races at Newton Abbot the four strongest findings pace wise are:

  1. In handicap chases over 2m½f, front runners have a fair edge, while hold up horses are at a big disadvantage.
  2. In non-handicap chases over 2m½f (all races – no restriction on number of runners), front runners have enjoyed a strong edge.
  3. In handicap races over 3m2f, front runners enjoy an advantage and in general the closer to the pace the better.
  4. In non-handicap chases over 3m2f (all races – no restriction on number of runners), being up with or close to the pace bestows an advantage.

 

Some Context for the Newton Abbot Pace Bias Data

What is seen when researching pace in National Hunt racing is that there is normally a stronger front-running pace bias in chases when compared to hurdles. This is the case here at Newton Abbot.

Before I finish, stats in isolation - for example, just one racecourse - often benefit from the painting of a bigger picture. In this case, it is  useful to know where Newton Abbot’s figure sit in relation to all UK courses.

Below is a graph which compares the A/E values for for front-runners in handicap chases at Newton Abbot against the overall front-runner A/E averages at all UK chase courses. The three distances are compared in the same graph:

 

As we can see Newton Abbot’s figures for the shorter and longer distance are around the average figure for all UK courses. The 2m5f trip, however, shows front runners perform below average at the South Devon track.

I have also compared the each-way strike rate figures between Newton Abbot and all UK courses to help further build an overall picture. The A/E figures deal with winners and it is worth looking at all horses who have managed to win or be placed:

 

In term of win and place runners combined we can see that, over 3m2f, Newton Abbot front runners perform well above the UK average. Once again they perform notably below the average at 2m5f, while at 2m, they are marginally below the average.

As a pace biased course, Newton Abbot lies somewhere in the middle when compared to all courses in Britain. Despite it not having the strongest edges, this article has still highlighted a few angles worth keeping a close eye on.

Good luck when having a bet at the next Newton Abbot meeting.

- DR

 

Ripon Draw & Pace Bias

Ripon racecourse is located in North Yorkshire and they began racing at the current location in 1900, writes Dave Renham. Ripon is a right-handed flat track that is considered quite sharp - its circumference is 1m5f with a run in of 5f. Races over 6f start with a separate chute giving two distances on the straight track.

 

 

As with previous articles in this series I have used some of the tools available on the Geegeez website, namely the Draw Analyser, the Pace Analyser and the Query Tool. The main data set covers the period from 2009 to 2020, and there is the option to examine a more recent subset where appropriate. I will be focusing once again on 8+ runner handicap races.

Ripon 5f Draw Bias (8+ runner handicaps) 

Since 2009 there have been 63 qualifying races over the minimum distance. Here are the stats: 

Higher draws are positioned next to the stands’ rail and seem to have a nominal edge. Looking at the A/E values, these show a good correlation with the draw win percentages:

Looking at the 12-year data it seems that the stands’ rail does offer runners some advantage in smaller fields. In races of 8 to 11 runners we have the following draw splits:

The A/E value for the highest third stands at a promising 1.14 which adds credence to the theory. Recent evidence (2015 onward) gives similar stats in smaller field contests with 11 of the 20 races (55%) being won by high drawn horses.

Ground conditions do not appear to make any difference to the draw so let us move on to looking at draw broken down by individual stall position.

In terms of individual draw figures I am reversing them as I did with the 5f data in the Musselburgh. I am looking at them in relationship to their proximity to the stands’ rail as highest draws are drawn next to that rail. I used the Geegeez Query Tool to give me the relevant data:

 

There is nothing particularly clear cut here. However, what should be noted about Ripon’s straight track is that as the fields get to around 14 or 15 runners, higher draws tend to make a beeline for the far rail. There have been very few races with big fields in 5f races, but from very limited data those drawn closest to the far side (very low draws) may have a slight edge. One race where this seemed to be the case was back in 2013 (6th August) where the first three draws home in a 15 runner handicap were drawn 2, 1 and 3. The Exacta paid £256.30 and the tricast £768.91.

Ripon 5f Handicaps (8+ Runners) Pace Bias

Let us look at pace and running styles now. I have always considered the 5f trip at Ripon to offer a front running advantage so let’s see if the stats back up the theory. The overall figures (2009-20) are as follows:

 

As courses go Ripon’s figures for front runners are around the UK course average for 5f handicaps – not the strongest bias, but still a decent enough one. The strongest pace bias in reality is the one against hold up horses: they have been at a massive disadvantage, winning just five races from over 200 runners (A/E 0.27). Only Chester and Epsom over 5f have worse figures for hold up horses.

Ground conditions seem to make a slight difference in terms of front runners with better going (good or firmer) seeing their strike rate edge up to 19.7% and their A/E value at 1.54.

Let me look at field size now. As the field size increases the front running edge seems to get stronger. Here are the stats for races of 12 or more runners:

 

Admittedly this sample is just 24 races so we need to appreciate that we cannot be over confident that bigger fields increase the bias. However, what I would say is that the placed percentage for front runners over these 24 races stands at 55.6%, which is a positive.

Finally in this 5f section a look at draw / pace (running style) combinations for front runners over this minimum distance. Remember this is looking at which third of the draw is responsible for the early leader of the race (in % terms). I would expect the early leader to be drawn near to the stands’ rail more of the time (high).

As expected horses drawn closest to the stands’ rail tend to get to the early lead. Front runners drawn towards a flank generally prefer a rail to run against and of those high drawn runners that led early over 1-in-5 went on to win.

A look at the draw/run style heat map reveals a ready diffusion of green to red - good to not good - from led to held up:

Ripon 5f Summary

The 5f distance does offer interest from both a draw and pace perspective. There seems to be a slight high draw (stands’ rail) bias in smaller fields, while in bigger fields there is a hint of a slight low draw (far rail) bias. Pace wise there is a good edge for front runners which potentially strengthens as the field size increases. Meanwhile hold up horses have an absolutely dreadful record regardless of field size or going.

 

Ripon 6f Draw Bias (8+ runner handicaps)

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Here are the draw splits for the straight six furlong course at Ripon (170 races):

Fairly even looking figures though middle draws have fared slightly worse. Let’s see if the A/E figures offer better pointers:

There is strong correlation here and in general these figures suggest that there looks little in the draw, albeit that a middle gate might not be ideal.

Looking at the statistics for the going, the figures remain similar regardless of ground conditions. This is the same for field size so there does not seem a far rail / low draw bias when the field size starts to stretch across the track. Hence my theory that there was a hint of a low draw bias over 5f in big fields may just have to remain a theory!

There is a glimmer of hope for draw fans over 6f as when we combine softer ground with bigger fields a possible pattern starts to emerge. Data though is extremely limited which is important to note once again. On softer going (good to soft or softer) in fields of 14 runners or more, it seems that middle draws may be at a disadvantage. Under such conditions there have been just 13 races, but they have produced a solitary win for horses drawn in the middle. The middle draw placed stats are poor also with just 9 placed runners from 47 (15 places for high; 23 for low), and middle draws beat just 38% of rivals, as can be seen in the PRB column below.

 

Now 13 races is far too small a sample in reality and in essence one can legitimately argue that we should take these figures with a pinch of salt. However, I felt it worth sharing it with you.

A look now at individual draw positions in six-furlong eight-plus runner handicaps at Ripon – reversed once again in terms of their position in relation to the stands’ rail:

 

As might have been expected, there is nothing clear-cut here.

Ripon 6f Pace Bias (8+ runner handicaps)

Let’s see if pace / running styles offers us an edge. Here are the overall figures going back to 2009:

 

There is a strong front running bias here – slightly stronger than the 5f bias. Once again hold up horses have a very poor record.

In races with bigger fields, the general bias seems to strengthen with front runners and pace trackers (prominent racers) having a huge edge over horses that race mid pack or at the back early. Here are the data for races with 14 or more runners:

 

33 wins for horses that raced in the front half of the pack early in the race compared with just seven for those running in the back half, from a roughly even 50/50 split of horses. This is something as punters that we can use in our favour.

The big sprint of the season at Ripon is the Great St Wilfrid Handicap held in the middle of August. It is a Class 2 handicap over 6 furlongs with an average field size since 2009 of just over 18 runners (max field size now is 20). In the last 11 renewals of this race (going back to 2009), five of the 11 winners led from the start and made all the running, while another winner disputed the lead early before asserting in the final two furlongs. This is a remarkable front running bias for such a competitive and big field sprint. Indeed the last four winners have ‘made all’. Of those four winners, three of them had led last time out and two of them were top of the geegeez pace section (i.e. had the highest pace total from its last four races). This is one of the many reasons to upgrade to Geegeez Gold if you haven’t already.

The final table in the 6f section takes a look at draw / pace (running style) combinations for front runners in 6f handicaps (2009 – 2020). I would expect higher draws get to the lead more often as they did over 5f for the same reasons as explained earlier:

The splits are as expected – those runners drawn high that did lead early have gone onto win roughly one race in four – another stat worth knowing.

As intimated by the previous comments, the draw/run style heat map shows the value of being close to the front; and the difficulty of being waited with from a middle to high draw.

Ripon 6f Summary

To conclude, 6f handicaps at Ripon offer no real interest from a draw perspective, but the pace angle is a very strong one. Front runners enjoy a good edge while hold up horses really have a very poor time of it.

 

Ripon 1 Mile Draw Bias (8+ runner handicaps) 

The mile trip is raced on the round course with low stalls positioned next to the inside rail. 102 handicap races have been run with eight or more runners since 2009. Here is the draw breakdown:

Low draws seem to have a very small edge, but it is not a bias we could confidently ‘play’.

The A/E values back this up further:

Low draws seem to be overbet slightly with a lower A/E value compared to the high draw figure. This makes sense to me as, going back 15-20 years, the perceived ‘wisdom’ was that low draws did have an edge here over this distance. That perception more than likely remains.

Field size potentially makes a difference as runner numbers increase. Looking at races of 11 or more runners we can see that low draws enjoy an edge when looking purely at win percentages:

There have been 57 races with 11+ runners so this is a fair sample size. The A/E value for low drawn horses improves to 0.97, although this figure still indicates that the low draw bias is factored into the bookmaker’s prices. I would prefer to be drawn low under these circumstances but you need to be selective when trying to evaluate value.

Ground conditions offer no edge so we move on to the individual draw positions for all 8+ runner handicap races. I'm reverting to traditional draw numbers for this distance, as stall one is next to the inside rail:

 

Stall 4 has clearly over-performed but that is simply down to chance.

Ripon 1 Mile Pace Bias (8+ runner handicaps)

On to pace now – time to look at the overall pace data now (2009-2020):

 

The 1 mile distance does have a pace bias and prominent racers have the best record. Horses that race in the back half of the field in the early stages of mile races are at a disadvantage once again.

At this juncture I want to briefly discuss the non-handicap pace stats over this trip. Although I tend to avoid non-handicaps for this type of research, the data for this track and trip did catch my eye. There have been 32 non-handicaps races over a mile at Ripon since 2009 and, of those, 29 were won by horses that raced front rank early (led / prominent); just three wins went to horses that raced mid-division, and horses that were held up were 0-from-114. There has been a huge pace bias in these races so I felt it was worthwhile pointing it out.

Back to the 1m handicap data - this pace bias occurs regardless of field size, but in terms of ground conditions, it seems to get even stronger on better going. On good ground or firmer the pace figures read as follows:

 

Hence, on good or firmer we definitely want to be siding with horses that are up with or close to the front rank, while avoiding hold up horses like the plague. On good to soft or softer the bias evens out a bit, and although you still want to be nearer the front than the back early on, the edge is much reduced.

Now let us take a look at draw / pace (running style) combinations for front runners in mile handicaps (2009 – 2020).

Horses drawn closest to the inside rail (low) get to the lead in roughly half of all races. You would expect to see to this due to the configuration of the track.

The draw/run style heat map - displaying percentage of rivals beaten (PRB) again shows the difficulty of coming from off the pace, and the strong advantage of racing front rank.

Ripon 1 Mile Summary

In conclusion, lower draws may have a slight edge and certainly do as the field size increases. However, it is not going to be easy profiting from this. From a pace perspective, over this mile trip you definitely want to be on a ‘pace’ horse and want to avoid runners who are likely to be held up.

For the remainder of this article I am going to focus on pace only as the draw data at longer trips is unsurprisingly very even. However, there still seems a pace bias at 1m2f and 1m4f, especially on better ground (mirroring the mile data).

 

Ripon 1 Mile 2 Furlongs Pace Bias (8+ runner handicaps)

For the record, they also race over 1m1f at Ripon but there have only been four handicap races with 8+ runners since 2009. Over 1m2f there have been 78 races giving the following pace splits:

 

A slight edge for front runners with hold up horses again the worst of the four pace styles. When we narrow the results down to races on good or firmer ground the bias against hold up horses strengthens again as it did over 1 mile:

Horses that race mid-division cannot be dismissed over this trip and going, but hold up horses continue to really struggle.

 

Ripon 1 Mile 4 Furlongs Pace Bias (8+ runner handicaps) 

There have been 68 handicap races over 1 mile 4 furlongs in the sample period – here are the stats:

 

Prominent racers have the best record followed by front runners. Hold up horses again have a very poor record. Moving to races on good or firmer going, the same pattern emerges as it did over 1 mile and 1m2f.

 

As we can see front runners and prominent racers have better records on better ground while horses that race mid division or are held up do worse.

 

Ripon Draw and Pace Bias Summary

Taking "the garden racecourse" as a whole we have little to get stuck into draw wise – over 5 furlongs in smaller fields it high draws seem to have a reasonable advantage; over 1 mile in bigger fields low draws seem to have an edge (and very high draws are commensurately unfavoured).

Looking at the track from a pace angle, across all distances from 5f to 1m 4f, hold up horses have a dreadful record. In sprints, front runners have a good record especially over 6f. Meanwhile, from 1 mile to 1 mile 4 furlongs, better going conditions accentuates the bias against hold up horses; it also gives horses that race front rank an increased chance.

- DR

Catterick Draw & Pace Bias

Racing at Catterick racecourse dates back to the mid 17th century so this North Yorkshire circuit is steeped in tradition, writes Dave Renham. It is a left-handed undulating track that is considered quite sharp: its circumference is a mile and a furlong with a run in of around three furlongs. Races over five furlongs start from a separate chute with a shallow turn into the home straight; all other races are raced on the main round course.

 

As with previous articles in this series I am using some of the tools available on the Geegeez website, those being the Draw Analyser, Pace Analyser and Query Tool. The main data set covers 11 years from 2009 to 2019, but as usual I will also examine a more recent grouping (2015 to 2019) where appropriate. The focus is once again on 8+ runner handicap races.

 

Catterick 5f Draw Bias (8+ runner handicaps)

Since 2009 there have been 151 qualifying races over the minimum distance. Here are the 11 year stats:

An even looking split with lower draws faring marginally best. Looking at the A/E values, these show a correlation with the draw win percentages:

The 5f trip at Catterick did display a relatively strong bias around 15 years ago for five or six seasons. I will use the five-year comparison data method I used in recent articles to illustrate how the bias has changed over the years. To recap, using five-year datasets is a way to try and compare stats more effectively than simply looking at the figures for single years. This method also highlights whether/when patterns are changing, as well as giving more reliable sample sizes. So here are the Catterick 5f figures going right back to the first data set (1997 to 2001):

I have highlighted in green where the low draw bias seemed prevalent from 2004 to 2009. The bias coincided with a significant increase in the number of races and personally I did well during this period. During these six seasons, if you had permed the three lowest drawn horses in 6 x £1 straight forecasts you would have been in profit to the tune of £401. If just concentrating on the two lowest draws and having a reverse £1 straight forecast in each race (2004-2009) profits would have been £340 – not bad considering the outlay would only have been £124 and you would have got that £124 back too.

Perming favoured draws is something that can still make you money today but there are seemingly less opportunities. Having said that, despite low draws not dominating like they did 15 years ago, in the past eleven seasons you would have still made a profit by perming the two lowest draws in reverse forecasts, and quite a profit: £539 to be precise!

There were eight winning forecasts over the 11 years and four of the dividends were decent creating the sizeable returns. In addition, from 2009 to 2019 if you had also permed the three lowest draws in 6 x £1 tricasts you would have secured four winning bets producing a profit of £1160. Admittedly there was one winning tricast in excess of £1000, but that is what tricasts can pay. Exotic betting using draw positions is a patience game but with huge potential for relatively small individual race outlays.

Looking at the 2009-2019 data the most important factor in terms of the draw is ground conditions. The going does seem to make a significant difference to draw bias, so let us look at the results for races on good or firmer going. There have been 81 races which have provided the following draw splits: 

Lower draws have a clear advantage when the ground rides good or faster with high draws at a fairly significant disadvantage. Draws 1 to 5 have been roughly 2.5 times more likely to win than draws 6 or wider.

The A/E values for these ground conditions correlate clearly too:

As you probably have guessed by now, the bias seems to switch when the going gets softer. There have been 70 races under softer conditions with the following draw results:

Under these conditions high draws have the edge. The A/E figures back up the draw stats:

What seems to happen when the going gets softer is that the ground closest to the far rail becomes slightly slower than the middle to stands side of the track. A good example of the high draw bias came on 19th August 2019 in a race won by The Grey Zebedee on soft ground. All the horses stayed away from the far rail and most made a beeline to the nearside and the stands’ rail. If you watch the race it is easy to understand why five of the first six home were drawn 11 (1st), 10 (2nd), 14 (3rd), 13 (4th) and 15 (6th). Watching races is important and as a statistician I do appreciate that numbers alone do not always tell the complete story.

One has to be careful, however, and we cannot blindly assume low draws have little chance in soft conditions, as there will be occasions when the far rail is not slower for whatever reason. Indeed in a race won by Count Dorsey on 19th October last year the far rail was actually quicker that day with the first four home drawn 3, 4, 2 and 1. Again, it is not just the numbers that suggest this; if you watch the race the ground next to the far side rail is clearly quicker.

This race actually is important to mention from another draw angle, something I first read about back in the 1990s. The angle is ‘negative draw bias’, a phrase I believe was coined by none other than new Geegeez writer, Russell Clarke. Negative draw bias looks to highlight horses that have run well from a poor draw with a view to possibly backing them next time, or certainly within the next three races.

In this race dominated by low draws the horse who finished fifth, Teruntum Star, was drawn 12 and did best of the horses that raced in the centre of the track. Not only that, but the race was dominated by horses which raced close to the pace, and he was 13th heading into the final two furlongs. Moreover, he lost momentum and ground when having to switch around three horses in the final furlong. Thus, Teruntum Star was a horse that had run well having been disadvantaged by the draw, but also by how the race was run. Six days later Teruntum Star hosed up at Newbury, winning by two lengths at a tasty price of 14/1.

It is time now to look at each five furlong draw position broken down by individual stall number for the 11 seasons. I use the Geegeez Query Tool to give me the relevant data:

As you might expect given the shifting ground-dependant nature of bias there are no real patterns here, so actually it makes more sense to look at this individual draw data by splitting it into good or firmer results and then good to soft or softer results. Let’s look at the individual draw figures for races run on good ground or firmer:

A blind profit for draws 1 and 2, and the A/E values for draws 1 to 5 help to further demonstrate the low draw advantage on faster ground. This is a definitely a better way to the view Catterick’s 5f individual draw stats.

The individual draw positions on slow ground (good to soft or softer) are below:

Again this paints the picture I was hoping it would: profits for draws 12, 13 and 14 backing up the fact that in general higher draws are favoured under these softer conditions. For the record the three highest stall numbers (not necessarily 13, 14 and 15 of course) won 2.25 times more races than the bottom three draws.

Onto a more recent data set looking at the past five seasons (2015-2019). Here are the draw splits for the 70 races that have occurred during this time frame.

These figures match the 11 year data very closely, as do the A/E values which are all within 0.01 of the long term stats.

 

Splitting by going over the past five seasons also matches the long term figures:

Catterick 5f Draw Bias, 8+ Runner Handicaps, Good or firmer (2015-2019)

Catterick 5f Draw Bias, 8+ Runner Handicaps, Good to Soft or softer (2015-2019)

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So, from what appeared to begin with when looking at the initial 11 year draw stats to be a course with little interest, Catterick’s five-furlong trip is of clear note to the draw punter. I did investigate whether field size made any difference but the data is virtually identical for when comparing smaller fields to bigger ones.

Catterick 5f Handicaps (8+ Runners) Pace Bias

Let us look at pace and running styles now. I have always considered the 5f trip at Catterick to offer a strong front running advantage so let’s see if the stats back up the theory. The overall figures (2009-19) are as follows:

In terms of UK turf courses, 5f handicap races at Catterick show one of the strongest front-running biases of all. from an A/E value and win percentage for front runners perspective, it comes out as the sixth highest; and the IV figure sees it as the fourth highest (for more on A/E and IV, read this post). In addition to that, hold up horses have one of the worst records amongst all UK courses too: hold up horses at the Yorkshire track have the fourth worst win percentage, the fourth worst A/E value and the fourth worst IV figure.

If we look at the effect of going it seems that softer ground (good to soft or softer) slightly increases the win prospects of front runners:

Conversely, on good or firmer ground front runners have fared slightly less well, though they retain a very clear edge:

 

One cannot be 100% confident that softer going increases the front running bias, but such ground conditions are at least unlikely to negate the front running edge. What is clear is that, regardless of going, you’d rather be watching the race having backed the horse that has taken the lead early than a horse racing in rear.

Looking at field size data there seems to be little or no evidence that number of runners makes any difference to the pace bias.

Finally in this 5f section a look at draw / pace (running style) combinations for front runners over the minimum distance. Remember, this is looking at which third of the draw is responsible for the early leader of the race (in % terms). I would expect the early leader to be drawn lower more often rather than higher:

As expected horses drawn further away from the far rail struggle to get to the lead early. Having said that, of the 23 who have managed it nine went on to win with another eight managing to place. Hence, it seems that it is possible to lead all the way from a wide draw given the chance. For hold up horses it seems an even worse scenario if you are drawn low – just 3 wins from 140 runners (SR 2.1%). Indeed only a further 13 managed to hit the frame which means over 88% of all low drawn hold up horses finished 4th or worse.

Here is the draw/pace heat map sorted by percentage of rivals beaten:

So the Catterick 5f distance is extremely interesting from both a draw and a pace perspective. Considering the even looking draw data shared at the beginning of this piece, I think several useful pointers have been uncovered.

 

Catterick 6f Draw Bias (8+ runner handicaps)

The six furlong trip is on the round course, starting halfway down the back straight, and from 2009 to 2019 there had been 133 races. Here are the draw splits:

 

Some even looking figures with middle draws doing slightly better than the rest. Let’s see if the A/E figures offer better pointers:

 

There is reasonably good correlation here, but it does seem that lower draws are slightly overbet. This makes some sense as the nature of the track being left handed would theoretically offer inside draws (low) a slight edge. For whatever reason this is not the case.

Looking at statistics for the going, the figures remain constant regardless of ground conditions. On softer ground, as with 5f races, the near side generally rides quicker than the far side. Horses more often than not come middle to stands’ side in the straight in these easier conditions, but the higher draws seem unable to take advantage of it due to the turning nature of the trip.

In terms of field size, the maximum number of runners is just 12 so there is nothing to add on that score.

A look at the individual draw positions now:

I must concede that I had not expected the individual draw data to be of much interest, but draws 6 to 8 are all in profit coupled with decent looking A/E values. This table does suggest there may be some value in that area of the draw. Draws 10 and 11 have also proved profitable, while draws 1 and 2 have both incurred significant losses (roughly 44 and 51p in the £). Those profits are backed up by increased win and place percentages.

It is unlikely the more recent data will paint a different picture but here are the stats from 2015 to 2019:

76 races is a decent sample and middle draws are best once again with a slightly higher win percentage in the last five years compared to the last 11 years.

Onto the A/E values for 2015-2019:

The middle third once again boasting a value figure of 1.00 or more which is a positive.

Now a look at the individual draw figures for this latest five-year period. It will be interesting to see how stalls 6 to 8 have fared over the shorter time frame:

Draws 6 and 7 have proved profitable in the win market over the past five seasons, while stall 8 has essentially broken even (did make a small each way profit). Once again draws 1 and 2 have lost decent sums, as have draws 3 and 5.

Catterick 6f Pace Bias (8+ Runner Handicaps)

Let us now turn to pace and running styles. Here are the overall figures going back to 2009:

These figures show that front runners have an edge of a similar degree to the one enjoyed by pace setters over 5f, albeit slightly less potent. However, we know that front running pace bias is generally stronger at five furlongs than six, and essentially this bias is a strong one for the distance. In terms of win percentage, Catterick’s front runner figures rate as the third strongest amongst UK turf courses (6f), while the A/E value puts this course and distance in fourth overall.

In terms of going, there does seem to be more of an edge for front runners on better ground. Let us examine the stats for 6f handicaps run on good going or firmer:

These are some impressive figures for front runners, which win close to one in every four races; meanwhile, hold up horses are at the opposite end of the scale winning less that 5% of the time on quick ground.

Onto good to soft or softer going now:

Prominent runners have an equally good record to front runners on this easier ground, but it should be noted that it seems even more difficult to win if racing mid-pack or at the rear early.

The penultimate tables in this 6f section looks at draw / pace (running style) combinations for front runners in 6f handicaps (2009 – 2019). I would expect lower draws to lead more often than higher ones simply due to the left handed configuration:

Higher draws do lead least often, but it is interesting to note that middle drawn horses have got to the lead slightly more often than lower drawn horses closer to the inside rail. It is also worth noting that hold up horses drawn low, just like at 5f, find it virtually impossible to win – just 4 have prevailed from 146 such runners.

Finally a look at the draw/pace heat map for Catterick's six furlongs, again sorted by percentage of rivals beaten (PRB).

The messages already shared are underscored by this image. Front runners have a solid edge almost regardless of draw, though those drawn middle to wide fare best of the trailblazers. Hold up horses have a lot to do, especially when drawn inside.

In summary, 6f handicaps at Catterick offer real interest from a pace perspective. Front runners enjoy a powerful edge which is strongest on good or firmer ground. Hold up horses have a very poor time of it. In terms of the draw one could argue there is some value in horses drawn in the middle with stalls 6, 7 and 8 seemingly best.

 

Catterick 7f Draw Bias (8+ runner handicaps)

The seven furlong trip is raced on the round course with low draws once again positioned next to the inside rail. 209 handicap races have been run with 8 or more runners since 2009. Here is the draw breakdown:

 

Clearly 7f is a very level playing field in terms of the draw. Onto the A/E values:

As with the 6f figures, A/E suggests that low draws are marginally overbet.

Field size potentially makes a small difference with very high draws finding it slightly harder to win. Races of 13 or more runners give these figures:

In truth however, it is nothing to write home about.

 

Ground conditions also offer no notable edge so let's move on to the individual draw positions:

Nothing clear cut although draws 7 and 8 have again secured a blind profit.

Time to check out more recent data, from 2015 onwards. There have been 88 qualifying races since the start of 2015, giving the following draw breakdown:

This shows a very similar perspective to the 11 year stats with a level playing field in terms of the draw. Below are the A/E values, which correlate well with the draw figures:

 

Onto the individual draw positions for the past five seasons:

Again, there is nothing clear cut although both draws 8 and 9 have secured a profit. Ultimately, it is probably fair to say that there is little interest from a draw perspective over Catterick's 7f trip.

Catterick 7f Pace Bias (8+ Runner Handicaps)

Onto pace now, and first a look at the overall pace data now (2009-2019):

The 7f distance does has a decent front running bias which, considering the lack of draw bias interest, is pleasing to report. As with the 5f and 6f trips, hold up horses really struggle.

Looking at how the going affects the results, and as with the 6f trip it seems that front runners over 7f do better when going gets firmer. Let me look at the stats for 7f handicaps run on good going or firmer:

The win percentage for front runners is again high, edging close to 23%.

As expected, on good to soft or softer front runners perform less well:

There is still a small edge for front runners but it is essentially only moderately significant.

A quick look at the impact of field size in 7f handicaps: in smaller fields over 7f (8 to 10 runners), the front running win percentage is 23.3% (A/E 1.62); in races of 13 or more runners the win percentage is 13.9% with an A/E of 1.37. So smaller fields are slightly better from a front running point of view.

Before closing, a look at draw / pace (running style) combinations.

First, the split for front runners in 7f handicaps (2009 – 2019):

Lower drawn horses are more likely to get to the front early. As with 5f and 6f races, low drawn horses that are held up have a poor record, this time notching just 10 wins from 259 runners (SR 3.8%).

Here is the draw/pace heat map through the prism of PRB:

The seeming irrelevance of draw is matched only by the consistently gradual impact of run style, from led (best) and prominent to mid-division (no edge) and held up (notably under-perform).

*

Catterick is a strongly pace-orientated track where handicap races from five- to seven-furlongs see front runners having much the best of it. Hold up horses really struggle and this is accentuated if they happen to be drawn low.

Indeed, of the 548 horses held up from a low draw in 8+ runner handicaps over seven furlongs or shorter since 2009, just 17 (3.1%) managed to win.

Specifically at five furlongs, the going is key from a draw perspective, with low dominating on good ground or firmer, and high faring best on softer ground. Over six furlongs, middle draws may have a slight edge, while over 7f there is no draw bias - though still a pace bias - under any conditions.

- DR

Musselburgh Draw & Pace Bias

Draw and Pace at Musselburgh

For this article we are back across the border to analyse draw and pace data from Musselburgh racecourse, writes Dave Renham. To help me with this piece I have used some of the tools available on the Geegeez website, those being the Draw Analyser, the Pace Analyser and the Query Tool.

I will be looking at race data going back to 2009 as my starting point but, as before, I will examine a more recent data set in detail, too (2015 to 2019), where appropriate. The focusas with all the other articles in the series, is on handicap races with eight or more runners.

Musselburgh Course Constitution

Musselburgh is a right-handed course roughly ten furlongs in circumference, with no notable gradients, and is generally considered to be fair. The 5f sprint trip is raced on a straight track while 7f races and above take place on the round course. (There are no 6f races).

 

Musselburgh 5f Draw Bias (8+ runner handicaps)

Since 2009 there have been 218 qualifying races over the past 11 seasons, a significant sample, and here are the draw splits: 

The general perception I think is that horses drawn next to the stands’ rail (high) have an advantage. There is a kink in the straight track after two furlongs and, in theory, that should aid those runners drawn high. However, the stats for 8+ runner handicaps do not especially back that up, such horses winning only as much as middle draws, and neither group performing distinctly better than low starting stalls. Now a look at the A/E values:

Middle draws seem to offer better value than higher draws despite their similar win percentages. This does imply, albeit only slightly, that maybe higher draws are slightly overbet due to the perception of draw bias.

However, when the field size increases a slight bias does start to appear. In handicap races of 11 or runners (90 races) we get the following splits:

Thus, in bigger fields, horses drawn out wider (lower stall numbers) definitely start to struggle. The A/E values back this up too.

Again middle draws offer the best value out of the three draw thirds.

Ground conditions do not appear to make any difference to the draw so let us move on to to looking at each draw position broken down by individual stall number.

For this distance I have needed to change the way I collate the data. The reason for this is that the higher draws are positioned next to the rail so in many respects analysing individual stall positions in the ‘normal’ way becomes irrelevant. What I mean by this is, that stall 8 could be drawn next to the rail (in an 8-runner race), but in a 17-runner race stall 8 is actually ten stalls away from the rail. Hence I am using a trick that Nick Mordin used many years ago in his book Betting For Living when he flipped the draw. I am reversing the draw figures if you like and looking at them in their relation to their position near to the stands’ rail. I still used the Geegeez Query Tool to give me the relevant data, but it took me more time to adjust and sort out the final figures:

These stats indicate there may be a slight stands’ rail bias as horses drawn 2, 3 or 5 stalls from the rail are all in profit. Also the each way percentages for those drawn within five of the rail are all over 30%. Having said that, it is not something that one could be too confident about. What I would be more confident in is that horses drawn ten berths or wider from the stands’ rail look at a disadvantage. This correlates with the 11+ runner draw splits mentioned earlier.

Onto a more recent data set looking at the past five seasons (2015-2019). Here are the draw splits for the 100 races that have occurred during this time frame.

No surprises here with an even looking split.

The A/E values correlate with long term figures shared earlier:

Again middle draws have offered the best value.

 

Time for the 5 year stats for individual draw positions with the same twist as discussed earlier (draw positions effectively reversed):

The slight rail bias that was mooted earlier is not displayed with this more recent data set. However, as you would have probably expected the stats indicate that horses drawn ten or further from the stands’ rail remain at a clear disadvantage.

Musselburgh 5f Pace Bias (8+ Runner Handicaps)

Let us look at pace and running styles now. The overall figures (2009-19) are thus:

As is often the case, front runners enjoy a decent edge – as 5f biases go it is around the overall UK course average. Hold up horses have a poor record and look best avoided unless the pace is likely to be frenetic.

The front running bias does seem to strengthen slightly the firmer the going. The stats for qualifying races on going described as good to firm or firmer is as follows:

Improvements in strike rate, A/E value and IV; also the each way placed percentage increases too.

In terms of field size there is no clear change in front running bias.

Finally in this five furlong section a look at draw / pace (running style) combinations for front runners over this minimum distance. Remember this is looking at which third of the draw is responsible for the early leader of the race (in % terms):

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Higher draws get the lead more often than any other third. You would expect this as they are drawn closest to the rail. I must admit that I had expected the high draw percentage to be a bit nearer to 50%.

The draw/run style heat map, sorted by Percentage of Rivals Beaten, again points to early leaders from a pace perspective and middle to high from a draw perspective. (Any score above 0.55 implies a bias to that section, below 0.45 a bias against that section).

 

To conclude, in terms of the draw, higher draws are at a disadvantage as the field size gets bigger, with draws ten or further away from the rail having a particularly poor record. Pace wise, front runners have the edge and this seems to strengthen on firmer ground.

 

Musselburgh 7f Draw Bias (8+ runner handicaps)

As mentioned, there are no six furlong races at Musselburgh, so the next distance we'll review takes in the round course and the seven furlong (seven-eighths of a mile) range. The 7 furlong trip has had 189 qualifying races from 2009 to 2019 which is another decent sample. Here are the draw splits:

The 7f trip sees low draws start closest to the inside rail. However, this does not appear to give them any concrete advantage.

Let’s look at the A/E values to see if they correlate with the draw percentages:

Similar A/E values offering no real edge.

Drilling into the stats when the going gets softer there is a suggestion that low draws have an advantage. The problem is that there have only been 19 races on soft or heavy ground. Having said that, 12 races have been won by low-drawn runners compared with just two for higher-drawn horses. The placed stats strongly favour lower draws, too, under such conditions, but 19 races is far too small a sample to take at face value.

Time to look at what the individual draw positions offer over the 11-year period between ’09 and ’19. We can view these in the normal way:

Nothing particularly significant here as one might expect looking at the other draw data. However, draws 1 and 2 clearly have the best placed strike rates which is interesting.

On that theme you could have made a 36 point profit backing the two lowest draws in one point reverse forecasts over the 189 races. There were enough winning bets to create a small profit. For tricast fans, perming the three lowest draws in full cover tricasts would have yielded a huge profit of just under 3600 points! There were only five winning tricasts, though, and the profit basically relied on one monster payout.

Onto the last five seasons for 7f handicaps at Musselburgh. There have been 94 qualifying races since 2015, with the draw splits as follows:

These are similar figures to the longer term ones. Higher draws have performed slightly worse in the last five years but it is likely not statistically significant.

Onto the A/E values (2015-2019):

Middle draws have been the best value of the three draw thirds in the last five seasons. However, there is no edge to really take advantage of.

Now a look at the individual draw figures for this latest 5-year period:

Again nothing clear cut and ultimately 7f races offer little interest for the draw punter (despite those aforementioned forecast and tricast figures). The PRB3 data - a rolling three-stall average of percentage of rivals beaten - suggests that the course constitution does slightly favour inner-drawn horses, though this has so far yet to manifest itself in bottom line profit. Nevertheless, it is worth being aware of.

I will be looking closely at any future races on softer ground, though, as it is possible that there could be a low bias under those conditions. Here is the same view, but on soft or heavy going:

 

Moving on the seven-furlong handicap pace data, here are the overall pace figures going back to 2009:

This makes much better reading and front runners have a very strong edge, even more so than over 5f. More recent data offers a similar picture so this is a bias that we must try and use to our advantage.

This front running edge looks to be stronger as the ground starts to soften. On good to soft or softer there have been 47 races giving the following splits:

There also seems to be a slight increase in front running bias when the field size grows. In races of 11 or more runners, front runners win 21% of the time with an A/E value of 1.85; in races of 8 to 10 runners the strike rate is still 21% but the A/E value drops to 1.50. It should be noted that mathematically it is harder to win in bigger fields so even though both win percentages are at 21%, it is clear that in effect front runners have been more successful in bigger field races.

Let us now look at the draw / pace (running style) combinations for front runners over 7f.

Lower drawn horses get to the early lead more often – they are positioned closest to the inside rail so this is what we should expect. Having said that I would have expected a higher figure than 40%.

The draw / run style heat map offers a perfect diffusion of green to dark orange when viewed on PRB; this is normally a strong indication of a repeatable bias:

To conclude, over 7f the draw in general is extremely fair, but possibly lower draws have an edge in soft or heavy conditions. Pace wise, however, front runners have a bankable edge in all conditions which seems to increase on good to soft or softer going.

 

Musselburgh 1 Mile Pace Bias (8+ Runner Handicaps)

I will start our mile handicap analysis by looking at the 2009-2019 data - 90 races during this period have given the following draw splits:

There is no clear draw bias looking at these stats, but when you break the data down into halves, the bottom half of the draw won 61.1% of races to the top half figure of 38.9%. Hence a slightly lower draw seems preferable.

Let us break the mile draw data down by stall position:

Draws 1 and 2 both have decent A/E values and, breaking the data down further, stalls 1 to 4 have been 2.1 times more likely to win than draws 10 or higher (A/E values of 0.93 versus 0.66). Hence taking all things into account a lower draw seems preferable over a very high one, as reflected in the below IV3* chart:

*more information on IV3, and all of our metrics, can be found here.

 

The last five seasons have seen a fairly even split draw wise when splitting into thirds; draws 10 or higher have continued to struggle winning just twice from 37 runners. A look now at the pace findings for this 1 mile trip going back to 2009:

As with the two shorter distances, front runners have a definite advantage over a mile. This is one of the strongest mile pace biases in the country and it should also be noted that exactly half of all front runners went onto finish in the first three. Horses held up at the back early do not have a good record once again. The bias is consistent across all going and field sizes, although you could argue that in smaller fields (8-9 runners) it has been slightly less potent.

Finally in this section a look at which part of the draw gets to the lead first:

Although lower draws are positioned next to the rail, they do not get to the lead the most. This is probably due to the fact that there is nearly 4 furlongs until the first (and only) turn and wider drawn jockeys are keen to get a more expedient trip.

Again, we can see the golden triangle when looking at draw / run style in concert, though this time it more a 'led' bias, with a mark up for low drawn prominent and midfield (ground saving) racers.

 

As with 5f and 7f handicaps, over one mile the front running pace bias offers the most interest and it is a strong one. Draw wise I would always prefer lower draws over higher but all in all I don’t perceive it to be a significant factor.

 

Musselburgh 1 Mile 1 Furlong Pace Bias (8+ Runner Handicaps)

There have been only 44 qualifying races at this distance but some interesting findings: 

Higher draws seem to have an edge and the A/E values strongly correlate:

My concern with these figures is that they are not easy to explain – if low draws had this advantage I would assume there was an inside rail bias; with higher draws having the edge it makes virtually no sense. The most likely scenario is simply down to variance as the sample size is not that big in reality. However, it may be that jockeys are able to play more of a waiting game by dropping high-drawn horses in at the back of the pack. All may be revealed shortly!

Let’s break the data down by individual draws to see if that helps:

It is difficult to make much of this either – the unusually good stats for stall eight reinforces my belief that the draw splits cannot be relied upon.

Onto pace now, and below is performance by run style.

Once again at Musselburgh we have a decent front running bias and hold up horses have an even worse record than the three shorter distances, so bang goes that theory about why wide-drawn horses have fared best!

This is surprising as normally the longer the distance, the harder it is for early leaders to make all the running; likewise longer distances normally see a much higher percentage of wins for hold up horses.

To conclude, there is a strong pace bias for the fourth consecutive distance over 1m1f. The draw stats suggest a high draw bias; but, as stated earlier, I am struggling to rationalise this in the overall context, even though the PRB data support the win and place tables above. Weird!

 

Musselburgh 1 Mile 4 Furlong Pace Bias (8+ Runner Handicaps)

This is the longest distance I have looked at in any of the articles but I would like to share one set of stats. The draw is fairly even and, over 12 furlongs where they start just before the winning post and make a full loop of the track, I do not feel it is worth going into too much detail.

But pace wise we continue to see that front running edge, even over this relatively long trip. Here are the 2009-2019 stats, taken from the geegeez Pace Analyser:

The figures suggest that this may be the distance where the front running edge is at its strongest. This is very surprising given the distance we are talking about. Maybe it is down to the fact there is additional sharp bend soon after the start at 1m4f and front runners get more of an advantage going the shortest route into that turn.

 

Musselburgh Draw and Pace Bias Summary

Although there is little out of the ordinary in draw terms, Musselburgh is a course of real interest when viewed from a pace angle. Looking for potential front runners at all distances from 5f to 1m4f is definitely a strategy worth considering. The draw is generally not a major factor but there are subtleties that one needs to be aware of.

Thanks, as always, for reading, and good luck!

- DR

Ayr Draw & Pace Bias

The lockdown is easing and racing will resume in Scotland from this week. Time for a trip north, then, to analyse the draw and pace data from Ayr racecourse, writes Dave Renham. As with previous articles in this series I have used some of the tools available on the Geegeez website, specifically the Draw Analyser, the Pace Analyser and the Query Tool. The main period of study goes back to 2009 but, as before, I will examine a more recent data set in detail too (2015 to 2019) where appropriate. I will be focusing once again on 8+ runner handicap races.

Ayr is a left-handed course roughly 12 furlongs in circumference and is generally considered to be a track that suits galloping types. The 5f and 6f races take place on a straight track, with longer races  using the round course. As can be seen from the course map below, there are a number of undulations in the back straight and a dip then a rise in the home straight. The five furlong course is largely uphill.

 

Let’s start with the sprint distances:

Ayr 5 Furlong Draw Bias (8+ runner handicaps) 

Since 2009 there have been exactly a hundred qualifying races so no need for a calculator to work out the draw percentage splits! Here are the 11 year stats:

 

High draws have been at a disadvantage looking solely at the win percentages for each third. Looking at A/E values, these show an excellent correlation with the draw win percentages:

 

At the minimum trip of five furlongs, both sets of data point clearly to high draws struggling.

However, before moving on, it is important to realise that Ayr is one of the rare courses where they use three different positions for the starting stalls. Here is the breakdown for each stall position:

 

Ayr 5f Draw Bias when stalls are in the centre (37 races)

With the stalls in the centre the figures are quite similar to the overall ones, although higher draws seem to struggle even more.

 

Ayr 5f Draw Bias when stalls are stands' side (39 races)

The stalls when placed stands’ side mean that higher draws are drawn against the near rail. It seems that higher draws are more competitive in this scenario, but as a general rule the ground next to that rail looks likely to be slightly slower than the centre or far side, as such horses still struggle.

 

Ayr 5f Draw Bias when stalls are far side (24 races)

Low draws are drawn right next to the far rail when the stalls are placed in this position and although the data is limited, those drawn on the far side seem to enjoy a decent edge. It will be interesting to see whether the six furlong data supports this (more of that later).

Ayr 5f Draw Bias (by going and field size)

There is no clear-cut going bias, and the same is true when analysing field size data.

However, in bigger field races (16 or more runners) there have been several occasions when individual races have apparently shown a draw bias. The difficulty lies in the fact that the bias is not consistent and has no clear pattern. Having said that, of the 19 races with 16+ runners since 2009, I believe that at least twelve have shown a significant bias. I won’t go through all of that dozen, but here is a flavour:

15/9/11 – a 17 runner race where low draws seemed in charge with horses drawn 4 and 1 filling the first two places and draw 2 was back in 5th;

21/9/12 – a 16 runner race where there was an even split with eight horses going far side (low) and eight coming stands’ side (high); 5 of the first 6 home raced far side;

19/9/13 – in this 20 runner race 14 horses raced stands’ side (high) and 6 raced far side (low). 11 of the first 12 horses home raced stands’ side with the first three horses home drawn 17, 16 and 18;

20/9/13 – a 24 runner sprint where there was an even split with 12 runners coming stands’ side and 12 staying far side; 7 of the first 8 home came from the stands’ side group (high);

19/9/14 – a 20 runner race where taking non runners into account the first 8 horses home were drawn 13, 15, 4, 12, 18, 17, 11 and 20.

15/9/16 – the first 8 runners home were drawn 1, 3, 7, 2, 8, 12, 6 and 4 in a 19 runner race;

13/8/18 – 5 of the first 6 home exited from double figure draws (16 ran).

 

For those interested in exotic bets, if you had hedged your bets in terms of not being sure whether low or high draws would be favoured, and permed both very high draws and very low draws in straight forecasts, you would have seen a huge profit across these 19 races. Perming the four lowest draws and also the four highest draws would have produced 6 winning bets from the 19 races. Assuming an outlay of £24 per race (2 x £12 perms) the outlay on these forecasts would have been £456; but the dividends would have combined to return a whopping £1074 giving a profit of £618. As I have stated before past profits are no guarantee to future profits, but selective draw focussed forecasts have served some punters very well over the years (including me).

It is time now to break down the draw by individual stall number. I use the Geegeez Query Tool to give me the relevant data:

Profits for draws 3, 4 and 6 which given their grouping suggests again lower rather than higher draws are often the place to be.

Ayr 5f Draw Bias (2015-2019)

Homing in on a more recent data set, looking at the past five seasons (2015-2019), below are the draw splits for the 37 races that have occurred during this time frame.

 

As can be seen, high draws have struggled even more in recent years but, interestingly, middle draws have performed particularly well. 37 races is a relatively small sample but it does seem that middle draws currently hold sway.

 

The A/E values correlate with the draw segment percentages above:

 

Below are the five-year stats for individual stall numbers:

A blind win profit for just draws 1 and 6, those two stalls book-ending the section to be: that six-berth segment has secured 27 of the 37 races with an A/E of 1.07. Their overall strike rate is 12.2%, whereas horses drawn 7 or higher have won 10 races with a strike rate of 4.4% and an A/E of just 0.54.

Ayr 5f Pace Bias (8+ runner handicaps)

Let us look at pace and running styles now. The overall figures (2009-19) are thus:

 

There is a clear edge for front runners and those racing close to the pace (prominent) – as we know from previous articles this is the norm over 5f at most courses. It is not the strongest front-running bias around but still significant enough.

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If we look at medium- to smaller-sized fields (8 to 12 runners) front runners seem to enjoy a slightly stronger edge:

 

I also had a look at the 19 races discussed earlier with big fields of 16 runners or more. Amazingly, 13 of the 19 races were won by horses that raced prominently (A/E 1.32).

I have checked ground conditions and there is nothing noteworthy to share.

Ayr 5f Draw / Pace Combinations

Finally in this 5f section a look at draw / pace (running style) combinations for front runners over this minimum distance. Remember this is looking at which third of the draw is responsible for the early leader of the race (in % terms):

I had expected this even split especially considering the variations in stalls positions.

Here is the draw/pace heat map, displaying Percentage of Rivals Beaten. A score of 0.55 or greater is material:

The image clearly shows the benefit of racing on or close to the lead, and ideally not being drawn too high.

Ayr 5f Draw / Pace Bias Conclusions

In conclusion, low to middle draws have the edge over five furlongs in handicaps of eight-plus runners. I highlighted draws 1 to 6 in the more recent 5-year data as having a definite edge over higher draws – looking at the full 11-year dataset this has been the case, too. Draws 1 to 6 have won 71 races from 600 runners (A/E 1.07); draws 7 or higher have won 29 races from 596 runners (A/E 0.56). Pace wise, front runners fare best followed by horses that race close to the pace (prominent).

*

Ayr 6 Furlong Draw Bias (8+ runner handicaps)

The six furlong trip has had 171 qualifying races between 2009 and 2019 which equates to around 15 races per year, a decent sample. Here are the win percentages by draw third:

Low draws seem to have a small edge here and as with the 5f data high draws have had the worst of it. Having said that high draws have been at a bigger disadvantage over five furlongs than six.

Let’s look at the A/E values to see if they correlate with the draw percentages:

Low draws seem to have offered decent value overall – higher draws have a poor figure of 0.60 which is similar to their figure over the minimum (0.56).

Onto examining whether the position of the stalls have made any difference:

Ayr 6f Draw Bias when stalls are in the centre (72 races)

With the stalls in the centre it has been a very even playing field in terms of the draw over 6f.

 

Ayr 6f Draw Bias when stalls are stands' side (53 races)

The stalls when placed stands’ side (high) seem to put higher draws at a distinct disadvantage. This is surprising from a logic perspective, but again seems to highlight that the ground near to the stands’ rail tends to be slower than the rest of the straight track.

 

Ayr 6f Draw Bias when stalls are far side (45 races)

As with the 5f stats, the 6f results give those horses drawn next to the far rail (low) a decent edge. However, before we get too excited, in 2019 there were no races at all with the stalls placed on the far side over five or six furlongs. I am not sure why this was the case: what does seem to be happening is that, as the years go by, more races are seeing the stalls placed in the centre of the course. In 2019 over 5f and 6f just under 70% of all races had the stalls placed in the centre. I wonder if course officials are attempting to make sprint races ‘fairer’ in their eyes by trying to encourage horses to come down the centre of the track.

 

Time to look at how individual draw positions performed over the 1- year period between ’09 and ‘19:

As you would expect with so many races very few stalls show a blind profit; draws 26 and 27 are two of the three but from very small samples. Draws 1 to 4 have fairly decent A/E values which is worth noting.

It could be reasonably argued that a draw close to either rail is an advantage. To that end, field size does seem to have some impact – in smaller fields of 8 to 10 runners high draws have struggled, winning just 14 of 82 races (SR 17.1%) with an A/E of 0.43. In big field races (16+) higher draws have performed much better, winning roughly a third of the 38 races (13 wins).

In terms of ground conditions it seems that lower draws enjoy more of an edge when the ground eases. There have been 78 races on ground described as good to soft or softer over 6f since 2009, of which low draws have won 36 (SR 46.2%). The A/E value is positive, too, at 1.14.

One of the biggest sprint handicaps of the year occurs at Ayr over 6f - the Ayr Gold Cup - run towards the end of September. In addition to the Gold Cup, there are two consolation races – the Silver Cup and the Bronze Cup. Traditionally, the Gold and Silver Cups are raced on the Saturday with the Bronze Cup on the Friday.

Since 2009 there have been ten renewals of each race at Ayr (the 2017 Bronze and Silver Cups were not run due to the meeting being abandoned, while the Gold Cup was switched that year to Haydock). These races always have big fields (average field size is 25) and hence the draw can potentially play a big part. Looking at the races in detail I would estimate that 20 of the 30 races (66.6%) displayed a draw bias; be it one third strongly favoured, or one third being strongly disadvantaged. Earlier in the article it was noted with bigger field 5f races that draw biases had the potential to occur, and we are seeing a similar pattern here.

Unfortunately, just like the 5f races, it has not been easy to predict which part of the track, if any, will be favoured. Having said that digging deeper has uncovered a potential opportunity. Seven of the Bronze Cups seemed to show a draw bias; when this draw bias occurred, the same or a very similar bias occurred the same year in the Silver Cup in four of the seven corresponding races. In the four years where the Bronze and Silver Cups had similar draw biases, the Gold Cup displayed a similar bias in three of them and, it could be argued, in the fourth as well. The best example of this happened in 2016:

In the 2016 Bronze Cup it was clear high draws were at a disadvantage. Seven of the first eight horses home were drawn in single figures (5, 7, 8, 17, 6, 1, 9, 3) – 24 ran; in the Silver Cup the following day, low to middle held sway again with five of the first eight home drawn in single figures and best finish from the top third of the draw was 9th (25 ran). The Gold Cup which followed just over an hour later saw low to middle again in charge with draw 8 beating 6 with 7 back in third; draws 11, 10, 14 and 4 filled the next four places (23 ran). Again, there was no sign of a horse from the top third of the draw.

Ayr 6f Draw Bias (2015-2019)

Onto the last five seasons now for 6f handicaps at Ayr. There have been 79 qualifying races since 2015, with the draw splits as follows:

High draws have really struggled in recent years. Consequently, to some degree, low draws have had the best of it.

The A/E values (2015-2019) underpin that notion:

There is an excellent correlation between the draw third percentages and the A/E values which adds confidence to the data.

 

Now a look at the individual draw figures for this latest 5-year period:

Draws 2, 4, 5 and 6 have all shown a profit in the win market, again highlighting the low draw edge in recent years. Those drawn 21+ in very big fields have also performed well from a small number of qualifying races.

Ayr 6f Pace Bias

Below is a breakdown of pace and running styles. Here are the overall numbers going back to 2009:

These figures show that front runners have an edge and it is a similar edge to the one such forward-going types enjoy over five furlongs.

In big field races the edge for front runners is wiped out, and looking at the data for the Bronze, Silver and Gold Cups, horses that raced mid-pack have definitely over-performed albeit from a relatively small sample of 30 races.

When the going gets testing the front running bias has increased. There have been 40 races on soft or heavy ground since 2009 and here are the pace splits (NB. One dead heat):

The further you are from the early pace the worse it seems to be on soft or heavy going.

Ayr 6f Draw / Pace Combinations

A final table in the 6f section is a look at draw / pace (running style) combinations for front runners in 6f handicaps (2009 – 2019):

It is interesting seeing more low drawn horses getting to the lead over 6f. I'm not sure why that is and, as stated earlier, considering the fact there are three varying stalls locations, one would have expected a more even split.

Again, the heat map highlights the benefit of being forwardly placed, and the difficulty that high drawn later runners have experienced.

Ayr 6f Draw / Pace Bias Conclusions

In conclusion, lower draws have held sway over the last decade or so with the bias seemingly getting stronger in the past five seasons. High draws have really struggled recently except when the stalls have been placed in the centre. The shame for draw bias fans, as I noted earlier, is that more and more races seem to have the stalls placed in the centre over 6f at Ayr. Pace wise, it is again those racing on the front end who have the upper hand and this seems to strengthen as the ground gets softer.

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Ayr 7 furlongs Draw Bias (8+ runner handicaps) 

The seven-furlong trip takes in the round course with low draws positioned next to the inside rail. There is a sharp turn soon after the start where runners can get fanned quite wide into the home straight.

170 handicap races have been run with eight or more runners since 2009. Here is the draw breakdown: 

That is about as even a split as you could get! So low draws, despite potentially having the chance to take the shortest route around the turn, do not have any obvious advantage. Onto the A/E values:

A commensurately even set of figures, as might be expected. The market looks to have it pretty much spot on.

 

However, field size does seem to matter from a draw perspective as races with 12 or more runners illustrates:

As the field size increases so horses drawn wider start to be disadvantage. This makes sense as the widest drawn horses are likely to have to run further if staying out wide on the track, or risk trouble in running if making their way towards the inside rail. The A/E figures correlate with the draw percentages for these bigger fields.

 

Looking now at ground conditions, high draws also seem to struggle as the ground gets softer. On soft or heavy ground there have been 43 races with the following draw splits:

The A/E values correlate neatly once again:

 

So although the basic statistics suggested little interest from a draw perspective, we can see that in bigger fields and on soft/heavy ground high draws do seem at a disadvantage.

Combining 12+ fields on soft or heavy has seen only 20 races but the bias against high draws is clear to see with just two victories from that third of the draw (10 wins for low draws and 8 for middle draws).

Let us look at the individual draw positions next:

Little to report here as one might expect – just stall 8 in profit which essentially is down to chance.

It is time to check out the more recent subset of data, from 2015 onwards. There have been 97 qualifying races giving the following draw breakdown:

This correlates strongly with the 11-year full set, with an extremely level playing field in terms of the draw. The A/E values again match up with the draw percentage figures:

For what they are worth here are the individual draw positions:

Randomly, four stalls are in profit; but that is all that it is... random.

On soft/heavy ground in the last five seasons high draws have struggled, as they did when examining the 11-year stats – they've recorded just four wins from 22 races (18.2%). Low draws dominated this period winning 13 of the 22 races (59.1%). Likewise, in bigger fields (12+ runners) high draws have found it hard winning just six of the 34 races (17.6%).

Ayr 7f Pace Bias

A look at the overall pace data now (2009-2019):

Front runners seem to have a slightly stronger edge when compared to the two sprint distances. The 1.41 A/E value is above the average A/E for all UK courses over 7f which stands at 1.26, as is the IV score of 1.80 (UK course average IV for front runners in 7f handicaps is 1.63).

As a reminder, over six furlongs the edge for front runners seemed stronger on soft/heavy going, and that seems to be the case here, too. The sample size is 42 races:

1.82 is a noteworthy A/E value, and is coupled with a score above 2.0 for Impact Value. This is material.

Ayr 7f Draw / Pace Combinations

Finally over 7f a look at draw / pace (running style) combinations for front runners in 8+runner handicaps (2009 – 2019). One might have expected low draws to lead more often as they have the inside berths:

These figures surprised me – clearly for some reason jockeys drawn low are not taking advantage of the inside rail. This is also the case in bigger field races where low drawn runners only take the lead 30.8% of the time.

The heat map below - all 8+ runner 7f handicaps - shows clearly where you need to be: front rank and drawn low to middle.

Ayr 7f Draw / Pace Bias Conclusions

To conclude, over 7f the draw in general is extremely fair, but on soft/heavy ground or when the field size reaches 12 or more, higher draws then start to be at a disadvantage. Pace wise it is front runners who are clearly best. 

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Ayr 1 mile Draw Bias (8+ runner handicaps)

With this article on the long side I am going to very briefly look at one more distance: the 1 mile trip. I will start by looking at the 2009-2019 data. There are 167 races in the sample, giving the following draw splits: 

There is no clear draw bias on the basis of these stats and, sadly, digging deeper unearthed no pleasant surprises like there were over 7f.

However, going back to the late 1990s, this mile trip had a significant bias to those drawn next to the inside rail (low). I will use the 5-year comparison data method I used in the second Chester article to illustrate how the bias has essentially all but disappeared.

To recap, using 5-year data sets is a good way to try and compare any shift more effectively than simply looking at single years. This method highlights where patterns or biases are changing, as well as giving more reliable sample sizes. So here are the Ayr 1 mile figures going right back to the first data set (1997 to 2001):

As the table shows, low draws completed dominated until about 2005; since then the advantage gradually began to level and, for a while, low draws actually produced the lowest percentage of winners. In the last two or three seasons there has been a slight resurgence but, essentially, the days when I used to make money from the draw at this particular course and distance are long gone.

The reason? Difficult to say unequivocally but, interestingly, the maximum field size changed in 2006 from 20 to just 14. That might well be the material factor.

Ayr 1 Mile Draw / Pace Combinations

A quick look pace wise at the 1 mile trip but the front running edge seen at 5 to 7f is no longer prevalent.

Prominent runners arguably have a slight edge while front runners find it far harder to win over this extra furlong.

The draw / pace heat map confirms the generally fairer distribution of performance in terms of stall location and run style in Ayr mile handicaps.

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I hope this article offers some helpful pointers now racing resumes at Ayr; I will be eagerly awaiting the 3 day September meeting which is one of my favourites, but there could be plenty of benefit between now and then, especially if the weather turns wet!

- DR

Chester Draw & Pace: Part 2

This is a follow up article to the Chester piece I wrote in April, writes Dave Renham. In that article I concentrated on sprints of between five and seven furlongs; here I am will look in detail at the extended 7f trip and the 1m 2f distance.

As I am writing this (on May 4th), I feel sad because this week would have signalled the Chester May Meeting which is one of my favourite meetings of the year. The signs are, however, that racing may be back quite soon with Germany and France hopefully set to start again in the near future. When it resumes here, racing will be behind closed doors but for everyone involved in the sport I am sure they will just be glad to get going again.

Since writing the first three articles in this draw/pace series there has been a useful addition to the Draw and Pace Analyser tools whereby you can now narrow down your query by year range. In the past it showed all years going back to 2009 and in order to look at more recent data I needed to use the Query Tool as well. This speeds my draw and pace research up especially when wanting to research time sensitive data.

 

 

What the new addition also means is that I can look at the data in a slightly different way using a method I first saw in Nick Mordin’s excellent book, ‘Winning Without Thinking’. He looked at data in five-year batches which is a good way to try and compare things more effectively. This method also potentially highlights whether patterns or biases are changing, and offers more reliable sample sizes.

Below is an example of this method based on 7f handicap data from Goodwood, which I hope illustrates his idea neatly. Back in the late 1990s and early 2000s Goodwood’s 7f trip provided me with plenty of winning bets, many of them forecasts and exactas on horses drawn closest to the rail; but the officials got wise to the bias and managed to even it out a little for some years. However, back in 2015 or so I started to notice that the low draw bias was beginning to reappear.

Here is a table using five-year batches of data with percentages for each third of the draw as well as A/E values. The full 11-year data is shown at the top of the table for long term comparison:

 

I have highlighted in green the low draw data which shows a big change from the first five years (2009-2013) in terms of the low draw bias gradually getting stronger. Having said that I know that 2018 and 2019 have both seemingly started to show a decline again in the strength of bias - this is just beginning to be shown in the 2015-2019 data. The next couple of years may well determine whether Goodwood are increasing efforts once again to level out the ‘draw playing field’. Hence I really think splitting year data in this way is a useful tool for comparisons and I will aim to use it in articles where it is appropriate. 

So time to delve back into Chester’s stats. As before I am using some of the tools available on the Geegeez website, those being the Draw Analyser, the Pace Analyser and the Query Tool. The main period of study goes back to 2009, but as before I will examine a more recent data set (2015 to 2019) in detail, too, where appropriate, as well as using the new 5-year comparison method.

I will be focusing once again on 8+ runner handicap races and, as stated in the first paragraph, looking mainly at the extended 7f trip and 1m2f. The draw will be divided into three equal sections or thirds (low, middle, high) and non-runners have been taken into account with draw positions adjusted accordingly. The pace data is split into four groups: led, prominent, mid division and held up.

Chester 7 1/2 furlongs (8+ runner handicaps)

When analysing this trip on Geegeez Draw Analyser you need to look at the 1 mile distance to get this extended 7f data. Otherwise if you key in 7 furlongs you will get the 7f data from the last article. This is because the actual distance is 7f 127 yards, which is closer to a mile than seven furlongs.

Since 2009 there have been 115 races that have qualified which is a decent sample. Here are the 11 season overall draw splits:

There appears to be a slight edge towards lower draws but, compared with the 5 – 7f data, we can see that this 7½f distance offers low draws far less of an advantage.

The A/E values are shown below for this period:

A fairly even playing field here so, despite the small low draw edge in terms of percentage wins, it looks like the bookmakers have that well factored into their prices.

It is time now to look at each draw position broken down by individual stall number:

 

Perhaps no real surprises here given the draw thirds data. There does seem to be something to be gleaned from looking at the each way placed percentages: combining the figures for horses drawn 10 or wider they have made the frame (i.e. won or placed) just 16% of the time. Their combined win A/E value is also low at 0.55. Compare this with horses drawn 1 to 9 who have placed 30% of the time with an A/E value of 0.88. It seems the long term data suggests that horses drawn 10 and above are at a fairly significant disadvantage to those drawn lower.

Onto a more recent data set looking at the past five seasons (2015-2019). Here are the draw splits for the 58 races that have occurred during this time frame.

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This tells a similar tale to the ’09-’19 figures but with a slight increase in the low draw win percentage. This small increase is not statistically significant and the A/E values again indicate a relatively level playing field in terms of potential profitability as shown below:

The five-year stats for individual draw positions are below:

Again it is only the each way percentages that catch my eye, mirroring the long term data (draws 1 to 9 with 32% of placed runners; draws 10 and above with 11.4% of placed runners).

Let us break down the draw figures using rolling five-year batches to compare the data in another way:

Looking at the table we can see that the low draw bias has been very consistent from 2011 onwards and it seems that in 2009 and 2010 for whatever reason low draws slightly under-performed.

Ultimately this is a course and distance where there is a slight low draw edge and, as indicated earlier, draws 10 and above look to be at a fairly significant disadvantage. Hence it should not come as a surprise that as the field size grows the bias towards low draws increases as does the bias AGAINST higher draws. Here are the data for fields with 12 or more runners for 2009 – 2019 (44 races in total):

In bigger fields I would be very wary of backing anything drawn high unless I felt the horse had a huge edge over the rest of the runners, or that its price more than justified the risk. The A/E values correlate neatly as we can see:

It looks therefore that we have a potentially playable draw bias when we get to 12+ runners. Indeed the bias does seem to strengthen when we increase the field size further, but of course the number of races becomes smaller and less reliable from a statistical point of view.

In the first Chester article I pointed out how exotic bets (forecasts, exactas, etc) over 5f would have proved profitable under certain circumstances. Once again I have delved into this area for this distance when the field size has been 12 or more. There are some interesting ideas that would have proved highly profitable during the period of study for these bigger field races:

a) perming the bottom four draws in 12 x £1 straight forecasts would have seen an outlay of £528 and produced returns of £627.49 meaning of profit of £99.49. The exacta paid more (potentially increasing profit by a further £130 to be precise), but exactas being pool bets are not always a good vehicle for draw-based bets: they can easily be ‘overplayed’ and the dividend suffers as a result;

b) perming the five lowest draws in 60 x £1 tricasts would have seen a significant outlay of £2640 but produced huge returns of £4845 meaning a healthy profit of £2205, and an ROI of 84%.

Of course, past profitable results are simply that – past results. However, I have made most of my profits over the years using these exotic bets on draw biased races and the profits quoted are not unusual.

Let us look at pace and running styles now. The overall figures (2009-19) are thus:

A very even playing field here, although hold up horses seem at a slight disadvantage.

I have checked ground conditions and there is nothing clear cut; however, field size does seem to make a difference as it did with the draw. If we look at 12+ runner races again we get the following pace results:

In bigger fields front runners have the best record and have an edge; meanwhile, hold up horses seem to really struggle.

Now a look at draw / pace (running style) combinations for front runners in these 7½f races. Remember this is looking at which third of the draw is responsible for the early leader of the race (in % terms):

Lower draws are more likely to take the early lead but with a run of around 1½ furlongs to the first bend horses drawn wider find it easier to contest for the lead should they wish too. What is noteworthy is that early leaders from low draws go on to win a far bigger percentage of races than those who led drawn in the middle or out wide (high). 58 horses have led from low draws with ten going onto to win the race (17.2%); 81 horses have led from middle or high draws with only six managing to go on to win (7.4%). It should also be noted that prominent runners from a low draw have a decent record, scoring more 15% of the time.

In conclusion, lower draws do have an edge but it is only when we get to bigger fields (12+) that the bias looks playable. Not only do bigger fields increase the edge for low draws, they decrease the chances of high drawn horses. Pace wise the only bias seems again to occur in bigger fields where front runners have an advantage while hold up horses find it very difficult to win.

 

Chester 1 mile 2 1/2 furlongs (8+ runner handicaps) 

There were 94 qualifying races at this distance from 2009 to 2019. The 1m 2f 70 yards distance has been shortened by 5 yards since 2009, not that that would make any difference. Here are the draw splits:

 

Low draws definitely have had an edge over the 11 seasons, while there seems little in it between middle and higher draws. Let’s look at the A/E values to see whether this bias is appreciated by bookmakers:

 

No real edge it seems from a punting perspective with an extremely level set of A/E values. Let’s see what the individual draw positions offer:

The lowest six draws seems the natural cut off point in terms of win strike rate, and the A/E values for draws 1 2, 5 and 6 are decent. However, only draw 5 has made a ‘blind’ profit.

Look at the going data there have only been 20 races on good to firm or firmer, but my impression is that any low draw bias is less potent under such conditions. The win percentages are more even and the win and placed figures see just 2 more placed efforts for low draws compared with high. Such a small number of races means it is simply a hypothesis, however.

Onto the last five seasons now. There have been 43 qualifying races since 2015, with the draw splits as follows:

A more even set of figures in the more recent past with low draws only marginally best in win percentage terms.  And the A/E values:

Low draws have proved to be poor value over the past five seasons despite still winning more races. The individual draw figures for 2015 to 2019 look like this:

Draws 1 and 2 have a really poor record in the more recent past and checking back from 2009 to 2014 both stall positions actually made a blind profit. This illustrates how religiously backing individual draw positions can be a real roller coaster and in general too risky long term.

Let us now look at the draw figures for 1m 2f using the five-year comparison method discussed earlier:

The five year batch data seem to back up what the 2015 to 2019 figures had suggested: that the low draw bias has been gradually diminishing. I am not sure why this has been happening – it may just be down to chance and it will be interesting to see what results the next couple of seasons bring.

A look pace and running styles now. Here are the overall figures going back to 2009:

These figures show that front runners have a significant edge which, considering the distance, is unusual. In general in flat races, the longer the distance the less successful front runners are. But Chester's very tight, always on the turn, configuration does make it harder for horses to pass without travelling further and using up more fuel.

A win percentage for front runners of nearly 20% really caught my eye. To illustrate this pace bias more clearly, the average win percentage all UK courses over the 1m 2f distance (8+ runner handicaps) stands at 12.8% (A/E 1.09; IV 1.39). Only Beverley and Wetherby have a better win strike rate for front runners at this trip than Chester; and we can probably ignore Wetherby because there have been so few races (just 11) on their recently opened flat track. At the other end of the scale, front runners at this distance at both York and Epsom have won a meagre 5% of races.

As the field size gets bigger the pace bias strengthens a little: in races of 11 or more runners, front runners have won just over 25% of them (12 wins from 47 runners). Meanwhile, in terms of ground underfoot conditions, as with the extended 7f trip, it is difficult to pinpoint whether the going makes any real difference.

Now a look at draw / pace (running style) combinations for front runners in 1m 2f Chester handicaps (2009 – 2019):

It is easier for lower drawn horses to take the early lead but, in terms of these runners going onto win, strike rates are similar: low drawn front runners win 21.8% of the time; those who lead early from middle draws have won 20% of the time, high drawn front runners 19.2% of the time.

Chester longer distance races (8+ runner handicaps)

Looking very briefly at distances beyond 1m2f:

1m 4f - front runners over 1m4f do have an edge, winning around 16% of the time (A/E 1.50), but there is no draw advantage for any ‘third’ (47 races in total)

1m 5f – only 23 races at this trip and from the limited data front runners have a slight edge. There is no draw bias.

1m 7f 195yds or more – front runners have an edge even at this trip winning over 15% of the time (A/E 1.57) while hold up horses really struggle (3 wins from 125) producing an A/E of just 0.30. As the field size increases hold up horses find it even harder winning 0 races from 74 in races of 12 or more runners. In terms of the draw low draws actually seem to have a small edge which seems to increase in big fields. There have only been 30 races in total though so it is impossible to fully confident about these findings.

That concludes our investigation into draw and pace at Chester racecourse. As has been shown, there is a generally strong bias towards low draws and/or front runners, with the bias being emphasised in bigger fields.

- DR

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