This is the fourth article of my series looking at run style bias at individual all weather tracks and this time we'll look for run style/pace biases at Kempton Park, writes Dave Renham. Kempton is the only right handed all-weather track in the UK and all races are contested around at least one bend. There are two loops at Kempton, an inner loop used for 5f and 1m2f races, and an outer loop for all other distances.
To view other all-weather track run style biases, choose from the below:
Chelmsford Racecourse Run Style Bias
Kempton Park Racecourse (AW) Run Style Bias
Lingfield Racecourse (AW) Run Style Bias
Newcastle Racecourse (AW) Run Style Bias
Wolverhampton Racecourse Run Style Bias
Run style refers to the position a horse takes up early in the race, usually within the first furlong or so. I have written numerous articles where the stats demonstrate that this early position can be really important, especially over shorter distances. The word pace is sometimes used instead of running style because the early pace shown by horses in a race determines their early position.
Geegeez.co.uk has numerous excellent attributes including two extremely user-friendly resources to help you investigate run style. If you head to the Tools tab of Geegeez there is the Pace Analyser. This focuses solely on run style / pace and is an excellent and quick starting point. In addition this you have the Query Tool which can also be used to investigate run style along with other factors such as the draw, trainers, jockeys, class, going, etc. I personally use the Query Tool far more because of its ability to test more angles in combination with running style.
The stats I am using for this piece are based on the site’s pace / run style data. This data is split into four sections, each one being assigned a numerical value. The values go from 4 to 1, with 4 equating to horses that lead early (front runners); 3 is given to horses that race prominently and track the leader(s); horses that race mid pack / mid-division are assigned 2 points while horses held up at, or near the back, score 1.
As with the previous articles in this series I will be looking at individual distances – primarily the shorter ones with the focus being 8+ runner handicaps. The data has been taken from 2016 up until 30th September 2021.
Kempton 5 furlong Run Style Bias
A look at the minimum trip first which, as mentioned, is run around the inner loop with competitors on the turn for a significant percentage of the race distance. Let us look at the run style (pace) figures for Kempton:
There is a very significant run style bias over 5f at Kempton with front runners enjoying a huge edge. Sadly though, 5f handicaps are relatively few and far between at the track, and this pattern of limited races has been repeated in non-handicaps. For the record, there have been just 13 non-handicap races over 5f with eight or more runners since 2016 – the run style bias is the same as one would expect, with 6 wins for front runners, 5 for prominent racers and only 2 for the remainder.
Going back to the 5f handicap races here is a look at front runner performance by draw:
The draw, as a whole, generally favours the lower stalls and hence I had expected front runners to have the highest SR% from the lowest draws. However, as the table shows, front runners seem to be able to win from anywhere. This even looking spread may simply be down to the small sample size, but more likely it is because the front running bias is stronger than the low draw bias. This means the draw almost becomes irrelevant for these trail blazers.
For draw fans, here are the overall draw strike rates for all runners, not just front runners. This time I have split the draw data into three equal parts to look at percentage of winners from each third of the draw:
There is a fair edge to low drawn runners as can be seen, but it is not as strong as the run style bias.
Despite the limited number of races over 5f each year, it is clear that when they do occur, we need to take note. Being able to predict the front runner in these events will almost certainly prove very profitable over time.
Kempton 6 furlong Run Style Bias
Onto 6f handicaps now, and there are many more races here to get stuck into. The maximum field size over 6f at Kempton is 12 and this is how run style impacts performance:
Kempton has the strongest front running bias over 6f that we have seen so far at an all-weather track. However, in more recent seasons front runners have fared less well as far as winning is concerned. The graph below shows quite a drop off in win strike rate:
The SR% from 2016 to 2018 was 22%, compared to around 15% in the last three seasons (2019 to 2021). However, if we look at win and placed stats (each way stats), the strike rates are reversed:
The recent data concerning the each way stats makes me think that the front running bias continues to be fairly strong over 6f. The seasons 2019 and 2020 were probably slight outliers in reality with several front runners running well, but probably not quite making it home in front. Indeed, confidence in my opinion is helped further by the fact that the last 21 front runners of 2021 (up to 30th Sept) have provided seven winners (SR 33.3%).
Onto to 6f favourites at Kempton and their performance across all running styles:
A strong edge exists for front-running favourites. We have seen this numerous times now with different all weather courses and distances. This market / run style bias is replicated when we focus on horses from the top three of the betting over this 6f trip:
All in all, then, horses towards the top of market have a very good record when taking the early lead.
Let us look at the draw next, firstly for all runners. Once again I have split the draw into thirds:
As we can see, low drawn runners (those closest to the inside rail) have a decent edge, slightly stronger from a draw perspective than we saw with the 5f stats. Middle draws win as many races as one would expect given a level playing field, while the wider higher draws tend to struggle a little.
The table below shows the performance of front runners in 6f handicaps by stall position.
As we saw with the 5f data, front runners can win from anywhere, but in general over this furlong longer trip the lower drawn the better. This can be seen more clearly if I split the stalls into two, comparing draws 1 to 6 with draws 7 to 12.
Hence, a potential front runner drawn 6 or lower is the type of horse that might be expected perform well. If they happen to be in the top three in the betting, then such a horse becomes a very interesting proposition. Indeed, looking at all horses that led early from draws 1 to 6 that were in the top three in the betting, the stats show that 34% of them went onto win (67% win & placed).
Finally in terms of 6f handicap run style data I want to look quickly at field size. It seems that the more runners, the stronger the front running bias. Here is front runner performance split by field size:
A better strike rate has been achieved by front-runners in 11- to 12-runner 6f handicap races, when compared with 8- to 10-runner handicaps, coupled with a better A/E value and Impact Value.
With so many races over 6f, one would expect some good betting opportunities to appear here considering the decent front running bias.
Kempton 7 furlong Run Style Bias
Let's move on to the 7f trip now. Field size increases to a maximum of 14 runners at this distance. Here are the run style splits:
The front running bias here is similar to the 6f one, and A/E values for early leaders at the two distances correlate closely (1.48 versus 1.44). The strike rate is lower, due to the average field size being greater over 7f.
The front running bias has been consistent over the past six seasons as can be seen when we compare the front running SR%s in three yearly blocks:
A slightly stronger performance has transpired over the past three seasons but nothing statistically significant.
Favourite performance in 7f handicaps is next on the list: will the same type of front running favourite bias manifest over 7f?
An even more potent market / run style bias can be seen here. Indeed, front running favourites have returned profits of 23p in the £ in the study period. Compare that with favourites that were held up early, a group that lost a whopping 44p in the £.
Looking at the top three in the betting and combining them with a specific run style produces a similar result – backing all relevant front runners would have yielded a profit of 26p in the £; hold up horses from the top three in the betting would have lost 21p in the £.
Next stop a look at the draw – firstly for all runners and run styles:
Horses drawn closest to the inside rail (low) have an edge but it is not as strong as over 6f.
Now focusing on solely front runners and the draws they come from.
In general, more of the lower drawn horses lead early, but it seems that front runners are able to win from any draw. Front runners drawn 2 have an excellent record but this is an anomaly when comparing with draws 1, 3 and 4.
The last thing to discuss in terms of 7f handicap run style data is field size. We saw over 6f that bigger fields increased the front running bias. Is it the same over an extra furlong?
The strike rates are similar, but races with fewer runners should produce higher strike rates for the front runner. We need to look at the A/E value and to a lesser extent the Impact Value. Both figures show a higher performance value from front runners in bigger fields, which correlates neatly with the 6f findings.
Taking all this data into account, punters that use run style as a key component in their betting should be looking closely at qualifying handicap races here over 7f. Potential betting opportunities await.
Kempton 1 Mile Run Style Bias
Onto the mile distance now, where runners have the full length of the back straight to establish a position, and the maximum field size moves up to 16.
Over this fairer constitution, we are moving towards run style parity. Front runners still have a very slight edge but not one we can easily take advantage of.
There is one extra statistic I wish to share with you at this distance, however, which is looking at run style bias in conjunction with the race favourite. Once again we see the same pattern as before, even though the overall front running bias is minimal:
Front running favourites have won roughly twice the number of races compared with favourites that were held up.
Kempton Run Style Bias at 1m2f and 1m3f
There were only 16 qualifying races at a mile and a quarter going back to 2016, this distance being contested on the tighter inner loop, so the data set is far too small to try and analyse. However, over an extra furlong, 1m3f, it is worth a scan of the handicap data as the figures surprised me a little (max field size is 16):
There does appear to be a slight run style bias with front runners again performing pretty well. I cannot really explain this, except that perhaps the proximity of the first bend gives those on the lead an edge in terms of distance travelled and/or luck in running. When betting in such contests I would definitely prefer to be on a horse that is near the front early than held up at the back.
Kempton Run Style Bias: Conclusions
Kempton's all-weather circuit is a track where run style bias is relatively strong from 5f to 7f; these are the distances I would mainly concentrate on. Front runners have a good advantage across all three, while prominent racers are preferable to those racing further back early. Once again I would not be wanting to back a horse that is likely to be held up.