COBBER KAIN (Frankie Dettori) beats STRAIT OF HORMUZ (left, David Probert) at Chelmsford City racecourse 4 Sep 2019 - Pic Steven Cargill / Racingfotos.com

Punting Angles: Chelmsford City Racecourse Part 2

In the previous article I focused on some angles for playing the polytrack at the Essex course at Chelmsford City, writes Jon Shenton. To be brutally honest, keeping the word count down to something sensible proved impossible and stumps were drawn as the light was fading late in the evening.

However, after a short break it’s time to pad up again, get back to the crease and finish building this meaningful innings. If you missed Part 1, or want to revisit it, you can do so here.

First up today, let’s look at some stallion data.

Stallion performance at Chelmsford

Using geegeez.co.uk’s Query Tool and evaluating all runs at Chelmsford with SP’s of 20/1 or shorter we get the following list of stallions with A/E values of greater than 1.00 (where they have had 100 runners or more).  The data is sorted in descending A/E order.

 

These articles have already discussed the merits of Lope De Vega progeny on all-weather surfaces, especially at Gosforth Park, Newcastle. That stallion also has a perfectly respectable Chelmsford record. Analysing “Lope” runners by race distance at Chelmsford gives the following picture:

 

There appears to be a distinct variance in performance between races of a mile or shorter and those longer than the 8-furlong trip. His progeny’s record beyond a mile is 4 wins from 33 whilst the numbers at up to a mile show a highly competent 18/72.

 

It’s not the most conclusive, or robust, angle in the portfolio but is worth tracking as it may develop into something a little more solid over time. If you have time, do re-visit Lope De Vega at Newcastle (see article link above), the stats are stronger for that course.

Top of the table is Medicean, so it would be impolite to move on without further reference to his progeny.  Again, here are the numbers based on race distance in the table below:

 

Like Lope De Vega, there is a split at around the mile distance: 6/47 at the longer trips and 20/92 over shorter.

Medicean retired from stud duties a couple of years ago so this angle has a limited shelf life, in truth it is probably reducing in relevance already. However, there are still winners to be had (Sharp Operator went in on the 24th September for example). It’s one to keep an eye on, rather than build as a cornerstone of a punting portfolio. Interesting yes, unmissable no.

 

5 furlong races

Let’s go back to the specific race distances, starting with the fast and furious five-furlong burn ups. The course map illustrates how they break near the bend at the end of the back straight.

Like some other courses I’ve evaluated in this series, the Chelmsford five has all the hallmarks of suiting a low drawn early pace speed merchant.

Evaluating in more detail using the tried and (semi) tested approach from part 1 sheds light on the hypothesis.

 

For those not familiar with the layout;  the table is a combination of draw bias in the left hand box (using the draw analyser IV3 numbers) and the Pace profile (Pace Analyser with IV) consolidated on one table on the right hand side, by number of runners in a given race.

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For more detail on the numbers and what they mean I noticed Matt had addressed this particular subject in his “Silly Question Friday part 2” post, which you can find here.

The tables above cover all races over five furlongs at Chelmsford on Standard or Standard/Slow surfaces (very small number of events on the latter going) and relate to the actual stall position, not the drawn stall number (this simply adjusts for non-runners). It’s quite helpful that the maximum field size at this trip is 12 meaning there is a bit less eye-bleeding data manipulation to get through (secretly enjoyed!).

First impressions are that the bias is less apparent than I was expecting. In my mind I expected to see a sea of green to the left on the draw table (good) and an expansive pit of red on the right (bad).   Whilst there is undoubtedly a tendency towards those drawn on the inside, with stall 1 looking very healthy, it’s far from a binary profile. Plenty of animals are prevailing from wider stall positions. That said, the outside two stalls marginally underperform in almost all field sizes.

Pace, however, is much more clear cut. Shifting our gaze to the table on the right, we can see early leaders are universally green in nature with IV performance of a minimum of 1.5 in all cases. To be clear for those still not au fait with Impact Value (IV), that means early leaders are at least one-and-a-half times more likely to win than horses adopting other run styles.

Prominent runners fare reasonably well but those raced more steadily through the early stages generally have it all to do at the sharp end.

The main inference from these data, in reasonably strong terms, is that pace is of greater importance than stall position at five furlongs.

The best / easiest way of performing a quick check-in to see if this holds true is to use the heat map on draw analyser. In this case below I’ve taken data for field sizes of 8 and 9 (illustrating IV). However, it is straightforward to check other field sizes using the tool. As always drop me a note in the comments or on twitter if you need any guidance.

The exact numbers are always interesting; however, the colour coding shows you really what you need to know. The map does show that a low draw is perhaps more forgiving if an early leading position is not secured, but there is no doubt overall that ‘(early) pace wins the race’.

Whilst all of this is nice and makes perfect sense there is another side to the coin: the value side.

My pre-conceived belief was that low draws would be where the action is. When I wager at Chelmsford this is ingrained in my psyche and is always the first thing I look for. Whether this has been picked up through media talk, using Geegeez, or typically what I’ve seen at other tracks I’m not sure. But if I believed it, I surely can’t be the only one?

If I’m not alone then it’s highly possible that a low draw at Chelmo is in danger of being overbet. If the claim that pace is more important than draw holds true then maybe wider drawn, pacy animals are a great betting opportunity. Yes, sure, winners are more likely to be unearthed from lower stall positions, but perhaps the value is elsewhere with the market underestimating higher gate numbers.

The most effective way to check in the toolkit is to repeat the table format, but this time using the A/E number (again, details of A/E, Actual / Expected, can be found here). As with IV, the higher the number the better, with 1.00 being par performance (in a perfect world with no over-round for the bookies).

 

Interesting? The picture is choppy for sure, mainly due to the small datasets derived by analysing each stall position based on field size (manifesting a few zeroes, for example).

However, I’m confident that there is a greener hue to the right side of the table than the left; maybe not rainforest green but certainly including tinges of Kermit in comparison to the Bert-and-Ernie-like yellowness of the left-hand side.

This table is effectively confirming that the low stalls are broadly over-bet.

Taking stall one as an individual case study, in the first table in this section this berth has an IV3 of 1.28. It’s not a perfect measure but it sufficiently makes the point that winners are quite likely to originate from the inside box when compared to the average. The A/E comparison scores for stall one are all below that level (illustrated by the blue dotted outline), in some cases significantly.

The bottom line is that by backing trap one blindly in five-furlong races winners should be plentiful but cash will probably be conceded: the market has sussed it already.

To re-enforce / labour the point, below is a cut from the draw analyser which splits the draw into low/mid/high segments in field sizes of 8+.

The image confirms the assertion, namely generic low draws have an IV of 1.04 but an A/E of only 0.73. Conversely, high stall positions struggle in relative terms with IV (0.8) but have a higher A/E at 0.88.

However, when considering run style, we can see that those which led early – especially from wider out – have been very profitable to follow. Indeed, breaking fast from a wide draw may enable a horse to cut the first corner and carry more speed into that turn.

 

What does that mean? Simply that value can be found in the wider stall positions when there is early pace thereabouts.

In conclusion, with regards to the Chelmsford five-furlong range:

  • Finding the early leader (or at least a horse that is prominent) is the key factor in establishing a likely winner of the race
  • A lower drawn horse is more likely to prevail over the distance; however, there is evidence that the market overcompensates for the low draw.
  • A horse drawn in a middle to high stall is more likely to generate a long-term profit, especially if able to show early speed.

 

6 furlong races

Moving up by a furlong to the three quarters of a mile trip, runners start well down the back straight, thus giving jockeys and horses more time and room to sort out their positions before the bend. The maximum field size over this distance is 14. However, there have only been 31 races with a combined 13 or 14 runners so I’m going to leave these on the bench for the data analysis.

 

The table shows that, arguably, the bias over six towards low stalls is stronger than that over five. Most of the stall 1 and 2 data is green in nature, indicating that winners are more likely to originate from those positions than anywhere else. This holds true particularly well where there are 9 or fewer horses taking part.

Where there are ten or more participants the picture is less clear. It may be related to sample size (22 races with 12 runners compared to say 60 with 8 entrants), or it may be related to greater scope for congestion; but there isn’t anything too obvious – in my mind at least – to explain why the larger field sizes shape differently.

One thing that is not open to question is the effect of pace on the outcome of six-furlong races: yet again, being at the front end early pays handsomely.

Based on both the draw and pace details you’d expect a low drawn trailblazer to be of primary interest and, whilst that is true, as with the minimum trip pace seems to be the kingmaker. The heat map below shows IV performance for field sizes of 8-10, and is unambiguous in terms of how most winners race.

 

In this case the low drawn early speed combination appears to be almost unbeatable, but the enduring message is that if a runner is held up, dropped in or generally in the hustle and bustle of midfield it’s a big ask to pass the speed horses.

The same assertion made for five furlongs about lower draws being overbet could hold true over this course and distance too. I did repeat the full table treatment but for the sake of brevity here is the same broad-brush view covering all field sizes that have been analysed.

It’s the same story again, low draw equals higher overall probability of winning (IV 1.18) but the A/E doesn’t match it at 0.81.  But overlaying pace onto the equation is the route to profit, especially away from the ‘obvious’ inside berths.

A footnote on Pace

This may or not be of interest to some of you but it’s worthy of inclusion in my view.  When I started working with pace there was something gnawing away that didn’t sit right with me.

It comes down to the fact that any given race there is only one horse that is tagged as led/leader and there can be several tagged as held up, mid-division or prominent.

It is logical horses that also-rans are far more likely to be contained within the held up (or mid-division) classification. They start near the back and stay near the back! Could it be, then, that these no-hopers skew the data for the off-the-pace categories and in fact a quality hold up horse has the same chance of winning as a quality front-running animal?

To scratch this itch, analysing the performance of favourites by how they are ridden is a logical method. And what better way to do it than by evaluating the five- and six-furlong races at Chelmsford contained in this article?

The below table shows the performance of favourites in sprint races by early run style:

The pace aspect holds up! Leader favourites outperform the market with an A/E of 1.27 and a whopping IV of 3.89! Those market toppers which are dropped in have an A/E of just 0.62, which equates to a negative 40% ROI. Ouch. These data satisfactorily allayed my own curiosity and fears, anyway!

That about wraps up this Chelmsford two-parter covering as it has trainers, sires, and delving into races over 5, 6, 7 and 8 furlongs in fine detail. I hope you’ve found at least of something of use.

The regularity of racing at the all-weather tracks means data are more readily available than their turf counterparts and I’d fully recommend the geeky/curious amongst you to get stuck in to analysing racing on the artificial surfaces as a starting point.

  • JS
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4 replies
  1. Avatar
    alpha2 says:

    Hi Jon, Backed Catapult at Chelmsford last night as a direct result of your article. Imagine my surprise when I looked at the results this morning when I saw that this habitual front runner from a wide draw over 6f had been held up and dropped in, coming from behind to win last strides! It’s an ill wind – and I got 12’s.
    All the best
    Hugh

    Reply
    • Avatar
      Jonny11 says:

      Hi Hugh, yes I backed Catapult too on the same basis! The horror when he was dropped in was palpable! I’ll take it though!! Cheers, Jon

      Reply
  2. Avatar
    CF says:

    Nicely put together Jon, for anyone struggling to make the AW pay the information posted should be most helpful.

    I wonder if we will see a similar article for the other AW tracks, I do hope so.

    Much appreciated,

    Reply
    • Avatar
      Jonny11 says:

      Thank you CF. Yes, just started research for the next one this morning and it will be AW based again! Not quite sure on content yet, will see where it goes!!

      Reply

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