Tag Archive for: Ayr pace bias

Racing Insights, 29th September 2020

Welcome to the first in a new series of daily (Monday to Saturday) articles aimed at helping you to sharpen your betting focus. We've somewhat unimaginatively called the series Racing Insights, and I very much hope that's what they will provide.

Replacing Stat of the Day was always going to be emotional for some of that long-running feature's army of fans, but the time was right to step away from tipping and pivot the focus from 'the answer' to 'the working out'.

That means that some days, perhaps more often than not, there won't be an obvious pick within the Racing Insights piece. But what there will always be is reasoned argument whilst working through a race. Those reasonings start at the helicopter level of a whole day's racing: choosing our battles carefully is one of the most important aspects of betting, and one which is generally overlooked.

It took Stat of the Day a good four to six months to establish its style, so please don't expect Racing Insights to be cast in stone by the end of this week. Also, we're keen to make it something that can help with any challenges you might have - we can provide answers from time to time within the content here - so please do feel free to ask your burning questions in the comments!

Enough with the preamble, let's get this new show on the road...

Tuesday 29th September offers free subscribers six Gold races from the 47 races across UK and Ireland. These are as follows:

29/09/2020 13:30 Ayr
29/09/2020 13:45 Cork
29/09/2020 13:55 Punchestown
29/09/2020 14:05 Ayr
29/09/2020 16:15 Punchestown
29/09/2020 16:40 Wolverhampton

Gold subscribers have access, of course, to everything.

From that sextet, I'm going to focus on Ayr. The two races listed there are to be run over six and seven furlongs respectively, and Dave Renham's fantastic blog on Ayr Draw and Pace biases is an extremely helpful starting point.

To check the latest going, as well as any other relevant updates such as the position of the stalls, I'll go to the BHA's Fixture Updates page (well worth bookmarking). Here I discover the following:

The stalls on the straight track, which includes the six furlong distance, will be placed in the centre of the width of the course; for the seven furlong races, they will be positioned on the outer.

I've also noted that with showers forecast the going might well be good to soft.

Dave's article tells me that the draw bias is all but negated over six when the stalls are positioned centrally:

In the context of this specific race, the 1.30, the PRB (percentage of rivals beaten) chart looks like this:

While middle looks unfavoured, one has to be careful as a quick squint at the left hand axis reveals a very tight range of between 0.46 (46% of rivals beaten) and 0.53 (53% of rivals beaten). I wouldn't normally consider anything in the 0.46-0.54 range to be material. In other words, this backs up Dave's assertion that draw is largely irrelevant over six at Ayr when the stalls are in the middle.

I don't really feel like I have enough of a route into this race and so I'm moving on to the other Ayr Race of the Day, the 2.05, a handicap over seven furlongs.

Here we can see that there is a sharp bend to negotiate soon after the start and, even allowing for the positioning of the stalls on the outside to enable the field to meet it at more of a tangent, there is still scope for wide-drawn runners to have to cover a lot more ground especially if getting fanned out turning into the home straight:

 

We can see from Dave's piece that high draws win around half as often as those otherwise berthed:

They do still win 20% of the time, mind. [Any horse can win any race, remember that!!]

So it's a knock for wide drawn runners, though not a knockout blow at this stage. However, pace is also a factor with those closer to the speed faring best and those furthest from it doing worst. Below is the draw/pace chart looking at place data on the heat map.

Note that Florenza, and particularly the hattrick-seeking Equidae, are drawn widest of all. They both have some early speed so might try to go forward and tack across. The likelihood, with that bend appearing soon after the start, is that they'll be trapped out wide and I'd be against them on that basis. Of course, if they can get handy and not be four, five or six wide, they'll have their chance.

Those most obviously favoured by the draw and pace set up look to be Nobby Nuts, Let Right Be Done, Al Mansoura, and Kodimoor. [Nobby Nuts appears to be in a flash of amber, but one needs to use common sense when considering the data as a whole and the principles of geometry: there is not a huge amount of data with which to work and it stands to reason that a horse near the inner of the field who likes to race handily ought to be favoured - I hope that's clear...ish]

Let's have a look at Instant Expert now:

Again, I'm looking at place data (to get a slightly deeper feel for things) and I've set to all horse form, though I often look only at the last two years. And I've ordered by draw because of the bias against those locked in the car park.

I can see that one of the horses I was interested in, Let Right Be Done, has run at Ayr a whopping 32 times in his career, making the frame just four times. That does include a course and distance score on good to soft but he's not really on my shopping list.

Of the exposed runners, Forever A Lady seems to always perform well here. She's on her last winning mark (59, see the right hand column in Instant Expert) and has made the frame in five of seven course and distance spins. Note also that, in spite of generally having been held up recently, she's (sensibly!) normally ridden more prominently over this track and trip. Stall nine doesn't massively help but she'll probably a big price to offset the risk.

Al Mansoura has a lot less data in the visual than most of her rivals, but what little there is is green: she was a neck second to Equidae on her only course run, which was also over this range and, with a kinder draw than her conqueror then, she has a strong chance to reverse that form. She's been beaten a neck a couple of times now, however, and remains a maiden after five runs. That does also mean she can probably improve from her current rating.

Interestingly, trainer David O'Meara and jockey Danny Tudhope both have fine long-term (C5) records at Ayr, the latter also in excellent recent form as shown by the green 14/30 indicators:

O'Meara persists with the cheek pieces even though Al Mansoura ran poorly in them on their first application last time out.

Nobby Nuts is another three-year-old with little data to go on; but he has that good draw and can go forward. Also, he's dropping back in trip having failed to see out a mile last time and he's dropping in class (see the down arrow to the right of his name). He's quite interesting

A third three-year-old is Edna Tale and her trainer's record with handicap debutants would have made her of interest on another day; but the combination of David Barron's poor recent form and her moderate wide draw mean she's got plenty on her plate for all that she's only had two goes thus far and is almost sure to be better than we've seen.

Of the more exposed runners, Kodimoor is one-from-one at the track, in a Class 6 seven-furlong handicap, the same setup as today. He seems to handle all ground and only conceded the lead in the last furlong when racing over Beverley's stiff mile last time. Paula Muir rode him there and keeps the mount. As can be seen below from the RS (Run Style) column on the Full Form tab, this lad has led in his most recent two starts and may again attempt the front-running tactic.

 

Summary

It's a very tricky 14-runner low grade contest, but the widest stall for the most in-form horse might make the market for anything else we fancy. In that context, Kodimoor is interesting and I suspect he'll make a bid for the lead, his draw in 8 mitigated by a number of typically steadier starters inside. But he may get run down in the final furlong by one of the less exposed three-year-olds. It would be no surprise to see Forever A Lady significantly outrun her odds.

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.

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).

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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

Ayr Sprint Cups and the Draw…

Ayr's Western meeting is headlined by the Gold Cup, a very high class six furlong handicap. Such is its popularity that the meeting also hosts not one but two consolation races, the Silver and Bronze Cups.

What that means is a reasonable body of big field evidence from which to conjecture about the draw. Geegeez Gold also has some pretty neat tools to support those ruminations.

First, we need to establish the likely going. With a largely dry forecast, the ground should be somewhere between good and good to soft by Saturday, when the Silver and Gold Cups are hosted. Today, the official going is soft, good to soft in places. We'll use the history of all big field six furlong sprints since 2009 at the track.

 

Ayr 6 Furlong Draw (Overall)

Here's how the high/middle/low split looks in six furlong races of 16 runners or more since 2009 at Ayr:

All 16+ runner 6f races at Ayr since 2009

All 16+ runner 6f races at Ayr since 2009

 

As you can see, low is marginally favoured over middle, which in turn is favoured over high. That's based on place percentages across a sample of almost 600 runners.

 

Ayr 6 Furlong Draw (Good, Good to Soft, Soft only)

Because we have a reasonable (relative to other course/distance combinations) sample size, we can restrict our going range to something closer to this weekend's reality. In this image, I'm looking only at soft to good ground:

Ayr big field 6 furlong races on good, good to soft, or soft ground

Ayr big field 6 furlong races on good, good to soft, or soft ground

 

Here we can see that low is still favoured, though not by as much, with high some way behind. All of these views show the place percentage, which allows for a slightly largely sample of placers than winners. Focusing only on winners would show a similar 'low and middle dominating high' perspective.

 

A More Granular Look...

So that's cut and dried then, no? Low to middle favoured. High can win but historically not so much. Sadly, it's not quite as simple as that. Look at this race-by-race breakdown of the draw positions of the placed horses in 16+ runners six furlong races run at Ayr on ground ranging from good through to soft, since 2009.

 

Ayr 6f place draw breakdown, 16+ runners

Ayr 6f place draw breakdown, 16+ runners

 

What is striking - to me - is how 'random' the spread of stall positions is. But look more closely and you might be able to discern a 'cluster' effect: groups of proximitous stalls appearing in the same result.

 

Holy Clusters, Batman!

Last year, the Gold Cup first four were in stalls between four and nine; and the Silver Cup saw three of the first four home in adjacent boxes two to four. Indeed, in the image below we can see how prevalent this place clustering actually is.

 

Ayr 6f big field place clustering

Ayr 6f big field place clustering

 

Note the red comments, where three or all four placed horses came from a small portion of the draw. This starts to look anything but random. And yet, we still have the challenge of establishing, ahead of time, where these 'pockets of success' might be. The crucial thing is that, over the course of seven years, they have - on different occasions - been spread across the track.

 

What About Pace?

So perhaps there is no discernible draw bias. Is that possible? In the below table, I've added some early pace information. Below the table, I'll explain what it means.

 

Effect and location of early pace in 6f big field Ayr sprints

Effect and location of early pace in 6f big field Ayr sprints

 

This was somewhat labour intensive, and is a little bit subjective, in terms of using pace comments to determine those with early dash in the races. However, as a totality, I think there are some interesting findings.

The green numbers in the placing boxes are placed horses that had early pace in the race. The stall positions, quantity, and placed quantity, of early pacers are in the three right hand columns.

Of the 460 runners to contest these 19 races, 76 filled out the first four placings (16.5%). The 131 early pacers (28.5% of the runners) managed to claim 29 of the 76 top four placings (38%), which is a third higher than random.

So we can be reasonably confident that early pace is generally favoured in these races, something borne out by Gold's pace tab:

 

Performance, by run style, of all 6f races at Ayr since 2009

Performance, by run style, of all 6f races at Ayr since 2009

 

The table below the blobs shows a clear linear relationship, especially on place percentage, by run style. Early leaders are almost twice as likely to win than random, while those held up perform significantly below expectations. Of course, the 'tail end Charlie' group includes a lot of no-hopers in open race company, which over-emphasizes the point but, nevertheless, a prominent/front rank early position is generally advantageous.

Although the data are far from unequivocal - sadly, pigeonholes rarely work effectively when trying to solve the biggest racing puzzles - it would seem that pace is a more important commodity than draw, although being drawn close to some 'community pace' looks a solid advantage.

 

Who's going to win? Bronze Cup

This is the bit where I put my money where my mouth is. Using the info above, as well as the Instant Expert and various other bits and bobs, I'll offer a suggestion or two. Keep in mind that the scope for egg on face here is high, so caveat emptor!

Pretty much all of the early zip looks to be low, as you can see here:

Ayr Bronze Cup: pace looks to be low

Ayr Bronze Cup: pace looks to be low

 

Here's what the Instant Expert makes of the form in the book:

Instant Expert's view of the Bronze Cup

Instant Expert's view of the Bronze Cup

 

Ocean Sheridan, drawn nine, and a fan of softish ground, has shown he can handle big fields and is a distance specialist. He represents a northern trainer who targets the meeting, and should run a big race at around 10/1.

Giant Spark has an obvious chance, one which is very well accounted for in a quote of 5/1.

At bigger prices, Marjorie Fife's Best Trip could blaze a trail for a long way, and come out best of her three entries. 25/1 should give a run for your money at least.

A good egg on face avoidance strategy is to take one from 'the other side' just in case (!), and Adrian Keatley's Anonymous Lady has plenty of juice in her quote of 25/1. Keatley showed yesterday he's in fine fettle, and has a belting overall record at the track.

Adrian Keatley's Anonymous Lady may be drawn on the wrong side, but she has a decennt profile otherwise

Adrian Keatley's Anonymous Lady may be drawn on the wrong side, but she has a decent profile otherwise

 

Who's going to win? Gold and Silver Cups

Here at geegeez, we try to teach people to fish, as the old adage goes, and we have top of the range rods and bait inside Geegeez Gold. So it is that, with a nod of encouragement, I invite you to do your own angling for a tasty fish supper in Saturday's races. If you come up dry, don't carp about it though (groan)!

Good luck,
Matt

 

p.s. Geegeez Gold is £30 monthly but, for the next few days only, you can secure a huge discount by signing up as an annual subscriber. £197 gets you twelve months' access here: http://www.geegeez.co.uk/invest-in-gold/

Please note: Annual subs will rise for new annual subscribers only to £249 from next Monday, 19th September. If you're on a trial, or have already upgraded to Annual, you will be unaffected by the price rise and will be 'grandfathered' in on the soon-to-be old rate for the term of your subscription. (NB it is your responsibility not to let it lapse!)

 

Here's that link again: http://www.geegeez.co.uk/invest-in-gold/