As we move into September, the weather is starting to change, and my mind is drawn to the autumn and winter racing programme, writes Dave Renham. I will be looking at National Hunt racing in the near future but, before that, what follows is the first article in a new series focusing on the all-weather tracks. In it, I will dig into numerous key stats at the six UK all-weather tracks, as well as looking in detail for the first time at Dundalk in Ireland.
I will be using all-weather racing data from 1st January 2017 to 31st August 2022 when analysing the UK tracks, giving us the opportunity to examine a plethora of stats and angles. I have used the Geegeez Query Tool for all the data collection, and hence all profits / losses have been calculated to Industry Starting Price. However, as I have mentioned before we will be able to improve upon these figures by using either BOG, early prices or the exchanges.
I have shared stats about Chelmsford racecourse before in regards to running style, and also I have looked briefly at the draw, too. I will update both of these here, and there is a number of other areas I am going to look into as well. Let's start with running style.
Running Style (Pace) Bias at Chelmsford
When looking at run style, I have always focused on handicaps, and handicaps with fields of eight or more runners. In an article published in autumn last year (2021), the data strongly pointed to a front-running bias in races staged between 5f and 7f; the strongest bias was at the minimum trip, then seven furlongs, and then six furlongs. I have decided to share only the new data since I collated that article, which gives eleven months of results to analyse. Below are the win strike rates for front runners over these three trips in 8+ runner handicaps (1st Oct ’21 to 31st Aug ’22):
The figures correlate well with the longer term data, so in these types of races whoever leads early does have a clear edge. The A/E indices show a similar picture:
The 7f figure is slightly above the long term average figure, but that can happen with smaller samples.
What is clear is that there is a sliding scale in these races when it comes to run style – front runners have the advantage; prominent racers are next best and those mid division or held up are definitely at a disadvantage.
Before moving on, here is the long-term run style picture in terms of win strike rate across all distances at Chelmsford going back to the start of 2017 (8+ runner handicaps):
There's a strong correlation between race distance and front end advantage: generally, the shorter the distance the stronger the front-running bias; once we get to a mile and 1m2f the bias is minimal. At 1m 5f or further, front-runners are at a disadvantage.
Draw Bias at Chelmsford
Onto to the Chelmsford draw now, and for this area I will again be ignoring smaller fields and sticking to 8+ runner handicaps.
The racecourse map below shows the course is left handed and the lowest draws are positioned closest to the inside. Hence, over the shorter distances one would expect an advantage of some sort for lower drawn runners.
Chelmsford City Racecourse 5 furlong Draw Bias
When I look at the draw, my first port of call is to split the field into three thirds and compare the win percentages. Here are the relevant five furlong draw data for this distance going back to 2017:
An edge to lower drawn horses would have been expected (see above) although, considering the course configuration, it is a relatively modest one. These are the types of percentages one would have expected given that lower draws are closest to the inside rail and, therefore, have the least distance to travel around the turn. Another measure of draw bias is to look at the percentage of rivals beaten (PRB) from each stall position. These figures correlate with the win percentages as you will see below:
Those drawn 1 or 2 have a clear edge over the rest of the stall positions. Between those two berths, they have accounted for 40 winners from 128 races (31.3% of all races). Further, their PRB figures are a very high 56% (horses drawn 1) and 58% (drawn 2). Finally on these two draws, they have combined to make a small profit to SP of £23.09 which equates to nearly 10p profit for every £1 bet.
Chelmsford City Racecourse 6 furlong Draw Bias
Moving up a furlong to six furlongs, the win percentages across the three thirds are very even (low 36.1%; middle 30.7%; high 33.2%). However, the PRB figures suggest the lowest third does retain some sort of an edge:
Likewise combining win and placed results suggest this small edge does exist:
All in all, given the choice, I’d rather be drawn very low than middle to high over 6f.
Chelmsford City Racecourse 7 furlong Draw Bias
The low third come out slightly better at this distance, too, with the PRB for the low third (inside draws) standing at 0.53 (53% of rivals beaten) versus the high third’s figure of 0.46 (46%). Anything above 0.55 is a material positive bias while anything below 0.45 is a negative bias.
Chelmsford City Racecourse 1 Mile Draw Bias
In my recent series of articles on draw bias, this mile trip was highlighted as having a relatively strong bias. Here are the draw splits in terms of win percentages:
Perhaps it's because mile races start in a chute and they race almost directly into a dogleg bend that figures are similar to the 5f statistics at this range, as are the PRB figures:
It seems therefore that over 5f and 1m - the two distances where the field races very quickly into a bend - we have a playable draw bias, albeit perhaps not of Chester proportions. Essentially over these two trips (and to a lesser extent over 6f and 7f), we would prefer a lower draw than a middle or high one. And especially if combined with a forward going run style.
For the remainder of this article I will be using all race data, not just 8+ runner handicaps.
Top Trainers at Chelmsford Racecourse
I have delved into trainer stats quite a lot recently and the advantage of all-weather tracks, from a punting perspective, is that each year there is a huge number of meetings. This gives a bigger data set and, when it comes to trainer stats, I think that is very important. There are 93 trainers who saddled 70 or more runners during the study period and here are the top 15 in terms of win strike rate. As I mentioned, this incorporates ALL races, both handicaps and non handicaps:
John Gosden at Chelmsford Racecourse
Five of the 15 trainers in the table have been profitable to SP. Seven have A/E indices in excess of 1.00, indicating that their runners have offer bettors some value. It is worth looking at a couple of these handlers in more detail, starting with the Gosden stable. Here are John's (and, more recently, with his son Thady) most noteworthy stats:
- Older horses (aged 4+) have provided ten winners from 22 (SR 45.5%) for a small profit of £5.17 (and a large ROI +23.5%).
- Horses priced 5/1 or shorter have produced a win% strike rate of 33.7% thanks to 67 winners from 199 runners. Backing all such runners would have yielded a small profit of £13.26 (ROI +6.7%). Compare this to horses 11/2 or bigger in price, where only two of the 79 runners won, producing disastrous losses of nearly 80 pence in the £.
- Frankie Dettori on Gosden runners at Chelmsford has won on 13 of his 26 mounts. How often they'll combine this winter remains to be seen, however.
- Gosden’s front runners have won 36.5% of their races, while those held up have won just 15.6%.
Richard Hughes at Chelmsford Racecourse
Richard Hughes has a very solid looking record with a one-in-five win ratio and an A/E index of 1.22. In fact, Hughes has been extremely consistent and this can be illustrated by comparing his A/E indices each year (see graph below):
All six years have been above the magic 1.00 figure. He looks a trainer to potentially follow at the course. Here are some of Hughes's strongest snippets:
- His record in handicaps is very good – 39 winners from 169 (SR 23.1%) for a very healthy profit of £73.29 (ROI +43.4%).
- Hughes is happy to put a claiming jockey on board his runners and they have performed marginally better than professional jockeys, with 19 wins from 84 (SR 22.6%) producing returns of 36p in the £.
- His biggest priced winner was 22/1 and he has had an even spread of winners across the price ranges. Horses priced 5/1 or shorter have been a good group for him, as with the Gosden stable; 36 wins from 117 runners (SR 30.8%) for a profit of £21.36 (ROI +18.3%).
Trainers to Beware at Chelmsford Racecourse
Before moving on, here are the trainers with the poorest win strike rates ( all below 7%). It is always worth being aware of trainers that struggle under certain circumstances:
It is interesting to see Richard Fahey in this list. Fahey is not usually a trainer seen this low down the pecking order, and it is not a short trip from North Yorkshire to the Essex showgrounds. Worryingly, he has had 56 runners that started in the top four of the betting and only six of them won. These runners would have produced losses of over 56 pence in the £.
Other notable names in the list are George Boughey and Robert Eddery, both of whose A/E figures are very weak.
Gender bias at Chelmsford Racecourse?
There has always been a slight gender bias when it comes to flat racing with male horses out-performing females. This bias has traditionally been slightly more pronounced in all-weather racing as compared to the turf. For whatever reason, it may not be as strong now as 15 to 20 years ago, but it does still exist, including at Chelmsford, as the table below indicates.
The differences may look relatively modest, but they are significant enough that we, as punters, should be aware of them. A lower strike rate would be forgiven in exchange for a higher ROI but, as can be seen, all data are less appealing than the male cohort. Additionally, when we break this data down further by age group we get the following:
Colts and geldings clearly outperform fillies at 2, 3 and 4 years old but, as the horses get older, it seems to level out.
The A/E indices back this up with excellent correlation with the strike rates:
It will be fascinating to see if any of the other courses display a similar pattern when it comes to age and gender.
Market factors at Chelmsford Racecourse
As we know the betting market is extremely efficient and favourites, for example, have a similar strike rate across all courses. Having said that, there are some differences that will become apparent over this series of individual racetrack articles. Let’s examine Chelmsford in more detail from a market perspective.
Firstly let me take a look at the win strike rates for different positions in the betting; starting with favourites and moving down to position 8th or lower:
A sliding scale, as one would expect, but the win percentage for favourites is slightly higher than the average for all flat courses (34.21% compared with an overall average of just under 33%). This graph also shows how rare it is for outsiders to be successful: those outside of the top five in the market have collectively won less than once every nine races; or, put another way, the top five in the betting win eight out of every nine races at Chelmsford on average.
A look at the A/E indices now:
The value clearly lies with the top two in the betting at Chelmsford, or has done so during the period of study at least. Favourites lost just 4p in the £ to SP and actually made a small profit to Betfair SP.
Two-year-old favourites have the best strike rate of all age groups at just under 41% and they have made a small profit of 4p in the £ to SP, though this may simply be coincidence. That said, if you singled out 2yo favourites that were also top rated on the Peter May speed ratings (published here on geegeez and available to research in Query Tool) you would have had 102 qualifiers, of which 48 won (SR 47.1%) for a healthy profit of £24.33 (ROI +23.9%). For the record, all 300 2yos that topped the speed ratings (regardless of market rank) also made a small blind profit which is impressive.
Before leaving the market / price data section, it should be noted that huge prices have a dismal record at the course. There have been 1969 horses priced 50/1 or bigger and just eight have won. Losses of £1445 would have occurred if backing them, which equates to over 73p in every 3 bet.
Who Are The Best Sires at Chelmsford City Racecourse?
A look at performance by sire at Chelmsford now. Here are the top ten sires in terms of strike rate since 2017 (150 runs or more to qualify):
The top two in the list, Dubawi and Lope De Vega, edged into profit but both have had a big-priced winner which has skewed their stats (Dubawi at 40/1 and Lope De Vega at 33/1). Three of the ten have A/E indices above 1.00, with four more just below that figure. These seven sires - Lope De Vega, Oasis Dream, Dark Angel, Lethal Force, Mastercraftsman, Dutch Art and Showcasing – are worth scrutinising when researching a race at Chelmsford. One other sire, not listed in the table above, has an A/E index of over 1.00 and that is Swiss Spirit. His figure of 1.02 is clearly decent (overall win strike rate stands at 10.7%) and he's another worth looking out for.
A sire that did not make the list due to insufficient progeny runs is Frankel. His record, though, is also worth sharing as he has hit a strike rate of 21.3% thanks to 27 winners from 127 runners.
I also looked briefly at the damsire data and remarkably, and perhaps significantly, Dubawi had the highest strike rate there, too (at 15.9%). Only two damsires have A/E indices of over 1.00 and they are Rock of Gibraltar (1.28) and Danehill (1.11).
Chelmsford Racecourse Horses for courses
Let me finish by looking at some horses that have excelled at Chelmsford since 2017. To qualify for the list they must have won at least four races at the track with a strike rate of 25% or more. Also they must have raced somewhere in the UK in 2022. Here are the horses that qualify. I have included a PRB column, too (Percentage of rivals beaten):
Krazy Paving, who heads the list, has also been placed a further three times at the track. Furthermore, he has the highest PRB figure, an impressive 0.81. Any horse in that list appearing at Chelmsford in the next few months is definitely worth at least a cursory glance, especially those with the highest PRB figures.
We all know racing is not a simple game – there is no easy shortcut to making long term profits. But I hope the statistics shared in this piece of research will be an aid to you when tackling races at Chelmsford in the near future. Please share any big successes with us in the future – my cut is only 25%! 😉