Tag Archive for: Goodwood pace bias

Glorious Goodwood Preview: Farasi Lane Offers Value In Saturday’s Opener

Saturday’s 1.20pm at Goodwood, a 7f, class 2 handicap for the classic generation, is a race where there should be some strong course biases on display so it looks a good race to cover this week. The Geegeez Gold data should help us narrow this field down significantly.

These previews have to be written early which means there is always some guesswork involved with the ground when there is an uncertain forecast. The assumption at the time of writing is that the ground will be good, maybe just on the fast side of good.

All of the data used below is available through a Geegeez Gold subscription. Click here to get your first 30 days of Geegeez Gold for just £1.


There is normally a pretty strong bias around the bend over the 7f course at Goodwood, this isn’t the biggest field (11 runners) so will the draw have an impact on this contest?

There certainly still seems to be a bias towards those drawn low, even in this mid sized field. High draws win half as often as middle draws who in turn win around three quarters as often as low draws. The place data follows a similar trend and the PRB figures for low, middle and high are 0.54, 0.50 and 0.46 respectively.

The individual draw data tells us that there is a steady decline in performance the further from the inside rail you are drawn with stall 1 generating the best PRB figure and the highest stall generating the worst PRB. Stall 2 performs best for both wins and places.

In this field size every stall certainly has a chance of winning but it’s pretty clear that a lower draw gives an advantage and ideally you probably don’t want to be drawn higher than about 7.


We saw a fair sized draw advantage over this course and distance, what about a pace bias?

A fairly significant bias again, this time leaning towards those ridden nearer the pace. The win percentage data largely supports an argument that the closer you are to the pace the more chance you have of winning and the place percentage data backs that up completely with front running doing best (50% place strike rate), prominent doing next best (33.12%), then mid division (24.75%) followed by held up (21.11%).

The difference in percentages is around 17%, then around 8%, then around 3%, so the advantage seems to be growing exponentially the closer to the pace you are and front runners enjoy a big edge here.

Interestingly backing both front runners and prominent racers blind for both win and place is profitable so it looks as though we want something that races near the pace or something that looks extremely well handicapped if it’s going to be patiently ridden.

Pace Map

A strong pace here could swing things back in favour of the more patiently ridden contingent so we should take a look at the pace map.

There are three pace angles in this race so we could get an at least evenly run contest but those pace angles occupy the three highest stalls. Their best hope is to get across early so we could see a very quick first furlong with three wide drawn front runners all attacking from the gates to get the ideal position on the inside rail.

There seems to be a distinct lack of prominent racers so if you wanted to back something near the early lead then there are only three real contenders for this according to the pace map. Farasi Lane looks most likely to be the one that tracks the front three.

Draw and Pace Combination

With strong draw AND pace biases here we’ll presumably see a big advantage to low drawn front runners, of which we don’t seem to have any.

As predicted, the best place to be as far as finishing ahead of rivals is on the front end from a low draw. It’s interesting to note that leaders from high draws don’t have a good record. They must have to use too much fuel early to get that position from their draw and with all three front runners likely to go fast competing for that early lead we could end up seeing all three fade late on.

Those that are drawn high seem best off racing in mid division, although dropping them out isn’t a major disadvantage either. If you are drawn in the middle you can gain an advantage by front running but all other run styles seem fairly similar in terms of result. As for low draws, front running is obviously best of all and then there isn’t much difference between being prominent or mid division but the low draw advantage is nullified if a horse is held up. This is because they are unlikely to get a clear run on the rail and if they switch they have to go around the entire field.

Applying these findings to the pace map, Quintillus and Seven Brothers have actually got relatively good draws for their run styles, whereas Spirit Of Bermuda, Just Frank and Red Mirage do not.

Farasi Lane probably has the best run style from the low draws and you wouldn’t want to rule out Run For Freedom solely because of draw and pace. Master Zoffany and Shark Two One look likely to forfeit their draw advantage by being most patiently ridden.

The Runners

Here are the runners, in early odds order, from most fancied to least fancied.


Hasn’t fared well with the draw but likely to be fairly patiently ridden anyway. He was sent off just 6/4 in a warm Newmarket maiden on debut so has clearly been well thought of at home. He could only manage 4th that day but won easily on his second start, switched to the all weather, hammering Run To Freedom who is now rated 91 and reopposes here. That form makes him look very well handicapped.

He didn’t seem to see a mile out on his next two starts and was subsequently gelded before running much better over that trip in the Britannia Handicap, finishing a close up 3rd. Only four of the first ten home in that race have run since but they’ve produced form figures of 9111 so it’s clear that was a hot race, as it often is. He may well improve over a sharper test here but he is up another 5lbs.

Master Zoffany

Has shown his best form at 7f but also with cut in the ground and a drying surface here may be of a little concern. Both wins this season have come at Chester, beating several subsequent winners off a 9lbs lower mark and a couple of subsequent placers off a 3lb lower mark last time. Just Frank was 0.75 lengths behind that day and is 3lb better off here.

The feeling is Master Zoffany can win again but his inside draw here means he either has to go the brave man’s route which will more likely than not result in traffic problems or he’ll have to circle the entire field. That combined with the fact the ground might not have enough juice in it is reason to oppose at the price for all he is one to be positive about in the future.

Spirit Of Bermuda

Ran a good 4th in a hot Newmarket handicap in April.

The winner is now rated 22lbs higher, the runner up has won his only start since, the 3rd won next time out by over 3 lengths and the 5th has since won a race by 6 lengths. The 6th has also won since.

He blotted his copy book when refusing to race next time but has won both starts since, seeming to relish the drop back to this 7f. That latest win is working out well with the 2nd and 8th winning next time out and the 6th finishing runner up on his next start so a 2lb rise for that looks very lenient and he’s still only 7lbs higher than that run in the hot Newmarket handicap in April. Fast ground seems quite important so drying ground will improve his chances and the only real negative is the wide draw but at least he’s lowest drawn of the potential pace angles.

Dark Shift

Hasn’t gone on as expected since winning a soft ground Nottingham novice in May and had looked well handicapped off this sort of mark on a couple of bits of form. A fast 6f at York probably didn’t suit ideally and others who ran well from off the pace in that race have been winning or running well since but he was still a bit disappointing at Ascot’s stiffer 6f with the ground seemingly in his favour last time. This step up in trip will need to bring about plenty of improvement but drying ground might not be ideal and neither is his run style.

Just Frank

Habitual front runner who is closely matched with Master Zoffany on Chester form. He’s run since then, finishing 3rd at Doncaster on ground that might have been a bit faster than ideal. First time cheekpieces go on here which means his performance could go either way. An easy 7f with a bit of cut in the ground is probably going to prove ideal but this race is normally won by something far more progressive, for all he isn’t badly handicapped.

Farasi Lane

Reacted well to first time cheekpieces in November, winning a handicap comfortably, so it was a surprise to see that headgear dispensed with for his next three runs. He was only narrowly beaten here on one of those and was a creditable 2nd at Newmarket (4th and 6th won since) but upped his form again last time with cheekpieces reapplied, winning a decent Sandown handicap comfortably. He’s now won nicely twice on the two occasions he’s worn this headgear and it stays on this time.

He's up 5lbs but he was far superior in that last race and the 2nd and 3rd have both finished runner up since so the form of that run is okay. He’s been ridden a bit more aggressively than usual in the headgear so he may well be prominent here from a good draw. Most of his form is with a bit of cut but he was only beaten a short head here on good to firm earlier this season leaving him with very few questions to answer.

Oo De Lally

Split two progressive types over course and distance on soft ground in May and won a decent Newcastle handicap over this trip on his next start off a 2lb higher mark. Was raised 4lbs for that and then pitched into listed company at Chester on his next start, running below form and finishing last, beaten 12 lengths. The draw was against him but doesn’t really explain a performance quite that bad. He’s the type to bounce back but he does now have something to prove, especially on what could be faster ground.

Run To Freedom

Both runs this season have come at Sandown, runner up on the first of those in a race that was almost certainly weaker than this and then a well beaten 6th behind Farasi Lane last time out. He was sent off favourite for that and should be better than that form but neither of the runs this season are likely to be good enough to win this.

Red Mirage

Won his first three starts but paid for an easy Kempton handicap win with an 11lb rise in the weights and he’s been beaten 5 lengths and 10 lengths. That latter effort was his only run on turf and it was his worse effort to date plus he’s badly drawn so he looks very opposable, for all he could be one of those Mark Johnston horses that bounces back from a poor run or two.

Shark Two One

Sent off at 50/1 and 5.5 lengths behind Master Zoffany last time out. That was his best run this season but it still seems he’s not as good as last season and therefore badly handicapped on those efforts last term. Also a non runner on fast ground this season and all his best form is on much more testing ground so opposable again here.

Seven Brothers

Won three of seven starts including seasonal debut in April off this mark, beating the well handicapped Popmaster. Much better than the bare result at Newmarket on his next start in a hot handicap but ran poorly at York on his next start. Blinkers went on for the first time last time out in a hot Newmarket sprint handicap and although only 11th and beaten 4.75 lengths he still finished his race off well enough. The blinkers aren’t retained here.

He's fairly handicapped on a couple of bits of form this season and therefore looks a big price but he does have to prove a step up in trip is what he wants. He is bred for sprinting so he’ll probably need to lower his sights a little at 6f rather than going up to this distance in order to get his fourth career win.

The Verdict

The trio who make most appeal here are Quintillus, Spirit Of Bermuda and Farasi Lane.

Had Spirit Of Bermuda had a much lower draw he’d be a pretty confident selection as he’d have a great chance of making all. The record of wide drawn front runners over this course and distance is just about enough to put me off at the price, wide drawn leaders haven’t even had a place in five attempts in the data sample used in the Draw Analyser.

Quintillus will probably improve for the drop in trip and the Britannia Handicap is working out nicely. He’s clearly been well regarded and he has a massive form chance. He’s not well drawn in 8 though and although his run style might nullify that bad draw, being held up here is a disadvantage so against some decent opposition he’ll need to be extremely well handicapped. At the price I can let him win.

The one with seemingly everything possibly in his favour is FARASI LANE. He’s a bit more exposed than some of these but he’s well drawn, proven at the course, won a decent race last time out, came 2nd in a hot race on his penultimate start and crucially nothing has got near him in two starts with these cheekpieces on. He’s as big as 10/1 in places at the time of writing and that just looks far too big as an each way bet in what should be a very good race.

These three runners will be ridden by the three jockeys in this race with the most wins at this venue in the past couple of years so they’ll all be in good hands to give their running.

Glorious Goodwood: Draw and Pace Angles

One of my favourite meetings of the year is Glorious Goodwood. Its setting is arguably the finest in Britain, the Sussex Downs providing a quintessentially British canvass upon which to paint the high class action, at what is one of the most casual and 'everyman' of the Summer Festivals.

When the sun shines at Glorious Goodwood, all is right with the world. But still, a couple of extra quid in the pocket upon departure aids the journey home, especially when one's carriage is the seemingly interminable rattler back to Smokey.

The purpose of this post, then, is pennies in pocket. Specifically, its ambit is to review the draw and run style data within the Geegeez Gold database in search of profit pointers.

Much is written about draw biases across the webosphere, though caution is advised due to the partial or parochial approach many authors take to what is a multi-faceted and deeply nuanced subject. Despite its many vagaries, Gold's remit is to present the information in a readily consumable format. We do that through the use of draw, pace, and draw/pace tables and visualations, using familiar colour codes to underpin the raw data.

Before I illustrate the above using Goodwood as an example, a word on how our data is collated.

Draw Information in Geegeez Gold

For draw, we offer two views: 'Card' and 'Actual'. 'Card' relates to the advertised stall number on your racecard, and 'Actual' is real draw position after non-runners have been accounted for. On wet days, when multiple withdrawals have been made, the difference can be significant.

Select going and runner ranges, and choose 'Card' or 'Actual'

Select going and runner ranges, and choose 'Card' or 'Actual'

The impact of the weather on where jockeys choose to race can also be significant, sometimes completely reversing the established draw perceptions, for example at Brighton. As such, Gold's draw information can be viewed across a 'going' range of your choosing.

Personally, I often expand the going range to be one description north and south of the official going, in order to get a slightly bigger sample size of races.

Finally, the field size can also be tweaked to your preference. Again, if the sample size is small, I'll expand this range in search of more data, albeit with a possible minor diminution in accuracy.

Once the controls have been set - or you can just leave them as the defaults, which pertain to the race as it is defined on the card - you are presented with summary and constituent views of the data, each with its own graph. Here's an example of the summary view, with the graph displaying 'place %'.

Summary draw data, charted by your preference of six data elements

Summary draw data, charted by your preference of six data elements


Both graphs can be viewed by Win %, Place %, Win Profit/Loss, Each Way P/L, Actual vs Expected and Impact Value. More info on A/E and IV, and how we use it, can be found here.


Pace Information in Geegeez Gold

To ascertain how pace affects a race, we assign a numeric value to each horse for each run. Let's be clear: by 'pace' we are talking about 'run style', and specifically where in the field a horse was in the early exchanges.

In the absence of more 'unambiguous' data, we use the in-running comment from our supplier. The geegeez database goes back to the start of 2009, seven and a half years' worth of data, and covers just over 911,000 individual runs. Of those, we have scored more than 863,000 - 94.7% - of them. The remaining 5.3% did not have clear positional data in the comment.

A dataset of this magnitude offers no concerns about the unscored 5%, with the 95% assumed to be representative of the remainder.

Horses are scored between one and four, as follows:

4 - Led, with leader
3 - Prominent
2 - Midfield, in touch
1 - Held up, in rear, etc


Clearly defined run styles stand out readily in Gold's pace charts

Clearly defined run styles stand out readily in Gold's pace charts


Despite the fairly crude breakdown, Gold's pace charts are actually incredibly effective at highlighting the shape of the race. For those who like to trade in-running, or 'dob', it is invaluable assistance. For the rest of us, who like to try to find a value winner, we need to consider pace data in conjunction with how run styles have historically fared on a given course and distance.

So we recently introduced 'pace blobs' to our output, to frame the race in a broader track and trip past performance context. Here's how they look...


Traffic light style pace blobs highlight favoured run styles

Traffic light style pace blobs highlight favoured run styles


In this example, it is pretty clear that those racing closer to, or on, the speed have fared best. Although there is a 'natural selection' element at most courses - that is, a lot of bad horses are at the back because they're not fast enough, or not 'expected' enough, to be anywhere else - it is also the case that less can go wrong in terms of traffic problems for a front-rank racer.

This is especially true at Goodwood, where a combination of big fields and a quirky cambered track lead to countless hard luck stories. It's a course where you want to be in front, or circling your field: anything else requires more luck than judgement, and jockeys who win by coming through the pack have given rides that were lucky, not well-judged.

Draw / Pace Information in Geegeez Gold

Draw information can offer a real insight into favoured positions within the starting gate, and pace data can shine a light on which run styles are best suited by a particular course/distance combination.

The natural evolution of this is to combine draw and pace/run style data into a single view of the world. The problem with this is that often the sample sizes are small, with the number of race runners, winners and placers being divided by twelve (three draw positions - high, middle, low - and our four pace positions) in Geegeezworld.

So, while this information can be interesting, care has to be taken when the samples are limited. That is why, as well as our 'heat map' view, we also publish a sortable table of draw/pace combinations. Here's an example:


Overlaying run style to draw position can be highly instructive

Overlaying run style to draw position can be highly instructive


This example, sorted by place percentages and taken from the five furlong track at Goodwood in races of 14+ runners on good to soft or quicker, shows a general gravitation from low to middle/led (good) to high/mid-div to held up (not so good).

Phew. Still with me? Good. Although this has been a fairly extensive introduction to the actual meat of the post, I think it important to understand from where the numbers come. This helps to decide whether one is happy with their validity as well as with what they are trying to convey. I have personally found these tools to be of enormous utility, having only included draw data by popular demand (i.e. I didn't think it had merit!). That is to say, I am a convert. 🙂

Draw and Pace at Glorious Goodwood

Finally, we arrive at the heart of the subject matter: draw and pace angles at Glorious Goodwood. There was something of a spoiler in the last section when I touched on the quirks of the course, so let's see how the data bears that out.

Goodwood 5f

Front rank is the place to be, with early leaders and those racing prominently in the first furlong or two performing profitably and above expectation.



Goodwood 6f

It's a similar story over six furlongs, though the extra eighth of a mile eats into the 'backability' of those racing prominently but not on the lead.



Goodwood 7f

More of the same at seven furlongs from a pace perspective but, as we move onto the round course - and a fairly pronounced home turn - it is worth overlaying the impact of the draw this time. See the second image below.


Both of the below views - constituent draw and draw/pace heat map - are sorted by place percentage, with the data based on races run on good or quicker, with 11+ runners since 2009. The advantage to low is as emphatic as is the disadvantage to high. Those racing on the lead from a low draw have hit the frame 50% of the time.



Goodwood 1m

If you want an archetypical example of why a midfield sit is a suicidal manoeuvre at Goodwood, the one mile pace blob view is that. With just four of 139 mid-division racers in the sample able to extricate themselves sufficiently to win, at a lamentable Impact Value of 0.28, these really are a group to avoid like the proverbial bubonic!

(Remember, a point which applies universally to this post, that we only know the 'actual' run style of a horse during and after the race. Sometimes a horse will race in an unexpected position and there's now't much we can do about that. But when a horse has displayed a propensity for a particular run style unfavoured at today's track/trip, avoidance tactics should be deployed, or a healthy chunk on the avaiilable odds demanded).



Goodwood 1m1f

With just one race run over the nine furlong trip at Glorious Goodwood these days, we'll move on to the more oft-raced ten furlong range...


Goodwood 1m2f

A familiar story in terms of front-runners performing above random - 53% better in this case - but a profit of just £2.81 means this blob could very soon have a more honey-coloured glow to it.

(Green blobs are achieved by an IV greater than 1.00 AND a positive level stakes profit; Amber is awarded when one of those two criteria are met; and Red is for a double fail on those bases).

It is worth pointing out that midfield racers over this longer trip - with more time get themselves sorted out - have a much higher Impact Value score than at the mile distance. Despite a range of all three traffic light colours in the 1m2f blobs, there is little of punting nourishment in run style here.



Longer Distances

The general principle that those racing closer to the pace is maintained at longer distances, though not to any noteworthy degree from a wagering standpoint.


Conclusions, and How To Use This Info

The data show that Goodwood, in common with most tracks, favours front-runners and prominent racers. There are nuances worth considering, and the bias is stronger at some distances - such as seven furlongs - than others.

Clearly, draw and pace are two pieces of a much broader form vista which demands careful study. Gold users have time-saving shortcut tools like the Instant Expert to assist, but regardless of the racecard you use, a holistic approach to consideration of draw/pace framework, as well as horse and trainer form is optimal. But, of course, you knew that already.

With regards to pace, none of the above will be relevant if your fancy is compromised by the run style of others in the race. Specifically, take care backing front-runners when three or more horses like to lead, and generally be apprehensive of later runners unless you can factor their probable track position disadvantage into the odds available. In other words, demand a price!

Good luck with your Glorious Goodwood punting, and I hope the above nudges you to towards a decent winner or three.


p.s. If you're not already a Gold subscriber, you can take a seven day trial - covering all of both Glorious Goodwood and the Galway Festival - for just £1. Click here to start your trial.