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Silly Question Friday: Part 2

Welcome to Part 2 of Silly Question Friday. If you missed Part 1, it's well worth a look and can be found here. In these Friday posts, I will respond to those long-term unanswered irritations you might have.

Eyes down, look in, then...

 

What do the values in IV and A/E actually stand for and what are good or bad values?

From: Paul S

What do the values in IV and A/E actually stand for and what are good or bad values?

Paul

Geegeez writes...

This is a good starter for part 2 of SQF, because these numbers are everywhere across geegeez.co.uk and I'd like to have a reference point for people to read and understand why we use them, and how they can help your betting.

In the simplest terms, IV - Impact Value - is a measure of how often something happens in a given situation compared to all of the times it happens. For instance, how often a jockey wins races compared to how often all jockeys win races.

A/E - Actual vs Expected - is a measure of whether a statistic might be profitable going forwards.

In both cases, a figure of 1.00 is 'par' or standard. A number above 1 is good, a number below 1 is not so good, and the further above or below 1 the number, the better or worse it is. Thus, an A/E of 0.4 is likely to be extremely damaging to one's bankroll over time, whereas an A/E of 1.4 would be an exciting find (if on a vaguely meaningful sample size and with logic to support the statistic in question).

So that's what IV and A/E stand for, but how are they calculated?

Let me start by saying that you absolutely do not need to know this: if you only know that 1 is standard, more than 1 is good, less than 1 is less good, and the further away from 1 the better or worse a statistic is... then you know all you need to know.

But, for the curious, here are how the numbers are arrived at...

How to Calculate Impact Value

IV is slightly easier to calculate, as follows. Let's say we want to know how often Mark Johnston wins with his 2yo first time starters at Goodwood compared with the average win strike rate for Goodwood 2yo first time starters overall.

First, we need to know Johnston's record which, for the last five years at time of writing, is six wins from 30 such runners.

Next, we need know the runners, winners and, therefore, strike rate, of all such runners in the same time frame. Those figures are 30 winners from 367 runners, 8.17%

The formula for Impact Value is

IV = %age of winners fitting criteria / % of runners fitting same criteria

In our example, that means %age of Goodwood 2yo 1st time 5 year winners trained by M Johnston / %age of Goodwood 2yo 1st time 5 year runners trained by M Johnston

 

The first bit, %age of winners fitting the criteria, is 6 MJ winners / 30 all such winners = 20%

[Mark Johnston has trained 20% of the 1st time starter Goodwood 2yo winners in the last five years]

The second bit, % of runners fitting the criteria, is 30 MJ runners / 367 all such runners = 8.17%

[Mark Johnston has trained 8.17% of the 1st time starter Goodwood 2yo runners in the last five years]

 

Therefore, the IV for Mark Johnston-trained 2yo 1st time starters at Goodwood is

20 / 8.17 = 2.45

Mark Johnston is nearly two-and-a-half times (2.45x) more likely to have a 2yo first time starter winner at Goodwood than par. And that is IV, a measure of peer-contextual probability.

 

How to Calculate Actual vs Expected

While IV tells us whether we are more or less likely to get a return from a given approach, it doesn't do anything to help us understand whether the long-term returns from said approach will be positive or negative. Clearly, betting on horses is about both staying in the game (backing an 'acceptable' number of winners), and trying to make a profit (backing horses at acceptable prices). This is where A/E comes in.

Using our Johnston 2yo 1st timer at Goodwood scenario, to calculate A/E we first need to know the actual number of Johnston's winners which, in this example, is six.

Next, we need know the expected number of winners. Wait? What?!

To do this, we use a simple formula based on the starting price (you could just as easily use Betfair Starting Price or even tote return if you were sufficiently minded - here I've used SP which is the A/E to which all geegeez quotes refers), thus:

 

Actual number of winners / Sum of ALL [entity] runners' SP's (in percentage terms)

which we know at this stage to be 6/ Sum of ALL [entity] runners' SP's (in percentage terms)

 

To establish a runner's SP in percentage terms, we do the sum 1/(SP + 1).

For instance, 4/1 SP would be 1/(4 + 1), or 1/5, which is 0.20.

And 1/4 SP would be 1/(0.25 + 1), or 1/1.25, which is 0.80.

And so on...

The sum of Johnston's expected 2yo 1st time Goodwood winners, calculated in the above manner, is 4.5312.

 

Thus, Actual / Expected is 6 / 4.5312 = 1.32

 

This is a positive figure.

 

Using IV and A/E in concert

As punters, depending on our attitude to risk and to losing runs, the optimum combination is something which is more likely than 'normal' to happen, and which has a positive value expectation (i.e. is expected to be profitable).

By using these figures and isolating statistics with numbers above 1 for both IV and A/E, we have potentially attractive betting propositions. Of course, we can - and should, where time allows - invest in checking suitability of conditions, pace, and so on, based on form in the book (where there is form in the book).

But these numbers are powerful by themselves in terms of understanding whether something is a quirk, or skewed by a single big-priced winner, or is a little thread of gold to be woven into your betting fabric.

Hopefully that's useful. Next question...

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Is Richard Johnson’s record of riding odds on chances the worst of all the jump jockeys?

From: ANTHONY K

Your first 30 days for just £1

Matt

Is Richard Johnson’s record of riding odds on chances the worst of all the jump jockeys?

Tony

Geegeez writes...

No, not by a long chalk. When talking about best or worst records, I guess we ought to start with two concepts: winning strike rate, and betting profitability. These can be evaluated with our old mates, IV and A/E respectively. Let me illustrate with the top ten NH jockeys riding odds on shots in UK races in the last five years (as at 25th September 2019 - figures from geegeez's Query Tool)

This first view is sorted by IV - Impact Value - on the right hand side, and we can see that Richard Johnson is in fourth place. It is important to keep in mind that the jockeys at the top, who are four to five times more likely to ride an odds on winner, are also much more likely to ride a horse at 1/6 as opposed to others in the sample whose only exposure to odds on rides is at, say, 4/5 or 10/11. In other words, 'odds on' is a broad church and most of the steering jobs go to the biggest names.

That sort of anomaly gets flushed out when using a market barometer, so let's re-sort the list based on A/E, Actual vs Expected.

For context, I've included the full set of jockeys to have ridden 25+ odds-on shots in UK NH races in the last five years. Johnson is in 11th place, with an A/E as close to 1 as doesn't matter. Backing all of his odds on runners on an exchange or with early BOG prices would have made a profit. Not a life changing one, but then what are you expecting from this approach?

Incidentally, does the fact that Paddy Brennan is bottom of the A/E pile make him a bad jockey? No, NO, NO! He's just not been profitable to follow in this, somewhat contrived, context.

Next!

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How do you manage to narrow the day's racing down to just one Stat of the Day?

From: Norman A

How,with all the racing we have these days, do you manage to narrow it down to just one stat of the day?

Very successfully I may add…

Norman

Geegeez writes...

Straight over to Chris, aka Mr Stat of the Day, for this one:

So, essentially, here’s how I work…

I have loads of saved angles in Horseracebase and geegeez Query Tool.

That gives me a list of potential qualifiers for the next day.

I then sort them into race order, delete all those in races that I don’t like to get involved in (i.e. novice races on the flat, median auction races, novice hurdles and bumpers).

Then I get rid of any race with over 14 runners, as there's too much scope for hard luck in running.

This leaves me with a more workable shortlist of races.

From there, I go through the races using the geegeez cards & tools to see what I think might win that race. If the horse I like is on my list of angle qualifiers it gets shortlisted as a potential Stat of the Day pick.

I then remove all those priced 5/2 & shorter and finally go with the one I feel has the best chance of winning at a price that can stand a bit of movement. NB: it’s only at this point that I look at prices.

It’s probably a more long-winded process than it needs to be, but as it also generates the Stat Picks selections, it justifies the time.

Chris

*

How are odds for virtual racing calculated?

From: David G

Hi Matt,

Your starter for 10 then (20 if you count it as two questions). How are odds calculated for virtual racing, and when is the result "known"?

David

Geegeez writes...

Not such an 'off track' question as it might first appear.

Odds for virtual events are, in a value sense, irrelevant as these are games of pure chance. There is no form to consider, there is no means of gaining an edge. The result is determined by a random number generator loaded based on the odds of the runners in the race.

As an example, a 3/1 favourite (theoretical 25% chance before overround is applied) might be given a 20% chance of winning by the number generator. A 9/1 shot (theoretical 10% chance) might be given an 8% chance of winning, and so on. The difference between the chance given by the algorithm and the odds available is bookmakers' margin. In the same way that a casino may lose on any single spin or any single day on the roulette tables, they know that their edge over time makes virtual a guaranteed profit product.

The result is known instantly because virtual racing is unencumbered by such things as stewards' enquiries, weighing in light, taking the wrong course and so on.

If you like betting games like roulette, you might as well have a crack at virtual racing. But if you prefer to put past history and racing statistics to work for you, keep it geegeez and dodge the virtual!

*

How does a commentator know whether a horse is on or off the bridle?

From: Michael K

How does a commentator know whether a horse is on or off the bridle?

Michael

Geegeez writes...

If a jockey is sitting quietly on a horse, without getting lower in the saddle or exercising his arms, that horse is on the bridle.

If a jockey has his head and torso closer to the horse and is moving his arms to shake the reins a little, the horse is coming off the bridle.

By the time horses are contesting a finish, normally all horses will be firmly off the bridle and the jockeys will be working hard to encourage them to run as fast as they can.

It is worth remembering that being on or off the bridle is not necessarily a good or bad thing: some horses come off the bridle early habitually but find plenty for pressure and still win races, whereas others - sometimes called 'bridle horses' - travel beautifully through their races but, when it comes to putting their head in front at the business end, they find very little for their rider's encouragement.

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How long should I persevere with a tipster before throwing in the towel?

From: Andrew F

Hi Matt

Several months ago geegeez recommended a service so naturally I researched it and subsequently subscribed to it.

The first month was great then three disastrous months! I decided enough was enough so I wrapped it in. This seems to be the general pattern for me when subscribing to a tipster, so my question is how long should I persevere with a tipster before throwing the towel in bearing in mind I always research the last 12 months results before I sign up to anyone.

Many thanks

Andy

Geegeez writes...

A GREAT question!

So here's how this works: nothing goes up and up and up. We all know that, right?

And past performance is the best barometer of future performance, without being a guarantee of replication. We all know that, too.

So it can be that something which has fared very well historically is unable to replicate that success.

Naturally, the more evidence we have in the past, the more confident we can be about the future. Not certain, but more confident.

What the past is especially good at, when there's a body of evidence, is telling us about the patterns we can expect. It's not surprising, given how sales copy tends to be, that we're invited to focus on the positive; but good investment discipline is about always understanding the negative.

Following a system or service is a form of investment, and should be treated as such.

That means a betting bank. A separate betting bank.

It means disciplined staking.

It means awareness of potential drawdowns (losing runs).

It means retaining focus and discipline during those drawdowns - and during upswings, too.

In other words, it is not for everyone. In fact, such an approach is probably not for most of the people it attracts.

In my view, you've done everything right before getting involved, specifically a) learning about a service through a trusted portal (geegeez), and b) researching the long-term results set.

But in the execution, is it possible that you've not set up your betting bank appropriately? I'm assuming that the drawdown is in line with what might have been expected based on the previous year's results. (Incidentally, a year may not be enough: it very much depends on how many selections are in that sample, what average odds, and so on).

If this is an outlying drawdown - in other words, if it is worse than has been the case in recent memory - then you should expect some commentary about that from the service provider. But if it is not out of the ordinary, it is simply one of the things that happen on the way to profit. And those who don't have an investment mindset will draw stumps before the next upswing.

One other point about sales copy for betting services - all investment services in fact, just look at unit trusts and the like! - is that they ALWAYS pitch on the back of good recent results.

Again, as everyone knows, after a good run, what should we expect? A bad run. And, if a service is proven and decent (think Stat of the Day), what should we expect after a bad run? You're ahead of me now 😉

I've tried to keep this reply generic because it is an excellent question and something with which a lot of people struggle. I hope I've touched on some of the possible reasons why.

Mindset, primarily.

But also, and again, this can easily happen in regulated markets like share trading, forex and unit trusts, sometimes services which have performed well historically simply fail to replicate that performance in the future. Nothing is guaranteed. Nothing is risk-free. But setting up with an investment mindset, undertaking due diligence first (as you have done), and executing your investments stoically and dispassionately even if it means going deep into your betting bank... this is the way to give yourself every chance of success.

I do not follow services, because this approach doesn't work for me. I love the puzzle. I want to find my own answers. And I want action bets along the way. Regular small bets for action, less frequent bigger bets for fancies. Ultimately, I probably don't have the discipline for following services, and in any case it doesn't 'scratch my itch', which is to engage with the puzzle and, to some degree, 'to be right'.

Everyone bets for different reasons, and understanding a little about our motivations - in the context of what is possible, and what is required from a given approach - gives us the best possible chance of satisfying those motivations, whether they are to pass time, to solve the puzzle, to be right, and/or to make some money.

Phew, hopefully the above makes sense and offers something upon which to mull.

*

Have you done any work/given advice on bankroll management?

From: Phil M

Hi Matt,

Have you done any work/given advice on bankroll management? From how to build a bankroll from scratch to what to do when you have one... working out whether a system/method is scalable?

Cheers

Phil

Geegeez writes...

The short answer is 'no'. I don't generally like to offer advice on bankroll management, but on this occasion I will elaborate a little.

The reason I tend to steer clear of such advice is that it borders on financial advice, for which I'm not regulated. Moreover, such advice differs from person to person based on attitude to risk, available funds, discipline/mindset, betting approach, average odds, backing/laying/dutching, and so on.

Staking advice is a step further into the unknown, and the general principle here is that, if it isn't profitable to level stakes, bin it. Trying to get creative with staking is generally akin to trying make a silk purse from a sow's ear.

How to build a bankroll is an interesting question, and it involves discipline and small incremental gains. The simple fact is that if you have a 'short stack' to start with, it will take some time to get to a place where you have a bankroll more in line with what you'd like. Again, this taps in to discipline and money management and, further, it begs the fundamental question: why am I betting?

If betting for fun as well as profit, you're in good shape building a small bankroll into a larger one, because the fun element will nourish you when the incremental profit gains are small.

If profit is a primary motive, I don't really feel qualified to comment. I'm not a professional investor. I do bet with a profit expectation, but I bet primarily for fun. The two, as I never tire of saying, are NOT mutually exclusive. Betting primarily for profit may involve the dark arts of bad each way, bonus abuse, and any number of routes to profit which are not really related to the enjoyment of betting. Like I say, I don't feel qualified to comment on such approaches.

The above is more than I generally offer on this subject, though perhaps less than you might have hoped for. I hope at least you understand my reasons for falling short with this particular reply.

*

Whatever happened to Nick Mordin?

From: Terry B

Hi Matt,

This has been bugging me for a couple of years now - whatever happened to Nick Mordin?

Is he still 'involved'?

Cheers

Terry

Geegeez writes...

I'm given to understand Nick Mordin has retired. In truth, he's not been around for quite a long time. Last I knew, he was writing a weekly piece for the Irish Field and, before that, the Weekender. I heard a rumour that he was advising some larger gambling syndicates and had spent some time in north America (New York, I think). But I really don't have anything but hearsay and conjecture to add, which is to say I don't have anything to add.

*

Which UK horses have a chance in the Melbourne Cup?

From: Graham F

Hi Matt

Which UK horses have a chance in the Melbourne Cup? A friend of mine thought Basanti might be a rough chance. See it is running at Doncaster tonight.

Cheers

Graham

Geegeez writes...

Not really an area on which I focus. The main reasons are that a) the Melbourne Cup comes hard on the heels of the Breeders' Cup, into which I pour a lot of energy and b) I don't have any handle on the Oz form. Also, c) the final field emerges very late in the day with qualifying races happening as close as the week before the Cup.

That said, the record of Euro, or ex-pat Euro, horses is exceptional. Cross Counter last year led home a British 123, with Europeans also filling out 5th, 8th, 9th, 11th and 12th in a field of 24. Only two Euros finished in the second half of the field and one of those pulled up lame.

In 2017, Rekindling, trained by Joseph O'Brien, prevailed. It was another 1235, with Euros also in 6th, 7th, 9th, 10th, and 11th places.

And in 2016, the ex-French Almandin just edged Irish-trained Heartbreak City into second, with ex-British Hartnell third and Charlie Appleby's Qewy in fourth.

The problem, as you've hinted at in your question, is that a lot of Euros head south. However, with average winning odds of 9.7/1 from the five Euro victors since 2010, you can afford to back three or four each way and still hope for a return. Good luck!

*

Are there any good tipsters who give tips out in the morning, and who make a profit at BFSP?

From: Ian B

Are there any tipsters, maybe with your good selves who give tips out am, not the night before which is hopeless, and who make a profit at bfsp?

Ian

Geegeez writes...

There are a number of good tipsters, most of whom - as you say - send out selections the night before.

One notable exception is Hugh Taylor on the ATR website. His picks are usually online around 10am and, while the traditional bookie prices go quickly, I'm given to understand he shows a small profit at BFSP.

Of the reviews we've undertaken, those which were favourable can easily be viewed here and, by clicking into them, readers may understand about their suitability for their individual betting style. (N.B. an update to that table is overdue, and will be published imminently).

**

That's all for this first edition of SQF. I hope you now know at least one thing you didn't when you started reading this! If you've any more questions on racing, betting, Geegeez Gold, and so on, please do drop me a line and I'll add it to the list!

Matt

Silly Question Friday: Part 1

Thank you so much for your headscratchers, and welcome to the very first Silly Question Friday article. In this and subsequent Friday posts, I will respond to those quandaries large and small which have been rattling around your craniums (crania?) unanswered.

There is a vague 'subject matter' format, with this week's questions relating to RACING and/or BETTING.

Let's get straight to it...

 

How does a jockey judge the pace of a race?

From: Simon B

Morning Matt, I've always wanted to know, how does a jockey judge the pace of a race?
Especially over 2 miles and further when one horse scoots clear by 20 lengths or so?
Cheers mate,all the best, Simon

Geegeez writes...

Pace in UK and Irish horseracing remains somewhat subjective, though with more information being published, jockeyship can be expected to improve in this area in coming years. Pace maps, sectional timing and the like will be powerful allies to those riders who seek to improve the accuracy of 'the clock in their heads'.

Regarding how a jockey judges pace in a race, it will generally be the case that the horse they are riding will indicate to them whether the clip the leaders are going is too fast or too slow. If a horse refuses to settle, moving its head from side to side as the jockey attempts to restrain it, that is an obvious sign they're going steadily. This can be ratified by sectional split times on Sky Sports Racing (and other channels soon, hopefully).

If the leaders have gone off too fast, the field will generally be strung out with some runners being asked for effort to stay with the field.

The difficult scenario is the one you've outlined, where a single (usually) horse steals a march on its field. If the horse is travelling comfortably it has a reasonable chance to win, especially in a small field. However, often such runners have scooted clear because they are over-racing and will fail to see the race distance out. Look for how much control the jockey seems to have over the horse, and also the fluency of its jumping (if it's a jumps race, obviously; if it is jumping in a flat race, that would be a bad sign 😉 ).

Jockeys don't have the benefit of split / sectional timing, but we do; and we increasingly need to take these numbers on board. Elsewhere in the racing - and indeed sporting - world, such data is a fundamental staple of the game. It will be here soon, too. Embrace it.

*

What does ‘exposed’ mean in horse racing? And what is a ‘Conditional Handicap’?

From: Bill S

Hi Matt

Two questions which immediately come to mind.

First what is meant when a horse is referred to as being exposed or not exposed?

Secondly, what is a Conditional Handicap?

Great idea to introduce SQF

Best,

Bill

Geegeez writes...

'Exposed' is a term that means a horse has demonstrated its level of ability and is unlikely to improve markedly on that level. For instance, a horse with 20 flat runs, ten of them in mile and a half handicaps, would be considered exposed if running in another mile and a half handicap... unless there was something notably different this time, such as a first try on very different ground/all weather etc.

Even horses with lots of runs in the book can step forward for a change of race code, such as switching from flat racing to hurdling; in that context, the pedigree can offer some clues to try to fill the next context 'formbook void'.

An unexposed horse, then, is one that has had little public racing and, consequently, has the scope to improve beyond its hitherto demonstrated level of ability. Obvious examples, and horses to always give a second glance, are those running in a handicap for the first time after three runs down the field. This is especially the case if anything else is different today. For example, three runs at six furlongs in maiden races, then a first (or second or even third) run in a handicap over a mile and a quarter: this set up, especially if there was a break since the last run, might lead to an improved effort in a very different race scenario.

conditional handicap is simply a handicap open only to conditional riders. Conditional riders are the National Hunt (jumps racing) equivalent of apprentice riders on the flat. So a conditional handicap will tend to be a handicap hurdle (occasionally chase) for inexperienced riders.

*

How are horses rated? How are races classed?

From: Ian L

Hi Matt

Two basic questions that I think would be useful in this context:

1) How are horses rated?

2) How are races classed?

Cheers

Ian

Geegeez writes...

In order to receive a rating a horse must first run a few times in 'open' company; for example, in maidens or novice hurdles. That gives the handicapper, whose job it is to rate horses, a chance to see which horses a given animal has beaten and which horses have beaten it - and by how much. From this limited evidence an initial stab at a horse's ability - in ratings terms - is arrived at.

As horses race more, so they mature and their rating becomes a more likely reflection of true ability. This article, written in December 2014 but still as current now as it was then, explains more on ratings and the handicap system.

Races are classed based on the quality of animals expected to compete. In handicaps, this is simple: ratings bands, for instance 0-75, are used to restrict the runners to those rated 75 (or, in fact, 77 due to a recent +2 rule change) or lower. Depending on the top end of the rating band, a Class is attributed - in this case, Class 5 or occasionally Class 4.

In non-handicaps, the Class will be related to prize money on offer, race conditions, and so on.

Class 1 races are Listed and Group/Grade 1, 2 or 3 races, the Group/Graded races making up the 'Pattern', and Listed races showing it. All are bestowed such a classification by the European Pattern Committee. Such races can move up or down the Pattern and, occasionally (though probably not often enough), can be removed from the Pattern. More information on the Pattern can be found here.

*

Is a rated race a stakes race? What is the equivalent going to yielding, etc?

From: Stuart H

Hi Matt,

In Irish racing is a RATED RACE stakes or Hcp?

In Irish racing what are the equivalent going in UK for the Irish going, eg Yielding etc?

Regards

Stuart

Geegeez writes...

A Rated Race in Ireland is a race where horses are eligible to run based on specific race conditions, usually associated with their official rating. They are generally stakes races rather than handicaps.

Irish racing has the same going range as UK racing, with the exception of yielding (and its gradations into good or soft) and soft to heavy.

Yielding is generally held to be similar to UK good to soft.

*

What is a patent? (and other bet types)

From: JOHN C

Hi Matt

Can you explain to me what a Patent Bet is, because recently I had a Patent Bet, each way, which came home at what I thought were reasonable odds, but for this £7x2 bet, where possible returns were shown as £113.50, I received just under 20 quid, with Bet 365.

Your first 30 days for just £1

I expected this bet to be something special, so this is why I would like clarification.

Many thanks,

John

Geegeez writes...

A couple of things here. Firstly, if you're ever unsure of how/why a bet has been settled, it is important to take it up with the bookmaker that settled it. They are normally correct. But they are not always correct. Don't give up until you understand what they have done. If you are unhappy with the settlement (i.e. believe it to be wrong rather than just wished it came to more money!), you can contact IBAS for dispute resolution purposes. [NB if your bet was each way, it would have been a £1 e/w patent rather than a £2 patent]

Regarding bet types, a patent consists of seven bets across three selections as follows: three singles (selections 1, 2, and 3), three doubles (12, 13, 23), and one treble (123). This is an example of a full cover bet with singles. Others are Lucky 15 (four selections), Lucky 31 (five selections), Lucky 63 (six selections). The full cover variants excluding singles are trixie (three picks, doubles and treble), yankee (four picks, doubles, trebles and fourfold), super yankee (five picks), and heinz (six picks).

More information on bet types can be found here.

*

What is your favourite racecourse?

From: Arthur H

Morning Matt,

Which is your favourite racecourse (in the UK)? And why?

Good luck with this idea, I like it!

Arthur

Geegeez writes...

My favourite UK racecourse is either Sandown or Goodwood. Both are beautifully situated (though for different reasons), both epitomise much of the joy of the flat game, and both have pretty good viewing facilities.

But it's a tricky question. For different reasons, I love all of Ascot, Cheltenham, Fontwell, Plumpton, York, Beverley, Chester and many more.

For me it's true what they say: a bad day at the racetrack is better than a good day at the office!

*

How to play multiple system selections in the same race?

From: Paul L

Hi Matt,

I’ve got a question about systems betting particularly when the systems you use throw up more than one horse in a race.

How would you typically play this kind of scenario?  Do you just back them all because that is what you should do with system bets?  Do you take into account draw/conditions/form etc., all the things you would normally consider in selecting a bet, and use those to potentially dismiss one or more of the horses?  I’m particularly interested in situations where the prices are such that if one of the horses wins you are still down because the price of the winner doesn’t cover the loss on the other horse(s)?  I guess a similar scenario presents when back all the horses would return a profit if one wins - would you still back them all if all the other decision making factors would typically point to a no-bet or reduced bet situation?

Sorry that is actually a good number of questions, but all related.  As you might have inferred I’m wrestling with system bets based on angles I’ve set up using the Query Tool (absolutely brilliant by the way, although I’d love to be able to add some notes and use days since last run as a filter) and am probably not currently disciplined enough to use the approach to best effect so your input and feedback would be much appreciated.

Cheers,

Paul

Geegeez writes...

The idea of systematic betting is a good one: in theory it removes sentiment and helps retain sanity through the peaks and troughs of any sequence of wagers. However, it requires a certain mindset to follow qualifiers unerringly.

The results of systems are arrived at by adding the profit and loss of all qualifiers during the research period. That much is obvious. So it should follow that in order to expect a replication or continuation of performance, one must also back all qualifiers thereafter, regardless of how many appear in the same race.

If you are rigidly following a system, the answer is simple: back all qualifiers level stakes.

However, increasingly, bettors are not following systems blindly but, rather, using them to identify potential runners of interest. Thereafter, a user may eliminate runners on the basis of form considerations or vary stakes for the same reason.

I personally use Query Tool to flag runners of interest and to add further considerations into the 'fixed format' output of the racecards, draw and pace, Instant Expert and reports.

I do not follow systems blindly because I want to have more control over my betting. For others, this is exactly the reason they like to follow systems blindly.

Regardless, all mechanical angles should be regularly reviewed to ensure that they remain profitable and that the underlying logic still holds.

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I have just had my account severely restricted after just 17 days. Is this a record ?

From: Bob G

Morning.

I have just had my account severely restricted after just 17 days. I haven't made any money and I am ten quid down.

Is this a record ?

Bobbob

Geegeez writes...

No, this is not a record. Bookmakers restrict accounts more often based on the price movements of the horses you've backed than the amount of profit you've made. Obviously the latter is also a factor, but if you end up on 'shorteners', you'll be caught in the algorithmic dragnet that says you're a shrewdie, and restricted accordingly.

Horseracing Bettors Forum and others are working with bookmakers to counter this, both by a 'right to reply' / feedback loop and by way of a Minimum Bet Liability (i.e. allowing bettors a bet to win at least a certain amount, usually £500). But not all bookmakers are yet receptive to such 'level playing field' concepts, sadly.

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Why do some bumper horses have an OR?

From: Alan C

Hi Matt

I’m interested in bumper races. I asked the BHA if a horse can be handicapped on bumper form. Their answer is ‘a horse must run over obstacles to qualify for a handicap mark’. When I look at the race results on GeeGeez, ATR etc  for the bumper championship races at Chelt and Aintree, the runners are all shown with OR figures. For example, The Glancing Queen is shown with OR 124 for the G1 Champions Bumper at Cheltenham (she was 5th) and OR 122 for the G2 mares championship bumper at Aintree which she won. When I look up the OR on the BHA Ratings Database there are no results for the bumper horses. My question is where do the published OR ratings come from if they don’t officially exist?

Thanks for the chance to ask my ‘silly question’

Best regards

Alan

Geegeez writes...

This is an interesting question. As far as I'm aware, the BHA now publish 'performance ratings' for Graded National Hunt Flat (NHF, or bumper) races only. There is a distinction between a performance rating and official rating, notwithstanding that the former is used to arrive at the latter in the normal run of things.

The issue with bumpers is that they are considered a distinct racing code, and it is a code which has no handicap races. Thus, such published ratings can be considered 'for information purposes only'.

The BHA handicappers are not allowed to take account of bumper form when allocating opening hurdles (or chase) marks, meaning horses need to qualify for an initial mark in one of those before being able to race in a handicap hurdle (or chase).

Bottom line: the published NHF figures are NOT 'Official ratings' but rather they are 'performance ratings'. Official ratings in bumpers do not exist.

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What does ‘is he off?’ mean, and how do we know the answer?!

From: Eddie F

Great stuff....

So lets light up the Q's

Starting with a full explanation (uncensored!) of "IS HE OFF?"

Cheers

Eddie

Geegeez writes...

'Is he off?' means 'is the horse trying its best today?', to which the answer should, according to the rules of racing, always be, 'yes'.

I tend to believe that generally horses are trying their best. [If you don't believe that, then betting on horses is probably not a sensible option...]

However, the better question is whether the race distance, ground, class, fitness level and so on are a 'best fit' for the horse. That is where the toolkit at Geegeez Gold (other services are available) comes into its own, and where value bets are isolated.

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Thoughts on backing last time out beaten favourites?

From: Liam C

Hi Matt,

I do quite well backing last time out beaten favourites in lucky 15s . Ok I'm kept in the black a lot of times by the one winner bonus paid by my bookie, but have had some nice pay days and rarely lose my whole stake. Would be nice to hear your take on this, perhaps a list of last time out beaten favourites in your race card.

Thanks

Liam

Geegeez writes...

From the start of 2015 to mid-September 2019, last time out beaten favourites won about 5000 of about 27000 races. That strike rate of 18.6% was worth an SP loss of 3800 points, or a negative 14% ROI. Not good.

However, as you say, by using an approach like double odds on a single winner you've a chance of getting close to parity. More pertinently perhaps, you'll stay in the game longer and sustain your enjoyment as a consequence.

Following last day beaten favourites, or indeed any other approach predicated on a single data item, is not an approach I'd recommend; but each to their own.

BF is not something we plan to add to Geegeez cards.

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When is the best time to bet?

From: STEPHEN C

Silly Question

When is the best to bet?

Had most of my BOG so have to rely on a guess when to bet. Never seem to get it right. When I bet early the price goes out. When I wait it always seems come in. Is some type of analysis around that might help and average out early or late?

Kind regards,

Steve

Geegeez writes...

Really good question. The first thing to say is that what 'seems' to be the case almost certainly isn't, inasmuch as you probably frequently get close to the best of the odds differential but remember the reversals more than those which go your way.

Regardless of that, the general point about when is best to bet is a good one, to which I don't have a great answer sadly.

The article here highlights some of the considerations to factor in, most of which are outside of our control. Sigh.

One thing I try to keep in mind in this context is what I know about a horse/trainer/jockey that the market will know before off time. For example, I might see that a horse is a 'lone pace' angle in a race, or has a superb record on today's heavy ground, etc. These things are rarely lost on the closing market but often take time to filter into the pricing. Here, I'd bet early.

However, with a handicap debutant from a trainer with a good HC1 record I'd probably wait to see how the market went. Trying to second guess whether a horse is just not very good or has been placed in maiden races to acquire a workable handicap mark is a volatile pursuit where the market can certainly guide. Usually, because very little money is taken overnight, such moves don't manifest until early to mid-morning.

It is at best an inexact science, but certainly an area where we should endeavour to be as expedient as is practical.

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What in a horse’s run style suggests it wants further?

From: John

Hi Matt

What is it - apart from the obvious- that suggests in a horses style of running it needs further?

John

Geegeez writes...

Run style is not normally something which would highlight a horse's distance preferences. A trainer might want the horse to be held up if it feels the runner has suspect stamina at today's race distance. Equally, a horse with one pace but who gets the trip well might be ridden forcefully from the front. But neither suggests the horse needs further.

More characteristic might be that the horse in question gets outpaced at a point in the race - though this may just mean the animal is moderate, or perhaps unsuited by other factors (the pace of the race, ground, course constitution) - or, most obviously, if it finishes the race well.

Further clues can be gleaned from the pedigree: does the sire generally get horses that stay further? Over what sort of trip did the mare win? Was the damsire an influence for stamina?

It's not an easy question to answer; but generally I'd not be looking for anything other than finishing well, in terms of run style, to indicate a horse might want a longer race distance.

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What does CSF stand for?

From: Aodhan O'C

CSF in results stands for ? straight forecast?

Geegeez writes...

CSF stands for Computer Straight Forecast, a nod to the computerised and formulaic calculation of the dividends.

You may request a copy of the formula from the Association of British Bookmakers, I understand, though it runs to many pages of A4 according to racing legend.

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Does anyone really make a living from betting or trading?

From: Jeffrey O

Hi Matt

I have been trying to make money from gambling trading etc for 20 plus years and the best I can do is break even footy horses about the same.

Do you think anyone really does earn a living from it?

Jeff

Geegeez writes...

YES! I am absolutely certain some people make a living from betting and/or trading. But the key phrase here is 'make a living'. They have it as an occupation and invest a lot of time into the activity. Increasingly, that time is reduced by computer legwork, such as the kind that Geegeez Gold provides its subscribers.

More than the knowledge, as fundamentally important as that is, those whose living comes from betting or trading have an investment mindset.

That's a key point because not all of us have - or indeed want - such a mindset. For example, I bet recreationally but to make a profit. Betting is not, and never will be, my primary source of income; but I still have a positive expectation from it. I allow myself loads of action bets, and then make more 'robust' wagers when I really like a horse and its value proposition.

Lots of people are making a living from betting, but they invest a lot of time and energy both into finding the right wagers and getting those wagers on. They also have a supportive bankroll which will generally run into at least tens and normally hundreds of thousands.

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How is the order of stalls loading determined?

From: Chris J

Hi,

My question is how do the decide what order to load the horses into the stalls. They don't seem to do it in order of draw and I don't think they do it in even then odd order either so how exactly do they decide? Quite often a commentator mentions that a particular horse is hanging back to be loaded last but surely it can't be down to the jockey to decide?

Chris

Geegeez writes...

I asked geegeez.co.uk-sponsored jockey David Probert for an answer to this one. He told me:

"The odd numbers are loaded first: stall 1, then 3, 5, 7, etc. Then the evens, 2, 4, 6, etc.

The exceptions are that all horses wearing a hood or wearing a rug for stalls entry must load first unless the trainer has 'taken a ticket', which entitles them to go in last"

So there you have it!

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That's all for this first edition of SQF. I hope you now know at least one thing you didn't when you started reading this! If you've any more questions on racing, betting, Geegeez Gold, and so on, please do drop me a line and I'll add it to the list!

Matt