Racing Insights, 11th October

Pace analysis is a relatively new area for many UK bettors, but it is is one which is in fact as old as the hills, and without which even novice horse players in some countries will not bet. But what is it?

Well, pace helps to inform how a race will be run even before the horses have left the starting stalls, which can be a massive advantage over other bettors. To this end, we make the PACE tab on our racecards FREE to ALL readers every Sunday & Monday for ALL races, including Monday's free races of the day, which will be...

  • 3.25 Wolverhampton
  • 4.10 Musselburgh
  • 4.25 Yarmouth
  • 4.55 Yarmouth

And the best of those races would appear to be the 4.10 Musselburgh, a 12-runner, Class 2, flat handicap for 3yo+ horses. It's worth £10,308 and the trip is a right handed 7f on soft ground...

What I want to do here is a very quick process of elimination, because we really should be able to assess a race in a matter of minutes before moving to the next. So from the racecard alone, I want to get rid of...

Eagleway on horse, trainer and jockey form,
Hey Jonesy on horse and trainer form
National League stepping up in class despite being out of form
Northern Express stepping up two classes and two pounds after only getting home by a neck LTO, plus yard and jockey are in poor form

And I then want to head straight to Instant Expert and the place stats in particular...

I used the place stats first today, because if a horse isn't placing, then it's generally not winning either! Which signals the end for...
Bravado on class and distance
Hayadh on going.

You never know what might happen with the British weather, but after whittling the field down to half of the runners, I'm happy that all six have what it takes to make the frame on whatever the final going is, even if it improves to Good to Soft or if it deteriorates and becomes heavy, these place stats speak for themselves...

The only slight area of concern is about Volatile Analyst at this grade, but he has won two of three Class 2 races on Good to Soft/Soft, so he survives the cull, leaving me with half a dozen possibles for three places. They're drawn in stalls 2, 4, 6, 9, 10 and 12, so strung all way across., but based on the A/E (which correlates to the win percentages) for each stall, those drawn highest seem best off...

...which favours Muntadab, Volatile Analyst and Danzan from my six, possibly Fools Rush In too from a mid-draw of 6. Now we need to look at the pace stats and how they correlate with the draw, Firstly the standalone pace data tells us that those who lead are far more likely to win or place...

...which makes the following pace/draw heat map fairly obviously biased towards those drawn higher who like to get on with things...

So, if any of Fools Rush In, Muntadab, Volatile Analyst or Danzan are natural pacemakers, then they'll surely stand a great chance here. Let's look at their last four outings...

Fools has led twice, Muntadab three times whilst Volatile and Danzan are definite prominent runners. And I think that at this point, they're the four I want to be choosing between.


I've quickly taken twelve down to four and a quick look at each, starting with...

Danzan, who wouldn't be an obvious winner after scoring just once in 27 attempts on the Flat, but his 16 places (59%) suggest he'll get involved again. He has finished 23333 in his last five, but beaten by 1.25 lengths or less in each. He'll probably fall just short again here.

Fools Rush In has won five of his last eight and can be forgiven for not completing a hat-trick when well beaten at Leopardstown last time out. That was a far better race (worth £66k) than this one and on quicker ground and he should go better here, but he'd need a career-best to win.

Muntadab has a very healthy 21% strike rate from his 67 Flat outings and has two wins and two places from eight runs here at Musselburgh, all over today's trip. Much will depend on whether he can grab the early lead ahead of the likes of Bravado and/or Hayadh, but if he can, he could well hang on for at least a place.

Volatile Analyst ran a career best at York last time out to win by half a length over six furlongs, but is now up in weight by 5lbs and up in trip, which makes life tough. His best for has been over 6f and I think he might get run out of this one.

Which leads me to Fools Rush In as a tentative pick in what could be a decent/tight contest. If you are going to have a bet in tight/tricky etc handicaps, then it needs to be worth your while, so let's see what price we can get...

...and at 4.55pm, he was 8/1 and with several bookies paying four places, I'll go 8/1 E/W about Fools Rush In. Danzan looks set for the frame again, but I need a little bit more than his current 15/2 best price, but I will take some of the 14/1 E/W offered for Muntadab, whilst I'll be leaving Volatile Analyst alone : he's too short for my liking at 5/1!



Racing Insights, 26th March 2021

Thursday wasn't Racing Insight's best day, as Robinshill was last of five finishers, beaten by 11 lengths and Whoshotthesheriff was withdrawn from the action 40 minutes before the off. So I suppose, as the song would suggest, things can only get better on Friday, where I'll be assisted by 'feature of the day' aka the Horses for Courses report and we'll also have the following free 'races of the day' to tilt at...

  • 2.30 Musselburgh
  • 2.40 Newbury
  • 3.15 Newbury
  • 3.50 Newbury
  • 8.00 Dundalk

And in typical racing style, after a few days of poor racing we've several decent contests to get stuck into. Our free races include competitive-looking Class 2 and 3 heats, so I'm going to tackle what looks (on paper at least), the best of the free quintet, the 2.30 Musselburgh.

It's a 9-runner, Class 2, Handicap Hurdle for 4 yr olds over 2m0.5f on good ground that will be softer in places and the prize for this Juvenile Hurdle Series Final is a decent one at just shy of £19k. My initial (and very brief) first glance at the card suggest a 4-horse race, but here's the card in full..

En Couleur is a far way clear of the pack on the Geegeez ratings ahead of Breguet Boy, who is one of two LTO winners, along with Magna Moralia. Eight of the nine are stepping up two classes here, apart from Progressive who ran in this grade almost five weeks ago.

Feldspar has finished 335 in his three efforts over hurdles so far and was beaten by almost 19 lengths at Kelso last time out. His two previous runs were both here at Musselburgh, beaten by just over two lengths at Class 4 and then by 15 lengths in a Listed race. He was said to have finished lame at Kelso last time and so it's a bit of a surprise to see him out again less than three weeks later. Not one I'd want to back.

Breguet Boy has made the frame in all four hurdles starts to date, finishing 1231. All four have been here at Musselburgh and his two wins have been over 2m on Good and Soft ground. He's up 8lbs for winning seven weeks ago, but was comfortable that day and could well go in again, especially with his jockey riding so well right now (6/20 in the last fortnight).

Le Magnifique is the third of three Keith Dalgleish runners in this race along with Feldspar and Breguet Boy above and he has made the frame in two of his four starts over hurdles, winning once on his second effort, when catching a very short priced favourite on the run-in. He was well beaten last time out and has only been eased 2lbs for his troubles and he's not one I'd expect to win here.

Progressive is the only filly in the race and the only runner to have run at this Class 2 level last time out. Whether she's living up to her name progressive is up for debate. She won over this trip on heavy ground at Doncaster (Class 4) on hurdling debut just after Christmas and was then beaten by just over ten lengths in a Listed contest, no disgrace there, but she was last of four home at Haydock five weeks ago, some 68 lengths adrift having tailed off from 3 out. Has ability, but something doesn't quite seem right.

Magna Moralia, on the other hand, seems to be coming along nicely. A runner-up in each of his first two efforts over hurdles and not beaten by far in either during September/October, he then had a spin at 1m6f on the Flat on soft ground at Redcar and was third, beaten by just half a length on soft ground. He has tackled hurdles twice more since, finishing fourth at Catterick and then a win last time out by five lengths at Kelso after a 15-week break. He goes off a fair mark here and could well kick on.

Genever Dragon won on his hurdling debut by a length at Sedgefield in late-September but hasn't really caught the eye in three defeats since and was beaten by almost 40 lengths last time out. He's been off the track for almost 15 weeks now and might well need the run as the only runner here not to have been seen on the last seven weeks. A watching brief at best, I'd say.

Caldwell is lightly raced so far after just six starts in which he has failed to win so far. He has finished 242 over hurdles in three attempts, but has gone doen by 32L, 20L and 5L in those three. That five-length defeat at Kelso last time out when beaten by Magna Moralia (but immediately ahead of the re-opposing Le Magnifique, Monash and Feldspar) was definitely his best effort to date and he now meets his victor 8lbs better off.

En Couleur has been more consistent than spectacular or successful over hurdles so far, with a form line reading 4354, but the average margin of his defeats is only around 12 lengths, so he's not getting left behind. He heads our ratings and might relish the ground being a bit quicker than he's used to. He'd need things to fall his way, but could well threaten the places.

Monash carries bottom weight here, some 24lbs less than top-weight Feldspar and comes here off a respectable fourth place in that Kelso contest mentioned above featuring five of this field. He ran exclusively on the A/W at Newcastle in January and February and cam close to landing a couple of Class 6 handicaps over 1m2f and 1m4.5f, so he's got some ground speed. Stamina has, however, looked suspect over 2 miles and beyond and even off such a low weight, I think he struggles here.


Juveniles by their very definition don't have many past races to discuss or draw pointers from and as such have even fewer wins to consider, so the place view on Instant Expert is more likely to help us than the win only element, but here they both are...

Either way, Breguet Boy is the standout horse on those charts with the obvious caveat again that we're only dealing with small sample sizes. Magna Moralia's consistency is also apparent and there are other splashes of green around for other runners.

So we've an idea of how they've ran recently and we've seen their stats under today's conditions, but with many of these untested and/or unproven in similar circumstances, the pace of the race might well be the key, notwithstanding we've already got a couple of runners catching the eye.

What we do know from our Geegeez data is that prominent racers fare much much better than the other three running styles. Leaders win around half of the races they'd expect to, but do have the best place ratio. Prominent runners win 1.7 times more often than you'd think they would and make the frame 4 times every 11 attempts. Hold-up horses and mid-division runners don't win many, but those held-up do win twice as often as those just ahead of them in the pace rankings.

Numerically, that looks like this...

And here's how our four runners would race, if they all ran to the average running style of their last four contests.

This is, of course, both inconclusive and problematic as there's no leader, but every race has a leader, so a deeper dive might be needed. So, what we do is look at those last four races individually to see if we've any who might take the lead here and the data says...

...that two of them have scored 4 (ie led) twice in their last three runs. Caldwell led last time out and also three starts ago and finished as a runner-up on both occasions, not seeing the trip out, whilst Genever Dragon has led in each of his last two before being well beaten. I suspect this pair will lead out here with Breguet Boy and Magna Moralia seizing the optimal "prominent racer" berths.


I had a suspicion that this might be a four-horse race, but just two runners stand out for me. At every stage of the analysis, Breguet Boy and Magna Moralia were the eyecatchers and as such, I've got them as my 1-2 in that order and I have them well clear of the pack. On my reckoning it'll be close for third between Progressive and En Couleur.

Bookies-time (5pm) two against the field are 9/2 and 10/3 respectively. Breguet Boy looks a reasonable bet at that price, but MM looks a little short. The two I've got chasing the final place are 4/1 and 10/1 respectively, so whilst Progressive just shades it on my numbers, En Couleur would be the value for an E/W punt.



Racing Insights, 23rd November 2020

Saturday's shortlisted three against the field managed to find a 4/1 winner for a satisfactory end to the week. Monday is often a tough day for punters, but help is at hand via the daily free feature of the Pace tab being available for ALL races, whist our free racecards are offered for the following...

  • 12.05 Musselburgh
  • 1.45 Dundalk
  • 2.20 Dundalk
  • 2.45 Ludlow

...and I'm going to look at the first on that list, the 12.05 Musselburgh : a 5-runner, Class 3, Novices Limited Handicap Chase for 4yo+ over 2m on Good ground where the winner will receive £7,668.

Just five go to post and there's the possibility of a fairly short favourite, so it's not an ideal betting medium at first glance. But it does look competitive, so let's have a quick run through the Geegeez toolbox to ascertain whether (a) the favourite deserves to be there or (b) we can get him overturned at a better price. We start, of course, with the card itself...

And like I did for Saturday's race, I'll work through the card from left to right making notes on the pros and cons of each column, something like...

Positive : Gaelik Coast & Return Ticket
Negative : none massively so, as all have won at least once in their last three outings

Positive : Return Ticket drops in class
Negative : Swaffham Bulbeck & Lucky Flight are both up in class after a defeat

All bar Ruinous have won over today's trip, whilst Return Ticket has also previously won here at Musselburgh. In fact that win was also over today's trip, but in a hurdles contest.

Gaelik Coast & Return Ticket come from yards with sustained good records here at Musselburgh, although the latter's trainer is 16 days without a win right now.

Positive : Return Ticket (14) & Gaelik Coast (C5)
Negative : Ruinous (14)

Positive : Ruinous & Return Ticket
Negative : Swaffham Bulbeck

I've now already got a bit of an idea as to who is ticking most boxes, but we need to assess how these horses have performed previously under today's conditions...

As this is a novices handicap, there's not a great deal of chase form to go at, so I've shown you their overall NH records and then the chase-only equivalents and we see that Gaelik Coast has a full line of green albeit off small numbers and is up 7lbs on his last winning mark. Return Ticket has performed better over hurdles than over fences but runs off a winnable mark, whilst Swaffham Bulbeck doesn't appear to be a fan of Good ground (yet has won on Gd to Fm, Gd to Soft and Heavy!)

Ruinous has very little data to work from, especially over fences, whilst Lucky Flight would make plenty of appeal were this a hurdles contest, but has won at both class and trip over fences already. In fact they both happened together at not too distant Perth two starts ago.

So, that's the card done and Instant Expert done and I've still got five runners! Perhaps the pace assessment will narrow my choices down...

The win and place percentages (based on 4-6 runner contests) suggest Prominent racers fare best from both a win and place perspective, whilst hold up horses perform marginally better than leaders.

Another view of those percentages is that leaders have won 2 of 9 races (22.2%) and placed 3 times from 17 (17.6%). Prominent runners are 4/9 (44.4%) and 9/17 (52.9%), whilst hold-ups are 3/9 (33.3%) and 5/17 (29.4%) respectively, which further backs up the suggestion that prominent racers fare best. We've no actual prominent racers on past form, but of the above, I'd say Return Ticket and Swaffham Bulbeck were best placed.

So, where am I now? Well, I'm still holding all five tickets, so I'll need more info on each before making a final decision.

Gaelik Coast will be very popular and he's the one I expect to be the favourite. He comes here having won three on the bounce, all in Novice contests (2 over hurdles at Class 4 over 2m0.5f and a Class 3 chase LTO over 2m1f). He now carries a whopping 11st 11lbs for thar sequence and I'm not sure if that's not too much weight right now.

Return Ticket will find this easier than his last outing when third of four at Cheltenham and beaten by 23 lengths. That was a Class 2 contest, so he's down in class and has also had a wind op, which will hopefully help a little (although they normally need a few runs to fully optimise the surgery). The one he beat that day (by 21 lengths), Getaway Trump re-appeared to win a Class 3 chase at Fakenham last Tuesday rated 144. Return Ticket's mark here is 134, the same as his 13 length victory at Sedgefield two starts ago.

Swaffham Bulbeck is well known to many Geegeez readers and is better than his chase debut would suggest. 5th of 9 beaten by 18 lengths at Sedgefield in a lower grade than this doesn't seem ideal, but he's the sort to come on for having had a crack at fences and he'll relish the drop back in trip, as he has 4 wins and 4 further places from 11 efforts over 2m/2m1f and was a Class 3 winner as recently as September.

Ruinous was a comfortable winner on his chasing debut at Downpatrick in early August and now makes a yard debut for Tim Reed. I'm not entirely sure that the Downpatrick race was of any real quality, but you can only beat what's put in front of you. He carries virtually no weight here (actually receiving 19lbs inc claims from Gaelik Coast) and should at least be competitive, if not not given too much to do late on, as he has struggled over short trips with just one placed finish from five runs at 2m/2m0.5f

Lucky Flight has 3 wins and a place from 6 over obstacles and bare numbers like that are impressive, but he's only a pound lighter than when being beaten by 20 lengths at Hexham last time and his two hurdles wins were both Class 4 contests where he was hanging on grimly at the end. If handling the extra weight and maintains his jumping ability, he has every chance but I feel others are best suited.


Gaelik Flight will be popular and could very well win, but at 13/8, he's not for me and I'd like to see him turned over, as I often do with shorties. This sets the task of finding one (or two!) to beat him or to just walk away from the race, as I'm not backing him at that price based on what I've written/quoted above.

Going back through my notes, Return Ticket ticks a lot of boxes and with bet365 offering 7/2, I'll take my chances there and actually have a couple of quid on him. Those of you wanting a runner with a bigger price could do worse than the outsider Swaffham Bulbeck at 7/1. He could be a decent E/W punt here.

I'm not going big on this one, mind. My two could finish 1-2 (wouldn't that be lovely?), but it's a competitive little contest and we could finish 4-5. Either way, I'll be back again tomorrow!




Stat of the Day, 12th September 2020

Friday's pick was...

5.00 Salisbury : Julie Johnston @ 7/2 BOG 5th at 5/1 (Went left start, soon led, ridden over 1f out, headed entering final furlong weakened inside final furlong)

Saturday's pick runs in the...

4.35 Musselburgh :

Before I post the daily selection, just a quick reminder of how I operate the service. Normally, I'll identify and share the selection between 8.00am and 8.30am and I then add a more detailed write-up later within an hour or so of going "live".

Those happy to take the early price on trust can do so, whilst some might prefer to wait for my reasoning. As I fit the early service in around my family life, I can't give an exact timing on the posts, so I suggest you follow us on Twitter and/or Facebook for instant notifications of a published pick.


Amazing Alba @ 3/1 BOG a 12-runner, Class 5,  Flat Handicap for 3yo+ over 5f on Good to Firm ground worth £3,429 to the winner...


More on this very shortly...

This 4 yr old filly is clearly in great form and her excellent record here at Musselburgh of 2 wins and 4 further places from 8 starts are all over today's 5f trip and her form over the eight races reads 32320211, including 211 since lockdown and she's one from one under today's jockey David Nolan who was aboard last time out.

Trainer Alistair Whillans does well after sending runners back out fairly quickly after making the frame in a bid to strike whilst the iron is hot and since 2016, his Flat handicappers reappearing within 25 days of a top 3 finish are 16 from 98 (16.33% SR) for 17.01pts (+17.36% ROI), including of note/relevance today...

  • 13/54 (24.1%) for 16.55pts (+30.7%) at odds of 6/4 to 7/1
  • 11/56 (19.6%) for 29.05pts (+51.9%) at Class 5/6
  • 8/26 (30.8%) for 28.32pts (+108.9%) on Good to Firm ground
  • and 7/23 (30.4%) for 8.99pts (+39.1%) at 3-10 dslr

...whilst at Class 5/5 on Good/Good to Firm at 6/4 to 7/1, they are 7/22 (31.8% SR) for 19.08pts (+86.7%), giving us 112% of the original profit from just 22% of the runners.

Meanwhile, over the same 2016-20 timeframe, the Flat course at Musselburgh has been a happy hunting ground for LTO C&D winners in general with 23 of 76 (30.26% SR) managing to "double up", generating 50.64pts profit at an ROI of 66.6% with the following angles at play today...

  • 20/56 (35.7%) for 52.4pts (+93.6%) on Good/Good to Firm
  • 19/57 (33.3%) for 45.9pts (+80.6%) after less than 3 weeks rest
  • 19/45 (42.2%) for 40.8pts (+90.7%) at odds of 13/8 to 5/1
  • 18/42 (42.9%) for 46.2pts (+110%) in races worth less than £4,000
  • 10/29 (34.5%) for 27pts (+93%) from female runners
  • 9/34 (26.5%) for 21.9pts (+64.4%) over this 5f C&D
  • 6/13 (46.2%) for 13pts (+100%) for 4 yr olds
  • and 5/8 (62.5%) for 27pts (+337.5%) in 2020

...whilst those sent off at 13/8 to 5/1 in races worth less than £4k on Good/Good to Firm ground lees than three weeks since their LTO C&D win are 11 from 18 (61.1% SR) for 31.8pts (+176.6% ROI) and they include...

  • 6/9 (66.6%) for 17pts (+188.4%) from 4 yr olds
  • 4/7 (57.1%) for 13pts (+185.1%) from females
  • and 3 from 3 (100%) for 11.6pts (+386.7%) this year...

...and each of those C&D LTO stats applied to Amazing Alba's run/win six days ago too! All of which...

...had led me towards... a 1pt win bet on Amazing Alba @ 3/1 BOG as was widely available at 8.10am Saturday, but as always please check your own BOG status (*some firms are not BOG until later in the morning)To see a small sample of odds offered on this race... here for the betting on the 4.35 Musselburgh

Don't forget, we offer a full interactive racecard service every day!


Here is today's racecard

P.S. all P/L returns quoted in the stats above are to Betfair SP, as I NEVER bet to ISP and neither should you. I always use BOG bookies for SotD, wherever possible, but I use BFSP for the stats as it is the nearest approximation I can give, so I actually expect to beat the returns I use to support my picks. If that's unclear, please ask!

Stat of the Day, 26th August 2020

Tuesday's pick was...

3.05 Bangor : Do You Know What @ 4/1 BOG 2nd at 4/1 (Midfield, headway to chase leaders 9th, ridden before 2 out, stayed on to press leader last, stayed on well close home, just denied by a short head) 

Wednesday's pick runs in the...

4.05 Musselburgh :

Before I post the daily selection, just a quick reminder of how I operate the service. Normally, I'll identify and share the selection between 8.00am and 8.30am and I then add a more detailed write-up later within an hour or so of going "live".

Those happy to take the early price on trust can do so, whilst some might prefer to wait for my reasoning. As I fit the early service in around my family life, I can't give an exact timing on the posts, so I suggest you follow us on Twitter and/or Facebook for instant notifications of a published pick.


Millie The Minx @ 4/1 BOG a 9-runner, Class 6, Flat Handicap for 3yo+ over 1m4½f on Soft ground worth £3,429 to the winner...


As is generally the case, the racecard is my way into the race...

...with an in-form 6 yr old mare hailing from an in-form yard that does well with LTO winners. Other than the sex of the horse, you've pretty much got that there in front of you and to be honest, I'd be happy to draw stumps on today's piece and say that's why I'm backing this one.

If I did want to seek further reassurance, my next step would be to see if the horse would be suited to today's conditions and an opening glance at her record shows a fairly uninspiring 4 from 34 (11.8% SR), but she does come here seeking a hat-trick in Scotland since adopting blinkers and a closer look at those 34 runs gives me more confidence as they include under today's conditions...

  • 4/11 at odds of 4/1 and shorter
  • 3/13 at 6-14 dslr
  • 3/11 in fields of 9-10 runners
  • 2/14 on the Flat
  • 2/12 in handicaps
  • 2/12  at class 6
  • 2/11 on soft ground
  • 2/11 going right handed
  • 2/10 under jockey James Sullivan
  • 2/3 in August
  • and 2/2 in blinkers

Trainer Dianne Sayer's excellent 2yr record with LTO winners above does also include her NH runners of course, so with today's contest in mind, I'm just going to add in that they include 6 winners from 11 (54.6% SR) for 21.35pts (+194.1% ROI) profit in Flat handicaps at odds ranging from 6/4 to 15/2 and although 11 races is a small sample size, they do include many similarities to today's situation, such as...

  • 6/9 (66.6%) for 23.35pts (+259.5%) within four weeks of their last run
  • 4/6 (66.6%) for 13.14pts (+219.1%) in races worth less than £4,000
  • 4/5 (80%) for 14.75pts (+295%) in fields of 9-10 runners
  • 4/5 (80%) for 14.14pts (+282.8%) at class 6
  • 3/4 (75%) for 12.34pts (+308.5%) in Scotland
  • 3/4 (75%) for 11.52pts (+288%) in blinkers
  • 2/3 (66.6%) for 9.72pts (+324%) with 6 yr olds
  • 2/3 (66.6%) for 3.92pts (+130.7%) in August
  • and 2/2 (100%) for 11.65pts (+582.3%) on soft ground... us... a 1pt win bet on Millie The Minx @ 4/1 BOG (or bigger in places) as was available at 8.05am Wednesday, but as always please check your own BOG status (*some firms are not BOG until later in the morning)To see a small sample of odds offered on this race... here for the betting on the 4.05 Musselburgh

Don't forget, we offer a full interactive racecard service every day!


Here is today's racecard

P.S. all P/L returns quoted in the stats above are to Betfair SP, as I NEVER bet to ISP and neither should you. I always use BOG bookies for SotD, wherever possible, but I use BFSP for the stats as it is the nearest approximation I can give, so I actually expect to beat the returns I use to support my picks. If that's unclear, please ask!

Musselburgh Draw & Pace Bias

Draw and Pace at Musselburgh

For this article we are back across the border to analyse draw and pace data from Musselburgh racecourse, writes Dave Renham. To help me with this piece I have used some of the tools available on the Geegeez website, those being the Draw Analyser, the Pace Analyser and the Query Tool.

I will be looking at race data going back to 2009 as my starting point but, as before, I will examine a more recent data set in detail, too (2015 to 2019), where appropriate. The focusas with all the other articles in the series, is on handicap races with eight or more runners.

Musselburgh Course Constitution

Musselburgh is a right-handed course roughly ten furlongs in circumference, with no notable gradients, and is generally considered to be fair. The 5f sprint trip is raced on a straight track while 7f races and above take place on the round course. (There are no 6f races).


Musselburgh 5f Draw Bias (8+ runner handicaps)

Since 2009 there have been 218 qualifying races over the past 11 seasons, a significant sample, and here are the draw splits: 

The general perception I think is that horses drawn next to the stands’ rail (high) have an advantage. There is a kink in the straight track after two furlongs and, in theory, that should aid those runners drawn high. However, the stats for 8+ runner handicaps do not especially back that up, such horses winning only as much as middle draws, and neither group performing distinctly better than low starting stalls. Now a look at the A/E values:

Middle draws seem to offer better value than higher draws despite their similar win percentages. This does imply, albeit only slightly, that maybe higher draws are slightly overbet due to the perception of draw bias.

However, when the field size increases a slight bias does start to appear. In handicap races of 11 or runners (90 races) we get the following splits:

Thus, in bigger fields, horses drawn out wider (lower stall numbers) definitely start to struggle. The A/E values back this up too.

Again middle draws offer the best value out of the three draw thirds.

Ground conditions do not appear to make any difference to the draw so let us move on to to looking at each draw position broken down by individual stall number.

For this distance I have needed to change the way I collate the data. The reason for this is that the higher draws are positioned next to the rail so in many respects analysing individual stall positions in the ‘normal’ way becomes irrelevant. What I mean by this is, that stall 8 could be drawn next to the rail (in an 8-runner race), but in a 17-runner race stall 8 is actually ten stalls away from the rail. Hence I am using a trick that Nick Mordin used many years ago in his book Betting For Living when he flipped the draw. I am reversing the draw figures if you like and looking at them in their relation to their position near to the stands’ rail. I still used the Geegeez Query Tool to give me the relevant data, but it took me more time to adjust and sort out the final figures:

These stats indicate there may be a slight stands’ rail bias as horses drawn 2, 3 or 5 stalls from the rail are all in profit. Also the each way percentages for those drawn within five of the rail are all over 30%. Having said that, it is not something that one could be too confident about. What I would be more confident in is that horses drawn ten berths or wider from the stands’ rail look at a disadvantage. This correlates with the 11+ runner draw splits mentioned earlier.

Onto a more recent data set looking at the past five seasons (2015-2019). Here are the draw splits for the 100 races that have occurred during this time frame.

No surprises here with an even looking split.

The A/E values correlate with long term figures shared earlier:

Again middle draws have offered the best value.


Time for the 5 year stats for individual draw positions with the same twist as discussed earlier (draw positions effectively reversed):

The slight rail bias that was mooted earlier is not displayed with this more recent data set. However, as you would have probably expected the stats indicate that horses drawn ten or further from the stands’ rail remain at a clear disadvantage.

Musselburgh 5f Pace Bias (8+ Runner Handicaps)

Let us look at pace and running styles now. The overall figures (2009-19) are thus:

As is often the case, front runners enjoy a decent edge – as 5f biases go it is around the overall UK course average. Hold up horses have a poor record and look best avoided unless the pace is likely to be frenetic.

The front running bias does seem to strengthen slightly the firmer the going. The stats for qualifying races on going described as good to firm or firmer is as follows:

Improvements in strike rate, A/E value and IV; also the each way placed percentage increases too.

In terms of field size there is no clear change in front running bias.

Finally in this five furlong 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):

Higher draws get the lead more often than any other third. You would expect this as they are drawn closest to the rail. I must admit that I had expected the high draw percentage to be a bit nearer to 50%.

The draw/run style heat map, sorted by Percentage of Rivals Beaten, again points to early leaders from a pace perspective and middle to high from a draw perspective. (Any score above 0.55 implies a bias to that section, below 0.45 a bias against that section).


To conclude, in terms of the draw, higher draws are at a disadvantage as the field size gets bigger, with draws ten or further away from the rail having a particularly poor record. Pace wise, front runners have the edge and this seems to strengthen on firmer ground.


Musselburgh 7f Draw Bias (8+ runner handicaps)

As mentioned, there are no six furlong races at Musselburgh, so the next distance we'll review takes in the round course and the seven furlong (seven-eighths of a mile) range. The 7 furlong trip has had 189 qualifying races from 2009 to 2019 which is another decent sample. Here are the draw splits:

The 7f trip sees low draws start closest to the inside rail. However, this does not appear to give them any concrete advantage.

Let’s look at the A/E values to see if they correlate with the draw percentages:

Similar A/E values offering no real edge.

Drilling into the stats when the going gets softer there is a suggestion that low draws have an advantage. The problem is that there have only been 19 races on soft or heavy ground. Having said that, 12 races have been won by low-drawn runners compared with just two for higher-drawn horses. The placed stats strongly favour lower draws, too, under such conditions, but 19 races is far too small a sample to take at face value.

Time to look at what the individual draw positions offer over the 11-year period between ’09 and ’19. We can view these in the normal way:

Nothing particularly significant here as one might expect looking at the other draw data. However, draws 1 and 2 clearly have the best placed strike rates which is interesting.

On that theme you could have made a 36 point profit backing the two lowest draws in one point reverse forecasts over the 189 races. There were enough winning bets to create a small profit. For tricast fans, perming the three lowest draws in full cover tricasts would have yielded a huge profit of just under 3600 points! There were only five winning tricasts, though, and the profit basically relied on one monster payout.

Onto the last five seasons for 7f handicaps at Musselburgh. There have been 94 qualifying races since 2015, with the draw splits as follows:

These are similar figures to the longer term ones. Higher draws have performed slightly worse in the last five years but it is likely not statistically significant.

Onto the A/E values (2015-2019):

Middle draws have been the best value of the three draw thirds in the last five seasons. However, there is no edge to really take advantage of.

Now a look at the individual draw figures for this latest 5-year period:

Again nothing clear cut and ultimately 7f races offer little interest for the draw punter (despite those aforementioned forecast and tricast figures). The PRB3 data - a rolling three-stall average of percentage of rivals beaten - suggests that the course constitution does slightly favour inner-drawn horses, though this has so far yet to manifest itself in bottom line profit. Nevertheless, it is worth being aware of.

I will be looking closely at any future races on softer ground, though, as it is possible that there could be a low bias under those conditions. Here is the same view, but on soft or heavy going:


Moving on the seven-furlong handicap pace data, here are the overall pace figures going back to 2009:

This makes much better reading and front runners have a very strong edge, even more so than over 5f. More recent data offers a similar picture so this is a bias that we must try and use to our advantage.

This front running edge looks to be stronger as the ground starts to soften. On good to soft or softer there have been 47 races giving the following splits:

There also seems to be a slight increase in front running bias when the field size grows. In races of 11 or more runners, front runners win 21% of the time with an A/E value of 1.85; in races of 8 to 10 runners the strike rate is still 21% but the A/E value drops to 1.50. It should be noted that mathematically it is harder to win in bigger fields so even though both win percentages are at 21%, it is clear that in effect front runners have been more successful in bigger field races.

Let us now look at the draw / pace (running style) combinations for front runners over 7f.

Lower drawn horses get to the early lead more often – they are positioned closest to the inside rail so this is what we should expect. Having said that I would have expected a higher figure than 40%.

The draw / run style heat map offers a perfect diffusion of green to dark orange when viewed on PRB; this is normally a strong indication of a repeatable bias:

To conclude, over 7f the draw in general is extremely fair, but possibly lower draws have an edge in soft or heavy conditions. Pace wise, however, front runners have a bankable edge in all conditions which seems to increase on good to soft or softer going.


Musselburgh 1 Mile Pace Bias (8+ Runner Handicaps)

I will start our mile handicap analysis by looking at the 2009-2019 data - 90 races during this period have given the following draw splits:

There is no clear draw bias looking at these stats, but when you break the data down into halves, the bottom half of the draw won 61.1% of races to the top half figure of 38.9%. Hence a slightly lower draw seems preferable.

Let us break the mile draw data down by stall position:

Draws 1 and 2 both have decent A/E values and, breaking the data down further, stalls 1 to 4 have been 2.1 times more likely to win than draws 10 or higher (A/E values of 0.93 versus 0.66). Hence taking all things into account a lower draw seems preferable over a very high one, as reflected in the below IV3* chart:

*more information on IV3, and all of our metrics, can be found here.


The last five seasons have seen a fairly even split draw wise when splitting into thirds; draws 10 or higher have continued to struggle winning just twice from 37 runners. A look now at the pace findings for this 1 mile trip going back to 2009:

As with the two shorter distances, front runners have a definite advantage over a mile. This is one of the strongest mile pace biases in the country and it should also be noted that exactly half of all front runners went onto finish in the first three. Horses held up at the back early do not have a good record once again. The bias is consistent across all going and field sizes, although you could argue that in smaller fields (8-9 runners) it has been slightly less potent.

Finally in this section a look at which part of the draw gets to the lead first:

Although lower draws are positioned next to the rail, they do not get to the lead the most. This is probably due to the fact that there is nearly 4 furlongs until the first (and only) turn and wider drawn jockeys are keen to get a more expedient trip.

Again, we can see the golden triangle when looking at draw / run style in concert, though this time it more a 'led' bias, with a mark up for low drawn prominent and midfield (ground saving) racers.


As with 5f and 7f handicaps, over one mile the front running pace bias offers the most interest and it is a strong one. Draw wise I would always prefer lower draws over higher but all in all I don’t perceive it to be a significant factor.


Musselburgh 1 Mile 1 Furlong Pace Bias (8+ Runner Handicaps)

There have been only 44 qualifying races at this distance but some interesting findings: 

Higher draws seem to have an edge and the A/E values strongly correlate:

My concern with these figures is that they are not easy to explain – if low draws had this advantage I would assume there was an inside rail bias; with higher draws having the edge it makes virtually no sense. The most likely scenario is simply down to variance as the sample size is not that big in reality. However, it may be that jockeys are able to play more of a waiting game by dropping high-drawn horses in at the back of the pack. All may be revealed shortly!

Let’s break the data down by individual draws to see if that helps:

It is difficult to make much of this either – the unusually good stats for stall eight reinforces my belief that the draw splits cannot be relied upon.

Onto pace now, and below is performance by run style.

Once again at Musselburgh we have a decent front running bias and hold up horses have an even worse record than the three shorter distances, so bang goes that theory about why wide-drawn horses have fared best!

This is surprising as normally the longer the distance, the harder it is for early leaders to make all the running; likewise longer distances normally see a much higher percentage of wins for hold up horses.

To conclude, there is a strong pace bias for the fourth consecutive distance over 1m1f. The draw stats suggest a high draw bias; but, as stated earlier, I am struggling to rationalise this in the overall context, even though the PRB data support the win and place tables above. Weird!


Musselburgh 1 Mile 4 Furlong Pace Bias (8+ Runner Handicaps)

This is the longest distance I have looked at in any of the articles but I would like to share one set of stats. The draw is fairly even and, over 12 furlongs where they start just before the winning post and make a full loop of the track, I do not feel it is worth going into too much detail.

But pace wise we continue to see that front running edge, even over this relatively long trip. Here are the 2009-2019 stats, taken from the geegeez Pace Analyser:

The figures suggest that this may be the distance where the front running edge is at its strongest. This is very surprising given the distance we are talking about. Maybe it is down to the fact there is additional sharp bend soon after the start at 1m4f and front runners get more of an advantage going the shortest route into that turn.


Musselburgh Draw and Pace Bias Summary

Although there is little out of the ordinary in draw terms, Musselburgh is a course of real interest when viewed from a pace angle. Looking for potential front runners at all distances from 5f to 1m4f is definitely a strategy worth considering. The draw is generally not a major factor but there are subtleties that one needs to be aware of.

Thanks, as always, for reading, and good luck!

- DR