For those of us to the east of the Irish Sea, we are having to currently having to cram on unfamiliar subjects if we have any aspirations of passing our daily wagering examinations. Today's test features a three hour 'paper', starting at 2pm, on Naas Racecourse. For those whose betting at the track has hitherto been blind, this post will attempt to at least partially sight!
Naas Course Constitution
The track is left-handed and has a straight five- and six-furlong piste. Mile and seven-furlong races begin in the chute furthest from the 'pin' on the image below, with ten-furlong and mile and a half races beginning in the straight just after the bend past the finish line.
Races at a mile and a quarter favour fast starters and/or inside draws as there is a dogleg almost immediately, whereafter the course gently arcs left-handed to about the six-furlong point. There is a further left turn with about half a mile to go meaning wider-drawn runners can have plenty of additional distance to travel; there is, however, a half a mile or so straight in which to make a challenge, so the key is not to get hung out wide on the turns.
Naas Draw / Pace
The five-furlong track has had a fairly pronounced low draw bias. That said, at the start of any new season it is important to look to see whether previous biases still hold; often, track maintenance undertaken in the close season can reduce, nullify or sometimes even reverse a previous bias. As things stand, then, the Naas five-furlong picture looks like this:
Those data are based on races at the track since 2009 with 10+ runners, and relate to 'actual draw' - that is, having removed non-runners from consideration (so, for instance, a horse drawn nine but with two non-runners inside him becomes 'actual draw' seven).
The Impact Value (IV, right hand column) for low-drawn horses is 1.48, which means they are nearly one and a half times as likely to win a race compared with random.
At geegeez.co.uk, we devised a metric called IV3 to smooth the curve on individual stall performance. It simply takes the average of a stall and its nearest neighbours: for instance, the IV3 for stall six comprises the sum of the IV for stalls five, six and seven divided by three. The IV3 graph for Naas 5f races looks like this:
We can see a collection from stall four to ten at around 1.0, but higher draws are significantly unfavoured while berths one to three, especially stall one, have a notable edge.
But draw is not a one-dimensional consideration. Rather it needs to be considered in the context of the early pace horses are able to show. The below heat map illustrates the impact of both draw and run style and is clear about the importance of a very prominent early position, in terms of place percentages at least. Those held up, especially from a middle draw, have neither the pace nor the track position to compete generally.
As can be seen from the course image above, the ten-furlong range suggests it should strongly favour an inside draw, especially with pace to take advantage of that track position. The data support the logic:
We can clearly see the impact of a low draw on both win and place percentages, and with a strongly positive IV. The Actual over Expected (A/E) figure of 1.32 also implies the market hasn't fully factored low draw importance at this time.
Again, the IV3 chart is unequivocal:
Overlaying pace once more reveals that a low draw coupled with a 'led' or 'prominent' run style is a very big - and profitable - edge.
Naas Trainer Form
Overall Trainer Form
The top trainers in flat races at Naas in the five years from 2015 are as follows:
There are few surprises at the top of the overall list, with Aidan O'Brien lording over his peer group in terms of both strike rate and number of winners. From a punting perspective, the runners of Eddie Lynam and Andrew Oliver offer cause for hope.
Naas Handicap Trainer Form
The handicap picture looks different; here we have a number of trainers with solid win rates, numbers of wins and profit figures. Samples are smaller but still not inconsequential, with the likes of Aidan O'Brien, Jim Bolger, Ger Lyons and Jessica Harrington to the fore. These are four of the pre-eminent handlers in the land and they have all been profitable to back in Naas handicaps in recent years!
A word of caution with regards Joseph O'Brien. His seven winners have come at a cost of -27.75 points: clearly they can win but the market overestimates their chance.
Naas Early Season Trainer Form
Focusing only on the months or March and April at Naas, and we are in danger of slicing and dicing our way to statistical irrelevance (assuming we'd not already passed that point!)...
Again, the big guns of APOB, Ger Lyons, and Jessica Harrington are profitable to back. The place strike rates of Michael O'Callaghan, Tommy Stack, Ado McGuinness and Damian English all support their small numbers of winners and suggest they're worth keeping on side in March and April at Naas.
At the other end of the spectrum, Jim Bolger's strike rate in recent seasons has been a cautionary note, while Dermot Weld's horses also look overbet for all that they have a very solid place strike rate.