For this fifth track in my all-weather series, we are heading north to Newcastle. Once again I will be using racing data from 1st January 2017 to 31st August 2022 in line with previous pieces. My data collection has been again been taken solely from the Geegeez Query Tool and therefore all profits / losses have been calculated to Industry Starting Price. We know that we can improve upon the baseline figures of SP and I will share Betfair SP data when appropriate.
I have written about Newcastle before in regards to running style, so I will be sharing just the data from the past 11 months as well as comparing with the long term figures. I have not analysed the draw in any depth before so I will start off by looking at those long term stats (2017 onwards) and take it from there. For both sections on running style and draw, my focus will be handicaps of eight or more runners only. This is in line with previous research in those areas.
Newcastle's Gosforth Park circuit uses a tapeta surface rather than the polytrack researched so far at Chelmsford, Kempton and Lingfield. Hence there may be some subtle differences especially when it comes to sires and gender bias. Anyway time to crack on and see what we can find out...
Running Style at Newcastle
Newcastle 5f Run Style Bias
Let’s start with the minimum trip of 5f. Here are the run style splits in 8+ runner handicaps covering the time since my last article (1st Oct ’21 to 31st Aug ’22):
In this recent time frame there have only been 29 qualifying races so this is a smallish sample The front running stats (L) are slightly stronger than the long term figures – from 1st Jan 2017 to 30th Sept 2021, front runners were successful around 16% of the time, compared with 19.5% since; so not a huge variance. If we compare all run style win percentages over the two time frames we get the following:
Essentially similar stats across the board so we can be fairly confident the run style bias to front runners is still there. As 5f biases go, it is not as strong as at some courses, but it is still significant. I would prefer to see my horse on or close to the early lead than taking up any other position in the field. What is more unusual about the overall stats is that prominent racers are not clearly second best: at most 5f trips they outperform midfield and hold up horses.
Now we know predicting the front runner in a race is far from an exact science, but assuming we had a crystal ball and had predicted all front runners since 2017 in 5f handicaps (8+ runners), we would have seen a profit to SP of £161.51 to £1 level stakes which equates to returns of just over 66p in the £.
Newcastle 6f Run Style Bias
Onto 6f now and the run style splits from 1/10/21 to 31/8/22:
A slight edge to front runners in the last 11 months. These front running stats are virtually identical to the long term data going back to 2017 where front runners have won 13.77% of the time. The mid-division runners have performed a little bit above their long term norm but this is probably a small statistical blip. For the record, here are the stats going back to the beginning of 2017:
As we saw over 5f, the stats for prominent racers, midfield and hold up runners are in the same sort of ballpark in terms of success rate.
Hence this 6f distance gives front runners a tangible edge, but nothing overly earth-shattering. It should be noted that front runners in the top three of the betting have been quite a potent combination winning nearly 30% of the time (63% win & placed).
Newcastle 7f Run Style Bias
Once we get to 7f the front running edge is minimal as these long term stats show:
As we can see hold up horses are becoming more competitive and although front runners still do best, this not something as punters we can really make count.
Newcastle 1 Mile Run Style Bias
Moving up one more furlong to 1 mile we get a change of ‘leadership’.
Front runners start to struggle and hold up horses have become the most successful group from a win strike rate perspective. In fact if you had backed all 1140 hold up horses over 1 mile you would have made a very small profit to SP. This is unusual, to say the least. It should also be mentioned that with races of 13 or 14 runners (max field size over 1 mile is 14) hold up horses seem to perform marginally better.
To conclude the run style section, front runners have a decent edge over 5f, a solid one over 6f, while once we get to 1 mile races preference is to be on a hold up horse.
The Draw at Newcastle
From 5f to 1 mile at Newcastle, the straight track is used (see below).
Hence if there was a draw bias at one of the distances you would hope that it would be replicated over the other three. Distances of 1m2f, 1m4f and 2m are run on the round course.
Newcastle 5f Draw Bias
A look at the minimum trip first. Here are the draw splits going back to 2017 for 8+ runner handicaps. There have been close to 200 races in this time frame so a very decent sample:
High draws seem to have the edge from a win perspective. However if we look at the percentage of rivals beaten (PRB) it appears extremely even.
I would trust the PRB figures more, as they give a score to every runner in every race. Ultimately, perhaps one would marginally prefer to be drawn higher than lower. For the record, stalls 1 and 2 both have PRB figures of 0.45 so it seems very low draws may be at a disadvantage. It will be interesting to see whether the remaining straight course draw stats correlate in any way.
Newcastle 6f Draw Bias
There have been 231 races at this track/trip combination since 2017 so another huge sample. Here are the draw splits in terms of win percentage:
Highest draws again come out on top in terms of win percentage. However, again if there is a high draw bias then it is a modest one. How about the PRB figures?
Middle draws nudge it here but, again, low draws fare worst. Combining both stats I would say that perhaps low draws are at a slight disadvantage over six furlongs here. Hence the 5f and 6f figures correlate quite well.
Newcastle 7f Draw Bias
Up another furlong now to seven-eighths of a mile. Will we see low draws the worst of the three sections once more? There are even more races over this distance since 2017 – up to 258:
Win percentages again correlate with 5f and 6f with high looking best and low looking worst. PRB figures now:
Low draws with the lowest value but middle once again edge high. Again the 7f stats do seem to suggest that lower draws are at a very slight disadvantage on the straight course although there is little in it across all three distances in terms of percentage of rivals beaten by draw third.
Newcastle 1 Mile Draw Bias
The final distance raced on the straight course is a mile. There have been 258 races over this distance, exactly the same number as over 7f!
High comes out marginally best for the fourth time in terms of win percentage. A look at the PRB figures now:
Low once again are marginally the worst; as with the previous three distances.
A final draw snippet to share about the mile distance is that the two lowest draws on the straight course (all distances) have PRBs of 0.46 and 0.47; the two highest draws are at 0.51 and 0.52. With this info, coupled with the data across each individual distance, it does seem that low draws are at a slight disadvantage on the straight course. It is going to be tough though to make this pay.
The chart below shows the rolling three stall average of percentage of rivals beaten for all 8+ runner handicaps on the straight course (5f to 1 mile):
Newcastle 1m4f Draw Bias
When it comes to the draw it is rare to find a potential draw bias when the distances extend past a mile. However, the 1m4f stats at Newcastle surprised me on two counts.
There have been 119 qualifying races going back to 2017 – here are the splits:
Comparing the top third to the bottom third we see roughly double the success rate in terms of wins. What makes this even more head scratching initially, is that lower draws are positioned next to the inside rail. Hence you would have thought if there was any bias here it may play to lower draws especially with the first left turn relatively early in the race. The PRB figures back up the win percentages as you will see:
When thinking more about this I wondered whether it was down to the fact that lower draws expended too much energy trying to maintain a position close to or up with the early pace. However when we combine the draw and run style map (PRB) any ‘pattern’ like that remains unclear – to me at least.
It is the 0.54 and 0.55 for prominent racers from middle draws and high draws that really scupper my theory. If those were both below 0.50 then there may be some mileage in my idea. Essentially this leaves me with no confident explanation. However, the following graph makes me think something is going on and that high draws do enjoy a draw edge over low draws:
As we can see, each year high draws have outperformed low draws from a Percentage of Rivals beaten (PRB) perspective. Only 2020 saw a relatively ‘close contest’, but high still came out on top. My conclusion is that I would rather be drawn higher than lower, even though I have no good explanation for what seems to be consistently happening. Draws 1 to 4 do have a poor record over 1m4f, both individually and as a group.
OK, time to move away from the draw. For the remainder of this article I will be looking at data for ALL races, not just 8+ runner handicaps (from 1st Jan 2017).
Trainers at Newcastle
This is my first look at a northern course in this series so I am hoping that some trainers who have not previously appeared will show themselves. Below are the trainers who have secured a win strike rate of 15% or more from a minimum of 100 runs (ALL race types included):
We see many of the usual all-weather ‘suspects’ – the Gosden stable, William Haggas and Roger Varian have appeared in all previous top AW trainer lists, while all bar one of the rest have appeared at least once. The new name here is Marco Botti. Botti’s overall win% across the six UK all weather courses stands at 12% whereas his Newcastle hit rate is 19%, so this is potentially a track he targets.
I am now going to share data for trainers who have saddled at least 350 runners at the course, in order to provide a broader trainer outlook for this course.
There are some well known northern trainers in this list with a couple actually sneaking into profit: Karl Burke and Jim Goldie. Goldie also has an A/E index of just over 1.00.
Here are some interesting trainer facts I’ve come across:
- Several trainers are in profit if you focus on their runners from the top three in the betting, including Charlie Appleby, Robert Cowell, Archie Watson, William Haggas, Saeed bin Suroor, Charlie Hills, Michael Dods, James Bethell, Michael Wigham and Richard Fahey.
- The Gosden stable has run 59 2yos of which 21 have won, equating to an impressive strike rate of 35.6%. It has not been a profitable avenue, however, losing a small percentage to SP. For the record you would have broken even backing to BSP.
- For profitable 2yos you need to look no further than Andrew Balding whose ten 2yos have provided six winners (SR 60%) for a profit of £14.33 (ROI +143.3%). (Note from editor: he has had three 2yo runners since this article was collated and two more have won, making it 8 from 13; the other one ran 2nd at 11/1).
- William Haggas has made a profit with his 3yo runners; his non-handicappers have marginally out-performed his handicappers producing returns to SP of 13p in the £ (win SR% 36.2%).
- In class 5 or 6 contests, Haggas has had 89 runners of which 31 have won (SR 34.8%) for an SP profit of £16.25 (ROI +18.3%).
- Roger Varian’s record with 3yo non-handicappers virtually mirrors Haggas - a 35.7% win SR% producing returns of 12p in the £ to SP.
- When Hollie Doyle has ridden for Archie Watson they have combined to secure 16 wins from 46 (SR 34.8%) for a profit of £21.83 (ROI +47.5%).
Jockeys at Newcastle
I'm not going into great detail about Newcastle course jockeys, but I thought it would be worth sharing the riders who have secured an A/E index in excess of 1.00 at the course (100+ rides):
It is not surprising to see Hollie Doyle in there considering her record when riding for Archie Watson, but some of the other names are less predictable perhaps. These are jockeys that seem to ride the track well and I would see it as a positive if they were riding a horse that I fancied at this course, especially considering the pace judgement needed at longer distances on the straight course (seven furlongs and a mile).
Newcastle Gender bias
I have noted a gender bias at each of the all-weather courses I have studied thus far. Here are Newcastle’s comparative figures:
The three Polytrack courses I looked at in previous articles indicated that, when considering the top three in the betting, females and males seem to compete on a level playing field. Once we got to 4th to 6th in the market, males started to dominate; likewise with bigger priced runners (7th+ in the betting). At Newcastle on this different (tapeta) surface, we see a similar pattern with the top three in the betting and 7+ in the betting, however the 4th to 6th figures are more even:
It seems therefore we need to generally wary about longer-priced female runners as previous AW course data has shown. Also don’t be put off if a female runner is near the head of the betting.
Newcastle Market factors
Let's now take a look at the win strike rates for different ranks in the betting, starting with favourites and moving down to position 7th or more:
This is a pattern we would expect and mirrors other courses. Favourites have lost just over 13p in the £ to SP (8p loss to BSP), which is the poorest return of all the courses seen so far. Losses are similar in both non-handicap and handicap races for these favourites.
A look at market rank A/E indices next:
Third favourites and fifth favourites have good figures and this has probably impacted on the 4th in the betting A/E index. However, with favourites as a rule being a little weak at Newcastle, there may be some value elsewhere. Even allowing for the relatively poor record of 4th favourites with 3rd and 5th favourites, these three groups combined would have yielded a 5p in the £ positive return to BSP.
My focus as ever would be on the top five in the betting in most races, and I would try to look for races with a favourite that looked vulnerable. From there I would hope to find a horse 2nd to 5th in the market that might offer up some value.
Sire Performance at Newcastle
Here are the top 20 sires in terms of strike rate since 2017. (To qualify – 100 runs or more; and must have had runners somewhere in the UK during 2022):
There are, of course, many well known sires in the list, but it is interesting to note Shamardal not making the cut after he had appeared in all three previous UK AW articles. Obviously little surprise to see Dubawi with a good strike rate; likewise Frankel. However, Frankel progeny have been very poor value losing 44p in the £.
In terms of damsires, Shamardal does make the top 10 by strike rate and here is the full list:
All ten damsires have A/E indices over 1.00, which is a rare sight. This winter it might be worth noting any runner whose damsire appears in this table: I would see it as a positive.
Newcastle Horses for courses
Our final port of call, as always, is to look at some horses that have excelled at the course since 2017. To qualify for the list each entry must have won at least four races at the track with a strike rate of 25% or more. Further, they must have raced somewhere in the UK in 2022. Here are the horses that qualify, listed alphabetically. I have included a PRB column, too:
19 horses make the list so keep an eye out for any of these over the coming months. They clearly like the track and, if some other factors are in their favour, they are definitely worth close scrutiny.
But before winding up, let's review the ‘main takeaways’:
- Over 5f, front runners have a fair edge; over 6f, front runners also have a small edge;
- Over 1 mile hold up horses have the best record of all running styles;
- Low draws seem at a slight disadvantage on the straight course (5f-1mile). High draws look marginally best overall;
- Over 1m4f higher draws seem to have the edge; draws 1 to 4 have a relatively poor record overall;
- Andrew Balding 2yo runners are quite rare but they have an excellent record;
- Note if Archie Watson books Hollie Doyle to ride;
- Male horses have the edge over female ones when it comes to bigger priced runners;
- Favourites have performed a little below par. Horses 2nd to 5th in the betting seem the group on which focus;
- Dubawi has a decent record as a sire and a damsire.
And that's all for this Newcastle All-Weather Analysis. I hope after reading this, your punting at Gosforth Park will be a little more profitable than perhaps it was before. Good luck.