In my most recent article, we looked at pace bias in 5f handicaps on the all weather, and as promised here is a follow-up looking at the 6f trip, writes Dave Renham.
For regular readers I appreciate the next few lines in some form or other seem to appear in all my pace articles, but for the benefit of new readers I need to clarify the following: when discussing pace the main focus is the initial pace in a race and the position horses take up early on. At www.geegeez.co.uk there is a pace tab within the racecards for each race, and the stats in this article are based on the site’s pace data. These pace data on Geegeez are split into four sections each of which are assigned points – Led (4), Prominent (3), Mid Division (2) and Held Up (1). For all my articles I concentrate on the numerical values to create a plethora of hopefully useful stats.
The minimum distance of five furlongs gives the strongest pace bias on the flat as previous articles have illustrated. However, there is still a bias to pace horses/front runners over an extra furlong, which I will demonstrate in what follows.
The first set of data I wish to share with you is the overall pace perspective for 6f all weather handicaps with six or more runners (the data for this article has been taken from the last 5 years 2014 to 2018):
|Mid Division (2)||155||2003||7.7||0.79|
|Held Up (1)||357||4886||7.3||0.72|
These stats give front runners a solid edge – it is not as strong as over 5f but it is still significant. Just for comparison purposes let us look at the strike rates (SR%) and Impact Values (IVs) for 6f and for 5f:
|Mid Division (2)||7.7||6.5||0.79||0.62|
|Held Up (1)||7.3||6.7||0.72||0.61|
Over 6f front runners are still winning 1.75 times more often than average so we still have a decent starting point.
The main data for this article covers all-weather six-furlong handicaps with 6 or more runners. I then split the data into different field sizes – 6 to 8 runners; 9 – 10 runners; 11 or more runners. I did this ‘runner split’ for the 5f all-weather data in the previous article, and over that trip bigger fields produced the strongest front-running bias. As it turns out, this is replicated over 6f too:
6 to 8 runners
|Mid Division (2)||304||27||8.88||0.66|
|Held Up (1)||988||107||10.83||0.79|
9 to 10 runners
|Mid Division (2)||549||43||7.83||0.74|
|Held Up (1)||1477||113||7.65||0.73|
11 or more runners
|Mid Division (2)||1150||85||7.39||0.88|
|Held Up (1)||2421||137||5.66||0.67|
The IV for front runners increases as the number of runners increases. This is somewhat counter-intuitive and is therefore worth bearing in mind.
The article that discussed 5f all weather sprints looked at each course and distance individually. Once again this is the plan here, as different courses have different layouts, and also there are differences between certain track surfaces too. Let's start with Chelmsford and work through alphabetically.
|Mid Division (2)||31||422||7.3||0.71|
|Held Up (1)||44||671||6.6||0.62|
Just over a fifth of the 6f handicap races (SR 20.9%) at Chelmsford have seen the early leader going on to win. This compares with a strike rate of 26.3% over 5f: not quite as strong but with an IV close to 2 the front-running bias is still clear.
It has already been noted that in bigger fields at all of the all-weather courses the front-running bias seems to be more evident. This is certainly the case here: in races of 11 runners or more at Chelmsford, the front runner has prevailed an impressive 21 times from 87 giving a strike rate of 24.1% and an Impact Value of 2.93.
The draw seems to be material here, too, with those horses drawn nearest to the inside rail performing best when taking the early lead (all 6+ runner races). That makes sense as they will be taking advantage of the shortest route. Horses that have led early from one of the three lowest draws in these big field Chelmsford 6f handicaps have won 25% of their races with an Impact Value of 2.28.
|Mid Division (2)||41||542||7.6||0.78|
|Held Up (1)||84||1123||7.5||0.75|
The 6f trip at Kempton has a decent number of races each year giving punters plenty of opportunities to get involved. Front runners have a clear edge here and, as with Chelmsford, field size accentuates this.
In 6f handicaps of 11 or 12 runners (12 is the maximum at Kempton), front runners have secured 39 wins from 176 runners (SR 22.2%) with a very high Impact Value of 2.53. However, the draw data suggest there is no clear advantage to front runners drawn near to the inside rail (low).
|Mid Division (2)||32||380||8.4||0.79|
|Held Up (1)||50||745||6.7||0.61|
The statistics for Lingfield seem to suggest front runners there have the biggest edge compared with the other five UK all-weather courses. Any front runner here that is well fancied has done extremely well: horses that were either favourite or second favourite and led early over 6f here went on to win 39 times out of 80 runners equating to a win rate of nearly 50%.
|Mid Division (2)||17||197||8.6||0.97|
|Held Up (1)||40||485||8.2||0.89|
Coincidentally, the front running IV over 5f at Newcastle is also 1.74. Front runners do have an edge here but it is not a course I personally get heavily involved with, as the straight track for all distances up to a mile makes it a unique test of an all-weather horse in Britain. That greater emphasis on stamina produces the reverse to Kempton and Chelmsford, with front runners struggling in bigger fields.
|Mid Division (2)||7||124||5.6||0.57|
|Held Up (1)||17||491||3.5||0.32|
A reasonable IV of 1.85 for front runners, but it is also worth noting that horses which come from midfield or off the pace really struggle here just like they do over 5f. One other area worth sharing with you is when a front runner also happens to be in the top 5 of the Geegeez speed ratings, it has won on 22 of 79 occasions (SR 27.9%) producing an IV of 2.50.
|Mid Division (2)||27||338||8.0||0.87|
|Held Up (1)||122||1371||8.9||0.9|
Comfortably the poorest stats for front runners are at Wolverhampton, where there is a very small edge only and little to write home about. Indeed, pace seems to be far more balanced across the run styles at Wolves than at any of the other tracks.
Before I finish, in other articles I have used the various figures to create course and distance pace averages. I do this by adding up the pace scores of all the winners at each course and dividing it by the total number of races. The higher the average score, the more ‘biased’ the course and distance is to horses that lead early or race close to the pace.
Here are the 6 furlong handicap C&D pace averages for the six aw courses:
Taking all the data into account, six furlong handicaps on the all weather do offer ‘pace’ punters a potential edge. It is, unsurprisingly perhaps, not as strong as over five furlongs, but still strong enough to give clued in bettors a good leg up on the opposition. All we need now is to find a fail-safe method to predict the front runner...
- Dave Renham