In this final instalment in a series of articles looking at run style bias at individual all weather tracks, we journey to Wolverhampton racecourse in the Midlands. Previous chapters can be found from the links below.
To view other all-weather track run style biases, choose from the below:
Chelmsford Racecourse Run Style Bias
Kempton Park Racecourse (AW) Run Style Bias
Lingfield Racecourse (AW) Run Style Bias
Newcastle Racecourse (AW) Run Style Bias
Wolverhampton Racecourse Run Style Bias
What I mean by run style is the position a horse takes up early on in its race, usually within the first furlong or so. So far in this series the statistics have shown that early position can be really important especially over shorter distances. Run style is often replaced by the word pace – this is because the early pace shown by horses in a race determines what position they take up early in the race. Some people argue that the word pace is the wrong word to use because it is slightly ambiguous. Hence for this article I will generally stick to run style.
Geegeez.co.uk has something called the Query Tool which can also be used to investigate run style along with other factors such as the draw, trainers, jockeys, class, going, etc. My research for this piece has primarily come from using this excellent resource. The run style data (known as pace in the Query Tool) is split into four sections (led, prominent, mid-division, held up). Each one is also assigned a numerical value. The values go from 4 to 1, as follows: led gets 4 points, prominent 3, mid-division 2 and held up 1.
As with the previous articles in this series I will be looking at individual distances - primarily the shorter ones - with the focus being 8+ runner handicaps. The data has been taken from 2016 up until 30th September 2021.
Wolverhampton 5 furlong Run Style Bias
We begin with a look at the shortest trip, five furlongs, where races feature a shortish run to the single bend. The figures for Wolves (max field size is 11) are thus:
Horses that have led early (front runners) have the advantage here, a point which correlates with all other all-weather courses we have looked at. All have shown a good to strong front-running bias over 5f.
This advantage to early speed can also be seen when we drill down into the non-handicap data as shown in the table below:
In fact the bias is far stronger, which is likely down to the fact non-handicaps are usually less competitive than handicaps; as a result, the better horses are likely to have the natural speed to be front-runners, and are likely to have fewer challengers over the course of a race.
Returning to 5f handicaps, let us look at the draw data for all runners. I have split the draw into three parts to compare the percentage of winners from each third of the draw:
There is a small edge to low drawn runners as can be seen, but ultimately the draw seems relatively fair: high drawn runners still win more than one in every four races. Front runners are able to win from any draw berth, both in handicaps and in non-handicaps, so there is no real edge to be found by combining run style with draw.
Onto to 5f favourites at Wolverhampton and their performance across all running styles. For the vast majority of course and distance combinations we have looked at in this series, front running favourites have outperformed other run style favourite counterparts:
Once again front-running favourites do best, but the gap to the next two early position groups is smaller than we have previously seen. Having said that, favourites that were held up have a dreadful record once again. Indeed, backing these held up favourites over five furlongs would have yielded a loss of over 51p in the £. For the record, backing front-running favourites would have produced a decent profit of 22p in the £.
This market / run style bias is replicated when we focus on horses from the top three of the betting over this 5f trip. This time a graphical representation, where we can see a beautiful linearity:
The number of runners does not seem to make any difference to front running performance over the minimum at Wolves. However, hold up horses have performed better in smaller fields – in 8 runner races their A/E value is 0.78, in 11 runner races this drops to 0.54. The sample sizes are solid so I imagine this finding is a sound one.
Over 5f, therefore, in both handicaps and non handicaps, predicting the front runner in as many races as possible is likely to provide a potential avenue to profits.
Wolverhampton 6 furlong Run Style Bias
Moving on to 6f handicaps now, where the maximum field size rises to 13. The stalls are positioned in a chute at the far end of the back straight, allowing the field a good amount of time to settle and find a position. Here are the data - there is a good chunk of races to analyse:
This represents a change of picture compared with 5f contests. Front runners and those racing prominently have very similar figures and it is clear that, as a group, they hold an edge over horses that race mid division or are held up. Having said that this run style bias is relatively modest when compared with other tracks we've looked at. That view is further illustrated when looking at the favourite / run style data, which are far more even than we've typically seen:
Favourites that are held up still struggle but not nearly as much as over five furlongs here, and at many other courses and distances; the other three run styles have virtually identical records.
A quick look at the draw next and as can be seen it is a very even playing field:
Before moving on to 7f handicaps, let us take a quick look at non-handicap run style data – here we do have a clear run style bias.
There is a significant bias towards front runners, which is replicated when comparing their A/E values:
In summary, over 6f at Wolverhampton, handicaps offer a small run style edge; that edge is much stronger and looks more ‘playable’ in non-handicaps.
Wolverhampton 7 furlong Run Style Bias
We move on to look at 7f handicaps next. The maximum field size drops to 12 here, and races start in a chute on a tangent joining the bend before the back straight:
These figures are very similar to the 6f ones. The strongest run style bias here is the one against hold up horses. Front runners have a slight edge over prominent racers who in turn have a slight edge over mid pack runners.
The performance of favourites over seven furlongs at Wolverhampton across different running styles is shown in the next table.
This looks more ‘normal’ again with front running favourites performing best. Mid-division favourites have surprisingly outperformed their prominent counterparts. Held up favourites again have a dismal record, winning on average just one race in every six and racking up losses of 43p in the £ if you backed all of them.
The draw stats are virtually even for each third of the draw so there is no edge there.
Interesting, the 7f trip, as with the 6f one, has much stronger run style stats in non-handicaps as the SR% table shows:
As you might hope, A/E values largely correlate too:
The 7f and 6f run style stats across handicap and non-handicaps are very similar, in spite of the differing stall starting positions. Once again over seven furlongs, non-handicaps will probably offer better opportunities from a run style bias perspective than handicaps.
Wolverhampton Racecourse Run Style Bias Conclusions
Wolverhampton has probably the weakest overall bias of the five all-weather tracks we've considered from a run style perspective. However, there is a decent front-runner bias over 5f in handicaps, while in non-handicaps the same early pace bias looks significant at races up to and including 7f.
It is important to appreciate the value of avoiding bad bets as well as finding good ones. In that context, Wolverhampton should offer a few solid run style betting opportunities, but knowing how poorly fancied runners fare when held up should put us off some bad ones, too.
p.s. if you've enjoyed this article, you can view my other contributions to geegeez.co.uk here.