Win in Hunter Chases

Champion Hunter, Agus A Vic in a field somewhere...

Champion Hunter, Agus A Vic in a field somewhere...

They're much derided (often by me), dear reader, and for good reason. They bimble around like they know what they're doing, make shocking errors when presenting themselves at the fences, and generally go such a dawdle that races end up as a sprint to the finish after a 'last man standing' competition. And that's just the horses!

I am of course talking about hunter chases, and I am of course being - at least partially - unfair.

Long term readers will know of my disdain for betting on amateur riders' races. But I must admit that recently I've found I'm developing a soft spot for them. Have I gone mad? Why this sudden, and most unexpected, change of heart?

Well, it is quite simply a betting profit thing. I've actually realised a few angles into these races that can make the most unappetising event a punting delectation.

First up, and I won't elaborate on it today, there's the riders. Now in my preamble I might have implied (or even explicitly stated!) that the horses were also an amateur mob. This is far from true. Indeed, many are either heavily schooled in point to point fields the length and breadth of our fine connected nations, or they're ex-handicap chasers (or Graded chasers in some cases) who have lost that bit of speed.

My point is that they are generally far more experienced than their pilots. Generally, but not always. Let me cut to the chase, as I have no data to support this at this time. Back the best jockeys in amateur riders' races. If you see a good horse with a bad jockey atop, consider laying it if the price is right.

I will bring some numbers to this most unscientific of angles another day, but today I wanted to share with you a simple system that I developed for the Irish Field.

[Non-Irish readers may not be aware that the Irish Field is the equivalent of the Racing Post Weekender combined with Equestrian Plus magazine. It's a weekly paper with a circulation of around 15,000, and I was lucky enough to be asked to write a weekly column for them. If you live in Ireland, go buy it!!! 😉 ]

OK, so back to the chase, and - specifically - the hunter chase.

********

From the start of February until early Summer, it's hunter chase season. Lest you didn't know, hunter chases are races specifically confined to amateur riders and horses which have been hunting and have been confirmed as such by the Master of Hounds.

Because of the minutiae of the rules, which allow formerly high class chasers to race against up and coming privately owned point-to-pointers, it can prove challenging to assimilate this convergence of disparate form.

Such a situation is a prime candidate for systematic study, as this is agnostic in terms of where the horse previously raced. Rather, we need only focus on the exact rule set of those qualifying horses.

So what are the nuances of hunter chases, and how can we apply those to our betting?

Well, firstly, hunters are often 'family pets' and, as such, the percentage of horses pulled up in hunter chase races is higher than normal steeplechases. In the last five seasons, 76% of hunters failed to complete in one or more of their last six starts. Compare this with 66% of non-hunters in chases who failed on the same count.

So, it stands to reason that we're looking for a horse that generally gets round the course. Those that habitually don't finish, habitually don't win!

In my research, I found the optimum was to look only at horses whose completion record was two-thirds or better of their last half dozen races (i.e. four or more completions from last six runs).

And I took that a step further by insisting that the hunter did complete last time out and, not only that, but also finished in the first five in that previous race. Recent form is a key consideration in hunter chases.

Allied to the recent form of a horse - in fact, implicit within it - is the importance of a recent run. This particular parameter is not peculiar to hunter chases. All horses tend, as a collective, to perform better if they've had the benefit of a recent run. With my hunter chase research, I found that those who'd raced in the last seven weeks performed at a higher level - and won more often - than those rested for longer than that.

Tying this all together from a systems perspective is a reflection on the betting market. It's not especially that the betting ring is abuzz prior to the tapes going up on these amateur rider races. Rather, most hunter chases have a higher proportion of horses that are unlikely to be competitive than say a handicap chase.

Thus, despite sometimes quite large fields for these contests, we can arbitrarily pare the field down to a far more manageable size, by excluding any runner whose odds are greater than 15/2.

But therein lies a conundrum. The betting market, when used as a guide to winner identification, may not present a profitable opportunity. What I mean is this: although the vast majority of hunter chase winners come from the first few horses in the betting, the odds offered on such horses mean that we would still make a loss backing them.

In other words, the percentage of winners is high, but not sufficiently high to compensate for the returns on our cumulative investment.

When looking specifically at hunter chases, however, an interesting pattern emerges. Below is a table showing the performance of horses in odds groups from long odds-on up to 15/2:

CATEGORY

WINS

RUNS

STRIKE%

LSP

LSP%

< 1/2

10

15

66.67

-1.76

-11.73

1/2 - 20/21

28

49

57.14

-0.71

-1.45

1/1 - 11/8

15

35

42.86

-3.07

-8.77

6/4 - 15/8

20

59

33.90

-4.69

-7.95

2/1 - 7/2

59

204

28.92

20.07

9.84

4/1 - 15/2

43

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240

17.92

34.00

14.17

If we look at the strike rate percentage (STRIKE%) column, we can clearly see here a reduction in the strike rate as the odds get longer. That's hardly surprising, because we'd expect a 4/1 chance to win less often than, say, a 4/6 chance.

But now look at the level stakes profit (LSP) and level stakes profit as a percentage of investment (LSP%) columns, and things get significantly more interesting.

Those horses sent off at odds shorter than 2/1 would have lost us 10.23 points profit over five years. Hardly dramatic, and actually that could probably be turned into a profit using a betting exchange as the percentage loss equates to just 6.47% of stakes.

However, those horses who started between 2/1 and 15/2 managed to return a healthy profit, despite the lower strike rate.

Overall, backing horses under those conditions would have given you 102 winners from 444 bets over the last five seasons, which is a strike rate of 23%. Betting at SP, you'd have seen a 54.07 points profit on those wagers. That's a 12.18% return on investment at starting prices.

Given that you could expect a return of around 10-15% more on the exchanges for that odds range, the ROI could be as much as 25%, even after paying the commission.

Better yet, the system was profitable in every one of the last five seasons, and the strike rate broadly consistent:

YEAR WINS RUNS STRIKE% LSP LSP%

2005

26

96

27.08

14.25

14.84

2006

17

84

20.24

7

8.33

2007

19

86

22.09

3.66

4.26

2008

23

92

25

20.16

21.91

2009

17

86

19.77

9

10.47

102

444

22.97

54.07

12.18

So, to recap, how do we hunt and chase down a hunter chase winner?

Follow these four rules:

1. Must have run in the last seven weeks

2. Must have finished in the first five last time out

3. Must have had no more than two non-completions (Fell / Unseated rider / Pulled up / Brought down / Refused / Slipped up) in last six starts

4. Must be 2/1 - 15/2 in the betting

Happy Hunting!

Matt

p.s. Latest from Betfair Conspiracy is here. Two easy winners yesterday bring us virtually back to parity.

Today, there's loads of action: Southwell 2.40, 3.40; Taunton 2.50, 3.50; Ludlow 2.30, 5.00; Wolverhampton 7.50

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14 replies
  1. Hugh says:

    I will have a look out for this Matt, thanks.

    I follow Chasemaster for chase races only and The Sportsman for my sports selection, both to great returns. They both proof to The Secret Betting Club. Do you recommend the systems for other people you get systems from to proof to The Secret Betting Club ?as they seem to be the authorative testers of tipsters.

    • Matt Bisogno says:

      Hi Hugh

      SBC are a great setup and they do punters a fine service. Theirs is a slightly different model from mine, in that you pay to be a member at SBC, and they take no affiliate commissions on products they give favourable reviews to.

      Here at Geegeez, it is of course free, and the content is broader than just system/service reviews, but – as you’ll know – if I like a system, I’ll put my affiliate link in it.

      For people who have trust issues on the web (and nobody can blame them for that!), SBC is a good option.
      For those who’ve been following me for any length of time, they’ll know that most of what I review gets a negative review (because it’s generally… c__p!).

      Best,
      Matt

  2. Jim says:

    I have the outlines of a greyhound system which i heard about many years ago but didnt follow it up because at that time a greyhound card only consisted of 8 races.This system needs a 12 race cad exactly.
    In a 12 race card some traps will win 3 times(unless they all win twice which i have only come accross once in the last 10 years)
    You then have to wait until a trap wins twice then put your unit stake on.You may win ,you may not.If you lose and another trap wins twice you have to add your losses to your unit steak and dutch the selections to win the amount required.
    You always win,sometimes its a bit hairy if later on your dutching 3 dogs but normally you win earlier than that.
    Check the results from any meeting in the country or world come to that with a 12 race card,you cant lose.

  3. ken weall says:

    Matt you dont need as system for hunter chases they are a licence to print money

  4. Terry frame says:

    Are there any worthwhile systems that allow you to use the Racing Post forecast as a guide to picking winners? I see a lot of systems needing people to watch the live betting odds, but find hardly any where you can use the Paper Forecast as a guide?

    Or could I look at the Hunter Chase in a paper and focus on those Forecast to go off at 8/1 to 2/1?
    Terry

  5. Hugh says:

    Hi Liam,

    Not the paper, sure that went to the wall a few years back. He’s a pro gambler, very knowledgable – I follow him to £50 per 0.1 pts on his selections. website to have a look is http://www.thesportsman.org.uk

    Chasemaster are good too,

    Hugh

  6. Eric says:

    On the Hunter Chase system, the only qualifier in todays two races seemed to be Nobody Tells Me in the 4.20 at Taunton (it finished 4th). In the Daily Mail its form read 111-F32 which meant that it passed the rule of finishing in first five last time out.
    However, on Betfair its form appeared as 225/1-3F and on the Racing Post site it was 1F-320F – so on the basis of those two it didn’t qualify !
    I haven’t looked into it any further but can anybody explain the considerable discrepancies. Something to do with point-to-point meetings perhaps?

    • Matt Bisogno says:

      Hi Eric

      I had Fundamentalist (2nd at 5/1) and Nobody Tells Me (4th at 4/1). I use, and recommend you use, the form on racingpost.com

      Incidentally, a reminder that the strike rate for this system is 23%, which means we should expect some losing runs (naturally).

      Best,
      Matt

  7. phil says:

    hi matt does the pointing form count towards the last time out rule
    e.g 5:05 Ruairi 489 (26p)

    cheers

    • Matt Bisogno says:

      Hi Phil

      If you click the horse’s form, there is no line to the point form there, so no, that one does not count.

      There aren’t any qualifiers today.

      Matt

  8. paul g says:

    well mat tried your hunter chase system
    sucsesfull one first attemt
    gentle george ticked all boxes won at 9/4
    thankyou
    will do again
    regargs paul g

  9. Stuart Hazelwood says:

    Hi Matt,
    4/3
    TAU 4.20…Nobody tells Me can’t have been a selection as according to the rules, selection must have finished in top 5 LTO and it fell LTO. Have added my own little filter and have the following results so far.
    4/3
    LUD 5.00 Fundamentalist L 5/1
    5/3
    NBY 5.05 Gentle George although it won 9/4 my filter knocked it out.
    6/3
    GOW 4.25 Ballistraw W 11/2
    Dusty Doolan L 11/2 knocked out by filter
    Travino L 7/1 knocked out by filter
    SR 50% + 4.5pts to LSP.

    Cheers Stu

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