Most horses tend to exhibit a preference for a certain style of running.

You may for example have heard of horses being referred to as front runners or hold up horses.

Traditionally such thinking is applied more so to flat racing than National Hunt Racing. A classic good bet for example might be a front runner or a horse with proven early pace in a good draw at a highly biased sprint track where the bias is due to a tight bend. ie the horse has the early pace ability to maximise its draw advantage.

Such thinking of pace or running style is not often considered on National Hunt horses however.

Horse Racing Researcher Dave Renham from Racing Trends has put his nose to the grindstone and carried out some research.

Findings may surprise many.

——————————————————-

Pace / Running Styles in National Hunt Racing

Over the past year or two I have explored pace and running styles in much greater depth than I used to. The reason for this is simple – I believe this is an area where hard work and research can still gain you a betting edge over the majority of punters. Let me explain this in more detail:

For this piece I am going to split all the winners of the races studied into three distinct categories – horses that ran from the front early on in the race (front runners); horses that ran close to the pace early in the race (prominent runners); and horses that raced in midfield or at the back early in the race (hold up horses). Essentially, the position a horse takes up early in the race, tends to remain virtually the same for a good proportion of that race. For example, if a horse takes up a prominent position just behind the pace in the first two furlongs of say a 1m2f race, there is a strong chance that the horse will still be in a very similar position after 6-7f. In contrast, you don’t often see a horse lead for 2 furlongs, then drop back to the middle of the pack for 2 furlongs, then race just off the pace for 2 furlongs, then drop back to the middle again, etc, etc. Hence from a research point of view, the fact that a horses’ running style tends to stay consistent for around 75% of the race makes life much easier.

Taking the year 2008 as an example there were just over 6000 races on the flat in this country – the winning splits for the three pace categories were as follows:

Front runners won 20.2% of all races;

Prominent runners won 45% of all races;

Hold up horses won 34.8% of all races.

At first glance, one might be thinking therefore that prominent runners have an advantage. Well they have won more races than every other group right? However, to give more meaning to these figures we need to know what percentage of all the runners were a) front runners; b) prominent runners and c) hold up horses. Here are the percentages:

Front runners accounted for 11% of all runners;

Prominent runners accounted for 39.4% of all runners;

Hold up horses accounted for 49.6% of all runners.

These figures now reveal a powerful statistic – that front runners win nearly twice as many races as they statistically should do. In this particular year, they won 20.2% of all races having provided just 11% of all the total runners. Being more precise, they have won 1.84 times more often than their expected probability – their expected probability being 11%. Hence, taking a very general view, the best value in flat racing in terms of running styles/pace clearly lies with front runners. I could have chosen any year in the last 10 and you would have seen similar results.

Conversely, although hold up horses win nearly 35% of all races, they provide roughly 50% of the total runners. Hence, once again taking a very general view, hold up horses are clearly poor value from a pace/running styles perspective.

When looking in much greater depth at these ideas, one will find that an even greater edge can be found when looking at certain distances, and also at certain courses. All of my research, and hence all of my articles for that matter, have looked at this in flat racing only. However, the main focus for this article is pace/running styles in National hunt racing so let me move onto National Hunt racing.

Let us take the year 2008 again as my example, and as before, let me split all the winners of the races studied into the three distinct categories – front runners; prominent runners; hold up horses. In 2008 there were 3368 National hunt races in this country – the winning splits for the three pace categories were as follows:

Front runners won 17% of all races;

Prominent runners won 45.7% of all races;

Hold up horses won 37.3% of all races.

As before, we need to know what percentage of all the runners were a) front runners; b) prominent runners and c) hold up horses. Here are the percentages:

Front runners accounted for 10.2% of all runners;

Prominent runners accounted for 38% of all runners;

Hold up horses accounted for 51.8% of all runners.

Once again we can see that front runners seem to be the best value – there advantage may not be a strong as it is on the flat but essentially front runners in National hunt racing win 1.67 times more often than they statistically should. In addition, as with their flat counterparts, hold up horses perform relatively poorly when judged from this pace perspective.

For me, these figures open up a new world of possibilities in terms of my National hunt betting. Up to now, as I have already intimated, 99.9% of my pace research has been on the flat. However, although the ‘edge’ looks less strong in National hunt racing, it still looks a strong enough edge to research in considerable depth. Indeed, for the record, if you had managed to predict the front runner in every National hunt race of 2008, you would have made a profit of £35,000 to £100 level stakes to SP. Of course, this would have been impossible, unless you are Mystic Meg … lol, but what if you had bet ‘in running’ on every front runner, placing your bet within the first 10 seconds of each race? My educated guess is that you probably would still have made a profit and my reasoning is thus: although front runners often shorten in price at the beginning of a race, this contraction is offset by the fact that the Betfair price at the off is likely to be 10 to 25% bigger than the eventual SP. Hence even if the price contracts 10 to 25% in the first ten seconds, then you are still effectively getting SP, or near as damn it, on the horse in question. I appreciate that there is commission to be taken into account, and that the contraction in price for each horse will vary in percentage terms, but hopefully you see my point.

Dave Renham

————————————–

Dave Renham is a leading researcher into uk horse racing.

His RacingTrends service attracts thinking punters who can see the benefit of knowing more about horse racing cold hard facts and figures than the general crowds populating the betting Exchanges.

0saves
If you enjoyed this post, please consider leaving a comment or subscribing to the RSS feed to have future articles delivered to your feed reader.

Tagged with:

Filed under: Horse Racing Articles

Like this post? Subscribe to my RSS feed and get loads more!