Long Distance Handicap Chases

Long Distance Handicap Chases by David Renham

In this article I am going to look at long distance handicap chases to see if we can improve our chances of a) picking the winner, but more importantly b) gaining enough value on the winners to make a profit. I have decided that any race 3m2f or longer counts as a long distance chase.

However, what I am not going to do is back track through data and manipulate the stats to some degree. Indeed far too many people do this – they back-fit the results to create a set of rules or a system, that ends up producing a profit. Unfortunately 99 times out of 100 these ‘positive’ findings will not be reflected in future results. My plan to look at a variety of areas in an attempt to find potential starting points – basically these are raw ideas that have the potential to produce winning systems or winning methods. So here goes. The data has been taken from 2007 to October 4th 2011. All profit/loss figures are calculated to £1 level stakes. SR% stands for strike rate; ROI% stands for return on investment.


When thinking about long distance chasers I think about older horses rather than younger ones. However as the table shows, it is horses aged 6 to 8 that tend to do best in these events:

Age Wins Runs SR% Profit/loss ROI%
4 or 5 6 79 7.6 -£41.00 -51.9
6 41 354 11.6 -£31.42 -8.9
7 95 802 11.9 -£119.63 -14.9
8 121 1024 11.8 -£81.14 -7.9
9 103 1060 9.7 -£125.77 -11.9
10 66 858 7.7 -£339.42 -39.6
11 36 490 7.4 -£133.79 -27.3
12 16 262 6.1 -£96.50 -36.8
13+ 8 126 6.3 -£59.00 -46.8

Combining horses aged 6 to 8 we get 257 wins from 2180 runners (SR 11.8%) for a loss of £232.19 (ROI -10.7%). OK it still makes a loss, but less than 11p in the £, so these horses seem a good group to concentrate on. If we compare their record with horses aged 9 and older we can see it compares favourably – the older group combine for 229 wins from 2796 runners (SR 8.2%) for a loss of £754.48 (ROI -27.0%). So we have losses of 27p in the £, and a lower strike rate to boot.

Position LTO

Recent form is something most punters latch on to, and hence there often is limited value around following a good run last time out. However, let us see the figures for LTO performance in terms of finishing position for our long distance chasers:

Position LTO Wins Runs SR% Profit/loss ROI%
1st 95 654 14.5 -£29.18 -4.5
2nd 76 631 12.0 -£144.22 -22.9
3rd 48 579 8.3 -£183.84 -31.8
4th 63 527 12.0 -£46.47 -8.8
5th 37 410 9.0 -£130.80 -31.9
6th or worse 94 1118 8.4 -£73.67 -6.6
Failed to finish 77 1101 7.0 -£408.52 -37.1

LTO winners have actually got a decent record with losses of only 4.5p in the £. Interestingly, horses that finished 6th or worse LTO have lost only 6.6p in the £ – I would imagine these runners tend to start at better prices than they should due to punters being indifference to their chances. Horses that failed to finish LTO look very poor value and are horses to avoid.

LTO Market Position

Market factors are often used when looking for ideas, angles or systems, but usually it is the actual starting price that is used. The problem with using this as a ‘filter’ is that we don’t know the SP until after the event. We may have a pretty good idea close to the ‘off’ but not many people are able to wait until the very last minute to place their bet. I often look at market factors from previous races. Here, I am looking at their market position LTO. The results are as follows:

Market Position LTO Wins Runs SR% Profit/loss ROI%
Favourite 96 613 15.7 -£37.36 -6.1
2nd favourite 62 553 11.2 -£160.17 -29.0
3rd favourite 60 558 10.8 -£121.59 -21.8
4th in betting 48 551 8.7 -£148.84 -27.0
5th in betting 56 510 11.0 -£23.50 -4.6
6th in betting 38 419 9.1 -£90.75 -21.7
7th in betting 36 410 8.8 -£97.92 -23.9
8th+ 94 1406 6.7 -£336.55 -23.9

The only semi-positive here is the performance of LTO favourites – a decent enough strike rate coupled with losses of around 6p in the £.

Race type LTO

Most long distance handicap chasers race primarily over fences, but there are a few horses that switch back and forth. I thought it was worth looking at whether race type LTO makes any difference:

Race type LTO Wins Runs SR% Profit/loss ROI%
Chase 423 4463 9.5 -£1,023.01 -22.9
Hurdle 66 548 12.0 +£7.33 +1.3
Turf 1 9 11.1 -£1.00 -11.1

It looks as if horses that ran over hurdles last time are worth closer scrutiny. They have a better strike rate than those running over fences LTO, and backing all of them actually has made a profit. Now, it is unlikely this profit would be repeated over a subsequent 5-year period, but clearly these runners perform above expectations and probably start at prices that are higher than they should be.


The perception of many is that although claiming/conditional jockeys are able to take weight off the back of a horse, their inexperience means that the claim becomes effectively worthless. The stats for jockeys in these long distance chases makes interesting reading …………

Jockey Wins Runs SR% Profit/loss ROI%
No claim (pros) 325 3222 10.1 -£657.54 -20.4
3lb claim 59 735 8.0 -£275.38 -37.5
5lb claim or more 108 1098 9.8 -£94.77 -8.6

Conditional jockeys claiming 5lb or more have a strike rate virtually identical to professional jockeys, but their losses are significantly less. This is almost certainly down to punters or bookmakers pushing out the prices of horses ridden by conditional jockeys claiming 5lb or more.


I have looked at 5 different angles and the stats have pinpointed some areas that are better than others. So how best can we utilize the stats? Well, the lazy system punter would almost certainly combine the ‘best’ bits of the five areas – so the system would look something like this:

1. won LTO

2. favourite LTO

3. Aged 6 to 8

4. Ridden by conditional jockey claiming 5lb or more

5. Raced in hurdle race LTO

For the record since 2007 this ‘system’ would have produced a strike rate of 66.7% and a return on investment of over 90%. However, before you all start planning your retirement due to this gilt-edged winning system, I should point out that there would have only been 3 selections in the 5 years of study!!! Essentially, this is an example of why back-fitting is not good practice. Too often people use too many rules when creating their systems – this either cuts down the number of bets to ridiculously small amounts, as in this case, or it simply gives a false set of figures even with a decent final sample size.

At the beginning of the article I mentioned the fact I would be looking to find potential starting points – this is rather than producing rigid ‘systems’ that have too many rules. It is my belief that a sensible starting point is when you combine two factors only. So that is what I am going to do. I am going to use the same 5 rules in the lazy system example, but will combine them in twos, not in one block of five. Here are the results:

Combination/starting point Wins Runs SR% Profit/loss ROI%
Age 6-8 and won LTO 51 327 15.6 -£28.66 -8.8
Age 6-8 and favourite LTO 53 324 16.4 -£0.22 -0.1
Age 6-8 and ran in hurdle LTO 36 277 13.0 -£26.55 -9.6
Age 6-8 and ridden by jockey claiming 5lb or more 55 460 12.0 +£43.77 +9.5
Won LTO and favourite LTO 39 192 20.3 -£2.68 -1.4
Won LTO and ran in hurdle LTO 9 56 16.1 -£19.17 -34.2
Won LTO and ridden by jockey claiming 5lb or more 19 131 14.5 -£3.92 -3.0
Favourite LTO and ran in hurdle LTO 14 64 21.9 +£13.83 +21.6
Favourite LTO and ridden by jockey claiming 5lb or more 17 110 15.5 +£41.24 +37.5
Ran in hurdle LTO and ridden by jockey claiming 5lb or more 20 139 14.4 +£71.63 +51.5

As we can see, only one combination has produced poor returns – ‘the won LTO and ran in hurdle LTO’ one. Of the remaining 9 starting points, 4 showed a profit, the other 5 showed small losses. Now I am not advocating backing all horses in the future that match these starting points, but clearly any runner that does ‘match’ should be given further consideration. Others factors could then be taken into account such as going, trainer, class, fitness, etc.

Author Bio

Dave Renham works at the Racing and Football Outlook newspaper as their Race Trends expert; has worked on The Racing Post as a writer of the spotlight column and has published several books about horse racing research.

On the Web Dave is heavily involved with the respected horse racing websites www.PunterProfits.com and www.RacingTrends.co.uk

Stratford Horse Racing Tip


Alcester Selling Hurdle (CLASS 5) (4yo+)  2m6f110y

4/1 Tabaran, 11/2 Dusty Dane, 11/2 Heraldry, Irish Legend
6/1 Answer Me, 6/1 Attorney General, 9/1 Triple Bluff
16/1 Little Rort, 25/1 Eskimo Pie, 25/1 Little Blackbeetle
33/1 Brookfieldshector.

* This is a Selling hurdle over 2m 6.5f
* There has only been 20 similar races

Interesting little race. Only 20 similar races but all 20
winners ran within 10 weeks. HERALDRY has been
absent 122 days and that worries me for a 10yo with
just 2 runs this season. DUSTY DANE has been off
111 days. There were the odd chasers win like him
but the only one that was exposed had Grade 1 form
and he doesnt and that absence has to worry for an
exposed horse. ESKIMO PIE has been off 99 days
and as a horse aged 11 lightly raced this year he is
not for me. TRIPLE BLUFF has a long absence and
as an exposed Chaser I couldnt find a similar winner.
LITTLE BLACKBEETLE is too inexperienced for a
mare. ANSWER ME has just 2 runs this season. I
looked at horses like him from 2m 5f or shorter and
just two runs that year and found a poor 1-49 record.
LITTLE RORT is rated far lower than most and has a
horrible task at the weights and should be out of his
depth. IRISH LEGEND certainly has the ability but I
do have some issues with him. He comes here from a
Chase and well exposed and these horses have not
been winning these races. You have to wonder if he
is in form. He has pulled up twice in a row and his
last run was only 3 weeks ago. TABARAN has a
pretty solid profile with a recent race and although
he has limitations he should run his race which is
something not all of these can say.


He is exposed and only 3 Exposed horses won in the
20 races. However they all had Grade 1 form as he does
as well. Exposed horses with Past Grade 1 form in these
selling races had a 3-4 record and all 3 winners were 10
and 11 year olds as he is.

* Horses with Grade 1 form before
* Running within 7 weeks
* Aged 9 or more
* Having run this season
* 6 horses had that profile in 20 races
* They finished W W W W W 8
* The only loser was an outsider
* Exposed 11 year olds with this profile were 2-2
* ATTORNEY GENERAL looks interesting statistically

He is a problem horse and hasnt won in a while
but he is down to bottom grade with a recent run.
Just 4 months ago he was 2nd at Cheltenham in a
competetive 0-120 handicap and that form would
be good enough to win this. He lost his way after
that but last time was a much better run and I see
him having the best profile in the race

Best Priced 11/2 sportingbet

Guy Ward

To visit Guys site click here ==> free horse racing tips

Hennessy Gold Cup

My Hennessy conclusion is that the bet is both a win bet on ALBERTAS RUN and a saver on BIG BUCKS but like many I’m worried about the ground for ALBERTAS RUN. Midweek I was confident he would win this race but many little things have conspired against him and my confidence has drained a little away from him. I have backed him at a shorter price than he is now and the potential for me to have the race wrong now is a strong possibility.

I hope he wins but I cant pretend I am as bullish as I was 48 hours ago.

This is certainly not Account Bet strength but I hope you enjoy the analysis and find it an aid if trying to unravel the Hennessey yourself.



Racing Post Forecast Prices
6/1 Air Force One, Big Buck´s, 15/2 Island Flyer, 8/1 Albertas Run, 11/1 Oedipe, 14/1 Slim Pickings, 16/1 Dear Villez, High Chimes, Royal County Star, 20/1 Snoopy Loopy, Verasi, 25/1 Knowhere, 50/1 Always Waining, Madison Du Berlais, Monkerhostin, My Will.

SELECTION- ALBERTAS RUN  ( best current price 9/1 PaddyPower, canbet, pagebet )

SAVER – BIG BUCKS  ( best current price 5/1 Canbet )

This race strongly favours lightly raced, progressive second-season chasers. If you look at the last 15 years of the Hennessy Gold Cup it has been dominated by horses that had between 6 and 20 races before. We haven’t had a winner that had under 5 starts. On the other end of the scale Horses that had More than 20 Career races had a disastrous 0-59 record in this race. All 59 got beaten and not that Many were Placed. You don’t want a seasoned handicapper who has limited potential and whose form is clearly an open book and who has had ample time to be accurately assessed by the Handicapper. These types end up giving weight to horses that have far more scope and Improvement and horses that are very well handicapped. The following tables show how many runs the recent past winners have had and how many handicap runs they have had as well.

* Horses with 6-20 career starts dominate the Hennessy

10-12-11-6- 6-18-18-16-12-7-14-5-17-16

* Horses with Under 8 runs in Handicaps dominate the Hennessy


* Finishing 1st-2nd or 3rd last time is important

Recent form seems important. You must have been placed 1st 2nd or 3rd last time out. I have looked at every winner of this going back to 1987 and every one of those winners managed a 1-2-3 Placing last time out. Such is the test of this Class race that we should be ignoring anything that did not have the ability to place last time assuming they do not have the Class to win a Hennessy or the jumping prowess. Since 1987 there have been well over 100 Horses that failed to finish placed or better on their latest start. None of these 100 + runners won.

I don’t want VERASI. I do like the horse. I had him as a saver in last years Sun Alliance at 25/1 so its nothing personal. You can argue that he is over exposed for a race like this but he has only had 6 chase starts so that’s harsh. He fails the statistic that demands a 1-2-3 finish last time out but the one factor I really do not forgive him for is his flat form. This is a Flat bred horse that started his career on the flat. You can go back decades and you wont find any Hennessy winner starting his career on the flat in England.

ROYAL COUNTY STAR looks all wrong. We haven’t had a winner warm up over hurdles. The run he had wasn’t good enough anyway. He did not achieve enough last time. His handicap mark looks stiff and he doesn’t have half the improvement of most of these.

I don’t want KNOWWHERE with top weight. That’s a tall order. The two recent Top weight winners Denman and Trablogan were both Sun Alliance winners and KNOWWHERE looks exposed. He was well beaten in last years race with 10lbs less weight. He has a career high mark and having ran in 12 handicap chase’s is not the profile of a Hennessy winner.

SNOOPY LOOPY is also exposed and has had far more handicap runs than ideal. He was a huge price for this race before he won last week in Kauto Star’s race at 33/1. There must be a huge doubt he can reproduce his best just 7 days later. I have to take him on.

SLIM PICKINGS isn’t for me. I don’t like the fact he comes from a 2 mile race which is not a good thing or a successful thing in this race. I think he looks exposed. Is a horse that has lost his last 14 races likely to win a Hennessy. I don’t think so.

HIGH CHIMES is a seasonal debutant. Several recent winners were making their debuts that season but they were younger. HIGH CHIMES is a 9 year old. If you look at the last 17 Hennessy’s and look at seasonal debutants aged 8 or more you find a 0-42 record. That’s a worry for him. So to is his handicap mark as he won the Kim Muir at Cheltenham last March off 127 and has to run from 141 today. There hasn’t been a similar winner of the Hennessy in recent memory so I would not see HIGH CHIMES as my selection in this years race.

DEAR VILLEZ can’t be discounted but he isn’t for me. He won well last time in Ireland and passes most trends in this race. He is clearly Paul Nicholls’s second string. I wonder if he has the class. After all go back to last years Cheltenham festival. DEAR VILLEZ ran and fell in the Jewson Novice Handicap. Compare that with ALBERTAS RUN and AIR FORCE ONE and others that were running in the Grade 1 Sun Alliance Chase and only have to concede a couple of lbs to him. I just don’t see him as good enough.

I don’t want to go with OEDIPE. He is a 6yo seasonal debutant. I haven’t got a big problem with that at all as State of Play (2006) was one. However if you look at the seasonal debutants that have won this race – they had all ran in better class than he has. They were all more experienced. They all ran far better than he did last time and none of them stepped up as far in trip. OEDIPE is a notorious poor work horse so he is has hardly been galloping the house down. He is also a French Bred and there hasn’t been many of those win the race. I think he is out of his depth and I worry his trainer says he is a “hard horse to get fit”.


One the face of it this horse has a strong profile and comes from a decent trial race and its easy to understand why there has been lots of ante post money for him this week. That said the value has probably gone now. The one trends worry I have with him is his class. ISLAND FLYER is rated 132 and that would make him the lowest rated winner in at least 20 years. Every winner since the 1980′s was rated 135 or more and its just in the back of my mind that off bottom weight in the last two furlongs he could just be fighting to get home in this class on soft ground and his low rating worries me. After all 9 months ago as he was winning a cheap novice chase others were running and winning Sun Alliances and his flaw could be whether he has the class to win.


This horse must have a great chance. Statistically he is not unlike One Man who won this in 1994 and both came from the Sun Alliance and AIR FORCE ONE achieved more in that race and had more experience. Both were 6 year olds with 1 handicap run and one run that season. One Man (1994) won with 10st though and AIR FORCE ONE has a much bigger weight to carry. Recent Hennessy’s have shown high weights are fine in this race and AIR FORCE ONE has a strong overall profile. There are two issues to consider. One may be the general theory that he may be best on right handed tracks. The other is whether he wants soft ground. In terms of the Left Handed Track I don’t think there is enough evidence to suggest that. He has ran 5 times on left handed tracks. Even if you ignore his win at Fontwell when odds on in a Figure 8 track you cant draw any conclusions. His other races were 2-5-5-6 on left handed tracks. One of the times he was 50/1. Another was his chasing debut pitched into a Grade 2 chase. He was well beaten in the Sun Alliance at Cheltenham but his 2nd was also there in the Spa Hurdle at the festival and there is nothing wrong with that. The track wouldn’t be a major concern for me as the evidence is not compelling. In terms of the ground you would worry if it was soft. His connections have given excuses before for defeats blaming soft and dead ground. There has to be a slight stamina doubt on the ground as well so he isn’t bomb proof. I also don’t like the fact he has run on the Flat before albeit in Germany as very few Hennessy winners started racing on the flat. I see him and BIG BUCKS as the main contenders for the “saver” but much as I greatly respect his chance I prefer others marginally.


Initially I felt that the favourite was worth opposing as a 5 year old but I would not be too dogmatic about that now. I have had a big rethink about 5 year olds as they have won similar other races at this time of year. BIG BUCKS is a 5 year old. The Hennessy was first run in 1957 and the 51 renewals of the race have never thrown up a 5 year old winner. That must be considered a problem for BIG BUCKS but not many have tried – just 4 in the last two decades and hardly any of the 5 year olds that have run have been fancied and they have had a 3rd with Eudipe in 1997. I couldn’t make him a negative on the back of a statistic that’s admittedly worrying but more importantly not proven. I think trip and ground demand he is a saver



I really fancy this horse. He is trying to be the 3rd Sun Alliance Chase winner to win this race in the last 4 seasons after Denman and Trablogan did the double. On his profile he is Similar to Kings Road the 2000 winner in that they both ran in the Cheltenham Bumper early in their career and then the Sun Alliance. He is an even closer type to 2005 winner Trablogan who was also owned by Trevor Hemmings as ALBERTAS RUN is. Trablogan (2005) also ran in the Champion Bumper and won the Sun Alliance as well and ALBERTAS RUN attempts to do the same. He is the right age and a second season chaser. Statistically the only trend he fails was that he wasn’t 1-2-3 last time out. He was 4th of 4 on his seasonal debut but I can forgive him that. He probably was not trained for that race. The trip was too short and he met a top class horse. He was clearly unfit and that was the same Carlisle chase that his trainer ran Exotic Dancer a couple of years ago and he flopped that running a lifeless race before winning the Paddy Power Gold cup next time out. ALBERTAS run holds two wins over Air Force One and has a touch of class as a Sun Alliance Chase winner. His owner will want to win this race again and I think ALBERTAS RUN is good value to win the race. His chance will come down to the ground. If its not too soft he will win for me and if it is it lets in Big Bucks the saver.