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Can Things Change
Can Things Change ?
Many punters use racing systems and indeed www.PunterProfits.com, focuses primarily on them. People tend to use systems because they are straight-forward and easy to implement. However, the problem many people find with systems is that a) they are too rigid, and b) they rarely perform as well ‘live’ as they do in testing. In addition many pundits believe that profitable systems have a limited shelf-life, and I do tend to agree with them. The problem is that determining the likely shelf-life of a system is nigh on impossible. Horse racing and the betting market are continually changing and hence systems that have been profitable in the past at some point start to lose profitability and eventually start making losses. One of the main reasons why this occurs is that the betting market adjusts, and although the strike rate essentially stays the same, the prices on offer contract (shorten) and the profit margin disappears. There are other reasons of which some will discussed later in the article.
For this article I have focused on 10 years of data, splitting into 5 year groups – 2001 to 2005 and 2006 to 2010. I have looked at systems that made decent profits in the first 5 years and then tested them on the last 5 years.
Can these systems continue to make a profit – well let’s find out!
System 1 Trainer Sir Michael Stoute – all runners in May
Sir Michael Stoute has been one of the country’s leading trainers for many years now. His runners tend to step up a gear in May, and this is the basis of this simple system that did extremely well l from 2001 to 2005. Here are the results:
Essentially for punters who followed this system in those 5 years it was a license to print money. Each of the 5 seasons showed an individual profit:
In four of the five seasons Stoute’s strike rate was 25% or better, but perhaps the alarm bells should have been ringing looking at the 2005 results. They were virtually the same as 2004 in terms of number of bets, wins and strike rate, but profits dipped considerably. Let us look now at the 2006 to 2010 results:
Ouch! This time round each of the 5 seasons produced a loss. Readers may be wondering how this happened as there was only a slight drop in strike rate, but surely not enough to switch a 44.8% profit into a 19.2% loss? The answer is simple – the market adjusted. This can be seen by comparing the average odds of all the winners – from 2001 to 2005 the average price of the winners was 4/1; in 2006 to 2010 this had dropped markedly to just under 9/4. With punters having so much more data at their disposal than in the pre computer age, it has became common knowledge that Stoute consistently performed well in May. Hence the prices have been driven down – indeed as you can see, the price of his winners have almost halved.
System 2 – quick returners
Here is a system that exploited fit and in-form horses. The rules were:
1. Flat/all weather
2. Horses returning to the track – 3 days or less
3. Won LTO
4. Runners 10 or more
This system made a profit without the ‘runners’ rule, but adding the rule improved the results. Now this could be perceived as back-fitting, but the logic behind the rule is sound enough – trying to take advantage of a fit and in-form horse in a bigger field should offer better odds on the horse in question. Here are the results from 2001 to 2005:
As with the Stoute system, this produced 5 profitable years out of 5 during this period. Let us see what happened in the next 5 seasons (’06-’10):
This time there is a clear difference with the relative strike rates and this is the main reason for the turnaround in fortunes. It should be noted however, the winning prices in the last 5 years had dropped to 3.24/1 compared with 3.54/1 in the first 5 years. So a combination of lower prices and a lower strike rate turned around a profit of nearly 15p in the £ to losses of over 20p in the £. For the record 4 of the 5 years showed a loss.
I mentioned earlier that this system’s rule 4 (runners 10 or more) could be perceived to be back-fitting. The drastic drop in strike rate seems to back up this theory. Back-fitting to improve results is a habit that far too many system punters fall into it. It is said the best systems are the simplest ones, and there is plenty of merit in this argument. The more variables/filters there are, the more likely back-fitting has taken place to improve the results.
System 3 – Beverley draw bias
For the last 15 years or so, especially the last 10 years, the subject of draw bias has been ‘hot’ topic in racing. Draw bias can occur for a variety of reasons, one being that there is slightly faster strip of ground which clearly is advantageous to run on. The 5f sprint track at Beverley has long been considered one of the most draw biased course and distances in the country. Let us look at a very simple system that made decent profits from 2001 to 2005. The rules were simply this:
1. Beverley 5f
2. Handicaps with 10 or more runners
3. Back highest two drawn horses
Here are the results from 2001 to 2005:
As we can see, a tidy profit was achieved from about the simplest type of system you can imagine. It worked, because the fastest strip of ground was next to the rail, which was where the very highest drawn runners were berthed.
Now the results from 2006 to 2010:
Once again, the results have tailed off markedly. Looking at the statistics, it is blatantly obvious that something has changed in recent years. The reason for the change has been almost certainly due to what I call “recreational watering”. In the last two or three seasons I am 99% sure that the ground nearest to the normally favoured far rail has been over watered in comparison to the rest of the track. This has had an effect of slowing down the ground nearest the rail and going some way to eliminating the draw bias. Indeed there were occasions in 2010 when jockeys took their mounts down the centre of the track shunning the far rail. Knowing all this helps to explain why a winning system has become a losing one.
Finally let me share a system with you that showed a profit from 2001 to 2005, but also managed a profit from 2006 to 2010.
System 4 – All weather penalty system
Penalty carriers tend to perform well as they are clearly in form having won last time out and they are brought back to the track quickly to a) strike while the iron is hot, and b) to avoid a potentially bigger hike in the weights. Here is an all weather system that did well from 2001 to 2005. The rules were:
1. All weather racing
2. Carrying a penalty
3. Male Horses aged 3 to 5
Let us look at the 5-year period from 2001 to 2005:
These are a highly satisfactory set of figures. Let us look at 2006 to 2010 now:
So a profit has been made, but despite a higher strike rate the profits have diminished considerably and as with the Michael Stoute system, the market is adjusting. Therefore it is unlikely this system will continue to churn out profits in the future.
I hope this article has given you food for thought, and although finding winning systems are possible, finding ones that continue to churn out profits are much harder to find.
Before I finish I must give accreditation to Proform software as their database helped me check my data for this article. I have written a review of the software and any PP member can get a discount – the review and the details can be found on:
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