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Does the market tell us anything
One perennial problem punters have is to determine whether a market move for a horse is worth noting or not. From a research perspective this is also difficult to get the desired information. Ideally to carry out this type of research we would need every single opening board price so that we can compare it with the respective SP. This information is not readily available (to my knowledge) and hence we need to think of an alternative approach. The best idea I could come up with was to compare forecast price with SP price. At least this would give me a fairly good idea of how horses fared when their SP was significantly lower than their forecast price. Of course we are reliant on the odds compilers for the forecast prices to be accurate, but in general they do a pretty good job.
In order to gather some data it was necessary to decide on what parameters to use. I could not simply choose a “number” that simply equates to difference in price – eg. looking for horses that had a difference of 3 points or more (eg 12/1 forecast price; 9/1 SP). The reason being that this approach does not work is because it is not taking into account the percentage movement in the market. A price coming in from 12/1 to 9/1 is nowhere near as significant as a horse coming in from 6/1 to 3/1.
Hence I decided to use price ratios to determine the strength of the price difference. I chose 1.4 or more as a cut off point for positive moves in the market (eg. this would include a forecast price of 10/1 moving to 13/2; or 15/2 to 5/1; or 9/2 to 11/4, etc, etc).
I started by looking at all race data going back to the year 2000 compared all runners with horses whose ratio was 1.4 or bigger. Here is what I found:
This seems to suggest that horses whose SP is significantly shorter than their forecast price produce better returns. They still produce losses if backing all such runners, but losses have been cut by nearly 10%.
This seemed a positive starting point and although it was not a perfect guide to market movers, as it compared forecast price with SP, it was giving me some positive indicators. I decided from here to investigate some trainers who I felt were worth noting when their horses were “backed”. Again, although this method was not full proof, it certainly would be able to give an indication of trainers worth noting when their SPs were considerably shorter than their forecast prices.
I thought it was also a good idea to note horses from these stables whose SPs started higher than their forecast prices to give me a comparison. The ratio figure I chose was anything under 0.8 to qualify. The hope was therefore, was that horses with a ratio of 1.4 or more would outperform those with a ratio of under 0.8 quite comfortably.
BarryHills – BarryHills seems to have landed a few “touches” in his time and it is noticeable that he has landed a few gambles very recently. His latest winners on the turf (at the time of writing) are shown in the table below:
As you can see 4 of the 9 winners were strongly backed (16/1 in 10/1; 13/2 into 4/1; 11/1 into 8/1 and 15/2 into 11/2). Hence he is definitely a trainer to test this idea with. Let us compare his forecast price / SP ratios:
A fairly conclusive comparison showing that BarryHills has a much better record with horses whose SPs are significantly lower than their forecast prices. The strike rates show this as do the profit/losses/ROIs. These statistics seem to imply that if BarryHills’s horses are backed significantly then they are worth noting.
Mick Easterby – a renowned gambling stable, but one with not great ammunition these days. Let us compare his ratios:
A much better strike rate for horses that have been “backed”, but in fact you would have lost more money in percentage terms if backing them rather than the “drifters”. However, all is not lost for Easterby fans because when the forecast to SP ratio increases to 2.6 or bigger then he has made a decent profit – 15 wins from 40 (SR 37.5%) for a profit of £25.73 (ROI +64.3%). The type of price differential for a 2.6+ ratio would include such moves as - 12/1 forecast price to 9/2 SP, or 16/1 forecast price to 6/1 SP. Major gambles in other words.
Richard Hannon – until this year I had avoided the Hannon stable like the plague, as I always found the horses difficult to evaluate. However, I have noticed this year that he does especially well in certain race types when his fancied horses are backed. They don’t need to be backed off the boards they just need to have confidence behind them. My guess therefore would be that this ratio comparison is well worth doing with his runners:
This is the strongest stable indicator to date. Hannon’s runners that start significantly shorter at SP as compared with their forecast price perform extremely well. A 21% strike rate and losses of under 10%, compared with a strike rate of under 6% and losses of over 40%.
Henry Cecil – not particularly renowned as a gambling stable but horses that shorten in price seem to perform much better as the table below indicates:
There is a significant difference in terms of strike rate, with the “well backed” horses scoring 3 times more often as the “drifters”.
Neville Callaghan – an underrated trainer who is another who performs much better when his horses shorten in price (forecast to SP):
The difference in losses amount 37 pence in every £1 so clearly any Callaghan horse that drifts considerably bigger than their forecast price is worth avoiding.
Michael Jarvis – Jarvis is a trainer who has actually conjured a profit with horses with a ratio of 1.4 or more:
It should also be noted that Jarvis has a strike rate of over 42% when the 1.4+ horses end up favourite.
As mentioned earlier in the article, a forecast price / SP ratio of over 1.4 does not necessarily indicate that the horse has been backed on course. However, a good percentage would have been and hence the trainers mentioned should be monitored in the future.
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