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Draw Bias 2013
Draw Bias – 2013
This article goes back to my roots – draw bias. With the flat season now in full swing, I have decided to update my draw figures and I will share with you some of my findings. For this research I have chosen to look at the last five full seasons – 2008 to 2012. I have restricted the research to turf courses, but have looked at Irish courses as well as UK ones.
I have only considered handicap races with 9 runners or more and have split the runners into “thirds”. Hence in a 15-runner race, draws 1 to 5 would lie in the bottom “third”, draws 6 to 10 in the middle “third”, and draws 11 to 15 in the top “third”. On a completely fair course the winning percentages for each third should be around 33% and, while some courses hover around that figure, others clearly do not. I have looked separately at both win stats and placed stats. My focus in terms of distance has been 5 to 7 furlong handicaps. Let’s have a look in more detail at some of my findings:
5 furlongs (14 races or more to qualify)
What is clear from this first table is that draw bias is less prevalent than it was 10 years ago. Having said that there are some biases over 5 furlongs still worth noting:
Bath – high draws definitely have the advantage here. Considering the runners have a left hand bend to negotiate one may have expected lower draws to hold the advantage. However, I think it is simply a case of the lower drawn runners going off too quick and failing to get home.
Beverley – this used to have arguably the strongest draw bias in the country but clearly the Beverley ground-staff have done something to help even it out. Horses close to the far rail (low) do still have an edge but it is not that strong.
Catterick – lower draws do have an edge which seems to become stronger on firmer ground. In races over on good to firm or further the bottom two draws have provided the winner in 9 of the 19 races. There seems to be no bias on ground softer than good.
Chester – the configuration of the track means that low draws have a huge advantage. This bias is well known but still it is possible to use it to our advantage.
Goodwood – a bias against higher draws here. The reason being that the ground centre to far side is usually quicker than the ground under the stands’ rail (high).
Pontefract – higher draws really struggle here winning around halve as often as they statistically should.
Redcar – there seems to be a low draw bias here (although it is not replicated over 6f). Both the win and the placed stats indicate that low draws have a clear edge over higher draws.The sample of 40 races is quite a decent sample too.
Sandown – a strong low draw bias here. It seems to have strengthened again in recent years after levelling out around 7-8 years ago.
6 furlongs (14 races or more to qualify)
* Bath – distance at the track is 5f 161yds which is closer to 6f than 5.
Chester – lower draws do not enjoy the same advantage as they do over 5f, but it is still a case of the lower the better. Higher draws continue to find it very tough to win.
Goodwood – a bias against higher draws once again. Same reason as over 5f due to slower ground under the stands’ rail.
Leicester – the stats indicate lower draws have a solid edge. A decent sample size of 45 races too. Over 5f higher draws struggled so it does seem likely that it is much better to be drawn low rather than high.
Lingfield – a strong high draw bias over this 6f trip. The ground nearest the high rail is definitely quicker.
Thirsk – the win and placed stats indicate high draws have a tangible edge. Thirsk used to display a very strong straight course bias to high numbers which is clearly not as strong now.
7 furlongs (14 races or more to qualify)
Chester – high draws struggle as low to middle tend to dominate.
Galway – only 15 races so the stats are limited. Possibility a bias towards lower numbers though.
Lingfield – high draws dominate over this trip as they do over 6f. The bias is perhaps not as strong over 7f but it certainly is one of the stronger biases around.
Newcastle – high draws seemed to have a strong edge here with lower draws really struggling. A big sample of 60 races gives confidence in the figures. High draws seem to have a small edge over 6f as well.
Sandown – the win stats suggest a bias against higher draws. The place stats do not back that up so I would not be too dogmatic that the bias is that significant.
The good news for draw punters is that biases still exist, but the bad news is they are becoming few and far between. In addition, many of the stronger biases from the past are starting to diminish. Of course, changing biases can work in our favour as well especially if punters fail to take account of the changes. For example, if they continue to believe that the 5f rail far bias at Beverley is as strong as ever, then the high drawn runners will start at inflated prices meaning we are getting value elsewhere. As one avenue closes, another opens .........
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