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Articles >> horseracing >> Draw Bias on The Sand
I am going back to my “roots” and looking at draw bias on the all weather. At this time of year I start collating the yearly draw stats and adding them to my database. With three more months of all weather racing, it seems a good time to see if there are any biases that we can take advantage of. In this article I am going to look in depth at the two sprint trips at Southwell, and I will be concentrating on races of 10 runners or more. The 10 runner figure has always been the cut off point for my draw bias research as you need a reasonable number of runners in order for any biases to be noteworthy. As usual I will split the draw positions into three – the top third, the middle third and the bottom third. Hence, in a standard 12 runner contest draws 1 to 4 will be in the bottom third, 5 to 8 in the middle third and 9 to 12 in the top third.
Southwell – Southwell is the only all weather course to have a fibresand surface. The most important aspect of draw appreciation at Southwell is that biases can fluctuate due to weather conditions and any harrowing of the track. The general consensus is that inside draws on the round course are not particularly good post positions as the ground is supposedly deeper nearer to the inside.
5f – the 5 furlong track is the only all weather straight 5, and lower draws are positioned nearest to the inside of the track. Hence, a perception that some pundits have is that the lower draw, the worse it is, as they tend to run closer to the inside rail than the rest of the runners. However, the stats proof this not to be the case. Firstly let us take a look at the stats for all 5f races (10 or more runners) from 2000 to 2006 – a 7 year period:
With 233 races to analyse, there is plenty of confidence behind any findings from this data sample. The percentages suggest that high draws are at a disadvantage – the correlation of the win and placed stats add credence to this conclusion. Lower draws have a small advantage and hence the long term conclusion is that you would prefer a lower draw to a higher one.
Focusing on handicaps is always a good idea when studying draw biases – handicaps are by nature the most competitive types of race and hence the draw stats from handicaps should be the most reliable. Since 2000, there have been 120 handicaps over 5 furlongs and the draw bias split has been as follows:
The top third of the draw statistics correlate well with the “all races” data. Interestingly the middle third have a slight edge over lower draws in terms of the win percentages, but the placed percentages again see lower draws as best.
Those initial statistics cover a good length of time, but trends can change and it is important to focus on more recent events at the track. If we focus on the last two years a stronger picture of bias emerges. In 2005/06 there have been 75 races over 5f with 10 runners or more and the draw thirds split is as follows:
The statistics clearly show that lower draws have had a significant edge over the past two seasons. The placed stats correlate extremely well also which strengthens the confidence in the findings. Indeed, the figures suggest that you are roughly three times a likely to win from a low draw compared to a high draw.
Here are some interesting additional stats that are worth noting:
1. The lowest drawn stall (usually draw 1 – unless draw 1 is a non runner) has provided the winner an amazing 15 times from 75 races. That is a strike rate of 20%, which is 2.5 times greater than one would statistically expect with average field size of 12.2 runners.
2. Backing the lowest drawn stall “blind” in all 75 races would have yielded a profit of 54.33 points (at 1 point level stakes), which equates to a very healthy percentage profit of 72.4%.
3. If, in every 5f race, you had permed the two lowest draws in a 1 point reverse forecast, that bet would have yielded an amazing profit of 349.23 points, which equates to a percentage profit of 232.8%.
4. If, in every 5f handicap race, you had permed the three lowest draws in a full cover tricast (1 point outlay per bet – one sixth of a point for each of the six possible tricast outcomes), you would have yielded a profit of 197.76 points. Considering there were only 25 handicap races, your outlay for this return would have been 25 points, so your percentage profit using this bet would have been an incredible 791% !!!!!
To conclude, the bias to lower draws over 5f at Southwell has offered punters an edge since the year 2000, but even more so in the past two seasons. The method of perming the lowest draws in forecasts and tricasts would have produced quite remarkable profits, as would have backing draw 1 “blind”.
6f – the 6f trip is run round a lefthanded bend and on most courses with such a configuration, it should give the inside draws (low) an advantage. However, as stated above the general consensus is that the inside of the track rides deeper and hence lower draws are potentially at a disadvantage. Let us see what the stats say. Since 2000, there have been an amazing 405 races with 10 or more runners over this trip. The draw split is as follows (see overleaf):
Overall the statistics indicate there is little or no bias whatsoever. Indeed, the lowest “third of the draw” does not seem to be at any disadvantage according these figures. So maybe the inside of the course is not as slow as some pundits believe.
As stated above, focusing on handicaps is always a good idea when studying draw biases Since the year 2000, there have been 184 handicaps over 6 furlongs and the draw bias split has been as follows:
Again, the stats suggest there is no disadvantage to being drawn low; in fact there may be a very slight advantage to lower draws.
Now it is time to examine the more recent past. In 2005 and 2006 there were 133 races over 6f with 10 or more runners giving the following results:
Perhaps not surprisingly the figures suggest there is little in it – lower draws have a very small edge in terms of the win stats, but it is not statistically significant. Hence, it can be argued that the draw is fairly irrelevant at Southwell over this 6f trip.
However, there has been a profitable angle which has turned up trumps year in year out. The only problem with this angle is that you need to be patient. I have already mentioned a couple of times in this article that the general perception of many people is that inside draws at Southwell on the round course are at a disadvantage. For the 6f trip at least, the stats indicate that this is not the case. Whether the ground is slower on the inside is essentially irrelevant – it is true the horses often come wide off the final turn, away from the far rail, but even so, lower draws are in the best position to grab the “better” ground first as they swing into the straight.
Now to this profitable “angle” – again it is a simple one that has produced profits over the 5f trip also. It is simply placing a reverse forecast on the two lowest drawn horses in every race. The reason is essentially simple – the two lowest draws have the shortest route round to the final turn; in addition with the general perception being that very low draws are at a disadvantage, draws 1 and 2 often start at slightly bigger prices than perhaps they should. Therefore, there is the scope for much bigger returns on the forecast. Since 2000, this bet has been landed on only 12 occasions – however, the payouts have included returns of £403.64 (effectively 201/1), £231.84 (effectively 115/1) and £218.24 (effectively 108/1). Indeed there have only been two successful bets this year, but both have paid handsomely  £182.17 and £152.88.
Putting in simple monetary terms, if you had placed a £5 reverse forecast in every 6f race at Southwell since the year 2000, you would have made a profit of £3442.10p. The ability to remain patient on such a bet would be imperative, but for relatively small stakes, the gains are there for all to see.
For the really speculative, a tricast option perming lower draws would have also yielded good profits – however, a similar patient approach would have been needed. Perming the lowest 4 draws in full cover tricasts in all handicap races would have produced a profit on turnover of 51.6%. Only six winning bets in 184 races, but with 5 of the 6 bets paying out over £500, one can see the value in this patient approach. In monetary terms, a 50p full cover tricast on each bet would have meant an outlay of £2208 over seven seasons, but returns of £3347.28p would have meant a profit of £1139.28p. The best single bet return using the 50p staking system (£12 outlay per bet in total) would have been £1159.82p.
In conclusion, the 6f trip offers courageous punters good returns to small stakes by using “exotic” bets such as forecasts and tricasts. If you are not a patient punter however, this idea is not for you. BECAUSE YOU KNOW WHAT WILL HAPPEN ……. you will get fed up after a series of say 25 losing bets, and as soon as you give up on the bet, a big payout will almost certainly arrive – the law of sod, I believe!



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