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Group 1 Races
Group 1 races by David Renham
The other day I was calculating how many hours a week I put into horse racing. For most people a 40 hour week is pretty standard, but unlike the majority of people I work 7 days a week not 5. That tends to mount up extra hours pretty quickly especially as Saturdays I tend to work for 9 or 10 hours. Add another 3 or 4 on a Sunday and suddenly my weekly total of working hours starts to hit the 60 hour per week mark. Not that I am complaining, because I thoroughly enjoy what I do. Most of my time is spent researching, running and contributing to two racing websites www.racingtrends.co.uk and www.punterprofits.com.
However, one of the other things I do is write a weekly article for the Racing & Football Outlook newspaper. These articles normally focus on big races and their trends, both positive and negative. For example, I might look at the Derby at Epsom and the key trends over the past 20 years. Hence the race may have proved profitable to follow favourites, or horses that have won at Group level last time out, etc, etc. For this article I have decided to work along similar lines, but am going to look at the key trends/stats in Group 1 races over the past 10 seasons.
Group 1 races are the crème de la crème with the best horses taking on each other at the very highest level. Over the past 10 full seasons (2000-2009) there have been 299 Group 1 contests in the UK and if you had used a pin to select a horse in each race, you would have lost around 32% of your money. Clearly this is not the way forward! Let us see how we can improve upon this:
Favourites have had a very good record in Group 1 races over the past 10 seasons – backing all favourites (inc. joint favourites) would have produced 115 winners from 310 runners (SR 37.1%) for a profit of £1.74 (ROI +0.6%). Considering backing favourites in all races loses around 6.5% of your money, we can see that favourites in Group 1 races have been fairly good value. Indeed, I estimate that using Betfair or early prices that 0.6% return could have been improved to around 8-10%. OK, not a king’s ransom, but a fair profit nonetheless. The market generally has been a good guide with 70.5% of the races going to horses from the top three of the betting. For the record, the percentage figure for the top three in the betting in all races is 65%.
Genuine outsiders have little or no chance in Group 1 races. Horses priced 40/1 or bigger have produced just 2 winners from 636 runners (SR 0.3%) for losses of £544.00 (ROI -85.5%).
Finally in this section let us look at some more market facts and figs:
In general, the more established trainers, with the backing of wealthy owners do best in Group 1 races. Let us look at the breakdown for trainers who have saddled at least 25 runners in the past 10 seasons. They are ordered by strike rate:
It is very interesting to note the success of trainers from Ireland with 3 of the first 6 places in the table taken by Irish trainers. In addition, French trainer Andre Fabre is 4th on the list. Clearly Irish and French runners demand close scrutiny. The overall figures for most trainers are poor and you need to dig deeper to find profitable trends/stats. Here are some I have unearthed:
Of course positive stats are useful, but negative stats have their place as well. Knowing which horses are very unlikely to win / have poor stats helps you avoid those dreaded losers. Here are some trainer negatives to note:
Age trends in Group 1 races
Around 40% of Group 1 races are races open to horses aged 3 or older (3yo+). Let us look at the age trends/stats for 3yo+ Group 1 races:
As you can see, 3yos have a decent record – the best strike rate and losses of just over 6%. Horses aged 7 or older have a very poor record.
It should be noted that these older horses (7yo+) struggle in 4yo+ Group 1 races also with 2 wins from 50 (SR 4.0%) for a loss of £45.13 (ROI -90.3%). Indeed both wins in the 4yo+ races were won by the evergreen Yeats, so take him out of the equation and the remaining 48 runners were all beaten.
Position LTO trends
Let us look now at recent form by focusing on each horses’ most recent race:
Horses that finished in the first three LTO have provided just under 82% of all Group 1 winners. The value seems to be with horses that finished 2nd LTO, while horses that finished 4th or worse LTO look best avoiding. It is also worth noting that 260 of the 299 winners (87%) had won at least once in their last three runs.
In general, jockey data correlates with trainer data as stable jockeys tend to ride for their stables in the big Group 1 races. However, the better jockeys also tend to pick up some decent spare rides so it worth checking out the data. Let us look at the breakdown for jockeys who have ridden at least 25 runners in the past 10 seasons. They are ordered by strike rate:
Manning who tops the tree has ridden all the time for Kevin Manning, whereas Johnny Murtagh has ridden winners for 9 different trainers, although 23 of the 39 have been for his boss O’Brien.
The advantage of backing horses in Group 1 races is that we know that all horses are trying their best. Hence we can be fairly confident in the trends/stats generated in this article. Let me finish by giving you a shortcut with a list of positives and negatives:
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