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Handicap Debutants Part 1


Handicap Debutants Part 1

This is the first of two articles based on flat horses making their handicap debuts. I am writing this piece in the middle of October 2011 and I have gone back to the start of 2005 in terms of the data I am using. Profits and losses are shown to £1 level win stakes at SP; SR% stands for strike rate percentage; ROI% stands for return on investment percentage.

Firstly let us look at the overall performances of all horses making their handicap debuts:

Runs Wins SR% Profit/loss ROI%
22141 2107 9.5 -£5282.52 -23.9

These figures should come as no surprise – handicap debutants have not got a reputation for being gilt-edged betting opportunities. However, let us breakdown this data and see what we can find.

Age – let us breakdown the stats by age:

Age Runs Wins SR% Profit/loss ROI%
2 6320 637 10.1 -£1174.41 -18.6
3 12949 1257 9.7 -£3203.58 -24.7
4 2165 184 8.5 -£559.98 -25.9
5 469 26 5.5 -£180.55 -38.5
6 148 1 0.7 -£97.00 -65.5
7 61 1 1.6 -£49.00 -80.3
8 24 1 4.2 -£13.00 -54.2
9 2 0 0.0 -£2.00 -100.0
11 2 0 0.0 -£2.00 -100.0
12 1 0 0.0 -£1.00 -100.0

 

The first point to note is that once a horse gets 5 or older their first ever run in a handicap becomes quite poor. Combining horses aged 5 and older we get just 29 winners from 707 runners (SR 4.1%) for a hefty loss of £344.55 (ROI -48.7%). 2yos have the best record although it is still fairly moderate.

Sex – now a breakdown by sex of the horse:

Sex Runs Wins SR% Profit/loss ROI%
Female 9255 748 8.1 -£2915.25 -31.5
Male 12886 1359 10.5 -£2367.27 -18.4

 

Females on handicap debut struggle in comparison to their male counterparts.

Price – now a breakdown by the SP price of the horses:

Price Runs Wins SR% Profit/loss ROI%
odds on 157 84 53.5 -£12.88 -8.2
Evens – 13/8 355 147 41.4 -£12.53 -3.5
7/4 - 9/4 654 210 32.1 -£27.52 -4.2
5/2 - 4/1 2433 471 19.4 -£431.09 -17.7
9/2 - 6/1 2374 372 15.7 -£96.00 -4.0
13/2 - 8/1 2720 292 10.7 -£281.00 -10.3
17/2 - 10/1 1753 153 8.7 -£136.50 -7.8
11/1 - 14/1 2892 176 6.1 -£534.00 -18.5
16/1 - 20/1 3227 123 3.8 -£952.00 -29.5
22/1 – 33/1 3065 62 2.0 -£1265.00 -41.3
40-1 + 2511 17 0.7 -£1534.00 -61.1

 

Clearly the price makes a difference with handicap debutants. Runners priced 10/1 or shorter are worth a second glance, while those 22/1 or bigger look worth avoiding, almost at all costs.

Market position – this should give similar results to the price stats, but it is always worth checking their position in the betting as a 5/1 shot could be 4th favourite in one race, and favourite in another:

Market position Runs Wins SR% Profit/loss ROI%
Favourite 2400 673 28.0 -£250.06 -10.4
2nd favourite 2061 364 17.7 -£240.20 -11.7
3rd favourite 1893 271 14.3 -£107.26 -5.7
4th in betting 2010 217 10.8 -£220.50 -11.0
5th in betting 1970 175 8.9 -£196.00 -9.9
6th in betting 1927 121 6.3 -£433.00 -22.5
7th in betting 1922 101 5.3 -£493.50 -25.7
8th in betting 1661 57 3.4 -£625.00 -37.6
9th in betting 1492 39 2.6 -£738.00 -49.5
10th+ 4805 89 1.9 -£1979.00 -41.2

 

The cut off point here seems 5th in the betting; anything lower than that and the strike rates and ROIs start to drop significantly.

Official rating – for a horse to run in a handicap they need an official handicap rating. Here is a breakdown of results by the horse’s official handicap ratings:

Official rating Runs Wins SR% Profit/loss ROI%
95 or higher 680 58 8.5 -£2.04 -0.3
85-94 1581 193 12.2 -£327.65 -20.7
75-84 4348 626 14.4 -£775.69 -17.8
65-74 6404 662 10.3 -£1403.38 -21.9
55-64 5557 403 7.3 -£1197.61 -21.6
45-54 3410 163 4.8 -£1451.15 -42.6
44 or lower 161 2 1.2 -£125.00 -77.6

 

Horses rated 54 or lower have performed very poorly. The 75-84 official rating bracket has the best strike rate, where as those rated 95 or higher have nearly broken even. However, this figure is skewed strongly by two big priced winners at 66/1 and 50/1.

Weight rank – now a look at their position in the weights:

Weight rank Runs Wins SR% Profit/loss ROI%
Top 2 in weights 5044 703 13.9 -851.13 -16.9
3rd-4th in weights 4085 486 11.9 -£879.17 -21.5
5th-6th in weights 4013 383 9.5 -£1040.49 -25.9
7th-10th in weights 6148 421 6.8 -£1349.43 -21.9
11th+ in weights 2851 114 4.0 -£1162.30 -40.8

 

A sliding scale in terms of strike rate, but in terms of the returns horses 3rd to 10th in the weights have produced similar returns. The top two in the weights have performed best, whereas those weighted 11th or higher have a poor record in terms of both strike rate and returns.

Horse wins – next stop was to look at whether previous career wins made a difference:

No. Of wins Runs Wins SR% Profit/loss ROI%
0 14856 1065 7.2 -£4166.23 -28.0
1 6678 973 14.6 -£1128.41 -16.9
2 496 58 11.7 -£3.13 -0.6
3 86 10 11.6 +£34.75 +40.4
4+ 25 1 4.0 -£19.50 -78.0

 

Horses that are still maidens (0 career wins) have a poor looking record. Horses with 2 or 3 wins have the best records albeit from a relatively small sample.

Position LTO – now a look at their last run and where they finished:

Position LTO Runs Wins SR% Profit/loss ROI%
1st 4979 844 17.0 -£552.05 -11.1
2nd 1574 207 13.2 +£45.46 +2.9
3rd 1969 216 11.0 -£254.09 -12.9
4th-7th 7873 555 7.0 -£1921.7 -24.4
8th or worse 5440 273 5.0 -£2,421.77 -44.5

 

Horses that finished 2nd LTO have actually made a profit, while overall it is clear that a finish in the first three LTO is far better than a fourth or worse finishing position.

So far I have looked in eight different areas and here is a summary of the main findings:

  • 2yos have a slight edge over 3 and 4yos;
  • 5yos and older have a poor record;
  • Males outperform females;
  • Horses priced 10/1 or shorter are worth further investigation as combined losses are less than 10p in the £;
  • Runners priced 22/1 or bigger have a poor record;
  • Horses rated 54 or lower (OR) have a poor record;
  • Maiden runners have struggled in comparison to other runners;
  • Horses with 2 or 3 previous career wins have combined to make a small profit;
  • A finish in the first three LTO reduces overall losses.

 

All in all, I feel I have uncovered some interesting angles and I will expand / go into more detail in the second article. Indeed, in the second article I will show you how combining just 3 of these filters we can virtually break even across around 4000 races. I will also show you that this basic idea has produced a 1 in 4 strike rate on the all weather showing an ROI of 10% to SP.

Part 2 of this research may be found here ==> Handicap Debutants Part 2

 

 








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