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Horse Racing Drifters


 

Drifters – some interesting findings by David Renham
 
Horses that drift in the betting is an area that I have delved into recently although it is a difficult area to research accurately. 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. The problem with collating these statistics over a period of time is that it becomes very time-consuming, as the information is not easily accessible (to my knowledge) and hence it would mean noting down all opening shows in every race for several months / years. Not a particularly good use of time! The best idea I have come up with is to compare the Racing Post forecast price with Starting Price (SP). At least this would give me a fairly good idea of how horses fared when their SP was significantly higher 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. For this research I have used 7 years of flat data from 2002 to 2008. In addition, I have also focused only on forecast prices that have been 9/1 or lower. Hence we are studying horses that were deemed to have a fair chance of running well according to the odds compilers.
 
One perennial problem punters have is to determine whether a market drift for a horse is significant or not. In order to gather the data it was necessary to decide on what parameters to use when comparing forecast prices with SP. 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 this approach does not work is because it is not taking into account the percentage movement in the market. A price coming in from 9/1 to 12/1 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 1.7 or more as a cut off point for positive moves in the market. To make this easier to equate, here are the types of drift that would have “counted”:
 
Evens FP moving to 7/4 or bigger at SP
6/4 FP moving to 11/4 or bigger at SP
2/1 FP moving to 7/2 or bigger at SP
5/2 FP moving to 9/2 or bigger at SP
3/1 FP moving to 11/2 or bigger at SP
7/2 FP moving to 6/1 or bigger at SP
4/1 FP moving to 7/1 or bigger at SP
9/2 FP moving to 8/1 or bigger at SP
5/1 FP moving to 17/2 or bigger at SP
11/2 FP moving to 19/2 or bigger at SP
6/1 FP moving to 11/1 or bigger at SP
7/1 FP moving to 12/1 or bigger at SP
8/1 FP moving to 14/1 or bigger at SP
9/1 FP moving to 16/1 or bigger at SP
 
I started by comparing all runners whose forecast price was 9/1 or shorter, with those whose ratio was 1.7 or bigger. Here is what I found:
 
Variable
Runs
Wins
Strike Rate
Profit
ROI
All runners (FP 9/1 or shorter)
167262
27851
16.7%
-£22419.92
-13.4%
Ratio 1.7+
23209
1899
8.2%
-£4257.01
-18.3%
Quite a difference in strike rate, the drifters win half as often as compared with ‘all runners’, but the difference in losses is relatively small at 4.9%. Indeed, knowing how much certain drifters can drift on Betfair, there could be profits made backing such drifters. Of course, the problem with this type of idea is that you do not know the SP until after the race. However, for punters backing at literally the last minute there may be opportunities here – if, of course, you are happy with a very low strike rate. This is an idea I will revisit later in this article.
 
Moving on, I wanted to see whether any strong trainer patterns were prevalent. In other words, do any trainers perform above the norm with drifters, and which trainers clearly are worth avoiding when their horse drifts badly? Firstly a look at the more positive set of stats for trainers – trainers with a strike rate of 11% or more are shown in the table:
 
Trainer
Runs
Wins
Strike Rate
Profit
ROI
S Bin-Suroor
177
32
18.1%
+£19.54
+11.0%
J Eustace
59
10
16.9%
+£49.50
+83.9%
J Johnson
59
9
15.3%
+£47.25
+80.1%
T Barron
210
30
14.3%
+£60.83
+29.0%
D Carroll
63
9
14.3%
+£16.00
+25.4%
W Haggas
186
26
14.0%
+£57.82
+31.1%
Sir M Stoute
391
53
13.6%
+£55.53
+14.2%
Miss J Feilden
52
7
13.5%
+£29.33
+56.4%
R Beckett
121
16
13.2%
+£98.51
+81.4%
H Morrison
132
16
12.1%
-£2.87
-2.2%
L Cumani
193
23
11.9%
+£9.33
+4.8%
P Makin
68
8
11.8%
+£12.33
+18.1%
G Margarson
60
7
11.7%
+£16.38
+27.3%
R Fisher
60
7
11.7%
+£15.25
25.4%
M Bell
190
22
11.6%
-£43.54
-22.9%
J Given
166
19
11.4%
+£66.50
+40.1%
M Jarvis
228
26
11.4%
-£6.04
-2.6%
J Noseda
187
21
11.2%
+£16.99
+9.1%
P Hiatt
72
8
11.1%
+£14.00
+19.4%
A Bailey
54
6
11.1%
+£13.00
+24.1%
 
Quite a few of the top trainers in there – Bin Suroor, Jarvis, Noseda, Stoute, Bell, Cumani and Haggas. That is good to see. I expect most of the top trainers are trying all the time and a market drift for them would not be a sign of any underhand skullduggery! It is worth looking at a few more trainers in detail as profits for certain trainers could have been increased.
 
Sir M Stoute – focusing on his ‘drifters’ that were forecast in the Racing post to be 4/1 or bigger, you would have won 20 times from 182 qualifiers (SR 10.9%) for a very impressive profit of £79.00 (ROI +43.2%).
 
T Barron - focusing on his ‘drifters’ that were racing in class 5 or lower, you would have won 25 times from 142 qualifiers (SR 17.6%) for a very healthy profit of £89.83 (ROI +63.3%).
 
W Haggas - focusing on his ‘drifters’ that raced in handicaps, you would have won 10 times from 62 qualifiers (SR 16.1%) for a profit of £49.00 (ROI +79%).
 
J Noseda - focusing on his ‘drifters’ that raced in 2yo maidens you would have won 10 times from 63 qualifiers (SR 15.9%) for an excellent profit of £54.91 (ROI +87.2%).
 
Now let us look at trainers with a strike rate of only 6% or less:  

Trainer
Runs
Wins
Strike Rate
Profit
ROI
J Bethell
68
4
5.9%
-£0.50
-0.7%
M Wigham
51
3
5.9%
-£8.00
-15.7%
D Shaw
171
10
5.8%
-£40.00
-23.4%
C Cox
52
3
5.8%
-£22.00
-42.3%
A Newcombe
88
5
5.7%
-£30.50
-34.7%
T Easterby
270
15
5.6%
-£97.67
-36.2%
M Tompkins
126
7
5.6%
-£54.75
-43.5%
J Pearce
72
4
5.6%
-£26.50
-36.8%
P McEntee
57
3
5.3%
-£26.00
-45.6%
M Usher
59
3
5.1%
-£26.50
-44.9%
I McInnes
79
4
5.1%
-£35.00
-44.3%
N Tinkler
80
4
5.0%
-£28.00
-35.0%
B Millman
127
6
4.7%
-£71.40
-56.2%
J Moore
106
5
4.7%
-£76.25
-71.9%
N Callaghan
106
5
4.7%
-£49.00
-46.2%
P Chapple-Hyam
111
5
4.5%
-£71.26
-64.2%
W Turner
115
5
4.3%
-£66.25
-57.6%
R Hollinshead
117
5
4.3%
-£79.50
-67.9%
C Wall
72
3
4.2%
-£32.00
-44.4%
A McCabe
51
2
3.9%
-£22.00
-43.1%
C Dwyer
55
2
3.6%
-£35.00
-63.6%
D Barker
55
2
3.6%
-£46.78
-85.1%
R Cowell
84
3
3.6%
-£61.50
-73.2%
W Brisbourne
227
8
3.5%
-£127.00
-55.9%
W Musson
62
2
3.2%
-£40.00
-64.5%
P Howling
115
2
1.7%
-£90.00
-78.3%
A Carroll
124
2
1.6%
-£103.00
-83.1%
S Dow
65
1
1.5%
-£61.00
-93.8%
J Bridger
66
0
0.0%
-£66.00
-100.0%
 
Probably the most high profile trainer on this list is Peter Chappell-Hyam. His strike rate with all horses priced by the RP forecast at 9/1 or shorter is over 21%. Hence his figure for “drifters” of 4.5% is worth noting. It seems he is a trainer to avoid when his horses drift markedly.
 
At this juncture I want to go back to the idea I discussed earlier in the article about backing these ‘drifters’ using Betfair SP. Hence I decided to look at the data for the first month of 2009 – as this was a period not discussed in my initial research. During this period the results at SP were as follows:
 
Drifter ratio
Runs
Wins
Strike Rate
Profit
ROI
Ratio 1.7+
260
23
8.8%
-£24.50
-9.4%
 
A better return for such qualifiers in the month of January ’09, but what would have happened backing the runners using Betfair SP (BSP)? Here is a list of the 23 winners and their corresponding SPs and BSPs:
 
Date
course
Winning horse
SP
BSP
BSP (less 5%)
02/01/2009
Southwell
Realt Na Mara
6.5
7.44
7.068
03/01/2009
Lingfield
Pegasus Again
7
8.26
7.847
04/01/2009
Southwell
United Nations
3.5
3.37
3.2015
07/01/2009
Wolverhampton
Giddywell
11
13.96
13.262
08/01/2009
Southwell
Onemoreandstay
5.5
6.54
6.213
09/01/2009
Lingfield
Celtic Gold
6
6.6
6.27
11/01/2009
Great Leighs
Green Onions
14
18.5
17.575
13/01/2009
Southwell
Sea Cliff
7.5
9.5
9.025
13/01/2009
Southwell
Charlotte Grey
11
13.72
13.034
14/01/2009
Lingfield
True Britannia
8
9.5
9.025
14/01/2009
Kempton
Flamestone
6
7.8
7.41
16/01/2009
Lingfield
Chalice Welcome
8
9.39
8.9205
16/01/2009
Wolverhampton
Fantastic Fred
12
16.5
15.675
19/01/2009
Wolverhampton
Alexander Family
10
10.56
10.032
20/01/2009
Southwell
River Ardeche
14
17.73
16.8435
20/01/2009
Southwell
Angel Song
4.5
4.7
4.465
22/01/2009
Wolverhampton
Focail Eile
6
8.8
8.36
22/01/2009
Kempton
Drifting Gold
8
12.8
12.16
23/01/2009
Wolverhampton
Dream Date
8
10
9.5
25/01/2009
Wolverhampton
Jolly Ranch
16
17.44
16.568
27/01/2009
Southwell
Nawamees
10
17.23
16.3685
29/01/2009
Wolverhampton
Gwilym
16
18.39
17.4705
31/01/2009
Lingfield
Folio
14
18
17.1
 
The right column shows the Betfair price after taking the maximum 5% commission into account. Let us look therefore at the adjusted returns when we take Betfair SP rather than industry SP as our bottom line (5% commission adjusted):
 
Drifter ratio
Runs
Wins
Strike Rate
Profit
ROI
Ratio 1.7+
260
23
8.8%
+£16.39
+6.3%
 
So a loss of 9.4% has been turned into a profit of 6.3% for this particular month. With this type of swing, the 2002 to 2008 results would have seen close to a break even situation. Of course Betfair SP did not exist for most of this time frame, but clearly some drifters are not such a bad bet after all.

 








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