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Investigating The Tricast - Part 1
INVESTIGATING THE TRICAST
By David Renham
Over the past 6 or 7 years researching horse racing results / statistics has never been easier. If you have a good database with enough variables and enough past data, you are able to number crunch to your heart’s content. More importantly than that though, it usually does not take too long to do! The time factor was always a problem in the days before computers and powerful databases. I remember working for hours and hours late at night with my Superform annuals, loads of squared paper, a pen and a calculator! It took forever to collate stats, and was a nightmare if you went down what eventually turned out to be a “blind alley”. However, the advantages did seem to outweigh the disadvantages, as you firstly got a much better “feel” or understanding of the research area and secondly the more work you put in the more you got out as very few other people would be spending so much time on the same research area. For this article I have rather painstaking gone back to a more old fashioned method of research. Hence, as I write this opening paragraph I have no idea whether this article will a) have a profitable conclusion or b) go into a subsequent article due to running out of space! At this juncture I have simply started to scratch the surface so let’s see where we go. As the title suggests I have been doing some research into the tricast.
For many, exotic bets are a bit of fun. Straight forecasts, tricasts, yankees, lucky 15s, etc, etc tend to be a bookie’s benefit, although occasionally individuals land the big one! My biggest betting win by a massive margin came from a tricast that paid over 2000-1 (2271-1 to be more precise). Was I lucky? Definitely - that goes without saying when you consider the horses were priced 16/1, 12/1 and 11/1. However, the three horses I put in the tricast were all horses I thought had a genuine chance of winning so I would argue that there was some skill involved. Unfortunately I appreciate it was 0.01% skill; 99.99% luck! Have I ever got close to doing that again? Yes, come frustratingly close, but I have never managed it! One of my goals is to land another big tricast so hence the research. For those who don’t know a tricast is a bet where you try and predict the first three runners home in a handicap race. Predicting one winner seems to be hard enough for most of us, so why try and predict the first three? I suppose the reason is the lure of big payouts. Tricasts can pay tens of thousands in some cases, so if you land “the biggie”, a few hundred losing tricasts would soon pale into insignificance.
In terms of researching the tricast, I decided to confine myself to 12 runner handicaps on the flat. Why so specific? Well I wanted to keep things consistent, and I also planned to split the runners into “thirds” based on their market position – 12 is divisible by 3 so that made life fairly straight-forward. The main thrust of the initial research was to see the market spread of the horses that made the first three. By splitting the market positions into “thirds” this would give me a decent overview without getting too confusing. There were 10 potential combinations (I decided to use “T” for top third of the betting; “M” for the middle third of the betting and “B” for bottom third of the market):
I was not fussed about the order eg. MTT or TMT or TTM are basically the same as we are concerned as the tricast is simply about finishing in the first three – not what position they finished within that.
For the first part of the research I “cheated” and used modern technology by downloading all 2007 results of 12 runner handicaps, and placing them into an excel spreadsheet. From there however, it was much more like the old days by manually going through each race and apportioning the relevant market thirds to each runner. I then made a note of the first three finishers and which grouping they provided (eg. BMT). I also cross referenced each race noting down the tricast payout. Here is an example:
6th January 2007 – Kempton
So that counted as an “MMT” and the tricast in this case paid £473.54.
While writing this I am acutely aware that space is already running out, so the plan is to write at least one, maybe two follow up articles. At this point I have decided to move into “diary” mode as I feel this is a way that should fully explain my thought processes as I work on this project.
January – there were 25 qualifying races in the month and the “thirds” split was as follows:
The first thing that caught my eye was the fact that “TTT”, “MTT” and “BTT” combined for 18 of 26 tricasts (72%). This perhaps should come as no surprise as these three combinations have at least two runners from the top 4 in the betting. When I started the research I had thoughts of those unusually big tricasts and wondered if I could find a way of improving my chances of landing such a bet. However, my first thoughts after month one of research, was ‘is there an “edge” by focusing simply on the top four of the betting?’ However, if you had bet the top four in the betting in tricasts in the 25 races you would have lost £206.44 (to £1 level stakes per individual tricast). This figure is calculated using £1 per tricast and for 4 horses, there are 24 different combinations those horses could finish 1st, 2nd or 3rd. Hence the outlay per bet in this theoretical example would have been £24.00, and with 25 races at £24.00 per bet that gives us a £600 outlay. The returns of £393.56 gave us the £206.44 loss figure. Not quite the start I was hoping for!
Before moving away from this idea, I decided to see what would have happened if I had focused on the top three in the betting only. One advantage of this idea is that it cuts the bets down from 24 to 6. Indeed, in January there were 4 winning tricasts involving the top three in the betting of £29.33, £61.63, £56.56 and £97.97. If you had placed a £1 bet on all possible combinations, you would have actually made a profit … and a good one at that of £95.49. That equates to a return on investment of 63.7%. Now that’s more like it! However, before getting too carried away I had to question the fact that this winning bet occurred in 16% of the races and could that really be replicated in the future? Probably not, but where there’s hope …….
February – I had only explored a couple of ideas in January, but appreciated that there were plenty of other angles to look at when I gathered more data. In February there were only 18 qualifying races and the “thirds” split was as follows:
Once again “TTT”, “MTT” and “BTT” combined for 11 of 18 tricasts (61%). Clearly having at least two horses from the top “third” of the betting was beginning to look crucial. How this idea could generate profits was something for the future, but some sort of combination bet involving at least two of the top four in the betting looked a potential starting point.
The top three in betting provided both “TTT” successes, although the second one saw joint third favourites, which meant that you would have had to perm more selections for that particular race. Once again though, if you had placed a £1 bet on all tricast combinations of the top three in the betting in February, you would have made a profit of £42.78. So January and February combined would have produced a profit of £138.27.
Two months in and there looks to be plenty of mileage in continuing this research – here are my thoughts at this juncture:
1. Perming the top three in the betting looks a possibility. I am expecting that not all months will be winning months, and indeed I cannot really see it making a profit over a period of time. However, there may be potential for a sensible staking plan to try and improve the profit/loss position.
2. To date 29 of the 43 races saw a tricast with at least two horses from the top “third” of the betting (top four in the betting). That equates to roughly 2 out of every 3 races. Looking at the payouts there may be some scope for a 5 horse perm – how this will best work will take some further research but for example it may involve three of the top four in the betting plus two horses from other “thirds”. This is definitely an area I would like to investigate further.
3. As yet there have been no races where all three horses have come from the bottom third of the betting. I would expect that this will happen at some point and when it does the payout will be massive. I would also imagine that some method involving three or four of the outsiders could make a profit over time due to the potential payouts – problem being – could I wait hundreds of bets for such a payout??
Much to ponder then and as I finish this article I am just about to start looking at March – in the 2nd article I will continue the story!
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