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National Hunt Pace Bias
National Hunt Pace Bias
Pace bias and/or running styles is something regular readers will know is an aspect of racing I often write about. For me it is still an area where an edge can be obtained, but you do need to do some hard work.
In this article I have looked at 2m-2m2f handicap chases since 2005. During these 1178 races there have been the following splits in terms of which running style has been successful:
Early leaders – won 21.4% of all races;
Horses that tracked the pace (eg. raced prominently, raced close up, etc) – won 48.7% of all races;
Horses held up in midfield or near the back early in the race – won 29.9% of all races.
Looking at the bare stats you may be thinking that prominent racers have the edge, but you need to remember that in each race the breakdown of say a 9 runner race would see just 1 early leader; 4 horses tracking the pace and 4 horses held up. Hence, it is the early leaders or front runners that actually have the edge in these races. Indeed front runners have provided only 13.2% of all runners, but they have provided 21.4% of the winners.
Hence being able to predict the front runner has become a bit of an obsession of mine as if you could predict it 100% of the time, my hypothesis is that you would achieve returns of £1.30 for every £1 wagered in handicap chases of 2m to 2m2f – this equates an ROI of around 30% and I am only working to SP on these predictive figures. To Betfair prices or BOG prices this figure would be nearer 55-65%.
It sounds easy doesn’t it? All you need to do is predict the early leader of a race / front runner and profits simply roll in. Unfortunately, as yet, I have not found an easy way to get this front running prediction to much higher than 50%. In fact, I doubt with even the most ingenious computer programming that it is possible to predict the front runner much more than 50% of the time - there are simply too many variables that come into the mix. With this sort of % figure for front running predictive success however, a profit can still be made, but it is necessary to look at other factors to try and increase profits. One way of doing this is by looking at course pace data. Courses vary in configuration and terrain and some courses are simply better for front runners than others. In the table below I have looked the breakdown of winners in terms of pace, at all the courses in Britain – three courses are not included due to very limited data - these being Ffos Las, Musselburgh and Fakenham.
As you can see courses do vary markedly – Ascot for example has seen 40% of wins for front runners, whereas Newbury has seen just 6.3%. I tend to focus on courses that have a front running win% of 25 or more and I have ordered these below:
In terms of my personal betting, these courses are ones I tend to focus on when betting on what I think is going to be the most likely front runner. I also use Lingfield and Ayr, as both these courses are very poor for hold up horses and above average in terms front running wins.
Hence I focus primarily on 13 courses for my front running handicap chase bets – using these courses should increase my winning strike rate. As long as I continue to hit close to 50% in terms of predicting the leader then there is a good chance of making long term profits with my approach.
Going back now to the predicting the front runner – here is a summary of how I go about it:
As with anything in life, the more you ‘put in’, the more you tend to ‘get out’. I will personally continue to work hard at my pace research because it does actually seem to pay dividends.
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