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Pace And Draw In All Weather Racing
Pace And Draw In All Weather Racing
I have discussed pace angles in numerous GeeGeez articles and once again I would like to revisit this key area.
I have noted before that if you were able to predict the front runner in certain types of races it would basically be a license to print money. For example, going back to 2011, if you managed to correctly predict the front runner in every all weather UK 5f handicap race with 8 or more runners, you would have profited by over 60p for every £1 staked! Indeed at Kempton Park the profit would have been £1.04 for every £1 staked. For the record, in 6f handicaps on the sand you would have also profited from front runners to the tune of 33p for every £1 staked, while in 7f handicaps you still would have made 17p per £1 staked.
In the past I have looked at different ideas to help increase the chances of predicting the front runner. For example looking for horses that have led LTO, or looking for horses that have the highest pace score average over the past four races of all the runners. I have also studied going conditions, the effect of field size etc. One area though that I have yet to look at in real depth is the position of horses in terms of the draw. For this piece I have collated some all weather handicap stats from the draw analyser on Geegeez, which also has draw / run style data.
The draw can have a significant effect at some courses in both a positive and negative way. Races where the first bend is close to the start should offer lower draw horses some advantage as they are drawn closest to the inside. At the tight turning course of Chester for example, this low draw bias is well known and well documented.
Now just like there can be a potential draw bias due to being drawn closest to the inside rail, one would assume that these horses have a greater chance of leading early. This is simply due to the fact that they have less distance to travel to the first corner than horses drawn wider. Now of course not all horses will try to lead early, but it was time to crunch the data as I felt the overall stats would back up my theory.
For the record, I have included Irish course Dundalk along with the six UK all weather tracks.
All weather 5f handicaps (8 + runners)
Let us begin by looking at draw / run style combinations over 5f. The draw is split equally in three – low, middle and high - and hence one would expect, given a level playing field, that the ‘led early’ percentages would hit around 33.3% respectively from each section.
It should also be noted that 5 of the 7 course and distances are run round a bend with only Newcastle and Southwell run on a straight course. A look at Newcastle and Southwell first:
The Southwell figures are relatively even which is what I would have expected. However, the Newcastle stats are interesting with higher drawn horses far less likely to lead that those drawn low to middle. I cannot give a reason why this is the case, but it will be interesting to see if this pattern continues in the coming years.
Onto the other 5 courses and for the remainder of this article I will just focus on these:
This table shows that at all five courses the early leader is more likely to come from the lowest third of the draw – those drawn closest to the inside rail. I am pleased the stats seem to back up my original theory. In addition, horses from the middle stalls lead more than one would expect, while higher drawn runners are definitely at a disadvantage in terms of leading early.
The following table gives another way of illustrating how more likely low drawn horses are to lead than high drawn ones – this has been very simply calculated by dividing the low draw led% by the high draw led%:
This table illustrates this bias to lower drawn front runners quite neatly with 4 of the 5 C&Ds seeing lower drawn horses more than twice as likely to lead early than higher drawn ones. Dundalk seems have the strongest low drawn front running bias and it is also worth sharing that horses drawn 1 and 2 at the Irish venue have provided the early leader 31% of the time.
Now if we combine the data for all round course 5f handicaps on the all weather, but increase the field size to 12 or more runners, we get a stronger bias to lower draws leading early. There are over 170 qualifying races which is a decent enough sample:
Under these circumstances the lowest third of draw are around 3.5 times more likely to produce the early leader of the race. This stronger bias makes sense as higher draws start even further away from the inside rail in bigger fields.
Now one would expect when higher drawn horses lead early they are less likely to go onto win. The reasoning behind this would be that it is likely to have been quite an effort to pass so many horses to get to the lead from a wide draw, as well as the fact that they probably would have had to run slightly further to achieve this. Combining these factors, it would be logical to deduce that the horse could potentially tire late on due to this early energy expended to get to the lead. However, the stats don’t back this up. Let us look at the win percentages for the early leaders from each third of the draw at the 5 round aw courses. Firstly using the initial 8+ runner handicap data:
Horses that lead from high draws at Chelmsford manage to go on to win 3 races in 8; those at Dundalk and Kempton better than 1 win in 4. Only at Lingfield does it seem a negative to lead early from a high draw.
A similar pattern emerges when we look at the 12+ runner data. Combining the courses we get these win percentages:
I must admit these stats have really surprised me. However, in many respects this is good news if you like backing front runners. In the past I may have been put off by a potential front runner drawn wide as I would have assumed if they did manage to lead they were less likely to win. This does not seem to be the case – well over 5 furlongs at these courses anyway!
This article has shown that in 5f handicaps raced on a round course on the all weather it is easier to lead from a lower draw than a higher one. BUT …….. in terms of winning the race you may prefer your potential front runner to be drawn high!
This article first appeared on the excellent GeeGeez.co.uk
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