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Pace in National Hunt Racing part 4
This is the fourth and final installment in a series of articles on pace in National Hunt racing. In order to help compile this article I am once again using some pace data from the excellent Proform software (www.proformprofessional.co.uk).
In this article I am looking at some in play data with a view to looking into horses that win having traded higher in running. The majority of my personal in play trading has been connected with looking for horses that are likely to trade lower in running, so this is a new avenue for me.
I wanted to split the winners into different racetypes to see whether certain races saw a higher proportion of winners that traded higher in running. I also need to decide upon my parameters for ‘trading higher in running’ – from experience I know that a decent proportion of winners trade marginally above their BSP, but a horse that say traded 6.25 when their BSP is 6.2 is not what I am looking for. Hence, I have looked at what proportion of horses that have traded 1.5 times higher in running compared to their BSP, twice their BSP, 4 times their BSP and 10 times their BSP. I have used data from UK racing for the year 2011.
Novice Chases – before the research I had expected Novice Chases to offer a smaller percentage of higher trading winners as my perception of novice chases is that they are fairly uncompetitive events. Let us see what percentages we get for winners from the in running parameters I have set:
Hence 50% of novice chase winners traded at least 1.5 times higher than their BSP in running which is a decent proportion. Before I discuss whether there any strategies we can use to make a profit I need to look at other racetypes to see if there is any racetypes that give us higher percentages.
Novice Hurdles – I expected similar figures for novice hurdles as there were for novice chases. Here is what I found:
There are similar percentages for novice hurdle winners as with winning novice chasers. Now onto handicaps where I am expecting (hoping) the figures will be higher – let us look at handicap chase winners first:
Handicap Chases – here are the stats:
Slightly higher figures although if I am honest they are not as high as I had expected. The 4 times or more figures may be worth further investigation as that is where there is the biggest difference compared to the sets of figures for novice events. Let us see if handicap hurdles can improve the figures:
Handicap hurdles – let us see what we find here:
Very similar figures to handicap chases although the 10 times or more percentage is getting more interesting as it heads towards 10%. If we can get that figure over 10% then there is potential scope to make a profit. Hence let me look at handicap hurdle figures in more detail focusing on runners that have won having traded 10 times their BSP or higher.
Firstly I wanted to look at number of runners – my theory was that the less runners the better. The reason for this was that horses that drifted 10 times their BSP or more would invariably look down and out at some point in the race, but with less runners to pass there was more chance of them eventually rallying to win. Here are my findings:
It seems I was along the right lines although the midrange of 8 to 12 runners proved best. Races with 13 or more runners did see a significant percentage drop.
The next area I wanted to look at was class. Again I had a theory that the lower the class the more likely a horse would be able to win from an unpromising position. Here are the findings:
I combined the 1 and 2 class races together as the data in each group was limited. The good news was that the lower class races did produce a higher proportion of horses that won having touched a price at least 10 times bigger than BSP.
Onto distance next – was not really sure what I would find here, if anything:
No real patterns here – the 2m5f2m7f figures look best, but in truth the sample size for those races was limited.
Finally I wanted to look at running style – I used the three options given in the Proform software: L – leaders; P – prominent runners; H – held up runners. I suspected the best figures would be from hold up horses:
Hold up horses do indeed produce the best figures and from a decent sample of nearly 350 runners.
OK, so the big question is ‘can we make money from setting a price of 10 times BSP on a selection of runners in handicap hurdles?’ This unfortunately is difficult to evaluate but clearly the best chance of success is by trying to back hold up horses in handicap hurdles at 10 times their BSP price. Let us first look at the logistics of this of backing such runners:  In order to do this we need to watch every single handicap hurdle race live;  In order to do this we need to back every hold up horse once the race has started at 10 times their BSP.
For regular traders the first part is not difficult as they will watch most, if not all races anyway; however the second part is less clearcut. Horses are given an ‘H’ in Proform based on the in running comments in the racing press – after the event in other words. Hence, for us to choose all the horses that will be given an ‘H’ is not going to straightforward. Having said that, clearly you can put yourself in position of a racereader early in the contest and make an informed decision. Essentially, if it was me, for a horse to be ‘heldup’ I would be looking at runners that say after say 2 obstacles were in the back half of the field. Thus, let us imagine the race has started – say there are 10 runners – after 2 obstacles you set prices of 10 times the BSP of the 5 horses that are at the back of the field. This would probably be the most accurate way you could do this. It seems therefore that logistically it is possible ……………….. so I’ll go back to the question of whether it would be profitable. Assuming I chose all the horses given an ‘H’ coupled with setting the appropriate prices, the figures indicate a small 2% loss after Betfair commission. However, I have assumed that all horses that did NOT win were losers for me, and one could rightly argue that is not going to be case. Why? Well because assuming we back them after say 2 obstacles, there are going to be a handful of hold up horses who would have fallen at one of the first 2 flights. That will claw back some losses as we clearly won’t be backing them! Also some horses involved in a tight finish would not have been matched 10 times bigger as the market is suspended before people are able to take advantage of laying it. Even if neither of those 2 scenarios occurred, this third scenario definitely does – any horse priced over 100 at BSP cannot be backed at 10 times the price as 1000.0 is the highest price you can back at. Taking these runners out of my losing trades has pushed me into profit, albeit a small one.
Now, I cannot guarantee that this method/idea will prove profitable in the future – however, I would suspect that there is a reasonable chance it might. I think I need to test the idea for a month to very small stakes to see whether there is any real mileage in this.
David Renham www.racingtrends.co.uk



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