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Running Styles Revisited
Running Styles Revisited by David Renham
Those of you who have been a subscriber to punter profits for some time will know that running styles or pace bias is something I am very interested in. I believe a good understanding of this can give you an important edge over the majority of punters.
In this article I am looking at 5 furlong maiden races on the turf – it should be noted that 90% of these were 2yo maiden races. The data has been taken from 2000 to the beginning of July 2009 and I have concentrated on races of 10 or more runners. During this period of study there were just over 650 qualifying races of which 34.5% of the races were won by the front runner. Let me put this another way – roughly a third of all qualifying races were won by the horse that led, or disputed the lead early in the race. Now considering that we are talking about races with an average field size of 12.25 this is an extremely powerful statistic.
Let us look at this is some detail. Firstly there were around 410 races where there was lone front runner; there were just under 250 races where two horses disputed for the lead. One difficult part about any of this type of research is that there will be occasions where is not a solitary front runner, but despite this we are still talking about front runners accounting for just 11% of the total runners and providing 34.5% of the winners. Hence these runners are winning three times more than if there was no running style/pace bias.
Next port of call was to break down the results by course. I excluded courses with less than 10 races, so here are the remaining course stats for front runners:
Catterick and Thirsk (1st and 3rd in the table) are courses that favour front runners in sprint handicaps so it is no surprise to see them so prominent in the list. An interesting stat for any of you that back “in running” is that 116 runners have been held up at Catterick in these races and none of them have won! Indeed hold up horses have fared little better at Thirsk with just 2 wins from 122 runners!
Looking at the hold up stats do show the pace bias even more so here are the results course by course for hold up horses:
It is very clear therefore that hold up horses in 5f 10+ runner maidens struggle. Of course it should be noted that there are several horses that are held up in each race, and hence a hold up horse wins around 16% of all races. However, hold up horses have provided 48% of all runners – so essentially they win three times less than they should in a non pace biased situation.
It all sounds straight-forward – back the front runner; lay the hold up horses. However, of course it is not that simple as you do not know for sure how the race will unfold in terms of running styles / pace, especially with horses that have run only once or twice, or in some cases not run at all. One option is to play ‘in running; and bet as early as possible. However, whether the prices of any front runner for backing or hold up horse for laying will be value / suitable is difficult to gauge. An alternative option is to look for trainers whose runners lead more often than the norm. Hence I have produced a table of such trainers. 11% of horses lead, so I have used 14% or above as a cut off point:
These trainers therefore are more likely to send out their runners out in front than the majority of trainers. Mark Johnston is a trainer that is well known for preferring his best runners to race up with or close to the pace. Indeed, he has scored with 9 of his 25 front runners (a further 11 were placed); compare this to 0 wins from 25 for Johnston horses that were held up.
Using pace bias to find winners is a useful tool but as you can see it is not an exact science. If we could accurately predict each runners running style before the race we could make an absolute mint! Using course stats has given us the courses that are best to concentrate on, while past trainer stats is certainly a start in helping to predict the front runner. Next stop will see me investigating the draw and jockeys – my guess is that these areas will shed more light on this. If I find anything fruitful I will report back asap.
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