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Should we take notice of the Racing Post forecast
Should we take notice of the Racing Post forecast? by David Renham
Before the advent of the exchanges, the betting forecast in the Racing Post was the starting point for many punters, especially those who worked 9 to 5. Nowadays, the betting forecast in the Racing Post does not seem as influential as more and more people take notice of the early Betfair markets. However, it still has its place IMO and the question I asked myself was how accurate has it actually been?
For this research I was able to save months and months of ploughing through old Racing Posts by using rsb. For those of you who don’t know rsb is short for “racing system builder” – it is a piece of software that has been on the market for several years now and for certain types of number crunching and research it is excellent – and fairly quick to boot. Anyone who takes their betting seriously and / or loves betting systems should consider buying it – it is expensive, but for me it has been worth every penny and much more. Essentially this research has taken me only a few hours and that is down to the software.
Forecast Favourites – my first port of call was to see how many Racing Post forecast favourites actually started as favourite at SP. I focused on forecast favourites that were clear favourites – eg. joint or co favourites in the betting forecast were ignored. I decided to back check nearly 40,000 races back to the year 2000 and these are results – expressed as percentages:
As we can see, the forecast favourite was the real life favourite at SP in nearly 70% of all races. I had not really thought beforehand what sort of figure I had expected, but considering 87.4% of the forecast favourites started favourite or 2nd favourite at SP, that to me was a good effort. I feel I am in a good position to judge as I have done a few Racing Post forecasts myself. For those of you who do not know, the Racing Post forecast prices are done by the spotlight writers – so not only do they write the individual horse comments in the paper and attempt to tip the winner, they have to do the forecast prices as well. It is not an easy job I can tell you!
Forecast favourites quoted as odds on – horses that are odds-on in the betting forecast are essentially considered good things. As an odds compiler you have to very confident that a horse will start odds-on if you decide to put him/her odds-on in your betting forecast. Not surprisingly horses forecast at odds-on virtually always head the actual market:
Nearly 3000 horses in this sample (2873 to be precise); only 112 of did not start favourite at SP.
Forecast favourites quoted 4/1 or bigger - the hardest races to weigh up are the more open contests. Around 22% of all races see the forecast favourite priced up at 4/1 or bigger. As one would expect less of these forecast favourites actually start favourite at SP:
51% of forecast favourites actually start favourite when priced up at 4/1 or bigger in the Racing Post – again considering the competitive nature of these races; the gambles that can take place etc, this is a decent effort. Indeed nearly ¾ of them start either favourite or second favourite. It should be noted that forecast favourites forecast at 4/1 or bigger that actually start 7th or worse in the actual betting hardly ever win – just 6 have won from 125 such runners.
Having looked at some price considerations, I decided to look at two race types – handicaps and maidens.
Forecast favourites in handicaps – handicaps are notorious hard to unravel so I thought it would be worth starting here. The table below shows the results:
65% was higher than I expected and again this is an impressive effort with 2 out of every 3 forecast favourites remaining favourite at SP, and 85% of them being either favourite or second favourite at SP.
Forecast favourites in maidens – here are the results for maidens:
As expected a higher percentage, although I would have expected a bigger discrepancy between the figures for maidens and handicaps. Probably nearer 80% plays 55%.
There are plenty of other race types which I have grouped up in the table below comparing simply forecast favourite against SP favourite:
The group 1 figure is excellent, but being the crème de la crème of racing one would imagine this should have a high percentage.
Of course with the Racing Post forecast being the starting point for many, even bookmakers, one would expect some positive / accurate figures. Even so, I was pleasantly impressed.
I moved onto see what percentage of non forecast favourites became favourite at SP. The figures again prove that the Racing Post forecasters do a good job:
Essentially, this shows that horses that are forecast favourite or second favourite end up favourite at SP around 87% of the time. Another good example of Racing Post forecast accuracy.
Conclusion – the good thing is that for punters that use the Racing Post forecast as a starting point are using a very accurate resource. One area that I intend to look into over the coming weeks is how accurate is the Betfair forecast. This is a relatively new innovation and it will be interesting to see how they compare to the Racing Post. Likewise, other readers out there may wish to see how accurate their own daily newspapers are – my guess in many cases is “not very”!!
Finally, if you are a punter that backs favourites at SP, please take note that favourites at SP win around 30% of races, but favourites at SP that were also forecast favourites in the Racing Post win just under 34% of races. Hence the message should be that you will be better off by backing favourites if they were forecast favourites as well.
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