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Some uk Horse Racing Draw Stats to Mull Over
All race courses in the UK are not equal! British racecourses vary a large degree in configuration. When it comes to flat racing, for many years one of the key aspects it often paid to consider was which stall position or DRAW the horse had been allocated. Certain tracks and distances exhibited a very strong bias towards to certain draw positions. An understanding of these individual track biases would at worst have stemmed unnecessary losses or at best produced some decent profits.
Not surprisingly therefore, draw bias became a hot topic but unfortunately in recent years draw bias has become less prevalent at the vast majority of tracks. From a personal perspective, since 1993 I have studied the effect of the draw at all UK courses. For the first few years I was able to make significant money almost backing well drawn horses “blind” at certain courses. It was not just win singles, but I had several winning forecasts and the very occasional tricast. Unfortunately those “easy” days are essentially gone – so much media hype has “murdered” the prices of these well drawn horses at certain courses. Added to that, some strong biases that were around a few years ago have disappeared due to new watering systems or by course officials moving running rails. You can still use the draw to your advantage in a positive way, but it is getting harder and opportunities are becoming more and more limited. In this article I have collated some course draw stats to see the current state of draw bias at seven courses.
For this research I have looked at data from the last four seasons (2004 to 2007). I have only considered 5f to 7f handicap races with 10 runners or more and have split the runners into “thirds”. Hence in a 12-runner race, draws 1 to 4 would lie in the bottom “third”, draws 5 to 8 in the middle “third”, and draws 9 to 12 in the top “third”. On a completely fair course the winning percentages for each third should be around 33.3%. I am not saying this is a totally satisfactory way of quantifying draw bias, but it certainly gives you a good idea of the strength of any bias. The reason I have chosen 5 to 7f is basically due to the fact that in general, the shorter the distance, the more likely there is to be a draw bias. The reason I have chosen handicaps is that they are the most reliable type of race for testing draw bias theories.
The courses chosen are simply the first seven courses alphabetically. I have also decided on a minimum number of races which is 15. There is no “magic” figure, but clearly the fewer races there have been, the less confidence you can have in the stats; and vice versa.
Ascot 5f – only 7 races
Ascot 6f – 16 races
Ascot 6½f – only 2 races
Ascot 7f – 22 races
Ascot analysis – it is interesting that the middle third of the draw has the edge at both 6 and 7f, but it is unlikely that this is too significant. For the record, both these distances are run on the straight course at Ascot.
Ayr 5f – 28 races
Ayr 6f – 50 races
Ayr 7f – 30 races
Ayr analysis – the 5 and 6f races are run on the straight course and at 5f it seems that high draws have an advantage. The reason may be that more recently the stalls tend to placed high, and hence high drawn horses are positioned closer to the rail. I would have expected the bias though to be similar over 6f, but that does not seem to be the case. The 5f bias strengthens when the field size increases – for example if you restrict races to 14 or more runners we see that of the 17 handicap races, 10 were won by the top third (58.8%), 4 by the middle third (23.5%) and 3 by the bottom third (17.6%). The 7f distance is run on the round course and with low draws drawn on the inside you would expect them to have an advantage. The stats suggest they may have a small edge, but nothing more.
Bath 5f – 21 races
Bath 5f 161yds – 37 races
Bath analysis – both distances are run on a dog leg with lower draws drawn next to the rail. However, lower draws do not have an advantage despite the configuration of the course. In fact high draws have a definite advantage over 5f which is probably due to the fact that lower draws go off too fast in an attempt to take advantage of the inside rail. The advantage for higher draws over the extended 5f is less strong.
Beverley 5f – 52 races
Beverley 7½f – 34 races
over 5f Beverley has long been considered to give high draws a massive edge. The bias is not as strong as it was in the past, but the stats show that higher draws are still around four times more likely to win than lower draws. The two highest drawn horses have won 18 of the 52 races (34.6%). Over 7½f higher draws have an edge also, and it is fairly strong.
Brighton 5f 59yds – 26 races
Brighton 6f – 20 races
Brighton 7f – 29 races
Brighton analysis – with Brighton being run round a left handed bend, low draws are perceived to best. However, the stats indicate that this is only the case over 6f. It is unclear why this is the case.
Carlisle 5f – only 14 races
Carlisle 6f – 24 races
Carlisle 7f – 21 races
Carlisle analysis – it is perceived that higher draws have an advantage at Carlisle as they are positioned next to the inside rail. In the 14 5f races 7 were won by the top third of the draw. They is probably an advantage to be drawn high over 5 and 6f but the bias is difficult to quantify as data is limited.
Catterick 5f – 37 races
Catterick 6f – 28 races
Catterick 7f – 57 races
Catterick analysis – the 5f trip offers a strong bias in favour of lower draws. This bias is well known, but probably still under estimated. The bias seems stronger the firmer the ground. On good to firm or firmer ground the lowest third of the draw have won 14 races from 23 (60.9%). The 5f trip starts from a chute and arcs left handed, whereas 6 and 7f races are run on the round course. One would have expected a strong bias at both these distances, but this is not the case. A lower draw has been preferable over 7f, whereas middle draws have done bet at 6f.
Although space has only allowed me to discuss seven courses, it is clear that draw bias does still exist. Ayr over 5f, Beverley 5 & 7f, Catterick 5f and somewhat surprisingly Bath 5f all have a significant bias.
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