Articles >> horse-racing >>

Starting Points

Starting Points

Most research that is shared reaches an ‘endpoint’ or a conclusion – for example the researcher ends the article with a ‘winning’ system or method. However, too often these ‘winning systems’ have flaws; it might be because of too many filters, which essentially has given a positive result through back-fitting. Back-fitting is a real problem when researching systems and it is what often gives racing systems a bad name. However, in this article I am going to focus on starting points – raw ideas that have the potential to produce winning systems or winning methods. I will be looking at a selection of specific race types and highlight some ideas that merit further investigation. They may not at this initial stage be profitable, but the potential for profits is there. In addition, at worst, these raw ideas should offer a good way to narrow down the field. The data for this piece has been taken from 2006 onwards.

3yo only claiming races

OK, so how many of you bet in 3yo only claimers? Not many of you I would hazard a guess. However, I believe there is money to be made in all race-types; you just need to know what you are looking for.

Firstly let me show a stats breakdown of 3yo claiming races based on official BHB ratings. The results are worth sharing:

BHB Ratings Wins Runs Strike Rate Profit/loss ROI
65 and above 191 848 22.5% -£109.38 -12.9%
64 and below 124 1629 7.6% -£622.11 -38.2%


Essentially therefore, the higher rated horses (rated 65 or more) are three times more likely to win than the lower rated horses. Also in terms of returns, you will have lost 25p in the £ less backing the higher rated horses. This is a good starting point when looking at 3yo claimers – it seems you can confidently eliminate runners rated 64 and below. These runners will of course win occasionally, but the higher rated runners are the ones to concentrate on.

Where to go from here is the question? When looking at lower grade races I often look at the race type LTO. I feel this often has a bearing on future results. Here is a breakdown of what I found:

Race type LTO Wins Runs Strike Rate Profit/loss ROI
Claiming races 61 259 23.6% -£57.42 -22.2%
Handicap races 106 447 23.7% -£17.59 -3.9%
Selling races 10 63 15.9% -£27.22 -43.2%
Maiden races 16 67 23.9% +£9.55 +14.3%


The good news from a research point of view is that these results have not been skewed by big prices winners – only 4 winners have been priced in double figures with the biggest price being only 16/1. This means we can have more confidence in the figures.

As we can see horses that raced in a seller LTO have a poor record with a much lower strike rate and losses of 43p in the £. The other three LTO race types have virtually identical strike rate rates, but horses coming from claimers have lost 22p in the £. Compare this to losses of 4p in the £ for runners coming from handicaps and a profit of 14p in the £ for horses coming from maidens.

Hence for 3yo claiming races if we focus on runners BHB rated 65 or higher who raced in a maiden or a handicap LTO we get the following breakdown: 122 winners from 514 runners (SR 23.7%) for a small loss of £8.04 (ROI -1.6%). Essentially this gives us a break even starting point from which to work from.

Starting point – 3yo only claiming races – horses BHB rated 65 or more and ran in a handicap or maiden LTO.

2yo maiden races

Let me move on now onto 2yo maiden races. These races tend to fairly uncompetitive with short priced runners dominating. However, trying to make a profit is still extremely difficult as the winning prices tend to be short. A more interesting starting point is to look at the price of runners LTO. Here is the breakdown.

SP LTO Wins Runs Strike Rate Profit/loss ROI
2/1 or less 341 1171 29.1% -£101.33 -8.7%
9/4 to 9/2 636 3018 21.1% -£627.69 -20.8%
5/1 to 8/1 658 3771 17.5% -£603.80 -16.0%
17/2 or bigger 1425 18112 7.9% -£6861.28 -37.9%


The first point to note is that the bigger the price LTO, the lower the strike rate. Looking in more detail, it seems best to focus on those runners that started 2/1 or shorter LTO, as not only have they the best strike rate, but also losses have been kept to under 9p in the £.

From here I could have looked at numerous angles, but wanted to compare performance by how far these horses were beaten LTO. My perception is that 2yo maidens that are not beaten far LTO are over-bet; especially when they were fancied to run well. Here is what I found:

Beaten distance LTO Wins Runs Strike Rate Profit/loss ROI
3 lengths or less 214 671 31.9% -£100.73 -15.0%
more than 3 lengths 127 500 25.4% -£0.60 -0.1%


Fortunately the results back up my thinking. Although the strike rate or horses beaten 3 lengths or less is better than those beaten by more than 3 lengths, the returns do indicate that the runners that finished closer last time are indeed over-bet. Hence we have a virtual break even situation to work from again using two straight-forward filters:

Starting point – 2yo maiden races – horses priced 2/1 or shorter LTO that were beaten by over 3 lengths

3yo only turf handicap races – class 3 or higher

The better class 3yo turf handicap races are the final port of call for this article. I have excluded the higher class all weather handicaps as they make up less than 8% of all such handicaps.

The first thing to note about the better class of 3yo handicap is the bias towards the horses at the top of the handicap. To illustrate this let us look a breakdown of the weight carrying stats:

Weight carried Wins Runs Strike Rate Profit/loss ROI
9st 1lb or more 313 2418 12.9% -£259.07 -10.7%
8st 8lb – 9st 236 2551 9.3% -£668.56 -26.2%
8st 7lb or less 97 1540 6.3% -£539.21 -35.0%


It should be noted that the higher the weight carried in a handicap, the better the class of horse. It seems therefore in the higher class of 3yo turf handicaps the better horses prevail more often – the extra weight they shoulder does not seem slow them down as much the official handicapper would like. Hence horses carrying 9st 1l or more look worth concentrating on.

Having watched numerous top 3yo handicaps over the years, I wondered if there was an edge ignoring the most competitive of the races. How to quantify ‘the most competitive races’ was the problem. I did not want to use race value, as this effectively was splitting the races by class. I decided therefore to split the results by grade of track. I split the results into two – those handicaps that were run at A Grade 1 track and those that were not. For the record there are 8 Grade 1 tracks in this country – Ascot, Doncaster, Epsom, Goodwood, Newbury, Newmarket, Sandown and York. So here are the results for horses carrying 9st 1lb or more in terms of grade of track:

Course Grade Wins Runs Strike Rate Profit/loss ROI
1 135 1403 9.6% -£342.00 -24.4%
2-4 178 1015 17.5% +£82.93 +8.2%


Wow! A huge difference in the results – the higher weighted runners have no edge whatsoever at Grade 1 tracks, but in the ‘less competitive’ contests outside those 8 courses they seem to have a strong edge. Indeed a blind profit could have been made backing all such runners at courses graded 2, 3 and 4. Whether this profit would be made in the future is debateable; however what is clear, is that we have a good starting point for top class 3yo turf handicaps:

Starting point – 3yo turf handicap races (class 3 or higher) – horses carrying 9st1lb or more racing at Grade 2-4 tracks.

Free Registration
Free Horse Racing System
Racing Research
Racing Report Vault
Flat Racing Trainer Report
Horse Racing Research Articles
Bookmakers & Odds
Bookmakers and Free Bets
Odds Comparison
Top Link Partners