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Starting Points Revisited

Starting Points Revisited

Most research that is shared reaches an ‘endpoint’ or a conclusion – for example the researcher may finish an article with a ‘winning’ system or method. However, on many occasions these ‘winning systems’ have flaws; it might be because they have 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 future profits is there. In addition, at worst, these raw ideas should offer a good way to narrow down the field.

I wrote a similar article recently using this ‘starting point’ idea, and with so many race types to explore, it seemed sensible to investigate further. The data for this piece has been taken from 2006 to August 22nd 2011.

3yo+/4yo+ selling races

OK, so how many of you bet in sellers? Not many of you I would hazard a guess. Sellers are generally considered to be the lowest grade of race, (which it usually is), so many people steer clear of them for that very reason. However, I believe there is the potential for profit even in selling races; you just need to know what you are looking for.

Firstly let me show a stats breakdown of 3yo+/4yo+ selling races based on official BHB ratings. I have looked at the performance by rank - here are my findings:

BHB Ratings Rank Wins Runs Strike Rate Profit/loss ROI
1-2 320 1303 24.6% -£116.45 -8.9%
3-5 184 1813 10.1% -£415.87 -22.9%
6-8 72 1448 5.0% -£319.25 -22.0%
9+ 24 1016 2.4% -£599.50 -59.0%


By BHB ratings, I am talking about the official handicap marks of the runners concerned. So as you can see the top two ranked runners in terms of official ratings comfortably out-perform all other runners. Hence with a strike rate of close to 1 win in 4, coupled with losses at under 9p in the £, this looks a group of runners to investigate further.

Where to go from here is the question? I only wanted to look at one more filter to avoid to back-fitting scenario. When looking at lower grade races I tend to look at a LTO factor of some sort be it race-type LTO or price LTO. I decided to focus on LTO price. I was hoping to find a pattern, preferably with better results for horses that were shorter prices LTO. Here is a breakdown of what I found:

LTO Price Wins Runs Strike Rate Profit/loss ROI
7/1 or shorter 195 606 32.2% +£17.63 +2.9%
15/2 to 14/1 75 353 21.3% -£65.36 -18.5%
16/1 or bigger 49 340 14.4% -£66.34 -19.5%


The results match the theory which is always positive. So focusing on those runners that were 7/1 or shorter LTO has pushed the top two ranked runners into a small profit. Essentially this gives us a simple starting point from which to work from for 3yo+/4yo+ sellers.

Starting point – 3yo+/4yo+ selling races – horses in top two of the BHB ratings rank (official handicap mark) that were priced 7/1 or shorter LTO

3yo+/4yo+ claiming races

Sticking with a low grade of racing, my focus has moved on to 3yo+/4yo+ claiming races or claimers as they are more fashionably known. Once again I would expect only a small proportion of readers bet in such events, but hopefully I can change your mind!

Fitness seems important in these races as the following table illustrates:

Days since last run Wins Runs Strike Rate Profit/loss ROI
1-7 219 1378 15.9 -£18.11 -1.3
8-14 301 2389 12.6 -£614.19 -25.7
15-28 294 2540 11.6 -£576.50 -22.7
29+ 177 2434 7.3 -£1073.10 -44.1


The strike rates show a clear positive pattern in terms of the shorter the rest, the better. In general the return percentages correlate too. Hence, it seems prudent to focus on runners that are returning to the track within a week of their last run. Losses of just over 1p in the £ is very positive for such a simple filter.

Despite limiting ourselves to horses returning to the track within a week, we have a decent sample of runners numbering just under 1400. The next question is what is the second and last filter I am going to use? I always feel that even in low grade affairs we should be looking for a more consistent type of horse. Hence, I have decided to simply use a position LTO filter. I have split it simply into two – those finishing in the first five LTO, and those finishing 6th or worse. The reasons for making the ‘split’ there was down to the fact that it gave me a similar number of runners for each group, which should aid comparison:

Position LTO Wins Runs Strike Rate Profit/loss ROI
1st-5th 167 729 22.9% +£69.28 +9.5%
6th or worse 52 649 8.0% -£87.39 -13.5%


A better run LTO seems to offer far better results here. Horses that finished in the first five LTO are roughly three times more likely to win than those that finished sixth or worse. In addition there is a difference of 23p in the £ in terms of their return on investment.

Starting point – 3yo+/4yo+ claiming races – horses off the track for 7 days or less that finished in the top five LTO.

3yo only maiden races

The final race-type I am going to look at is 3yo only maiden races. The market is a very good guide to these races, but when we are looking for a starting point, we do not have any market information to hand. We may have some early prices from which to work from, but we can never be sure what the starting prices will end up as. Hence we need to look for a different angle to begin with. Let me look at the BHB ratings angle again, but this time grouping them by their official ratings, rather than by rank. Here are the stats:

BHB rating Wins Runs Strike Rate Profit/loss ROI
75 or more 183 627 29.2% -£1.11 -0.2%
60-74 118 896 13.2% -£317.11 -35.4%
59 or less 12 523 2.3% -£306.25 -58.6%
unrated 709 8019 8.8% -£2781.71 -34.7%


In terms of 3yo only maidens, we can see that a large proportion of runners have no BHB rating. This is either because they are unraced, or they have not had enough runs for a calculation to be made. Their record though is poor so they are best avoided. If we look at those runners who have achieved a BHB rating, we can see that the higher the rating the better. Hence, I am going to focus my attention on those runners that have gained a rating of 75 or more as they have achieved an excellent strike rate and produced a virtual break even situation.

From here there were numerous options, but I decided to compare performance by how far these horses were beaten LTO. In some previous research I found that 2yo maidens that are not beaten far LTO were over-bet; so my theory is that the same will be true for 3yo maidens. Here is what I found:

Beaten distance LTO Wins Runs Strike Rate Profit/loss ROI
3 lengths or less 92 307 30.0% -£54.12 -17.6%
more than 3 lengths 91 316 28.8% +£57.01 +18.0%


Similar strike rates for each group, but the horses beaten more than 3 lengths have proved the better value returning a healthy 18p in the £ profit. The better news is that there has only been one relatively big priced winner (33/1) and even taking that out of the equation, these runners have still made a profit.

Starting point – 3yo only maiden races – horses BHB rated 75 or more that were beaten more than 3 lengths LTO.

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