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Useful Facts

We have a plethora of stats these days for horse racing – for example the Racing Post on line allows you to examine trainers, jockeys, sires and owners in some depth. The more professional punter will probably use some kind of racing database – be it Raceform Interactive, Proform, Racing systems builder or so on. These pieces of software allow you to analyse years of data at the touch of a button.


However, despite all the information, I believe too many of us still have “fixed” ideas about our selection process and the aim of this article is to make you think a little bit more before you make your selections. There are 10 useful facts which I hope can help you improve your long term betting.


One stat worth appreciating in terms of a useful comparison is thus – using a random method of selection (eg. a pin!!) your strike rate would be just over 9%, with losses equating to 28%. In other words, for every 100 points invested, your returns would be 72.

Ok ……….. onto the facts:



1. The sex of a horse makes a difference when carrying a penalty in races of 1 mile or less. Colts and geldings have a far superior record to fillies and mares.


Colts / geldings when carrying a penalty - 585 wins from 3046 runners. This equates to a strike rate of 19.2% for a small loss of 2.5%.


Fillies / mares when carrying a penalty - 182 wins from 1122 runners. This equates to a strike rate of 16.2% for a much bigger loss of 19.8%.


The strike rate of is only 3% greater for colts and geldings, but the loss is considerably less compared with fillies and mares.


Key pointthe betting market still does not take enough notice about the sex of a horse in a race. Males do outperform their female counterparts at all levels.



2. Horses blinkered for the first time is not usually a positive. Indeed it is usually a negative, so do people realise actually realise this?


One would assume that blinkers might work best on 2 year olds. However, the stats are not great:


2 year olds blinkered for the first time - 80 wins from 1279 runners. This equates to a strike rate of 6.3% for a loss of 44.7%.


Key pointhorses blinkered for the first time have a poor record generally; not just 2yos. Do not be fooled that blinkers will improve a horse.



3. Horses that are forecast favourites do considerably better if they actually start as favourite.


Horses that are forecast favourite (Racing Post) and are favourite at the “off ” (favourite at SP) win 34% of their races.


Horses that are forecast favourite (Racing Post) and are not favourite at the “ off ” win only 16.8% of their races.


Looking into these stats in more depth – horses that are forecast favourite and end up outside the top 3 of the betting market at the “off” see their win percentage drop to 9.6%.


Key pointin order to take advantage of this fact one will have to bet very close to the start of the race. However, it should be worth it.



4. Beaten favourites are generally poor investments, but if the horse starts favourite again then their chance of winning increases considerably.


Horses that were beaten favourites last time out and do NOT start favourite on their next start – 2513 wins from 23824 runners. This equates to a strike rate of 10.6% for a loss of 20%.


Horses that were beaten favourites last time out and DO start favourite on their next start – 2442 wins from 7641 runners. This equates to a strike rate of 32% for a loss of just 5.6%.



Key pointclearly, if a beaten favourite starts favourite again, the market must strongly believe there was a genuine reason for its defeat last time.



5. Maidens that are four years old or older are very poor investments. This is especially true if they contest claimers or maidens.


Horses that have failed to win by the age of four are generally poor animals – no surprise there - but they are very poor investments in certain types of race. In claimers for example, they had an awful record winning 3.9% of races for a loss of 51.8%. In maidens, they fare slightly better in terms of strike rate winning 6.1% of races, but losses are very similar at 49.9%.


Key pointif you bet in 3yo+ maidens you should ignore any horse aged 4 or older, unless there is a very good reason not to.



6. Horses that have won at least once in their last six races are considerably better betting propositions than horses that have not won once in their last six races.


The ability to win races is important. Even getting your head in front occasionally at least shows you have got what it takes to win. Horses that have won at least one of their last six races have a strike rate of 11.4%, compared with horses that have not won one of their last six who have a strike rate of 8%.


Key pointeven a win four, five or six runs ago tends to be much more of a positive than people actually realise.



7. Fitness is a key factor. Horses running again within a week outperform horses that have not run for a month or more.


Again perhaps an obvious statement, but do we take this into account enough? Horses running within 7 days of last run have a strike rate of 11.2%, compared with a strike rate of 7.8% for horses that have not run for a month or more.


Key pointthe market does take this fitness fact into account in terms of pricest, but you would still be 8% better off in profit terms by blindly backing horses after a break of 7 days or less rather than horses that have had a break of a month or more.



8. Some punters believe that outsiders will win in their turn, and at bigger odds do offer some value. The stats say different.


Horses priced 33-1 or bigger in the betting forecast and whose starting price is also 33-1 or bigger win roughly 1 race in 141. 393 winners from a massive 55137 qualifiers giving a strike rate of just 0.71% and whacking loss of over 64%.


If you change the odds to 50-1 or more on both counts, the situation not surprisingly gets worse. This equates to a strike rate of drops to 0.35% which equates to 1 win in 286 races. Percentage loss increases to over 74%.


Key pointgenuine outsiders rarely offer any value. Indeed, the vast majority offer appalling value.



9.  Horses chasing a hat-trick of wins are successful only 1 in every 5 races.


Horses going for their third win in a row score 20.5% of the time, but would have loss you over 16% of your money. Hat-trick seekers are much more likely to land the hat trick in low grade races of class 6 or lower. At this level the strike rate improves to 29% and losses are restricted to under 1%.


Key point – Hat trick seekers are poor value except at the lowest level.



10. Some people believe being a course winner is a strong positive. However, the stats do not back this up.


Horses that have previously won at the course have a strike rate of 11.1% for losses of 23.7%. Horses that have previously won a race, but are not a course winner have a lower strike rate of 9.4% but losses are actually slightly less at 22.8%.


Key point – previous course winners have a better strike rate than non course winners, but they offer no better value.

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