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York – A Study Of Draw And Pace
York – A Study Of Draw And Pace
In my latest article I combined my draw bias roots with my more recent interest of pace / running styles. There I looked at Pontefract; for this piece I am going to look at another Northern course York.
York is a Grade 1 track and is often described as the Goodwood of the North. It is a picturesque course which stands in the south west of the city. The racecourse is around 2 miles in length in the shape of what resembles a U, and it has a long run-in of nearly 5 furlongs. Over the sprint distances of 5 and 6 furlongs they race on the straight course, the 7f distance starts from a ‘spur’ or a chute and they do race round one bend; from 1 mile upwards they race on the round course. It should be noted though that the 1m 6f distance starts with a 2 furlong straight run before they join the main course.
York has always been considered to be a fair track and when I was studying draw bias ‘24-7’ back in the late 90s and early 2000s the mile trip offered a decent low bias, but other than that there was little to report. The sprint trips in those days looked very even with little bias. However, I have noticed more recently that a sprint draw bias has started to appear so I am hoping the stats back this up.
For this article, as with the last one, I am using key tools on Geegeez.co.uk; namely the Draw Analyser, Pace Analyser and the Query Tool. The initial period of study is a long one – going back to 2009, but I will examine more recent data in detail too (2015 to 2019) where appropriate. I will also check other variables including ground conditions and will
I will focus once again on 8+ runner handicaps only.
From a draw perspective, when analysing each handicap race, I will be dividing the draw into three sections (low, middle, high). This how the Geegeez Draw Analyser does it and has always been my favoured method too. It should also be noted that I also adjust the draw positions when there are non runners – for example if the horse drawn 6 is a non runner, then the horse drawn 7 becomes drawn 6, draw 10 becomes 9 and so on.
The differences in the percentages will help to determine the strength of the bias and given a level playing field one would expect the win percentages to be around 33% of each third. The more races in a sample the better – sounds obvious, but with any data set there is an element of randomness. If you have ever tossed a coin a few times you should appreciate this. Right let’s crack on with the 5f data:
York 5 furlongs (8 + runner handicaps)
Since 2009 there have been 105 qualifying races during the period of study. I have included races over 5 and a half furlongs of which there of which there were 21. Here are the overall draw splits:
These figures suggest a modest low draw bias over the longer term. The A/E values below back up this theory:
For the record, if you had bet every horse from the bottom third of the draw at £1 per bet you would have roughly broken even – a loss to SP of 50 pence over 523 bets to be precise!
Time to look at each individual draw position broken down:
Draws 2, 4 and 5 have made a profit to SP and all have A/E values above 1.00 again indicating a low draw edge. It is time to look at some more recent data so will focus in on the last 5 seasons (2015-2019). Here are the win percentages for each third over this more recent time span:
The low draw bias has strengthened in the last 5 years according to these percentages and when we look at individual draw positions:
Once again draws 2, 3 and 5 have proved to be profitable and if we combine the results of draws 1 to 5 they produce a positive overall A/E value of 1.09; compare this to draws 12 and above that combine for an A/E value of only 0.43. Low draws definitely have been in the ascendency since 2015, although it should be said that 2019 was more even in terms of the draw. It is unclear to me having dug deeper whether the going has any great importance. I cannot find a strong enough pattern to elaborate on and I don’t wish to clutter up the article with relatively worthless stats as it is quite extensive as it is. Likewise the bias is consistent in terms of field size – low draws have had a similar edge in smaller fields of 8 to 10 as they have in bigger fields stretching across the track of say 17 runners or more.
Let me look at pace and running styles now. Here are the overall figures (2009-19):
A definite edge for front runners here. This pace bias seems marginally stronger on ground conditions of good or firmer. Looking at big field 5f handicaps (16 + runners) the IVs suggest a decent strengthening of the front running bias and it also looks harder for hold up horses too:
Now a look at draw / pace (running style) combinations for front runners in these 5f races:
These figures are extremely interesting. For a straight course to see one third of the draw (low) with a figure of over 50% is unusual. Only Sandown over the straight 5f sees similar stats – the average % for all straight courses for low drawn runners taking the early lead is around 36%. You would expect 5f races round run a bend to have high figures like this for the bottom third leading early, as lower drawn runners should find it easy to get to the inside rail. I cannot really explain these figures.
Hence the combination of a low draw coupled with good early pace, or at least the ability to hold a position early, looks extremely important over 5f here.
York 6 furlongs (8 + runner handicaps)
There have been 112 qualifying races going back to 2009. Here are the overall draw splits:
A very even split which does not correlate with the 5f stats. However, I have a feeling that the more recent stats will show a draw bias, but more of that later.
The A/E values are what one would expect given the win percentages:
A look again at individual draw positions and how they have fared over this time frame:
This table is a good example of how random data can actually be, and that individual draw positions often show this randomness. 15 wins for draw 3 and a £93 profit; 5 wins for draw 2 and losses of £41.50 are a good illustration of this.
I intimated earlier that I expected to see a draw bias when studying more recent 6f handicap data. Here are the draw splits for the last 5 seasons where have been 51 qualifying races:
As expected, the recent data points to a very strong looking low draw bias, with high draws having really struggled. When we split by draw we do see less ‘random’ looking data:
Draws 2 to 5 have all been profitable to SP and all have very positive A/E values. This gives more confidence in terms of there being a decent bias here.
Let us now look at A/E values in a slightly different way – I am going to split the data by draws 1 to 5, then 6 to 10 and finally 11 or higher:
This really accentuates the low draw edge and I am fairly confident this is a bias we can potentially use to our advantage when the season gets started again. Before I move on to pace data, I want to share with you the result of the last qualifying handicap race run on 12th October 2019. It was the Coral Sprint Trophy with 22 runners; the first eight finishing positions were drawn as follows: 1st (5), 2nd (4), 3rd (10), 4th (3), 5th (2), 6th (1), 7th (8) and 8th (7). Seven of the first eight home were drawn in single figures and all were drawn in the bottom half of the draw. For record the last 5 horses’ home (placed 18th to 22nd) were drawn 22, 19, 14, 17 and 18 respectively. This race demonstrates how strong the bias can be. Now, not all races fit this pattern, and high draws will have their ‘day’, but in recent years it is clear that in general lower drawn horses have enjoyed a significant edge.
As with 5f data there is the going makes no difference to the stats; field size possibly though does have small effect with very big fields (17+) as the low draw win percentage edges up to 59%. However, only 22 races so a limited sample which tempers enthusiasm.
Now a look pace and running styles now. Here are the overall figures going back to 2009:
A really significant edge for front runners – much stronger than over 5f which is unusual. Normally as the distance increases the edge for front runners decreases. This pace bias has actually been even stronger in the last 5 years – front runners have won around 30% of all races from 2015 with an IV of 4.06 and an A/E value of 2.92.
Now a look at draw / pace (running style) combinations for front runners in 6f handicaps (2009 – 2019):
These are virtually a carbon copy of the 5f figures. Once again lower drawn horses lead far more than you would expect. As before this is difficult to explain and unfortunately I can’t. However what we can say is that 5 and 6f handicaps at York in recent years have strongly favoured lower drawn runners from a draw perspective. In addition front runners seem to have a very strong edge too and they are more likely to lead if drawn low.
York 7 furlongs (8 + runner handicaps)
There have been 94 qualifying races over 7f. Remember this distance is run round a bend starting from a chute:
Middle draws have had the highest percentage of winners but the figures in reality are quite even especially when I tell you that lower draws have the best win and placed combined record. Ultimately this looks a very fair C & D in terms of the draw. I think some people may have expected lower draws to have a slight edge but I am not sure the initial chute plays into their hands.
The A/E values do suggest though that for win purposes middle draws have offered some value during this 11 year period:
The last 5 seasons have seen a similar pattern with a fairly even playing with arguably middle draws again doing best winning around 44% of all races.
Let us now look at each individual draw and their stats since 2009:
A few stalls have proved profitable, but unlikely this will be replicated in the future as there is no real pattern to it. It is interesting to note that the very highest draws (16 to 20) have provided just 1 winner from 121 runners. Hence in big field contests it looks best to avoid the very highest draws.
In terms of going it seems that higher draws struggle when the going gets on the easy side. On good to softer or softer the draw splits are as follows:
The A/E values for good to soft or softer correlate thus:
Now it should be stated that there has been only 28 races on this softer type of going, so far too small a sample to be completely confident in. However, the win and placed stats are also very poor for higher draws suggesting that it is certainly possible that this hypothesis has some validity. York as a course rarely gets soft or heavy and only 8 races have had that going in the last 11 years. However, worth sharing with you that of the 28 win and placed horses, only 3 came from high draws (11 from low, 14 from middle).
From a draw perspective then you would probably prefer a middle draw over anything else. Higher draws seem to struggle in going softer than good, and very high draws struggle all the time.
Onto to pace and running styles now. Here are the overall stats:
Front runners have a very slight edge but ultimately there seems no strong pace angle here over 7f. As the ground softens it seems that front runners and horses that track the pace start to have more of an edge, but as mentioned above the limited sample of 28 races on good to soft or softer would temper confidence in the figures.
Finally let me examine the draw / pace (running style) combinations for front runners in 7f handicaps:
Low draws are more likely to lead as they are closest to the inside. However, I eluded to earlier that the starting chute may actually help lower draws and it maybe that occasionally horses get snatched up on the inside.
To conclude 7f offers draw and pace punters no significant edge, or so it seems.
York 1 mile (8 + runner handicaps)
Onto the 1 mile trip – the distance that I am expecting to see a relatively strong low draw bias as traditionally this has been the case. The configuration of the track does favour horses that can get close to the inside rail because horses start to turn left after around 1 furlong and then there is another quite sharp left turn after around 3 furlongs.
There have been 71 qualifying races going back to 2009:
The raw stats clearly favour lower drawn horses. Middle draws are next best and in turn have an edge over higher draws who look to be quite disadvantaged. The A/E values help back up the raw win percentages:
This increases one’s confidence in the bias.
Looking at the going the bias is less strong on very fast ground (good to firm or firmer), but on good ground or softer low draws have prevailed in 27 of the 45 races (SR 60%).
So to the individual draw data now:
Looking at the lowest six draws as a whole they paint a relatively strong picture. Clearly not all six stalls were going to be profitable but you only have to look at wins, strike rate and A/E values to see these figures are strong in terms of their grouping. Combining all these stalls would have seen a small 3p in the £ loss backing all 426 runners ‘blind’, and their combined A/E value is an impressive 1.15. Compare this to draws 7 to 12 whose A/E value is just 0.35 and backing all runners ‘blind’ would have lost you over 61p in the £.
Time to check out more recent data to see whether the bias has been as strong over the past five seasons (2015-2019). There have been 34 qualifying races giving the following draw stats:
These stats mirror the 11 year data so the bias seems as strong as ever. Time to share the individual draw data for the last 5 seasons:
Again stalls 1 to 6 are the group of draws that we are drawn to (sorry about the pun!!). Their combined A/E value stands at 1.20 and you would have made a small profit backing all runners drawn 1 to 6 to the tune of 7p in the £. For real system punters out there backing horses drawn 1 to 6 that were also in the top six in the betting would have yielded 22 winners from 111 runners for a profit of £46.96 (ROI +42.3). Now I am not an advocate of systems but this illustrates how some punters could theoretically have made money over this C&D over the past 5 seasons.
The going stats noted earlier in the 11 year data is essentially the same here with the more recent data set. 59% of races on good or softer ground have been won by the bottom third of the draw (low).
A look at the pace / running styles figures next:
A small edge for front runners and generally the closer to the pace you are the better. Front runners seem to enjoy a stronger edge as the ground gets firmer as the following table shows:
Data is limited which we must take into account of course. That is why I have added the placed stats too.
So onto the draw / pace (running style) combinations for front runners in 1 mile handicaps:
Higher draws lead less often as one would expect, but I am surprised middle drawn horses have led slightly more often than lower draws.
To conclude, the mile trip shows a strong low draw bias and from a punting perspective this gives us a potential edge. This is especially so due to the A/E values being strong. The betting market has not taken the bias into account enough in recent times.
York 1 mile 1f (8 + runner handicaps)
The final distance I wish to look at, but will only look at this briefly as there have only been 26 qualifying races in the last 11 years. With data is so limited I am simply going to share the very basic stats. Here are the draw splits:
Low draws seem to have a very strong edge. My guess is that it would not be this strong with a much bigger sample of races, but as the distance is only 1 furlong more than a mile, one would expect low draws to still comfortably hold sway. Here are the A/E values:
These correlate with the draw percentages as one would expect. For the record draw 3 has provided 10 of the 26 winners!
Pace wise only 2 of the 26 races have been won by front runners with an A/E value of 0.93. Prominent runners have enjoyed the most success from the small data set and have won 13 races with an A/E of 1.55.
I think it may make sense to group this distance with the 1 mile data in the future, but that is for another time.
To conclude, York is a course where the draw clearly plays a part – knowing where these biases potentially exist should help us with our battle to make that elusive long term profit. Pace wise the sprint distances of 5 and 6f do offer a good front running edge.
Hopefully you have found this article useful and now it’s time to look at my next course!
This article first appeared on the excellent GeeGeez.co.uk
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