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The result of the 2000 Guineas produced quite a few tweets from supposed ‘experts' about their being a track bias, simply because the first 2 home were drawn 17 and 19 in a 19-runner race. It was another great example of recency bias, with people overreacting to a recent event, or not backing the winner, or perhaps both. There was actually no ‘rail' or ‘track' bias in that race. The first two home simply tracked the leader into the final furlong, Shine So Bright, ridden by a jockey who loves to ride prominently in Silvestre De Sousa, as pointed out in this excellent Jockey Pace Profiles article on GeeGeez by Dave Renham.

The winner was also a Group 1 winning colt, well-bred, from a stable who can farm this race, who raced up with the pace. The fact is that the 3rd, 4th and 5th were drawn 3-1-5. Some people poo-pooed the form, simply because the 2nd was low on official ratings, however these ratings are based on a limited number of runs most of the time, horses can improve markedly from 2 to 3 and people are swayed by the below-par performance of horses prominent in the market, notably the favourite Ten Sovereigns who is bred for speed and was a crazy price simply based on that alone. I expect her to drop back in trip.

The ‘bias theory' was blown out of the water by the next day's 1000 Guineas where the first 5 were drawn 4-8-6-7-1 and the Group-winner made virtually all, again those drawn low benefiting this time from being where the pace was throughout. I actually backed Just Wonderful based on stats, breeding and her run can be marked up, after missing the break, being given a lot to do, wandering, running green and being closest at the finish from stall 15. She will be of interest in the Oaks, although that awkward head carriage and wandering would be a concern, headgear may help.

I largely discount the draw and pace from most of my pre-race analysis, apart from getting a sense of how a race ‘may' be run but here is the thing, a bit like stock-market trading, past performance is no guarantee of future success. Front-runners can blow the start, particularly in sprint races, riding instructions and style of jockey can change race to race and we can never tell how even, or uneven, a tracks watering policy is.

There are far more relevant stats like breeding, trainer course and recent form, jockey style and the horse's suitability to conditions, course, going, distance, class that are far more important to examine than the actual draw itself, which is more chaotic and cannot be accurately predicted, apart from by a few ‘experts' or ‘sectional analysts' AFTER the event, which is of no use in the future as every race is a unique event with different horses, course configurations, going, trainer form varies etc etc.

Some of my best returns over the years have come on supposedly ‘badly' drawn horses who have more in their favour and what turns out to be a ‘bad' or ‘good' draw pre-race is actually no such thing if the pace is favoured where your selection is running – that cannot be accurately predicted so it's best avoided in most race analysis.

There are of course a few exceptions…

CHESTER 5f SPRINTS

Perfect timing for this analysis with Chester May festival starting this week.

Low draws in Chester 5f sprints are often considered gold dust, however, the market has caught onto this anomoly and I believe a lot of runners from Stall 1 in sprints at Chester, either don't have a front-running profile to take advantage of this ‘actual' bias, or simply blow the start.

Backing Stall 1 blindly in 5f sprints with 6+ runners at Chester is a road to the poor house as you can see from this chart from the excellent GeeGeez Gold Query Tool -:

Now, if we look at stall 2 at Chester in 5 sprints we can see things are a little different, perhaps able to sit in just behind the pace, or get to the front over Stall1. The overall strike-rate is better and they are profitable, although the last 2 years have seen a reduction in profitability.

Let's take a look at the actual record of Stall 1 and Stall 2 in 5F sprints since 2009, focusing on the GeeGeez pace scores.

We can see that front-runners that produce a pace score of 4.00 at Chester from both stall 1 and stall 2 are highly profitable.

First the pace figures of stall 1 and we can see that those that make all have a 36% strike-rate with a +43pts profit, ROI of 86% and an A/E of 1.62 indicating that they win 62% more often than their odds suggest, with a huge Impact Value of 3.09. All other runners are unprofitable, indicating that a horse NEEDS to make all from stall 1 to be profitable, so you better be sure of this pre-race.

Now, lets look at Stall 2 over 5f at Chester -:

We can see that the strike-rates of those with a pace figure of 2 and 3 exceed those with the same pace figure from Stall 1 in these races. They are also profitable and it's notable that a runner drawn in Stall 2 that makes all, actually has a higher strike-rate of 46%, higher ROI of 102%, A/E of 2.07 and Impact Value of 4.02.

So, it's worth taking a look at just some of these winners from Stall 1 and 2 that produced a pace figure of 4 when winning.

We can see the biggest profits came in 2014 (54% S/R) and 2018 (50% S/R). Lets examine these winners a little closer. Of the 6 winners in 2014, only 2 of them had the highest pace figure in the race pre-race. However, all 6 winners, had the highest pace figure from those drawn in stall 1 or 2.

The results were a bit more mixed last year but 2 of the 4 winners, including the two highest priced, had the highest or joint highest pace figures pre-race.

So, how can we use this at Chester in 5 sprints. Well, there are 2 options as far as I can see it. Now, the following 2 approaches are for those who subsequently made all.

1) BACK the highest pre-race PACE figured runner from Stall 1 and Stall 2 in Chester 5f Sprints

2) BACK the highest PRICED runner from stall 1 or stall 2 in Chester 5f sprints

Here are what the two approaches would have resulted in since 2009 -:

1) 8/19 (43% S/R) with a +24pts profit and 126% Yield

2) 4/19 (21% S/R) with a +13pts profit and 70% Yield

So clearly, a big advantage to backing whichever runner from Stall 1 or 2 records the highest POST-race pace figure. We can probably filter this a bit further by avoiding 2yo races, where there may not be established pace figures, or horses are having their first ever run.

However, we need to be sure that these runners will make all the running, and there is absolutely no guarantee of that. To prove this point, I've looked at ALL the qualifiers that races in 5f sprints at Chester, picked ALL the qualifiers from Stall1 and 2 and compared those with a higher pace figure PRE-race to those with a lower figure pre-race, since 2015.

HIGHEST PRE-RACE PACE FIGURE 15/66 (23% SR), -3.92pts, -6% Yield
LOWEST PRE-RACE PACE FIGURE 20/66 (30% SR), +30.86pts, +47% Yield

So, this is a fairly small sample size BUT we can see that perhaps too much emphasis is placed on the higher pre-race PACE figure in 5 sprints at Chester. Not only is the strike-rate higher but the profit is significantly better.

There is also too much emphasis placed on the lower stalls at Chester, and ignoring a strong pace runner. For example, I looked at the highest PACE runner in the entire race, where there were two tied on the same pace figure, I broke them by draw – the highest paced-lowest drawn runner and the highest paced-highest drawn runner.

HIGHEST PACE – LOWEST DRAW 4/66 (6% S/R) -36.42pts -55% Yield
HIGHEST PACE – HIGHEST DRAW 10/66 (15% S/R) +24.45pts +47% Yield

CHESTER SUMMARY

Stall 1 and 2 do well at Chester in 5f sprints, but we should pay more attention to the lowest PACE runner pre-race of those from stall 1 or 2 and perhaps be wary of short-priced runners in stall 1.

Similarly, we should be contrarian and ignore the draw, considering the highest PACED runner in these races. in the event of more than one qualifier, give preference to the highest-drawn runner, as they will often go off at a value price. Occasionally, these two methods will produce the same selection, but not often.

You could back qualifiers using these two approaches in Chester 5f sprints and show over +50pts profit with a 41% Yield over the last 4 years.

SANDOWN PARK SPRINTS

I thought it would be interesting to look at this approach at a few other tracks that favour low-drawn runners in sprints, starting with Sandown. Stall 1 and 2 in 5f sprints at Sandown both show a 17% win strike-rate, 39% place record and are profitably backed blindly. This outperforms other stalls in these races by quite some way, apart from an anomaly in stall 8 due to a big priced winner or two.

What is interesting with Sandown, when we look at just stall 1 and 2 in sprints, is the performance of those the subsequent PACE scores. Real hold-up runners (pace score of 1) from these two stalls may struggle at Sandown with just a 7% S/R, but those who race in-behind (pace score of 2) beat those who race prominently (pace score of 3) who in turn outperform front-runners (pace score of 4). It makes sense due to the uphill finish at the course, where front-runners may tire quicker than those given cover and produced with a late run from just in behind the pace. However, if you just avoid those real hold up runners from stall 1 and 2, then it's likely you could show a profit.

So let's have a look at these Stall 1/2 runners in more detail in Sandown sprints. Now, to save some time I've only looked at the winners since 2015 but it's interesting. Chester has shown us that for stalls 1 and 2, you may wish to consider the lower-paced runner from the pair, which perhaps goes against a bit of the crowd who think they need to get to the front early.

Similarly with the Stalls 1 and 2 at Sandown, and a lower pace figure recorded, holding sway, you may think it be best to have a lower PACE figure pre-race, when in actual fact it's not the case.

Now bearing in mind, we are looking at the winners only since 2015, it's interesting that when choosing between the two then the lowest pace runner would have a 50% record (12/24) while the highest pace runner would have a 65% record (16/24). The disparagy is because there are instances where they have the exact same pace figure but the lowest pace runner gives us +47pts profit (195%) while the highest gives us +65pts (272%) – bearing in mind these are just winners we are looking at.

 

GOODWOOD SPRINTS

Goodwood is another track where in sprints it pays to be drawn low, this time I'll look at both 5f and 6f sprints. The bottom 2 stalls are profitable but not quite as much as the other 2 tracks, stall 1 has a 14% S/R (14% Yield), stall 2 has a 13% S/R (4% Yield).

So let's focus on the bottom 2 stalls there over 5f and 6f and look at what PACE scores the winners produce.

An interesting conundrum here. While hold-up runners have the highest Yield at 40%, those that have a pace figure of 2 in the race have a poor 4.73% strike-rate and lose a ton. This is where GeeGeez Gold comes into it's own as we can look at the winners that recorded a pace figure of 1 and see that the results are skewed by a 100/1 2yo winner back in 2017, otherwise they would be running at a loss. So, I would say the pace figure of 3 & 4 are the most relevant, indicating a favouring for prominent or front-runners drawn in the stalls 1 or 2 at Goodwood over 5f and 6f sprint trips.

So I looked back at all the winners since 2014 from stalls 1 and 2 to see if a higher or lower pace figure was favoured. Fact is that there was not much in it with lower pre-race pace horses from stall 1 or 2 having a 53% S/R with a +192pts profit and 481% Yield and higher pre-race pace horses having a 63% S/R with a +207pts profit and 518% Yield. Both approaches found the 100/1 winner, simply because both horses in stall 1 and 2 were in a 2yo race and unraced so would both be backed. Even without that big-priced winner we are looking at +93pts or +108pts profit  with 240% Yield or 278%, which is highly respectable. I would just favour the extra 10% strike-rate and 37% Yield of looking at those with the highest pre-race PACE figure.

OVERALL SUMMARY

Ultimately, you should discount the draw at most tracks, apart from the few cases mentioned above, it's far too overplayed and given far more significance pre-race than it should be by supposed experts and pundits to try to sound clever. Similarly, you should also pay less attention to PACE figures pre-race and perhaps look at other factors when analysing a horse race. The crowd is latching onto DRAW and PACE nowadays but they are often reflected in the odds and are overplayed as a significant factor in analysing the likely winner of a horse race. Pay more attention to breeding, horse form and suitability to current race conditions, trainer recent and course form and less-so for jockeys as any jockey can win, or lose a race, on any given day, given the right circumstances.

Making a profit in horse racing involves being contrarian, considering value and other more predictable factors than draw and pace, which are overplayed.

Follow the following at the following 3 tracks -:

CHESTER 5F SPRINTS

1) Back the horse with the LOWEST pre-race PACE figure from stall 1 and 2.
2) Back the HIGHEST PACE figure runner, where ties, select the one from the HIGHEST DRAW.

Sandown 5F SPRINTS

1) Back the horse with the HIGHEST pre-race PACE figure from stall 1 and 2.

Goodwood 5F and 6F SPRINTS

1) Back the horse with the HIGHEST pre-race PACE figure from stall 1 and 2.

You can perform all this research and more using GeeGeez Gold and add in watchlists, ratings and filters using the Query Tool to automatically flag your own system qualifiers. Get a 1-Month trial for £1 below.