by David Renham (February 2006)
This month I have updated an earlier article I wrote and have also uncovered more statistics that will give you more chance of finding that winning bet, or more importantly avoiding a losing one. I have tried to look at some more unusual angles, that people may not be so aware of. I have used data from 1986 to 2005 :
1. The sex of a horse makes a difference when carrying a penalty. Colts and geldings have a far superior record to fillies and mares.
Colts / geldings when carrying a penalty - 1855 wins from 9410 runners. Strike rate 19.7% for a small loss of 4.8%.
Fillies / mares when carrying a penalty - 620 wins from 3610 runners. Strike rate 17.2% for a much bigger loss of 17.0%.
The strike rate is only 2.5% greater for colts and geldings, but the loss is considerably less compared with fillies and mares.
2. Horses blinkered for the first time are known to be poor investments. But do people realise how poor they really are?
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 - 247 wins from 3967 runners. Strike rate 6.2% for a loss of 44.1%.
2 year olds do have a better strike rate than older horses, but the overall loss is remarkably similar.
4 year olds or older blinkered for the first time - 222 wins from 4726 runners. Strike rate 4.7% for a loss of 43.7%.
3. Races with no last time out winners are less competitive than those with 5 or more last time out winners.
This fact looks logical, but do people take this into account when betting?
Backing the favourite in a race with no last time out winners gave the following results - Strike rate 28.5% for a loss of only 8.5%.
Backing the favourite in a race with 5 or more last time out winners gave the following results - Strike rate 21.7% for a loss of 17.5%.
4. Horses that are forecast favourites do considerably better if they actually start as favourite.
Horses that are forecast favourite and are favourite at the “off ” (favourite at SP) win 34.5% of their races.
Horses that are forecast favourite and are not favourite at the “ off ” win only 17.8% of their races.
Looking into this is more depth – horses that are forecast favourite and end up NOT in the top 3 of the betting market at the “off” see their win percentage drop to 9.9%.
5. Horses having their first or second run of the season perform much more poorly than horses that are having their 5th, 6th or 7th start of the season.
This should not be a major surprise, but there is a bigger difference in the profit/loss figures than one might imagine.
Horses that are having their first or second run of the season - strike rate 8.2% for a loss of 39.2%.
Horses having their 5th, 6th or 7th run of the season - strike rate 10% for a loss of 25.1%.
6. 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 - strike rate 11.4% for a loss of 18.5%.
Horses that were beaten favourites last time out and DO start favourite on their next start - strike rate 33.7% for a loss of just 5.6%.
Clearly, if a beaten favourite is favourite again, the market must strongly believe there was a genuine reason for its defeat last time.
7. Maidens that are four years old or older are very poor investments. This is especially true if they contest sellers or claimers.
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 3.65% of races for a loss of 56.6%. In sellers, they fare slightly better winning 4.4% of races for a loss of 50.3%.
8. 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 12%, compared with horses that have not won one of their last six who have a strike rate of 7.8%.
9. Fitness is a key factor. Horses running again within a week outperform horses that have not run for 4 ½ weeks 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 7.7% for horses that have not run for 4 ½ weeks or more.
10. 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 161.
377 winners from a massive 61291 qualifiers giving a strike rate of 0.62% and whacking loss of over 70%. If you change the odds to 50-1 or more on both counts, the situation not surprisingly gets worse. Strike rate drops to 0.34% which equates to 1 win in 294 races. Percentage loss increases to over 75%.