What makes a horse win or lose?

Hmm, if we knew the answer, we’d all be millionaires, Rodney!

Although there are numerous factors which affect whether a horse will win or lose, let’s simplify matters…

I think there are three factors which determine whether a horse will win or lose a particular race and these three factors are… (Drum roll please!)

  1. The trainer and his form.
  2. The jockey and his form.
  3. The horse and his form over going, distance and course.

‘Simples’, as my close showbiz meerkat pals would say.

There is actually a free resource which can give you a statistical heads up on these three factors which may affect a horse’s performance.

Head on over to www.racingpost.com. Click on cards – today’s cards. Choose a meeting and then ‘Show all racecards for this meeting on one page’.

Once on the race cards page, scroll down to the ‘More Info’ section and click on ‘STATS’. You’ll see the following:

We have stats here by trainer, by Jockey and by horse.

The above table shows us jockey’s and trainer’s recent form (over 14 days) and their overall form. The table also shows horses and how they have performed over today’s projected going, distance and course.

For the layers amongst you, we want to see a jockey and trainer with a low winning percentage, and a horse who has a terrible record at the going, distance and course.

I like to start by horse. In the above table, check out Call of Duty. Only four wins in 22 runs on today’s going. Not only that, but Call of Duty has not won in 17 runs over today’s distance and has won only once in 19 races at today’s course. You know the old adage ‘horses for courses’? This does not quite apply to Call of Duty does it?

After you have found a horse with a terrible record over course, distance and going, check out the stats for the horse’s trainer and jockey.

In this case, Dianne Sayer was the trainer and Emma Sayer was the jockey. Leo Sayer was unavailable alas.

What does the above table tell us? It tells us that Dianne Sayer has a 6% winning record as a trainer overall, and Emma Sayer has no wins in four races in the last 14 days and three wins in 26 races overall.
This makes for a very unappealing horse to bet on. Call of Duty finished 5th. The horse’s odds may have been a little high to lay in the win only market, but why not look in the place only market, in order to reduce the liability?

As a backer, this table can also serve us well. Here’s a look at another race from a backer’s perspective:

As with the previous example, we start with the horse. What catches my eye is the form of Midnight Oscar over today’s course. You’ll recall ‘horses for courses’: well Midnight Oscar has won two of his three runs at today’s course. He has a 20% strike rate over today’s distance and a 14% strike rate on the going. It is the course form which appeals though.

Let’s check out the jockey and trainer now. The jockey is a certain A.P. McCoy. He has a current 46% strike rate in the last 14 days and wins one in five runs overall. The trainer Kim Bailey has a 50% record in the last 14 days and a poor(ish) 12% record overall.

With a horse tending to win at the course, and a jockey and trainer with a recent 50% strike rate, Midnight Oscar might have a chance here. The horse won by 6 lengths at odds of 10/11.

And here’s a final example for you. Remember that we start with the horse here. What can you take from the table below?

Grandad’s Horse has a 100% record at today’s course. He likes it here as he chews on a Werther’s Original. At the distance, the horse has a good strike rate of 43% and wins one in three over the going. As to Grandad’s Horse’s jockey, well Noel Fehily has a 13% strike rate recently and 15% overall. The trainer Charlie Longsdon has a near one in five strike rate overall.

Grandad’s Horse won at odds of 3/1.

As you see, I tend to favour the horse’s stats first.

Do play around with these free stats. You might want to create a set of rules if you are a layer or a backer.

A layer, for instance, might insist on seeing a jockey and trainer with an under 10% strike rate and a horse who doesn’t win at the course (and preferably the distance and going). If the horse’s odds are too high in the win market, look perhaps at laying it in the place only market (do try this out and take a note of where the horse finishes and at what odds – see http://form.timeform.betfair.com for the win only and place only prices).

A backer for instance might focus on the horse initially, and look for a horse who wins at the course, remembering the ‘horses for courses’ adage. Back this up with strong stats for going and distance, and then note a jockey and trainer who have a good recent strike rate and overall strike rate.

We can get even more in-depth here, but this basic stats research could be very useful.

St Ledger-tastic!

The Doncaster St Ledger festival is upon us and I’ll take you through the ‘Past Winners’ analysis for tomorrow’s Doncaster card. These past winners can provide us with a good guide as to the odds of the likely winning and placed horses.

Saturday 12th September 2014

205 Doncaster This is a Group 2 two-year-old race and there is a stark contrast between the first five runnings and the most recent six runnings. Initially, winners tended to be at around 6/1–8/1, but since 2008, five of the six winners have been priced at 3/1 or lower.

Are we seeing a better quality of two-year-old in recent times? With only six runners, it’s a toughie to call. Richard Hannon Sr won two of the last three runnings but has since retired. His son runs Estidhkaar.

240 Doncaster This 22-runner handicap does not tend to go with the favourite. Only one favourite has won in the last ten runnings. Seven of the winners have been priced at 14/1 or higher: that’s a whopping 70% strike rate! So look for a horse 14/1–20/1 here and back it each way. Just before the match, check out the 14/1–20/1 horses and shortlist them. Select one or two and back each-way.

315 Doncaster An eight-runner group 2 race, and you should be immediately thinking ‘each way’ as there are three places available. Only two favourites have won in the last ten runnings and two 16/1 winners have won in the last four runnings.

If the favourite is heavily odds-on, it might be layable, but I would chance another 16/1 horse each way, just for a bit of value, and hope for three wins in five for 16/1 shots!!

350 Doncaster This is the St Ledger. 2004–2006 saw three consecutive favourites win, but since then, there was a run of six non-favourites winning, ending last year with a 7/2 favourite winner. Three of the last five winners have been at odds of 12/1, 14/1 and 25/1.

John Gosden has won this race three times in 10 years and runs Forever Now, Marzocco and Romsdal. He obviously targets this race. His recent winners were at 15/2 and 12/1 so perhaps back the selection at around these odds from those three horses named – each way again, in case the horse places.

425 Doncaster A nine-runner class 2 Handicap means each-way betting again. Looking at the past winners, I would back a 9/2 horse each way as well as a 10/1–12/1 horse each way. These bigger-priced horses tend to win occasionally in this race and 4/1–9/2 horses tend to crop up quite a lot.

500 Doncaster A nine-runner two-year-old nursery handicap and yet again, a perfect race for each way betting (or if you are using www.betfair.com, half stakes on the horse to place only and win only).

There was a run of winning favourites in 2009–2011 but that was against the norm. The rest of the winners were either 7 or 8/1 or 20/1. 2004 and 2013 saw 20/1 winners. Four of the other winners were either 7 or 8/1.

I would focus on a 7/1 or 8/1 horse here and back it each way. Will a 20/1 horse really win for a second consecutive year? I’m not so sure.

605 Doncaster William Buick has been able to afford a Buick after winning this race three times, and winning for the last two years. He rides Maverick Wave this year. I have no odds yet. If you believe he’ll be trying his Buick off to win the hat-trick, then back Maverick Wave each way. If Maverick Wave is the short-priced favourite, lay it and hope Buick does not get the consecutive hat-trick.

I hope you find this ‘Past Winners’ analysis useful and I hope they provide some accurate trends. I do try to put forward some big prices, which normally means each way betting.

Do try out the free stats too at www.racingpost.com. Why don’t you start to make a note of horses which you’d back or lay based solely on the stats? Then check out the results at http://form.timeform.betfair.com.

Enjoy the St Ledger and have a great weekend. I’m off now to read Kelly Brook’s autobiography. There must be a chapter on me there somewhere!

PS. Calling all DRT members! Make sure you join the live training session on Wednesday, 17th September at 7:30pm, where I’ll be showcasing the new in-play scanner.