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WEIGHT EFFECT ON SAND

This month we are going to examine the effect the weight a horse is allocated has on results on the All Weather.

If we study results from Lingfield, Southwell and Wolverhampton from the seasons 2001 to 2004 (inclusive), we can see from the following table that as the weight band increases, so does the strike rate….

WEIGHT

WINS

RUNS

STRIKE%

LSP

LSP%

7.8 – 8.0 8.1 – 8.7

110

2539

4.33

-1056.84

-41.62

493

7412

6.65

-3070.20

-41.42

8.8 – 9.0 9.1 – 9.7

1807

20549

8.79

-6734.60

-32.77

1432

14944

9.58

-4154.98

-27.80

9.8

– 10.0

900

8327

10.81

-1744.81

-20.95

This doesn’t really tell us much because more horses towards the head of the betting find themselves in general allotted more weight than those near the foot of the weights. We need to narrow our search down to a level playing field before we can start making any firm opinions. We’ll do this by concentrating solely on SP favourites. Now if we examine the weight band stats, we see that there seems to be little advantage in any area…

WEIGHT

WINS

RUNS

STRIKE%

LSP

LSP%

7.8 – 8.0 8.1 – 8.7 8.8 – 9.0

16

53

30.19

-7.67

-14.47

111

393

28.24

-82.98

-21.11

601

1839

32.68

-126.63

-6.89

9.1 – 9.7

453

1662

27.26

-150.24

-9.04

9.8

– 10.0

341

1198

28.46

-55.46

-4.63

Now the table shows a much more balanced view. Clearly the uneven distribution of the horses with the better chance of victory (i.e. those towards the front of the betting) was skewing the figures – in reality the strike rate is more or less level across the board.

The next step in trying to create a true reflection of the effect of weight is to narrow the research down to handicaps only. In these races the runners are allotted weight in accordance to their official ability – with the better horses

carrying more weight than their lesser rivals – which means that they are more competitive than non-handicaps and therefore a more reliable guide to statistics.

WEIGHT

WINS

RUNS

STRIKE%

LSP

LSP%

7.8 – 8.0 8.1 – 8.7 8.8 – 9.0 9.1 – 9.7 9.8 – 10.0

10

36

27.78

-2.14

-5.94

29

154

18.83

-57.02

-37.03

125

507

24.65

-69.44

-13.70

240

931

25.78

-55.74

-9.76

212

853

24.85

-70.90

-13.38

Nothing conclusive there – as apart from a dip in the 8.1 – 8.7 range (probably due to the small sample size) the figures are more or less even across the board. That changes, however, when we break the results down by track…

LINGFIELD

WEIGHT

WINS

RUNS

STRIKE%

LSP

LSP%

7.8 – 8.0 8.1 – 8.7 8.8 – 9.0 9.1 – 9.7 9.8 – 10.0

2

6

33.33

1.25

9.58

3

41

7.32

-29.30

-72.69

37

159

23.27

-26.53

-13.06

84

307

27.36

5.69

1.80

83

289

28.72

30.68

12.29

SOUTHWELL

WEIGHT

WINS

RUNS

STRIKE%

LSP

LSP%

7.8 – 8.0 8.1 – 8.7 8.8 – 9.0 9.1 – 9.7 9.8 – 10.0

1

14

7.14

-10.50

-75.00

17

54

31.48

2.13

3.94

50

168

29.76

7.70

4.58

72

271

26.57

-13.70

-5.06

60

251

23.90

-44.92

-17.90

 

WOLVES

 

WEIGHT

WINS

RUNS

STRIKE%

LSP

LSP%

7.8 – 8.0

7

16

43.75

7.11

44.44

8.1 – 8.7 8.8 – 9.0 9.1 – 9.7 9.8 – 10.0

9

59

15.25

-29.85

-50.59

38

180

21.11

-50.61

-28.12

84

353

23.80

-47.73

-13.52

69

313

22.04

-56.66

-18.10

The small sample size of the lower weight bands are creating a false impression of fluctuating strike rates, so to alleviate this we’ll group together all runners carrying 9-0 or less…

LINGFIELD

WEIGHT

WINS

RUNS

STRIKE%

LSP

LSP%

7.8 – 9.0 9.1 – 9.7 9.8 – 10.0

42

206

20.39

-54.58

-26.50

84

307

27.36

5.69

1.80

83

289

28.72

30.68

12.29

SOUTHWELL

WEIGHT

WINS

RUNS

STRIKE%

LSP

LSP%

7.8 – 9.0 9.1 – 9.7 9.8 – 10.0

68

236

28.81

-0.67

-0.03

72

271

26.57

-13.70

-5.06

60

251

23.90

-44.92

-17.90

WOLVES

WEIGHT

WINS

RUNS

STRIKE%

LSP

LSP%

7.8 – 9.0 9.1 – 9.7 9.8 – 10.0

54

255

21.18

-73.35

-28.76

84

353

23.80

-47.73

-13.52

69

313

22.04

-56.66

-18.10

This gives a more realistic picture, and throws up an interesting set of results. While Southwell and Wolves have little difference in their weight bands (Southwell seemingly slightly favours those in the lower half of the weights), it’s the results from Lingfield that catch the eye.

There is a considerable jump of almost 7% in the strike rate of 20.39% for those runners carrying 9-0 or less to 27.36% for those carrying between 9-1 and 9-7. The strike rate increases even further to 28.72% for the 9-8 to 10-0 band.

This doesn’t surprise me in the slightest, as the Polytrack surface that is in place at Lingfield has a lesser effect on energy distribution than on the Fibresand surfaces at the other two courses (towards the end of 2004 Wolves replaced their old Fibresand with Polytrack, so all but a couple of months worth of statistics in this analysis came on the old surface).

The Polytrack surface has a lesser pull on energy output due to the elasticated surface allowing the horses to ‘bounce’ off the ground, and it’s logical to assume that this is the reason for the abnormality in the results in the previous table for Lingfield. The less energy-demanding a race is, the less effect weight will have on a horse, so therefore those allocated larger weights in order to slow them down enough to create a level playing field (as it the sole purpose of handicaps) will have their disadvantage lessened.

So we can see that SP favourites at Lingfield running in handicaps carrying 9-1 or more actually make a profit from backing them blindly, with is excellent considering there have been almost 600 bets during the last 4 seasons. Concentrating on just these qualifiers that carry 9-1 or more, we can see from further analysis that the effect of the draw is quite strong…

DRAW QUINTILE

WINS

RUNS

STRIKE%

LSP

LSP%

Lowest quintile

37

115

32.17

27.13

23.59

Lowside quintile

38

125

30.40

19.51

15.61

Middle quintile

39

133

29.32

17.79

13.38

Highside quintile

29

121

23.97

-18.57

-15.35

Highest quintile

24

102

23.53

-9.49

-9.30

Clearly there has been a major disadvantage in being drawn in the highest 40% of the field, with a clear drop in the strike rate and a level stakes loss. Good profits have been made from the lowest 60% of the draw, so these are the qualifiers we will continue to analyse.

The final part of the jigsaw is to look at the different results produced by male and female horses…

SEX

WINS

RUNS

STRIKE%

LSP

LSP%

filly/mare

20

76

26.32

-7.67

-10.09

colt/gelding

94

297

31.65

72.10

24.28

As you can see, there is a ROI loss of over 10% on the females, yet in stark contrast an impressive ROI profit of almost 25% on the males.

As Wolverhampton has now changed its surface to Polytrack, there is no reason why this system should not work at that venue as well, as indeed in the future at the various new AW courses being built.

RULES

1. Polytrack only

2. SP favourite only

3. Horse must be allotted (ignore jockey claim) 9-1 or higher (ignore amateur races where all weights are raised)

4. Lowest 60% of the draw only to be considered (this is only applicable to Lingfield, not enough data at present for Wolves)

5. Male horses only

Polytrack was introduced to Lingfield in November 2001 and to Wolverhampton in 2004. It seems perfectly logical to me to assume that the poor recent Topspeed results from these two tracks is down to this new ‘speed-rating unfriendly’ surface. Southwell, after all, has continued to produce consistent figures in recent years, as has turf.

So from now in this study, we will consider only those races which took part on non-Polytrack all-weather surfaces (Equitrack & Fibresand).

Experience has taught me that race distance is very much a key factor in the study and use of speed ratings; the longer the race, the less likely that a true pace will ensue, leading to slow times and unreliable form. With this in mind, we’ll now look at the stats from the last 5 seasons of these Topspeed selections on non-Polytrack all-weather surfaces (SP<=4/1) broken down by distance…

DISTANCE

WINS

RUNS

STRIKE%

LSP

LSP%

<=10f

466

1267

36.78

65.04

5.13

10f>

145

441

32.88

-44.55

-10.10

TOTAL

611

1708

35.77

20.49

1.20

As can be seen, quite clearly a marked difference of fortunes over long and short distances. There is only 3.9% between them in terms of strike rate but the considerable gulf in LSP% shows that the runners over the longer trips are bad value. Concentrating on the runners which contested races over 10f or less, the yearly breakdown since 2000 looks like this….

YEAR

WINS

RUNS

STRIKE%

LSP

LSP%

2000 159

416

38.22

18.52

4.45

2001 112

309

36.25

22.73

7.36

2002 59

168

35.12

10.51

6.26

2003 74

174

42.53

40.57

23.32

2004 62

200

31.00

-27.29

-13.65

TOTAL

466

1267

36.78

65.04

5.13

The main thing to notice here is the poor return from 2004, but the vast majority of these losses came from Wolverhampton in the months leading up to the laying of the new Polytrack surface. The Fibresand at Wolverhampton was in no fit state for horse racing in the latter stages of its existence and I’m sure this is the reason for the poor results.

The final filter we are going to add here is field size, and once again it is a logical inclusion – small fields are far more likely to produce a false pace (and therefore a false and unreliable result) than larger ones, and the following field- size breakdown supports that theory….

FIELD SIZE

WINS

RUNS

STRIKE%

LSP

LSP%

2-4 runners

9

21

42.86

-2.86

-13.62

5-7 runners

83

231

35.93

-19.26

-8.34

8-10 runners

181

472

38.35

34.25

7.26

11-16 runners

193

543

35.54

52.91

9.74

TOTAL

466

1267

36.78

65.04

5.13

At least eight runners in a race is a must have rule for this method, as speed ratings are worth less as the field size diminishes.

As Lingfield and Wolverhampton have made the transition to Polytrack, Southwell is the only current all-weather course to have a non-Polytrack surface in place, so it is this track which will provide the selections for this method.

So the final rules and results are as follows…

a) Southwell all-weather races only

b) Horse must be top rated by Topspeed

c) Horse must be sent off at shorter odds than 4/1

d) Only consider races 10f or shorter in distance

e) Only consider races with at least eight runners

YEAR

WINS

RUNS

STRIKE%

LSP

LSP%

2000

123

324

37.96

27.73

8.56

2001

90

261

34.48

11.39

4.36

2002

51

144

35.42

12.76

8.86

2003

67

148

45.27

49.86

33.69

2004

43

139

30.94

-15.58

-11.21

TOTAL

374

1016

36.81

86.16

8.48