October 2015 Blog Entry – All Weather Favourites
With the Winter All Weather season approaching I thought this would be the ideal time to look at a few statistics covering races run on the artificial surfaces with specific focus on the market leaders.
The following analyses are restricted to the clear favourite only, races with joint- or co- favourites are not included. Also exchange prices are not BetFair SP and are quoted before commission is applied.
A brief analysis of all races run on the all weather shows that the average loss to Bookmakers’ starting price is -22p/£ for handicap races and a staggering -29p/£ for non-handicaps; for the favourites the equivalent figures are just -6p/£ and -5p/£. In recent years there has been little difference between these general statistics when broken down by track, but for handicaps Lingfield has produced the best return for punters at -1p/£ compared to an average of -6p/£ and a high of -15p/£ for Chelmsford though the sample size for that particular course is obviously small. For non-handicaps the profile is similar with Lingfield returning most to favourite backers, in fact the equivalent figure for exchange bettors is a slight profit.
One of the most striking statistics is that juvenile favourites running in a non-handicap after winning perform poorly showing a loss of 12p/£ at Bookmakers’ SP. However there are remarkably few of these simply due to the limited number of opportunities, so this could be a statistical blip and a product of race planning as opposed to a reliable data trend. In contrast favourites that are making their course debut have lost just 4p/£ which equates to a 5p/£ profit on the exchanges. Clearly the lack of a previous run should not be off-putting in these instances.
Field size provides an informative breakdown with a 3p/£ profit for 2-4 runners dropping to -3p/£ for races with 5-7 runners, then to -13p/£ for fields of between 8 and 12 runners. The equivalent exchange figures are: +12p/£; +4p/£ and -6/£ which preserves the trend but just lifts the overall level. Course winning favourites have made 7p/£ from a small sample (15p/£ on the exchanges), and favourites running after competing in a Group, Listed, or Conditions Stakes have also produced some good figures returning a profit at SP of 5p (15p/£ at exchange prices) though once again the sample size is small.
Juvenile Handicaps (Nurseries)
Favourites running in a nursery after winning have a much better record than their counterparts in non-handicaps, also the sample size is much larger due to the way racing is now structured with horses funnelled into these weight-adjusted races as soon as possible. Favourites which won last time out featured in 161 contests and won 61 times returning a profit of 1p/£ at Bookmakers’ SP (10p/£ on the exchanges). Another informative variable for this race grade is the price the horses started at for its latest run. For the analysis period, those which started at no more than 10/1 last time made a loss at Bookmakers’ SP of 6p/£ whereas those which had previously started at higher prices made a loss of 32p/£. The difference is also apparent when using exchange prices suggesting that rules based on this variable could be useful in the system building process.
Finally, horses which had previously won on the all weather (any type) seem to hold an edge with favourites making a profit of 2p/£ at Bookmakers’ SP which converts to 9p/£ on the exchanges.
Given that two-year-old races on 31st December change to three-year-old races on 1st January it is reasonable to expect a similar set of results for these races as for juveniles. The favourite in three-year-old non-handicaps has had a good run in recent years showing a level stake profit to Bookmakers’ SP in 2012, 2013 and 2014. However with the highest number of bets at 119 this result could easily be a statistical anomaly.
Previous going winners have been worth following with a 1p/£ profit with the Bookmakers converting to +9p/£ on the exchanges, but it has been best to focus on the less exposed runners. Favourites having their first, second or third career race have made a decent profit of 19p/£ on the exchanges from around 200 bets, with more experienced horses just breaking even.
For the favourite in three-year-old all weather handicaps the length of course absence seems important. Those off the track for 29 days or more returned a loss over the period of analysis of 21p/£ whilst those running after a break of 28 days or fewer made a loss of just 2p/£ to Bookmakers’ SP (+7p/£ on the exchanges). This trend is also apparent when analysing favourites which won their last start: those which won within seven days of racing made a profit at exchange prices of 28p/£, and although the sample is not particularly large this is an interesting pattern to note.
All Age Races
All age contests (i.e. those which are not restricted to just juveniles or three-year-olds) provide a much larger sample to work with, and taking the last few seasons we can see that the favourite made a loss at Bookmakers’ SP of 5p/£ from the 2000+ non-handicaps. In similar fashion to juvenile races, horses running after competing in a Group, Listed or conditions stakes contest returned a profit of 7p/£ (15p/£ at exchange prices) ; seven day winners again did well from a small number of bets, and runners that were beaten on their latest start when made favourite achieved a 5p/£ from over 350 bets (13p/£ on the exchanges). This last statistic probably illustrates that punters can easily be put off short priced runners which have recently lost at a short price, hence their value in this race grade. Looking at a slightly more general profile, we see that favourites that were priced at 10/1 or higher on their last run made a loss of 13p/£ whereas those priced below that threshold made a loss of just 3p/£, so examining the previous race price data could be an informative exercise for all weather non-handicaps this Winter.
Following the market leader in all age AW handicaps would have resulted in a loss of 4p/£ to Bookmakers’ SP in recent years, but those running after failing to make the frame turned this loss into a 2p/£ profit which is possibly a significant outcome. The other standard measures produce quite uniform results suggesting there is little scope for profitable system development.