USING THE ATR SECTIONAL TIMES
Attheraces.com has led the way in publishing detailed sectional times for UK racing in recent years with the service now extended to cover 12 Flat racecourses (Bath, Brighton, Chepstow, Chester, Doncaster, Ffos Las, Lingfield, Newcastle, Southwell, Windsor, Wolverhampton and Yarmouth).
Our sectional times charts and tools make the data easy to understand for the average racing fan by using a colour-coded approach to indicate speeds that are faster and slower than optimum for each horse.
There's also energy distribution charts, efficiency gradings and sectional speeds in MPH for the early, mid and late parts of the race for every runner.
The data is published around 48 hours after the races have been run and can be accessed by clicking the Sectional Times and Sectional Tools tabs on the Race Result pages on attheraces.com.
The page below is a guide to how to get the most of the data and incorporate sectional times as part of your everyday form research.
HOW OUR COLOUR-CODED SYSTEM WORKS
Many of the elements within our Sectional Times area are colour-coded on a cold-hot spectrum, shown below. Slow speeds/times are indicated by blue which then progress through green, yellow and orange to Fast speeds/times which are highlighted in red.
HOW THE OPTIMUMS ARE CALCULATED
The optimum figures we display have been calculated by Simon Rowlands, who is the leading expert on Sectional Times in the UK and are derived from efficiently-run races that resulted in fast times. The optimums allow for a standing start, course configuration and topographical changes.
PACE ANALYSIS BAR
The Pace Analysis bar provides an at-a-glance insight into how the race was run. It measures the time of the leader at each sectional point and converts that data into a colour-coded spectrum which indicates the pace strength from start to finish, left to right. The pace bar is accompanied by a Race Finishing Speed Percentage figure, which uses the established 'Rowlands' formula to generate an overall assessment of how strongly the race was run based on the times of the race leader at each sectional point.
Some examples are:
STRONG EARLY PACE
This is the Pace Bar for the 2016 All-Weather 3 Year Old Mile Championships, won by Sea Of Flames. Somewhat unusually for a race at Lingfield, the race was run at a strong early pace, producing a red area on the left-hand (early) part of the bar resulting in a slower than even final two thirds of the race.
WEAK EARLY PACE LEADING TO STRONG FINISH
A familiar sight in races over 1m at Lingfield - this time a Class 5 Maiden from 20 February 2016 - a weak early pace for the first half of the contest gradually developed into a faster than even final three furlongs.
We've got the full spectrum on show here - this race being a one-mile maiden at Lingfield on 13 February 2016. A strong pace very early on quickly abated to an even to slow middle section before picking up again at the finish.
Last of all we have the pace bar from the 2016 Winter Derby, won by Grendisar. The combination of just eight runners and a more experienced field saw this race run pretty much even throughout apart from a single slightly faster section around 2f to 1f out.
SECTIONAL TIMES GRID
The sectional times grid shows the individual times and can be analysed in conjunction with the Pace Bar (see above).
Each cell is colour-coded to correspond with the Pace Bar on a cold-hot spectrum of blue, green, yellow, orange and red to illustrate sectionals run at even pace (yellow), slow pace (blue/green) and fast pace (orange/red).
This enables us to see at a glance how the race unfolded and compare each runner's effort with the Pace Bar. A good illustration of this is the race won by Vale Of Iron at Lingfield on 18 June 2016 (see chart below).
The first thing to acknowledge is that this is a 1m 4f race, so we have 4f worth of data condensed into a single column. As can be seen, that first half mile was run at a slow pace and the majority of runners raced evenly from 8f to 4f before quickening. The exception is Vale Of Iron; his move from 7f to 5f, where he raced faster than pace (see how his orange/red shading for those sections contrasts with the yellow of the pace bar) was probably a race-winning one; it afforded him to regulate energy from 5f-2f, covering that distance in a time over half a second slower than the third and fourth horses, before delivering a time over the last two furlongs that was faster than anything else in the race.
SECTIONAL TOOLS TAB
Housed within a separate tab on the Result Page are the ATR Sectional Tools. These have been developed to give users a choice of alternative perspectives on the Sectional Timing data. They are all based around efficiency of effort - the objective being to identify those horses that have raced too fast or slowly at various points in the race.
ENERGY DISTRIBUTION CHART
This chart illustrates how much energy or effort an individual used up in each section of the race. The horse's level of efffort is indicated by the blue line, whilst the optimum is indicated by the yellow line.
The Sectional Speed Panels show the average speed in miles per hour for each horse during the early, mid and late parts of the race.
The Sectional Speed Panels are colour-coded in the same manner as other elements (ie on a cold to hot spectrum) and represent slow / even / fast speeds for each section according to the overall time of the race.
The efficiency grade is our method of indicating the overall efficiency of each performance. The scale runs from A to F, with A being the most efficient distribution of energy.
FINISHING SPEED %
The Finishing Speed % figure is an established method of identifying how efficiently a horse has distributed its energy. It uses a formula developed by Simon Rowlands for Timeform and compares the time of a finishing ‘sectional’ (defined as the last 2f in races up to and including a mile and the last 3f over further distances) with the overall time it took to run the race. The lower the Finishing Speed %, the stronger the early pace will have been.
Each race at each track has an optimum Finishing Speed % that is defined according to topography and layout.
A horse that runs well whilst achieving a Finishing Speed % that is markedly above or below optimum can be expected to be capable of an even better performance if they had been able to distribute their energy more efficiently. Comparing individual Finishing Speed %s with the Finish Pace % can help put into context a horses performance compared to the overall way the race was run.
The orange 'flame' icon appears next to a horse that has achieved a Finishing Speed % that is greater than the Race Finishing Speed Percentage. This highlights horses that have finished particularly strongly in races that have been run more slowly than ideal.
Efficient Energy Distribution
Above is the chart for Sign Of The Kodiac's run in the 3 Year Old Sprint at the 2016 All Weather Championships. As can be seen, Sign Of The Kodiac distributed his energy almost perfectly throughout the race, tracking the yellow optimum line very closely at each point. His Sectional Speeds tell the story a little more - his early and mid-race speeds being marginally on the slow side of even (for that point in the race) but his closing section being slightly faster than even. Overall, he gets an efficiency score of A, all of which suggests that Sign Of The Kodiac has put in his best effort in terms of efficiency here.
Inefficient Energy Distribution
This is the chart for Kadrizzi, who was just a neck behind Sign Of The Kodiac in the same race. The contrast between the two is very clear; Kadrizzi's Energy Distribution chart illustrates that he went slower than optimum for the first three furlongs which left him with 'too much in the tank' for the second half the race. This view is reinforced by his Sectional Speed boxes, which show slow, then slow to even speeds before a closing fast section. His efficiency score is E and he also gets the orange flame indicator to show that his Finishing Speed % is greater than the Race Finishing Speed Percentage. All of this suggests that had Kadrizzi distributed his energy more equally throughout the race he would have produced a better performance.
TOP TIPS FOR USING THE ATR SECTIONALS
Look for things that are out of the ordinary
When looking at the sectional times grid, try to spot those instances that go against the overall trend of the race. Sections when a horse is going faster or slower than the rest of the field, for instance, can highlight horses that have made race winning or losing moves by going too fast, or giving away ground.
Pay particular attention to the Early pace
The early pace sets the tone for what will follow. Our Pace Bar is an overall indicator of how the race was run and the Early Pace indicator gives you an instant snapshot. We’ve pulled this element through into our form pages so that you can see what the early pace was like instantly.
Familiarise yourself with trends at different tracks
Races at certain tracks are often run in a familiar style. Over a mile and further at Lingfield, for instance, runners often steady the pace at halfway before quickening from 2f out, whilst races run at Southwell tend to be strong from the start leading to a slower finish. Knowing how races at these tracks tend to be run can highlight whether a horse’s running style is suited to it.
Look at the Sectional Tools as a whole
Generally, the Sectional Tools are a variety of ways of displaying the same information. They should help you to form an overall view about a horse’s performance but don’t read too much into just one single aspect.
Watch out for the flame icon in the Finishing Speed % column
The flame icon indicates horses that have finished particularly strongly off a weaker than ideal pace. In some races several horses will be highlighted but in others it will just be a single horse. Look out for horses that have performed well and earned a flame icon as they are probably better than the run indicates; a stronger pace is likely to suit such horses next time.
Inefficiency can be both a good and a bad thing
When a horse runs in an ‘inefficient’ style that is a strong indicator that it has more ability than the run suggests, provided it can race more efficiently. However, it is worth remembering that some horses will always struggle run to their optimum. Try to figure out why the horse ran inefficiently – was it inexperience? Is the horse a 'closer' that didn’t get a strong enough early pace? Is the horse a front-runner that was taken on for the lead? When it next runs ask yourself if today’s conditions are likely to suit the horse better? Equally, respect horses that have a proven record of racing efficiently – they are the ones most likely to run to form.
Remember to watch the replay too
Sectional Times can tell us things that purely watching the video can’t, but that’s true in vice-versa too and they are best used alongside video replays. Start by looking at the sectional grid and try to get a picture of what happened in the race, then watch the race over knowing what you are looking out for.