I read an interesting comment on my blog this morning from Rob who asked about how I analyse a horse-race. Being honest, I was thinking of doing this sort of thing as a one-off in the future but since I'm off work (studying but I can spare an hour!) I've gone ahead and analysed a race at Bath tomorrow. This analysis was carried out without any form of 'tissue' and without any other form of input from the RP spotlights etc. as they aren't published yet!
This written analysis of the race is a one-off 'bonus' for my blog and I only tend to write a few scribbles when I'm analysing a race. Most of the analysis is computed in my head and that's where it stays. When I do post up my selections on the blog, I will give the reasons for backing the horse but I will not comment on every horse in the race!
Obviously, when I start posting up my slections on the blog, I will wait until I have placed my bets on Betfair and had them matched as I don't want other people under-cutting me on betfair! Once I've had my bets placed, I don't care if anyone else backs the horse but I'm not running a tipping service here, so it's not my fault if the horses lose!
When I first did this analysis, I came up with one horse to back. This was number 1. However, after typing out my analysis and reading over the form again, I've come up with 2 different horses to back. This sort of thing happens to everyone who reads horse-racing form and it's something I don't worry too much about as I believe that the longer I spend on a race, the more likely I am to find the winner. If I didn't think this was the case, I'd be as well randomly picking a horse in the race.
This race was always going to be my first bet on the blog as it is the first race that meets my criteria. The final race at Bath tomorrow also meets my criteria but I've had a quick look at it and it has too small a field, so I'm happy to miss this race.
So, how do I go about finding these horses that I'm going to back?
Basically, I follow the same strategy every time and over the years it has brought me great success which I've never managed to fully exploit. I'm hoping this will change from tomorrow!
My strategy involves me coming up with some initial thoughts on every horse which I then use to narrow down the potential winners. I then rule out the horses which are not 'handicapped to win'. By this, I mean horses which are not on a handicap mark which they have shown they can win from.
Once I've ruled out the horses which can't win (usually the complete outsiders although I do stumble across a short-priced horse now and again which I sometimes think about laying), I will look again at the horses remaining and try to find another reason to back them or rule them out.
Using this new 'angle', I'll then try to come up with the horse which I will back. Sometimes, I will end up with 2 horses but there will be different reasons for backing both, so I will usually back both.
When I first looked at this race, I came up with number 1 as my horse to back. This was after about 20 minutes.
However, I then started to type out my thoughts on each horse and this has led me to arrive at 2 other horses which I will back instead of number 1.
Initial thoughts on each runner
1 – Now rated 65 on turf, rated 73 on AW and won off 69 on Aw 3 runs back. Been a 1m specialist on turf and 9f specialist on AW. Will it stay 10f on turf?
2 – Last turf win was identical race at Bath last June off 57. Ran 2 nice races of 58 on turf afterwards. Won off 65 on AW 2 runs back and now rated 67. Been running to mark on AW for a while and bang in form. Now off 62 on turf.
3 – Won off 52 last summer at Goodwood and now off 62. Won off 54 2 runs back on AW but beat off 62 last time.
4 – Career low mark but not looked like winning off this sort of mark on turf before. First run of the season and poor record 1st time out.
5 – Looks on an OK mark and last run was best yet. Probably been running over too short a trip and needs this trip.
6 – Needs a longer trip and on far too high a mark on turf.
7 – Used to be a very decent handicapper with 5 wins from 72-78. Had his problems and trainer ran him in sellers to get handicapper to reduce mark. Dropped to 56 from 78 in 2 runs in sellers and back in handicap company has run 2 great races in defeat. Franked the form of his earlier 4th by coming 2nd last week. Will win a race off its current mark.
8 – On an Ok mark but probably needs to drop a couple of pounds. First run of season and probably needs 1m 4f.
9 – Handicapper had to guess handicap mark after 3 poor runs last year. Looked Ok handicapped when 5th on return (just behind Ryan’s Future) and may be improvement to come as only had 4 runs. Ryan’s F franked the form of the 5th placing and interesting.
10 – Looks very well handicapped. Last turf win was identical race at Bath and won off 79. Now off 53. Last turf run was off 57 at Bath in Oct and finished 6th of 15. Won 1st time out in the past and great chance if fully wound up for this.
11 – Never run on turf and last 2 runs were appalling. Difficult to fancy. Trainer is difficult to read though.
12 – Suddenly found its correct mark and in great form on the AW. Up 4lbs from last win but the unknown is whether it will handle the turf. Form is there for everyone to see.
13 – Looks very poor and nothing to go on really.
14 – Front running sprinter who will only get 1m 2f in his horsebox.
15 – Handicapped on 3 poor runs last year but difficult to fancy from out of the handicap.
OK, so I now look to rule out the horses which I don’t think can win. These are:
3 – Can’t win off 62 on turf
4 – Needs to drop a few pounds and will need run
6 – Needs another 2f at least and needs to drop a few pounds
8 – Needs to drop a pound or two and probably needs 1m 4f
11 – Looks out of form and even though trainer is very shrewd, difficult to fancy
13 – Poor
14 – Will lead and fade quickly
15 – Be interesting to see how this runs but can’t win
Therefore, I am now left with 7 runners which can win. I will now look at these again and try to find another angle to fancy them or dislike them.
1 – Usually runs in better class of races. Last 2 runs in Class 6 handicaps resulted in easy wins off 55 and 62. Now 65 but classiest horse in race. 8lb lower on turf than AW.
2 – Similar profile to 1! 5lbs lower on turf than AW and bang in form on AW. Last 2 turf runs were off 58 though and now 4lbs higher. If it couldn’t win off 58, can it now win off 62?
5 – Beaten 8 lengths last time off this sort of mark and even though it may improve for step up to 1m2f, may need to drop a few pounds to get his head in front.
7 – 2 great runs this year and will be amazed if it can’t win off this mark. This is maybe an easier race than the last 2 races and looks like a winner.
9 – Decent first run back when most likely needed the run. Only got a little to find with 7 and if 7 has a great chance, this must have a great chance also. Could still be improving.
10 – Last run was in a hurdle race when only 12/1 against Ring The Boss when rated 122. This translates to a much higher flat rating if I take it literally and must be well handicapped. The absence is definitely a concern and may need this run back. Could have been injured? Has won 1st time out though, so not too worrying.
12 – Looks to be improving and may ultimately prove to be well handicapped. Needs to translate AW form to turf though and punters will latch onto its form figures in the context of this race. Could be too short for what it has achieved.
Ok, here’s where the fun starts and more times than not, I’ll rule out the winner of the race at this stage. This is not too surprising though as there are other things that you need to take into account when coming up with horses to back i.e. what other people will be backing and the likely odds of each horse.
I’ll again try to narrow down the potential winners by looking purely at the new angle I described above. I’ll rule out:
1 – This was my fancy for the race before I started writing up this analysi! Got a great chance if it stays the 1m 2f trip and may well improve for the step up to this trip on turf but will this uncertainty be factored into it’s price?
2 – If it couldn’t win off 58, can it win off 62? Could be improving but may find a better handicapped horse in the race.
5 – Getting beat 8 lengths off this mark last time doesn’t read too well and may not be as OK handicapped as I initially thought.
12 – Could be a false price and even though it could prove to be very well handicapped, may be too short a price.
So, even though it hurts me to rule out 1, I’m left with 7,9 and 10.
Basically, 7 and 9 are so closely matched and whereas 7 is coming down the handicap and may be on the downgrade, 9 has only had 4 runs and may improve from its last run. So I’d favour 9 over 7.
10 looks an interesting runner and I think it could be very well handicapped if anywhere near its best. Obviously, the big unknown is why it has been off for so long but this should be factored into its price.
Hence, I’d be looking to back 9 and 10. Obviously, if I found out that 7 was a much higher price than 9, I’d back this but I’m 99% certain that it could be the other way around. 9 could be a much higher price than 7 which will be value. This tends to happen a fair amount in horse-racing as punters are too easily swayed by trainers and jockeys. On the formbook, 7 and 9 should finish side by side but I’d rather back 9 as it will be a much higher price. Obviously, 7 is more consistent and will usually run its race but depending on the price of 9, I’d be willing to gamble that it can beat it in a one off race.
10 could be any price and I would want a high price before I got involved really in this one.
One problem I have always had is what price do I ask for? I usually let Betfair guide me and I will look for very high prices at first and then slowly reduce my asking price as the market starts to get fully formed. Sometimes, someone will come along and match my very high asking price which suits me as it means I can then look to trade off before the race for a riskfree bet.
Other times, I ask for too high a price and the price then contracts and I’m forced to back at an even lower price. It’s swings and roundabouts really.
If I was thinking about which horse could a ‘steamer’ in this race, I’d go for 9. Tomorrow, when the formbook ‘experts’ start reading that 7 and 9 are closely matched, I think they’ll see that 9 is overpriced and this will be backed accordingly.