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Betway Chester Cup – a pace analysis of Chester

06 May | BY Betway | MIN READ TIME |
Betway Chester Cup – a pace analysis of Chester

BY James Willoughby

THE subject of another article was the effect of the draw in the Chester Cup: surprisingly, despite seemingly incessant media conjecture, it still is not fully discounted from a horse’s price. An ante-post market is formed before the draw is made, and the evidence strongly suggests there is an insufficient reaction.

What about another meme of racing at Chester – early pace? It is intuitive that courses with relatively tight bends favour front-running horses who can gain an edge by nipping round them. And data like that in Table 1 only seems to strengthen the belief that backing front runners is an important approach for punters.

But a more strategic approach than simply backing all front runners is required. To establish it, let’s start with the record of all horses who get to the front on British racecourses in races since 1997:

Course

FS

W

R

SR

IV

Chelmsford (AW)

9.8

70

324

21.6

1.92

Catterick

10.6

364

1959

18.6

1.76

Carlisle

10.8

184

1099

16.7

1.58

Windsor

11.9

434

2877

15.1

1.55

Ripon

11.4

289

1799

16.1

1.54

Chester

9.3

263

1410

18.7

1.53

Beverley

10.8

378

2314

16.3

1.53

Musselburgh

9.6

340

1931

17.6

1.49

Warwick

11

232

1537

15.1

1.45

Nottingham

11.8

387

2803

13.8

1.42

Pontefract

10.9

293

1946

15.1

1.42

Ffos Las

7.2

67

304

22.0

1.42

Thirsk

11.9

254

1871

13.6

1.38

Bath

10.3

350

2245

15.6

1.36

Kempton (AW)

10.3

899

6159

14.6

1.35

Leicester

11.2

349

2444

14.3

1.33

Yarmouth

9.9

423

2678

15.8

1.33

Hamilton

9.2

339

2054

16.5

1.32

Sandown

9.7

293

1932

15.2

1.30

Newmarket (both)

12

693

5387

12.9

1.26

Chepstow

11

200

1492

13.4

1.26

Newcastle

11.5

289

2271

12.7

1.25

Southwell (AW)

10.4

1024

7525

13.6

1.25

Lingfield (AW)

10.2

1447

10557

13.7

1.24

Redcar

12

275

2271

12.1

1.23

Wolverhampton (AW)

9.9

1455

10968

13.3

1.20

Epsom

9.7

170

1182

14.4

1.18

Ayr

10.9

256

1973

13.0

1.17

Salisbury

10.8

227

1865

12.2

1.11

Haydock

10.4

313

2510

12.5

1.11

Brighton

9.6

336

2492

13.5

1.10

York

12.5

221

2140

10.3

1.07

Goodwood

11.1

302

2632

11.5

1.07

Newbury

11.6

248

2338

10.6

1.06

Doncaster

12.7

220

2750

8.0

0.82

Ascot

13.9

145

2013

7.2

0.78

Table 1: results for horses leading or disputing before halfway on British racecourses 1997-2014

It is worth studying Table 1 closely. ‘FS’ is field-size; ‘W’ is winners; ‘R’ is Runners; ‘SR’ is strike-rate; ‘IV’ is the most important statistic, impact value, which is strike-rate considering field-size (Chester’s IV of 1.53 means that horses in front early there win 53% more often than random chance)

Chester ranks sixth of 36 courses listed in Table 1; the horse who earns the early lead indeed has a sizeable advantage.  Remember, however, that the identity of the leader is not known before the race. And, Chester being a course where the pace advantage is well known, horses with early pace are more numerous at the track than on all racecourses in general.

So, what happens if you consider the performance, by track, of all horses who led in their most recent start? Well, the situation is captured by the data in Table 2:

Course

FS

W

R

SR

IV

Chelmsford (AW)

10.1

46

301

15.3

1.42

Musselburgh

10.3

309

2138

14.5

1.33

Chepstow

11.7

170

1314

12.9

1.31

Thirsk

12.4

220

1888

11.7

1.27

Carlisle

11.6

121

983

12.3

1.26

Catterick

11.3

287

2334

12.3

1.25

Windsor

12.3

300

2578

11.6

1.25

Beverley

11.6

282

2323

12.1

1.24

Hamilton

10.0

245

1743

14.1

1.23

Pontefract

12.0

220

1864

11.8

1.23

Southwell (AW)

10.9

920

7445

12.4

1.21

Warwick

11.7

166

1412

11.8

1.21

Newcastle

12.4

195

1779

11.0

1.19

Leicester

12.0

229

1958

11.7

1.19

Yarmouth

10.6

266

2034

13.1

1.19

Nottingham

12.6

263

2498

10.5

1.17

Ripon

11.8

208

1785

11.7

1.17

Lingfield (AW)

10.5

1126

9130

12.3

1.16

Haydock

11.3

267

2284

11.7

1.15

Brighton

10.4

290

2269

12.8

1.15

Bath

11.3

264

2209

12.0

1.15

Wolverhampton (AW)

10.3

1170

10014

11.7

1.12

Epsom

10.5

168

1362

12.3

1.11

Kempton (AW)

10.7

608

5386

11.3

1.10

Newmarket (both)

13.0

442

4316

10.2

1.09

Redcar

13.2

202

2050

9.9

1.09

Salisbury

11.5

170

1536

11.1

1.09

Chester

9.8

223

1788

12.5

1.09

Goodwood

12.3

282

2668

10.6

1.09

Ayr

11.9

196

1788

11.0

1.08

Sandown

10.4

201

1757

11.4

1.07

Newbury

12.6

182

1996

9.1

0.98

Ffos Las

7.6

33

238

13.9

0.96

Doncaster

13.7

192

2660

7.2

0.81

York

13.8

155

2312

6.7

0.79

Ascot

15.1

143

2228

6.4

0.78

Table 2: results on British racecourses 1997-2014 for horses who led on latest start

It’s a contrasting result. Chester doesn’t look so attractive a place for front-runners when you don’t know which horse is going to lead! And, unless you are betting-in-running, that is the reality of making a wager.

Horses who led in their most starts win more often than random chance (at most tracks the IV > 1.0) because early speed is correlated with racing merit. But horses who led last time don’t do particularly well at Chester compared with similar types on other tracks, because there are more front runners attracted there than on most tracks and they make life tougher for each other as a result.

In fact, once you start to drill down into the data, it becomes clear that the physical dimensions of some tracks which lead them to inherently favour front runners are soon eroded by the pace make-up of the race.

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Figure 3: The relationship between number of front runners per race and their performance

The distinct, downward slope of the trend line on Figure 3 demonstrates that, in general, the more front runners who are attracted to a given course, the worse those runners perform.

In summary, knowing and understanding that Chester favours the horse who has taken the early lead (Table 1) isn’t much use because, before the race it is hard to know which horse will lead and those horses who have led in previous races don’t perform all that well (Table 2) because of the number of front runners per race (Figure 3).

In fact, horses who have previously led do often better on stiff tracks like Carlisle than at Chester because fewer front-runners per race are attracted there.

At all distances and on all courses, the effect of the layout and shape of the track is far less important that the make-up of the field in terms of horses likely to take the lead. Don’t get bogged down with betting front runners at Chester – unless you are confident they can take an uncontested lead with few similar types in the field.

Read James Willoughby’s analysis of the Betway Chester Cup here

For further analysis from James click here 

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