In a recent piece I looked at how important run style can be in handicap chases. In this article I am going continue in a similar vein by examining run style on the level. At this time of year there is no turf racing so I will be focusing my attention solely on racing on the all weather.
When I use the term ‘run style’ I am talking about the position, usually within the first couple of hundred yards, that each horse takes up. I am going to split these early positions up into four groups like I did in the handicap chase article:
Led – as the word ‘led’ suggests, this is the horse that take up a position at the head of affairs early in the race. Occasionally you can get two or more horses vying for the early lead and in that case, I would count them all as leaders.
Prominent – horses that race up with the early pace just behind the leader(s). Race readers will use comments such as ‘prominent’, ‘close up’, ‘tracked/chases leaders’, etc.
Mid Division – horses that race around the middle of the field.
Held up – horses that are held up, either at the back of the field or near to the back.
Once again, I have sourced the relevant data for this piece from the excellent https://www.geegeez.co.uk/ website. They split their run style data in the same way that I will be doing here – Led, Prominent, Mid Division and Held Up.
I have used racing results / run style data going back to the beginning of 2017 for UK All Weather racing and I will be concentrating on handicap races with 6 or more runners. Handicap races are better to use than non-handicaps for this type of research due to their more competitive nature.
To begin with I would like to share the win and each way percentages for each run style group in these handicap races combining the results for all distances.
Before diving into the numbers, it should be noted that you do not get an even split of runners in each run style group.
The held-up category contains the most runners, nearly three times as many runners in this group than in the led group. This is the reason hold up horses win so many races. However, hold up runners are still the worst value when viewing them as a whole group.
Horses that take the early lead have the best strike rate within their group, both from a win and each way perspective. Their A/E index suggests they offer some value too at a healthy looking 1.07 (An A/E index of 1.00 or above tends to suggest ‘value’). The group strike rates correlate with the position a horse takes up early in the race with early leaders best, prominent racers second best, mid div runners third and held up runners last.
I want to focus in on front runners now as they are the most successful. I am going to split their results up by distance. The advantage to front runners is much more pronounced in shorter distance races as the following table shows:
The front running bias is extremely potent over 5 furlongs and decent over 6 and 7 furlongs too. There starts to be a drop off as get to distance of over 1 mile (8 furlongs), more especially when we reach 1 mile 4 furlongs (12f) or more.
With the front running edge being so significant over the minimum trip of 5 furlongs, let me dig a little bit further into these runners, by splitting up the performance of these early leaders by course.
The six UK all weather tracks do give slightly differing results:
It is a shame that there are so few 5-furlong races at Kempton these days as the front running bias there is huge. Front runners also perform extremely well at Lingfield and Chelmsford winning nearly one race in every four.
The ‘worst’ performing track for front runners over the 5-furlong trip is Newcastle with a 17%-win rate. However, this is still an excellent strike rate, it just happens to not be as high as the other courses.
The high 1.42 A/E index clearly indicates that Newcastle front runners over 5f offer good value for the punter.
The Southwell data includes both the old surface data and the new surface data. It should be noted that since the switch of surface from fibresand to tapeta the front running win percentage has been around the 26% mark – slightly higher than both Chelmsford and Lingfield.
I am going to look in more detail at the 6f data as well in this article, but before that, I want to discuss the three left-handed courses where 5 furlongs races are run round a bend. These being Chelmsford, Lingfield and Wolverhampton.
The consensus amongst most experts is that a low draw combined with early pace on a round 5f strengthens a front running bias. The theory behind this thinking is that low drawn runners are best positioned to nab ‘the inside rail’ and hence take the shortest route home.
However, the stats do not back this up. Splitting the draw into three thirds as I tend to do with any draw bias number crunching, we get the following front running win strike rates for these draw sections:
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