Negative Draw Bias on the All Weather

Last month in one of my articles I looked at potential draw bias on the all weather. The focus was on sprint distances over 5 and 6 furlongs and the data suggested the biases were strongest over 5 furlongs Chelmsford and Wolverhampton, and over 6f at Chelmsford and Kempton. The bias is also strong at Kempton over 5, but 5f races at Kempton have become extremely rare.

In this piece I want to discuss another draw angle that used to get some coverage in the past and that is negative draw bias. I have touched on this in the past for On Course Profits but have not dedicated an article to it. I am sure that the phrase negative draw bias was coined in the 1990s by the racing pundit and writer Russell Clarke. I remember him writing about it in a magazine called Odds On, and to be honest his writings on the draw were the catalyst for my interest in the subject. Indeed, when I wrote my first book about draw bias in 1997, I sent him a copy to see if he thought it was any good.

So, the question is, what is negative draw bias?

Essentially the idea behind it is that it highlights a horse or horses that have run well from a poor draw, and therefore have run better than their finishing position may have initially suggested. That is the theory at least.

Armed with this information you would potentially have a horse or horses to follow / bet on in the near future.

As with many things in racing however, it is not necessarily quite as simple as it sounds.

There are potential issues with this idea – for example, once you have highlighted such a horse, do you back him next time out only? Or if you do and the horse loses, how long do you go on backing it?

Another question that should spring to mind is, ‘can you be 100% sure the horse has run well against a draw bias?’

If the horse has been beaten a neck over 5f at Chester from stall 14 then that is about as certain as you can be. The stats show that over 5f at Chester the draw bias to lower draws is as strong as any course and distance in the country. Now, this is where some of the all weather draw stats from the last article come into play.

I am going to try and pinpoint horses that raced on the all weather last time who potentially ran well from a poor draw.

For this piece I am analysing data from UK racing from 2015 to 2023 (up to 17th September, when I started to collate the data for this piece).

I will be focusing on the course and distances I mentioned in the opening paragraph.

Raced at Chelmsford last time out over 5 furlongs.

I will start with horses who raced over 5f at Chelmsford LTO that potentially ran well from a poor draw. To do this I am using the following parameters / rules:

1.  LTO race had at least 8 runners.

2.  LTO race was a handicap.

3.  Look for horses that finished within 2½ lengths of the winner.

4.  Look for horses that were positioned in the stalls in the top half of the draw (e.g., draws 7 and above in a 12 runner race).

So why those rules?

Well, I want the race LTO to be a handicap with 8 or more runners as these were the conditions I used when analysing the course draw bias in last month’s article.

I chose the beaten distance as within 2½ lengths of the winner as 2½ lengths over 5f equates to ½ length per furlong.

That seemed logical to me.

From the previous research it was clear that higher draws tend to be at a disadvantage at Chelmsford over this trip, hence why I chose to look at runners from the top half of the draw.

Here are the next time out results for the horses that qualified using my negative draw bias parameters:

I must admit I had hoped for a better strike rate, but at least all the runners combined had essentially broken even to Betfair Starting Price.

It is interesting to note that the win and placed strike rate stood at over 35% and you would have made a profit backing in the BSP place market. A small profit of £13.21 would have been achieved if backing all 175 qualifiers to ‘place’.

I did check what the results were for horses that finished within a length of the winner, rather than 2½ lengths and 56 horses qualified winning 9 races (SR 16.1%). Backing all runners would have yielded a small 3p in the £ return.

Raced at Chelmsford last time out over 6 furlongs.

On to 6f now where I decided to keep the same four rules / parameters for LTO run.

I thought about increasing the distance beaten to 3 lengths but decided to keep it to 2½. Whether this is the right thing to do, I cannot say, but I decided to keep it the same for all sprints.

Here are the negative draw bias qualifiers with their results on their very next start:

These figures look more promising.

We have a much better strike rate which is around the mark I had hoped for, and the bonus is that these qualifiers made a small overall profit. A small profit was once again made on the Betfair SP Place market.

Unlike the LTO 5f stats though, when I looked at horses that had finished within a length of the winner, the results did not improve. Strike rate was slightly higher at 15.8%, but these runners edged into the negative as far as profits and returns go.

Before moving on I thought it was worth seeing what would happen if I increased the LTO number of runners rule to 11 or more.

Over 6f at Chelmsford the maximum field size is 14 and it is very difficult to win from very high draws in these bigger fields.

I was hoping to see an improved performance from the negative draw bias qualifiers.

Here are the results:

Good to see these figures looking so positive.

Of course, these qualifiers are going to be rare, roughly 15 on average per season, but I would suggest you keep an eye out for them. Place profits were also up to £20.59.

David Renham

For our Gold and Platinum members Dave goes on to look at Wolverhampton and Kempton negative draw biases and you can read the rest of this article when you upgrade your account here.

Already a Gold or Platinum member? Read the full article in Issue 108

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