Switching from Hurdles to Chases

Switching from Hurdles to Chases and vice versa.

As the title alludes to, I will be looking at horses that switch from a hurdles race to a chase, and from chases to hurdles. The aim as ever is to find either some positive patterns or some negative ones. I am guessing that the negative ones will win out here.

It is important to say at this point that finding negatives is actually just as important as finding positives. It is often the races we avoid betting on, for valid negative factors, that help us in our long term aim for profitability.

I will be using UK data going back to 2014 and as ever profits and losses have been calculated to backing at £1 level stakes using Betfair Starting Price (BSP).

Hurdles to Chases

A look at all runners who are running in a chase, who raced over hurdles LTO:

all runners running in chase who ran in hurdles last time

This is a slightly higher strike rate than I expected, I’m guessing it will be a lot lower the other way round (LTO chases to hurdles).

Now a good proportion of these runners will have been having their first ever run over fences as it is the norm to start over hurdles and then move to chases.

Hence, here is some data analyzing the number of previous runs in chases:

results breakdown by number of previous chase runs

It seems from this that horses that have had at least two previous runs in a chase are much better value when they switch back to chases from hurdles, than those making their chase debut or those having had one previous run in a chase.

It should also be noted that the figures for ‘2 or more’ are not skewed in the least by big priced winners. Hence, I do think any horse with 2 or more previous chase starts when switching back to a chase from hurdles are worth a second glance.

Let’s study these runners in a little more detail:

Hurdles to Chases – Horses with 2 or more chase starts.

Time to look to see if any trainer excels with this type of runner.

Here are the top performing trainers in terms of strike rate who have had at least 50 qualifiers and secured a win strike rate in excess of 18%:

breakdown by trainer

9 of the 12 trainers in profit, and any qualifying horse (e.g., 2+ previous chase runs) from these trainers is worth close scrutiny.

Some big names in there too including perhaps the two greatest UK NH trainers in Paul Nicholls and Nicky Henderson.

A look at the market data now.

Focusing on ALL qualifiers from ALL trainers that were priced 8/1 or shorter – that’s the Industry SP not BSP, you get the following impressive results:

when betting at the head of the market only

I am surprised but heartened to have found such a positive market based angle.

Not only that, but results have also been consistent year in year out as the table below shows:

breakdown by year

I definitely think any horse (with 2+ previous runs in chases) switching back to chases from hurdles when priced 8/1 or shorter is worth very close scrutiny.

Even more so if trained by one of the 12 trainers that appeared in the earlier table (their combined figures show returns of 30p in the £, well above the overall figure of 7.7p).

Hurdles to Chases (All Runners)

Back now to look at some data for ALL horses switching obstacles, not just those with 2 or more chase starts.

Here are some negative stats that are worth being aware of:

1. Horses that were pulled up in the hurdle race last time out have proved poor investments winning under 9% of the time with BSP losses equating to nearly 20 pence in the £;

2. There are not many qualifiers aged 12 or older but of the 318 such horses just 17 have been successful back in a chase, which equates to a strike rate of just over 5%. Losses to BSP have been huge standing at 60 pence in the £;

3.  Avoid horses trying to win their chase at Cheltenham – they have won just 1 in every 11 starts for losses of 31p in the £;

4. Horses racing in a non handicap chase would have lost you 23 pence for every £1 staked.

David Renham

What about those horses which transfer from Chases and go over Hurdles? Dave takes a look for us and you can read the rest of the article by upgrading your account here.

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