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SPEED ON THE SAND All-Weather racing in Britain has always been looked upon as the poor cousin of turf racing, mainly due to the low quality of racehorse it attracts and the dismal prize-money which is attributed to the majority of the races under this particular code. Relations are improving, thanks to the emergence of the universally acclaimed Polytrack surface, which is generally accepted to be a safer and fairer surface than the older sandbased compositions Equitrak and Fibresand. Prizemoney is considerably higher too, which means a better class of runner is attracted which, in turn, leads to more interest from punters and the media, and this has helped raise the profile of racing on artificial surfaces in this country. From experience of compiling my own speed ratings for many years, I know that the art of rating performances by the use of the clock can reap rich rewards, and the one area of speed ratings which stands out from the rest has always been All-Weather racing. There seems to be fewer races which develop into tactical affairs on sand than on turf, possibly due to the general lower class of race on the all-weather courses, with many races of these events being run at a true gallop right from the off - this results in more races being available for time analysis which leads to more reliable and accurate speed figures. So, if speed ratings are to be presumed more accurate on sand than on turf, this should be reflected in the results of Topspeed, the Racing Posts very own speed rating compiler. If we run through the last 18 years of flat season data using the RSB program, searching for the results of all horses which were toprated by Topspeed, and had an SP of shorter than 4/1 (this is to concentrate on only those horses which were deemed good enough on form to go close), we arrive at the following results‌. 3 SAMPLE FOR FURTHER REPRODUCTION OR DISTRIBUTION 2011.

SURFACE WINS RUNS STRIKE% LSP LSP% All 10443 27718 37.68 -163.93 -0.59 Turf 8717 22803 38.23 -85.40 -0.37 AW 1726 4915 35.12 -78.52 -1.60 Not exactly the result I was expecting, with the turf results showing a better figure on both of the important factors, the strike rate and LSP%. This seemed to fly in the face of logic, so I delved deeper to try and find out why the results had been the opposite of what I thought they would be. I decided to take a closer look at the all-weather results, and the table below shows the results from each of the last 16 seasons…. YEAR WINS RUNS STRIKE% LSP LSP% 1989 12 30 40.00 4.19 13.97 1990 56 147 38.10 8.46 5.76 1991 65 168 38.69 1.31 0.78 1992 66 183 36.07 0.44 0.24 1993 96 247 38.87 6.66 2.70 1994 71 236 30.08 -12.57 -5.33 1995 103 281 36.65 4.83 1.72 1996 99 303 32.67 -35.91 -11.85 1997 111 296 37.50 18.61 6.29 1998 132 392 33.67 -20.10 -5.13 1999 173 448 38.62 7.68 1.71 2000 198 538 36.80 4.88 0.91 2001 151 424 35.61 8.26 1.95 2002 115 327 35.17 19.35 5.92 2003 121 354 34.18 2.00 0.56 2004 157 541 29.02 -96.61 -17.86 TOTAL 1726 4915 35.12 -78.52 -1.60 For some reason, 2004 resulted in a heavy loss – not only did the strike rate drop from a supremely consistent mid-30’s figure to a little over 29%, but the LSP loss was almost 100 points. In fact, were it not for this particular season, the total LSP would have been in profit rather than loss. 4 SAMPLE FOR FURTHER REPRODUCTION OR DISTRIBUTION 2011.

Why did the results in 2004 suddenly take such a dramatic downturn? My immediate theory was targeted towards the arrival of the Polytrack surface at Wolverhampton racecourse, which replaced the original Fibresand. The old surface had become dangerously in need of replacement, which resulted in some unreliable results, and when the new track was laid later in the year the early results were once again untrustworthy due to Polytrack being a surface which encourages falsely run events. Therefore it’s not surprising to find that the results from Wolverhampton were largely responsible for the poor results from 2004. The three all-weather tracks are analysed individually below‌. WOLVERHAMPTON YEAR WINS RUNS STRIKE% LSP LSP% 1993 0 1 0.00 -1.00 -100.00 1994 29 94 30.85 -4.53 -4.82 1995 41 104 39.42 15.49 14.89 1996 39 99 39.39 7.58 7.66 1997 31 92 33.70 2.35 2.55 1998 39 126 30.95 -19.05 -15.12 1999 56 157 35.67 -12.90 -8.22 2000 75 213 35.21 -11.78 -5.53 2001 66 161 40.99 23.85 14.81 2002 42 128 32.81 -2.43 -1.90 2003 45 128 35.16 -5.14 -4.02 2004 50 202 24.75 -51.43 -25.46 TOTAL 513 1505 34.09 -58.99 -3.92 LINGFIELD YEAR WINS RUNS STRIKE% LSP LSP% 1989 5 15 33.33 -0.82 -5.47 1990 19 52 36.54 3.23 6.21 1991 32 85 37.65 7.68 9.04 1992 33 91 36.26 -3.76 -4.13 1993 35 101 34.65 -11.48 -11.37 1994 17 78 21.79 -21.75 -27.88 1995 41 101 40.59 10.01 9.91 1996 32 115 27.83 -30.56 -26.57 5 SAMPLE FOR FURTHER REPRODUCTION OR DISTRIBUTION 2011.

1997 44 108 40.74 17.28 16.00 1998 55 145 37.93 14.44 9.96 1999 68 161 42.24 17.43 10.83 2000 60 166 36.14 4.22 2.54 2001 32 95 33.68 5.94 6.25 2002 33 101 32.67 -1.87 -1.85 2003 33 112 29.46 -14.69 -13.12 2004 43 170 25.29 -48.36 -28.45 TOTAL 582 1696 34.32 -53.06 -3.13 SOUTHWELL YEAR WINS RUNS STRIKE% LSP LSP% 1989 7 15 46.67 5.01 33.40 1990 37 95 38.95 5.23 5.51 1991 33 83 39.76 -6.37 -7.67 1992 33 92 35.87 4.20 4.57 1993 61 145 42.07 19.14 13.20 1994 25 64 39.06 13.71 21.42 1995 21 76 27.63 -20.67 -27.20 1996 28 89 31.46 -12.93 -14.53 1997 36 96 37.50 -1.02 -1.06 1998 38 121 31.40 -15.49 -12.80 1999 49 130 37.69 3.15 2.42 2000 63 159 39.62 12.44 7.82 2001 53 168 31.55 -21.53 -12.82 2002 40 98 40.82 23.65 24.13 2003 43 114 37.72 21.83 19.15 2004 64 169 37.87 3.18 1.88 TOTAL 631 1714 36.81 33.53 1.96 Polytrack was introduced to Lingfield in November 2001 and to Wolverhampton in 2004. It seems perfectly logical to me to assume that the poor recent Topspeed results from these two tracks is down to this new ‘speed-rating unfriendly’ surface. Southwell, after all, has continued to produce consistent figures in recent years, as has turf. So from now in this study, we will consider only those races which took part on nonPolytrack all-weather surfaces (Equitrack & Fibresand). 6 SAMPLE FOR FURTHER REPRODUCTION OR DISTRIBUTION 2011.

Experience has taught me that race distance is very much a key factor in the study and use of speed ratings; the longer the race, the less likely that a true pace will ensue, leading to slow times and unreliable form. With this in mind, we’ll now look at the stats from the last 5 seasons of these Topspeed selections on non-Polytrack all-weather surfaces (SP<=4/1) broken down by distance… DISTANCE WINS RUNS STRIKE% LSP LSP% <=10f 466 1267 36.78 65.04 5.13 10f> 145 441 32.88 -44.55 -10.10 TOTAL 611 1708 35.77 20.49 1.20 As can be seen, quite clearly a marked difference of fortunes over long and short distances. There is only 3.9% between them in terms of strike rate but the considerable gulf in LSP% shows that the runners over the longer trips are bad value. Concentrating on the runners which contested races over 10f or less, the yearly breakdown since 2000 looks like this…. YEAR WINS RUNS STRIKE% LSP LSP% 2000 159 416 38.22 18.52 4.45 2001 112 309 36.25 22.73 7.36 2002 59 168 35.12 10.51 6.26 2003 74 174 42.53 40.57 23.32 2004 62 200 31.00 -27.29 -13.65 TOTAL 466 1267 36.78 65.04 5.13 The main thing to notice here is the poor return from 2004, but the vast majority of these losses came from Wolverhampton in the months leading up to the laying of the new Polytrack surface. The Fibresand at Wolverhampton was in no fit state for horse racing in the latter stages of its existence and I’m sure this is the reason for the poor results. The final filter we are going to add here is field size, and once again it is a logical inclusion – small fields are far more likely to produce a false pace (and therefore a false and unreliable result) than larger ones, and the following fieldsize breakdown supports that theory….


FIELD SIZE WINS RUNS STRIKE% LSP LSP% 2-4 runners 9 21 42.86 -2.86 -13.62 5-7 runners 83 231 35.93 -19.26 -8.34 8-10 runners 181 472 38.35 34.25 7.26 11-16 runners 193 543 35.54 52.91 9.74 TOTAL 466 1267 36.78 65.04 5.13 At least eight runners in a race is a must have rule for this method, as speed ratings are worth less as the field size diminishes. As Lingfield and Wolverhampton have made the transition to Polytrack, Southwell is the only current allweather course to have a nonPolytrack surface in place, so it is this track which will provide the selections for this method. So the final rules and results are as followsâ&#x20AC;Ś a) Southwell all-weather races only b) Horse must be top rated by Topspeed c) Horse must be sent off at shorter odds than 4/1 d) Only consider races 10f or shorter in distance e) Only consider races with at least eight runners YEAR WINS RUNS STRIKE% LSP LSP% 2000 123 324 37.96 27.73 8.56 2001 90 261 34.48 11.39 4.36 2002 51 144 35.42 12.76 8.86 2003 67 148 45.27 49.86 33.69 2004 43 139 30.94 -15.58 -11.21 TOTAL 374 1016 36.81 86.16 8.48


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