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SMARTsig Confidential 11. 02 February 2004

In this month's issue . . . 2

Up Front - A First Time

SMARTsig

4

Equine Body Language (part III)

Glen Ferguson

8

The Value Table

“Filly”

11 Using an Odds Line to make a Profit

Steve Tilley

18 Stiff Courses-Actually

Stefan Perry

29 Revisiting Trainer Form

Email Group

34 The SOLIDUS—Summary

Davey Towey

39 Fundamentals of Handicapping (Part II)

Barry Meadow

46 iBetX – The Betting Exchange & Batch Betting

Malcolm Smith

57 Chasing Exacta Profits

Trevor Southern

59 Elimination Biases for Sprint Races

Eric Bowers

67 Real-Time Staking

Stefan Perry

69 NH Horses-To-Follow Monitor

Terry Collins

76 Order Form and Subscription Rates

NEXT ISSUE

March 2004, issue 11.03, is scheduled for posting on March 3rd


SMARTsig confidential 11.02

SMART The intelligent choice

www.smartsig.com

UP FRONT

A NEW BEGINNING

I

t’s quite a responsibility taking over an institution. This is my first magazine and the concept of publishing deadlines has never been clearer.

In reality the deadlines are no more onerous than any others, and certainly not anywhere as critical and onerous as those self-imposed ones for decisions on what to bet (or lay, these days) and when and at what price. While the newspapers are full of the stresses of the corporate life (why does it fascinate journalists so much, apart from the ease of the copy?), I don’t think there are many occupations, obsessions or hobbies that generate the level of stress that the above-average racing investor has to take on, often daily. Yet if Smartsig members are typical, good humour is the order of the day, 99 days out of 100. And all this in the face of increasing complexity. Never mind that the everyday stuff has increased in quantity: there are more races and more runners than ever before, but that’s only the ‘ingredients’. The ‘methods’ have increased, if not exponentially, then certainly manifold, with the exchanges and spreads providing a slew of new opportunities and problems, as one contributor explains this month. And over the ten years, the quantity, quality and availability of data has significantly improved. We’re all in need of as much help as we can get just to cope (well, I’m speaking for myself). Which is where Smartsig has always come in,, and will continue to do. I’ve spent some time in the last month looking through Smartsig issues all the way back to 1994. What’s clear from this is that SMARTies have got more ambitious and more sophisticated as the challenges have got tougher. At the same time many of the themes go round and round. I still have in my very yellow cuttings file from the late seventies some of the original letters to the Handicap Book (as it then was) from Van Der Wheil, and lo! and 2

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behold! in the third issue of Smartsig, there’s an article attempting an explanation. And ten years on, the racing forums across the web are still debating the somewhat mystical nature of those contributions. On another mystical front, it’s too hard to resist the story of the coming closure of the Isiris tipping service, as told in the Observer a couple of Sunday’s ago: apparently the real reason they are closing down their tipping business is because, as their website announces “2004 will be the final year for ISIRIS. If it has never been realised by the majority of the public, then it may now be known that ISIRIS has been built on the religious and spiritual principles of Ancient Egypt and the Druids. 14 years completes a doublecycle of SEVEN YEARS and represents completion. We are therefore unable to continue as before following the end of our 14th year on 31st December 2004”. Perhaps this means that there will be no profits to be made from tipping in a year’s time because all results will be predetermined, or perhaps all results will be completely random, and no analysis will be useful. Either way, we’ll be monitoring it. And in the meantime, as a service to Smartsig subscribers who may not know what they have been missing, from the next issue we will be carrying monthly horoscopes to aid selections (unless the clamour against is so great—actually one letter or email will do the trick). If you’d rather work with hard data, just a reminder that the Flat Results CD for 2003 is now available, along with other Flat and NH data going back to 1993. Either direct through the website or on the usual phone number: 0845 644 6712. On a nearly final note, we shouldn’t forget that Smartsig, like racing generally, has a growing international component. Many on the email group were well aware of the strength behind Choisir last summer, and Brian Blackwell from Australia has highlighted the similar strength behind the former Aussie hurdler, Specular. Even though he is now owned and based in this hemisphere, there is a buzz about him that doesn’t go away, even after a first outing seventeen lengths beating by Rooster Booster. Most post-race commentary was upbeat. One to add a little frisson for March! Thanks for all the good wishes we have received as we pick up the reins of Smartsig, and thanks to Stef too for his unstinting help in making this issue come together in the same way the other 114 did so successfully. All errors, infelicities, and layout “nasties” are now my responsibility. In the meantime, all feedback really will be welcomed. February 2004

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In the final part of an Australian’s perspective on the subject of studying the horse in the paddock, we turn to movement in the paddock and onto the track. First published in Practical Punting Monthly

EQUINE BODY LANGUAGE (part III) Glen Ferguson

I

n this final article, I will complete the picture of the horse and put some colour into the image I’ve been building by stepping back a little and taking in the whole scene of the congested mounting yard of the Powerhouse Boutique Hotels Classic at Doomben. Large fields lead to congestion in the yard and some horses just don’t like each other. I look for the horse that sails around with gay abandon and does not care what is going on around it. The band this day was loud and it was down at one end of the ring. Some horses were spooked by the noise when they neared that end of the ring; others were very professional and did not let the music distract them from the task at hand. I want to ensure the horse that I am attracted to is not spending energy before it is necessary. Healthy fit horses by and large do not distract easily and this is true of humans, too. When we are feeling very well and ‘on top of the world’, the ability to look on the bright side of life bubbles near by. Horses can do this and Tellson was a very good example. In my opinion Gabfest was ‘meaner’ looking but this was not a detraction to me. He was simply conserving energy. I seek horses that just want to get on with the job. Trevor Miller has a good horse named Baal Yabba. I refer to him because he is an interesting horse. He can be off-putting because of the perceived things he does. He is a very good horse to look at, tall, athletic, gorgeous coat, easy to 'read' when fit. But some may think he is a nervous type, so here I will discuss them on the lead.

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I have everything I want... good coat, strength, length, ‘loaves of bread’, powerful thighs. In the previous article I mentioned attitude. I marry that up with the information I have here. In a perfect scenario I will have a horse that is serenity personified, not a hair out of place, but this can be elusive or, conversely these horses will all look the same. Some experts do not want to see a horse break from a walk in the mounting enclosure and will dismiss the winning prospects of that horse for no other reason that it broke from a walk during the preliminary in the enclosure. I would like to introduce the Linford Christie bounce. When he was behind the starting line for the 100 metres final at the Olympics he would gently bounce on the spot and stare down the track, putting himself in the zone. Good fit horses can do this too; Baal Yabba is a good example. He doesn't walk beside his strapper [Ed: Australian term for lad : originally in England, ‘to strap’ was used interchangeably with ‘to groom’], he bounces, gently, never out of line and there is no pressure on his lead, he won't be pulling his strapper all over the place. These horses will look like they are enjoying the walk with their strapper, and their heads don't move much except to take in what ever it is that interests them. I can add here that some horses truly love their strappers and I believe would they die for them if they had to. As long as there is no evidence of excessive stress, the ‘Linford Bounce’ is an acceptable trait to observe in the enclosure. When I am up visiting the stables it is like being in the forest surrounded by tall trees. That is why I want to do only certain things there. I am too close to see the big picture. From the enclosure I find it advantageous to be viewing from an elevated position if possible to be able to compare the horses with each other. I like to check that the traits established before the jockey came out have been maintained or, conversely, if a negative trait has been abandoned. A horse occasionally will break from his walk or not be showing sufficient interest in proceedings to warrant his position in my thoughts. But when the jockey is aboard the 'light comes on', the slightly anxious horse relaxes and stars to enjoy itself. The disinterested horse may pick itself up and, as Banjo Paterson once said, “snuff the battle with delight”, but mainly I seek consistency. February 2004

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Once the horses are on the track, this becomes my final assessment and not a lot of people do this, but I insist on seeing the horses’ preliminary. There are a couple of points that can be enhanced here, not to mention some tricky aspects, which may decide the fate of my decision. Firstly I need to see fluency in a horse's movement. I may have already noticed a horse being led around with its head twisted or down, or constantly on the side, or even his entire head and neck region turned away. The prelim can confirm what I have already seen. I do not want anything but a perfect line from nose to tail, with the tail pluming out the back. I look for the horse to be relaxed, even if is asked to work up the straight it should not pull or been seen to be testing the bit or the jockey, just controlled power. If a horse walks out on the track and does not immediately trot but walks and looks up to admire the crowd this is a positive sign. If a jockey can relax on his mount and ride his horse around to the barrier with one finger through the buckle on the reigns this is a rare good sign. No head tossing is tolerated. If a horse is not focused by now I believe the winning chances are diminished. A sign of a nervous disposition can be spotted when a horse lifts its tail like it is preparing to dump. If they are already on the track or in the enclosure this is the last thing I think they should be thinking about. In the previously mentioned Classic, Jar Jar Binks was high on my list of chances and nothing adverse had been revealed, but suddenly there it was. As he was in the company of the clerk of the course going past the grandstand on his way to the barriers (and if I hadn't been looking I would not have seen it), he lifted his tail. That was all it took for me to drop him cold from contention. It is a rare thing for a horse to do that and win particularly in a good quality race. As the horses approach the barrier it is time to move, time to dream, time to think back over what you have seen, consider your thoughts about this race from this morning at breakfast. By the time I had ‘read the horses’ I had narrowed the chances in this particular race down to six from the ten chances remaining after I had ‘done the form'. 6

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I never wager on six horses so I still needed to reduce the number of prospects I closed my eyes and pictured the scene from the enclosure thinking about the horses I had continually been drawn to those that kept dragging my gaze back. This is a key, some horses drag me back time and again, I respect that occasion when it happens. I made my decision and bless them both, Tellson and Gabfest went bang - bang. Remember that I mentioned right at the start, this is a very subjective art and is subject to constant review, but as with many things where money is concerned it is subject to the three P's: practice, patience, persistence.

SMARTsig members-only email discussion group.

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The liveliest place to be if you want to keep tabs on key racing analysis issues and debates

. . . it’s all talk!

February 2004

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Filly responds to Rob Morris’s earlier article on what represents true ’value’ with some thoughts on a method for assessing the elusive attribute

THE VALUE TABLE "Filly"

R

ob Morris’s very useful contribution to constructing your own odds-line (December 2003 issue) once again threw up the ever present question inherent in all such methods -if you accept the “value” premise that a long term profit can only be made if you back at prices greater than the horse's true chance of winning, how it is possible to be sure what represents value in the first place?

No price—however calculated—can ever genuinely represent a true chance: there are simply too many variables, many of which cannot be measured statistically. In practice, I personally feel—as I have said before—the best one can reasonably manage is the careful inflation of those chances to the degree that the final price will always allow a healthy margin of error; which, in my book, is only another way of creating an opportunity to turn a profit. But how would we know that was the case prior to the event—the crux of the matter, after all? We may find that such calculations, used in day to day betting, tend to turn a profit, but is this sufficient to guard against a possible future statistical backlash, and so eventual loss? The truth is, relying merely on isolated applications of the (any) such formula we cannot really know. We may be perfectly confident in the process, of course, but then that's not quite the same thing. In my view, how you actually choose to determine “value” can be almost arbitrary, the only proviso being that it be soundly form based. The vital point is that the chosen method must always be applied in precisely the same way and with the same result: a purely mathematical exercise, with no 8

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subjective bias. Then it is simply a matter of sitting back and monitoring the results over a reasonable period of time to see if you’ve got it right. A spreadsheet will do this for you very nicely, the required formulas being self-evident. V.O

%

Win

Lose

11/4 7/2 4/1 9/2 5/1 11/2 6/1 13/2 7/1 15/2 8/1 9/1

26 22 20 18 17 15 14 13 12 12 11 10

7 6 11 9 11 14 17 11 13 18 19 18

19 19 47 39 59 63 74 58 61 79 98 110

16

154

726

Ave %

Win

Lose

Sample

S/R

26 25 58 48 70 77 91 69 74 97 117 128

27 24 19 19 16 18 19 16 18 19 16 14

880

18

Sample

S/R

Edge

"+/-"

1 2 -1 1 -1 3 5 3 6 7 5 4

0 2 -3 2 -4 14 28 14 24 56 54 52

2 Edge

238 Return

Below is a set of examples derived from my own records. The range of prices in the left hand column (11/4 –9/1) represent my own preferred trading range, but you can choose whatever you like, only bearing in mind that the shorter the price the fewer the qualifying selections. Next in line comes the true percentage chances of those odds, with an average for the entire range on the bottom line. Each win/loss goes in the next 2 columns (totalled at the bottom), followed by their addition to produce a summary for that price. The strike rate goes in next, again with its average at the bottom. The “edge” column shows the difference between the true percentage average for the full range (16%) and the actual strike rate (18%) —here giving us an advantage over “value” of some 2 percentage points. Finally, we have the individual and overall totals for all the selections had you backed them level stakes at the value odds. No allowances have been made for overlays, only the inbuilt profit margin inherent in the calculated price. February 2004

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Ideally, you would want the differential between edge and average percentage range of the odds to be as small as possible. A large edge may look encouragingly profitable on paper, but in practice it doesn't translate into very practical betting, giving you very few (if any) selections once the required profit margin has been added. Finding yourself needing 5/1 about a horse with a forecast price of 614 is a bit like standing in a very long bus queue: you see every bus that comes along but you never manage to get on! In practice, I have found an overall difference of around 2% the most practical, but inevitably the figure will vary (though rarely wildly), and shouldn't be taken as a firm indicator at any given moment. We're dealing with probabilities here, remember, not absolutes -but fortunately that's all we need. Always keep in mind that the value table in no way determines the full profit you would have made on the selections, but only whether the actual strike rate was in line with the true chances. In the table this is largely borne out, and it would not be unreasonable (certainly over a sample of this size) to assume we had found a perfectly reliable way of calculating “value”. In the event that it came out the other way (the edge showed a negative expectancy) it would be necessary to add a compensatory percentage margin to the future prices until the statistical tide was suitably turned though this will, of course, alter the strike rate. Conversely, if we had overvalued our choices—making the edge unrealistically large—it would be necessary to dilute the calculations to bring the result into line. In fact, calculating “value” is a continual trade off between gaining a decent profit margin on one hand and a reasonable number of qualifying selections on the other. Too great a profit expectancy will drastically reduce (even eliminate) any qualifiers: too many qualifiers will make the profits too small to warrant the effort involved. If it were not such a balancing act, gaining a suitable advantage would be no more complicated than doubling the forecast prices. That way you could virtually guarantee every runner was at value! But you would get seriously p.o. in that bus queue... Updating results in the win/lose section of the table as we go gives a running indicator of how accurate is the method of calculation, and is a useful way to isolate which price ranges that method most favours -though 10

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in theory, of course, it should favour all equally. There's no need to spend time waiting for a sufficient sample on each price (this can literally take years if you're working the short end of the range); simply letting the spreadsheet calculate an average for the entire range and comparing it with the ongoing strike rate is a perfectly valid way of cutting corners without compromise. Beware of very small individual samples skewing the overall result, however. Where the individual sample remains too low to be of any statistical significance temporarily delete it and let the spreadsheet adjust for a more balanced picture. Any six randomly chosen prices of sufficient sample size should represent a reliable indication of the way things are going. In my view, a season or two experimenting along these lines would be time much better spent than actually betting, and would put anyone in line for consistent profits in the years to come. To get such a table right means you need never have a losing season again -and that's not merely an opinion.

The smartsig smartsig Wolverhampton get-together

The Date:

Saturday, 13th March 2004

The Location: g

Holiday Inn Garden Court Dunstall Park (attached to the racecourse) Gorsebrook Rd Wolverhampton

The Plan:

If you’re going racing, meet in the bar 2 hours before the first race. Meet again half an hour onwards after last race in the bar. It’s an informal occasion, with no agenda and little or no arrangment hassle such as payments in advance.

More details next month, or email Mark Littlewood : mal@dmu.ac.uk

Be there: meet fellow Smarties and new friends February 2004

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The first of a new series which shows how by converting ratings to a set of odds, making a profit is the outcome.

USING AN ODDS LINE TO MAKE A PROFIT Steve Tilley

T

his is the first of a series of articles describing a method of producing odds from ratings. Now the next question is why you should want to do this in the first place? Surely if you just bet on the top rated horse in the race, if your ratings are any good, you should make a profit. As most people who draw up their own ratings will tell you, life isn’t that easy. My plan is to show in this article how by generating odds from a generally available set of ratings, you can generate a profit. The ratings I am using are those produced by Adrian Massey. These are freely available from his website and he also produces extensive historical tables showing how the ratings have performed. The data I am using comes from National Hunt races in September, October and November of 2003. I have only selected races where all the horses had a rating but otherwise there is no other race selection. This gives 444 races and 2714 runners. First lets look at backing just the top rated horses. If horses have equal ratings, the one Adrian puts top of his list is selected. Races 444

Winners 125

Profit -38.85

Percentage -8.75%

The profit is taken to a unit level stake at starting price. It would be lovely if we had figures for the price on the Exchanges in the morning, or an hour before the start, but as this is not available at present we will have to use SP. Top Rated gives a loss, but under 10%, so probably better than betting blindly. 12

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If we take the top two in the ratings. Bets 888

Winners 225

Profit -96

Percentage -10.81%

Here we show a larger loss but we have trapped half the winners. For each horse we now use a method, which I will describe in detail in a later article, to produce odds for this horse in a particular race. The only numbers used to produce this are Adrian Massey’s original ratings. The odds are produced in the form of Exchange or Tote odds and that is how we will refer to odds throughout this article. As an example take the 2.40 Handicap Hurdle at Hereford on October 2nd. Horse GRIMSHAW SPANDAU DANTE'S BATTLE DANZIG PRINCE DR CHARLIE

rating 578 567 520 459 444

We can convert these ratings into odds. The advantage is the actual odds divided by the odds line and then 1 Horse GRIMSHAW SPANDAU DANTE'S BATTLE DANZIG PRINCE DR CHARLIE

rating 578 567 520 459 444

Odds line 3.14 3.44 5.18 9.34 10.92

Actual odds Advantage -0.450 1.73 0.307 4.50 0.543 8.00 0.391 13.00 0.008 11.00

subtracted. From a brief glance at this we can see that Grimshaw is not a value bet as he has a negative advantage. Apparently Dantes Battle is the best bet, as we are getting 8.00 on a horse that should be 5.18 (7/1 on a 4/1 shot in bookmaking parlance). We shall see later that we wouldn’t have had a bet in this race. It was won by Dr Charlie. So having done this with all our races, lets see what happens where we bet on all those where there is a positive advantage.

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Bets 1189

www.smartsig.com

Winners 146

Profit -86.34

Percentage -7.26%

Bets with a low advantage do very badly: for example here are all the bets with an advantage of less than –0.5. Bets 540

Winners 98

Profit -138.04

Percentage -25.56%

However, lets now look at all bets with a an advantage of greater than 50% Bets 576

Winners 37

Profit -160.5

Percentage -27.86%

What is going on here? How come bets with a high advantage using our system do less well than bets with a low advantage? The reason for this is, I believe, that the betting market is a very good assessor of a horse’s chances of winning a race. If we make our odds line and it deviates markedly from the starting price or odds offered then I would put money on the betting market being correct. If a horse is so good why isn’t someone backing it? There is an American story to the effect that if a man bets you that he can make the Jack of Diamonds leap out of a pack of cards and squirt cider in your ear, don’t bet unless you want an earful of cider. If a horse appears too good a value, it probably isn’t! Looking through the data we find that blindly applying an advantage of 550% produces the following figures. Bets 521

Winners 97

Profit 50.13

Percentage 9.62%

So what we’re saying is when we have a reasonable edge we should bet, but if the advantage looks too great then no bet. Using the above with just top rated gets us Bets 143

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Winners 47

Profit 24.88

Percentage 17.40%

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Using the top four in the ratings gives us Bets 386

Winners 91

Profit 76.13

Percentage 19.72%

Clearly this approach has some merits. The next step is to look and see how the profit varies with different advantages. Advantage 0.05<0.1 0.1<0.2 0.2<0.3 0.3<0.4 0.4<0.5

Bets 74 121 139 103 84

Winners 16 24 27 18 12

Profit 21.77 24.36 4.62 13.88 -14.50

Percentage 29.42% 20.13% 3.32% 13.48% -17.26%

Archie 1.22 0.87 0.87 0.03 0.14

Here we see that the lower advantages actually do quite well compared to the > 0.4. Thus Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ll set the advantage we will accept as between 0.05 and 0.4. One of the themes running through the e-mail group is that certain ranges of odds seem to produce more winners than others. Lets put that in and say we will only bet between 3.00 and 13.00 (from 2/1 to 12/1). That should keep us away from short priced favourites and also those long priced outsiders. So now selecting horses with an advantage of 0.05 to 0.4 and starting prices between 3.00 and 13.00. Bets 314

Winners 69

Profit 76.13

Percentage 19.72%

This has an Archie score of 5.39. Now we can check this back with the advantage bands Advantage 0.05<0.1 0.1<0.2 0.2<0.3 0.3<0.4

February 2004

Bets 48 89 102 75

Winners 12 19 24 14

Profit 18.83 31.75 34.83 0.25

Percentage 39.23% 35.67% 34.15% 0.33%

Archie 2.80 1.47 2.60 0.06

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We can drop the advantage to 0.05 – 0.3 as that’s where the profits appear to be. This gives us Bets 239

Winners 55

Profit 85.41

Percentage 35.74%

With an Archie score of 6.46! Now this is fairly spectacular in that using an odds line and two rules we have come up with something fairly profitable. The other nice thing is that the two rules we have picked are seemingly based in common sense: a) go for value, but if it is appears too good it probably is, and b) bet horses between 3.00 and 13.00, which is reputedly a profitable area. This has shown how an odds line can be used to make a profit over three months of jump racing. Now with an appropriate roll of drums I would like to present my second set of data. This is all Flat races in May June July and August 2003 where Adrian Massey rated all the horses in the race. We have 1770 races and 18827 runners. I shall now use exactly the same rules as we did for the National Hunt season. We end up with Bets 1278

Winners 179

Profit 219.08

Percentage 17.14%

This has an Archie score of 3.24. This is with no adjustments for dealing with a different type of racing. I have assumed that Adrian Massey’s ratings will take all this into account. I have merely created an odds line and followed it. For those who prefer laying on the exchanges. All Horses at less than 3.00 Bets 693

Winners 301

Profit -45.65

Percentage -6.59%

If we look at horses with an advantage of less than –0.5 Bets 363

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Winners 149

Profit -47.78

Percentage -13.16%

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Clearly this second group offers more profitable laying than the first. Or even odds-on shots with an advantage less than –0.5 Bets 149

Winners 75

Profit -18.9

Percentage -12.68%

I believe that this is good evidence that this method of generating odds can be combined profitably with Adrian Massey’s ratings. However I also believe that this method is sufficiently general that it should work with any set of similar ratings, say Timeform or Raceform. Over the subsequent articles I will describe how it works and, with a little help from the more Excel-literate among us, put an Excel Worksheet on the website that will allow anyone to use this method. I would like Tony Hazzard for his helpful comments. Ratings by Adrian Massey, © 2003. All rights reserved. Used by permission.

smartsig results-on-disk 2003 Flat results are now available Order online at £35 on CDROM The only limit is your imagination ! 10 seasons NH (1993/4–2002/03) & 11 seasons Flat (1993–2003) PC comma separated text files on CD only £35 post paid per season.

SAVE! purchase any 5 seasons or more at the one time and qualify for 20% discount (5 seasons @ £140 post paid - 10 seasons @ £280 etc.) Only available through SMARTsig, PO Box 24, Rye, TN31 6XT Credit/debit cards ‘phone 0845 644 6712 (local rate) fax: 0870 420 8817 or via secure internet card transactions by following the links from

www.smartsig.com

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The relative difficulties of UK steeplechase courses have often been tabulated, but such judgments are inescapably subjective and therefore vary from person to person. Is it about time we asked the horses who jump the obstacles for their view?

STIFF COURSES - ACTUALLY?

F

Stefan Perry

irst, a confession. I own up, I have been to the cinema, and I did go specifically to see Love Actually.

My god, that ‘coming out��� admission took some strength of character. And although it may well have shattered my rough, tough, rugby-paying, beer swilling image, I do feel much better now that it is out in the open. As for my excuse, there were obviously extenuating circumstances at play. Our daughter was used as a film extra and can be seen quite prominently in the early part of the movie. She’d already been to see the film of course - as soon as it was released - but her feedback on its merits took the form of a single word review. This rhymed with ‘trap’ and began with a capital ‘C’. Since that early review however, we’d heard nothing but praise for it, one family friend having seen it twice already - and planning to go again! From my own point of view, I am merely thankful that the face I went to see appeared very early on. As for the film - formulaic is the term the critics would use I think. It would have been far more informative if they’d called it “Four Bridgett Jones Weddings and a Notting Hill Funeral”. The experience wasn’t helped by my sitting next to man who went into fits of uncontrollable laughter if any of the cast so much as raised one eyebrow higher than the other. And every time a side-splitting ‘rude’ word was uttered I thought we’d have to rush him into intensive care. My guess is this was his fourth or fifth visit. When I first looked at my watch, we were a mere 15 minutes into the film. By the time I’d glanced about 37 more times, I was beginning to think that we’d entered a time-warp - what other explanation can there possibly be for time slowing down like this? My attention span was being severely tested.

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After 45 minutes I decided that 1Âź hours window shopping waiting for my wife was the much to be preferred alternative, so I left. But what do I know?. Love Actually has a BAFTA nomination for outstanding British film of the year, and is also listed in a good few other categories too. Needless to say, such things are all about personal opinion. This fact came to light recently following a debate on the SMARTsig email discussion group regarding ranking steeplechasers on their jumping ability. Such a measure, at least in part, needs to take account of the difficulty of the courses where it has performed. Can a horse whoâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s never tackled a tough track be compared with another who has been severely tested? Course comparisons are fraught with such dangers, a inexact science indeed. Just whose opinion is the right one? One measure that is widely used for example merely examines the percentage of fallers at a given track. Table 1 shows such a measure over the eleven-year period from season 1992-3 to 2002-3 inclusive. First column is the course venue (although not all still hold jump meetings, but this is an historical record). Second column gives the number of runners competing over their respective chasing courses, column three indicates the number of fallers and unseated rider. The final column shows the percentage. Table 1: Percentage fallers/UR by course, past 11 seasons Chase Course Aintree Ascot Ayr Bangor Carlisle Cartmel Catterick Cheltenham Chepstow Exeter Doncaster Musselburgh Fakenham Folkestone Fontwell Haydock Hereford February 2004

Runners 2177 1985 2550 2893 2226 842 2184 4964 2390 3106 1811 1663 1656 2360 3285 1613 3949

Fell and/or Unseated 526 206 347 330 126 111 276 569 257 285 243 230 208 288 333 143 380

Percentage 24.2% 10.4% 13.6% 11.4% 5.7% 13.2% 12.6% 11.5% 10.8% 9.2% 13.4% 13.8% 12.6% 12.2% 10.1% 8.9% 9.6% 19


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Table 1: (continued) Chase Course

Runners

Hexham Huntingdon Kelso Kempton Leicester Lingfield Ludlow Market Rasen Newbury Newcastle Newton Abbot Nottingham Perth Plumpton Sandown Sedgefield Southwell Stratford Taunton Towcester Uttoxeter Warwick Wetherby Wincanton Windsor Wolverhampton Worcester

3098 3755 2615 2039 2398 962 3495 3883 2146 2454 3867 808 1961 2577 2373 3919 2162 3570 2559 2955 4166 2571 2762 2975 1032 379 4014

Fell and/or Unseated 337 351 343 269 299 118 385 451 201 281 329 128 187 323 237 373 328 397 328 286 443 227 293 441 140 52 390

Percentage 10.9% 9.3% 13.1% 13.2% 12.5% 12.3% 11.0% 11.6% 9.4% 11.5% 8.5% 15.8% 9.5% 12.5% 10.0% 9.5% 15.2% 11.1% 12.8% 9.7% 10.6% 8.8% 10.6% 14.8% 13.6% 13.7% 9.7%

Although the above figures are informative to a degree, such a breakdown is merely a very stark an uninformed overview of the bare statistics. For example the table shows a 10.4% chance of falling or unseating at Ascot, compared to a 10.9% rate at Hexham. By inference therefore, do we conclude that the chase course at Hexham is tougher than the one at Ascot? After all a larger percentage of horses fall at the Nothumberland venue. But, as was pointed out in the email group discussion, these stats do not take account of the quality of the horses likely to be running at these events. 20

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In order to validate the above comparison, we’d be ignoring the fact that the better class horses competing at Ascot have a superior ability to the general profile of your average Hexham runner. Better jumpers will stay on their feet for longer, poorer ones will fall more frequently, which, if not invalidating the comparison completely, places it firmly in the ‘treat with care’ category. One method of avoiding the pitfalls of this mismatch, is to get the information straight from the horses themselves, they are doing the jumping after all, so are the best qualified to comment. The way I approached the exercise was as follows: I would check every course against every other course in turn, and even then, only using the results from those horses who’d had runs at both venues. For example; Cheltnhm Horse

Ascot

Fakenham

Ludlow

Ayr

Runs F/UR Runs F/UR Runs F/UR Runs F/UR Runs F/UR

Harry H

3

0

2

1

-

-

2

1

1

1

Billy B

-

-

-

-

-

-

4

2

2

0

Jerry J

2

1

3

0

1

1

2

0

-

-

Percy P

3

1

-

-

-

-

1

0

-

-

Table 2: Fictitious running/falling stats for 4 horses over 5 courses

If we assess Ludlow in isolation we have a total of 9 runs, with 3 falls/UR, a rate of 33%. Cheltenham in isolation shows 8 runs with 2 falls for 25% On that evidence alone then, Ludlow looks a tougher course. But, by using only stats from horses which have run at BOTH venues, we are measuring like with like, and should get a more representative picture. Harry H, Jerry J and Percy P all have experience of both courses, so their stats will be incorporated. Whereas Billy B has never run at Cheltenham, his Ludlow form is therefore irrelevant for such a comparison, so will not be used. With Billy B excluded from the assessment the figures now show Cheltenham as 8 runs, 2 falls (25%), and Ludlow 5 runs with 1 fall, making February 2004

21


SMARTsig confidential 11.02

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it 20%. This method shows Cheltenham to be the more difficult course when using only stats from those horses who have run at both venues. The tactic used here is not claimed to be infallible, neither does it necessarily iron out all the inaccuracies in chasing course comparisons, but I reckon it will be nearer the truth than many other methods. Data Sifting The most recent eleven seasons to hand (1992-3 to 2002-3) have been used for the analysis, then further sifting, exclusions and conditions were applied along the following lines; •

Steeplechase races only.

Every all-weather jumping event was excluded. It was tried a few years ago before being dropped from the NH programmes following a short, and less than successful trial.

The analysis looked to measure the number of fallers. With this in mind ‘unseated rider’ was also included, being regarded as a mistake by the individual horse in the majority of cases.

Other reasons for not finishing, brought down, pulled-up, slipped, etc., - and including any disqualifications - were all counted as a run, but not a fall.

Any chaser with a history of no falls and/or unseated rider in their record were not examined. (Runs at any course by a horse who had never fallen did not seem to add anything of any use to this exercise)

The first 2 runs of every horse’s chasing career were excluded automatically, in an attempt to eliminate the very early stages of awkward novices learning their trade. Equally, if the 3rd run resulted in a fall, this was also excluded.

Also note that courses no longer staging national hunt racing have been included, they are after all part of the historical record and it was easier to keep them in there than it was for me to add the additional filters. Steeplechase course comparison tables follow on the next page

22

) February 2004


Ascot

Ayr

Bangor

Carlisle

Cartmel

Catterick

Cheltenham

Chepstow

Exeter

Doncaster

Aintree Ascot Ayr Bangor Carlisle Cartmel Catterick Cheltenham Chepstow Exeter Doncaster Musselburgh Fakenham Folkestone Fontwell Haydock Hereford Hexham Huntingdon Kelso Kempton Leicester Lingfield Ludlow Market Rasen Newbury Newcastle Newton Abbot Nottingham Perth Plumpton Sandown Sedgefield Southwell Stratford Taunton Towcester Uttoxeter Warwick Wetherby Wincanton Windsor Wolverhampto February 2004 Worcester

SMARTsig confidential 11.02

Aintree

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-0.17 0.19 0.26 0.23 0.15 0.16 0.21 0.25 0.24 0.18 0.17 0.19 0.19 0.31 0.24 0.30 0.16 0.19 0.22 0.19 0.28 0.26 0.28 0.18 0.24 0.14 0.22

-0.17 --0.02 -0.01 0.17 0.03 0.05 0.00 0.01 0.06 0.00 0.07 0.08 -0.02 0.09 0.01 0.12 0.02 0.03 0.01 0.01 0.05 0.13 0.05 0.03 0.02 0.01 0.08

-0.19 0.02 --0.03 0.07 0.01 0.00 -0.01 0.05 0.04 0.02 0.03 -0.01 0.09 0.13 0.03 0.05 0.02 0.03 0.01 0.02 -0.03 0.15 0.06 0.03 0.03 0.04 0.10

-0.26 0.01 0.03 -0.08 -0.09 -0.00 -0.05 0.02 -0.02 -0.05 -0.06 0.00 -0.05 0.04 0.02 0.05 0.03 -0.02 0.03 -0.08 0.00 -0.06 0.02 -0.01 0.05 -0.01 0.05

-0.23 -0.17 -0.07 -0.08 --0.07 -0.07 -0.12 -0.09 -0.04 -0.14 -0.10 -0.10 -0.06 -0.01 -0.05 -0.06 -0.06 -0.04 -0.06 -0.17 -0.09 -0.23 0.01 -0.03 -0.05 -0.06 0.01

-0.15 -0.03 -0.01 0.09 0.07 --0.01 -0.00 -0.03 0.06 0.05 -0.01 -0.08 0.08 0.20 -0.07 0.05 0.01 0.04 0.02 -0.06 -0.09 0.27 0.03 0.04 0.13 0.02 0.10

-0.16 -0.05 -0.00 0.00 0.07 0.01 --0.00 0.04 0.07 -0.07 -0.04 -0.07 -0.10 0.02 -0.02 0.03 0.01 0.01 0.01 -0.18 -0.01 0.01 -0.01 0.02 0.07 -0.01 0.02

-0.21 -0.00 0.01 0.05 0.12 0.00 0.00 -0.02 0.07 -0.01 0.01 0.08 0.06 0.06 0.03 0.05 0.09 0.06 0.09 0.01 0.06 0.10 0.07 0.03 0.02 0.04 0.06

-0.25 -0.01 -0.05 -0.02 0.09 0.03 -0.04 -0.02 -0.01 -0.07 0.07 -0.01 -0.03 -0.01 0.01 -0.00 0.03 0.02 0.06 -0.06 -0.01 0.02 -0.03 0.00 -0.00 -0.05 0.02

-0.24 -0.06 -0.04 0.02 0.04 -0.06 -0.07 -0.07 -0.01 --0.04 -0.13 0.01 0.03 0.00 -0.09 -0.00 -0.04 -0.00 0.04 -0.04 -0.03 0.03 0.03 0.02 0.01 -0.12 0.03

-0.18 -0.00 -0.02 0.05 0.14 -0.05 0.07 0.01 0.07 0.04 -0.06 0.02 0.00 0.04 0.02 0.09 0.13 0.06 0.06 -0.02 0.04 0.05 0.06 0.02 0.03 -0.00 0.01

0.15 0.15 0.27 0.25 0.23 0.14 0.16 0.24 0.21 0.25 0.24 0.16 0.16 0.18 0.11

-0.03 0.04 0.03 0.01 0.04 0.01 0.03 0.01 0.07 0.04 0.03 -0.01 -0.00 0.01 0.02

0.09 0.04 -0.03 0.07 0.07 0.02 0.03 0.05 0.10 0.02 0.04 0.02 0.03 0.12 -0.01

-0.00 0.07 -0.00 -0.00 0.01 -0.04 0.00 -0.01 -0.02 -0.00 0.02 -0.01 -0.06 0.05 -0.06

-0.06 -0.03 0.06 -0.05 -0.04 -0.14 -0.15 -0.16 -0.09 -0.05 -0.01 -0.04 -0.09 -0.02 -0.04

0.02 0.04 0.20 -0.06 0.02 -0.07 0.04 0.05 0.09 0.04 -0.04 0.02 -0.12 -0.04 -0.06

0.06 0.01 0.03 -0.03 0.02 -0.06 -0.03 -0.03 0.08 0.03 0.01 -0.02 -0.07 0.04 -0.02

-0.01 0.02 0.02 0.02 0.05 0.03 0.01 0.08 0.06 0.07 0.04 0.03 -0.01 0.04 0.12

-0.01 0.03 -0.01 -0.01 -0.03 -0.03 -0.03 -0.01 -0.01 0.01 0.01 -0.04 -0.05 -0.05 0.00

-0.02 -0.05 -0.02 -0.04 -0.00 -0.07 -0.04 -0.01 -0.02 -0.04 -0.00 0.04 -0.05 -0.02 -0.01

0.02 0.10 0.01 0.04 0.11 -0.05 -0.02 0.03 0.04 0.06 0.02 0.04 -0.01 0.03 0.02

0.22

0.04

0.06

0.06

-0.02

0.12

0.02

0.07

0.03

0.03

23 0.03


Fakenham

Folkestone

Fontwell

Haydock

Hereford

Hexham

Huntingdon

Kelso

Kempton

Leicester

Aintree Ascot Ayr Bangor Carlisle Cartmel Catterick Cheltenham Chepstow Exeter Doncaster Musselburgh Fakenham Folkestone Fontwell Haydock Hereford Hexham Huntingdon Kelso Kempton Leicester Lingfield Ludlow Market Rasen Newbury Newcastle Newton Abbot Nottingham Perth Plumpton Sandown Sedgefield Southwell Stratford Taunton Towcester Uttoxeter Warwick Wetherby Wincanton Windsor Wolverhampto 24 Worcester

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Musselburgh

SMARTsig confidential 11.02

-0.17 -0.07 -0.03 0.06 0.10 0.01 0.04 -0.01 -0.07 0.13 -0.06 --0.04 -0.13 0.05 -0.00 0.01 0.01 0.03 0.01 -0.07 -0.11 0.20 0.13 0.05 0.02 0.02 0.09

-0.19 -0.08 0.01 -0.00 0.10 0.08 0.07 -0.08 0.01 -0.01 -0.02 0.04 -0.02 0.03 0.04 0.06 0.00 0.06 0.01 -0.11 -0.07 -0.06 0.06 0.02 -0.05 0.01 0.12

-0.19 0.02 -0.09 0.05 0.06 -0.08 0.10 -0.06 0.03 -0.03 0.00 0.13 -0.02 -0.04 -0.03 0.05 -0.08 0.02 0.00 -0.01 -0.08 0.06 0.07 0.02 -0.06 0.00 0.05

-0.31 -0.09 -0.13 -0.04 0.01 -0.20 -0.02 -0.06 0.01 -0.00 -0.04 -0.05 -0.03 -0.04 --0.07 0.02 -0.04 -0.00 0.01 -0.07 -0.03 0.01 0.02 -0.04 -0.01 -0.11 0.04

-0.24 -0.01 -0.03 -0.02 0.05 0.07 0.02 -0.03 -0.01 0.09 -0.02 0.00 -0.04 0.03 0.07 -0.07 -0.00 0.05 -0.00 -0.07 -0.00 0.16 0.03 -0.02 -0.03 -0.02 0.08

-0.30 -0.12 -0.05 -0.05 0.06 -0.05 -0.03 -0.05 0.00 0.00 -0.09 -0.01 -0.06 -0.05 -0.02 -0.07 -0.02 0.01 -0.02 -0.09 -0.08 0.02 -0.01 -0.05 -0.02 -0.07 0.02

-0.16 -0.02 -0.02 -0.03 0.06 -0.01 -0.01 -0.09 -0.03 0.04 -0.13 -0.01 -0.00 0.08 0.04 0.00 -0.02 -0.02 0.01 -0.15 -0.05 0.09 -0.01 0.01 -0.05 0.00 -0.08

-0.19 -0.03 -0.03 0.02 0.04 -0.04 -0.01 -0.06 -0.02 0.00 -0.06 -0.03 -0.06 -0.02 0.00 -0.05 -0.01 -0.02 --0.05 -0.08 -0.06 -0.01 -0.01 -0.02 -0.02 -0.02 0.04

-0.22 -0.01 -0.01 -0.03 0.06 -0.02 -0.01 -0.09 -0.06 -0.04 -0.06 -0.01 -0.01 0.00 -0.01 0.00 0.02 -0.01 0.05 --0.07 -0.05 0.00 0.07 -0.00 0.10 -0.00 -0.02

-0.19 -0.01 -0.02 0.08 0.17 0.06 0.18 -0.01 0.06 0.04 0.02 0.07 0.11 0.01 0.07 0.07 0.09 0.15 0.08 0.07 -0.07 0.06 0.09 -0.00 0.02 0.11 0.09

-0.28 -0.05 0.03 -0.00 0.09 0.09 0.01 -0.06 0.01 0.03 -0.04 0.11 0.07 0.08 0.03 0.00 0.08 0.05 0.06 0.05 -0.07 -0.03 0.06 0.02 -0.00 -0.01 0.06

0.05 0.03 0.07 -0.11 0.03 -0.06 -0.04 -0.18 0.03 0.02 -0.03 0.03 -0.01 0.00 -0.03

-0.03 -0.05 -0.01 0.00 0.04 -0.02 0.02 -0.00 0.04 0.04 0.05 0.01 -0.08 0.02 0.05

-0.06 -0.11 -0.05 -0.00 -0.05 -0.01 0.03 0.01 0.03 -0.01 0.01 0.05 -0.01 -0.03 0.02

-0.06 0.06 -0.04 -0.06 -0.04 -0.05 -0.02 -0.01 0.01 0.00 0.04 -0.01 -0.07 -0.04 -0.01

0.02 -0.01 0.02 0.02 -0.00 -0.02 0.01 0.02 -0.02 0.01 -0.01 -0.02 -0.02 -0.05 -0.06

-0.08 0.02 -0.05 -0.05 -0.03 -0.09 -0.03 -0.01 -0.02 -0.01 -0.00 -0.03 -0.07 -0.06 -0.04

0.02 0.04 -0.07 -0.05 0.03 -0.08 -0.03 -0.09 0.03 0.03 -0.03 -0.02 -0.08 -0.13 0.04

-0.04 -0.01 -0.03 -0.05 0.00 -0.08 -0.00 -0.07 0.00 0.01 0.03 -0.01 -0.08 -0.05 -0.06

-0.05 0.03 -0.14 -0.05 0.02 -0.12 -0.06 0.01 -0.00 0.03 -0.06 -0.01 0.10 0.00 0.13

0.18 0.05 0.01 0.02 0.10 0.05 0.05 0.06 0.07 0.02 0.06 0.06 -0.01 0.04 -0.00

0.03 0.03 -0.02 -0.01 0.01 -0.03 -0.01 0.04 0.01 0.01 0.05 -0.05 -0.03 -0.01 0.07

0.07

0.05

0.07

0.01

-0.00

-0.02

0.04

0.01

-0.04

February 2004 0.04 0.05


Market Rasen

Newbury

Newcastle

Nottingham

Perth

Plumpton

Sandown

Sedgefield

-0.26 -0.13 -0.15 0.06 0.23 -0.27 -0.01 -0.10 -0.02 -0.03 -0.05 -0.20 0.06 -0.06 -0.01 -0.16 -0.02 -0.09 0.01 0.00 -0.06 -0.03 --0.05 -0.06 0.00 -0.05 0.01

-0.28 -0.05 -0.06 -0.02 -0.01 -0.03 0.01 -0.07 0.03 -0.03 -0.06 -0.13 -0.06 -0.07 -0.02 -0.03 0.01 0.01 0.01 -0.07 -0.09 -0.06 0.05 -0.01 0.00 -0.03 0.01

-0.18 -0.03 -0.03 0.01 0.03 -0.04 -0.02 -0.03 -0.00 -0.02 -0.02 -0.05 -0.02 -0.02 0.04 0.02 0.05 -0.01 0.02 0.00 0.00 -0.02 0.06 -0.01 -0.02 -0.01 0.01

-0.24 -0.02 -0.03 -0.05 0.05 -0.13 -0.07 -0.02 0.00 -0.01 -0.03 -0.02 0.05 0.06 0.01 0.03 0.02 0.05 0.02 -0.10 -0.02 0.00 -0.00 -0.00 -0.02 --0.07 0.02

-0.14 -0.01 -0.04 0.01 0.06 -0.02 0.01 -0.04 0.05 0.12 0.00 -0.02 -0.01 0.00 0.11 0.02 0.07 -0.00 0.02 0.00 -0.11 0.01 0.05 0.03 0.01 0.07 --0.03

-0.22 -0.08 -0.10 -0.05 -0.01 -0.10 -0.02 -0.06 -0.02 -0.03 -0.01 -0.09 -0.12 -0.05 -0.04 -0.08 -0.02 0.08 -0.04 0.02 -0.09 -0.06 -0.01 -0.01 -0.01 -0.02 0.03 --

-0.15 0.03 -0.09 0.00 0.06 -0.02 -0.06 0.01 0.01 0.02 -0.02 -0.05 0.03 0.06 0.06 -0.02 0.08 -0.02 0.04 0.05 -0.18 -0.03 0.05 0.06 -0.02 0.06 0.01 0.08

-0.15 -0.04 -0.04 -0.07 0.03 -0.04 -0.01 -0.02 -0.03 0.05 -0.10 -0.03 0.05 0.11 -0.06 0.01 -0.02 -0.04 0.01 -0.03 -0.05 -0.03 0.06 -0.03 -0.03 -0.04 0.01 -0.03

-0.27 -0.03 0.03 0.00 -0.06 -0.20 -0.03 -0.02 0.01 0.02 -0.01 -0.07 0.01 0.05 0.04 -0.02 0.05 0.07 0.03 0.14 -0.01 0.02 0.02 -0.00 0.00 -0.03 0.02 0.06

-0.25 -0.01 -0.07 0.00 0.05 0.06 0.03 -0.02 0.01 0.04 -0.04 0.11 -0.00 0.00 0.06 -0.02 0.05 0.05 0.05 0.05 -0.02 0.01 0.07 0.05 0.01 0.00 -0.01 0.05

-0.23 -0.04 -0.07 -0.01 0.04 -0.02 -0.02 -0.05 0.03 0.00 -0.11 -0.03 -0.04 0.05 0.04 0.00 0.03 -0.03 -0.00 -0.02 -0.10 -0.01 0.08 0.07 -0.03 0.01 -0.03 0.07

-0.05 -0.06 -0.02 -0.07 -0.08 -0.01 0.00 -0.03 -0.01 0.01 -0.02 0.10 -0.05 0.02 0.06

-0.06 0.03 0.00 -0.05 -0.07 -0.08 -0.03 -0.03 -0.03 -0.01 -0.01 0.00 -0.08 -0.06 -0.03

0.02 0.03 -0.00 -0.01 0.03 -0.07 -0.01 0.01 0.02 -0.02 0.06 -0.01 -0.03 0.05 -0.03

-0.06 0.04 0.03 -0.00 -0.01 -0.05 -0.03 -0.04 -0.02 0.03 0.01 -0.04 -0.03 -0.02 0.01

-0.01 -0.01 -0.02 0.01 0.03 -0.05 -0.02 0.02 0.05 0.02 0.04 0.00 0.02 -0.19 -0.13

-0.08 0.03 -0.06 -0.05 -0.07 -0.04 -0.04 -0.05 -0.04 -0.04 -0.01 -0.07 -0.07 -0.05 -0.06

--0.01 0.02 -0.10 -0.04 -0.06 0.03 0.04 0.04 0.02 -0.02 -0.02 0.00 0.08 -0.15

0.01 --0.04 0.01 0.01 -0.11 -0.06 -0.09 0.05 -0.03 0.02 -0.02 -0.07 0.12 0.01

-0.02 0.04 --0.00 0.01 -0.03 0.04 0.01 0.06 0.02 0.03 0.06 -0.01 0.02 0.03

0.10 -0.01 0.00 --0.02 -0.00 -0.02 0.04 0.03 0.03 0.03 -0.03 -0.02 0.03 -0.13

0.04 -0.01 -0.01 0.02 --0.07 -0.03 0.01 0.05 -0.00 0.08 -0.01 -0.11 0.10 0.03

0.07

-0.00

0.01

-0.03

-0.02

0.00

0.04

-0.05

0.06

0.01

25 0.03

Newton Abbot

Ludlow

Aintree Ascot Ayr Bangor Carlisle Cartmel Catterick Cheltenham Chepstow Exeter Doncaster Musselburgh Fakenham Folkestone Fontwell Haydock Hereford Hexham Huntingdon Kelso Kempton Leicester Lingfield Ludlow Market Rasen Newbury Newcastle Newton Abbot Nottingham Perth Plumpton Sandown Sedgefield Southwell Stratford Taunton Towcester Uttoxeter Warwick Wetherby Wincanton Windsor Wolverhampto February 2004 Worcester

SMARTsig confidential 11.02

Lingfield

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Taunton

Towcester

Uttoxeter

Warwick

Wetherby

Wincanton

Windsor

Wolverhampt

-0.14 -0.01 -0.02 0.04 0.14 0.07 0.06 -0.03 0.03 0.07 0.05 0.06 0.02 0.01 0.05 0.02 0.09 0.08 0.08 0.12 -0.05 0.03 0.01 0.08 0.07 0.05 0.05 0.04

-0.16 -0.03 -0.03 -0.00 0.15 -0.04 0.03 -0.01 0.03 0.04 0.02 0.04 -0.02 -0.03 0.02 -0.01 0.03 0.03 0.00 0.06 -0.05 0.01 -0.00 0.03 0.01 0.03 0.02 0.04

-0.24 -0.01 -0.05 0.01 0.16 -0.05 0.03 -0.08 0.01 0.01 -0.03 0.18 0.00 -0.01 0.01 -0.02 0.01 0.09 0.07 -0.01 -0.06 -0.04 0.03 0.03 -0.01 0.04 -0.02 0.05

-0.21 -0.07 -0.10 0.02 0.09 -0.09 -0.08 -0.06 0.01 0.02 -0.04 -0.03 -0.04 -0.03 -0.01 0.02 0.02 -0.03 -0.00 0.00 -0.07 -0.01 0.01 0.03 -0.02 0.02 -0.05 0.04

-0.25 -0.04 -0.02 0.00 0.05 -0.04 -0.03 -0.07 -0.01 0.04 -0.06 -0.02 -0.04 0.01 -0.00 -0.01 0.01 -0.03 -0.01 -0.03 -0.02 -0.01 -0.01 0.01 0.02 -0.03 -0.02 0.04

-0.24 -0.03 -0.04 -0.02 0.01 0.04 -0.01 -0.04 -0.01 0.00 -0.02 0.03 -0.05 -0.01 -0.04 0.01 0.00 0.03 -0.03 0.06 -0.06 -0.05 0.02 0.01 -0.06 -0.01 -0.04 0.01

-0.16 0.01 -0.02 0.01 0.04 -0.02 0.02 -0.03 0.04 -0.04 -0.04 -0.03 -0.01 -0.05 0.01 0.02 0.03 0.02 0.01 0.01 -0.06 0.05 -0.10 -0.00 0.01 0.04 -0.00 0.07

-0.16 0.00 -0.03 0.06 0.09 0.12 0.07 0.01 0.05 0.05 0.01 0.01 0.08 0.01 0.07 0.02 0.07 0.08 0.08 -0.10 0.01 0.03 0.05 0.08 0.03 0.03 -0.02 0.07

-0.18 -0.01 -0.12 -0.05 0.02 0.04 -0.04 -0.04 0.05 0.02 -0.03 0.00 -0.02 0.03 0.04 0.05 0.06 0.13 0.05 0.00 -0.04 0.01 -0.02 0.06 -0.05 0.02 0.19 0.05

-0.11 -0.02 0.01 0.06 0.04 0.06 0.02 -0.12 0.00 0.01 -0.02 0.03 -0.05 -0.02 0.01 0.06 0.04 -0.04 0.06 -0.13 0.00 -0.07 -0.06 0.03 0.03 -0.01 0.13 0.06

-0.22 -0.04 -0.06 -0.06 0.02 -0.12 -0.02 -0.07 -0.03 -0.03 -0.03 -0.07 -0.05 -0.07 -0.01 0.00 0.02 -0.04 -0.01 0.04 -0.04 -0.05 -0.07 0.00 -0.01 0.03 0.02 -0.00

0.06 0.11 0.03 0.00 0.07 -0.04 0.06 0.06 0.07 0.11 0.02 -0.04 -0.03 -0.00

-0.03 0.06 -0.04 0.02 0.03 -0.04 -0.02 0.01 0.01 0.03 0.02 -0.04 0.02 0.01

-0.04 0.09 -0.01 -0.04 -0.01 -0.06 -0.02 -0.03 0.01 -0.00 -0.10 -0.06 -0.02 0.03

-0.04 -0.05 -0.06 -0.03 -0.05 -0.06 -0.01 -0.03 -0.00 0.01 -0.02 -0.04 -0.00 -0.06

-0.02 0.03 -0.02 -0.03 0.00 -0.07 -0.01 -0.01 -0.00 -0.02 -0.03 -0.04 -0.01 -0.06

0.02 -0.02 -0.03 -0.03 -0.08 -0.11 -0.03 0.00 -0.01 -0.02 --0.07 -0.04 -0.08 -0.09

0.02 0.02 -0.06 0.03 0.01 -0.02 -0.02 0.10 0.02 0.03 0.07 --0.05 0.03 0.04

-0.00 0.07 0.01 0.02 0.11 0.04 0.04 0.06 0.04 0.04 0.04 0.05 -0.01 0.03

-0.08 -0.12 -0.02 -0.03 -0.10 0.03 -0.02 0.02 0.00 0.01 0.08 -0.03 -0.01 --0.16

0.15 -0.01 -0.03 0.13 -0.03 0.00 -0.01 -0.03 0.06 0.06 0.09 -0.04 -0.03 0.16 --

-0.04 0.05 -0.06 -0.01 -0.03 -0.08 -0.03 -0.03 -0.01 -0.01 0.01 -0.05 -0.07 -0.04 -0.03

0.08

0.03

0.03

0.01

0.01

-0.01

0.05

0.07

0.04

Worcester

Stratford

Aintree Ascot Ayr Bangor Carlisle Cartmel Catterick Cheltenham Chepstow Exeter Doncaster Musselburgh Fakenham Folkestone Fontwell Haydock Hereford Hexham Huntingdon Kelso Kempton Leicester Lingfield Ludlow Market Rasen Newbury Newcastle Newton Abbot Nottingham Perth Plumpton Sandown Sedgefield Southwell Stratford Taunton Towcester Uttoxeter Warwick Wetherby Wincanton Windsor Wolverhampto 26 Worcester

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Using the tables The table has a value in each grid position, with the exception of the square representing a comparison between the same course (get real !) Negative numbers are preceded with a â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;-â&#x20AC;&#x2122; sign and have been made bold italic for extra clarity. Select a course from the left-most column and match with a course from the top row. For example, check-out Fakenham in the left column and get the value associated with its comparison with Ascot (from the top row). This will be a figure of 0.08, indicating that Fakenham is an easier chasing course by 8 points. Whereas making a comparison for Fakenham with Carlisle shows a value of -0.10, telling us Fakenham is the more difficult of the two by a margin of 10 points. The assessment values used in the tables have been calculated as follows; Example comparison 1: Using results from only those horses which had competed on both Fakenham and Ascot chase courses we get the following statistics: Fakenham 8 falls from 132 runs = 6.1%. p=0.06 Ascot 15 falls from 104 runs = 14.4% p=0.14 Comparison value

= p(Ascot) - p(Fakenham) = 0.14 - 0.06 = 0.08

Example comparison 2: Using results from only those horses which had competed on both Fakenham and Carlisle chase courses we get the following statistics: Fakenham 5 falls from 41 runs = 12.2%. p=0.12 Carlisle just 1 falls from 45 runs = 2.2% p=0.02 Comparison value

= p(Carlisle) - p(Fakenham) = 0.02 - 0.12 = -0.10

The Fakenham statistics in the two examples change purely because weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re using a different set of runners specifically for each unique comparison. February 2004

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Remember, only those who have run at both venues are used, so each pairing will have its own individual list. The observant ones amongst you will have picked up that the two triangles formed from the dividing “--” grid locations going from top-left of the table to bottom-right, inversely mirror each other. This is because the nature of the table, which allows the user to check for example Exeter (LH column) against Ascot, reading 0.06 (Exeter is 6 points easier) . . . or . . . Ascot (LH column) against Exeter giving the exact opposite value of -0.06 denoting Ascot is the more difficult of the two by a margin of 6 points. There may be a temptation for some to sum every row from the main tables and sort them into descending order. In the hope that you’d create a list showing the toughest chase courses through to easiest. Such a tactic I’d suggest would be very misleading. Although I have every faith in the validity of the track to track values in the main table, that is where its strengths lie, in the individual comparisons. To make inferences outside of the original remit, as you would be by summing the totals is dangerous ground indeed. The main table clearly shows Aintree the toughest, through to Carlisle as the overall easiest, so from that perspective the original straight percentage fallers in Table 1 does give a decent overall picture. So why use anything else? Well, according to my figures, by comparing only the records of horses that have run chases at both Carlisle and Fontwell for example, the difference is hardly worth bothering with. Comparing Carlisle directly with Ludlow, Newton Abbot and Plumpton it turns out that Carlisle is the more difficult. And what about the Hexham versus Ascot example I calculated earlier by using Table 1? That showed Hexham the tougher of the two with 10.9% fallers against Ascot’s 10.4%. My research for this shows that from the records of horses that have competed on both courses the head-to-head record reads, Hexham 4 falls from 43 runs (9.3%, p0.09) against Ascot’s record of 4 fallers from 34 (11.8%, p= 0.11). p(Ascot) - p(Hexham) = 0.11 - 0.09 = 0.02. Our head-to-head table tells us therefore, that asking the horses themselves, Hexham chase course is 2 points easier than Ascot’s.

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Remember, only those whoemail have run group at both venues used, sostores each The SMARTsig hasarehuge pairing will have its own individual list.

of knowledge, controversy and experience: the editor chooses butupgoodie The observant ones amongst youan willoldie have picked that the twofrom trianglesa formed from the dividing “--” months grid locationsago... going from top-left of the table few

to bottom-right, inversely mirror each other. This is because the nature of the table, which allows the user to check for example Exeter (LH column) against Ascot, reading 0.06 (Exeter is 6 points easier) . . . or . . . Email Ascot (LH column) against Exeter giving the exact opposite value Group of -0.06 denoting Ascot is the more difficult of the two by a margin of 6 points.

REVISITING TRAINER FORM

There may be a temptation for some to sum every row from the main tables Stef started ball rolling… and sort them intothe descending order. In the hope that you’d create a list showing the toughest chase courses through to easiest. Such a tactic I’d as anyone anymisleading. proof (statistical ratherI have than anecdotal) suggest would be very Although every faith of in trainer the form, or what is interpreted trainer usefully validity of the track to track values inasthe main form, table, being that isactually where its applied? strengths lie, in the individual comparisons.

H

As who remains unconvinced regarding trainer and/or be jockey To someone make inferences outside of the original remit, as you would by form. AFAIC it is statistically quite normal for 50% winners NOT to come summing the totals is dangerous ground indeed. The main table clearly as LWLWLWLWLWLW, it is equally as likely to come as shows Aintree the toughest, through to Carlisle as the overall easiest, so WWWWWWLLLLLL. second seriespercentage does not mean in-form early on, from that perspective theThe original straight fallers in Table 1 does off-form later overall . . It’s nothing thanuse normal statistical give a decent picture.more So why anything else? variance ~ isn’t it? Stef

Well, according to my figures, by comparing only the records of horses that have run chases at both Carlisle and Fontwell for example, the difference is Ihardly wouldworth imagine that trainers form are overbet trainers of form are bothering with. in Comparing Carlisle and directly without Ludlow, underbet as defined by the average racing commentator. Of course the Newton Abbot and Plumpton it turns out that Carlisle is the more difficult. trainer in question and his overall strike rate must be taken into consideration, Stoute on a losing runAscot of 20 example is more significant than Joe by And what about the Hexham versus I calculated earlier Bloggs. Is anyone aware of aHexham more sophisticated form. using Table 1? That showed the toughersource of the of twotrainer with 10.9% Perhaps an analysis of recent fallers against Ascot’s 10.4%.runs with regard to finishing position and betting position ? Mark Littlewood My research for this shows that from the records of horses that have competed on both courses the head-to-head record reads, Hexham 4 falls from 43 runs (9.3%, p0.09) against Ascot’s record of 4 fallers from 34 I ignore trainers on the grounds that their abilities are already reflected in the (11.8%, p= 0.11). p(Ascot) - p(Hexham) = 0.11 - 0.09 = 0.02. performance of the horses they train. Our head-to-head table tellsinuscomments therefore,on that the horses themselves, However, I’d be interested theasking following analogy : My son Hexham chase course The is 2 points thanschedule Ascot’s.was aimed specifically used to row at school. coach'seasier training at getting the crews to peak for certain regattas. It seems plausible to me (but February 2004

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I’m not yet convinced) endeavouring to find a stock that trainers that might maybe doabout something to risesimilar. one looks It seems at its to historic me that it performance would be difficult, in an attempt maybetoimpossible, see if history formight a trainer repeat to have itself! It appears that separate training a trainers schedules horses foroften eachcome horseinto in his form stable. at the same time, and often at similar times year after year! Therefore, if it were possible to log If, however, he has a couple of big races in mind for some of his charges, trainer performance in such a way that it could be 'graphed', it might be maybe the practicalities of training are such that all of most of his horses possible to identify when a trainer was about to hit form!! Any thoughts, or peak at around the same time. So I don't believe that trainers have “form”, is this just twaddle!!! but it seems quite possible that all or most of the horses he trains are at Paul Brouwer similar levels of fitness. Sandy Paterson

Don't know enough about one trainer, never mind the species as a whole. I'm not sure this assertion is correct. For unbiased coin flipping it is, but However, I'd for have stablestable full would successful if probably not thethought runnerstraining from a asingle (whichbeismore probably a biased attentions were given to individual horses, working on strengths, population). Interestingly the success rates of horses from yards where a weaknesses, general health, preferences, etc. But, I don't know.to 11% for stablemate had won the previous race is 15%, which compares Stef those runners following a stable loser. Peter May

The "after a winner" method was simply after any winner under the same or Flat). Theknowledge best way tooflook at trainer Peter. is to plot a rolling Icode bow(NH to your superior probabilities average graph based on 25 or so number of races. here you can see the cyclical nature spot the timeoftodetectable start following a trainer. There However, even and if I could be correct convinced & genuine trainer or was a graph Forecasting Methods showed this, page the new jockey form in isn't using it AFTER its which been seen the wrong way77 to in exploit it ~ edition.than anticipating it beforehand? rather

Peter May

In the stock markets all shares will have peaks & troughs, but doesn't buying after a good run has been seen more often than not mean you’ll be holding IMO areafor of trainer form that can be exploited is thatwisdom which doesn't them the in time the equivalent downturn? Stock market suggests relate to winners, but to horses out-performing market expectations. you buy at the bottom (after a share has been underperforming its true worth) and sell at the top, when the ‘in-form’ period has run its course? Most punters (and pundits) rely largely on the "number of wins in the last Or am I corrupting with such a simplistic analogy? in relation 14 days" column inthe thesituation RP, which is somewhat unsophisticated Interestingly success rates of horses from yards where a stablemate had to other areasthe of form research these days. won the previous race is 15%, which compares to 11% for those runners following stable loser. When timea permits, I keep a very simple file on a spreadsheet, making a note any time a trainer has a horse placed at double-figure odds, or - just as Now that is- ainteresting, and that one might based have upon finished factual observation. Is that important huge outsider in mid-div, but hasthe previous race, i.e.than sameitsmeeting, same (a day? Or fifth chronologically lastfor race clearly run better odds suggest close of fifteen atthe 33-1, in which the same trainer had a runner ~ so could be different meeting and/ instance). or different day? Stef When you find a trainer who has had two or three (or more) of these runs within a short space of time, it's well worth considering his runners in the The analogy with -stocks and shares quitea an interesting one, or as two in immediate future it's amazing howisoften big-priced winner follows suit. The market will respond to a trainer who has half a dozen 30

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short-priced winners in the space of a couple of weeks, but completely ignores good (but non-winning) runs at bigger prices, which often signal much more about the form of a stable. This approach gives you a few days to catch on to a stable coming into form, though it does require a degree of selectivity; if a horse has run three times in the last fortnight it's unlikely to show a vast improvement in form, and I prefer to home in on horses returning from a short break in such instances. Another angle that is often overlooked is to make a note of a period when a trainer is clearly completely out of form, and look out for horses that were running well below form during that period if they return to the track at a later date when the stable is going better (for an excellent example of this, check out the month-by-month form of Peter Bowen in the period around November 2001 as opposed to November 2002, and then see what happened to Cresswell Quay). Hugh Taylor

Sandy, Please do keep an open mind. You are missing a major point of trainer methods and placement by your earlier presumptions. Was your point on “random walks” for Stef? Probability does not enter into any detection of trainer waves. Hugh, likewise, explained his method. Robert Ford

Stef, I would not wish to convince you against your will, but if you can believe in form cycles rather than the more lazy wording of “in form” you will find that this applies to trainers and horses throughout the season. Jockeys can quickly regain confidence after a win and self belief makes for good riding decisions. As Peter May has pointed out win/ loss probability varies with time. Your example assumed that it does not - possibly to prove what you already believed. The given sequence ending with 6 winners has only a 1/132 chance of happening - the majority of the possible sequences are mixed. As with share buying the trick is to go against the crowd - bet a good trainer after a bad spell and not when he has just had a very good week -the market has a February 2004

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memory of about 2 weeks and trainers “out of form” are written off too easily to be replaced by this week's good thing. In my racing tutorial I gave a real time example over 14 weeks of how to catch the upturn of a trainer's wave. The successful trainer had an annual strike rate of 23.1%. Catching the upwave turned this into a strike rate of 29.4% -not a huge uplift but it caught all the longer priced winners (including a 33/1). At £100 level stakes, the profit grew to £10.935 after 85 bets (25 Wins). I would call this happening getting back into form - others may call it out of form and miss all the good bets except for the short priced ones. Regards, Robert Ford

Actually probability probably does enter into most if not all of these methods of detection. What ever method you use to detect a trainer coming into form there is a chance that what ever “signal” you choose can occur purely due to blind chance rather than the trainer really coming into form. For example, and I am not criticising here, a horse finishing a close fifth out of 15 at 33/1 will occur during the season due to the vagaries of going, jockey ship, the luck of the race etc. It will also occur due to trainers coming into form. It is improbable you will know for any given race definitely which it is. Also I have a theory that horses have a “brilliant” performance tucked away in their make up which can suddenly appear for no rhyme or reason. This is the reverse of the total collapse of form horses can have but is rarer. This performance can be stones above what they have ever achieved before or since. This occurs with human athletes and sportsmen too. Steve Tilley

I absolutely agree, which is why I wouldn’t take much notice of a single such occurrence. Two from the same trainer within, say, 24 hours would draw my attention; once it gets to three or four it might affect my betting habits. 32

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It’s certainly true you have to have a good look at the circumstances involved - as you suggest big-priced horses can be flattered by seemingly good performances. Hugh Taylor

Steve, I understand your points and agree with what you are saying but my trainer wave methods do not rely on probability for the “detection” of the wave—this is based on a series of historical facts i.e. it is deterministic. No reliance is ever placed on a single random event. It can be overlooked that trainers are about the only long term, regular, major statistical influence in racing. Whether I have detected the wave correctly is another matter and that could certainly be argued to be probabilistic i.e. there is some uncertainty. I am not trying to predict whether the trainer is in form, or not (to me it is a meaningless expression, except when viruses have struck, staff walked out etc), —just the periods when his horses will win more frequently and at better prices than on average. Upwaves, as detected, lose overall about 2 sequences in 10. A low value is a natural consequence because the probability of a further downside from a low historical level is relatively small - the trainer continues to do the same thing win or lose. The method does not attempt to identify which two sequences could lose (complexity would likely cloud the issue), but if 8-10 successful trainers are being monitored for when their strike rates have increased above the average, with higher priced winning bets for the other 8 waves, then the method can easily accommodate such losses within the mix. All very similar to standard stock exchange risk management. Applying similar methods to individual horses can be used to identify when a horse is on a down wave and is an almost certain loser (however, high its historical master rating) - this is one horse less to consider and puts up the effective price of the likely winner. Combining the two “waves”, horse and its trainer, is even more effective. Robert Ford

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The last part of our serialisation of the book by Davey Towey explaining his innovative, ground-breaking approach evaluating racetrack performances

THE SOLIDUS The Rates, Tables and Solidus Charts in a “nutshell”. Davey Towey

T

hank you for buying a copy of ‘The Solidus’. I hope you find the book informative and entertaining but above all rewarding.

The ‘decentralised’ nature of British and Irish racing makes it very difficult for punters to compare one horse’s form with another such is the difference between courses. It adds to the interest however. To make comparisons between courses was the main thrust of the book. I also believe strongly that speed ratings are essential, far more important than finding collateral form lines (old-hat in my opinion). The ‘Rates Tables’ therefore produce a very accurate rating system based upon speed whilst taking into account the differences between courses, 34

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going and distance. To fully account for these important factors a calculator will be a help. I use the system all the time and after a while it becomes very quick. The old ways of finding collateral form lines were so burdensome and took far longer especially when making the dreaded weight-for-age adjustments. If the situation had been reversed: that is the ‘Rates Tables’ in common usage first then someone coming along and proposing the old ways, I believe they would not have found favour. When studying form you can’t get sway from the fact that you have to put the time in. If it was simple we would all be in the Bahamas. I made the system as simple as I could whilst retaining accuracy. What I could have done better was to improve the layout so that it was not so off-putting at first glance. I’ll correct that here. Trainers that have read (and bought) the book have been very flattering. Some journalists have boon less so, saying it is ultra-scientific and heavy going.

When studying form you can’t get sway from the fact that you have to put the time in.

We are almost in the 21st century and it amazes me how little effort has been put into the theory of racing. The emphasis so far seems to have been on statistics; eg Fred Bloggs’ strike rate in the month of June at Goodwood.

This is all very well but does not increase understanding. It would be nice if the trainers wrote the reviews but if they did, would I have troubled myself to send out this letter of clarification? Of course I would!! For starters you have to narrow down the number of races. I mentioned specialising in the book and it is absolutely necessary. One or two well considered selections are better than seven or eight stabs in the semitwilight. The true run races are more likely to be assessed accurately using speed ratings. On the Flat I specialise in the extremes: sprint trips, are run at a strong pace right from the gate be it sellers or pattern, long distance (2m2f+) races can be narrowed down to very few runners due to the effect of weight. Over the sticks I am more interested in watching for horses moving up or February 2004

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down in distance (more on this later). In both codes I am interested in the most valuable events of the day, especially Saturdays— true tests again. The charts serve an academic interest as well as a practical one. Practically they are very accurate where they diverge the most; that is: sprint distances. Their accuracy decreases the longer the distance. They are still reliable up to 10f on the Flat and 2m4f over the sticks. This is no fault of the charts, it is because the races are less likely to be truly run. If all races were run in standard time they would be accurate along their full length. They are of academic interest because of the points at which they converge and this is discussed fully in the book. The charts are superseded in importance by the effects of pace beyond these distances. For example: if a horse puts up a very good time at 2m4f and is stepped up to 3m2f in a race where the other animals have not scored good time figures it will stand an excellent chance of winning and be a big price as well, especially if it is the first time it has been stepped up in trip. The reason is simple: the horse is going a stride slower so can last longer. In the chapter ‘Improvements in form’ I got a little carried away with percentages, it is not a big chapter so is no big deal. On the positive side it shows how the ‘Rate Tables’ link with the charts. On the negative side it could look like a central part of the method that I use and it definitely isn’t. It is only there as background information for those who may be interested academically. I do not perform those calculations every time a horse moves up or down in trip. I am more interested in the quality of the opposition. Similarly but more importantly rows 1 and 2 of the class/weight adjustment tables are there for information purposes. You need only use row 3 when calculating a class rating because it covers all cases. I thought that inclusion of rows 1 and 2 clarified what I was trying to show; in practice it has confused some people. What I hoped to show was that: starting from 2m (on the Flat) as you go left along row 1 class increases in effect, as you go right class decreases in effect. At 5f class prevails over weight by l4lbs, therefore you should be concentrating your attention at the top l4lbs of the handicap. At 2m4f weight prevails over class by 14lbs. therefore you should not be focusing on the top l4Ibs of the handicap, but rather the bottom 21lbs and at 2m6f the bottom 14lbs. These points must be understood if a horse is moving up or down in class at the outer extremes of distance. 36

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When you have narrowed down the races you are interested in, you can narrow it down further to a few runners in each race. Stables out of form are a good guide. The statistics in the two racing dailies have improved tremendously in this respect of late. This is undoubtedly due to the ‘virus’ that is blighting the racing scene these days. The Racing Post’s statistics are the better because they cover the last 14 days of every trainer with a runner that day. If a trainer is getting placed horses but not winners he will not get into The Sporting Life statistics and this may lead people to believe that there is something amiss at the stable. The jockey statistics provided by the Racing Post are also far more extensive. The Sporting Life separates the AW statistics which is useful due to trainers specialising on these tracks. When you have narrowed the field down separating the horses/stables out of form you can apply the ratings. Incidentally, a horse that was beaten a long way last time out but put a good rating the time before is not one to rule out especially if it turns out again quickly. It would be a great help if both the dailies printed the going correction in the form for every race and while they were at it, the highest official handicap mark in the race for all races, not just handicaps as at present. The Racing Post tell me that they are thinking about including going corrections in the near future. A little pressure from the public may help move things on. People do listen; for example: the preservation of the Queen Alexandra. The step-by-step procedure using the ‘Rates Tables’ is simply: Note race time before corections

Race time: a10 secs

Going correction x distance +0.3secs/furlong x 20f = +6 sees of race Adjust the race time

-10+6 sees = -4 secs

Check course classification Newcastle 2in4f chase = E Rates table for lbs/sec

Chase 2m4f E =10lbs/sec

Adjust for the weight carried 11st carried Adjust for distance beaten

1 length beaten:

Clock rating

200 - 40 - 14 - 2 = 144

February 2004

(slow by 10 secs) (add 6 sees) (slow by 4secs) (when gd to yldg) 10 x 4 =40lbs 12st-llst = 14lbs 2m4f chase = 2.2lbs

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This speed figure is highly accurate therefore very useful in itself. To adjust the rating to a future race under consideration is even simpler: Compare highest official hâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;cap marks

Rising in class by 16lbs

Compare weight movement

Dropping in weight by 10lbs (positive factor)

Note class/weight adjustment

2m4f class/weight adj. = 0.7

(NH row 3)

Class rating

-16

(9lbs worse off)

Final rating

144 - 9 = 136

+ (0.7 x +10) = -9

(negative factor)

It is that straightforward. The method is especially useful for rating a big ante-post vent. It can be rated reliably long before the information appears in the racing dailies. I hope this resume is useful. Regards. Davey Towey

The perfect place to recycle your unwanted racing books and betting paraphernalia. Do your bit to save the planet - and do someone a favour at the same time!

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SWAPSHOP is a FREE service to members So please make FULL use of this facility WANTED: Back issues of Racing Post. All Back issues from the last three or four years. If youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ve been looking for a good home for these, please contact Smartsig

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Part two of a series of articles where one of America’s top professionals shares his views on the basics necessary for successful private handicapping.

FUNDAMENTALS OF HANDICAPPING (Part II) Barry Meadow

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lthough you’ll need to project today’s performances, you should normally start by looking at the figures that the entrants have run. While there will be some variation between, for instance, the numbers published by ITS or HDW and the Beyers, in general when horses run well they get good numbers and when they don’t they get bad numbers. Ability Of Each Horse Take care not to look solely at the horse’s last race, or last couple of races. There are many reasons why a horse doesn’t “run to his numbers,” including but not limited to unsuitable distance, unsuitable track condition, track biases, pace problems, trouble, wrong surface, different racetrack, class questions, and much more. What you want to do at this stage is to determine which horses seem capable, under reasonable circumstances, of winning the race. Some players use projected ratings or pars to help determine this. For instance, the par for $20,000 3-year-old filly claimers at Upsand Downs might be 103 under your figures. If three horses have exceeded this number recently and nobody else has beaten a 98, it’s not likely someone will jump up and surprise. At this stage you’re not handicapping, weighing and sifting and measuring and calculating. You have no concern with pace or form or class. You’re simply getting a feel for each horse’s ability. Horses are far more likely to win when dropped in class than when raised in class. There are several reasons for this - the easier pace of the lower class, the lower final figures, the fact that a horse often is dropped a after a dull effort and then simply returns to his usual effort, the theory that a horse February 2004

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might not have been well meant in the higher class (particularly after a layoff), etc. It is crucial, then, to understand the class hierarchy at your particular track, as well as for nearby ship-in tracks. Is a race for $6,250 claimers who haven’t won two races lifetime tougher, or not as tough, as a race for open $4,000 claimers? What kind of field is attracted to a starter allowance for horses who’ve raced for a $25,000 tag in the past six months? Is a nonwinners of two allowance race equivalent to a $50,000 claimer (as it might be at Belmont) or a $5,000 claimer (as it might be at Mountaineer)? We covered some of this in our article on the subject in the May 2002 issue, but it’s important to stay on top of what’s currently happening at your track. Class and speed are interrelated, in that the classiest horses go the fastest. However, experienced players understand that a 45-1:10 performance against $25,000 claimers is generally more meaningful than the same performance at the same track against $8,000 animals. While horses do go in and out of class levels just as they go in and out of form, in general the higher-class race presents a horse with many more potential rivals. Maybe nobody in for $8,000 can attain those numbers on their best days, but half a dozen horses might step up to do this in the higher-ranked group. When you’re reviewing the class levels of each horse, you want to look at how successfully the horse has competed at those levels, rather than simply whether he put in an appearance but did nothing. Let’s say a horse shows, in four outings for $5,000, one win, one second, and two thirds. Then he is jumped to $8,000 but finishes seventh. Now the trainer puts him in for $6,250. Is the horse a class dropper? Not really, because his level of success is at $5,000 - not at $8,000 where he did nothing, and not at $6,250 where he may be outclassed. Sometimes it’s difficult to gauge class levels - and the more such horses you have in the race, the more difficult will be the handicapping. What to do with a shipper from New Zealand? What about a second-time starter who debuted in a straight maiden race, did nothing, and is now in for $40,000? What about the 3-year-old who raced twice as a juvenile six months ago and finished eighth both times, but who has a series of bullet works for his sophomore debut? What about the horse trained by Izzy Incompetent and who has since been switched to a 30% wizard, who steps him up three levels? And, obviously, what do you do about first-time starters? 40

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While recent form of course is important, any horse which has shown back class must be monitored carefully because there is a chance he might return to his previous ability. The horse raced a year ago and did well in allowance company. His first start back, he did nothing. Now it’s his second start back, once again in an allowance. Give him some chance to return to his former glory, despite that dismal return. Whenever a good trainer moves a horse, either up or down, pay attention (the class movements of the 5% guys generally are of little interest). By placing a horse in a particular spot, these 20%-and-up trainers are giving you a message - a big drop indicates little confidence or the desire to get rid of the horse, while a stepup indicates the opposite. Again, at this stage of the handicapping you’re looking simply for class fits. Form Of Each Horse A Jaguar that’s in the shop cannot outspeed a Volkswagen that’s on the road. Thus the search for horses with good speed/power/class numbers must be tempered by how they appear on form. In his entertaining book The Odds Must Be Crazy, Len Ragozin of the Sheets said that his handicapping turned around when instead of simply betting the horses with the best numbers he began to look for horses who appeared to be rounding into condition. Sharp, fit horses often outran their numbers, while classy animals whose form was suspect often ran worse than projected. Entire books have been written on this subject - Thoroughbred Cycles, How Will Your Horse Run Today, and Form Points come to mind - and there has evolved some consensus on the characteristics of animals who can considered to be in form. Among the positives: The horse finished within five lengths of the winner last out, in his regular class. The horse ran at or near the front of the pack until at least the stretch, or the horse passed several rivals in the stretch. The horse has been working regularly, with no gaps in the workout lines.

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The horse shows no gaps in his racing schedule. If he usually races every three weeks, he does not suddenly show a seven-week gap. The horse was overmatched last time but ran his usual number. To be considered to be in form, a horse should have accomplished at least one of these points. Conversely, a horse who has done little but run around in the back of the pack, never making a move, can generally be quickly tossed as a contender without a massive class drop (an exception is the turf horse who got trapped behind a slow pace and came home in his usual quick fraction). Other indications of possible poor form include the addition of front wraps, a class drop after a win or a double- or triple-drop after an in-the-money finish, the switch of barns from a top trainer to a lowly one especially if accompanied by a class drop, no-spark works reported by a workout service if the horse usually works well, frequent breaks in both the training and racing patterns, a too-fat or too-skinny appearance on race day, and a sudden lack of early speed from a horse who previously was known for quick starts. Connections Of Each Horse Trainers

At times, some trainers seem to be able to win with anything while others have the uncanny ability to lose with anything. Conspiracy theorists sometimes work undetectable drugs and crooked veterinarians into their explanations of why a guy who never had more than 12% wins suddenly reaches 30%, but we’re less interested in the why of the results than in the results themselves. As in any business, some people are simply more competent than others. The best ones check everything, from the teeth to the hooves, and fix whatever’s broke. They have better help, put in longer hours, and generally wind up with better stock. The lesser ones simply patch up their horses and hope for the best. Handicappers need to check not only the record of each trainer - for the year, for the meet, or even for the week - but they should get to know the trainer’s methods. How often does he work his horses (in California, for instance, a sketchy work pattern from a Doug O’Neill horse means something much different from a sketchy work pattern from a Ron McAnally horse)? What do the workouts mean (a fast work by a Mel Stute 42

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trainee isn’t comparable with a fast work by Jerry Hollendorfer entrant)? How does the trainer do with first-time starters? Are his layoff horses ready to fire, or do they need a race or two? How does he prepare his stretch-out types? When he moves a horse to the grass, what does it mean? If his horses do (or don’t) get bet, does this mean anything? What happens when he claims a horse? Does he have a favorite jockey or two? Some trainers are interested in running their horses mostly where they can win, and aren’t afraid to drop a horse off a win or even below the claimed price first or second time off the claim. If others make the same move, you can be sure the horse is shot. While most trainers operate public stables, a few work only for one owner. Here it becomes important to learn the philosophy of the owner. For instance, perhaps he’s a breeder who wants to sell his stock as quickly as possible; a trainer for such an outfit is likely to be going all out to win from the horse’s first start. Another may own nothing but classy stakes and allowance types and his trainer may well be more likely to baby the horses and point them for specific races. Trainers often point for a particular meeting. Some use the meeting at “if you buy supBelmont to prepare for Saratoga, or leg plemental infortheir horses up at Hollywood before Del mation you’ll Mar. At the lower end, some wait for have an edge particular fairs . The reasons might include that the trainer’s principal owners over those who live in the area of the designated go-alldon’t.” out meet, the trainer lives there, or (such as with a trainer who points for Aqueduct’s winter meeting) the big boys are away. Whatever the reasons, it pays to record trainer stats on a daily basis at the start of a new meeting generally, the hot trainers stay hot and the cold ones stay cold. Even using the meager trainer stats available in the past performances is better than nothing, though if you buy supplemental information you’ll have an edge over those who don’t. Jockeys

Many trainers prefer to work with only a couple of jockeys. In this way, the jocks get to know the idiosyncrasies of the trainer’s horses, often work the horses in the morning, and can be counted upon to ride for them. Others February 2004

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prefer to spread the work around, getting the best jockey available. Knowing this can enable you to figure out why a certain jockey has been listed to ride a particular horse. While occasionally you’ll find trainers who have a wee bit too much interest in the mutuel windows, most trainers have many other things to worry about besides cashing tickets. Still, if you discover that a certain trainer’s horses seem to mysteriously wake up after a dose of parimutuel activity, note this. The more you can learn about each trainer, the more you’ll understand why his horses are placed in the spots they are, and how they are likely to do in those spots. Some handicappers go so far as to create a “winner’s notebook” by pasting the past performances and chart of every trainer’s wins into a folder. By studying the folder, handicappers might be able to uncover patterns that may be a bit too subtle for the statistics types. On the subject of connections, the jockey can be crucial, both in a positive and negative way. A number of our statistical studies have shown that when a high-percentage jockey is added, not only does the horse’s win percentage go up but so too does the ROI - and vice versa. When a horse has little chance, some trainers will give the mount to a struggling jock who might need the money; but when they have a live mount, they’ll try to find a stellar jockey. While it’s true that horses make the jockey - Carl The Clown would win some races with Jerry Bailey’s mounts - the jockeys who’ve proven they can win get the pick of the mounts. From Pat Day at Churchill Downs to Russell Baze at Bay Meadows, the same jockeys dominate the standings year after year. But you usually can’t make money on the leading jockey, because the crowd pounds them. Better to find an up-and-coming jockey, or a jockey coming from a lesser track who may have plenty of ability but no following. Sometimes a leading jockey rode three or four of the mounts in this race last time out. Why is he picking this one today? Sometimes the answer is more subtle than, “He had the choice so he might like this one best.” Having a list of agents (available on some tracks’ websites or at the racing office) can help you figure why a particular jockey might be aboard. Jockey styles also come into play. Some jockeys are send-types, firing out of the gate and daring anyone to go with them. Others are position types 44

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who prefer to wait to see what develops. Brisnet.com, among others, prints an interesting stat in its pp’s - the jockey’s record with horses of this running style, such as E/P, etc. Like other athletes, jockeys go through slumps. Sometimes it has to do with a change of agents, or the arrival of bigger-name jocks for a particular meet Sometimes it has to do with a change of agents, or the arrival of biggername jocks for a particular meet who get the pick of the mounts, or the jockey’s fitness, or troubles at home, or simply his confidence. Again, we’re less interested in the why of something than in noting it. If a jockey is 0-for17 at the current meet with no seconds, avoid him. Owners

The owner is the final part of the connections triangle. While most owners are simply businessmen who write checks and have little to do with the success or failure of any particular horse, some owners are much more involved. Some trainers do their best work with a single owner, which could indicate that the owner might be suggesting to the trainer where to place the horse. Some owners do like gambling, and it pays to note suspicious tote action and the results thereof; even if an owner bets with a bookmaker, if somebody loves a horse things have a way of appearing on the board. Some owners love getting their picture taken so much that they don’t mind losing money with their winners - claiming a horse for $32,000 and running it back for $20,000. Some handicappers note if an owner is on hand to see his horse run. This could indicate something good, but not necessarily. Maybe the owner always watches his horse (and maybe always bets him, too) no matter how dim the animal’s prospects. Maybe the owner was in town anyway and figured he’d schmooze with his racing buddies. Maybe the owner’s at the track often, and it is a coincidence that he’s here today. In general, owners are less important than jockeys, who in turn are less important than trainers. In any event, great connections cannot make slow horses fast. This series concludes in the next issue as Barry looks at potential and race setup

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A longtime SMARTie struggles with exchange technology and a new facility.

iBetX – THE BETTING EXCHANGE & BATCH BETTING Malcolm Smith

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ne of the innovative features introduced into exchange betting by iBetX is that the user now has the ability to use batch betting. Batch betting is a way of sending automated instructions to the exchange which will create one’s Bet and Lay instructions.

This is the first step to having exchanges formally allowing automated betting programs (‘bots’) to run on their sites. Sooner or later it will happen but at the moment if one wants to have a bot running against Betfair then it isn’t officially authorised. So, how does one set up a sequence of batch instructions? After all, it can’t be too difficult, can it? All we need is the name, or the unique identifier, of the horse, an instruction as to whether we want to back or lay it, at which price and how much for. Stick these few instructions in a text file or an HTTP message and off we go… Sadly, it’s not as straightforward as this. The first problem is trying to locate where the batch betting interface is. I always forget and I always have to spend ages rummaging about:

Figure 1 – Locating the Batch Betting Interface 46

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For some reason the Batch Betting interface is stuck behind the ‘My Account’ link. To most people one would consider the stuff behind ‘My Account’ to be concerned with one’s bank account details; the credit cards, withdrawals and deposits, one’s name and address and other account based information. I wouldn’t consider going through ‘My Account’ to place and lay bets; after all when I want to bet on a race in a normal fashion I just go through the main screen and wouldn’t dream of going through this link. Anyway, clicking on this link and a pop-up screen appears (figure 2).

Figure 2 – The Batch Betting gateway link Easy enough now we’ve found it. Click on the link and then the screen is replaced with the following:

Figure 3 – The Preference List We now select what sort of market we are interested in; go through the listed in the drop down control and we see that we can bet on Horse Racing:

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Figure 4 – Select the market category Easy enough; when one selects the market then one has to click on the ‘Show’ button (figure five) to list all the options available within that market.

Figure 5 – Clicking ‘Show’ Now, why do we need to do this? Surely when the drop down control’s value is changed we can imply that the Show button was clicked? When one has to select and click, select and click, select and click and so on it does get a little tiring. As it does here because after choosing Horse Racing we have to select which markets we are interested in. At the time of writing this there was only the US market open; so ‘select and click’ to choose the US market. Note that after each Select and Click the whole page is redrawn. Perhaps this works fast enough if one is on a broadband connection and not too many hops from the server; but for anyone on a 56kb/s dial-up this is souldestroying. Select and click the race meeting. And wait for the page to redraw. Then Select and Click the time of the meeting. At last, we are there. We have selected the actual race in which we’re interested in. On a nonbroadband connection this could take over a minute and that minute is very frustrating. 48

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Figure 6 – Selecting the race In figure 6 one can see a little flaw in the interface (other than the terminally depressing ‘select and click’ interface); that is in the list of Races they are ordered badly. Is there any reason why ‘Race 10’ is listed between ‘Race 1’ and ‘Race 2’? It’s not hard to write something to get the race numbers in order for a meeting. It’s just after suffering ‘select and click’ for what seems an age having a drop-down like this doesn’t give the user confidence in the system. It looks cheap. Anyway, we now have a race in our Preferred Markets list (figure 7).

Figure 7 – Our Preferred Markets Click on another race from the drop down list box and, again, soon we can accumulate a number of races at this meeting (see figure 8). Okay, so let’s assume that I am only interested in these three markets at Turfway Park but I also want to trade in the meeting at, say, Calder. I do the obvious thing; I click on where it says ‘Turfway Park’ as I want to change it. Nothing happens. I try a few times and then, I see what happens if I click on the link to the left of ‘Turfway Park’; i.e. the ‘US’ link. Yes, I then get a drop down of the meetings. More ‘click and select’ and I finally get to choose the races (figure 9). February 2004

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Figure 8 – Adding races to the Preferred Markets

Figure 9 – The final list of Preferred Markets The options running along the bottom of the screen are what controls the Batch Betting. One can view all of the market data information from the first two options. Now, clicking on these one is given the option of Opening the file or Saving it (figure 10).

Figure 10 – Open or Save the Market Information

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Figure 10 has the document name hidden, this is because it is based on the account name of the user. Clicking the ‘Save’ button sends the file to the local drive whilst clicking on the ‘Open’ button seems to do either nothing or create a new browser window which displays an error message. I have never got anything useful from trying to Open the file. One has two options with the type of file which one can receive in figure 9; a text file or an HTML file. I have always preferred the Text file because the information required is there and is easily parsed. At the top of the text market data file is a small section of sample instructions, a small ‘help’ if one likes. However, since this part is exactly what is in the Sample Text File there is no point in downloading that. If one opens up the text file for the above races one can see the following identifiers for the markets (races) and the horses: 42347,333379,,,,[1. Princess Roney] 42347,333380,,,,[2. Reckless Abandon] 42347,333381,,,,[3. Flail] 42347,333382,,,,[4. Joseph G's Gal] 42347,333383,,,,[5. Angel for a Judge] 42347,333384,,,,[6. Lady Crafty Dancer] 42347,333385,,,,[7. Blue Ribbon Time] 42347,333386,,,,[8. Tejano's Echo] 42347,333387,,,,[9. Kind Connection] 42347,333388,,,,[10. Sweepatatapi] 42329,333235,,,,[1. Doc Wild] 42329,333236,,,,[2. Whos Crying Now] 42329,333237,,,,[3. Flo's Bo]

Figure 11 – Example of Horse Identifiers The first number, for example ‘42347’ is the race number and the second one is the unique horse identifier. Of course it doesn’t say which race 42347 is; we would just have to know that it’s the 5th race at Turfway Park and 42329 is the 11th at Calder. I cannot see why this can’t be given to us, because without this information this is going to be impossible to use. The idea is that the received file is edited and then sent back with our instructions. Why can’t the Race Name be given before each block in some sort of comment field? February 2004

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We have just gone to a heck of a lot of ‘select and click and wait’ to generate this list. If one had to gather this list for a Bank Holiday weekend, such as Boxing Day, it could take almost an hour just to fill in the Preferred Markets list by ‘select and click’ and ‘select and click’ and ‘select and click’ and so on. Tedious and quite unnecessary. If the user is interested in Horse Racing then surely why not give him an option to get the list of all the identifiers in one go. This, incredibly, is the whole purpose of this interface; just to gather the original code names for the horses and the races. Once these have been gathered then they could, I suppose, be held in a spreadsheet, a database or a linked-list within a home-brewed application. The point is that, at last, we have them. The idea is that the file is edited, the above data comes in a very handy processing block delimiter so that, we can assume, that only the data within this block is processed. What it also means that if we create our own text file with our processing block delimiters then we can create our own applications which sends out the instructions to the iBetX server. So what’s the syntax of the lines which have to be edited in order to place our bets? Well, looking at the Sample Text section we can see: <--SAMPLE BETS START-->

Action,Mrkt_ID,Bet_ID,My_ID,B/L,Odds,Stake U,3456,23435,123435,B,3.4,300 L,3454,23443,232345,L,45,444 D,3455,23433,432335,L,5.0,430,[Contestant Name] [Action: L-leave it, U-update, D-delete] [B/L: B-back, L-lay] [Contestant Name] at end of row is optional and is for your own reference PLEASE DELETE THE ROWS THAT ARE NOT REQUIRED FOR FASTER PROCESSING File limit is 50 bets per file. Only one file per user may be processed at a time <--SAMPLE BETS END-->

Figure 12 – The Sample Bets Instructions 52

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This is where it gets very confusing. And when I am working with money in a real-time environment then the last thing that I need is to get confused. It seems that the ‘fill in the figures’ part which they have sent us needs to have some more parameters. Compare 42329,333235,,,,[1. Doc Wild] with the instruction D,3455,23433,432335,L,5.0,430,[Contestant Name] It’s quite clear that at the end is the Horse Name, in this case we’re looking at Doc Wild. It is also clear that we’ve been given the Race ID and the Horse ID. In the example there is an initial column; one which tells the iBetX server to Update, Leave or Delete. The is the ‘Action’. We haven’t been given this one. But, never mind, it’s not above our wit and wisdom to put this field in. So we now have the first field for the Action, then the Race ID and then the Horse ID. At first this sounds redundant, but if one is running a book on, for example, Rugby Sevens when one team could be playing a set of pool games on the same day then we would have to have this level of redundancy. Then we come to something which is ‘My ID’. This must be the how one references one one’s bets. Next we saw whether we Back or Lay, then to which price and then, before we get to enter how much we are backing or laying we are out of columns. So we have to add another before the horse’s name. At this point now, whenever I have tried this my confidence has hit rock bottom. When financial transactions don’t match the examples I get very, very nervous. And rightly so. Now, I cannot, for the life of me, work out why I would want to issue a ‘Leave It’ instruction. If I am happy with the bet then why would I want to repeat myself? But, no. It seems that the confusion has got to me. The examples here are for existing bets and one just fills in the fields for the new bets, so making a new text file with the following instructions to back Mr Insanity at 100 for £2: February 2004

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<--NEW BETS START--> 42344,333355,B,100,2,[11. Mr. Insanity] <--NEW BETS END-->

I sent up the text file for processing and then had a look at the exchange screen (figure 13).

Figure 13 â&#x20AC;&#x201C; After placing my order to back Mr Insanity. Something had gone wrong. After much experimenting it seems that the line which lists the column headers are required. So much for the instruction that we can delete unwanted lines for faster processing. What happened was that the instruction was thrown out by the iBetX processor and it was only by trail and error that I discovered that the file which I should have entered looks like this (figure 14). <--NEW BETS START--> Mrkt_ID,Bet_ID,B/L,Odds,Stake 42344,333355,B,100,2,[11. Mr. Insanity] <--NEW BETS END-->

Figure 14 â&#x20AC;&#x201C; The correct format to set up an initial bet Now, if there is an obvious error logging mechanism then I have yet to see it. 54

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It was at this point that I became aware that it wasn’t I who generates the Bet ID. The only way that I can get hold of the reference number of the bet created was to get another text file down. Sure enough, it was in there: <--UNMATCHED BETS START--> Action,Mrkt_ID,Bet_ID,My_ID,B/L,Odds,Stake U,42344,333355,6564239,B,200.00,2.00,[11. Mr. Insanity] <--UNMATCHED BETS END-->

Figure 15 – The final confirmation of the bet being placed. So it’s clear that this bet has now been given an ID of 6564239.

Figure 16 – The bets are finally placed. Let’s hope no-one takes them up It looks now that the only way to do this via batch processing is to send up a set of instructions then immediately download the market data to see if the new instructions have been taken and then work with those instructions. The whole process is confusing and because there is no error reporting one doesn’t have a clue whether the instruction has been processed or not. The lot of the user would be made a lot easier if each meeting had an unique two figure identifier going alphabetically, so the first meeting would be 01, February 2004

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the second 02 and so on. Then the race number could be two digits followed by two digits for the horse. Therefore, if I want to back Horse 2 in the 3rd race at Lingfield then it would be easy to build the horse identifier myself. I wouldn’t need to spend ages constructing the Market Preferences list; I could generate them on the fly. The whole process of using iBetX looks as if it’s going to be a process of gathering the market data and then parsing it for one’s own Bet IDs after initially getting the Horse and Race IDs. Then processing one’s own requirements to create one’s own betting slip, posting it up and then getting a new market data report to learn the Bet ID. Okay, so iBetX are gearing themselves up for Batch Betting. In other words they are allowing one to use ‘bots’ to process their data. This then brings me onto the next questions; from where does one get the data? If one can’t get the data then what the use is the ‘bot’? Is there any way in which one can send the instructions automatically to iBetX without use of their interface? At the moment it’s hard to use, cumbersome and very, very slow in gathering the initial market data. And what worries me is that there is no real obvious facility for interactively working with their site; if they wanted people to use bots without hacking into their web site then, perhaps, they would allow us to do so. But, at the moment it’s half way there and I would just rather watch the race on Betfair and do it all manually.

REMEMBER! That item you were going to send in for publication? Get pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) and send it in. All contributions are rewarded with additional free subscription months added to your term. The sooner you get it done, the longer it will be before you’re asked to renew. And regular contributors get free on-going subs!

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An examination of the profit potential of another combination bet. Can the Exacta do better than the Placepot?

CHASING EXACTA PROFITS Trevor Southern

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s a follow-up to the research I did while looking into possible profits on Placepot betting that was published in the December issue (10.12), I thought I would try to see if a profit could be found in the new(ish) Exacta bet. The bet has been around for about three or four years now and is a rival to the old “Computer Forecast”. The main benefits for using the Exacta seem to be: (1) (2)

generally a smaller “overround” than the Computer Forecast This is equally true when a large number of runners in a race

The problem with the bet is (as in all forecast betting) best shown in a famous quote “It’s difficult enough to find a winner—never mind finding which horse is going to come second” However, if you do get it right you are rewarded with odds of 20/1, 30/1 100/1 500/1 etc for the “Exacta Dividend”. However it’s not that easy! Theory As the Exacta seems to outperform the “Computer Forecast” in races with more runners I decided only to use races with 8 runners or more. Moreover I used All Weather, Flat and NH races. System #1 As with the Placepot research I used the Racing Post betting forecast as the start of my work. Simply listing them in the betting order in the Racing Post forecast. I also divided all races into Non-Handicap and Handicap races and February 2004

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this was soon proved worthwhile. The Non-Handicap races soon proved that such a simple method would not work. Even when there were races of 15,29 or 25 runners the 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th forecast favourite in the Racing Post had such a monopoly of 1st & 2nd places in the races that no profit could be made. It seems that everybody had realised this and was betting these top four or five horses in the forecast. However when it came to Handicap races it was not so clear-cut. And with the findings of the Placepot research the 1st & 2nd Betting Forecast favourites were “overbet” and even when they won their fair share of races the dividend was always quite low. In the same way the “nags” e.g. horses at prices of 20/1,25/1 33/1 etc. were so infrequent in getting placed 1st or 2nd that they could be ignored. However if you looked at horse in the forecast at 3rd to 7th Forecast favourite it was possible to “break even” or only lose 2 or 3% on turnover—not bad for such a simple system. I suppose more research on these horses and their particular claims in the race could have shown a small profit. Of all the possible candidates the best I found (over 2,000 races) was backing the 3rd and 6th forecast favourite in Handicap races of 8 runners or more—show a 1½% profit over 2,000 races. On a personal note I did actually back some of these and did have 146/1 winner backing 3rd & 6th favourites—which equates to a 73/1 winner—my best ever result. The trouble with this type of betting is that you can then go for 60,70 or 80 losers in a row! Other systems As per the Placepot idea, I also tried using combinations of Postmark Selection/Forecast favourite/Daily Mail Spotform etc., but none showed a profit—although, much as with the Placepot research, they only lost perhaps 2 or 3% on turnover. Conclusions Surprisingly, much the same as with the Placepot article. The 1st & 2nd Forecast favourites get “overbet” so even if they do win lots of races the dividend is never enough to make a profit. Secondly, the “outsiders” never “get in the frame” enough to warrant a bet. Forecast in the Racing Post between 3rd & 7th favourites often “breaks even” but still no real profit to be had.

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The first part of a truly tried and tested approach from one of SMARTsigâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s most experienced contributors

ELIMINATION BIASES FOR SPRINT RACES Eric Bowers

A

s most readers will know I am now 74, had a serious cancer operation, and although I have got all my marbles and my mind is still as sharp as two tacks, getting about physically is becoming a slight problem, and my days of chasing around the betting shops and northern tracks are coming to an end. With this in mind, and reluctant to let my experiences of over 50 years go to waste, (the last 18 years a run of continuous profit), I produced a thesis which I presented to my 5 grandchildren in the hope that at least one of them would follow on the tradition. Not a one, fixed odds football coupons yes, but horse racing, no. After careful thought, and with nothing to lose, I decided to extend the thesis, and offer it to Smartsig. Nothing has been left out and everything is open for discussion. Some of my charts and interpretations are complicated and will be controversial. I hope that I have explained them thoroughly enough, but please remember I am not a professional writer. So here goes. I have spent the last few months preparing for the 2004 Flat season with the emphasis, on 3 years old and above, in 5 and 6 furlong handicap sprints. The following bias charts and explanations give an indication as to how I intend using this information. The obvious bias for sprint races is the draw. This bias however is very limited and only applies to certain tracks and is slowly being offset and corrected by the various ground staffs. Racing in general contains many superior biases, some of which I shall explain here. These, unlike the draw, proFebruary 2004

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vide a greater coverage throughout racing, from which it is easier to eliminate probable losers quickly and therefore operate at a much higher level of profit due to the extra time available per runner for form analysis. First, to quickly reduce the field to a more acceptable level yet still retain a large majority of winners, the primary elimination reduction technique which I explained in an article published in the 2002 November issue (9.11) is employed. For new readers Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ll present a brief explanation.

Primary elimination ratings It is very simple, easy to operate, and can be used for any race distance, but to fully understand it we have to go back to the bare basics of handicapping and individual race construction. Handicapping Take a typical 15 runner handicap race on the flat at any

distance, and depending upon a reasonable linear weight spread, the number 8 horse should be approximately 9-00. Over the jumps, the number 8 horse should be around the 11-00 mark. From this it is easy to work out who belongs where. The middle five are racing within their own class; those towards the top are below their class, while those at the bottom are above their class. All things being equal, the Official Handicapper in his opinion has allocated the top weight to the horse he considers has performed the best acceptable form in the past. Other horses are presented on a sliding scale at lesser comparable weights depending on their past form. The full weight range of a handicap race normally covers about 30 lbs (1000 to 7-12), and it is generally acknowledged that the greater percentage of races are won by those horses placed within their own class or below their class (10-00 down to 8-8). Those horses racing above their class represent the lowest win percentage. The reason for this is that such horses (5) in your 15 runner field are racing against an increasing and progressive, classier, better, and faster set of opponents (10). Racing Post Betting Forecasts These are evolved by taking into ac-

count every conceivable piece of information regarding the race. They are compiled and adjusted by experts. They take into account ratings, class, old and recent form, whispers, gossips, trainers, and not least the conditions on the day of the race, going, draw etc, and many other things I have probably left out, such as the money spread for horses significantly tipped in the paper and whom the average punter will probably over-bet. Also the opposite, those horses not particularly well tipped will therefore be offered at more favourable odds. The outcome is a very specialised assessment. There are 60

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many professional tissues of odds available that show slight variations, exactly like there are many different versions of handicap ratings. The majority are very similar, but the most consistent are those in the Racing Post, which are copied in the Daily Mirror. I cannot emphasise most strongly that the betting market is without doubt the most complete guide to finding winners and it is remarkable how reliable and accurate these odds are. Below is an extract from a previous article that clearly shows the bias towards the front end of the betting market. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Take last years results, there were 3909 races. Odds

Runners

15/2 or less 8/1 or plus

14,322 (35.3%) 26,306 (64.8%)

Winners 2,875 (73.5%) 1,034 (26.5%)

These figures show the percentage level of runners against winners, above and below the 8/1 mark. Below 8/1, 35.3% of the runners produce 73.5% of the winners.â&#x20AC;? The betting odds, coupled as described with the ratings provided by the Official Handicapper cannot be bettered for eliminating probable losers. These primary elimination ratings are more accurate than any handicap ratings based on speed or weight which do not take into account the betting market. The normal range of odds covered for a typical 15 runner handicap is around 2/1 to 33/1. Again the greater percentage of winners is towards the front end of the market, outsiders at 20/1 plus is rare.

Method To explain the logic behind the system, the ratings are a balance between overall form and recent form. To obtain this rating we use the two most experienced assessors of form in the racing world, namely the Official Handicapper and the expert who compiles the Racing Post betting forecasts. The weights assessed by the official handicapper are biased more towards past overall form and less towards recent form, as most complaining trainers will verify. The betting forecasts however are biased more towards recent form and stable information, and slightly less towards overall form. February 2004

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Therefore to produce a rating we have to obtain a balance between the two and we proceed as follows. IMPORTANT It should be noted that the sliding weight range (30 lbs) and the sliding odds range (33/1) are very similar and comparable. 1. Selecting only handicap races with 10 or a greater number of runners mark the collective weight difference between each horse starting with zero for the top rated horse. On reaching the bottom horse check the number agrees to the total different between top and bottom weights.

2. Add to these figures the forecast odds for the horse to obtain a final rating.

During the elimination process, the aim is to reject approximately 50% of the runners. This is not always so precise. OCT 5th 2002 REDCAR

3-35

HANDICAP

1M 2F

Rating

13 RUNNERS

Horse

Weight

1

Intricate Web

9-10

0 + 10 = 10

2

Altay

9-7

3 + 7.5 = 10.5

3

Common Thought

9-5

5 + 14 = 19

4

Dawns Sharp Shot

9-5

5 + 4

5

Quiet Traveller

9-2

8 + 10 = 18

6

Kristensen

8-12

12 + 10 = 22

7

Denâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Joy

8-8

16 + 10 = 26

8

Fittonia

8-6

18 + 5.5 = 23.5

9

Swynford

8-6

18 + 14 = 32

Rejected 5th

10

Cripsey Brook

8-6

18 + 12 = 30

Rejected 4th

11

Ursa Major

8-3

21 + 14 = 35

Rejected 3rd

12

Colway Ritz

8-3

21 + 5

Rejected 2nd

13

Glen Vale Walk

7-12

26 + 28 = 54

=

Action

9

= 26

Rejected 6th

Rejected 1st

4/1 Dawns Sharp Shot, 5/1 Colway Ritz, 11/2 Fittonia, 15/2 Altay, 10/1 Dens Joy, Intricate Web, Kristensen, Quiet Traveller, 12/1 Cripsey Brook, 14/1 Common Thought, Swynford Pleasure, Ursa Major, 28/1 Glen Vale Walk.

The winner was INTRICATE WEB at 10/1. (Race 20 in the examples list).

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We commence by rejecting the horse with the highest rating number and proceed downwards towards the 50% mark at which point you have to make a decision of where to close down. In most cases, especially the higher field races there will be no problem. In 16 runners plus, the highest rating will be in the fifties and sixties, 7-12 (32lbs) with odds around 33/1 and the interval scales can be quite large and the decision is easy. With the above example, 13 runners, when I rejected the sixth horse I noticed that the seventh and eighth were separated by only 1.5 points, too close to call, so I stopped. Even so this reduced the overround from 120% (forecast) down to 75% (SP). Rating the above race took exactly 3 minutes and 47 seconds. The method can be applied on both the Flat and National Hunt and the going does not seem to vary the win percentages, although I do avoid the very heavy going during the winter. The elimination process obviously rejects the rank outsiders yet retains most of the favourites. The area where it has the most telling effect is the middle range. It differentiates the win potential between those top class horses in the middle of the odds range dropping down in class, and the recent winners at the bottom of the class scale who are going up in class. In the example given, it rejected the second and fifth favourite which made a vast difference to the over-round figuresâ&#x20AC;?. Below are the results presented for the 28 examples given in the full version. Total runners

426

Retained runners

218

Results

(28 races)

Av: 15 per race Av: 8 per race 25 winners--3 losers

Av: over-round (forecast) 127% Av: over-round(S.P.) 89% W% strike rate 89%

Av: winner odds

8/1.

(Ranging from 2/1 up to 25/1).

Using the above procedure easily reduces the runners by 50% and the overround well below the 100% mark whilst retaining over 85% of the winners in less than 4 minutes per race. There can be no doubt in a 16 runner race that the winner will be amongst February 2004

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the first 8 in the SP betting over 80% of the time, and therefore using an odds bias is quite acceptable. However some doubt was expressed by the SMARTsig e-mail group on the question of assuming that the majority of such winners were also in the top half of the weights range. On the next page is a statistical chart covering all sprint handicap races over the last 6 years. It shows at the bottom of the chart that even including all meetings, all balanced and un-balanced weighted races, over 55% of all winners, (ignoring any connection with odds), are in the top half of any race. Winners carried at least 8-13. (It should be noted that this does not directly correspond to the weight levels of winners of the majority of races. Those below their class or in their class in any given race as discussed previously under Handicapping, 10-00 down to 8-8). May I repeat myself, by stating that in a balanced race where the centre saddle cloth horse is approximately in the centre weight range, there is a further average percentage increase approaching 4%. Fortunately the chart also presents a much greater bias that is far more important and profitable to operate than any given track draw bias. Namely, that some tracks have a greater weight carrying bias than the average 55% shown. The left hand side of the chart is sorted on the computer in order of track class for 5 and 6f races. The highest, Ascot is at the top, and the lowest, Hamilton at the bottom. Note how the percentage bias tends to increase at the lower end of the chart. This is well indicated in the right hand side of the chart which has been sorted according to weight bias. The explanation for this is that at the top class tracks, very good consistent horses are racing against good consistent ones and therefore these are more competitive, hence the bias is not as noticeable. In the lower reaches of track class, average consistent horses are racing against unreliable, untrustworthy, defective, erratic animals that are thus placed at the bottom of the handicap range. Some are so inconsistent, and coupled with low ability, that they never win a race throughout their career, and the question arises, should they ever be involved at all? Donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t ask me why Beverley is at the top of the chart with 74%, (3 out of 64

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WT% 53 50 56 57 44 42 44 49 64 45 61 52 44 55 44 56 63 53 66 56 62 59 74 58 67 39 63 67 74 56 35 65 54 55

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Course

Course

Ascot Epsom York Newmarket Newbury Chester Haydock Yarmouth Doncaster Sandown Newcastle Salisbury Ayr Windsor Chepstow Thirsk Kempton Goodwood Nottingham Redcar Bath Catterick Pontefract Lingfield Brighton Ripon Folkestone Leicester Beverley Carlisle Warwick Musselburgh Hamilton Average

Pontefract Beverley Brighton Leicester Nottingham Musselburgh Doncaster Kempton Folkestone Bath Newcastle Catterick Lingfield Newmarket York Thirsk Redcar Carlisle Windsor Hamilton Ascot Goodwood Salisbury Epsom Yarmouth Sandown Newbury Haydock Ayr Chepstow Chester Ripon Warwick Average

WT% 74 74 67 67 66 65 64 63 63 62 61 59 58 57 56 56 56 56 55 54 53 53 52 50 49 45 44 44 44 44 42 39 35 55

every 4 races are won by horses carrying a minimum of 8-13), when it has one of the best draw biases of all tracks. one of the best draw biases of all tracks. My possible explanation is a little too complicated to discuss, and at this point, Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;m only interested in taking advantage of statistical facts. I suggest that for this track, you concentrate your efforts towards those February 2004

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horses with a good draw and also carrying above 8-12, after having already applied the Primary Elimination Ratings section. I’m sure there must be plenty of you with the Raceform Interactive program. Using the Query Database section and the following rules, check the Beverley results for yourself. Handicaps = True Horse age…. >= 3 years Race date…. >= 01/01/1998

Race distance = between 5 and 6f Course = Beverley Weight…. >= 125 lbs

The above will indicate 29 winners, next remove the weight rule and a rerun will indicate 39 winners. Result: 29 divided by 39, times 100, = 74.4% winners above 8-12. It is not as if there is a great in-balance about the centre point of the Beverley runners. In the 39 races covering the 6 years statistics there were 360 runners at and above 125 lb, out of 645 total runners, which converts to 55.8%. The difference between this figure and that one of 74% is still very substantial. The figures for the bottom track, Warwick, were 170 runners, at and above 125 lbs, out of 358 total runners, which converts to 47.5%. Again a large difference from the 35% on the chart. Now I must really stress this point: Introducing the plus 125lbs rule in the database query was only to establish whether or not a weight bias existed. It does not imply that we never consider or back a horse carrying less. The example given previously, shows 2 horses which we have retained for consideration, Kristensen (8-12) and Fittonia 8-6). With the addition of the weight and odds biases it is quite possible for us to have a top rated horse carrying 10-00, but because of poor recent results priced at 25/1, and with a progressive animal carrying 8-9, and because of a good recent result, priced at 6/1. According to the primary elimination process both are rated at 25 and should be considered equally to be retained or eliminated. During the period of the 28 examples given in the full version, I did have one 25/1 winner. With an average overall SP of 8/1, there were many other high priced winners which continued throughout the season. There could be a case for treating Chester, Ripon and Warwick in reverse and concentrate on the bottom weights, but it’s not for me, I shall leave well alone. Next month, Eric concludes with a look at jockey and trainer biases.

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Continuing our experiment of real-time staking of a 1-1 correct score betting system over the current season.

REAL-TIME STAKING Stefan Perry

F

our winners, three at 6/1 and the other at 11/2 from the twenty-six system bets highlighted since the last report in the January 2004 issue. An overall one-and-a-half point gain in level-staking terms. The full results since last monthâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s accounting have been as follows; Match

res

BB + SR Bank stk SR

4% of the bank Bank 4%stk

Base + MARS Bank base %age

Brought Fwd from previous accounting Ă&#x17D; Bolton Wan. v Arsenal 6.0

526.50 766.50

40 40

0.00 0.00

559.93 694.31

22.40 22.40

570.75 12.50 669.09 12.50

3.89 3.89

Everton v Leicester C

Level stke40 600 840

0

726.50

40

0.00

671.92

22.40

652.70 12.50

3.89

800

5.5

946.50

40

0.00

795.10

22.40

742.85 12.50

3.89

1020

Rochdale v Boston U

0

906.50

40

0.00

772.70

30.91

726.46 12.50 12.46

980

Southamptn v Portsmouth

0

866.50

40

0.00

741.79

29.67

701.51 12.50 11.08

940

Charlton Ath v Chelsea

0

826.50

40

0.00

712.12

29.67

677.92 12.50 11.08

900

Blackpool v Tranmere R

0

786.50

40

0.00

682.45

29.67

654.34 12.50 11.08

860

Notts Co. v QPR

0

746.50

40

0.00

652.78

29.67

630.76 12.50 11.08

820

Sheff. Wed. v Port Vale

0

706.50

40

0.00

623.11

29.67

607.18 12.50 11.08

780

Bristol R v Northampton

0

666.50

40

0.00

593.44

23.74

583.59 12.50

4.60

740

Middlesbro v Man. Utd

0

626.50

40

0.00

569.70

23.74

566.50 12.50

4.60

700

6.0

866.50

40

0.00

712.12

23.74

669.08 12.50

4.60

940

0

826.50

40

0.00

688.39

23.74

651.98 12.50

4.60

900

6.0 1066.50

40

0.00

830.81

23.74

754.57 12.50

4.60

1140

Hull C v Doncaster R

0 1026.50

40

6.00

807.07

32.28

737.47 12.50 13.06

1100

Huddersfield v Doncaster

0

980.50

40

0.00

774.79

30.99

711.91 12.50 11.66

1060

Swansea v Oxford U

0

940.50

40

0.00

743.80

29.75

687.76 12.50 10.33

1020

Hartlepool v Peterboroug

0

900.50

40

0.00

714.05

29.75

664.93 12.50 10.33

980

Darlington v Hull C

0

860.50

40

0.00

684.29

29.75

642.10 12.50 10.33

940

York C v Carlisle U

0

820.50

40

0.00

654.54

26.18

619.28 12.50

6.56

900

Tottenham H v Liverpool

0

780.50

40

0.00

628.36

26.18

600.22 12.50

6.56

860

Bradford C v Cardiff C

0

740.50

40

0.00

602.18

26.18

581.16 12.50

6.56

820

Millwall v Sunderland

0

700.50

40

0.00

576.00

26.18

562.10 12.50

6.56

780

Wimbledon v Stoke C

0

660.50

40

0.00

549.82

26.18

543.04 12.50

6.56

740

Rochdale v Bristol R

0

620.50

40

0.00

523.63

26.18

523.98 12.50

6.56

700

Southend U v Doncaster

0

580.50

40

0.00

497.45

26.18

504.91 12.50

6.56

660

Walsall v West Ham U

Walsall v Reading Wrexham v Blackpool Carlisle U v Darlington

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The four methods under the microscope are performing as shown ~ all from a £1,000 starting bank and listed in order of remaining bank size; Level £40 stakes BB + SR Partial MARS Straight Proportional staking

£660.00 £580.50 £504.91 £497.45

A mini recovery last period, seeing both level stakes and BB+SR claw back the losses to be in profit again. The latest series of 12 straight losses however has quickly put paid to any temporary euphoria! Of the 4 staking plans I can now understand better Rod’s earlier comment of “Why bet if it’s a losing system?”. Proportional & MARS could both be deemed pessimistic or protective, both geared as they are towards prolonging the bank in bad times. Whereas BB+SR is more optimistic (perhaps cavalier?) and aims to enhance winnings as its prime objective. In level-stake terms the bank had more than halved by the end of January, down from £1,000 to a low of £420. The improved performance in December (in LS terms) recovered all the losses and moved into profit. BBSR used a fixed-minimum stake which has helped it to recover into profit too. Whereas the other two plans, although they would have allowed betting over a longer period if the poor performances continued, were unable to recover quickly due to their reduced stakes. The overview reflects Rod’s words. Each time we embark on a betting strategy our aim is to win, and if we’ve done the groundwork correctly our expectation is to win too. So should we therefore be looking to enhance our expectations, rather than prolong the agony if our strategy under-performs? At things stand, this I have learned from the exercise if nothing else. If we lose our bank it is down to a poor strategy and I would not want to use a staking plan to protect me from the truth of that. As a result I would want to revise my system/method, NOT the way I stake it. On the other hand, if my original method is one that brings home the bacon, I should be looking to make the most of these bets by using a staking plan that helps winners, rather than one as a crutch for an ailing bank and a poor strategy. I’m certain I see staking in a much clearer light now than I did at the beginning of this exercise.

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Reporting on the month-by-month progress over the current jumps campaign of several commercially available horses-to-follow lists - plus a “free” list of horses from www.irish-racing.com

NH HORSES-TO-FOLLOW MONITOR Terry Collins

C

ontinuing the monitoring of a selection of horses-to-follow lists for the 2003/04 national hunt season which for my purposes will run from 1st November and will end after the attheraces Gold Cup is run in 2004. The lists being followed are as follows…

Freebies-Irish (£0!)…A new list for checking obtained from the web-

site www.irish-racing.com which, as the name suggests, is biased towards Irish runners and is compiled by Alan Magee and Eamonn Murphy who are two racing pundits on the website. The list is made up of 56 horses in total. One Jump Ahead (£5.99)….A publication by Mark Howard which

has become a regular in these articles, and which I have no qualms about including once more. Once again it will consist of the ‘Top 40 Prospects’ February 2004

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plus the ‘Best of The Rest’ giving a total of 48 horses. Jumping Prospects (£11.00)….Another well known publication by

John Morris. The list to be used in the checking consists of the main horses to follow plus the best of the ‘eyecatchers’ and amounts to 68 horses in total. Timeform 50 to Follow (£5.95)….The granddad of horses to follow

lists published by Timeform. The list consists of 50 horses as you would expect. It should be noted that OJA and JP contain many more horses than are used in these articles so a poor performance in the tables should not be taken too literally as winners may have been found elsewhere in the publications. FREEBIES-Irish (-£35.55) Selections No of Winners Strike Rate

36 12 33%

selections

winners

BALANCE

win prices

2 8 7 6 7 2 1 1 2

1 2 1 2 2 1 1 1 1

-£34.05 -£30.80 -£36.51 -£35.51 £26.21 £26.01 £31.01 £31.30 £31.40

5/2 7/1, 9/4 2/7 4/1,evs 66/1,8/11 4/5 5/1 2/7 11/10

21-Dec 26-Dec 27-Dec 28-Dec 29-Dec 01-Jan 04-Jan 07-Jan 11-Jan

After last months poor performance a 66/1 winner wipes out all earlier deficits and sends FB-I into a very healthy lead but as the more recent winners continue to build on the advantage, it may not be a one hit wonder! JUMPING PROSPECTS (-£6.39) Selections No of Winners Strike Rate 70

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selections

winners

BALANCE

1 2 2 3 2 5 2 5 2 1 1 3 7

0 1 0 1 1 1 1 2 1 0 1 1 3

£1.89 £2.27 £0.27 £1.27 £2.52 -£1.12 £0.13 -£2.20 -£2.59 -£3.59 -£2.92 -£3.67 -£1.61

15-Dec 16-Dec 17-Dec 19-Dec 20-Dec 26-Dec 27-Dec 29-Dec 30-Dec 01-Jan 02-Jan 03-Jan 10-Jan

win prices

11/8 3/1 9/4 4/11 9/4 1/3 (2) 8/13 4/6 5/4 10/3,2/1,8/11

Only a tiny loss to report for JP over the period, despite a few decent priced winners being selected, but still no overall profits to report unfortunately. ONE JUMP AHEAD (£2.89) Selections No of Winners Strike Rate 15-Dec 16-Dec 17-Dec 19-Dec 20-Dec 26-Dec 27-Dec 28-Dec 29-Dec 30-Dec 31-Dec 03-Jan 06-Jan 10-Jan February 2004

36 13 36%

selections

winners

BALANCE

1 1 1 3 4 8 2 1 5 2 2 1 1 10

0 1 0 0 2 2 0 1 2 1 1 0 0 2

-£7.39 -£7.25 -£8.25 -£11.25 -£5.25 -£3.88 -£5.88 -£5.16 -£3.32 -£3.32 -£3.75 -£4.75 -£5.75 -£7.42

win prices

1/7

6/1, 2/1 7/1,4/11 8/11 9/2,1/3 evs 4/7

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Despite charting the highest strike rate this period OJA reports a small loss due to poor SP’s but continues to remain “in the van”. TIMEFORM (£5.25) Selections No of Winners Strike Rate

15-Dec 17-Dec 19-Dec 20-Dec 26-Dec 27-Dec 29-Dec 30-Dec 31-Dec 03-Jan 04-Jan 10-Jan

37 13 35%

selections

winners

BALANCE

win prices

2 2 5 2 3 6 2 1 1 2 1 10

1 0 0 1 1 3 1 1 1 0 1 3

£5.50 £3.50 -£1.50 -£0.25 -£1.88 -£0.59 -£0.86 £0.14 £2.14 £0.14 £0.54 £0.87

5/4

9/4 4/11 15/8,7/4,4/6 8/11 evs 2/1 2/5 7/2,10/3,1/2

Once again no decent prices to report as TF reports a small loss over the period but retains its profitable status. 3/1+ FILTER This is only backing horses which are 3/1 or greater. As you can see I have also included figures for highest and lowest recorded profit and loss. After a seemingly shock result FB-I takes a really healthy lead with only TF of the remaining bunch showing a profit overall on the month. Meanwhile OJA and JP are bringing up the rear but they may still mount a few shocks of their own in the coming months. Currently only FB-I and JP are being helped by the use of this filter. 72

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FB-I TF OJA JP

SMARTsig confidential 11.02

SP £31.40 £0.87 -£1.61 -£7.42

3/1+ £34.50 -£3.17 -£6.37 £6.83

high point £31.40 £10.80 £2.89 £8.82

low point -£36.51 -£1.88 -£5.55 -£11.25

A good lead currently held by FB-I but it may not be all over yet as a 35 point loss was recorded in FB-I’s initial month but it’s still quite a challenge for the trailing contenders.

FREEBIES-Irish £30.00 £20.00 £10.00 £0.00 - £10.00 - £20.00 - £30.00 - £40.00

ONE JUMP AHEAD £35.00 £30.00 £25.00 £20.00 £15.00 £10.00 £5.00 £0.00 -£5.00 -£10.00

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JUMPING PROPECTS

£30.00 £20.00 £10.00 £0.00 -£10.00 -£20.00 -£30.00 -£40.00

TIMEFORM

£30.00 £20.00 £10.00 £0.00 -£10.00 -£20.00 -£30.00 -£40.00

Horses Engaged Monitoring Service To be automatically informed by email of your own list of hot-horses www.trackingservice.co.uk (free trial period available)

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Soccer results on disk, weekly results & odds by email Weekend odds service, soccer results files and almost every other up-to-the-minute soccer statistic you can think of – all at realistic, value for money prices. Mabels-Tables PO Box 14555, Dunfermline KY11 4WA Tel: 01383 721 729

bill@mabels-tables.co.uk

www.mabels-tables.com SMARTsig members qualify for a further 10% discount . . . even on top of existing discounts.

GAMBLING BOOKS from www.smartsig.com the SMARTsig web site now has a direct link with Gambler’s Book Store. Simply -click- on the bookstore link on our web site home page for the best selection of betting books around.

Look out for the frequent special offers!

Profile Books and Software researching Horses, Trainers, Courses and Sires. SMARTsig members qualify for 15% discount off the retail price on the software and £3 per book.

www.SIREFORM.com Pedigree Handicapping Pace analysis

A unique insight into the hidden class and distance requirements of flat horses. Daily ratings and an interactive area to help you locate this years Derby winner.

www.SIREFORM.com

RacingSystemBuilder

SMART members qualify for 10% discount RSB software packages.

Racedata Modelling Ltd., Upper Buckenhill Farmhouse, Fownhope, Herefordshire HR1 4PU Tel: 01432 860 864 www.rsbweb.com

NH value ratings on the Internet “. . simply in a class of their own . .”

“The racing statisticians Kama Sutra” www.nomadicpress.co.uk info@nomadicpress.co.uk 01275 475275

www.hoof.demon.co.uk email: tony@hoof.demon.co.uk

RACEDATA RATINGS

The Karl Dennis Raceletter

Tel: 01873 811427

Ratings for all UK horseracing via daily email

Horseracing specific direct-mailed monthly.

Built-in oddsline to help your decision making

Horseracing specific direct-mailed monthly. News, interviews, tipsters & systems investigated, future prospects, etc.

Betting or Laying?

Tel: 01579 363486 or email:

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for full details (Mention SMARTsig when calling)

Subs from £9.90 per month, free sample available KZ Racing, 25 The Grove Promenade, Ilkley LS29 8AF

01943 603801

email: racing@karl.tele2.co.uk

All advertisements are published in good faith, and do not imply any recommendation. SMARTsig members should satisfy themselves as to the suitability of a product/service before proceeding. February 2004

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Published by: SMARTsig Ltd, PO Box 24, RYE, TN31 6XT Tel: 0845 644 6712 (local rate) Fax: 0870 420 8817 (nat.rate) email info@smartsig.co.uk Internet: www.smartsig.com

The opinions expressed herein are not necessarily those of the Editor or publisher, but are often taken directly from members contributions. SMARTsig does not accept any liabilities for inaccuracies within the content of the magazine, nor for any consequences thereof. We will always endeavour to print replies and/or corrections by or on behalf of parties who may feel they may have been misrepresented in any way. SMARTsig encourages and welcomes contributions from its members but is unable to accept any responsibility for loss or any damage of any material, solicited or otherwise. Everything published in done so in good faith, and is the copyright of either SMARTsig, the contributor, or both—subject to it not having been published elsewhere beforehand. This Journal, nor any of its contents must not, in whole or part, be copied, duplicated, loaned or distributed without the written permission of the copyright holder(s). We recommend you exercise caution with any contacts established through our group and never speculate with money you cannot afford to lose.

© 2004 SMARTsig Ltd

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