Out of all the possible factors that exist in horse racing, the one that seems to appear more in forums, systems and discussions than any other, is recent finish position.
There is a common belief that this factor is crucial in determining the current physical ability of a horse. Of course, this does make logical sense. After all, if a horse finished first in its last race, then this could indicate that it is in peak form. If a horse has not placed for six months then it could make sense to assume that it needs a lay-off. But, let me ask you a question…
Have you ever investigated this for yourself?
It is not unusual to find that the performance of commonly assumed factors is, in fact, completely different to the assumptions made. We can find some great niche betting systems by investigating these assumptions for ourselves.
This happens because sometimes the assumption is just plain wrong, and other times because the assumption was made as long as 20 or 30 years ago. In the time since the assumption was made, a lot has changed in racing!
Enough chatter, let’s get down to the nitty gritty.
The first stage of investigation is to look at how many runners that finish in the top 3 go on to win their next race. In the data sample I am using there are 132,620 runners that meet the criteria of finishing in the top 3. Of these, 15.92% win their next race but, importantly, they make a loss of -17.44%. That is pretty heavy losses and something that we definitely don’t want to get involved in.
But those are the horses that came in the top 3 in their last race. We might expect the figures to be low. However if a horse won its last race then surely that will make a big difference?
The amount of runners that finished first in their last race is 44,385 and of these 7,752 go on to win their next race for a 17.47% strike rate. Not bad, until we realise that they lose -16.25% of all stake money bet on them! Having cut out 33% of our runners we have only saved ourselves just over 1% and we are still making heavy losses.
What does this mean for us as bettors?
It teaches us some important lessons…
- We must not make assumptions without investigating them
- Our investigations may lead to surprises
- Do not trust information that has been around for years, racing changes
And of course…horses who finished first, or in the top 3, last time out do not necessarily make good bets in their next races!
For those of you who want to continue investigating this further, I would like to give you a hint. Take a look at horses that performed well in their last race which had similar conditions to the race they are in today.