A few weeks ago I wrote this post about how to calculate the going allowance. There was a lot of interest in how to create speed ratings, and so with that in mind I’m going to look at the first part (and probably most important) of creating your own speed ratings.
That is how to create standard times.
To start I think it’s important to look at what standard times are and why we need them if we’re going to create accurate speed ratings.
We can define the winner of a horse race as:
The horse that got from point A to point B in the fastest time.
However… it’s important to remember that the aim of a horse race isn’t for a horse to run as fast as possible.
The aim of a horse race is to get your horse to run faster than the other horses in the race.
Of course, some of the time these two goals are going to coincide. But a large proportion of the time they won’t.
Horse racing is a tactical sport and often a horse is raced to take advantage of it’s strengths. e.g. to be in the right position to accelerate in the last furlong.
So what does this mean?
Well it means that a horse’s finish time is not necessarily indicative of a horse’s true ability.
Every race is slightly different. It’s run with different conditions at different courses, with different runners, different ground etc…
Which means that in order to accurately assess the time a horse has won the race in we need to create benchmarks for each of these sets of conditions. Otherwise it would be impossible to compare a horse’s finish time in one race with another horse it has never met before.
After all, if the conditions are different then the times would be different even if the distance was exactly the same.
The standard times are these benchmarks.
Nick Mordin originally wrote the book Mordin On Time, which publicly showed his methods for creating standard times.
His methods have since been fine tuned, adapted and advanced, as you would expect. Nevertheless they remain one of the best and simplest ways to create standard times by hand.
I strongly recommend you get his book if you’re interested in speed ratings, and the method of creating standard times I’m going to outline in this post today is a simplified version of the one that Nick Mordin shares in his book. I have simplified it so that you can get started as quickly as possible.
You need to start by gathering the finish times of at least twenty races on your course and distance of choice. There’s no reason you can’t simply do every distance at the course but I would recommend you start by focusing on one.
These races should all be run on good, or faster, ground conditions but I prefer to try and keep the ground conditions as close to good as possible to keep the variation as low as possible.
As you write down the finish times, also make a note of the class of the race next to each of them because you are now going to…
…adjust each of the finish times based on the class of the race:
Class 1 reduce by 3.6 seconds per mile
Class 2 reduce by 4.8 seconds per mile
Class 3 reduce by 5.5 seconds per mile
Class 4 reduce by 6.3 seconds per mile
Class 5 reduce by 6.6 seconds per mile
Class 6 reduce by 6.9 seconds per mile
Class 7 reduce by 7.3 seconds per mile
The purpose of this is to bring the times into line so that all horses of all classes would have been able to achieve them roughly.
These numbers are rough, and you can of course work out the exact amount that each should be reduced, but the above will be sufficient for you to get started with.
Take your twenty adjusted finish times and then pick the one in the middle. This is your standard time.
But it’s not quite finished yet…
With this you now need to make adjustments for the turns and gradients in the track. To do this you’re going to need to grab a copy of the track map with the gradients mark and get out your ruler.
Don’t worry, this can be done roughly and still be effective.
For any turn you should add 0.30 seconds per furlong for a sprint race and 0.20 seconds per furlong for longer races. If the turn is 10 furlongs or longer then this adjustment doesn’t need to be made for it.
Any parts of the track that are uphill you should add 1.50 seconds per furlong and any downhill section of the track you should remove 0.50 seconds per furlong as these can speed the horses up.
Again these figures are rough estimates. A steep uphill climb can cause a horse to slow down more than 1.50 seconds and a steep downhill section can also cause a horse to slow down as they become unsteady.
You can work out these figures exactly. But… the above approximations will be fine to get you started.
Congratulations, you now have your first standard time for your first track and distance.
But be warned, these standard times will change and you should be keeping an eye on them and updating them regularly. Tracks may change the distances by a few yards but races will be published as being run at the same distance. This, and other similar adjustments, could change your standard time.
Try creating your own standard times for your favourite track and distance and in a few weeks we will look at how to use these to create your own speed ratings.