There has been a lot of interest shown in calculating speed figures recently and so it made sense to do a review of one of the leading books in the UK on creating speed figures.
There are many books on creating speed figures in the US but, generally, they are based on data that we do not have access to in the UK, which means that while they are interesting there is still a lot of work to do to convert them into useable methods for the UK.
While most people have heard of Timeform or the Racing Post Top Speed figures, neither of these companies has produced any detailed information on the process that they use to create them. Nick Mordin is one of the only people to have explained the process of creating speed figures in the UK and so has become somewhat of an authority on it even though his book, in its latest revision, is now 7 years old.
Will you learn how to make speed figures when you read this book?
You certainly will and you will find out that it is not a simple process and if you intend to do it then you will have to be prepared to invest some serious time into it.
The book contains eighteen chapters and by the far the most important factor, in my opinion, is the second chapter. This is where you will learn how to create standard times. The better your standard times then the better your speed figures will be. Of course this is also where a lot of the problems in speed rating creation comes in.
However there are still times when Mordin does not explain how he created certain figures. In order to create standard times you need to adjust the finish time of races so that races of different class levels would be achievable by runners of a different class. He has provided the amount of seconds to deduct from race times and they generally still hold up pretty well, but will they in 2 years? 5 years? 10 years? And there is no explanation of how he went about finding these figures out so if you want to make sure they are accurate you need to invent your own method to calculate them.
If you don’t want the monumentous task of creating your own standard times then chapter eighteen provides you with an appendix of all the standard times at courses when the book was published. Of course there will eventually come a time when there are so many new distances that you will have to sit down and start making your own, unless you use the ones provided on each race over at the Racing Post.
Creating speed ratings themselves is not a particularly difficult procedure once you have the standard times, in fact this takes up just 7 pages of the book, and the method set out in Mordin’s book is certainly designed towards those of you who want to complete the process manually rather than program it into a database. Although it is possible to convert the process to a programmable method it is important to remember that speed ratings, by their nature, require some form of human input to be good.
The rest of the book is focused on showing you possible ways that you may want to consider using the speed ratings that you have created.
Overall this book is an excellent introduction to speed ratings for the UK as well as being one of the only ones available. I would strongly recommend reading it even if you do not want to create your own speed figures so that you get an idea of what it is that goes into the creation of other people’s figures.
Creating your own speed ratings is a big job and although it can certainly be worthwhile the time spent it requires a time commitment that a lot of people cannot give.
Is it worth using someone else’s speed figures? Definitely, if somebody has done the work already and is sharing it then use them. Make sure that you trust whoever is selling them as the difference between good and bad speed figures can make a huge difference to your profit/loss situation.