How do we know if a runner is likely to race to form, or if a particular yards horses are running to form? It is a tough question to answer and the best way is to watch every race. However, it’s possible to make a rating, and that’s exactly what the Racing Post have done to try and help you answer this difficult question. This rating can be found on every single race card, every day and is called the RTF%. It is displayed just after the trainers name.
This figure is an explanation of the trainers current form. It’s calculated by taking each of a trainers runners expected rating before the race, and actual rating in the race and comparing them to each other. The closer they are together, then the higher the RTF percentage is and the more the trainers runners are going to be expected to run to form. But, as always, there are a couple of things that you should be aware of.
First of all, this is only calculated for horses that have an RPR figure. If a trainer has a large number of runners without an RPR rating then you should ignore this figure as its indication could be way off.
Secondly, you need to make sure that there is enough data for the rating to be relevant. As with all ratings, and in fact anything based on data, you need to have a large enough amount of information for the numbers to be meaningful. Essentially the more data the more accurate a good rating is likely to be.
Thirdly, this rating is based on a time period of just two weeks. Ideally it should be longer, at least 1 month and preferably two or three. However two weeks is what we get and so we make do with it.
Fourthly, any races that took place the previous day are not taken into account with this rating. If a trainer had an excellent day the day before then this will not be reflected and you will need to make sure that you take that into account yourself.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that we shouldn’t use this rating, quite the opposite, but like anything, we should be aware of its limitations before we begin using it. Now that we know the limitations of the RTF% figure, we can begin to use it.
We should use this rating as a secondary piece of information once we have already done our main analysis. If you’ve been reading my articles for any length of time then you will be aware that I advocate a particular style of handicapping. In broad terms this means removing the horses that I don’t think have a chance of winning (eliminations) and then noting the ones that I think could compete in the race (contenders) and finally choosing the ones to bet on based on value.
Once you have found your contenders, you’re then in a perfect position to be able to use the RTF% figure. Take your list of contenders and look to see which of them have trainers with an RTF% figure, they won’t all have one and so we use it to see if we can eliminate any of our contenders based on the fact that they are unlikely to run to form. For those that do click on the Trainers name to get their recent form. Make sure that they’ve had at least 7 runners in the last two weeks, any less and the RTF% figure is not going to be accurate enough to give us a serious indication.
Any that are left you then check to see if they had a runner racing the previous day and if so how they performed. Remember that races the previous day are not taken into account with the rating, so we need to make our own judgement as to whether this would have increased, decreased or left the RTF% rating the same. Don’t worry about not being highly accurate, we just need to get an idea of how the trainers runners performed the previous day.
We can now look at the RTF% figure. If this is above 50 then you can assume that the horse is likely to run close to the RPR figure listed on the races race card, less than 50 and it could well run a different race to the one on the race card. This information will now allow you to decide whether the runner is worth keeping in your contenders. If the horse has an RTF% of 10 and was already low down on your contenders list, then you may want to consider removing this runner as it’s likely it may not run to form. But, if the horse has an RTF% of 80 and was in the middle of your contenders list, then you may want to give it a slight bump in your list under the assumption that it’s likely to run to form in todays race.
What’s most important with this figure is that we’re not using it as 100% fact. What we’re doing is using it to help us get a “sense” of whether a horse may run to form in the current race. This is an instinctive feeling that you’ll only get by practicing analysing races with a specific set of tools, and you now have an extra tool to add to your form reading toolbox.