UK Horse Racing's Ratings

Case Study: Kempton 2.10 - 17th December 2011

Introduction

This race has been chosen because it is of one two meetings not in Ireland and, well, the choice of races to look at is remarkably poor.

Other than this all-weather meeting at Kempton Park there's only Catterick which is reduced to a full card of poor novice hurdles and one 'bumper' race. The Kempton meeting is, in all honesty, not much better as the best race of the day is marked up here by the Race Class ratings as being a Claiming Race..

So, after much deliberation, the 2.10 Kempton Park was chosen for analysis. It was chosen because it may have the best opportunities to look in the race and, besides, it's looks a tight race so it could be fun to try to pick somethng out of it.

The Kempton 2.10

This is declared to be nine runner race and already (before 10am on the morning of the race) we've lost two runners; the top rated Focail Maith and the penultimate rated Brown Pete.

The race is classed as a Race Class of 104 (though without the top rated this will now be slightly lower) and is a handicap. Of the remaining horses the new top rated, Emma's Gift is rated today at 107.77 and the new bottom two horses are rated 104.72 and 95.65.

When I look at how tight a race is I tend to look at the difference in ratings between the top rated and the penultimate horse. The reason being is that I feel that if one looks at the bottom rated horse's rating this could mislead as often there's a horse thrown in out of its depth. Here if we look at all the horses other than the bottom rated (forgetting about the two non-runners) then the gap between Emma's Gift and Songburst is just six pounds.

Therefore, this makes the 2.10 a rather tight handicap. A quick glance at the CPos column on the ratings shows that most of the remaining horses have the same, or near same, rating of 3s and 4s. There is one rating of 1, again for Songburst, but the fact that these are grouped together helps to indicate that this is a tight race.

The thing is with tight handicaps is that anyone can win and we shouldn't restrict ourselves to the top one or two rated, especially now that the top rated has withdrawn.

Ratings File

The detailed ratings file for the Kempton meeting can be viewed here.

The Overview Page

Those whom look at only the Summary ratings will only see this page and, therefore will only see a part of the overall picture so it is advised to get into the habit of looking into the detailed ratings rather than the summary ratings.

The first thing that I would say is that nothing here really stands out. There are a lot of positives all over the place and looking at the list on the bottom half of the page, UK Horse Racing Systems - Backs and Lays I would say that everything looks good.

The next thing I look at in an all-weather or a flat race is the stalls bias. Looking at ths overview page it suggests that the only horse to be really effected by the bias is Songburst and in a very negative manner.

The Stalls Bias

However, move head to page 21 and look at the recent draw bias.

The Kempton 10f Draw Bias
Fig 1. The Kempton 10 furlong recent draw bias.

Yes, in the long term the bias may have been very level with a bias against the high numbers but look at the results of the last 1-20 runs and then the previous 11-30 runs. The middle stalls have been doing dreadfully over the distance of ten furlongs.

This then puts the long term stall bias in a different perspective and even if there are seven runners a quick run down the main stalls bias chart would suggest that those races with seven, or thereabouts, runners fare well in high stalls of late. So, what has been a long term negative for Songburst's stall could well be quite a positive.

This recent stalls bias would have put a black mark against the top rated non-runner and so it's a shame that we can't see what happens to it during the course of the race.

Trainer / Jockey

A quick run through the Trainer and Jockey statistical pages and three horses seem to crop up. Songburst, the new second rated Grand Theft Equine as well as Daring Indian.

Whilst it's good to see the same horse popping up a few times on my positive lift I have to extra specially careful not to be influenced by this and not see beyond Songburst.

Another Non-Runner

One turns one's back to fill up the espresso pot and to make the outside of the cottage look like something from a council estate and, i the meantime, there's another non-runner.

The latest defection is another mid-drawn horse, Encore Un Fois. To say that my suspicions are forming about these non-runners is an understatement...

The Form

The next thing to do is to run through the form for each of the horses (starting on page 22) and make notes as we go along,

The first horse's data we can run a line through it and then we're left with Emma's Gift as the new top rated.

Emma's Gift's Form
Fig 2. The form for Emma's Gift.

There will be a proper discussion on how to read this in Reading The Ratings but for now let's whizz through this screenshot as, ideally, I would like to get this finished before the race gets off.

We can see all of the races that the horse has been entered in. The columns are the date which is self explantory. The 'Days' tells us how long between runs as then we may see a pattern about how a horse fares after a lay-off or coming straight back to the races. The next two are the name of the course and the distance travelled.

The rows which are emboldened are the same race type as today. So since today is on the all-weather we see that there are four, including today's race, four races run on the all-weather.

We can see the position that the horse came and how many runners there were in the race and how many lengths behind the winner our horse was. So, on the 19th of November Emma's Gift ran an eight furlong race at Lingfield with ten other runners and came second by half a length.

The odds and the weight columns are straight forward (it was sent off at 16/1 last time out) and wore blinkers as it does today. But, note that today that the trainer has just an apprentice on the horse and is claiming three pounds. Now, why is that, we have to ask? Is this a positive in that the trainer is trying to eke out every scrap of advantage out of the horse or does he want to give the rider some race experience.

What we can't see in this example is our rating of the jockey (it's in the column that's chopped off to the right, but it's there on page 22) and we have this claiming jockey better rated than the previous jockey who rode Emma's Gift. This jockey booking goes down as a postive in my book.

There is a column called Class after the going and this tells us the class of the races ran. If any is underscored, as most of them are here, then we are told that that race was of a higher class than today's.

This is important because if we can see our horse running well in a better class race than today's then that's a positive.

Let's look at the last two outings on the all-weather. Two races ago the race class was 111 and the horse lost by 1.3 lengths (I don't care how many came between it and the winner at this stage) and then in the next race where the class was slightly lower the losing margin was reduced even further to half a length. Today we are in a lower race class than that race by six pounds.

This is significant. And, I trust, goes to show why we at UK Horse Racing don't use the BHA's class figures as they are meaningless. This figure of 104 (and it may be even lower now that the top rated isn't running) suggests that Emma's Gift is in with a good chance. In fact, I am wondering if it has been laid out for this race on what I am reading here.

But we move on.

In the next column we see '4' this is our only concession to listing the BHA's rating of race. This is only here because a couple of members asked to include it for their reference. I always choose to ignore this so we move onto the column which has, for today, the value 234.

This value is simply derived from the sum of the horse's weight (which is an encumberance, of course) and the Race Class today (which is an obstacle to overcome because our horse has to be the best in the race). So, adding nine stone and four pound, which is 130 pounds (how metric users must hate this!) to the 104 of today's class makes 234.

Now, this isn't too far off the 230 and 233 of the previous two runs so it could be said that this horse isn't being clobbered by the handicapper and is in with a chance. This is where that three pounds from the claiming jockey comes in useful.

The next horse to look at is Shieldmaiden. This horse won last time out in a better class race and in races with a similar Weight/Class it was only defeated by half a length. This has to be marked as a strong condender which is what we expected from the start as we did determine that this was a tight race.

Daring Indian is interesting. It's dropping in class but the encumberance figures (Weight+Class) are about the same when it lost by about three lengths two races ago. A slight improvement in its numbers but I just don't feel that it will come in to win even though the trainer is doing well at the moment (this we get from the overview sheet). The price on the exchanges is about 5 at the moment and it may need to be higher before I am interested. A good entry for a 'maybe' list.

Next up is Songburst. This, as we have read has featured a few times before in this analysis and now we come to look at it proper. In the Race Class column this is the lowest All Weather race to date he's been in which is good. He's done well at eight furlong races but when he jumped up from eight to ten furlongs he seemed to lose a good amount of ground to come in nine and half lengths behind the winner when he had won the one mile race. I am starting to have doubts now about Songburst and I think that today I will be crossing him off the list but I will be interested to see how he runs at this ten furlongs and whether we can confirm whether those extra two furlongs are too much or not.

Lastly we have Beginnings. I can't glean much from the data here with only one previous race on the all-weather under her belt. Lost by six and a half lengths last time out in a slighly better race class (by four pounds) but is carrying four pounds more today. There's not a lot to say really about this horse other than it has a good draw. I think not one for the main list.

Summary

It seems that only two horses do appeal to me; Shield Maiden and Emma's Gift and it's hard to differentiate between these two.

However, the point of the exercise is to stick my neck out and to find a selection. In the end I have decided of these two to go for Emma's Gift as I feel that it has been prepared for this race so Emma's Gift it is for me today.

Result

Songburst, which was the final 5/2 favourite, was looking good for most part of the race and I had laid it at 1.5 in running (it wasn't matched) in the hope that that two extra furlongs would tell. They did tell but the price wasn't low enough to be matched. In the end the wnner was Daring Indian who took the lead about a furlong out and despite a late rally from Emma's Gift, my selection who only made second, managed to hold on to get the win.

So, it went to the maybe horse but, above all, I am pleased that I was able to determine that Songburst wouldn't like the raise in distance even though the lay wasn't matched.