UK Horse Racing's Ratings
Case Study: Hereford 3.00 - 8th January 2012
It's been a while since the last race Case Study and it's a quiet Sunday mornng so an hour looking at a race seems to be in order.
The last two races that we looked at were All Weather races and since there's only Hereford's National Hunt Meeting and an All Weather meeting at Southwell, perhaps it's time to look at some winter fare.
The Hereford 3.00
This race is a Novice Hurdle Handicap. This was chosen because there is a decent field of ten declared runners and even though this is a race for Novices (i.e. horses which haven't won in previous seasons) there's a bit of form here and so it becomes an interesting exercise.
At at half past ten in the morning there are no non-runners declared, so at this point in time everything is expected to run.
One of the reasons for choosing this race is that, apart from the top-rated horse, Waywood Princess, everything is bunched together eleven pounds behind this mare. So, the question is, is Wayward Princess correctly rated and can it be opposed? And if so, by whom?
The early morning prices have The Tatkin at 2.26 on Betfair as the clear favourite. Waywood Princess is second favouite at 6.6, so the market is telling us a different story to the ratings.
So we have another immediate question, is The Tatkin, too low a price at 2.26? (By the way, I have laid the favourite at 2.28 in the hope of trading out a little later).
The detailed ratings file can be downloaded for this Hereford meeting.
The Overview Page
A quick look over the numbers for on the front page of this section suggests that anyone could really win this race as all of the CPos figures are between the 3 and 6 marks with one at 7. Some horses haven't earned an HCP rating but there's one rated at 1, Dolores Ortiz, and two at 2; Winds of War and The Tatkin.
This immediately suggests that anyone could win this race and this may even be one of those races which could go to a high priced outsider.
There's a bit to be learned from the Backs and Lays list at the foot of the overview page; mostly that a lot of these horses are filled with positives. So, again, this doesn't look like a race where one horse can be pinpointed as the likely winner. Already this is starting to suggest to me that The Tatkin is too low a price.
The going is forecast as Soft which is understandable given the amount of water dropped on the Marches in the last few weeks. So, when the ground is like this I like to look at the lighter horses with a good Spd figure. Three jump out; Waywood Princess, Supreme Team and Dolores Ortiz. Thorncliffer, with the highest Spd value by a considerable distance has a positive WtD figure but not massively so, so perhaps this could be added to the list.
What of The Tatkin? Well, it's carrying a stone (14 pounds) more in weight that the average horse in the field and has a negative Spd figure. This should be chalked down as a negative for the horse; certainly at this price
Trainer / Jockey and Other Statistics
The trainer of Waywood Princess, J Groucott, doesn't have many runners as clearly this is a small yard. It took him about ten months to get twenty runners out, which is about one a fortnight, and he's got a strike rate of 10% and has been profitable in those twenty runs and over the last two and four weeks. In fact his winners for this year have just come from the last two weeks.
David Pipe, the trainer of The Tatkin, has had a strike rate of 25% of his last twenty runners, which took him just nine days to complete. Which we would expect from the Pipe operation. According the Trainer Calendar Pipe is the only trainer who, historically, makes a profit at this time of year.
Only two trainers stick out for this course; the ones for Waywood Princess and for Winds of War. Of course others could be included on this list from the data on page 45, but one has to make some limits somewhere. As ever, your view of this may be different.
And, in my view, the same two horses stand up in the Trainer/Jockey and Jockey/Course figures on page 46.
Winds of War is certainly becoming interesting and this top weighted horse is third rated. The question is, of course, can Winds of War, with its weight of 11-12 cope on the ground?
Looking at the Weight And Class (Wt+Cl) figure for Waywood Princess we see that today she runs with a total Encumberance Value of 221. The total of her previous race, which she won, was 213. There has been no other race lower than 221, so we can't see where the envelope of her ability lies. Is the extra class and weight total of eight pounds too much? We will simply have to say, we don't know.
So, what's the secret of success for this horse? The going, the distance or the combined weight and class? Again, we can't really put our fingers on this.
Thorncliffer, second rated came third last time by only four lengths over a similar distance. The weight/class Encumberance figure of 239 is better than last time's 243 but in an earlier race at Doncaster he came in over fifty lengths behind when less encumbered. What does stick out is that in that race the horse ran worse than expected and that was the only time he wore a visor. Today, there is no headgear and could that be the reason for the poor performance that day? If so, then today looks to be one which is well suited for Thorncliffer.
The top weighted Winds of War hasn't even won. And with the encumberance of 252 in and around a lot of his other races one has to say that this race is to far out of his envelope. The nearest he ever came to winning was at Cork and that was carrying two stones less and even with Richard Johnson on board I don't think that this is going to overturn his negatives with the weight.
Supreme Team doesn't look out of place here though a new distance is attempted. I can't see this being too far out of the picture but I don't think that I can see enough to say that I like it as I for Thorncliffer and Waywood Princess. I have similar concerns with Dolores Ortiz.
Young Jim crashes down in class. But is this going to be enough? The distance tried is completely new and there's question marks and doubts all over this one. Unless we've got the magic combination of longer distances and poorer class racing I can't see much hope for this one. There are, surely, better horses in this race.
Next in the ratings is the favourite, The Tatkin. The more I look at the numbers here I am wondering if I should just let the lays run and not try to trade out. I mentioned before that I laid this at 2.28 and I took another lay position at 2.24 and now the price to back is at 2.42. I could trade out but, to be honest, I can't really see this justifing 6/4 favouritism. I will wait until closer to the off before making up my mind but I have put in two highish prices back figures to catch any real drift moments and in, in that case, I may as well take advantage. But at the moment I am content to sit and wait.
Finally, the bottom three in the ratings; Witch's Hat, Mr Redwood and Racing With Angels. None of these look particularly great and if I had to chose which of these three would perform the best then I would go and point at the bonkers priced Racing With Angels. None of these three fill me with any confidence at all.
I think that The Tatkin is far too underpriced. Wayward Princess looks promising but I am not comfortable about where her limits lie. Thorncliffer is running in the race, until now, the best suited for him. Winds of War is too heavily weighted and gets crossed out. Supreme Team looks solid enough but nothing really shouts out at me and the distance gives me a question mark as it does for Dolores Ortiz.
At 16s available on Betfair at the moment, I simply have to go for the Win and Place on Thorncliffer.
I am going each way on Thorncliffer, not because of the price but because I can't gauge how suited Waywood Princess is today and this mare could force Thorncliffer into second place. But at 16s it makes no sense not to go for the win.
The price on the favourite moved out significantly and one hour before the race started I found myself all 'greened up' and also with two free bets on Wayward Princess and Thorncliffer.
In the end it was a poor race and with everything running seemingly trying to make as many mistakes as possible, the favourite did in fact win by only by a fraction. The Tatkin won really by virtue of the second place horse making a meal of it towards the end of the race. Wayward Princess came in fourth and Thorncliffer came in sixth.
Although this race wasn't a great success in picking a winner it wasn't hard to pick that trade because the favourite was so low in price in the morning.
An Exercise for the Gentle Reader
Now, if this process were to be applied to the race previous, the Hereford 2.30, then it wouldn't have been hard to have picked out the winner. As an exercise have a look at the 2.30 race and see if you can spot the winner.