We all want winners – but where can we capitalise? We all have our punting preferences, and while the kaleidoscope of variables in horse racing can prove dazzling it’s a good idea to consider trends in order to fine-tune for greater clarity and all-important value.
But which trends are helpful trends? This fortnightly column highlights betting angles underestimated by the market right now – trends that show results above market expectation and that currently show profit.
Strike-rate and level stakes profit figures can be helpful, but our key measure here is actual versus expected (A/E).
With this in mind, we track some trends to inform betting at Ascot, Haydock and Thurles this weekend. But a quick word on A/E first.
What is A/E?
No advanced statistical knowledge is required here. A/E simply signifies the actual versus expected outcome. In horse racing, this compares the actual winners to the expected winners – those expected winners calculated by the actual odds the horses are sent off at.
The A/E criterion is helpful because it accounts for actual market prices and is not swayed by those rogue big-priced winners which can manipulate level-stakes profit measures.
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A simple working example – if a jockey rides 100 horses priced at evens, the jockey would be expected to ride 50 winners. In this scenario, the actual versus expected ratio would be exactly par – or 1. If a jockey rides 60 winners, he’s outperformed market expectation (1.2 A/E). Conversely, if the jockey rides just 40 winners, the actual versus expected figure would be negative (0.8 A/E).
It’s important to bear in mind that markets are formed by the best punting minds and continually evolve. What may perform above market expectation now may not last further down the line. The punter similarly has to adapt in the perennial battle to stay ahead of the game.
Right then, some angles for the weekend…
Nicholls: Handicap hurdler success at Ascot
At one of the most competitive tracks in the country, it’s notable that since the start of 2010 Paul Nicholls’ runners in handicap hurdles – at any distance – perform 13% above market expectation here (1.13 A/E).
If we look at handicap hurdles over 2m3f – 2m5f, Ditcheat contenders perform 54% above market expectation (1.54 A/E). The sample isn’t bad either, comprising 74 runners to a level stakes profit of £23.51.
For another morsel, Nicholls also does well with handicap hurdle debutants at Ascot. Since the start of 2010, Nicholls has six winners and six further places from 24 runners at a 25% strike-rate (1.57 A/E).
Pic D’Orhy is priced 4-1 under top-weight in the valuable Grade 3 handicap hurdle after missing the cut for the Lanzarote at Kempton last week. It’s perhaps tempting to say he hasn’t been missed by the market, but his profile on the counts above may suggest otherwise.
Sue Smith: Fine record in the Peter Marsh
The £75,000 feature takes centre stage over fences on a good card at Haydock on Saturday and Sue Smith has quite a record in this race.
In the last 19 renewals, Sue Smith’s runners have performed 125% above market expectation (2.25 A/E). The trainer has four winners and five places from 14 runners at a 28% strike-rate.
Vintage Clouds is priced at 8/1 for the trainer this time. He is not progressive like he was 12-18 months ago, but he’s down to his last winning rating of 143 and we know he likes this track.
Ten-year-olds also perform above market expectation in this contest (1.35 A/E), the last two winners at that age both trained by Smith. Vintage Clouds bids to bolster the current 27.8% strike-rate for this age group, which records a level stakes profit of £23.50.
Elliott: Novice hurdle ace at Thurles
You’d expect the top trainer’s runners to be well found by the market in most facets, but his novice hurdlers here are currently underestimated.
Gordon Elliott boasts excellent figures with nine winners from 23 runners at a 39% strike-rate and a level stakes profit of £22.45. Such runners perform 54% above market expectation (1.54 A/E).
It’s notable too that Elliott runs a nice horse in these events. Shattered Love, The Storyteller and Dortmund Park were subsequent Grade 1 winners, while Blow By Blow landed top honours the previous campaign.
Run Wild Fred and Festival D’Ex are currently entered on Sunday. Whether both up turn up or not, they are worth keeping an eye on.
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