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Andrew Mount’s Myth Busters – The Lower the Class of Race, the Less Predictable the Result

After tackling Epsom’s unique course with his Myth Busters column last week, Andrew Mount returns this week in a more general setting, asking whether the quality of race affects the predictability of the result.

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I’ve listened to plenty of punters and pundits discuss their favourite races to bet in and the most common answer that crops up is ‘the classier races’ as ‘the form is more predictable’. This seems to make good sense – surely the horses plying their trade in Class 1 company are more consistent and more likely to reproduce their peak efforts than their Class 6 counterparts? Let’s delve a little deeper and find out…

Favourites

Examining the record of SP favourites should give us a good indication of how predictable a particular class of race is. Here is the breakdown by class in Britain since racing resumed after lockdown in June 2020…

The WAX score (winners against expected) is very revealing, with SP favourites in Class 6 contests – the lowest grade of racing in Britain since Class 7 races were done away with – underperforming against market expectations (45.74 winners fewer than predicted). Favourites in Class 2, 3, 4 and 5 races fared better than expected but it’s the record of the market leader at Class 1 level that is surprising, with a WAX score of -53.48. Backing the favourites blind in these races (including joint and co-favourites) would have returned a loss of £260.66 to a £1 level stake at SP and laying them at Betfair SP (after 2% commission) would have returned a profit of £97.78 (+4.33% on turnover). Laying the Class 6 jollies would have returned a profit of just 0.91% on turnover.

I want to examine these Class 1 contests more closely to see if they can point us towards any potentially profitable betting angles, especially with Royal Ascot approaching.

First, I split the results by race type and though all five groups (all-weather, chase, hurdle, national hunt flat and Flat turf) have negative WAX scores it’s the Flat turf SP favourites who have really struggled, with 377 winners from 1166 bets (32.3% strike-rate) against an expected winners score of 414.55. Backing these at SP would have resulted in a loss of 12.55% on turnover, while laying blind at Betfair SP would have returned +4.94% after comm.

Next, I looked at finishing position last time out, to see if last-time-out winners were over-bet and that seems to be the case (the 13 horses with no LTO position are foreign raiders who were not in my database)…

…it’s those who finished in the top three last time out, especially winners, who ran below market expectations.

I also expected the going to make a difference, thinking that soft/heavy ground might help to produce shock results but that was not the case, with the runners on good or faster going (based on race times, not the official going) underperforming (again, these are the ones who finished in the top three in their prep race)…

Splitting the results by trainer was also revealing, with a number of big names doing worse than the market suggested with favourites who finished in the top three last time out…

The Gosden angle is especially interesting as the yard seems to be in decline. Their last 28 SP favourites in Class 1 contests in Britain (regardless of where they finished last time out) have produced just three winners, at 10-11, 5-6 and 1-5…

…several of them finished out of the frame (e.g. Running Lion, 8th at 15-8f at Epsom last Saturday) and taking on the stable’s favourites in the Placepot at Royal Ascot could prove to be a profitable angle.

At the other end of the scale, favourites from some of the smaller yards (who finished in the top three last time out) have exceeded market expectations…

Jane Chapple-Hyam is four from six on this angle, while Michael Dods has scored with seven of his last eight such runners.

Trainers to note on this angle include Richard Fahey (ten from 25), Ed Dunlop (eight from 13), James Tate (six from 11), Rod Millman (six from ten), Richard Hughes (six from ten), Paul & Oliver Cole (six from ten) and Nigel Tinkler (six from eight).

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