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If each race is unique then…

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  • #3957
    • Total Posts 369

    If each race is unique then…………why do we feel we can predict the winners?

    A stupid comment you may well think, but surely if you look at all the variables in-depth in every single horse race with an unbiased open mind then the best course of action would be to keep your money in your pocket!<br>Every race is completely different with no two races ever being the same unless of course it’s Portman Park!

    I’ve considered this concept of late after spending the best part of 4 hours studying a single race last weekend! Without doubt the fun of gambling is to solve the enigma, some punters putting in minutes research while others spend hours trying to decipher the clues but both types arrive at a conclusion and who is to say who is right or wrong.

    Until I was involved with ownership through this site I never really contemplated all the small innocuous variables to consider as I would just select the horse I felt was the fastest via my speed ratings and then arriving at my conclusions which would take no more than 10 minutes per race. Once I became involved in ownership I quickly realised there are so many other things to consider as one of our horses was a small lass, so in effect could only carry weight less than nine stone before being burden with a weight that would completely stop her having any chance in a race, incidentally she was also a horse that could come home strongly off the pace on some days and not on others, as well as front run. I like to find reasons for most things and the conclusion I arrived at was the pace of a race is why the horse can quicken some days and not others which was something I tried to look into why that was. So just from these 2 points raised about our filly new factors come into play for me personally such as horses running styles and horses who can carry their weights allotted, which I broke down into several categories:<br>Front Runner, Just of the pace, Steady head-way horse, Fast Finishing horse<br>Which I thought was pretty straight forward until realising that many horses can run in multiply ways, but each horse I though would definitely have a preference for one style but I just did not explore this avenue any further as the research would be phenomenal. The obvious answer to explain horses best running styles is by the pace of the race as despite most races looking to be similarly run by the end stopwatch times many races are run at varying speed through-out. The one example that sticks in my mind is Just James astonishing win last season coming from last to first which clearly indicates to me the race was run too fast through-out by all the other runners bar JJ. Then applying human logic to this it’s obvious that if you personally run 100 metres as fast as you possibly can then try to run a further 300 metres at a 400 metres pace you will eventually be beaten by a person with equal ability who has paced himself for the 400metres. So the answer is to examine the sectional times! Erm No, as they are not available to most punters!

    So after all this time I’m back to square one and I haven’t even started to post incase I bore you further with the consideration about the other variables such as going, course configurations, draw anomalies, weights, fitness, jockeys, trainers, owners, perigees, dosage, ability, consistency…………………………………… the list goes on.

    My conclusion is that there is more random elements in horse racing than most of us would like to believe but the idea that we can beat a random system offers personal rewards both financially and mentally, but would a pin not just be as good?<br>

    • Total Posts 379

    I certainly know the feeling Daylight!

    I read something once on this subject that has always stuck in my mind.  I’m afraid I can’t source it though – via Nick Mordin probably.

    Apparently a major study into the strategies of professional gamblers in America found that whilst each of them majored on different factors when looking at races, they all seemed to focus on what for them were  ‘key’ factors, and then added in other variable factors.

    So far, so obvious.  I’d imagine most of us do the same or similar.

    However, the study asked them to choose the 5 factors they thought they relied on most.  

    The researchers then asked them to rate a number of races:

    1. Using just the 5 factors<br>2. Using their whole repertoire.

    In all cases their performance was at least as good based on their 5 factors as it was using the full range.

    Which is a long-winded way of saying perhaps we make it too complicated at times!

    • Total Posts 32

    Thedarkknight, Margaret Wheatley wrote a very good book on chaos theory,however it was not a mathematical  one so it might not fit this subject.

    • Total Posts 24

    Quite true, and odd really that any horse should run to "form", but it’s what makes a consistent performer all the more remarkable, and explains why horses like Mill Reef, Brigadier Gerard, Nijinsky etc., are continually in receipt of such high praise on pages such as these.  

    • Total Posts 759

    Daylight…each to his own, of course, but I can’t see any race warranting four hours of study. It’s such an inexact science and that amount of preparation can and often is undone in an instant by, for example, the anticipated pacemaker falling out of the stalls. I’m not saying races don’t bear advance scrutiny but four hours seems a tad excessive to me. Only my opinion, of course.<br>

    • Total Posts 32

    When you add the riding tactics of different jockeys to the equation it becomes another problem.

    • Total Posts 15

    Personally, I find the more time I’ve spent on a race. The more likely I’ll come to the correct conclusion. Somehow the amalgamation of as many factors as possible, including seeing in your minds eye how it will be run, strengthens my opinions rather than confusing them.

    But four hours is an excessive amount of time especially if you end up with no conclusion. Even so, hopefully you will have learnt something about the contenders for a future race.

    Nick Hatton
    • Total Posts 399


    I admire anyone who is prepared to spend 4hrs per race on study and I used to do it myself but these days put in 30 mins absolute maximum. I do however spend much longer analising races AFTER they have been run and make copious notes and keep my own databases. Without doing this work I wouldn’t be confident of having an ‘edge’.

    My humble opinion is that you obviously have a very good knowledge of horseracing but should possibly take a step back and work out exactly what YOUR ‘edge’ is.  Also how do you deal with spending 4hrs coming up with a selection and then not being confident that it’s price offers value ? Afterall if value isn’t on offer then you either shouldn’t bet at all or should even consider opposing what you believe to be the most likely winner of a particular race.

    These are big questions and if you aren’t sure of the answers to them then IMO something has to change if you really want to win consistently.

    With regards to randomness in Racing I personally wish there was less of it but there is absolutely nothing we can do except attempt to take this into account when compiling our tissue prices.

    For me the bottom line is that every horse in every race has a chance of winning. It may be a huge chance or it may be a tiny chance but every horse can theoretically win. Putting an accurate price on each runner is the key to making profit rather than attempting to pick the most likely winner.

    Not trying to preach to the converted but hopefully some of the above is food for thought.

    Best regards <br>Nick

    • Total Posts 15

    Is bad value easier to find than good value? Most of my success has come from looking for a hyped up favourite and then looking for the value in the race.

    Now with the advent of betting exchanges I wonder if I’d have made more money by laying the ‘bad value’ favourite?

    • Total Posts 8798

    Interesting thread with some good points raised.

    Dealing with a couple of these :-<br>The thrust of DL’s original post is correct, there are an infinite number of variables. However some variables are of much, much greater significance, generally, than others and it is these that those should be our greatest concern. I agree with tooting that we can tie ourselves up in knots at times and in my experience detailed study of the key factors (ability,distance requirement, going rqmt and running style) is much more rewarding than less detailed study of a wider range of factors.

    Paradoxically, it is true in my experience that there is a direct correlation between the amount of time I spend analysing races and my success in making profits (the longer I spend the better my results). I agree strongly with Hawk on that point. It is important though, as mentioned already, that this time is focussed on the key indicators.<br>But the biggest mistake people surely make is that they are always searching for the WINNER of the race. They are obsessed with what is going to win. I have learned, to my advantage, over many years (and many hard lessons) that finding the likeliest winner is NOT the approach to take. Ian is spot on with his assertion that the search for value is what the game is about. Our obsession with finding winners leads our judgement to lose clarity as, subconsciously, we are drawn towards horses we shouldn’t be because we want to win and, even though we know we can’t, we want to win EVERY SINGLE TIME and our subconscious attempts to try and make that happen for us!

    If you are finding value the winners will take care of themselves, they are a statistical certainty. However, you can find as many winners as you like but if the price isn’t right (if you haven’t found ‘value’) then the games up. <br>

    Jim JTS
    • Total Posts 841

    4 hours per race? there must have been around 60 runners in it to take that long, races can be worked out in roughly 15-20 mins IMO depending on the amount of runners, then again I do get to watch almost every race and make my own judgement on certain individuals so there are a few you can easily dismiss if you are good at what you do, I prefer to get to know horses racing styles and characteristics and with this you can work out what type of race will suit as form alone won’t get you winners.

    I tend to agree on mostly what Nick has said.

    I do however believe that where there’s a race there’s a winner all you need to do is find it, I see nothing wrong with that as thats what we are actually doing when looking at a race IMO.

    We all know there are no certainties in racing so no matter what class of race we look at we do need that little bit of luck to call it correctly.

    Jim JTS
    • Total Posts 841

    Ian, I know this may sound crazy to most people but I try to win on a daily basis if I can and don’t even work out if I’ve shown profit over a year but having said that I’m logging all my naps at the moment as an experiment and I’m in profit for the year so far as you will see on my website but it’s early days, I also bet against most very short priced horses even though I may select them on my website as I see "value" as the key, let’s say in a 10 horse race the fav is evens and I fancy it to win, what I would probably do is look for the f/c or look for some e/w value if I feel I have to have a bet in the first place but I normally leave those kind of races alone, I can’t back in every race but that doesn’t stop me working out races as I love the puzzle of winner finding, some people find what I do strange but we are all different and I’ve found some amazing winners in the past that so called professionals wouldn’t find.

    We all have different ways of betting and finding winners and as long as we can all get something positive from the game that’s all we should worry about!

    If I select a certain horse with decent credentials of winning a certain race and it loses, I then go back over the race as what Nick had already said to see where I may have gone wrong but sometimes it’s not our own judgement that’s wrong as as has also been said if a trainer, jockey or owner doesn’t want their horse to win then it won’t win IMO.

    We can all do better at whatever we do in life but I’m happy with most of my tipping performances and to be honest that’s all that should matter, people can take it or leave it but I understand what you’re on about. ;)

    ps. I backed a horse called Long Weekend the other day won @ 33/1 not many would’ve found that one on bare form, I waited long enough for it to be honest but it came good, today I also had Mawhoob (again difficult to find on bare form) which won at 20/1 from 25’s so I can’t be doing much wrong.

    Apologies for the rant , don’t wanna go down your road Ian…… :laugh:

    • Total Posts 720

    The thought of only taking 15 minutes to analyse a race sounds like manna from heaven – where can i find this simple solution and is it commercialy available?

    prince regent
    • Total Posts 221

    <br>some interesting theories

    one point is correct  it is impossible to suceed if you try and find the winner of every race on the card

    presuming  we all work  say roughly  8 hours  a day + travelling time   commensense will tell you there are not enough hours in the day   to study every race  in detail

    selectivity  is one factor

     ian  you mention mark coton  i believe after heavy losses he has given up the game  at least thsi was the case in  september perhaps u have an update on this

    • Total Posts 113

    It would be possible to build a mathmatical model, for a horse race, and all the variables could be accounted for-however I do not think I would like a) to do it and b) to trust it.<br>I read somewhere one " the day should start with no gambling opportunities, and you should only gamble when one arises." Which is an addage I use. To me it does not matter what the edge is value, speed  or  whatever, if I have the opportunity then, I enter the market.<br> The exchanges have made this easier, IMO because,  before I found for instance a fav, who I thought would be beaten, then the research had to be done to find horse (if any) that could beat it, now I just lay it.

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