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RP standard times (again)

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  • #5000
    Wallace
    Participant
    • Total Posts 862

    On RUK this afternoon a comment was made following the 4:20 race that the winner Throw The Dice had almost matched the RP standard time. This was a Class 6 handicap, the winner has an official mark of 49 and the time was 0.26 outside standard. Something must be wrong here?

    I then looked back at all other 5 furlong races at Hamilton this year and sure enough the RP standard time has been beaten by two horses rated 61 and 54. The RP standard time is based on a horse rated 100. What is going on?

    The RP standard is wrong.
    The race distance is wrong.
    Faulty timing equipment.
    The winner has been eating magic carrots, had the benefit of track bias, found the golden highway and was given a fantastic ride.
    None of the above.

    ???

    #113519
    Anonymous
    Inactive
    • Total Posts 17718

    Wallace

    Isn’t it just a case of the standard time being ruled by poor races?
    Hypothetically, the time is set on what a 100 rated horse should achieve, but the reality is you are unlikely to find horses anywhere near that rating running over this particular course and distance, so the ST is pure guesswork.

    #113525
    Wallace
    Participant
    • Total Posts 862

    Yes Reet I take you point about a standard being set when most of the races at a particular track are low class events. This tends to go against the uniform yardstick that speed figures are trying to represent the theoretical 100 rated performer.

    In the last seven years two horses rated over 100 have won over 5 furlongs at Hamilton and both did run very close to standard. In the same period almost 40% of races were won below standard with ratings of winners as low as 41. Even allowing for very fast ground on some of these races the discrepancies are huge.

    #113541
    Artemis
    Participant
    • Total Posts 1736

    Wallace,

    I suspect it is the distances that are wrong, or there has been a substantial change in the nature of the course since the RP standards were re-calculated about eighteen months ago.

    It doesn’t matter what class of horse races at any track as this doesn’t affect the standard time. In fact, the standard time might be only rarely achieved at places like Hamilton and Catterick.

    Reet,

    I think we may have had this discussion before, but standard does not mean average(either mean or median) in the context of RP standard times. It is a computed estimate of the best time achievable by a horse rated 100, 9st, good going.

    Something is definitely amiss at Hamilton.

    #113597
    Wallace
    Participant
    • Total Posts 862

    I contact Hazel CoC at Hamilton and she kindly provided a good reply and is happy for this to be shared on here.

    ————————————————————-

    I have noticed this as well. Horses are racing the course quicker than the RP standard times suggest they should. The "going corrections" column in the Racing Post has infuriated me in recent seasons because Dave Edwards "corrects" my going from, for example, "Good to Firm" to "Firm" based on the split times. Meanwhile the jockeys on the day tell me that the going is barely on the fast side of good.

    The starts position are all concreted in to the side of the course so the starts have NEVER moved.

    We do shift the inside running rail of the "loop" section of the track occasionally to offer fresh ground. For example the distance round the loop for Friday and Mondays meetings just passed was fractionally further than it would have been for most of the meetings during the summer. It will be moved again for the final two meetings, reducing the actual ground covered for all races over a mile or more.

    However the main reasons I would suggest for the improved times are as follows:

    In addition to renewing the drainage of the whole course in the late 90’s early 00’s, we have regularly dressed the track with quality sand to reduce the clay content in the soil structure. This has vastly improved the soil structure in the horses’ favour. The sand has given the track an enhanced "bounce" factor and horses act much better on it.

    Another very significant benefit of altering the soil structure is the improvement to the quality of the root zone. The roots of the turf have noticeably become much more healthy. The grass is therefore much healthier and resistant to wear and tear than it was. The root zone is so much more dense with roots that the horses cant create such a big divot as they did in the past even when the moisture content was similar. For example, if the going was good the "punch mark" or hoofprint of the horses hooves 10 years ago would be deeper than they are today – and therefore the times would have been slower. 10 years ago the grass used to grow "along the surface" of the ground and if you dug in to the track there would barely be any roots deeper than a couple of inches. They are now at least 5 inches deep.

    George Murdoch is our Track Manager and has nurtured this track improvement personally over the last five years with really amazing results. The jockeys are continously impressed with how the track is withstanding all the racing we have over the summer.

    All this is really good news for the health of the turf and the performance of the track. I think the trends you and your fellow forum members have raised should be brought to the attention of whoever does the RP standard times so that they can be updated. I am sick of looking at Dave Edwards column and infering to the Racing Post readers that the official going on racedays needed to be corrected to "faster" based on the times alone. I spoke to him recently and he said that there is no way in the world a seller could have been run at such and such a time unless the going was firm. On the day we had dolled off parts of the pull up to avoid "water logged" sections and the jockeys came in mud-splattered! There was a gold cup winner (Funfair Wane) in the field so it wasnt an average seller by the way.

    ——————————————————

    #113609
    non vintage
    Member
    • Total Posts 1268

    Very interesting, and a nice bit of research Wallace!

    #113622
    Prufrock
    Participant
    • Total Posts 2081

    Has anyone got the wording of how Topspeed is calculated and what level the standard times are set at?

    For instance, if they are set to be achieved by a 100 horse carrying 10-00 or wfa equivalent in a truly run race on good going, then a horse carrying 8-05 (as was Throw The Dice) need only be a 77 horse to do the same on good going, and something in the 50s (which would be realistic for a horse winning off 49) on good to firm.

    If it is 9-00 then it should be that much more difficult to achieve standard time.

    Racing Post published the Topspeed modus operandii a couple of years back but did not repeat the exercise after people pointed out some obvious flaws in the approach.

    #113627
    Wallace
    Participant
    • Total Posts 862

    Prufrock, Artemis has the full SP on Topspeed and it is 9-00.

    What is your standard for Hamilton 5F and what weight is it based on?

    #113643
    robert99
    Participant
    • Total Posts 897

    Dave Edwards used to calculate standard times as the average of the best ten times actually run, each adjusted for horse rating, weight, going etc.

    Hamilton old ground was notorious for soft, heavy going even in mid summer. If horses lost traction and saved themselves for the hill then some of those old slow times must still be in DE’s top ten. The improved track is nothing like the old for racing and race times.

    Racing Post time ratings were supposed to line up with Postmark but I can’t see how a 100 (speed rating) carrying 9stone (equivalent time of 114 carrying 10 stone) can match up with a "top horse" weight rating of 140 carrying 10 stone. However, by some jiggery pokery the returns somehow match up.

    15 August meeting the Hamilton 5 furlongs 4 yards had a RP ST of 59.8 seconds which historically does not appear too slow. The penetrometer was 6.5 and official going GS. DE calculated G ( 0.02s/f). so if distances are same as 1980s remeasure, DE’s ST may be 1.5 seconds slow (9 lengths in a spint??). The penetrometer has been calibrated against the clock times though – but whose Standard times? They raced from the low side and H has/ had a notorius bias which has been fiddled with in recent times. Other possibility is that the surface in showery weather may appear GS but the next 14 inches below may be drier and that with the turf springiness is speeding the horses. So many variables??

    #113665
    Artemis
    Participant
    • Total Posts 1736

    Full marks to Wallace (and Hazel from Hamilton) for solving the Hamilton mystery.

    I’ve written to Dave Edwards for his take on this and I await his reply.

    The Topspeed calculation was published in the Weekender and the Racing Post last year. I don’t take either of these now, so I don’t know if it has been repeated. It was quite complex, but did make sense if you worked through it.

    Personally, I think the RP standards are very reliable as long as you know what they represent. I often used to work through a day’s card, calculating speed ratings using my own method, and they were usually within a few pounds of Topspeed. Of course, if the RP standards are flawed, then so are any ratings derived from them. You either trust them or you don’t.

    The key to getting the ratings right is matching them to the RPRs in truly run races. You know that in a truly run race on good ground, horses in the shake-up will be running very close to their best RPRs and hence their best Topspeed ratings. Any variation is down to the ground either speeding horses up or slowing them down, which leads to the going correction.

    In the Racing Post model, the RPR and Topspeed are measuring the same thing and are, to some extent, interdependent. Although they might be calculated separately, they are done with reference to each other. The RPR provides evidence for compiling Topspeed and vice versa.

    Some time ago, Prufrock coined the phrase ‘total handicapping’ on the forum and I think this is a good way to describe the RP/Timeform approach which combines form and speed ratings – and probably a few other observations from a race or set of races.

    Racing is not scientific in the sense that experiments can be repeated with identical results, so we are always seeing things ‘through a glass, darkly’. I think the best we can do is try to be as objective and consistent as we can in attaching ratings to horses.

    #113673
    Wallace
    Participant
    • Total Posts 862

    Hi Artemis, good to hear you have written to Dave Edwards in this.

    Your point about if the RP standards are flawed then the resulting ratings will also be, is relevant in this case. If you look back through the previous 5 furlongs winners at Hamilton you will see a number of horses appear to have achieved their best TS figure of the season at the track. This "error" is as much as 20 lbs in a number of cases.

    Hazel’s concern that Dave Edwards uses his figures to come up with a going based on the times and this produces misleading going descriptions is perfectly valid..

    It looks to me as if the RP standard has not been adjusted for a while and certainly does not take the ground work over the last few years into account.

    #113674
    Prufrock
    Participant
    • Total Posts 2081

    Some time ago, Prufrock coined the phrase ‘total handicapping’ on the forum

    Apologies. I think I’d been reading too many US books at the time. :oops:

    #113691
    Artemis
    Participant
    • Total Posts 1736

    Some time ago, Prufrock coined the phrase ‘total handicapping’ on the forum

    Apologies. I think I’d been reading too many US books at the time. :oops:

    I thought you had taken it from ‘total football’ as played by that great Dutch side of the 70s

    #113693
    Artemis
    Participant
    • Total Posts 1736

    I’ve heard from Dave and he is going to review the times at Hamilton in the close season.
    Apparently, he was told by the Clerk of the Course that nothing at the track had changed, so he could only conclude that the track was riding much faster than previously, indicating firm or fast ground because lowly rated horses can only get near RP standard under such conditions.

    We now know from Hazel that the nature of the track is very different to what it was prior to the changes to the turf and turf husbandry.

    So, the RP standards at Hamilton are flawed and will, I suppose, be revised.

    However, the speed figures from the racing at Hamilton should be ok in my estimation, because they are assessed in relation to RPRs and the fast times have been attributed to the ground rather than the abilities of the horses. Moderate horses cannot produce top class time performances on normal going.

    Edit: I think this situation at Hamilton is exceptonal, but not unique. There have been numerous occasions where speed ratings were much too high or much too low, leading to the discovery that some other factor was involved such as moving of rails without notifying the press and public.

    #113703
    Prufrock
    Participant
    • Total Posts 2081

    What is your standard for Hamilton 5F and what weight is it based on?

    If my Hamilton 5f standard were based around carrying 9-00 it would be about 0.50 sec quicker (i.e. half a second more difficult to achieve) than Topspeed’s.

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