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Sectional Timing: An International Embarrassment

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  • #20767
    robert99
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    • Total Posts 899

    Irish and UK senior handicappers speak up for sectional timing as a long overdue necessity or be increasingly seen as a third world racing operation.

    UK actually had world leading sectional timing methodology set up by Turftrax for the all weather tracks and Newmarket etc. They received no funding support and went bankrupt.

    One issue that gets overlooked is that sectional timing is one avenue to provide factual evidence that can stand up in Court for non-triers or stopped horses.

    Similarly,if the body weight of a horse is not known then it is pointless weighing jockeys in and out as the combined horse and jockey weigh defines the performance not the jockey weigh alone.

    Another is that breeders can command higher prices for horses bred from sirea and mares that have proven they can perform at classic pace rather than rely on increasingly dubious handicap style ratings that have been in serious doubt from the 1950’s onwards.

    "Irish Handicapper urges introduction of sectional timing

    The introduction of sectional timing at the top level of British and Irish racing is essential if they are not to be seen as “third world jurisdictions” by international punters, Garry O’Gorman, Ireland’s senior handicapper, told the press conference to unveil the World Thoroughbred Rankings on Tuesday.
    Having heard Dominic Gardiner-Hill, the British Horseracing Authority’s deputy head of handicapping, tell the conference that it is a “great shame” that no-one can tell how fast Frankel was travelling at various stages of the 2,000 Guineas, O’Gorman said that sectional timing is long overdue at major tracks.
    “Surely somebody can see the big picture here,” O’Gorman said.”Perhaps a company like Betfair, surely the scope for in-running betting can be massively influenced by provision of sectional times.
    “In the future, when there is co-mingling of [international] betting pool, it will be even more critical. If people betting into worldwide betting pool are looking for what they are used to, we are going to be seriously embarrassed if they look at a race and see an anachronistic presentation of form data.
    “Sectional timing would also be a very useful tool [for the handicappers]. We have a distinctly third-world attitude to things like this. We are pissing in the wind when we try to distil certain things from the time of a race, and sectional timing would be so much more useful.”

    <!– m –>http://www.sportingpost.co.za/2012/01/1 … omment-358<!– m –>

    #386661
    Miss Woodford
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    • Total Posts 1335

    Here’s why sectional timing ("fractions") is important for handicapping http://www.free-horseracing-info.com/in … tions.html
    http://helloracefans.com/handicapping/p … -speaking/

    One more thing: Every racing fan can recite the fractions of Secretariat’s Kentucky Derby. in which he ran each quarter mile faster than previous one.
    0:25-1/5
    0:24
    0:23-4/5
    0:23-2/5
    0:23
    Without that information we’d be losing out on an important part of his legend.

    #386672
    cormack15
    Keymaster
    • Total Posts 8979

    Reading that Nack book on Secretariat Miss W – every race is described with relation to pace/fractions. Completely different culturally to over here. Different planet even. It definitely addsan extra dimension and, along with weighing of horses (which I’d actually like to see done first) would be real progress.

    But I can’t help wondering if the idea (of sectionals) only appeals to us racing nerds, anoraks and slide rule users?

    #386678
    Miss Woodford
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    • Total Posts 1335

    Reading that Nack book on Secretariat Miss W – every race is described with relation to pace/fractions. Completely different culturally to over here. Different planet even. It definitely addsan extra dimension and, along with weighing of horses (which I’d actually like to see done first) would be real progress.

    But I can’t help wondering if the idea (of sectionals) only appeals to us racing nerds, anoraks and slide rule users?

    Even casual racegoers use pace analysis to some extent. With fractions it’s easier to identify the early pace, stalkers and stretch runners. As long as you know the points of call for each distance (http://www1.drf.com/misc/pointsofcall.pdf), you can compare horses without a calculator.

    Here’s a handy guide courtesy of the DRF "Night School" http://www.horseplayernow.com/STUDY030711.pdf
    Lots of people also use pace figures, which use track variants. http://www1.drf.com/products/moss/moss.html

    #386849
    robert99
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    • Total Posts 899

    Reading that Nack book on Secretariat Miss W – every race is described with relation to pace/fractions. Completely different culturally to over here. Different planet even. It definitely addsan extra dimension and, along with weighing of horses (which I’d actually like to see done first) would be real progress.

    But I can’t help wondering if the idea (of sectionals) only appeals to us racing nerds, anoraks and slide rule users?

    It is not completely different culturally here. Greyhound racing has had body weights and sectional timing for decades and it has long been established as essential information for punters. That is from a part of UK racing that receives no annual £75M+ subsidy from punters. People have been taking their own sectionals on horseracing for over a decade and using the information very successfully.

    It is not nerdy – just a very important part of race analysis that requires proper data to estimate, ability, class and fitness as well as integrity. No slide rule is required – just primary school arithmetic as Miss W’s excellent links demonstrate.

    Keep telling people it is all too difficult and exotic is like the Daily Mail complaining of all those East Europeans coming over here – taking our brave boys’ jobs with their fancy education, job skills, work ethic, reliability and hard work. We are still regarded as a leading nation not a dumbed down basket case. TRF readers are not so dumb either. Surely they too must be questioning the refusal of vested interests to promote such information which is commonplace in other sports and helps to maintain integrity.

    #398447
    robert99
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    • Total Posts 899

    It has recently been announced that Sectional Timing is to be used in 18 QIPCO races this year. Good encouragement for UK to catch up, but I hope the authorities actually realise you need sectionals from the previous races to make any use of them. Otherwise it becomes just a historical record gesture.

    Unfortunately, those who do not know spout misconceptions they have been fed and never actually looked into.

    "installing sectional timing at British racecourses is challenging and costly given the unique layout of many of our tracks"

    If the media keep repeating this then it becomes the accepted wisdom. Please actually ask the question and tell us roughly what it will cost.

    A transponder for each horse costs less than £5. Might need 200 a season taken along with the staring stalls to each meeting – £1000.
    It is not at all challenging, it has already been proven to work at such diverse tracks as AW tracks, Newmarket, Sandown, York, Goodwood and Cheltenham

    This is what Turftrax actually say about the equipment, which is a small number of radio receivers around the track that transmit individual horse data to a PC server. Turftrax already have the software to process that into final race data in seconds.

    "(Turftrax) The TTS has been extensively used, tested and proven in 5,000 thoroughbred races in the UK involving 60,000 horses at courses such as Newmarket, Cheltenham and York.
    A key aspect of the system is its flexibility of deployment; it does NOT require a costly infrastructure.
    Once a facility has been inducted the system can be easily transported to it and installed on the day before racing. "

    Say each transmitter costs £2000 and we need 30 shared between tracks – that is £60K
    Turftrax staff per meeting , say £300 and for 600 meetings on turf – £180k

    So total first year cost is of the order £241k. A little bit less than a Premiership Dinner with Lord Snooty at Number 10.

    It is the staff costs that are the main issue not the equipment. If the racecourse staff could be trained to set up each meeting then that cost might be more than halved.
    It does not seem a huge cost in the scheme of things seeing that punters are paying racing £72M plus for each season.

    #398514
    wit
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    • Total Posts 2164

    sectional times and speed maps (and horse body weight) are utterly standard to every HK racecard.

    here’s tomorrow night’s card at Happy Valley – how-to-read-it guide on page 36 of the pdf:

    http://www.hkjc.com/images/PDF/20120328_starter_all.pdf

    there can also be public information/confidence aspects to be anticipated and addressed regarding where on the speed a horse is placed.

    HK stewards issue a report next day on how they saw each race, in which are included (where they think necessary) explanations from jockeys as to positioning of a horse.

    This example from the last meeting at HV (in relation to a third-fav):

    ==========

    ……..When questioned, T Clark stated that he had been instructed to obtain a position in about 5th or 6th placing behind the speed if possible. He said Mr J Size, the trainer of RIGHT TIMING, did not want the horse to be ridden along in the early stages to take up a forward position as it was felt that it may not finish off its race if it had to be ridden along to obtain this position.

    He said accordingly in the early stages he allowed RIGHT TIMING to stride forward without riding it along to see if it would be able to obtain a position behind the speed as instructed. He said however that shortly after the start there were a considerable number of horses to his inside and he felt that to have cleared those horses, he would have had to make use of RIGHT TIMING which would have resulted in the horse being ridden towards the lead which would have been contrary to his instructions.

    He said for this reason, prior to the winning post on the first occasion, he elected to steady RIGHT TIMING and shift across behind runners albeit that it was further back in the field than had been intended. He said although RIGHT TIMING was able to obtain cover, the horse was required to race in a three wide position.

    He added that he placed RIGHT TIMING under pressure near the 500 Metres, however, the horse did not quicken and in the Straight was disappointing. He said although the circumstances of the race did not suit RIGHT TIMING, the horse nonetheless did not finish off the race as had been expected.

    ==================

    http://www.hkjc.com/english/racing/race … =3/14/2012

    #398538
    Himself
    Participant
    • Total Posts 3777

    I think sectionals can be misleading. Some people live by them; especially in America and Austarlia – must be something about countries beginning with A :wink: – but for me they only tell part of the story.

    The day Secretariat won that famous Belmont ( I’d argue he broke Sham’s heart by then ) he was magnificent. Sham, in fact, began tiring after only six furlongs. :?

    Awhile back, I read an account of how the track stewards/ administrators made sure the baking hot track was scraped to within a centimetre in order to ensure the best possible conditions for Secretariat to break the existing course record. He duly did at odds of 1/10

    The track surface must have been like a road. :shock:

    Not denigrating Big Red in the least, but there is no way in this world that he would have been able to run such outlandish sectionals around Epsom’s mile and a half course – even on the hottest of hot days, and with the ground rock hard.

    Gambling Only Pays When You're Winning

    #398546
    robert99
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    • Total Posts 899

    Wit,

    Hong Kong puts us to shame.

    Our handicappers still stick to fiddling about with changing the weights on a horse’s back without ever knowing its bodyweight.
    So the handicapper puts up a winning horse by 10 pounds – the public and media "think" the horse is disadvantaged by 10 pounds – the price goes out – but the trainer knows his horse has slimmed by 30 pounds, so has a "20 pound" pull with a lucrative "touch" in the offing. It wins and goes up another 5 pounds – it wins again in a higher class race and is then nicely sold off abroad. Alice in Wonderland stuff.

    You would think that UK Stewards alone would be insisting on sectionals as an aid in providing hard evidence to stamp out non triers and horses that are just a little bit "not off".
    With Betfair now offering fixed odds and their market matching and cross overs completely non-transparent to the public, it is unlikely that they will any longer help the authorities with "betting pattern" evidence that might "incriminate" themselves. With prizemoney only going lower and more trainers having to cheat to survive the Stewards will need all the help they can get.

    #398570
    Miss Woodford
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    • Total Posts 1335

    I think sectionals can be misleading. Some people live by them; especially in America and Austarlia – must be something about countries beginning with A :wink: – but for me they only tell part of the story.

    The day Secretariat won that famous Belmont ( I’d argue he broke Sham’s heart by then ) he was magnificent. Sham, in fact, began tiring after only six furlongs. :?

    Awhile back, I read an account of how the track stewards/ administrators made sure the baking hot track was scraped to within a centimetre in order to ensure the best possible conditions for Secretariat to break the existing course record. He duly did at odds of 1/10

    The track surface must have been like a road. :shock:

    Not denigrating Big Red in the least, but there is no way in this world that he would have been able to run such outlandish sectionals around Epsom’s mile and a half course – even on the hottest of hot days, and with the ground rock hard.

    He put up stellar "sectionals" in most of his other races as well, including his two turf runs. http://www.secretariat.com/past-performances/ Note that the final quarter of the Man O’War was even faster than in the Belmont. And check out the 47 and change opening half in the 1 5/8 mile Canadian International :shock: . Turcotte said he was an even better turf runner, if you can believe that.

    The Belmont strip was playing fast that whole summer. Doesn’t make Secretariat’s record any less amazing. No horse has come within 2 seconds of that record in any Belmont Stakes since then.

    #399145
    Aragorn
    Member
    • Total Posts 2208

    Surely the eccentric nature of uk course configurations and the need to constantly move rails makes the logistics of installing the technology difficult, as well as calling the accuracy of the data into question?

    It would be simple(r) on the AW though.

    #399170
    Miss Woodford
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    • Total Posts 1335

    Surely the eccentric nature of uk course configurations and the need to constantly move rails makes the logistics of installing the technology difficult, as well as calling the accuracy of the data into question?

    It would be simple(r) on the AW though.

    They move rails on American turf courses as well. And there’s a big difference between a half-mile track (i.e. Timonium) and a 12f track (Belmont). That’s what track variants are for!

    #399193
    wit
    Participant
    • Total Posts 2164

    the (inside) rail moves in HK on the turf courses, between defined positions, without precluding sectional timing.

    at Sha Tin, the turf course width varies from 30.5m (the A course) to 18.3m (the C+3 course).

    at Happy Valley, from 30.5m to 19.5m.

    http://www.hkjc.com/english/racinginfo/ … course.htm

    #399212
    Ghost of Rob V
    Participant
    • Total Posts 827

    Back to the 1973 Belmont, the field that Secretariat destroyed wasn’t at all that good. Apart from a half washed-up Sham, the other runners were no-hopers. Easy to see why the winning margin was so long :lol:

    #399238
    Miss Woodford
    Participant
    • Total Posts 1335

    Back to the 1973 Belmont, the field that Secretariat destroyed wasn’t at all that good. Apart from a half washed-up Sham, the other runners were no-hopers. Easy to see why the winning margin was so long :lol:

    The clock doesn’t lie!
    The Belmont has been run at its current distance since 1926. Since then it has been run under

    2:27

    7 times. The second-fastest time is 2:26. So the other runners were just running a race that would have won any other year. Except they had a horse that was over 2 seconds faster in front of them.
    Chart http://www.belmontstakes.com/UserFiles/file/1973.pdf
    He went the first 10f in 1:59,

    that

    itself would be a track record.

    Any way, for those of you who think it would be too expensive to set up such advanced technology for sectional timing, the first Kentucky Derby to include it was in 1898. Just do it the old-fashioned way, using a stopwatch.

    #399278
    Himself
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    • Total Posts 3777

    If the clock doesn’t lie, Miss Woodford, then it most certainly tells some very half truths – or, in this case, mile and a half truths. :lol:

    Hawkster: the current world record holder for the turf mile and a half. Now here’s horse who in 1989 finshed fifth in ALL three legs of the triple crown and yet he bolts round Santa Anita at an incredibly rate of knots. :shock: 2.22 … oh, and lets not forget the 4/5ths. :wink:

    It just so happens that America, for some, no doubt good reason, is the place where most track world records are broken.

    Hawkster ? : nah, the clock does lie ! :|

    Gambling Only Pays When You're Winning

    #399301
    wit
    Participant
    • Total Posts 2164

    its the old "figures don’t lie, but liars [even involuntary ones] do figure "

    reminds me of this thread:

    https://theracingforum.co.uk/horse-r … 042&start=

    and particularly AP’s suggestion of using google books as a refresher on Mordin on Time:

    "…the purpose of this book is to show how to make the times that racehorses run as comparable as those of their human counterparts. This is much harder than it might appear…"
    [page 14]

    http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=esHJ … me&f=false

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