The home of intelligent horse racing discussion
The home of intelligent horse racing discussion

Stiffness of fences

Viewing 15 posts - 1 through 15 (of 37 total)
  • Author
  • #2869
    Andrew Hughes
    • Total Posts 1904

    In an attempt to find out which fences are the stiffest, I’ve done some basic (though tedious) research into the number of fallers at each national hunt course. I found the results a little surprising and I wondered whether anyone had any thoughts.

    All I did was tally up the number of runners and fallers at each national hunt course over the past year (12/08/05 to 12/08/06) though for some courses I had to go back another year or two either because they have few chases in a season (eg Cartmel) or because they were out of action (eg Ascot). I didn’t include Novice, Maiden or Beginner chases.

    The results are simply the number of fallers as a percentage of runners in the given period.

    AIN NAT     34.94<br>AIN MILD   17.24<br>TAUNTON   14.46<br>STRAT        13.88<br>WETH         13.2<br>PLUMP       12.75<br>HUNT         12.18<br>WIND         11.76<br>KELSO        11.41<br>PERTH        10.99<br>CHELT        10.86<br>LEIC           10.56<br>SOUTH       10.3<br>WINC        10.03<br>LUDLOW     9.92<br>UTTOX         9.9<br>ALL             9.58<br>SEDGE        9.5<br>CATT           9.47<br>MUSS          9.21<br>TOWCES     8.82<br>ASCOT        8.55<br>FONT          8.33<br>NEWB        7.96<br>CHEP         7.89<br>AYR            7.32<br>EXETER      7.22<br>FAKEN        7.14<br>SAND         7.07<br>HAYD         6.92<br>N ABBOT    6.88<br>LING          6.84<br>BANGOR     6.04<br>M RASEN    5.96<br>CARTMEL    5.63<br>HEX            5.17<br>WORC       5.04<br>WARK       4.38<br>HERE        4.3<br>KEMP        3.67<br>CARLISLE 2.21<br>FOLKE      1.47

    (Hope my abbreviations make sense)

    Now, I was surprised, both at just how many more fallers there were at Aintree compared to the rest, but also at the relatively low position of Haydock, Newbury, Sandown and Cheltenham.

    However, I am not sure my research was as rigorous as it should be.

    1. Not having Raceform Interactive, I had to plough through using the search results section of the RP, so though I double checked, it is possible one or two figures are slightly out due to human error. <br>2. I included not just fallers, but those that were brought down and those who refused and perhaps I should have just concentrated on fallers. <br>3. Though there were well over 100 runners for each course, some obviously had many more. Does the variable sample size mean that the figures are unreliable?<br>4. I included races of all classes on all goings at all distances. Should I have been more selective?

    So the results may have been skewed by the rather crude research methods, but still I would be interested in anyone’s opinions (however critical).

    (Edited by Aranalde at 9:52 am on Aug. 13, 2006)

    • Total Posts 438

    I would think that you deserve a medal for that mind-numbingly tedious research.


    Having said that, I would have thought that only fallers and unseateds should have been included in your figures; the latter are a far more accurate indicator of the stiffness of a fence than are the number of horses brought down or refusals.

    (Edited by yquem21 at 10:06 am on Aug. 13, 2006)<br>

    (Edited by yquem21 at 10:06 am on Aug. 13, 2006)

    • Total Posts 862

    I read a similar piece of research recently and I think it was in one of Peter May’s books.  Another point to consider is that a lot of courses rebuild a number of the fences every year and these can vary in stiffness.  I know of two courses where the management rebuilt a fence directly in front of the stands easier to reduce fallers.

    Andrew Hughes
    • Total Posts 1904

    Thanks for your comments

    I ommitted to mention that I did also include UR along with F, BD and REF, apologies for not making that clear.

    I was also interested in field size since I had presumed that would have an impact. Though the results were patchy the clear trend was as suspected, the bigger the field, the higher the percentage of fallers. For interest, I found the average field size to be 9.7. I will now go back and factor that in (once I have worked out how).

    I may also remove heavy going races. I toyed with the idea, but reasoned (perhaps incorrectly) that most trainers would withdraw their horses in that sort of going if they had stamina doubts and also that those badly affected by the going would be divided between fallers and those who were just pulled up. However, on reflection, I think I will go back and remove the heavy going results. A price-cap is an interesting idea, but I will leave that for the moment and see what my results show.

    I also accept that some courses may have a sole tricky fence, but I really don’t want to get down into the detail of assessing which fences at which courses have the most fallers. But at least if I am aware that that is the case at certain courses, I can compensate for it when using the figures.

    Andrew Hughes
    • Total Posts 1904

    Just seen your post, Wallace. Its a fair point and one I pondered for a while before starting this research. I think, if I was going to use these stats, I would be producing them again at the end of every season. I might also take the trouble to contact the courses and find out whether they have rebuilt any fences. For the time being, I am happy to accept that as another possible skewing factor.

    Andrew Hughes
    • Total Posts 1904

    Having gone through the data I’ve assembled, I came to the following conclusions regarding field size in chases.

    0-8 runners, likely 7.6% of them will be fallers<br>9-11 runners, 8.0%<br>12-19 runners 10.8%<br>20-29 runners 17.5%<br>30 runners + 34.5%

    The bands may seem a little odd, but I have grouped them that way to try and keep the sample size roughly similar. So the first three bands each have between 2400 and 2900 runners. The last two bands have only 408 runners between them, due to the scarcity of field sizes of over 20. There would be a case for combining them or alternatively removing the 31-40 band as there were only two races in this category, namely the last two Grand Nationals, and the stiffness of the fences may be skewing these results. So an alternative would be to take a group of 20 or over, leaving out the GN, which would give a band of:

    20+ runners, 21.0 % fallers

    Including the GNs would give:

    20+ runners, 24.5% fallers

    At any rate, there does seem to be a clear trend that the bigger the field, the greater the liklihood of fallers. The liklihood of falling seems to increase sharply once you hit a field size of 12.

    (Edited by Aranalde at 12:28 pm on Aug. 13, 2006)

    Racing Daily
    • Total Posts 1364

    Aintree mildmay has some of the stiffest fences in the country.  The results don’t really surprise me, although i’d have seen Cheltenham as being above the likes of flat, galloping Huntingdon.

    • Total Posts 159

    Nice work Arenalde. However, I’m not sure what you intend to do with the stats. For punting purposes I don’t see how this will be of assistance, although the findings were interesting nevertheless. As a trainer/owner stats such as these should be very useful, but I think you will find them somewhat misleading. For example, Haydock has some of the stiffest fences in the country, and as a result trainers generally aim their better jumpers at races at this course. You won’t find many of the horses running at the supposedly smaller stiffer tracks on your list plying their trade at Haydock or Cheltenham. No doubt, if they did, courses such as Haydock will be up there with the likes of Aintree.

    Andrew Hughes
    • Total Posts 1904

    Thanks for that, naps. Yes, I am aware that may be the case, but then my reasoning, rightly or wrongly, was that the average horse is usually running in about the right grade. The better class of races tend to be run over the stiffer fences, so I am hoping that the results balance themselves out in that you have good jumpers taking on stiff fences and poorer jumpers facing the lesser obstacles. I am aware that this is all rather crude from a scientific point of view.

    As for how they will be used, I am not yet completely decided. It seems to me that the most important factor in chasing is jumping ability combined with speed. Assessing the relative difficulty of the different fences is a starting point, but only that.

    • Total Posts 3420

    Nick Mordin did some similar research a while back and i think it ws over a period of five years, which is probably necessary

    Interesting results though.  

    Andrew Hughes
    • Total Posts 1904

    Fair point, I think more data would certainly be useful. On the other hand, being aware that some courses rebuild their fences and fiddle with the lay-out of the track from year to year, I didn’t want to go too far back.

    • Total Posts 1665

    Fascinating stuff, good work Aranalde.

    Andrew Hughes
    • Total Posts 1904

    Thanks all

    However, having spent most of the afternoon adjusting the figures to take account of field sizes, I think something may be amiss, in that Cheltenham has sunk even further in the list. The mere fact that Cheltenham is not near the top must set alarm bells ringing. I suspect that the point Naps made is more pertinent than I gave credit for – maybe top horses are better able to deal with stiff fences than poor horses are able to deal with even easy fences. I need to run this experiment again, but going further back and limiting the class of races I am looking at.

    But I will save that for another day. Very interesting exercise though.

    • Total Posts 5123

    Stratford have removed the first fence in the straight this season due to it causing ‘a lot of falls’ which may lead to the course slipping down your list in future.

    In addition to Naps’ point about grouping courses by the ‘class’ of horse it attracts – with which I’m in full agreement –  it may be worth filtering courses further by their nature e.g. sharp/galloping/speed/stamina.

    The Mildmay track is very sharp which allied to the stiffness of the fences provides a stern test of jumping at speed, as your figures suggest.

    Taunton’s high position may be due to the going being normally on the firm side leading to the usual poorish types the course attracts going too fast over what are relatively benign fences.

    Interesting and worthwhile research Aranalde.

    • Total Posts 1137

    maybe top horses are better able to deal with stiff fences than poor horses are able to deal with even easy fences.

    Mordin’s research led him to believe that scottish fences were typically stiffer than English fences.

    However, I’d suggest that it’s more likely to be that Scottish fences are jumped by mainly crap horses, many of which can’t jump very well.

    So, I’d say that, along with field sizes and going, the quality of the horses needs to be taken into consideration.


Viewing 15 posts - 1 through 15 (of 37 total)
  • You must be logged in to reply to this topic.