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Well done the Weekender

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  • #476
    empty walletempty wallet
    Member
    • Total Posts 1631

    An excellent article on Sectional Timing by Graeme North today and worth the price alone imo

    <br>More of the same please :cool: :cool:

    (Edited by empty wallet at 7:25 pm on Nov. 22, 2006)

    #31842
    Prufrock
    Participant
    • Total Posts 2081

    I agree. Although Graeme and I worked in the same office for many years we seldom consulted each other about sectionals. I cannot really find fault in his methodology, and I thought the piece was different class to most of what appears in The Weekender.

    Have they got a new Editor? The Richard Young overview of all-weather racing the week before was also superb.

    #31843
    Prufrock
    Participant
    • Total Posts 2081

    Indeed I do…

    #31844
    Gareth Flynn
    Participant
    • Total Posts 583

    Thanks for that ew, I’ll look out for a copy.

    #31845
    slipperytoadslipperytoad
    Member
    • Total Posts 419

    It must have been a popular article.. Can’t find a copy anywhere in the many newsagents in my local area. :angry:

    If anyone can provide me a copy of the article please PM me. If required I’ll pay the costs of postage etc ..

    #31846
    Lincoln Duncan
    Member
    • Total Posts 157

    Weekender editor still the same – perhaps the contributors are just trying harder . . .

    #31847
    Prufrock
    Participant
    • Total Posts 2081

    Here is the copy of Graeme North’s Weekender article. I have had to leave the all-important tables out due to formatting issues, I’m afraid.

    Make sure you buy next week’s, as I am not around. ;)

    A revolution has crept up upon British racing almost unnoticed. Since the end of the 2006 turf season, sectional times have been returned for around 70% of the fixtures at the four all-weather venues, Lingfield, Kempton, Southwell and Wolverhampton, a figure which is set to rise to 90% by the end of March. Long regarded as an integral part of form study in the States, sectional times became available here only as recently as 2001 when measuring equipment was installed beneath the Rowley Mile course at Newmarket. Since then, largely through the efforts of dedicated timing specialists Turftrax, sectional times have gradually been returned from more and more courses, and are now also published regularly during the Flat season from Newmarket (July), York, Goodwood, Sandown, Newbury and Doncaster. Whereas sectional times are returned in the States only for the leader at various ‘calls’ – the times for the trailing horses have to be worked out by hand from the estimated ‘lengths behind’ information provided in the race returns –  the system developed by Turftrax is far more comprehensive. A small radio transmitter weighing 99 grams is placed into the saddlecloth of each horse and sends out a chirp four times every second. Its position – accurate to within 6 inches – is continually logged by a series of receivers around the track and returned to a central access point for processing. The resulting times, speeds and positions of all the horses in the race are those which accompany the pictures seen on Channel 4, populate the IRIS system, the in-running betting service run in conjunction with exchange firms Betfair and Betdaq, and eventually appear on the website. There is now two years data from most of the tracks mentioned, and more from Newmarket, where the times are also available on the racecourse website (http://www.newmarketracecourses.co.uk). For all the increasing tide of interest in them, however, sectional times still exist in something of an educational vacuum; even on the Turftrax site itself, there isn’t much instructional material to encourage interested individuals to delve deeper.

    The overwhelming strength of sectional time analysis as a supplement to traditional form analysis is that it can provide a precise measurement of the effect that events in a race had upon the final result, and how much better or worse horses can be rated in relation to each other as a consequence. It can expose shortcomings in conventional race-reading analysis where false conclusions have been drawn on account of an incorrect interpretation of the pace at which the race was run; and it can define more explicitly than accepted form or time handicapping methods the overall merit of races which are steadily, or too strongly, run by exposing which performances were properly better than they seemed and which ones weren’t. It is not an easy subject to understand, and an appreciation of overall time analysis is a useful starting point, but the resulting edge and potential rewards are well worth the effort, particularly now that an explosion of information is available.

    All the sectional times on the Turftrax website (http://www.turftrax.com) are stored in the RaceData section. Anyone accessing the section and selecting a race they are interested in is presented with two tables like those below (only the first four finishers are shown here, but the full order is available on the website). The example below refers to the seven-furlong handicap won by Bobski at Lingfield on November 13th.

    TABLE HERE

    The information presented here (as it is displayed on the website) relates to the last six furlongs, with the final furlong on the extreme right. The first table records the time it took for Bobski and the other horses in the frame to complete each of those furlongs. Bobski, for example, ran the last furlong in 12.16 seconds and the furlong before that in 11.71 seconds. The grey shaded area means that the horse in question was the fastest in the field for that particular furlong. So while Bobski ran the second-and-third last furlongs faster than anything else, Bomber Command was the fastest through the final furlong. What will become clear as we examine the figures more closely, and will stress again later, is that it is the time that Bomber Command recorded in the final furlong relative to his overall time that is important, and not simply that he was the fastest in that last furlong. The figures in brackets in the second table are derived directly from those in the first. Using Bobski as an example again, his 12.16 final sectional corresponds to an average speed throughout the final furlong of 37.01 mph. The figure preceding the bracket is the position the horse held in the race at the end of that particular furlong; so Bobski was seventh at the two-furlong pole, fourth at the furlong marker and in front at the line. Subscribers (access to the data costs £19.99 a month) are also provided with an average speed verses graphical time chart (not displayed here, for it is of little practical use) for the winner against the rest of the field. Turftrax also provide a race-by-race review of the previous days’ sectionals, though this is little more than a simple sectional breakdown at various points throughout the race and, other than a Turftrax speed rating, calculated by equalising the finishing times of all winners on the day and adjusting to level weights and handicap class, provides no additional editorial insight. So how can this vast and impressive collection of useful data be put to better analytical use?

    It’s important to understand straight away that these times, rather like an overall race time taken in isolation, are nearly always meaningless in themselves. The time a horse records for any particular furlong is a consequence of many things, including, in no particular order, the pace at which the preceding distance (if any) has been run, its ability and the weight it is carrying relative to weight-for-age, the gradient and state of the track as well as random variables such as wind strength and direction. The fact that a horse may have run the fastest furlong at any point in a race is interesting in itself, but seldom any more; if the race was run at a slow or modest pace, for example, it is not even a reliable indicator that the horse is in ‘good’ form or deserving of extra credit. Few horses run the last furlong at Lingfield in under 11 seconds, for example, as My Love Thomas and Kyle did on the same card as Bobski. The fact that they could do so was purely on account of an extremely slow early pace and in no way suggestive that they are of exceptional merit. In order to make proper sense of sectional times they need to be treated as cumulative components of the final time, and always be evaluated in the context of the merit of that overall time. To do that, we need to come up with a standard time for each furlong point (derived from the overall standard time we are using for the distance). So, in much the same way that a set of standard race times allows a meaningful comparison between winning times at different courses on different days, a set of sectional standards allows a meaningful comparison of individual furlong times within those same races.  

    In order to do this as correctly as possible – the precision of the final figures depends heavily on the accuracy of those they are derived from – we need a credible set of standard times and weight-inclusive time and form ratings. There are a number of different sets of standard times available, not all of them good, but it is well worth the effort investing some time devising your own from an interactive database such as Raceform Interactive. Similarly, form and time ratings can be your own or those provided by Racing Post Ratings or Timeform. It is important to ensure that whichever set of ratings is used – those reproduced here are my own – the time ratings should have been derived from the form ratings and so are on the same level. This makes it easy to relate the sectional time ratings we will come up with to the form and time ones. The next thing to do is to derive the aforementioned individual standards for as many furlongs as is considered necessary. This is best done by taking a representative sample of truly-run races – those where the final time rating is within 7lb of the final form rating, for example – recording the times those winners took to reach each furlong marker and then taking either the median or first quartile (a better option) of those times and calculating the standard for each furlong (from the overall standard) from there. What we are doing, in effect, is isolating those winners which have run their races in an efficient manner (i.e have distributed their energy as near as optimally as possible throughout the race) and deriving the individual furlong standards from their times. At Lingfield, for example, my standards for the five- and six-furlong points in seven-furlong races are currently 71.3% and 85.5% of the final standard; at Southwell, they are 70.6% and 84.7% at the same points, reflecting differences in the configuration of the two tracks and the tempos at which races tend to be run. While you can be thorough and establish a standard for each furlong, it’s not absolutely necessary to do so for the first couple of furlongs in sprint races, the first three for seven furlongs or a mile and even the first five or six for races over much longer distances. Anyone analysing sectional times in the States would be foolish to ignore those segments on account of the frantic end-to-end habit of much of the racing over there, but the nature of racing on turf and even on the all-weather over here is such that steadily-run races tend to be the norm. It stands to reason that a slow or fast time rating after three furlongs, for example, will nearly always mean that the first two furlongs have been slowly run, or truly run, as well.<br>  <br>Once all of the sectional standards have been established, we can then input the winning time for the race into the ‘standardised’ model for that distance and evaluate the actual times recorded by the winner to the optimal ones after adjusting them for the relationship between the winning time and the standard time. The difference between the actual time and optimal time at each timing point is then converted into pounds (all examples given here are standardised to 0.04 seconds per pound at five furlongs) and either added or subtracted from the final time rating to produce a set of sectional time ratings. The figures for the placed horses and those further behind are then calculated from those of the winner using the same formula as for the final time ratings. Using the Bobski example again, that gives us the following data. It should be remembered when looking at the table below, that Bobski and Bomber Command were conceding Resplendent Nova and Tamagin 3lb and 2lb respectively at weight-for-age on my scale.

    TABLE HERE

    Next week we will explain what these figures mean and how to interpret them. We will also look at how sectional times can be used analyse more accurately steadily-run races and races where the leaders have gone off too quickly.

    #31848
    Artemis
    Participant
    • Total Posts 1736

    Thanks for posting this, Prufrock.

    It looks very interesting, and will take a while to digest. <br>£20 a month seems steep for the Turftrax service, but if you can make profitable use of this data, it’s probably worth paying it.

    #31849
    Prufrock
    Participant
    • Total Posts 2081

    If I were looking to keep it simple I would concentrate on the finishing speed (final 2f) of horses in races at less than 11f as a % of overall speed and then comparing it to optimum.

    (T*200)/(t*D) where T is overall Time, t is sectional time and D is distance in furlongs (200 is sectional distance in furlongs times 100).

    For instance, as far as I can tell at this early stage, optimum finishing speeds at Wolverhampton are pretty close to 101% in most instances.

    On 11th November the winners recorded:<br>8.64f Book Of Facts 101.75%<br>9.47f Daring Affair 99.59% (finished slowly in 25.64s)<br>9.47f Troialini 104.34% (finished fast in 24.55s)<br>8.64f Salonga 101.11%<br>8.64f Happy As Larry 105.85% (finished fast in 24.03s)<br>5.09f Mr Cellophane 102.64%

    That’s quite a lot of variation as these things go, and Happy As Larry’s overall race time in particular must have been affected by the run of the race. He ran the last 2f at least 4 lengths quicker than could be expected.

    #31850
    Prufrock
    Participant
    • Total Posts 2081

    The "pretty close to 101%" is a simplification: I intend keeping a few things to myself….. :cool:  <br>

    (Edited by Prufrock at 7:12 pm on Nov. 24, 2006)

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