The Primary Problem
Talk to anyone and ask them to name the top varying components to horse form and you are likely to receive differing answers! It's the nature of the sport and probably why we all love it so much.
Some people who have been betting for over 30 years will tell you that recency of the last start can be a powerful form factor; others will stress that weight drops can prove of real significance.
Yet other professionals will explain why you should always take into account a horse's ability at the track and distance.
Our personal viewpoint is that the distance and going are much more influential factors than the track itself. Although the placement of stalls in larger fields and mild gradients can influence a race significantly, distance often provides the critical factor to finishing a race either first or second.
So, when we talk about 'key factors', we have to prioritise what are the fundamentally vital components to a horse's probability of winning a race.
When we look at a form guide we have to be looking for the signs we consider to be the most important. Each of us may be looking for something different but the essential point is that we are adopting a rational approach in that we are searching for signs, clues in fact, in the search for the winners of the races.
A lot of people look for some key indicators, they run their eyes down the card, marking off runners in the stables of leading trainers, ignoring the rest and only then beginning their scrupulous form study, restricting themselves to what they they think are form favourites (and probably therefore reflected in the price) . It is a well known fact that 75 to 80% of all winners come from the first four favorites.
That is a very important statistic indeed especially for the sake of laying and to the foundations of The Stabler.
The Key Components to Horse Form
There are hundreds of variables to a horse race just like a football game, motor race, boxing fight or lawn bowls. Critical factors like wind direction, wind strength, stall position, gradient of track, time of day, light conditions, size of fields, pace of race, equipment on the horse, jockey, track direction, track type, trainer type, trainer form, jockey form, weight carried, class, handicap, horse fitness, time since last run, ability over a given track, distance, ability over a chosen distance, form and the betting market. These are just a few of the hundreds of variables that exist that influences how a race may effectively pan out. Some of these variables can be tracked and some variables are outside the realms of us mere mortals to track and rationalise at least effectively enough to make a definitive difference.
The following, then, are the few Key Factors we believe we should use in the all-important selection process.
These are not ranked in any particular numerical or prioritised order.
One of the more important elements and differences between Classes in horse racing is the pace at which the race is run. There can be around 1.4 seconds difference between classes over 1 Mile but the actual pace that race is run can be much more influential in the overall result(s).
The form guides tell the story where Class is concerned (in fact, the Sportsman has a special section for each race in which it reveals which horses are up in Class and which are down in Class). Horses which race way out of their Class rarely win.
For instance, a horse winning a country Maiden might be rated on 40, while a horse that wins a Class* race can be rated on, say, 60. This means there is some 20 kilos, or 13.3 lengths, between them, probably more depending on the given distance.
A horse has to be well weighted to win a race. Weight can stop a train. Have a look at each horse's handicap weight and make a judgement about whether it is too much, just enough, or too little. In the latter case, feel happy when you find a horse you decide has beaten the handicapper.
In major races, look for horses that have raced well at their last start and which now drop a BIG amount (say 5kg or more).If the horse is running days after it's last win it could have also avoided the handicapper meaning that it will avoid being slowed down in it's next venture. This drop or alternative increase in weight is not to be underestimated and can be the difference in a head and a few hundred pounds.
The Speed ratings we procure to support horse form are two-fold. One are RAW ratings which is the raw speed of a racehorse over a given track, race and distance and the other is ADJ or Adjusted. This adjusted ratings attempts to factor in the speed of the horse relevant to the weight it was carrying and the class of race.
A horse has to be fit to win. Horses that are unfit do not win.
The longer a horse has been away from the racetrack the more there is a query over its fitness. Consider 21 days as a cut-off point for most horses, but where top-class horses are concerned you can make exceptions as major stables can keep their steeds fit especially for major listed races for months on end.
Often, professional punters and more so relevant to the staff that rear horses on a regular basis, you can often observe horses in the turning circle before they are about to race. Observing their movement, their behavior, if they are sweating, are they anxious or upset? These can be indicative of the horse's fitness and subsequent performance. Fitness can also be very tailored to a particular race, trainers will focus much more attention to a listed race with a large prize than a middle of winter All-Weather warm-up run. Some horses need adequate recovery between races and the length of time of that recovery can be significantly longer than other racehorses. Fitness is probably the most important factor of all but at the same time the most difficult to determine or estimate. Unless you are in with the stable and understand the horse it is really an estimate.
However when you lay a selection. this unpredictable factor then transitions into our favor. For example, if you are betting against a favourite in a competitive field and the horse's fitness is not quite there, you can rely on the other 3/4 selections to pull through. This is the foundation to our selection process at The Stabler.
4. DISTANCE PREFERENCE
Each horse has a certain distance range at which it excels. Some horses are sprinters, others are middle-distance types while the rest are in the staying mould and specialise over the fences or stays.
Read carefully each horse's record at the distance of the race. Lean towards those that have proven themselves more than once. Understand the pace of that race and how that race unfolded especially in the final 2/3 furlongs. Between the pace of the field leading up to the final yardage and how that horse performed in those final moments will ultimately indicate it's preference. If you are able to then understand the upcoming race and if there are any other horses driving a particular pace, then this could subsequently change the dynamic of the race and therefore the result.
5. THE MARGINS/SPEED RATINGS
If you stick with last-start winners and placegetters you will give yourself an increased chance of getting a crop of winners. But if you add to this the factor of 'beaten margins' you can increase your percentage of winning bets furthermore.
Horses that finished 2.75 lengths or less from the winner at their most recent start often go on and win next start. Keep this important key factor in mind.
It's really surprising how many times a horse with 'close up' last-start form comes out and wins next time out, even if that last outing was an unplaced one.
Our speed ratings critically analyses each race and the winning time compared to the course, class and going average. It is a complex myriad of variables that we calculate and leverage to formulate selections.
The Stabler provides all selections through our four key pillars. Those four key pillars include our horse-form analysis as explained above, speed ratings, betting odds and teamwork. We have been operating for many years now and believe that our system provides varying degrees of profit if adhering rigidly to our constraints.
Please contact us to let us know what you think, if you would like to include any additional resources to explain horse form to our current and prospective members. We are a community and there is always room for improvement.