The class of a horse is often discussed in previews and by presenters, but what exactly is it? This is something that is very difficult to measure. Is it the personality of the horse, the ability of the horse or it’s breeding?
I would say that it is a combination of all these things and then probably a bit of something else as well. What that something else is however I’m not sure I could quite put my finger on. It is the same thing that makes some athletes great and others just very good.
Of course, what we all want to know is how to measure it. And the truth to that question is that there is no single way to measure class. However, I can assure you that the official class levels are not very good at best.
The class of a race can only be established based on the bands made by the BHA to a certain level. These bands are quite broad by necessity and so a large variety of runners can be entered into these races. As punters, we need to determine what the true class is, as made up by the actual runners in the race. If we do this correctly then we can spot when horse is of significantly better class than the other runners.
There are two ways to do this. The first is by using a manual handicapping analysis. This is a technique that will require practice. Like form reading you are going to have to know how well a horse has performed against other runners and how well those runners have performed against others. It is a style of collateral form reading and the thought pattern follows something similar to this…
If horse A and C are in a race together. Horse A has raced against horse B multiple times and beaten it every time by 1 length or more. Then if horse C has raced against horse B multiple times and always been beaten by 1 length or more. Then is there any reason that horse C should be able to beat horse A today? Probably not, horse A looks to be of a better class.
Of course this is just the start. As you begin to watch races then you will start to see the horses which run excellently against some of the best horses in the country. When you see these same runners go up against others in lower grade races then you will be able to pick up on the fact that they are most likely of a much better class.
Without a doubt this process takes practice and experience but it is something that if you put the time in will start to happen naturally in your analysis of a race.
The other approach is to start trying to develop ratings that may be able to measure the class of a horse. This will also take time, but just in a different way. In my experience you are going to be very unlikely to find a single way of measuring class that is always going to work. What you will need to do is develop different types of ratings that measure class in different ways. Then you combine them together to create a class rating.
Some of the measurements you are going to need are speed, form, earnings, collateral form and ability. But these aren’t class ratings?
No they aren’t. They are measurements of different aspects of a horses performance. But now imagine if we took one of these factors for a horse and looked at the last 6 races it had been in and the ratings it had achieved in comparison to the other runners. In effect we are looking at a race rating for one of these factors. This allows us to see the level or class of a horse it has been racing against measured by this specific factor.
If we then do that for every horse in the race we can then see what kind of class each of the runners in a race has been racing against for this factor. Now imagine if we did this for all the factors for all the runners in the race. We now are building a picture of the class of the race based on a variety of factors that are important in measuring a horses performance.
That is the key to measuring class in a statistical approach. It is possible to start with just one factor, the one you consider to be most important. Once you have got one up and running then add in another, when that is included then add another etc…
The factors that you choose should be important to the race types that you have a preference for analysing. Let me know which factors you think are the most important by leaving a comment below.