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A 10 Step Guide To Finding Selections On All-Weather For Horse Racing

I believe that All-Weather (AW) horse racing offers one of the best opportunities to create a winning system. When you know what to look for, it has the potential to be the most profitable of all types of horse racing on offer. Those who hate AW racing say it is too unpredictable but the opposite is actually the case. Then there is the small matter of receiving better value.

AW courses have three different types of surface:

  • Polytrack: The surface is like rubberised sand and is a bit like fast turf. It is used in almost all AW tracks barring Southwell and Wolverhampton.
  • Tapeta: Has been used at Wolverhampton since August 2014. It is similar to Polytrack in terms of basic construction but its surface is made up of a number of different blended fibres , PVC waxes and sand. It is like racing on fast/good turf.
  • Fibresand: This is heavier than Polytrack or Tapeta and is like racing on heavy turf.

5 Reasons Why AW Racing Can Be Profitable

  • There are only 5 courses in the United Kingdom (Lingfield, Kempton, Wolverhampton, Chelmsford City and Southwell) and 1 in Ireland (Dundalk). This means fewer courses to focus on which leads to more time for detailed research.
  • AW Racing happens almost every week of the year so there are plenty of opportunities.
  • The fields seldom contain more than 10 horses.
  • Most horses run to standard time more often than not despite the different surfaces.
  • The races are generally run over short distances.

Your Guide To Making Good AW Selections

Without further ado, here are 10 things to consider in order to narrow down AW fields and make profitable selections.

1 – Only Look At AW Form

AW racing is an entirely different beast to everything else so you should generally disregard turf form as it simply doesn’t transfer. It is also important to note that form doesn’t necessarily transfer from Polytrack to Tapeta to Fibresand but at least you get more truly run races at a good pace.

There are a couple of exceptions to this rule such as Epsom Downs because the rock beneath the surface is formed of sandstone. This means the soil has a high sand content so you can take good form at Epsom Downs into account on AW tracks. Brighton and Yarmouth also have sandy soil.

2 – Jockeys & Trainers

Next, you should look at the best trainers and jockeys at each course. For example, Ronald Harris is the best trainer at Kempton AW as you would get an ROI of +80.96% if you bet a level £1 stake on every horse he has trained at the AW course in the last 5 seasons.

Likewise, it is a good idea to look at any horses at Lingfield AW that have Jim Crowley as the jockey because a £1 level stake on every horse he has ridden there in the last 5 seasons would provide you with an ROI of +79.96. If you find a combination of jockey and trainer with success on any AW track, all the better.

3 – Look At Course Specialists At Southwell

The surface at Southwell is unique in the United Kingdom which means course specialists do exceptionally well at these meetings. The best known example is that of American Bay Gelding La Estrella who won an incredible 13 straight races at Southwell.

4 – Look For Prominent Runners

From what I have uncovered with regards to racing at Kempton, front runners are usually in contention. Most of the winners are in the first four runners at the final turn so look for horses known to have a tendency to lead in the early going. This is also useful when it comes to in-race betting.

At Southwell, the fibresand surface causes ‘kickback’; this is the term used to describe the fact that front running horses kick sand into the faces of the horses and jockeys behind them. As you can imagine, this can have a negative effect on slow starters.

5 – Focus On ‘Stayers’

On other surfaces, there is a tendency for horses to hang back and save their energy for a frenetic finish. On turf, it makes sense to back horses known for fast finishes.

AW surfaces are very different so even in relatively short races, you should only ever look for horses with the ability to keep running at close to the same pace for the whole race.

The pace is always quick at the start as horses jostle for position; this usually means the winner of the race isn’t the horse with an ability to accelerate, it’s the horse that slows down the least.

6 – Lay the Favourites

In terms of ROI, favourites at all four UK AW tracks have pretty poor records over the last 5 seasons. Indeed, the best course for non-handicap favourites is Southwell where you still would have an ROI of -21.89% overall with £1 stakes. The best course for handicap favourites is Lingfield and you still end up with an ROI of -90.18% over the last 5 years with £1 stakes.

7 – Except In Claiming Races

Over the last 6 years, the top three horses in claiming race betting have made up almost 75% of the winners. Indeed, favourites win AW claimers 35% of the time and if you blindly backed every single favourite in each race, you would only endure a -4% loss.

8 – Draw Bias

This isn’t something to consider at Kempton which is deemed to be a ‘fair’ track but draw bias does come into play at the other racecourses:

  • Southwell: Focus on the draw for 5 furlong races as horses drawn in the lower numbered stalls on the rail side of the stands have a massive 58% win rate.
  • Lingfield: When the track was originally opened, the equitrack surface gave low draw horses a distinct advantage. The surface was changed in 2001 and eliminated this particular bias but in 2012, the surface was once again re-laid. The result is a bias for horses in stalls 1-4 over 6 furlong races; these horses have enjoyed a 50% increase in wins since the new surface was laid.
  • Wolverhampton: The nature of the track at Wolverhampton means low drawn horses have an advantage in 5 furlong and 7 furlong races while horses drawn out wide have an advantage in 6 furlong races.
  • Chelmsford City: There are some misconceptions regarding this particular course. For example, it is assumed that there is a bias towards low drawn numbers in 5f and 6f races but this really doesn’t seem to be the case at all. This is probably because the course is wide with deep bends.

The issue with draw biases is that they can literally change overnight. For example, heavy rain makes artificial surfaces firm and at Southwell, the staff can influence things simply by using ploughs and harrows to alter the surface.

9 – Gender Bias

Even though gender bias is real in horse racing, particularly on AW tracks, punters tend to either overlook it or ignore it altogether. Yet female horses have notoriously poor records on AW surfaces against male horses. As a result, you should consider laying fillies facing colts in AW races.

This is something which appears to have been going on for a very long time. For example, statistics in 2006 showed that the ratio of male to female wins on AW surfaces was 1.53:1 compared to 1.17:1 on turf.

Fast forward to 2012 and we see that colts had a 14% win ratio compared to the 7% win ratio of fillies and 6% win ratio of mares.

In 2014, another batch of statistics showed that in AW races with a 50/50 split of male and female horses, male horses won almost 63% of the races.

10 – For First Timers, Look At The AW Sire Statistics

If you are looking at a horse running in an AW race for the first time, sire AW performance is actually a very good way to make a selection; it is especially useful in maiden races.

For example, you may see a horse that has won some races on turf and is being hyped up. However, by referring to the sire stats, you can see if this form is likely to transfer to AW surfaces or if it will deteriorate. If it’s the latter, you could have a very nice ‘lay’ bet on your hands.

This table from Flat Stats is a useful tool.

Conclusion

From the above information you should begin the process of finding good value AW selections by:

  • Focusing on AW form only.
  • Finding the right trainer/jockey combo.
  • Look for course specialists (at Southwell).
  • Pick front runners.
  • Choose horses likely to ‘stay’ to the finish.
  • Ignore or lay favourites in most races.
  • Look for good value favourites in claim races.
  • Pay attention to the stall the horse has been drawn in.
  • Eliminate female horses from your selection in races with at least 50% male horses.
  • When no AW form exists, research sire AW statistics.

If you do all of the above, you should be able to quickly narrow down the field and come up with some nice selections. Let me know the results but remember, be sensible with the stakes or even do a ‘dummy’ run with no money risked first.

Patrick Lynch

Patrick graduated from the National University of Ireland, Galway with an MA in Literature and Publishing but decided he would rather have the freedom of a freelance writer than be stuck in a publishing house all day. He has enjoyed this freedom since 2009 and has written thousands of articles on a variety of topics but sports betting is his passion. While his specialty is finding mismatches in obscure football leagues, he also likes to use his research skills to provide punters with detailed winning strategies in horse racing. You can check out his personal blog on www.lynchthewriter.com or Twitter @pl1982 where he writes content to help small businesses achieve success.

18 Comments

  1. I’ve got to be cautious about an article that was either written some time ago and not checked over before being published, or is simply inaccurate on a simple matter. There are five UK all weather racecourses, not four. Racing started at Chelmsford City, formerly Great Leighs, in January this year.

    1. Apologies for making such a simple error Ian and thanks for pointing it out. It will be amended ASAP. You are of course correct that Chelmsford City is also an AW track. It is great that it was reopened because the closure of Great Leighs was seen as something of an embarrassment since it went into administration less than a year after opening!
      Regards,
      Patrick

  2. Some really useful pointers. Some along similiar lines to the micro systems from Josh Wright at Racing To Profit.
    As for laying favourites, are your ROI figures based on Betfair SP minus 5% commission, or just regular bookie SP. The difference can sometimes reduce ROI to nearly zero.
    Many Thanks

  3. I must just say I agree with the two posts above it is a worry I emailed you about three months ago in regard to wolverhamptons change to tapeta if you say there is not enough data yet for Chelmsford that would be fair but no mention this reminds me of your post on the grand national by ricky taylor which has quite a few mistakes in it when you asked me what they were I emailed you with the corrections but got no reply agreeing they were indeed school boy mistakes are you going to say why this post of yours is badly out of date and why you did know this basic knowledge best regards richard

    1. Hi Richard, thank you for your comment. Patrick has apologised for this oversight, it was actually only written at the end of last week and he made an honest mistake which wasn’t picked up by our editors before being published. We aim to keep everything on the Race Advisor at a very high standard but sometimes things do slip through by mistake.

  4. Some good pointers which will be of use to many novice punters. One thing I would take issue with is the usefulness of trainer and jockey stats. These are invariably disappointing when followed. There are several reasons for this, chief among them being the statistical insignificance of the data: a trainer might have a strike rate of 30% for an ROI of 120%, but if that is from just 10 runners then it is virtually meaningless and the problem is that nearly all such trainer and jockey data is of this ilk. Another difficulty arises from the fact that trainers and jockeys are subject to changing circumstances: the kinds of horses the trainer has had in the past might be very different from the current stable crop, for example. A good example of this is that for years it had been profitable to follow the runners of the Mark Johnston stable in certain long distance handicaps, but this year the stable has been sent very different horses by its chief owners: who knew they were going to clean up in 2YO races this season? This kind of thing happens all the time. Seb Sanders used to be dynamite when riding at Brighton racecourse, then he lost his job with Sir Mark Prescott and his invincibility disappeared overnight. You mention Jim Crowley’s ROI at Lingfield AW over five seasons but not how many runners. I checked on the Racing Post website and he has had 120 winners from 719 runners (17% – pretty much his strike rate from all his rides over all courses) for a loss of £72.30p. Seems like Jim is not so invincible at Lingfield after all! Clearly, you have obtained your stats from some other source, but that merely points up a further problem with sourcing: sadly, these databases are often at odds with each other.
    I don’t mean any of this as a criticism of your useful post but simply that one should treat statistics with extreme caution and a healthy dose of skepticism before taking the plunge and having a bet. Good luck.

    1. Hi Brian,

      Thank you for your very detailed and extremely useful post. You are completely correct that databases are seldom aligned which can make sourcing stats a bit of a pain!

      Also, I welcome constructive criticism and it’s clear that you have taken your time to construct a really good reply and I appreciate that.

  5. I’mafraid I missesd th webbinar last night (Sunday) due to the car I wasteavelling in broke down. I got back at 8,15 and due to the amount of inerest found myself locked out. il i be available to us inthe near future?

  6. The sentence which reads “At Southwell, the polytrack surface causes ‘kickback’” should be “”At Southwell, the fibresand surface causes ‘kickback’”.

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