The term ‘horses for courses’ has been in the English lexicon for quite some time and even though it has become a cliché, we can still use it to make a profit. It is a fact that certain horses simply can’t get enough of a particular track. From their perspective, a specific track could have a shape or going that suits its particular running style.
To be honest, it is difficult to find a horse that specialises in a National Hunt or Flat track because of the variables surrounding the ‘going.’ A horse that excels on ‘good’ going may be all at sea if the ground is ‘good to soft.’ For this reason, I will focus on finding hidden track specialists on All-Weather surfaces.
Best Performing Horses
There are now six racecourses in the UK that host All-Weather Racing. Let’s take a look at horses with excellent records on each of the tracks in the last five years.
Chelmsford City – Polytrack
- Shifting Moon: 5 races – 80% win rate
Kempton Park – Polytrack
- Believe It: 8 races – 62.5% win rate
Lingfield – Polytrack
- Grendisar: 21 races – 33% win rate
Newcastle – Tapeta
- Intense Romance: 4 races – 100% win rate
Southwell – Fibresand
- Kingscombe: 11 races – 55% win rate
Wolverhampton – Tapeta
- Powerful Pierre: 12 races – 50% win rate
Believe It is the epitome of a track specialist. The horse is 5/8 at Kempton but is 2/20 on all other courses, and both wins were also on A/W tracks. All but one of his wins was Class 5 and 6.
Intense Romance is an improving horse but is 2/9 outside of Newcastle A/W although he had a superb recent Class 2 win at York while his Newcastle wins were Class 5 and below.
The Racing Post has a great tool that enables you to check out a horse’s records on every racecourse. Unfortunately, none of the top five form horses in Chelmsford City are running on December 14, 2017.
However, a little bit of digging revealed that Bancnuanaheireann (2 wins from 3) and Pactolus (4 wins and 10 places from 17) are in the 19:15 at Chelmsford City. Bancnuanaheireann is 6/49 in his career but is 2/3 at Chelmsford. However, both wins came in 2015, and the third run was a dismal 11th place out of 12 this year which is why the horse is 32.00 on the exchange.
Pactolus is a different proposition which is why he is 4.5 favourite in the same race. He is 9/43 overall but has four runs at Chelmsford already this season with a second and two third places along with a fourth place. If nothing else, Pactolus is a good Place Only bet at 1.81.
Of course, all of the above is information you can find on the Racing Post website. Since the article is about ‘hidden’ track specialists, I have to dig deeper, and instead of focusing on a horse’s overall course record, perhaps it is better to try and find value in another way.
One interesting angle is to check out the performances of horses that are former winners on a specific A/W track and had their last run 181-365 days ago. The rationale here is that the market sometimes forgets about horses that have been out of action for six or more months. As a consequence, you can benefit from some juicy prices. Here are the criteria I am using to look at data from all six A/W tracks:
- Previous winner at track
- Last run 181-365 days ago
|Track||Bets||Wins||Strike Rate||ROI (BF)|
Bear in mind that some races will have more than one bet. At Kempton for example, you have 211 bets from 182 races. It should be noted that Kempton’s excellent ROI is bolstered by big wins in 2013 and 2015 with marginal losses in other years. Southwell offers a terrible strike rate but a significant ROI which means when you win, you win big!
Wolverhampton is awful, and you will actually make a fantastic 65.33% profit over the last five years by laying these horses! Similarly, you’ll make a 17.32% profit by laying these horses at Lingfield.
By the way, the Southwell puzzle continues with horses that last ran 91-180 days ago. You end up with a 26% profit from a 13.01% win rate with good profit in 2014, 2015 and 2016. In 2017 so far, these horses are 0/26!
Follow the Market with Previous Winners
Since previous winners with long layoffs are only good for laying purposes, what about previous course winners who are also the clear favourite?
|Track||Bets||Wins||Strike Rate||ROI (BF)|
That’s a surprisingly good set of data with decent returns at Kempton and Lingfield; you would make a profit at both in four of the last five years. Chelmsford City is the only track where you fare badly.
When you focus on races with 1-10 runners, Kempton rewards you with a profit of 17.72% and profit in each of the last five years with a win rate of over 40%. The last three years, in particular, have been excellent with profits of 23% in 2015, 49% in 2016 and 36% so far in 2017.
If we filter further and look at Class 4 only, we end up with a profit of over 39% with a win rate above 44%. Moreover, you would earn a minimum of 26.55% in each of the last five years.
You can go to the Racing Post website to find out about the best horses for each particular course. While knowing that a certain horse loves a specific track is very useful information, the real key to success is digging ever deeper into the data. By doing this, I was able to determine that you’ll make money from laying former course winners coming back from long layoffs.
More importantly, I was able to find out that previous winners at Kempton and Lingfield that start off as favourites should be your focus. For the record, the Kempton A/W criteria to earn 39% ROI since 2013 are:
- 1-10 runners
- Clear favourite
- Previous winner at Kempton A/W
- Class 4