Betting Knowledge

How Important Are Recent Finish Positions

You hear a lot of articles and systems discussing how you should always look at a horses most recent races as a major factor in assessing the chances of the horse winning. In this article we are going to look into this theory and see whether it is true or false and to what degree.

We will be looking at the horse’s most recent race. Our first criteria is to check and see how many horses that come in the top three in their last race go on to win their next race.

Runners Winners Win S/R P/L to SP ROI to SP
132620 21107 15.92 -23130.1 -17.44

As you can see from the table above our first analysis does not look promising. I have taken data from the last five years and to find that we are losing nearly 20% of every bet we make is worrying. It is clear already that is not as simple as just finding a horse that performed well in its last race. If we look at horses that won their last race as opposed to just placing then we get:

Runners Winners Win S/R P/L to SP ROI to SP
44385 7752 17.47 -7211.88 -16.25

Immediately we can see that the strike rate increases very slightly as does the return on investment. This is as we would expect because we are now only looking at horses who won last time. You can see the massive difference in the number of runners between the two tables. By just selecting the winners we have not really increased our profit by anything very much. It is clear that we need to look at this information in a slightly different way to find a profit. The most logical step to take next is to see if the number of days since the horse last ran makes a difference. A horse that has performed very well and has run again to quickly may not be back up to the level that it was when it won the race, on the other hand a horse that has run well and is not run again for a long period of time may require a few races in order to get back into their stride.

DSLR Runners Winners Win S/R P/L to SP ROI to SP
0-7 13574 2726 20.08 -1048.92 -7.73
8-14 32234 5197 16.12 -5884.3 -18.25
15-21 28023 4460 15.92 -5060.68 -18.06
22-28 17812 2775 15.58 -2866.85 -16.1
29-42 16142 2479 15.36 -2808.38 -17.4
43-56 5902 874 14.81 -1352.72 -22.92
57-90 4799 691 14.4 -1094.88 -22.81
91-150 3083 415 13.46 -563.99 -18.29
150+ 11051 1490 13.48 -2449.35 -22.16

The information above shows us horses who placed in their last race broken down into days since their last race. We can begin to see a pattern, horses that race again within seven days of placing in a race, have an advantage over the other runners. We can then also put horses that run again after placing within 8 to 42 days in another grouping. More than 42 days and we begin to see over a 20% loss on every bet. Let us now breakdown this data by class and see if this makes any difference to the performance of the runners.

Class No Runners Winners Win S/R P/L to SP ROI to SP
1 10588 1312 12.39 -1776.36 -16.78
2 10453 1199 11.47 -2401.77 -22.98
3 15574 2402 15.42 -2783.15 -17.87
4 33206 5760 17.35 -5151.46 -15.51
5 31537 5511 17.47 -5239.96 -16.62
6 19650 3134 15.95 -3459.51 -17.61
7 2040 309 15.15 -362.57 -17.77

We get some quite interesting results in the above table. You can see that horses in class one have the lowest strike rate of all the classes. However they also have one of the highest returns on investment. Interestingly we seem to have some anomalies in class two races and class four races. At least I would call them anomalies if the sample size of runners wasn’t so large. Horses that have placed in their last race and are now running in a class two race, have the lowest strike rate and the lowest return on investment by quite a way. Horses that have placed in their last race and are now running in a class four race, have the highest return on investment. There are many possibilities as to why this occurs and we would need to investigate further too actually find out. What I want to do though is to combine the knowledge that we have gained so far and look at horses from placing their last race and racing again within seven days in a class four race.

Runners Winners Win S/R P/L to SP ROI to SP
2821 602 21.34 -202.24 -7.17

As expected our strike rate and return on investment have vastly improved. I’m going to stop analysing here before this article becomes a book, but of course it is possible to breakdown this data much further. We have only been looking at the horses last race, we also want to look at its second to last race, its third to last race and possibly more. I hope that I have shown you that it is not just as simple as saying if a horse performed well last time out then it is likely to perform well again. There are many other factors at play that determine how the horse’s most recent performances relate to the race it is about to be run, and this is likely to be different for every race type and condition.

In the future if you see a system that simply says that all horses that won or placed in their last race become qualifiers without any more specific conditions, particularly the number of days since last raced, then you may want to think twice before placing money on the selections that the system finds.

Michael Wilding

Michael started the Race Advisor in 2009 to help punters improve their betting profits and think outside the box with their betting strategies. To date he has written over 450 articles on the site and recently started UK Racing News which has become a leading news site for horse racing in the UK and IRE. Check out my personal blog or my Google+

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  1. Lo Michael,
    Have you ever looked into:

    Distance WON by.

    Distance behind winner (irrespective of its official position) ie a horse could
    finish 6th or 7th and only be 1-1/2 lengths behind the winner; as opposed to a horse finishing 3rd
    beaten 5 Lengths.

    Only considering “like for like races in the above”

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