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Are Course & Distance Winners a Boon for Your Bank Balance?

Some punters get excited when they see a horse that is a previous course and distance winner. It is very easy to determine if there is one in any given race. You can go to the Racing Post and on the race card, look for the initials ‘CD’ beside a horse’s name.

As you can see, Sunshineandbubbles is a course & distance winner having won over a mile at Southwell just two races ago. This is a highly fancied horse that was 7/4 favourite some two hours before race time.

However, not every C&D winner is as likely to win as Sunshineandbubbles. First and foremost, certain UK courses are more relevant than other when it comes to this statistic. Secondly, you need to look at the Class of the race. A C&D winner in a Class 6 event may not have the ability to cope in a Class 5 race for example. Thirdly, you should consider the ‘going’ because a win over ‘good’ ground is very different to a triumph on ‘heavy’ ground, especially in a longer race.

Which Code Should I Focus On?

As you’re about to discover, C&D winners have greater relevance over specific tracks. Since 2015, horses that have at least one C&D win across all codes have the following stats:

Bets Wins Strike Rate ROI (BF)
29605 3831 12.94% -9.55%

With the above in mind, let’s look at how each code fares:

Code Bets Wins  Strike Rate ROI (BF)
All-Weather 12399 1507 12.15% -12.16%
Flat 10683 1305 12.22% -7.5%
National Hunt 6523 1019 15.62% -7.92%

C&D winners are more frequent in All-Weather racing, but they also perform the poorest as only 12% of them win. In one sense, it is surprising that AW C&D winners don’t win more often since it involves running on a specialist Polytrack, Fibresand, or Tapeta surface.

What Are the Courses to Look Out For?

There are a few courses in the UK considered ‘unique’ such as Brighton, so let’s take a look at a select few tracks to see if there are any nuggets of gold. Again, all data is from the beginning of 2015.

All-Weather

Course Bets  Wins Strike Rate ROI (BF) %
Chelmsford City 1214 160 13.18% -10.15%
Southwell 1430 180 12.59% -18.88%
Wolverhampton 3366 385 11.44% -10.59%

As suspected, there is nothing worth looking at in terms of All-Weather courses. Southwell is appalling, and the strike rate at Wolverhampton is exceptionally bad.

Flat

Course Bets  Wins Strike Rate ROI (BF) %
Brighton 562 87 15.48% -4.96%
Ayr 533 65 12.2% -8.35%
Epsom 176 25 14.2% 13.21%

Despite the relatively low strike rate, blindly backing C&D winners at Epsom since the beginning of 2015 would lead to an impressive 13% profit. It is also important to note that the 176 bets come from just 90 races. This means a C&D winner comes first 27.78% of the time in races at Epsom.

Unique or not, C&D winners at Brighton don’t perform that well; it is the same situation at Ayr.

National Hunt

Course Bets  Wins Strike Rate ROI (BF) %
Aintree 91 11 12.09% 65.1%
Ffos Las 124 22 17.74% 5.45%
Newbury 75 10 13.33% -34.61%

There aren’t many bets available, and the record of C&D winners at Newbury is truly horrific. The Aintree statistics seem exciting until you see the low strike rate and remember you will mainly be dealing with competitive Class 1 events. Ffos Las has a decent strike rate and a moderate profit of over 5%.

Are There Any Other Relevant Criteria?

Over all codes, C&D winners since 2015 that are also clear favourites offer some initial promise:

Bets Wins Strike Rate ROI (BF)
4015 1309 32.6% -3.94%

While it is still an almost 4% loss, it is significantly better than the almost 10% loss if you look at all C&D winners. Let’s divide them into code again:

Code Bets Wins  Strike Rate ROI (BF)
All-Weather 1609 505 31.19% -4.41%
Flat 1310 384 29.31% -4.88%
National Hunt 1086 420 38.67% -2.11%

National Hunt is clearly the best option with the lowest loss and highest strike rate. Things get even better for NH when you concentrate on races with 1-10 runners:

Bets Wins Strike Rate ROI (BF)
853 349 40.91% -0.41%

Still a loss, but a very tiny one. In handicap NH races only, you actually make a sliver of profit:

Bets Wins Strike Rate ROI (BF)
539 181 33.58% 0.08%

For the record, the win rate in non-handicap races is 53.5%, but you end up with a small loss.

Perhaps C&D winners fare better in National Hunt because of the stamina issue. When I looked at favourites in races of 3+ miles with any number of runners, the ROI suddenly became decent:

Bets Wins Strike Rate ROI (BF)
180 67 37.22% 9.78%

While this looks good, it is bolstered by a brilliant 2016 which would have resulted in a 46% profit.

Another more detailed tactic is to look at a specific distance for your C&D winner. For example, C&D winners over 5f at Salisbury perform as follows since 2015:

Bets Wins Strike Rate ROI (BF)
12 2 16.67% 103.18%

The problem here is obvious: A complete lack of bets. Of course, if you can find multiple examples of the above, you could combine them to create a very nice system. This is a process that will require an enormous amount of patience.

Final Thoughts on C&D Winners

The data clearly shows that being a C&D winner alone isn’t enough. Blindly backing horses in this fashion, or allowing it to colour your analysis, is a grave error that is unfortunately made too often by punters. You need to be a lot smarter if you aim to give the bookmaker a battering.

I have shown that courses such as Ffos Las and Epsom are worth concentrating on, try to determine if there are any other important tracks. Above all, don’t ignore a good contender in a race just because it is up against a C&D winner. It isn’t as relevant as you think.

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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.

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