I originally wrote this article about visualising horse racing speed ratings on the 2nd January 2010. It’s still one of the least used, most powerful methods for analysing a horse race.
So I figured it was time to give it an update. Although admittedly there’s very little to update in terms of strategy!
All the examples will be fresh and there are screenshots using the software inside our Pro Members Club which does everything for you automatically.
Originally this was the first in a two part series, I’ve merged both parts into a single article.
DAMN! There’s A Lot Of Numbers
There are a lot of numbers in sports betting. It doesn’t matter whether you’re betting on racing, football, golf, tennis or any other sport. The way that most people analyse the competition is through numbers. These numbers are known as ratings.
Using numbers is fine when there are just a few of them, but what happens when you start to want more detailed ratings. Maybe you want a stamina rating that shows you how a footballer performs when he has just come back from an injury.
There are many types of ratings that you may want to create, and you could end up with hundreds for every game or race that takes place.
Being able to visualise what these ratings mean can be very difficult because there are so many of them.
You get half way down the list for one horse and your eyes start to glaze over, you then move on to the second horse whose rating you are looking at and comparing to the first and you begin to feel your head throbbing before you decide it is time to stop.
Interpreting the information is more important than being able to create it.
Visualising Horse Racing Ratings
One very simple way that is seldom used is to plot a graph.
It’s what we did at school during maths lessons, but now we can use those maths lessons help us make winning bets.
Here are some ratings from a random race.
When we first look at a race card like this there seems to be an overwhelming amount of information. And this is just a fraction of the information that’s available inside the software.
Most of us have brains that find it easier to process visual information instead of numerical data. That’s why we use computers for number crunching.
You can visualise any ratings very quickly and easily in a spreadsheet by creating a line graph.
If I change the race card we are using to have just a speed rating on it then it’s going to look like this.
As you can see above there’s no ratings.
And that’s because you can’t make a speed rating before a race begins. A speed rating is based on conditions which are only known after a race has finished.
Any speed ratings you get before a race are an estimated performance. Yes, we have those inside our software as well, but for the purposes of this article we don’t need them because we’re looking to visualise a horses past performance in order to try and predict the future.
If I click on a horses name and open the horses history then we see this…
Now we can see that each of the horses past races have got a speed rating. If you plot these speed ratings on to a graph it looks like this.
Without any experience you can immediately see that since it’s first run back in September 2018 the horse improved. But since it’s third run in October 2018 it’s been declining despite a long break between the third and fourth race.
On it’s own that means very little.
But what happens if you use a graph to show all the horses previous speed ratings?
Focusing On The Right Horse Racing Ratings
You can see that it’s very quick using graphs to be able to visualise which horse is going to be best in the race.
The problem is that when you put all the data you have into the mix, there’s going to be a lot of noise.
There’s going to be a lot of races which don’t relate to the current race at all.
And I mean not even slightly!
It’s much better if we just focus on similar races.
For example, this race is a Class 4, Flat Turf race over 1 mile 3 furlongs on Good To Firm ground.
Depending on the amount of race history available you would want to adjust these settings so that the conditions are as tight as possible, but you have enough race history top analyse.
This changes the graph to show…
Immediately you can see that over similar conditions there are three horses to consider:
- Fearless Warrior
- Jersey Wonder
Johnny Kid has not performed well over similar conditions and any other runners haven’t raced over similar conditions.
By doing this you notice what other bettors may miss. For example the favourite, Group Stage, isn’t on the graph at all.
Because it’s only had one race on good ground and it came seventh. All it’s other races have been on good-soft or soft, which means it could struggle on the good-firm ground in today’s race.
What To Do Next
Using graphs to visualise ratings is extremely powerful.
And while I’ve found speed ratings to be the most effective ratings to do this with, you can do it with any ratings, and you can do it with more than one rating in a race.
All you need to do this is:
- The ratings you want to use
- A spreadsheet
- Enter a history of at least three of the ratings per horse
- Create a line graph to see which of the horses is the strongest
You can take this one stage further by getting an idea of what level of performance is likely to be required to win the race, you can use a technique that benchmarks the past winners.
- Gather together all the horses who won and the ratings that they won in similar races.
- Remove any outliers where the ratings are significantly better or worse than the rest of the horses.
- Determine the range that the majority of winners fall between.
If you benchmark previous races, when you’re looking at your graphs you will be able to pinpoint exactly which of the horses are likely to be performing in the range that the majority of the winners come from.
To analyse a race using this method with just the click of a button, then you’re going to want to use the Speed Graphs inside in the Race Advisor Pro Members Club.
Do you use any form of visualisation in your analysis? Maybe you prefer to look at numbers?
Whichever it is, leave me a comment below now and let me know if you prefer a visual or numerical tools to help you analyse a horse race.