You don’t have to be involved in horse racing before very long until you start to hear the word “class” being talked about everywhere that you go.
“The horse wasn’t up to the class of the others”
“It’s a classy horse and we expect it to run well in this race”
But what actually is class?
There have only been a few published attempts to try and define it, and the reason for that is because it is ultimately…ephemeral!
Class is something that is not measurable, it is a feeling or opinion on how good a horse is. There are some horses that will just never be as good as others, these are of a lower class.
This causes a bit of a conundrum for us as bettors, particularly if you use systems or ratings. In order to analyse a race completely we need to find a way to measure this thing that is unmeasurable.
There have been a few published attempts in the UK on providing a way to measure this and they are okay. One such example is Stuart Eaton’s book appropriately named Class. The opinions on this book are varied, usually based on how experienced the reader is in their own handicapping. Unfortunately it all comes down to how to do we quantify something that is an opinion.
Right now I’m going to show you how I go about doing this. Is it the only way? No. Will everyone agree with it? Almost certainly not. Does it work for me? Yes.
In order to measure this opinion we need to realise that there is a key element in understanding it…
Class is a comparison of a horses inate ability compared to the other runners in the race.
Notice here that I am totally ignoring the official class levels, they are not relevant to us at the moment. In fact you don’t need to use them at all if you measure your own class levels because they are often not an accurate representation of the class of horse actually taking part in the race.
In order to compare a horses inate ability, I believe that we need to do this from as many angles as possible. Here are just a few…
- Form class
- Speed class
- Earnings class
- Pace class
What I’m doing is building up a picture of the horse from various different angles in direct comparison with the other runners in the race. This starts to give us a picture of what we can expect the class of a horse to be. Once we know the class of each horse in the race, we can get an idea of the true class of the race.
While this is a good start, unfortunately I have not found it to be good enough. We also need to compare this to the same class measurements of the horses best races to determine what level of class the horse is likely to be able to perform well at.
Let me explain.
We know that class is something which is ultimately going to be impossible to measure. What we need to do as bettors, is to get as close as possible and we do this by monitoring whether our measurements improve our profits. But our measurements are meaningless unless we have something to compare them to. In order to make them meaningful we compare them to the races that a horse performed well in.
Now we have something tangible that we can use in our betting. We have a variety of different class measurements, none of which are that accurate independently but which come together to build us a good picture of a horses ability from a variety of viewpoints. Then we take these measurements and compare them to the races where the horse has performed well in order to understand the range of measurements under which the horse is likely to do well again. The final step is to then compare this with the other runners in the race to determine which of these runners is likely to be a better class horse than the others.
Leave a comment below with your thoughts.