the importance of speed ratings
Take a 2m race timed at 30
seconds slower than standard (usually referred to in the form as:
a30.00 or -30.00). The going was heavy and the going correction
described it as +1.50 seconds per furlong. Using the going correction
to allow for the heavy ground, the time will be adjusted by 24 seconds;
(2m = 16 furlongs and 16 x +1.50 = +24). The horse's ratings are
therefore adjusted upwards on the basis of a time of 6 seconds slower
than the standard (-6.00 = -30.00 + 24.00).
Athletes race over similarly constructed level tracks over recognised
standard distances such as 1500 metres. These distances are absolutely
spot on. If a record has been broken, the track is then measured
before the record is validated. Even if the distance is too long,
the record is invalid, this is how accurate the distance has got
to be. Distances in Flat horseracing have now been accurately measured
to the nearest yard. The administrators of National Hunt racing,
however, are still locked in the past. If Chepstow can quote a distance
of 2m2f33y on the flat, why can the same course only quote distance
to the nearest 1/2 furlong in National Hunt? The same applies to
all National Hunt courses, not just Chepstow. Perversely, the going
is also described differently in National Hunt racing than it is
on the Flat. If it is 'yielding' on the Flat it would be described
as 'good' in National Hunt. It is common nowadays for horses to
race under both codes therefore they will often meet the same ground
under different code of racing but find it described as something
completely different. The going correction is a fairer description
of what the going actually is, and is therefore the most sensible
way to proceed.
The methods employed by this program are an essential part of
professional race analysis. They compensate for the complacency
of others and this clearly gives you an edge - see our N.Hunt results
later on. In horseracing generally, we have uphill finishes, races
on straights, round bends and non-standard distances such as 1m96y.
If horses nearly always ran at the same tracks, the need for standard
times would not matter quite as much because they would be running
under similar conditions and probably against the same opposition
for much of the time. That is not the case in Great Britain where
horses are sent all over the country to race on different types
of track. The need for standard times is therefore very important.
When I started Simple Software Racing in 1994, it was based on Davey Towey`s book `The Solidus`, under his direction. We input the results data ourselves from the Racing Post and the Sporting Life newspapers.
Davey didn`t like the All Weather and there were no co-efficents for the Irish courses in his book either. Some of the figures in the book were changed by Davey in Biro in the copy I worked from.
When he disappeared to Ireland, I managed to get a daily data supply, continued with the MS-DOS version and wrote the first Windows version of the software.
Obviously, in those 20 years, courses have changed, distances have been added and rails moved, and, of course, new courses added.
I interpolated and extrapolated the figures I had, to calculate the co-efficients I didn`t have but it was very difficult and didn`t have much confidence in them, but they were as close as I could get.
Since I added the actual speed of a horse, in miles-per-hour during a race, to the database last year (I wanted to see how the age of a horse affected it`s speed), it produced loads of negative ages.
I found thousands of horses that have their names re-used in later, younger, horses. The older horses had I or II added to their names and the newer ones were left the same.
I corrected them all and now check daily, when I get my results, to see if there are any more. I correct them before I send the results out to my customers.
I recently looked at the maximum and minimum speeds of horses in the last 20 years and found even more errors in the database.
There must be a phone call involved somewhere in getting the race times from the course to my data supplier. There were hundreds similar to, 235 seconds instead of 2m 35s (should have been, 155 secs) and 123 seconds instead of 1m 23s (should have been 83 seconds).
I also took out `one horse races`, or `walk-overs` from my calculations, as the horse must still finish to win the race but the times are usually very, very slow and cannot be considered useful performance indicators. One showed up as 17mph, about half top speed!
I had one recent race marked `Too Fast`. I checked the times with the Racing Post and the time, going and distance were correct. I looked at the Sporting Life and the time shown was a few seconds slower. As it didn`t seem to be a particularly fast race, I used the slower Sporting Life time.
I walked the course at Epsom a few years ago and noticed that, whatever the official going, some parts of the course were hard at the top of the hills and soggy at the bottom.
I realised that I needed to quantify the actual going coefficient for each distance and each official going value as different race distances at each course were run over different parts of the course. Having the actual horse speeds in the database helped me calculate them all.
The motivation of the changes I have made to the program and database, was the change of the Poly Track at Wolverhampton to the Tapeta surface this year.
I needed to calculate all the coefficients of the new surface from scratch, the going, standard times, everything.
I discussed it with some of my customers and decided to rename the old Poly Track races` coefficients `Wolverhamptom(PT)` and leave the new Tapeta as `Wolverhampton(AW)` and recalculate all the
coefficients using just my own calculations.
I recalculated all the going coefficients for each distance and going using the speeds of the winners of each race (except walk-overs, see above!).
I recalculated all the standard times using, again, just the speed of the winners.
I also calculated a Jockey co-efficient. Whether it is skill and experience, or wrecklessness and inexperience, I guessed that some jockeys ride faster than others.
They might take advantage of faster bits of a course that they know very well. They might only ride faster horses. Whatever! I did notice that some `famous` jockeys are significantly slower than average.
I removed the `jockey effect` when calculating the ratings after the race, and added it back in again, with, posibly a different jockey coefficient, to assess a future race.
As I am more confident in the accuracy of my data now, I did that for ALL the races of all the courses since 1994.
These are the figures I use now in my `default` assessment.
It is early day`s but my win hit rate percentage so far this month is pretty good and I only finished all the calculations a week ago!
I think I`ve made the correct decision.
Everyone in racing talks in terms of pounds, therefore
a speed figure that is not in pounds cannot be useful. Racing sense
SSR1 is unique in that it is the only system capable measuring
all of these very important factors in this way. The program
displays'The Solidus' time handicap - the clock rating - as well
as a class rating that assess horses moving up or down in class.
A true measure of class must take account of time and weight, whereas
the official handicap only measures class interms of weight. We
want to identify not only the horses that are capable of fast times,
but also the ones that can reproduce those times against better
opposition.Trainers have been very closely involved in the supply
and verification of technical material.
A computer is only as good as its input so you
are assured that what the computer outputs is soundly based. Delegate
the grind to the computer, it performs all the calculations
by using information in its database.The importance of time can
be summarised simply by a quote from Davey Towey:'The emotive word,
WINNER is an ardent description of a horse that has completed its
task in the fastest time'. The strength of Racing sense SSR1 can
be summarised such: the accurate rating system available + database.Using
the database as a form book. Nearly all form books follow the race-by-race
format. We give you this but also the horse-by-horse format. It
is extremely useful to be able to see at a glance the horses' form
in full. Its strengths and weaknesses can be spotted withrelative
ease compared with the race-by-race format where most of the information
presented actually concerns other horses which results inside-tracking.
The essential features of a good form book are all in the database
- over 40 separate items of data displayed and many extras not available
in other form books.
An example: the official handicap marks not just for handicap races
but for all races - very useful for establishing the class of a
There is a value to be had where information is not generally available.Using
the database to rate a race. A race can be rated quickly because
you only input, at most, 2 items per race and one item per horse.
Even this information can be sent via e-mail. We manage this because
the essential information is on the database. This is used
to make some very intricate calculations as explained in 'The Solidus'
book.This is an enormous advantage over other
racing software which usually requires the input of many items to
which are allocated 'points' to rate the race - this looks hi-tech
but is basically an expensive way to produce guesswork. What is
required for and accurate system is a common standard to serve as
a reference against which all horses' performances can be measured.
As fully demonstrated in 'The Solidus', - time is the only reliable
yardstick and therefore is used by Racing sense SSR1 to give you
the best of both worlds: speed and accuracy.
You have options to display the latest runs or the
best runs from the whole season. In addition to the program rating
all runners on a speed rating basis, it also assesses the class
of the opposition and reports th class rating for each runner if
the program considers that there is sufficient information available
and it is likely to be significant. On screen help is available
from anywhere in the program and a manual is also provided. Results
The 'Single Bet' results obtained from our surveys of top-rated
selections varied from a minimum of 25% to a maximum of 45% weekly
averages. The average overall is about 33%. We think this is an
excellent overall average and not top-two as quoted by others but
top-rated. There have been many days when the top-rated have gone
through the card, that is 100% winners.
Many people regard time as a factor applicable to
the Flat only so consider the following N. Hunt results: racing
sense SSR1 top-rated 35% (7 from 20) of the Cheltenham Festival
winners in previous years including the 3 Championship race winners,
to show an overall after tax profit of 27 points at SP.
Previous years, with the addition of Mick Johnson's
mathematical input to a betting strategy, a hit rate of 93%
has been achieved during one season, with an overall of 66%
including 10 winners in a row (Mick Johnson is the computer
consultant who wrote all the original Solidus DOS and Racing sense SSR132 Windows
Racing sense SSR1 'stand-alone' is the full system
except that the database must be updated by you. The input of information
is made simple as possible with several unique, time-saving features.
For example, some programs become very laborious and tiresome when
typing in strings of characters just for basic information such
as the horse's name. We provide thousands of horses, trainers and
jockeys on file so that you can type in 3 or 4 characters and the
program will find it from the file. Nothing could be more simple
than that. This applies not only to horses but their sires and maternal
grandsires also. A horse on file will contain all its personal details
such as age, breeding, trainer etc.. If the item is not on the list,
you can add it for future reference. In many cases the horses carry
the same weight. We would not expect you to enter it over and over
again, the computer does the work. You can construct the full database
of Racing sense SSR1 if you have the time. Racing sense SSR1 is
the only program of its type that offers these self-build facilties.
The program has the flexibility to concentrate only on information
you want it to contain. You can therefore put in a minimal amount
if the sole purpose is to calculate ratings.
To get you started with Racing sense SSR1, we provide
you with all the previous seasons Flat and National Hunt form from
1994 to the current season to date. Racing Sense SSR1 has been designed
to remove the workload giving you the time to make higher-level
decisions of race analysis BEFORE THE RACE! You can, if you
wish, include the updates and declarations as well. All the form
from the previous and current seasons, breeding, Solidus ratings
etc. is provided and the updates sent to you. The information required
that is unknown to the program (race distance and horse's weight)
essential to rate a future race is available via e-mail or from
just about any national daily newspaper or from teletext therefore
Racing sense SSR1 is a great time-saver.
The updates and declarations can be sent by Email.