Speed ratings, such as those produced by Timeform, or under the Topspeed banner in the Racing Post, are a popular method of assessing horse racing form.
What are Speed Ratings?
Speed ratings are numerical figures, based on the winning time of each race, corrected for class, distance and going, which indicate the ability of a horse. A sequence of speed ratings can also indicate if a horse is progressive or regressive and its level of fitness throughout the sequence.
How are Speed Ratings Calculated?
Calculating your own speed ratings is a complex, time-consuming activity so, before you start, you may want to ask yourself if you want to devote time and effort to what is, essentially, ‘reinventing the wheel’. Obviously, every time a horse runs it will generate a different speed rating, so there are also the questions of how to keep your ratings and, more importantly, how often you’re prepared to update them
However, if you’re still interested in producing your own speed ratings, you’ll find that Paul Whelan’s article, ‘How to Calculate Speed Ratings’, is an excellent starting point.
How to use Speed Ratings
The most obvious way of using speed ratings is to take the speed rating for each horse in a race, adjust it for the weight carried, by adding or subtracting the appropriate number of pounds below or above, say, 9st 0lbs (on the Flat) or 12st 0lbs (over Jumps) and use it to represent the chance of each horse.
Regardless of the official class of any race, as defined by the British Horseracing Authority (BHA), if the winner records a particularly high speed rating, it is usually a sign that the form is strong and the race may throw up several future winners. If you’re in possession of this information, you don’t need to rely on collateral form lines to judge the quality of the race in question and, as a result, hold an advantage over the bookmakers.
Furthermore, if a horse records an exceptionally high speed rating in what appears, otherwise, to be ‘ordinary’ company, it may be possible to obtain generous ante-post odds on that horse for future engagements, such as the following season’s Classics, Royal Ascot or the Cheltenham Festival.
Where to Find Speed Ratings
If you don’t have the time or inclination to produce your own speed ratings, but would still like to benefit from the insight they provide, we suggest you investigate the Racing Dossier or Patternform sites.