Big Buck’s: Not a Bad Chaser

Big Buck’s: Not a Bad Chaser It’s not often that a horse unseating its rider at the final fence of major handicap chase can be seen as a positive, but that’s exactly what happened in the case of Big Buck’s. Having joined Paul Nicholls as a 4-year-old in late 2007, the son of top-class jumps sire Cadoudal was campaigned exclusively over fences during the 2007/08 season. Big Buck’s wasn’t a bad chaser; in fact, he was quite a good one, finishing seventh of 20 in the Jewson Novices’ Handicap Chase at the Cheltenham Festival and rounding off the season by winning the John Smith’s Mildmay Novices’ Chase at Aintree, despite making several mistakes, on his first attempt over 3 miles 1 furlong.

On his reappearance in 2008, started 5/1 second favourite for the Hennessy Gold Cup Chase, but it was his bad blunder at the last that would, paradoxically, set him on course to become a Cheltenham legend. Sent back over hurdles in January, Big Buck’s gave Don’t Push It 16lb and a 1¾-length beating in a handicap at Cheltenham, beat Punchestowns by 4 lengths in the Byrne Group Cleeve Hurdle on his return to Prestbury Park three weeks later and the same horse by 1¾ lengths in the Ladbrokes World Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival in March, despite being 8lb worse off at the weights.

The rest, as they say, is history. Big Buck’s was to run up a sequence of 18 consecutive victories, including three more in the Ladbrokes World Hurdle, before his retirement at the age of eleven in 2014. Immediately after the Ladbrokes World Hurdle, in which Big Buck’s finished fifth, Nicholls said, “He’s going to have an honourable retirement.

It’s a sad day, but it’s good to end in one piece.” And so say all of us.


How to Profit from Pattern Races

How to Profit from Pattern Races When it comes to studying horse racing form, it is widely accepted that the higher the class of the race under consideration the more reliable the form is likely to prove. It therefore stands to reason that Group One, Group Two, Group Three and Listed races, collectively known as ‘Pattern’ races, which are contested by horses of the highest class, are the most reliable for betting purposes.


Of course, Pattern races are non-handicap races which, by definition, are less competitive than handicap races, in which each horse, at least in theory, has an equal chance of winning. Less competition may sound desirable when it comes to predicting the most likely winner of any given race, but also reflects on the odds on offer from the bookmakers. A succession of winners, especially short-priced winners, doesn’t necessarily translate into a profit, so it’s necessary to try a little harder to find value in Pattern races.


However, each Group or Listed race is awarded its status based on what is known as an ‘Average Race Rating’. Each Pattern race is awarded a ‘Yearly Race Rating’, calculated by taking the average of the official ratings of the first four horses each year, as allocated by the World Ranking Supervisory Committee (WRSC). The Average Race Rating is calculated by taking the average Yearly Race Rating over a three-year period. Subject to certain caveats, a Group One race must achieve an Average Race Rating of 115, a Group 2 race must achieve an Average Race Rating of 110, and so on. If a Pattern race regularly falls below the required standard, it may be subject to review and downgrade. The reason for mentioning all of this is to emphasise the fact that only horses of a certain high standard win Pattern races.


Now, the ‘standard time’ for each course and distance, as published in the Racing Post, is the average of the 10 fastest times recorded over the last five seasons by a mature horse officially rated 100 and carrying 9st 0lb on good going. So, by comparing the time recorded by the winner of a Pattern race and any horse that finished, say, less than a length behind the winner, with the standard time, it’s possible to identify races in which the form is worth following. The fact that the winner recorded a time faster than the standard time suggests the race in question was run at an end-to-end gallop and the form is reliable.


Of course, the winning time may not only be faster than the standard time, but also the fastest time of the day, in relation to the standard time. If this is the case, the form of the race in question may, indeed, be outstanding and provide extra cause for confidence.


By applying the principles discussed so far, it’s possible to create a highly selective, but nonetheless highly profitable ‘system’, which applies specifically to Pattern races.


For any Group One, Group Two, Group Three or Listed race run on mainland Britain, examine the winning time in comparison with the standard time.


If the winning time is faster than the standard time, subtract the winning time from the standard time to give the number of seconds the winning time is ‘fast by’.


For all the other races at the meeting in question, subtract the winning time from the standard time to give the number of seconds the winning time is ‘fast by’ or ‘slow by’.


If the winning time for the Pattern race in question is ‘fast by’ the highest number of seconds, make a note of the winner and any horses that finished within a length of the winner.


Back each of the horses on your list on its next three outings, or until it wins, whichever is the shortest.