Weight: Does it Mean Everything or Nothing at All?

Weight: Does it Mean Everything or Nothing at All?  In horse racing, weight is always a contentious issue and nowhere more so than in handicap races, where all the horses have similar ability and are weighted according to their official rating and relative to the opposition. According to the British Horseracing Authority (BHA), a horse that wins a handicap typically rises 6lb or 7lb in the weights which, using the approximate pounds-per-length conversion employed by the BHA Handicapper, translates into anything between two and seven lengths, depending on the type and distance of the race contested.

 

However, given that a typical thoroughbred racehorse can weigh up to half an Imperial ton, or more, it can be argued that adding 6lb or 7lb to the burden it carries is unlikely to make much difference and the effect of the extra weight is over exaggerated. In fact, Phil Smith, Head of Handicapping at the BHA once said, ‘We are thought to have a decisive influence, but in reality there are far more important factors in a horse’s performance than the weight it carries. The key things are its health, the ground and the trip.’

 

The effect of weight in handicaps has been widely studied but, before we discuss possible profitable betting angles, it’s helpful to identify the types of horses that contest handicaps. The eligibility rules for handicaps, including ‘nursery’ handicaps for two-year-olds, mean that all the participants are ‘exposed’ to a greater or lesser degree. However, all of them also generally fit into one of the following categories:

 

Proven horses are those that have won a similar race, on a similar course, under similar conditions to those prevailing, off a similar handicap mark. In theory, they need only to be fit and have luck in running to win, provided the opposition isn’t equally proven, progressive or promising.

 

Unproven horses, on the other hand, can be usually identified by a marked disparity in class, distance or weight between what they’ve achieved in the past and the race being contested. This category includes horses that have won races in the past, but have risen sufficiently in the handicap to prevent them winning again; such horses are often said to be ‘in the grip of the handicapper’ and usually need their official rating to be lowered before they become competitive again.

Progressive horses are those whose form shows advancement from one run to the next. This category includes less exposed types, with the scope to defy rising handicap marks, especially when racing against more exposed opposition.

 

Regressive horses are those whose form shows deterioration from one run to the next. Regression may actually be caused by declining ability, as the result of age, or by stepping up in class off too high a handicap mark. In the case of the former, the downward trend is usually irreversible, but in the case of the latter, it can be halted by a drop in class, official rating or both.

 

Promising horses are those whose form is likely to improve, for whatever reason, based on the evidence already to hand. By definition, this category also includes less exposed types and a similar comment to that for progressive horses applies.

 

Obviously, there may be a degree of overlap between categories; a ‘progressive’ horse could equally be labelled ‘unproven’ if, as the result of the advancement in its form, it is stepping up in class off a handicap mark higher than its previous winning mark.

 

The reason for mentioning these categories is that weight is only one variable of the many that determine the outcome of a horse race and, as such, cannot be considered in isolation. The fact remains that horses going up the handicap ratings are usually improving, while those going down are regressing and the two groups react differently to weight changes. An American study conducted a few years ago suggested that for horses running in two consecutive races, over the same distance, under identical conditions, those carrying more weight required 3lb more to worsen their performance by one length, while those carrying less weight required 6.2lb less to improve their performance by one length.

 

This phenomenon, if we can call it that, may account for the fact that, despite the BHA Handicapper’s best efforts, a remarkable linearity exists between the position of a horse in the handicap and its winning strike rate. Although none of the top three in the weights wins often enough individually to generate a level stakes profit, collectively the top three win over a third of all handicap races, with the highest rated horse winning most often, the second highest rated horse winning second most often and so on. The rating allocated by the BHA Handicapper is supposed to reflect the ability of the horse in question, in Imperial pounds, so it makes sense that those horses carrying more weight are more able than those carrying less but, by the same token, all the runners in a handicap are supposed to have an equal chance, at least in theory, which clearly they do not.

 

It’s also interesting to examine the relationship between class and weight as a horse moves up the handicap ratings. With a few exceptions, any horse that wins a handicap race will inevitably have its handicap rating raised to some degree and, sooner or later, a rise in handicap rating will necessitate a rise in class. It’s a fact that horses that carry more weight in the same, or lower, grade after winning vastly outperform those that carry less weight in a higher grade after winning. In other words, it’s not extra weight that beats the horse, but the fact that it’s racing in a higher class, against better opposition.

 

Contentious though it may be, weight is an issue that largely takes care of itself, so it’s not one with which we need to tie ourselves in knots. The fact remains that the vast majority of handicap races are won by horses at, or approaching, their peak, attempting little, or nothing, more than they’ve achieved in the past and facing limited opposition. It’s usually to satisfy ourselves that a horse is physically capable of carrying the weight allocated and has won off a similar handicap mark, in a similar race, or is sufficiently progressive or promising to overcome a rise in its handicap rating.

What’s in a Name?

Lot’s of casual punters, when asked how they came to pick a horse to bet on, say that they just went with a name they liked. They often sound quietly confident when they do so, as if they’re suddenly in the know, or that a name conveys  secret all revealing informatin to them. It puts me in the mind of the Carry on Film scenes with Joey the Budgie:

 

 

I’m sure horse owners too appreciate the importance of a name, but some of them have a comedic take on the process. Certain names are disallowed if they are too full on or inappropriate in some way. Here’s a list of funny horse names that got the go ahead though. They’re all real. Some of them are mischievous – designed to make commentators to look silly – others are witty, others silly. Take a look:

Flat Fleet Feet (tongue twister!)

Arrrrr    (scream, commenttor, scream!)

Geespot  (naughty play on words)

Ha Ha Ha (how to make a commentator sound unprofessional)

Pianist (I beg your pardon!)

Hoof Hearted (Kicking up a stink)

Mucho Macho Man (I prefer ‘In The Navy!)

Hoarse (Pass that nag a lozenge)

Horsey McHorseFace (the legend.. needs no introduction!)

Nearly a Third of People Believe Grunting Can Help Boost Sporting Performance

Nearly a Third of People Believe Grunting Can Help Boost Sporting Performance

 

 

Grunting is thought to improve physical performance and a recent survey discovers nearly a third of Brits believe making noises results in a stronger workout.

  • 29% believe grunting helps boost performance

  • 43% of Brits grunt during a workout

  • 71% find grunting distracting

 

London, August 2018 – When it comes to harnessing power, grunting is often used by athletes to focus during physical activity. This is because grunting instead of regular breathing allows the body to gain momentum and drives power to the overall performance.

Digital Marketing Agency, Receptional, wanted to see how true this is and asked the British public if they grunt throughout a workout. Results showed that 43% of Brits do make noise during sport and nearly a third believe it really works.

Gym fanatic Ali Collins, 25, said: “I grunt when I am exercising as I find it gives me more strength and I am able to complete a longer set. I have tried not making a sound, but the workout becomes harder than when I grunt.”

How it Works

Grunting during sport, especially tennis, is a technique that is always talked about and over the years many experiments have tried to prove how it changes personal performance.

For example, during a recent University experiment, the impact of a grunt was investigated and results showed hitting performance did in fact increase.

The case study asked university tennis players to hit the ball either while grunting or not. It was found that those who grunted hit with a 3.8% increase in groundstroke and had a 4.9% enhancement in velocity when serving.

Additionally, those who made a sound hit 7kph faster than those who did not and one survey respondent, said: “I find grunting helps me increase the power behind my shot.”

But is it Distracting?

Although, grunting has been proven on many occasions to boost physical performance, it has been suggested that it can be distracting. The survey found a massive 71% of people find it knocks their concentration and even some professional players have said the same.

In 2014, Professional Tennis Player Roger Federer, made a public statement stating he found the noise during matches distracting – showing that even professional athletes can find it distracting too.

Additionally, US Open Tennis odds seem to agree and louder players have better positions. So the question is even though it seems grunting boosts sporting performance is it too distracting?

End

For press enquires, further information, interviews or data visualisations, please contact:

Hayley Somerscales

hsomerscaless@receptional.com

01525 715520

Class Will Out: How to Break the Class Barrier

Class Will Out: How to Break the Class Barrier  Bookmakers and the betting public place much importance on the relative class of racehorses and rightly so. Aside from official ratings – which, after all, just reflect the opinion of the British Horseracing Authority handicappers – there is no absolute measure of class. In other words, all horse racing form is relative to the class of the race in which it is achieved and, by carefully monitoring changes in class, up and down, it’s possible to determine which horses represent good value and which don’t.

 

In Britain, Flat races are classified by a simple 1-7 numbering system. Class 1 races are further subdivided in Group 1, Group 2 and Group 3 races, collectively known as Pattern races, and Listed races. Classes 2 to 7 are defined by the official ratings of the horses that are allowed to compete in them. Class 2 races are open to horses officially rated 86 to 110, Class 3 races are open to horses officially rated 76 to 95 and so on down the classification to Class 7 races, which are open to horses officially rated 0 to 45. As you can see, there is a degree of overlap between one class and the next so, even using official ratings, assessing class is not altogether straightforward.

 

After a horse has run in three Flat races, or run in two Flat races and won at least one of them, it becomes eligible for an official rating, or handicap mark. An official rating is simply a number, on a scale of 0-140, which reflects, in Imperial pounds, the ability of the horse to which it is allocated. In other words, a horse officially rated 95 would be required to carry 7lb more than a horse officially rated 88 in a handicap race.

 

If a horse wins, or is placed in, a race and the BHA handicapper believes that it has improved on its previous form its official rating will be raised. Conversely, if the handicapper believes that a horse’s official rating no longer reflects its ability its official rating will be lowered. If a horse is already close to the upper limit for a particular class of race, a rise in its official rating may necessitate a rise in class. If, on the other hand, a horse is close to the lower limit for a particular class, a fall in its official rating may mean that it’s eligible for a drop in class.

By watching their charges on the gallops and on the racecourse, racehorse trainers glean information about their ability and, more often than not, are able to place them in races of the appropriate class.

 

However, some trainers are more ambitious than others and there may come a time when they accept that a horse has been too highly tried and drop it in class, sometimes significantly, so that it can compete more effectively. While it’s true that many horse races are won by horses attempting little, or nothing, more than they have achieved in the past, horses dropping significantly in class are easy to spot, by bookmakers and punters alike, and often represent poor value.

 

Conventional wisdom dictates that most trainers place their young horses, even those who may be destined for Pattern races later in their careers, to win a lower class maiden race before stepping up to higher class events. Even Frankel, who went on to win a total of fourteen races, including ten at the very highest level, made his racecourse debut in a maiden race.

 

Horses of potentially higher class may win their maiden races easily, but still be offered at generous odds when they take on tougher assignments, simply because of the disparity in class. One recent example of this type of horse is the Godolphin filly Zibelina, who won a Class 5 maiden race at Newcastle by 10 lengths on her racecourse debut in June 2013 and followed up in a Class 1 Listed race at Ascot, at odds of 14/1, the following month on her very next start.

 

The issue of class is, by its very nature, a tricky one, but there are one or two abiding principles that can, hopefully, make your betting more profitable:

 

Be wary of any horse dropping in class, unless it has demonstrated, by virtue of its recent past performance, that it’s capable of winning in the lower class. If a horse is regressive, even a drop in class may not improve its performance.

 

In handicap races, be wary of any horse stepping up in class if the rise in class is accompanied by a rise in the weights of 14lb or more. Adding weight to any horse, even a highly progressive one, will eventually slow it down.

 

Don’t be afraid to back winners of maidens or handicaps stepping up Class 1 races for the first time, provided they’ve won impressively or demonstrated progressive form in the lower class and aren’t hopelessly outclassed, according to official BHA ratings.