Pointers that a horse will improve from one run to the next

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Pointers that a horse will improve from one run to the next

Postby TDawgTipping » Thu Nov 06, 2014 4:26 pm

Afternoon gents,

One of the biggest difficulties I have when betting on jumps is knowing when a horse is running to its full potential and when it is being prepped for a target race or as a handicap plot. One of the most obvious examples of this was Holywell. Before the Cheltenham Festival last year, he had been beaten in two Class 4 chases, won 2 and unseated in another. Despite this, I know people lumped on him to win the Grade 3 Handicap Chase and the Grade 1 Novice Chase following it at Aintree. He is now one of the favourites for the Gold Cup.

So my questions are:
a) How do you spot a horse that is not running to its full potential and so may have more to offer?
b) How do you know when this horse will return to form (or which race it has been prepped for) and win at (probably) massively inflated odds?


I will give my thoughts on the two topics and am more than happy for the more educated of you to correct me as appropriate (although if you want to agree I'm more than happy for you to do so :D )

a) This is the most difficult aspect for me. Particularly over the jumps it seems very easy for horses to improve from nowhere (that said I don't watch most races as 5mins for a jump race is very different from 90secs for a flat). So the (few) markers that I have come up with on NH for reasons for horses to improve next time are:

- Horse held up and never has a chance to get into race (a la Boston Bob in JNWine Champion Chase). However how do you differentiate between held up and never getting into race, and held up and not good enough?
- Horse travels well but fades towards the end of the race (a la Uxizandre in Old Roan Chase) But at what point do we expect the horse to tire? I use around 2f on flat, but is it more over jumps?
- Horse is campaigned over hurdles to protect chase handicap mark (a la nearly any Grand National horse)


b) The only thing I can think of to use for knowing when horses will improve is they are racing in a big handicap - usually at a big festival. But what about the C3/4 horses who are never going to run in the big handicaps? How do we know what their targets are (or do we not)
- In terms of preparation races, I tend to see a horse that has run around 30 days before a big race as a positive for it being a prep race for this one. Does anyone have any thoughts on whether this is a good train of thought or not?

Apologies if that's a bit of a long read guys, but I tend to struggle a lot with NH compared to the flat so any help you can give is massively appreciated. :win:

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Postby deswalker » Thu Nov 06, 2014 4:36 pm

Good subject. I will compose a missive on it at some point over the next couple of days, bit tied up at the moment!

One point though... please guys, for the sake of the site and your forum points, keep it liable free!

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Postby The Market Man » Thu Nov 06, 2014 11:51 pm

that said I don't watch most races
That's the first thing that needs changing.

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Postby nors » Fri Nov 07, 2014 9:15 am

Look at the grade of races it has run in previously, then look at the grade of race it is running in today. Asking a horse to do something it has done before will be easier than asking a horse to do something it has never done before. Trainers when looking for a win tend to enter their horses in races they have a chance in.
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Postby The Market Man » Fri Nov 07, 2014 10:47 am

One of the more obvious signs is the step up in trip. The better trainers will know their pedigrees, often having trained the mare or other relation of the horse in question

Trainers will often run a horse over two miles to teach it to settle. The horse may make the odd mistake at the obstacles and appear to weaken at the business end of the race, when in fact it's used up energy by pulling too hard or is simply outpaced over the inadequate trip. The step up in trip helps iron out the jumping errors and, now being more relaxed, the horse is more likely to get home over the new distance.
Sometimes a quicker, more competitive race with a truer pace throughout will do all the above. Shrewd trainers will know roughly the weight required to get into a race so something at the bottom of the handicap which has been racing in a lower grade needs to be checked. Cross reference it with the trainer / jockey record at the course and it'll give you an idea on the trainers plans.

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Postby oldmansea » Mon Nov 10, 2014 11:40 pm

They know what they have with Boston Bob and what it is capable of. Its a fair assumption that at some stage it will show that, when the right target is aimed at. Horses that have a lot of potential are more likely in my opinion to be campaigned more openly since the object is to teach them to win and not disappoint them. That's if they are likely to be better than handicappers. Since the object of training a handicapper is to hide your light under a bushel, lesser animals are likely to be given a more low key preparation. Holywell may be a good point, he was campaigned like a handicapper and then proved to be possibly more than that. It will be interesting to see how they approach it this season. He isn't built to carry weight. It has always seemed to me to be terribly difficult to decide what an actual run in behind was worth. Perhaps it comes down to knowing the horses and the trainers and they way they operate to decide when a horse was beaten on its merits. I think they would have expected Holywell to have shown more and Boston Bob to have run as they expected. Neither has a serious target this early in the season and all roads lead to the festivals. In lower grade races unless there is some good reason to set a target, like a race previously won, visit by syndicate, owner on holiday, they will turn it out when it is OK and see how it does. Most of the time they aren't racing over their optimum trip, conditions or track, but then most owners are happy to spend a several hours in the bar and be pleasantly surprised when it does pop up.

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Postby deswalker » Tue Nov 11, 2014 8:11 am

There are so many reasons why a horse may improve from one run to another, so I think its important to understand what these are first. Off the top of my head quickly;

Fitness
Experience
Natural maturation
Trip
Ground
Course type
Weather (oldmansea?)
Time of year
Tactics
Pace in the race
Jockey style
Jockey experience

Probably many, many more?
Particularly over the jumps it seems very easy for horses to improve from nowhere
This brings me to the next point. A flat sprinter, lets say, has to run flat out for less than a minute. This takes a fair amount of energy but just like a human, it doesn't impose anything like the constitutional strain that running for 3 miles and jumping fences does.

So frequently I see people on here, on Twitter, on course, in bookies, etc, complaining about huge apparent improvement in a jump handicapper which was PU lto. However, if your flat sprinter isn't 100% fit, it finishes last beaten a few lengths. If your 3m chaser isn't 100% fit it might not finish the race. Do you see the difference?

My point here is that it's much harder to impose a strict "lengths for pounds" rule over how far a horse was beaten over jumps. Frequently you would do best to entirely ignore runs which are very obviously below the general form level. Its easy as well for something to have gone just slightly wrong in a jump race (horse could land steeply for example, be off balance and never find a rhythm from there, and hence have no chance), causing seeming anomalies in the form.

Anyone interested in me carrying on? :P
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Postby mc1000 » Tue Nov 11, 2014 9:43 am

Whilst I will bow to the superior knowledge of my peers here on the finer points as most of them have already posted here I spend most of my waking hours when not working looking for such winners. I have yet to have much success but believe a lot of them in handicaps come from the age old battle between the trainer and the handicapper. An example today would be Jac The Legend in the first race at Huntingdon which is one I am keeping an eye on. He ran his best race to date over todays two and half mile trip and his only win albeit in a PTP was on soft/heavy since then he has been run over two miles on varying ground and when sent into a handicap he was sent 346 miles to Perth to run over three miles just to be PU. However today he is running locally on ideal ground over his best trip having been dropped to a mark of 100 I will be looking for market support. Interesting thread !.

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Postby deswalker » Tue Nov 11, 2014 10:37 am

he was sent 346 miles to Perth to run over three miles just to be PU
What do you make of that?
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Postby jaydubs » Tue Nov 11, 2014 10:55 am

Interesting thread. . Just looked back .. was gollings sole runner there that day. . Not particularly successful when heading to Scotland though from his limited visits. ..

re the thread. . I do struggle with spotting NH improvers but sprints are a lot easier. .

Courses
ground
time of year
draw
distance
jockey
Rating
Days between races

loads of patterns to be spotted fire the bigger priced horses

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Postby mc1000 » Tue Nov 11, 2014 11:27 am

Hi 'deswalker' we meet again..lol.. re: 'What do you make of that?' as 'Jaybubs' pointed out Steve Gollings has a bad record at Perth but I can only assume he thought enough of the horse to travel that far. I am currently compiling my own stats on trainers and tend to target smaller yards so it will interesting to see how he does this afternoon relevant to this thread.

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Postby TDawgTipping » Tue Nov 11, 2014 11:32 am

Thanks for taking the time out to post your thoughts guys, I really appreciate it. I understand that I will never be as successful with NH as I am with flat racing simply because I don't watch as much, but I don't tend to look at trainer statistics too much over either code so I will definitely consider this in future. Linked in with that I guess is the class of the horse and whether everything leads to a crescendo at Cheltenham and should be treated as such. The step up in distance/pedigree angle is also one I will give closer consideration to, especially with regards to horses who have potentially been taught to settle/given time to learn their job over hurdles/fences.

With regards to the "lengths for pounds" that you mentioned deswalker, I remember reading somewhere that a 1/2 length defeat in a sprint is equivalent to 3l over 2 miles because of the different speeds covered over these distances. Obviously that doesn't take into consideration poor jumps or the excessive fatigue you are likely to feel after taking part in a 3 mile run compared to a sprint, but it is interesting to note that a level par defeat in a 3 mile chase could be ~4l as this could help identify those horses who are running well/badly despite appearing to be a significant distance behind?

EDIT: On a side note, I've managed to back and lay off Jac The Legend as a relatively risk free bet today having seen it as a market mover this morning. I will therefore also be very interested in how he does!

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