How to compare TopSpeed ratings

Layman
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How to compare TopSpeed ratings

Postby Layman » Thu Sep 01, 2016 5:19 pm

I'm trying to get my head around TS ratings and how to compare like for like. Am I right in saying that as a going correction and standard time for the course has been applied that these variables are removed from the equation? Or is it still unwise to compare TS ratings from different courses / going? I read in Jon Gibby's 'Well handicapped horses' that tougher tests of stamina such as galloping tracks or softer ground leads to greater beaten distances so will this skew TS ratings despite the going correction and standard times? Thanks in advance if anyone can help!

Robmull
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Postby Robmull » Thu Sep 01, 2016 6:17 pm

Hi Layman, I notice that you are a new member, so welcome to OLBG.

Do you have access to the methodology that is used for calculating Topspeed figures, as this is probably the most important information that is necessary to understand how best to use the figures.

I haven't used Topspeed for some time and have lost my copy of the methodology, but I seem to recall that when I was interested in the figures, they were calculated using a standard formula of lengths beaten equating to points deducted from the winners score to produce the figures for the beaten runners.

This usually means that a length equates to 0.2 seconds, but as you have mentioned a number of factors will impact on the accuracy of the final ratings, including:

Race distance

True state of the ground (going descriptions are not always accurate and don't take into account the length of grass and soil type).

Type of course (stiff vs easy, uphill vs downhill finish, length of finishing straight, etc).

Distribution of pace during the race (steady pace throughout, fast early pace followed by slow finish, slow early pace followed by sprint over last couple of furlongs, etc). It would be easier to calculate speed rating if sectional timings were made available.

That said, Topspeed figures are also adjusted for weight carried, which is another moot point, as opinion differs as to the correct value to be used per lb carried, plus the overall impact depending on the size of horse in question.

However, Topspeed figures probably provide a reasonable method of assessing and comparing the ability of a horse in general terms, for a punter that does not have the time and inclination to calculate their own speed figures.

The figures quoted for each runner prior to a race should be the 'all in' ratings that it has achieved in recent races, including standard time for the tracks that it has run at plus going corrections, weight adjustments, etc, which allows comparison of the figures across all race distance and tracks, but as with all speed figures these values are only an approximation.

I preferred to calculate my own speed rating for many years, as I was able to better understand the context of the rating and was able to identify significant anomalies, whereas with Topspeed all the punter can do is take the figures at face value.

Sorry, I can't give you a difinitive answer, but I hope the above information is helpful and let me know if you have any further questions, as I may be able to assist.

All the best.

Rob.

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Postby Layman » Thu Sep 01, 2016 7:56 pm

Hi Rob,
Thanks for taking the time to respond and the welcome! That's a lot of helpful info, thanks!
I found the following explanation of the methodology:
http://www.raceadvisor.co.uk/topspeed-r ... alculated/
Some of the numbers appear to have been cut in half which was confusing at first. I just can't work out if, for example, when the calculation is made for a race on heavy ground, the going correction applied means that the rating can be directly compared with one achieved on good ground or if there is a 'double dip' of the effect of the heavy ground by way of the no doubt larger beaten distance? I hope that makes sense! :D

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Postby Robmull » Thu Sep 01, 2016 8:09 pm

Hi Layman

Thanks for sharing the link.

It's a bit late in the day for me to get my head around the maths, but I will have a look at the calculation and post my thoughts tomorrow when I am fresher.

Rob.

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Postby meoldmate » Thu Sep 01, 2016 10:06 pm

First of all welcome Layman to OLBG hope you find this web site useful and look forward to your views on racing to come on the discussion pages set for each day.
I have been following horses for so long, you forget little things and go on your own knowledge that builds up over the years.

I use to follow time form figures but now I use the racing post ratings, I blend their figures into the form of the horse, a long with going and distance.

I like to thank you for highlighting this rating set up and the link you have placed over, as I found this interesting and was told these figures many moons ago and went from memory until now.

It was great to see Robmull whose racing mind is something else and very knowledgeable on the sport, give you a good define answer, as I would not be able to get that close, if you had asked me.

Good views and as they say "Learning all the time".

Cheers folks.

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Postby Foranap17 » Fri Sep 02, 2016 7:41 am

Hi layman in my experience if you\'re going to be doing speedratings. In my honest opinion I would familiarise and train your mind first everything robmull told you is spot on. But when I use to do them i only did it in a specific sprints I only 5 furlong race and 6 furlong races. And also a handicapper once said every pound a horse gets added on is meant to lose half a length in running now I don\'t know if that is entirely accurate but what I will say a weight rise can easily stop a horse in its tracks. Also I would familiarise you with your courses there is 59 courses in Britain that run on the flat I think and they all have there different character.

Some courses may be totally flat almost flat. Some may undulate. Some may be very undulating. Pace some may be galloping very tight.

But if I were you i would stick to specific distances and courses. If it\'s a 5 furlong at beverley and the going is reading soft in my experience I add another furlong in a half on for stamina emphasis. And it\'s 7 furlong reading heavy going then I add another two for the thing i just mentioned. And also if a horse won at say Lingfield at a 6furlong now he runs at say York or Ascot at a 6 they are different already.

Lingfield would have bends a horse constantly turning at bends is usually the ones who can maintain a speed and has a quick turn of foot. But a galloping track like Ascot a horse has no turns it\'s a runway and sometimes tje pace and tactics by jockeys get played on these courses a held up horse can come off the pace etc a horse only one in the field who likes to make all may get his entire way upfront and be hard to peg back.


I stopped doing speed ratings for numerous reasons it\'s harder than I thought to take times but the few things me and robmull have mentioned that\'s only tje start of it your calculations have to be spot on. And weight a handicapper said every pound that a horse has to go up should make it half a length slower. But good luck lad.

Since its hard I would stick to certain courses and certain distances. Preferably courses with no bends so you should find an accurate read. Hope this helps

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Postby Robmull » Fri Sep 02, 2016 2:37 pm

Hi Rob,
Thanks for taking the time to respond and the welcome! That's a lot of helpful info, thanks!
I found the following explanation of the methodology:
http://www.raceadvisor.co.uk/topspeed-r ... alculated/
Some of the numbers appear to have been cut in half which was confusing at first. I just can't work out if, for example, when the calculation is made for a race on heavy ground, the going correction applied means that the rating can be directly compared with one achieved on good ground or if there is a 'double dip' of the effect of the heavy ground by way of the no doubt larger beaten distance? I hope that makes sense! :D
Hi Layman,

I have looked at the sample calculation and I think that I have got to grips with it, albeit it doesn't help that some of the figures quoted are incorrect.

As far as I can work out, the going corrections used for calculating Topspeed figures whether the race was run on hard ground through to bottomless heavy going will enable direct comparison between figures awarded to different runners in the race that you want to assess and as all TS figures are tweaked back to 5furlongs for flat races and 2 miles for NH events, the comparisons can be made at face value, without the need for the punter to untertake any calculations.

However, the calculations to assess the performance of beaten horses do not appear take into account a couple of significant factors, namely:

Underfoot conditions - as the going correction is only added to the Comparison to Standard Time figure, which appears to be a standard formula irrespective of how fast/slow the ground is riding.

The pace of the race - no account is made in the calculation for how the race was run, so the same figure for a beaten horse will be allocated whether the initial pace of the race was too fast, resulting in a pace 'meltdown' and a resultant slow finish, or at the other extreme they dawdled for the first part of the race, then sprinted the last couple of furlongs, which would result in a super fast finish. However until sectional times are made available for all races, it will be difficult to factor this into standard speed ratings.

That said, I am not convinced that the above points make a huge impact on the effectiveness of Topspeed ratings, as I mentioned in my previous note, speed rating at their best are only an approximation, as there are so many factors that can't be measured and included in the calculations.

In my view, it is just as important to understand the context surrounding the speed figures as it is to know the definitive figures themselves.

When I was calculating speed ratings for runners on the UK and Irish all weather tracks, I also kept records of the following additional information:

Tables showing the effect of the draw for every race distance at each course, to enable me to identify track bias.

Tables showing the manner in which the first 5 placed runners in each race had raced (e.g. early leader, prominent racer, midfield, held up, etc) to identify any pace bias at each race distance for every track.

For each runner in every race, I would note it's stall position, and method of racing on that day.

Combining all this data enabled me to better understand how the horse achieved it's speed rating, which I could then use to assess it's chance in the next race in which it ran.

If conditions appeared to favour a runner in the race that I was analysing in order to consider a possible selection, then I could be reasonably sure that it would run close to it's best speed rating, but if conditions were unlikely to suit, then it probably wouldn't produce it's best rating and the winner was likely to be a runner with an inferior historic speed figure.

Fellow respondees, meoldmate and Foranap17 have hit the nail on the head, when they stated that speed figures and form ratings need to be considered in conjunction with other factors and I would totally endorse their comments.

If you are considering using Topspeed figures to assess races, I would humbly suggest that you attempt to gain an understanding of the context of these figures for every runner in the race.

I would also suggest that if you are keen on using speed ratings, it may be worthwhile getting hold of a couple of books written by true experts in this field, namely:

Mordin on Time by Nick Mordin

Beyer on Speed by Andrew Beyer which in published in the US

as both books provide some excellent insights into how best to use speed ratings and probably just as importantly the pitfalls to avoid.

I hope my thoughts are of help and once again, please let me know if you have any further questions.

All the best.

Rob.

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Postby OlbgDeleted367614 » Fri Sep 02, 2016 4:17 pm

The number one variable every punter should have as their guide-line is 'Going Conditions',...

Example, Sweet Duke was 27Lbs better on 'Heavy Ground conditions' than Good to Firm conditions.

Yes 'Speed Figures' are essential, but no were near 'Going Ground Conditions'.

Phil Bull who founded Timeform: Going Conditions was his number one variable, and he was a Speed Figure punter, if the Going Conditions were not right, what ever the Speed Figures he would not have a punt.


This chart may help...

(Time a horse runs over 1 mile = 100 seconds)

Good/Firm.....99.89 sec's

Good/Soft......103.50 sec's

Soft...............107.20 sec's

Soft/Heavy.....111.30 sec's

Heavy............115.80 sec 's

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Postby Layman » Fri Sep 02, 2016 6:33 pm

Thanks to all who have replied. It's much appreciated and I can tell I'm in the right place to improve my knowledge on racing! With regards to compiling my own figures, it's something I'd like to do further down the line for perhaps the AW tracks but I'm still learning the basics so that'll have to wait. I'll certainly keep in mind all the advice in this thread though. Thanks for looking into the calculation, Rob. I think it's fair to say that any two TS figures are comparable but if you can compare figures achieved in similar conditions then all the better? I appreciate the advice with regards to understanding the context in which the TS was achieved. I'm on my second read through of Gibby's book and he says much the same. I'm planning to use TS figures only as an indicator to a good performance, to see if the horse is worth further study and perhaps following. I'm hoping to have a pool of 3 yr olds of interest for next year. I've been doing a lot of reading over the summer including Beyer, Mordin (although not the one you mention as I could only find it for nearly £30 second hand!) and Potts and I need to knuckle down now and try and put things into action. Thanks again for all the advice. Cheers.

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Postby Robmull » Fri Sep 02, 2016 7:54 pm

No problem Layman.

Please feel free to send me a pm if you would like some assistance setting up speed figures for the All Weather tracks in the future.

If you want to trial them at just one track to start with, I would suggest Southwell, as it is the only Fibresand track in the UK and the surface is quite different to both Polytrack and Tapeta and in my experience it often pays to only consider speed rating achieved at the track when assessing runners at Southwell.

As for general use of Topspeed figures, I tend to follow horses that have achieved the following criteria:

Horse aged 2 or 3 years old

No more than 10 career starts

Won a handicap in which their Topspeed rating was equal to or higher than their BHA rating and their Racing Post Rating for that win was at least 10 lbs higher than their BHA rating.

I doesn't tend to find too many qualifiers, but they are usually worth adding to your tracker for consideration when race conditions are similar in the future.

All the best.

Rob.

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