Professional Horse Race Handicappers

In routes, the jockey "rates" the horse holds the horse back earlier in the contest to conserve energy for the stretch run. Promo Details Every Tuesday you can find expert selections for your favorite tracks. Invader Skipping Lass, who won over the inner dirt last winter, ran a pace fig winning her last start in the slop and will be hard to catch again. Friday, December 15, 2006

Revolutionizing the Horse Race Handicapping Industry


This entire game of horse racing is about what happened in the past. How much speed a horse showed last time, if the runner can get the distance, and what style the runner utilizes all are tantamount to handicapping. But when beginning the handicapping process on a single race, players need to be able to figure out whom, how fast, and how cluttered the early portions of the race figure to be.

Once fans can realize the correlation between the time of a past race and where each entrant was during any stage of that race, the door begins to open, the light goes on, the puzzle starts to unwrap and one can understand what makes up the running of each race. Just like humans, racehorses have styles. Some are bred to run all day long and dawdle out of the gate and some are bred to be flat out blurs and go to the front as fast as their legs can carry them.

Long distance runners have styles too. Some like to maintain pace and be in the first flight, some, Olympic meters gold medal winner Dave Wottle comes to mind, liked to come from far back swooping the field late.

When thinking about style and races one focuses on who the front runners in the field are, who the stalkers, or those that figure close up but not far back off the pace are, and who are the dead closers in the race. Once able to project where each horse will be at each juncture of the race, one can theorize which horses will gun for the front, which will try to gun but will have to settle for positions in the middle of the pack, and which horses that have shown no speed or propensity to lead and who figure to be far back early biding their time.

When reading the past performances and a horse shows a running line for a 6 furlong race of 1 by 2 lengths, 1 by 3 lengths, 1 by 4 and the finish margin of 1 by 5, it means he lead the entire way to score by 5 lengths. The first call, 1 by 2, correlates to the first quarter time of the race, say: The second call, 1 by 3, correlates to the half-mile time of say: The 1 by 4 correlates to the stretch call which is always an 8th of a mile from the finish, say: What you see in the Racing Post as part of the daily racecard is a horses BEST topspeed figure from the last 14 months or so, adjusted for the weight carried today.

If you are working out ratings today for York, say, you would give each horse a Topspeed rating and A RPR for the race it ran in. If the form works out very well, The RPR might be raised retrospectively,but the Topspeed figure is fixed. If the RPR falls as a horse loses form and is downgraded, the Topspeed figure will then be above it. I can assure you that if the race has been run at a fair pace, the two will not be far apart and the RPR will almost certainly be above Topspeed for each race.

You might find the odd exception, but it would be very unusual. How Topspeed ratings are calculated. The scale for converting weight into time for given distances. The weight for age WFA Scale — not that important now because the ratings are adjusted for WFA on the racecards and on the website, but not in the results. I calculate my own version of the Solidus ratings, so I do understand how speed ratings work. I would like to get inside Topseed, more out of curiosity than anything else.

Having said that a good idea might occur to me in the process. I still have my old booklet explaining all about StopWatch ratings, ah those where the days…….

Before attempting to reply in detail to this posting, please can I say that my comments here refer to the calculation of speed ratings for races that have already been run and not the ratings that appear alongside any given card in the Racing Post on a daily basis.

In assessing the results, there is no reason why, for a given performance, a winning horse cannot post a speed rating that is higher than the equivalent form rating. Such occurences do, however, call for close examination to ensure that a horse is not being overrated from a time perspective. If you look at the Topspeed figures for a given meeting that has occurred in the past, you will also note that on the majority of occassions there is at least one horse on the card that achieves a speed rating within 1 to 3lbs of its form rating for the same race, which suggests some deficiency in the methodology being used by Topspeed.

Bearing, in particular, this latter point in mind it is clear that the Topspeed figures are unreliable and should be treated with substantial caution. The assessment of race times is fascinating and, in this country, difficult to deal with; it is a pity that so much rubbish is written on the subject.

I have corresponded with Dave Edwards Topspeed from time to time and I think he is also aware of the limitations of awarding speed ratings to thousands of races a year. The RP seem to have a decent theoretical model of the relationships between time, weight and distance, but it is only based on averages weight and distances and best performances under given conditions time.

The two examples you quote look outside of the range of disagreement I would expect and are probably worth looking at to see why such a discrepancy exsists. It may be that your own model has a different set of standard times to the RP and therefore your assessment of the going was different, or there could be other variances.

It would be interesting if any Timeform subscribers could supply their figures for the races in dispute. The VDW fans are still discussing races from see VDW threads , so we might not get to the bottom of this for another 25 years.

Anything in particular about the going correction and standard time calculations that you disagree with? They are very much connected.

These are just my opinions obviously. I wanted to have a look at the topspeed figures primarily to find out why they are so bad.