A guide to Pace Analysis in horse racing - Part 1

"It is not how fast they ran, it is how they ran fast"

The above is a familiar saying in the US by nearly all horseracing buffs. With freely available sectional timings and Beyer speed figures for every horse, the American bettor is well aware of the importance of both how fast a horse runs, but also how that run was achieved.

Unfortunately in the UK we no longer have sectional timing at any racecourse, however that doesn't mean that we can't greatly improve our knowledge of how racehorses run, and how horse races are won by understanding pace analysis. In my opinion if you can grasp these concepts then your form study will take a quantum leap as you will see every race from a totally different perspective.

So below I have tried to explain both the basics, and some more advanced concepts regarding pace analysis in horseracing.

EVEN PACE


Generally speaking the most efficient way for a horse to run a race is to run at an even pace, so that means running each furlong in a similar time, this fact is probably the one most important thing to understand when evaluating how a horse has run.

If races where simply individual time trials then this is what you would find, the time for each furlong virtually the same. For the purposes of this article we will call this EVEN PACE. However horse races are not time trials they are generally very competitive tests of a racehorse in every way, and that is where IDEAL PACE comes in.

IDEAL PACE


The problem with running an EVEN PACE race is that after a couple of furlongs you'll probably find yourself right at the back of the pack of horses, which has obvious disadvantages such as having to go wide and waste ground, having to come through horses to make your challenge and on artificial surfaces getting a face full of kickback.

Therefore the IDEAL PACE is not actually equal fractions in each part of the race, but using early speed to get a good track position and then even pace after that.

To give you an example even pace over six furlongs might be ideally run like this:

22 22 22 = 66 seconds

The figures above represent the time in seconds for each 2 furlong phase (assuming timing starts when the horse is at full speed rather than from a standing start.)

However in a racing context the ideal wouldn't be achievable and therefore the following splits would probably be preferable:

21 23 23 = 67 seconds

To summarise this point we could say that any interruption to the momentum of a horse running evenly can be more costly than the extra effort required to stay out of trouble.

Click here For part 2 of our article on Pace Analysis in horseracing.