A guide to Pace Analysis in horse racing - Part 3

Practical Application

What we have learnt so far is all very interesting, but the real question is how can we use this knowledge to gain an edge and make our gambling pay, and that is the aim of this page.

If you fully understand pace analysis it will answer the two fundamental questions:

1. How was a race run and therefore why did the winner win?
2. How will the next race be run and who will benefit from this?

Horses have a preferred method of running, and left to their own devices,will usually run in the style that is comfortable for them, if they are forced to run out of their comfort zone then they will not perform to their peak. Knowing how each horse in a race is likely to behave will give you valuable information about the nature of the race, which horses are at an advantage, and what the likely outcome will be.

Generally you can split horses into three broad categories as to their preferred method of running.

Front Runner

Obviously they like to lead and often lose interest and drop away if they are unable to gain the lead. If there are several front runners in a race then they will often take each other on for the lead and use up valuable energy early in the race which they will pay for in the later stages. The perfect scenario is if there is only one front runner who gets the lead and is able to dominate at his own even pace. If you can find a race with this shape the lone front runner is a very good bet even if he doesn't appear to be the best horse in the race.

Mid-Pack Horses

The majority of the horse population are mid-pack horses. The horse is a herd animal and as such is uncomfortable being in the lead, which is probably the reason that the majority want some cover in the pack. As the front runners tire the mid-pack horse can use its reserves of stamina to challenge. If the front running horses have run at an uneven pace, then the fact that the mid pack horse has used its energy more efficiently than the front runner means that they have more energy left, and they tire less at the end giving the optical illusion of acceleration at the end of a race. A potential problem with the mid-pack horse is that, being close to the lead, he is still vulnerable to over extending himself and falling prey to the same problems as the frontrunners. Although this happens less often than with frontrunners, it is still a consideration in fast paced races.

Hold Up Horses

Hold up horses or Closers as they are sometimes called are generally the horses at the back. Their jockeys normally try to switch them off to preserve their energy for the end of the race when the horses in front have used up all their energy. Generally hold up horses can't win in a slow paced race as these type of races become sprints at the end and they have to much ground to make up. Although the converse is true that fast paced races where the leaders have perhaps gone off to quick suit the closers. If you are going to back a hold up horse the number one thing that you should concern yourself above everything else, is will there be a fast pace for the horse to run off?

So they are the preferred methods of running, you then need to understand how a race was our will be run to understand how it will suit each method of running.

One school of thought is to split a race into three sections start, middle and end. The race can then be run in any of the four following styles:

A: Fast:Fast:Slow

B: Slow:Slow:Fast

C: Slow:Fast:Slow

D: Fast:Slow:Fast

For obvious reasons you can't get races which are run fast:fast:fast or slow:slow:slow. (However as discussed previously you can get races which are run at an even pace throughout, normally middle or long distance races. An even pace race should theoretically give the same chance to horses with any of the three types of running styles.)

Each race can then be given a rating A,B,C or D. You can assign this rating to a horses past performance and see which race shape suits it best, rather like you would do with the going. So you might see that a particular horse is suited by a race run in the style of A, (you would expect this type of horse to be a closer). The next step is to predict how you thing today's race will be run. So will it be a B race. In which case you should look to all of the horses in the race which would prefer a B run race based on their past.

Sounds simple!! Obviously its not and requires quite an investment of time and effort, however this time and effort will hopefully give you that edge which makes you a profitable punter.