Using Sectional Times in Horseracing

Using Sectional Times in horseracing


There are many ways to use sectional times to give you an edge in your betting. Obviously just an awareness which sections of the race have been run quicker is the most basic information you will get, and that in itself is extremely valuable.

However you can also try and be a bit more scientific in your use of sectional times, and explained below are a couple of suggested methods in which sectionals can be put to use.

The first method is probably the simpler of the two as it doesn’t require a large amount of past sectional timing data to be collated for comparison methods.

As you will know if you have read our pace analysis pages the optimum way for a horse to run the best time is to run at an even pace. What you can do is calculate how different, percentage wise each furlong it ran was from the optimum. For the benefit of these calculations we have ignored the first furlong which is obviously from a standing start.

I have used some of the sectional data from the 2012 2000 Guineas as example data. The first step is to work out the average time per furlong. For Camelot in the 2000 Guineas this was 12.32 secs, calculated as such; .

2F 3F 4F 5F 6F 7F 8F Average
Sectional Time 12.45 11.96 12.32 12.28 12.01 12.11 13.09 12.32


You then compare that average time with the actual time taken for each furlong to calculate a % difference.

Sectional Time 12.45 11.96 12.32 12.28 12.01 12.11 13.09 AV % diff
% Difference between actual and 12.32 average 1.08 2.9 0.02 0.3 2.49 1.68 6.27 2.11


We then in effect average the % difference to give me a % from optimum that has been run. Which in this case was 2.11%. This 2.11% figure is valuable in itself I think.

I then go on to equate how fast Camelot could have run, by improving his time of 102.46 seconds by 2.11%, which means he could have actually run 2.16 seconds, or 10.8L (assuming 5 lengths per second). If he had run in a more optimal way.

Camelots winning time 102.46 Winning time if run optimally 100.30 Difference 2.16 Lengths improvement possible 10.81

Having calculated a few of these, 2.11% is actually a very efficient figure, and would suggest that Camelot ran quite near the optimum race. For the 1000 Guineas selected figures are:

Homecoming Queen 4.41%

Maybe 5.54%

The Fugue 6.1%

The one obvious caveat when using this method on UK racetracks, is that not all British tracks are perfectly flat, and my statement earlier is about even pace is not strictly correct, it is actually that horses should run each furlong with an even effort to achieve the best possible time, and so will run an uphill furlong in a slower time than a downhill furlong. Nonetheless, it does allow performances at the same track to be compared and would be perfect for comparing sectional times at All Weather racecourses.


Click here For part 2 of our article on sectional timing in horseracing.