Using Sectional Times in Horseracing Part 2

Using Sectional Times in horseracing Part 2

The fundamental basis of using sectional times is because a horse which uses its energy in a non-optimal way will compromise how fast it can get from A to B.

If the horse goes off too fast, it will pay by slowing more later on than it gained by running quickly early; if it goes too slow, it will speed up later but not to a degree which would make up all of the lost ground.

Of course that doesn't necessarily mean that a horse running to fast or to slow will lose, it is all relative and the other horses in the race might run even less optimal races.

But a fundamental fact which is a law of physics is that a horse running in a non-optimal way will record a time slower than it otherwise would or could have done if it had run optimally.

Therefore the number one question should be what is the optimal way to run a race? and how should we compensate in our calculations for horses which have run in this optimal way?

The way to answer the first question is to analyse the cases where horses have run very fast times for their class, and identify how they did it in terms of sectional times

Sectional times info can be shown in many ways. What we are going to suggest using here is to convert times to finishing speeds expressed as a % of average race speed thus:

(T*d*100)/(D*t), where "T" is overall race time, "t" is sectional time, "D" is overall race distance and "d" is sectional race distance.

So that, for instance, Camelots Guineas win in 2012 (time of 77.26 sec after 6f and 102.46 sec overall) converts into a final-2f finishing speed of (102.46*2*100)/(8*25.2) = 101.6%.

Our knowledge of sectionals at the track for the years in which TurfTrax provided a service there implies an optimum final-2f finishing speed % of 98.3 of overall race speed.
Camelot was finishing quite close to this optimal time, with his overall time being deserved to be marked up just a little bit.

The degree to which it should have been marked up is difficult to ascertain, but the evidence is that, if choosing appropriate sectionals (maybe the final 2f for races up to a mile, final 3f for races beyond a mile), the adjustment approximates to:

(1.25*(d/D))*((O-A)*(O-A)), where "O" is the optimum sectional finishing speed % (in this case 98.3), "A" is the actual sectional finishing speed (103.3) and "d"/"D" are as before (2 and 8).

(1.25*(2/8))*((98.3-101.6)*(98.3-101.6)) gives 3.403, or an upgrading of Camelot's time effort by 3 lb.

The clued-up punter may not only assess results more accurately as a result, they can, in theory at least, react to events in-running as they happen with greater confidence than before.

If you can calculate that, for instance, Camelot has the ability to run a mile under prevailing conditions in 100 sec flat, then a 98.3% last-2f finishing speed implies a last 2f of 25.43 sec and a first 6f of 74.57 sec.

If Camelot were to reach the 2f-pole in 73.5 sec you might construe that he has gone too fast. If he reached it in 75.5 sec you might think that he had gone too slowly.

That knowledge, combined with information about the horse's position compared to others in the field and consideration of the in-play odds on offer, has great potential value.

Click here For part 1 of our article on sectional timing in horseracing.