Ignore The Draw?
When the draw was made for the Ayr Gold Cup back on the 17th September in the Owners Club of Ayr Racecourse, it was evident that all trainers wanted that golden opportunity to have a high drawn horse to take advantage of the supposed clear bias that these horses would receive. Charlie Hills, for example, would have been delighted with his main hope Tanzeel being drawn 25 of the 25 runners. “Fahey trio up the middle” was the leading headline on Sporting Life following the draw. Jim Goldie wasn’t sure about Jack Dexter’s chances by saying the main negative being “I’m not sure about his middle draw”. But were these trainers right in placing all this emphasis on the draw, and more importantly how do and how should punters react?
Well, let’s begin with Ayr Gold Cup trends as a starting point. Over the past 10 years, the break down of winners by stall is as follows:
Stalls 1-9: 3 winners
Stalls 10-18: 3 winners
Stalls 19+: 4 winners
Hm. Not much evidence of a clear advantage there, but this is a small sample over a short period. Let’s look at a wider sample.
In the below, we have data showing the strike rate from races at Ayr, over 6f, with 16 runners or more:
Drawn LOW: 4.7%
Drawn MID: 2.9%
Drawn HIGH: 5.3%
This is based on approximately 300 runners and as you can see there is a slight tendency toward high drawn runners. But there is no where near the tendency that a lot of people would expect, especially when you consider the amount of attention the media, trainers and punters (which we come on to later) give it.
What gets more interesting is looking at the overall £ profit/loss based on SP for the same sample, which is below:
Drawn LOW: -£23.50
Drawn MID: -£214.92
Drawn HIGH: -£69.00
There is clearly no advantage for looking at high drawn runners when looking at this. I must now mention that this is in no way a be all and end all and what I am saying is gospel – we are simply looking at one type of race at one course – but it is interesting nonetheless and punters must be aware of this when making betting decisions.
The main point is, is that the media and trainers and jockeys and everyone place a lot of value on where your horse is drawn for certain races, and as demonstrated above, this is over exaggerated. When this happens, prices within the market reflect this exaggeration which leaves us with an issue as punters. If we are backing horses that have an over exaggeration on a particular variable then we are doomed in the long term, as the actual odds of the given horse will most likely be longer than what we are being offered, which is where the true definition of value (or the opposite) lies.
There are clear occasions where there are draw biases, of course. Chester has one of the most recognised biases in the country with being drawn low a very important factor in deciding the outcome of a race. But this is besides the point, there are opportunities that arise from these biases as let’s not forget that a bias does not guarantee a result.
Thus, my conclusion is this. The draw may well offer slight advantages, it may well offer large advantages at certain tracks, but the price of the horse will have either taken this into account, or it may in fact have overplayed the importance of the draw and therefore the price is unbackable. Usually the former would be the case, with the price simply reflecting the increase or decrease in the horses actual chances due to the draw, which means we can ignore this variable in our selection. However, in large media frenzies where the draw is seen as of huge importance, you will most likely find going against the grain will deliver you long term value.
Oh, and for good measure, the winning stall numbers of the Bronze, Silver and Gold cups at Ayr this year? 13, 4 & 8.
This write up was brought to you by Tipsters Empire horse racing tipster – the Snout.