UK Horse Racing's Philosophy
It won't take more than a few minutes exploring UK Horse Racing to realise that everything is different to what one would normally expect from a horse racing ratings site.
So, this page is to help explain what's different to what is expected and why this is the case.
The Basic Premise
The aim of UK Horse Racing is to produce a better set of ratings than what is generally available. There may be better ratings out there but, as far as we know, UK Horse Racing's ratings are unbeatable.
The aim is to produce something that's better than all of the rest and to do this we have taken a completely different approach to the traditional method of the ratings.
Since the aim is to beat the handicapper and every other punter out there we have a different set of tools to everyone else. Why have the same tools and metrics that everyone else has if we're wanting to make something different and better?
The first thing that we did was to throw out of the window some of the more familiar metrics.
The first one to go was the Official Rating of a horse. Why use the same rating as the Official Handicapper and every other punter? Clearly the smart thing to do was to create our own.
If one looks at the Official Rating then it's clear that there's all sorts of stuff wrong with it. Not only is the rating common knowledge and shared between everyone but, fundamentally, it means nothing.
Let's imagine a horse with a certain Official Rating. It's entered in a race that has a horse with a lower Official Rating. Now, we ought to look at this and say the first horse ought to beat the second. But the Official Rating doesn't take into consideration the jockey because if you put me, a retired front-row forward, on anything then it's going to struggle; no matter how good it is.
If one puts a horse into a race that's the wrong distance then where's that reflected in the Official Rating? It's not.
So the Official Rating just tells us how that horse is standing in its field the day before the race. The Official Rating just tells us which horse is, overall, the better horse but it doesn't tell us anything about the race it's going to run.
The Official Rating doesn't tell us how the horse likes the distance or the going. It doesn't tell us at which weight the horse is going to conk out and hobble around the course miles behind the rest of the field.
Then we have trainers who 'play' the Official Rating but putting a horse into successive races at the wrong distance and when the Official Handicapper gives it a lower rating that it ought, the trainer is preparing it for the right race.
None of this is visible from looking at the Official Rating.
So, the first thing that we did was to toss that out and that value doesn't enter our calculations at all. In fact, it would be accurate to say that I can't tell you what the best three year old's Official Rating is. In fact, I can't tell you what is a good Official Rating and what's a poor one because I haven't looked at the Official Rating in over twenty years because I haven't any need to.
UKHR's Raw Rating
So we've replaced the Official Rating with our Raw Rating. This is essentially the same thing but it takes into account the race conditions of the day.
This is why, from race to race, the horse's Raw Rating can change considerably because this reflects the horse and the conditions of the race.
The Race Class, as determined by the British Horseracing Authority (BHA), contains arguably the largest amount of fudging ever.
Again, ask me what exactly determines a race that the BHA call Class 1 racing and I would have to look it up. And then when I do it makes little sense.
This is the definition of a Class 2 race "This includes the Heritage Handicaps. The rating bands for this class are 86-100, 91-105 and 96-110."
There, does that help clarify matters? Not for me it doesn't.
I remember listening to some pundits on television (a mistake that I rarely make) before one particularly Derby and they were discussing the forthcoming race. One of them said to the other "This is one of the weakest Derby races we've seen in some time."
If this were so then why was the classification of the race the same as usual: the top class possible?
And this is what the major issue is with the Race Class. It tells us that a horse rated this, this, or this can enter a race. The one thing it doesn't tell us is how strong a particular race is and whether this year's Derby is stronger or weaker than last year's.
The BHA race class just tells us who can be invited to the race and tells us nothing about the race itself.
UKHR's Race Class - Before the Race
The BHA Race Class was the second thing to be thrown out. The BHA classification doesn't enter our calculations at all. Instead we have our version of the Race Class and, this one actually tells us something about the race ahead.
The UKHR Race Class (or Race Class from now on) tells us how strong the race looks. And this depends on one thing: the entrants declared for the race. The better and more suited the horses are for the race: the higher the Race Class is going to be.
The Race Class is a value which is in the range from somewhere between 60 and 140.
So we can look at one Derby and if we this year's to be rated 132 then we know that it's a better class race, i.e. has better horses, than one rated 130.
UKHR's Race Class - After the Race
We have to point out that the Race Class is recalculated after the race and this figure used for further calculations.
Imagine a normal race and we give it a Race Class. But one, or more, of the better horses may have a poor race and afterwards the overall consideration is that the race wasn't as good as it should have been. Then the software will adjust the Race Class slightly downwards.
In the case when some of the poorer horses run a better race than they ought. We've had a real race on our hands here and in this case the Race Class will be adjusted to have been a stronger race.
We do this so that we can then make better comparisons. We can only compare what may be with what has happened before in the past. We could compare what may be with what should have happened in the past but that would be inaccurate, so we adjust the Race Class after the race to make for better predictions within the software model.
This isn't to fudge the data and to make excuses for the selections as our original data with the original Race Class is available in the CSV and the PDF files which are never changed. The Race Class adjustment only takes place within the software model.
Which brings us neatly to the Class Differentials. This is a good way of seeing if a horse is really rising or falling in class.
A horse with a positive differential is falling in class, which is a Good Thing because the competition within a weaker race class should be easier to overcome. A horse with a negative differential is rising in class and, therefore, should find it slightly tougher.
Of course, a horse rising in class usually has a falling weight to compensate, and vice versa.
Occasionally one can find a horse that's falling in both class and weight and these are the source of our Blindingly Obvious Selections.
You bet! Class, as in all walks of life, is everything.
Which is why we have concentrated on getting this right.
Weight For Age Tables
Put up a four year old horse against a five year old and there's all sorts of adjustments made to the horse's weights based upon the BHA's Weight For Age tables.
Naturally, we have our own. These are continually being updated and remodelled by the software and this is one way in which we can judge how a younger horse can compete against an older horse.
You may not be surprised to read that it's not as simple as adding a few pounds to the allowance for each year but there's all sort of mathematical modelling to determine how the Weight For Age calculation is to be applied for every race.