UK Horse Racing's Speed Ratings
After many years of deliberation the UK Horse Racing Speed Ratings are are now available.
The speed ratings took quite a few years of research, particularly going through the American-based literature such as by Andrew Beyer and Joe Cardello. After breaking down the data and then performing the calculations for the courses on this side of the Atlantic the concept of speed rating didn't hold up as much as it did in the US.
In fact, it would be fair to say that it didn't hold up at all. At least not in a significantly strong and robust manner.
The reason for this is that in America the horses are tanked up on performance enhancing drugs which also stops their lungs from bursting and then thrashed around a short race course at top speed. Whilst I consider their racing as utterly distateful I can accept that if one has horses going full tilt then one can sit with a stopwatch and then work out good and accurate speed figures from which to make future selections.
Over on this side of the ocean the races are different to those in America. In America anything over a mile is considered a 'marathon' and most of the racing's distances there are far shorter than a mile. Some races are even as short as two furlongs which is unheard of here in the United Kingdom.
Because our flat races tend to be longer they are run differently. As a rule they do move at a good clip but it's usually not until the last bend or 'two out' when the riders put the horse into top gear for the final dash to the line. This means that the time it takes to run a race is proportionally different to that in America as apart from the distance there's other factors coming into play such as tactical riding which has to be taken into consideration.
Which means that most of the analysis can't be done with a stopwatch alone and so we have to look deeper.
It even gets more absurd when we have National Hunt racing to consider. How can a race through three miles of Plumpton mud be anything accurate when it comes to analysis of a stopwatch? Admittedly, we can account for the different goings at the courses but there's no accurate way in which do this despite the best efforts at the Going Stick. That in itself just adds noise and confusion to the situation because the Going Stick programme has a touch of the Monty Pythons to it.
After ploughing through Beyer's books and replicating everything for this side of the Atlantic. This involved making what is known as Par Tables (or Pars for short) which describe the average time for each course and distance and race class and then working on that data.
It soon became apparant that we had all along something more accurate and which lended itself to the required calculations: The Horse Race Ratings.
The calculations of the Speed Ratings proved to be very simple and only took a few runs of the Data Analysis Tool to work out.
Basically it's a weighted average of the horse's last three Race Ratings with the emphasis on the most recent race. The Race Ratings would have to come from the same Race Type.
Other criteria were examined and cast away such as previous and current race classes. It was found that this made no difference. The only real difference made to the calculations that the data from the same Race Type had to be examined.
Is This Really A Speed Rating?
Good question. But as time is a component of the Race Ratings calculations it can be argued that, yes, these are Speed Ratings.
How Accurate Are They?
Apart from the first two year old race of the flat season where every horse is new to the racecourse, there are few races where there are no runners with any experience of that race type's racing. So, this means then that only a few races will have horses without a Speed Rating.
Since the 1st of January, 2013 until the 28th of February, 2015 there have been over 28,000 races in Great Britain and Ireland with at least one runners with a Speed Rating.
The profit isn't huge, which I will be the first to admit, but there are two things to consider here. The first is that this is after the 5% Commission charged by Betfair (the prices are taken to the Betfair Starting Price) and, more importantly, that there is something that is available that can select one runner from each of twenty-eight thousand races and make a profit.
This last point is not to be overlooked as it shows that we have now in our hands a very powerful tool with which we can use to make futher selections.
Where Are These Speed Ratings Available?
The Speed Ratings will be made available from the Statistics & Information page of the UK Horse Racing Member's Section.