Stats are just first step

They are a guide – not a se­lec­tion method

Racing Ahead - - NICK PULLEN -

In my book the stats don’t rep­re­sent an out-and-out se­lec­tion method. In­stead I see the sta­tis­ti­cal record as more of a guide – an ini­tial data-ori­ented ap­proach that gives you a route into a big race…one that can point you to horses of po­ten­tial bet­ting in­ter­est…horses that are wor­thy of a lit­tle more in­ves­ti­ga­tion…

I don’t be­lieve in win­ning for­mu­las – stats­based or oth­er­wise.They don’t ex­ist.Not in a horse-rac­ing con­text. There is no A+B+C+D cal­cu­la­tion you can call on to cor­rectly pre­dict the out­come of a horse race.

But stats are use­ful.They don’t rep­re­sent a for­mula. They don’t point di­rectly to bets. But they can and do point to horses of in­ter­est.

For ex­am­ple, stats re­lat­ing to a spe­cific big race can tell you a great deal about the kinds of horses that tend to do well in that con­test – and you can mea­sure the in­tended run­ners this time round against your find­ings…

Take the Hen­nessy Gold Cup at New­bury, for ex­am­ple – a race that will be run this sea­son on Satur­day 26th Novem­ber.

This is a ma­jor chase hand­i­cap, a re­ally prestigious prize – a re­ally big race. And the horses that win tend to tick a spe­cific set of sta­tis­ti­cal boxes year-on-year… • 17 of the last 19 win­ners were aged 6-to 8-years old • 18 had race at least 4 times over fences • 16 had raced no more than a dozen times over fences • 16 had won just one hand­i­cap chase or none at all • 17 had al­ready scored a win over fences at a trip be­tween 24 and 26 fur­longs • 11 of the last 12 win­ners had al­ready scored an RPR of at least 156 over fences • 11 of the last 12 had al­ready scored a Top­speed fig­ure of 134+ over fences

Those are pretty strong stats.They are not in­fal­li­ble though – there are odd ex­cep­tions and the winner each year might not tick ev­ery sin­gle box (you have to build that fac­tor into your think­ing)…

But the bot­tom line is that that horses go­ing into the Hen­nessy Gold Cup meet­ing those var­i­ous yard­sticks have to be of in­ter­est. They have to be worth look­ing at more closely. Es­pe­cially if or when the mar­ket is over-look­ing them to some de­gree.

I’ve gone through all the run­ners still with en­tries – mea­sur­ing each of them against the stats I’ve out­lined above.I haven’t come to any firm or fi­nal con­clu­sions – but that’s not what the stats are about.

In­stead I’ve used the stats with the in­ten­tion of ob­tain­ing an ini­tial and in­formed im­pres­sion. My anal­y­sis is far from over.I’ve hardly started.The anal­y­sis based on key stats is a start­ing point – but one that has al­ready alerted me to a horse to think about…

Peter Bowen’s Henri Parry Morgan ticks a lot of the key boxes. He’s won one more hand­i­cap chase than the stats suggest is ideal – al­beit as a novice – but to dis­count him on that ba­sis alone would be silly. The bot­tom line is that he’s a good fit on all the other yard­sticks….

Fences and a tongue-tie served to rev­o­lu­tionise the horse last term – and he went up the hand­i­cap to the tune of 2 stone.When he stepped out of hand­i­caps in April and ran in the G1 Mild­may Novices’Chase at Ain­tree,he split Na­tive River and Blak­lion (who’d won the RSA Chase at Chel­tenham the time be­fore).

For sure, Colin Tiz­zard’s Na­tive River ran well.He beat Henri Parry Morgan more than 3 lengths and the Bowen horse has some­thing to find. But, hav­ing raced just 6 times over fences, there is clearly scope for that kind of im­prove­ment.

Na­tive River is favourite for the Hen­nessy at 6s.Henri Parry Morgan is in at more than 3 times that price. Is a 3 length beat­ing the equiv­a­lent of 14 points in the mar­ket?

For sure Na­tive River has al­ready been out and won this term. He’s clearly fit and for­ward. But his win – and the sub­se­quent mar­ket sen­ti­ment based on it – does not serve to de­grade Henri Parry Morgan. It doesn’t mean the Bowen horse has stood still.Or that he won’t im­prove.He could well be in at a nice price.

Let’s not for­get that next time out af­ter Ain­tree, in the bet365 Gold Cup at Sandown, Henri Parry Morgan was well-backed and went off favourite. He ended up un­seat­ing his rider but he was still very much full of run­ning at the time.

He hasn’t been seen this term – but Henri Parry Morgan is on my radar. I am think­ing about him.The stats suggest he is an in­ter­est­ing con­tender – if he shows up.

Am I putting him up as a bet? No.Have I put money on him? No.Will I be putting money on him? It’s too early to say.

I don’t make bets based solely on the stats. There is a lot more work to be done be­fore I even think about bet­ting. There are dif­fer­ent ap­proaches to take and dif­fer­ent things to con­sider.The stats are just part of it – a first­step.

But Henri Parry Morgan is on my mind. He’s in my thoughts – and for good rea­son. He’s a horse I will take a closer in­ter­est in.I will make a point of watch­ing and study­ing his races. I will find out more about him. I will be keep­ing an eye on his run­ning plans.

The stats have alerted me to a horse of po­ten­tial in­ter­est.That’s as much as the stats can do.

Nick Pullen is the value-seek­ing punter be­hind Against the Crowd – a sub­scrip­tion ser­vice that seeks to find win­ners at dou­ble-fig­ure.For de­tails go to: www.again­st­the­crowd.co.uk

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