Eddie Wood looks at how the altitude of racecourses can affect betting patterns, starting with those in Ireland
How racecourse altitude can affect baetting patterns
My research on altitude and its effects on racehorses will be better understood alongside the altitude figures of our racecourses. Knowing the characteristics and peculiarities of our racecourses is important, especially when comparing the effect of altitude in certain races.
I am not far enough along the road yet to be conclusive about this aspect, but I have thought of some methods where altitude could figure strongly. I will share this in a future article.
In this first part, I will introduce the configuration of the Irish courses along with their altitude figures. Irish form is often very difficult to weigh up, especially in handicaps on British soil. First, we will focus on the Irish Flat courses. Their altitudes range from six metres for Laytown to 139 metres for Bellowstown.
BALLINROBE (COUNTY MAYO) ALTITUDE: 30 METRES
COURSE-WISE: a right-handed track of 8f with sharp bends. DRAW-WISE: a high draw is advantageous, especially in 6f races. The track has a sharp nature meaning top weights have a good advantage, especially with the downhill run to the finish. GOING-WISE:the going gets quite heavy here; it is one of the wettest parts of Ireland. HORSE-WISE: the course favours those that race prominently.
BELLOWSTOWN (COUNTY MEATH) ALTITUDE: 139 METRES
COURSE-WISE:this is a 9f,round and lefthanded track with sharped well-banked bends. DRAW-WISE: there appears to be no advantage but I intend to do my own research in due course. GOING-WISE: the downhill surface coupled with an excellent watering system makes for good going. HORSE-WISE: the sharpness of the track gives an advantage to the top weights.
CLONMEL (COUNTY TIPPERARY) ALTITUDE: 30 METRES
COURSE-WISE: a right-handed, 10f course with a steep downhill towards the final turn. The last furlong is uphill to the finish. DRAW-WISE: there appears to be no advantage. GOING-WISE: nothing extraordinary here. HORSE-WISE: this is a galloping course with a testing finish. Ensure your selections can see out of any trip well.In fact,the 2m races are as tough as any course in Ireland.
CORK (MALLOW, COUNTY CORK) ALTITUDE: 50 METRES
COURSE-WISE:this is a right-handed and level course with a galloping nature. DRAW-WISE:there appears to be a definitive advantage for high-drawn horses on the 6f track and for low drawn horses over 8f, especially on good to firm ground. GOING-WISE: nothing extraordinary here. HORSE-WISE: Dermot Weld’s and Aidan O’Brien’s 3yo+ do well here.
CURRAGH (COUNTY KILDARE) ALTITUDE: 105 METRES
COURSE-WISE:a right-handed,16f round course. It has easy turns leading to a straight 3f run-in and an uphill finish. All races up to 6f 63y are on a straight.The 7f and 8f races have a dog leg.A spur runs at an angle to the main course for all races run up to 8f. DRAW-WISE: on the straight course, low numbers are favoured when the stalls are on the stand side. GOING-WISE: the springy turf is set on a limestone base and rarely gets firm enough in a hot Summer.The going can be quite heavy in the Spring and Autumn. HORSE-WISE: the straight mile rises by 29f making this the greatest rise on any British or Irish course. It is a thorough test of stamina and, combined with an uphill finish and a wide course, gives every opportunity to the strong, late finisher.
DOWN ROYAL (LISBURN) ALTITUDE: 34 METRES
COURSE-WISE: a 15f, oval right-handed course with a climb to the final bend.The home straight runs downhill and then rises gradually to the winning post. DRAW-WISE: no advantage. GOING-WISE: nothing extraordinary here. HORSE-WISE: this is quite a galloping course and suits the long-striding types.
DUNDALK (COUNTY LOUTH) ALTITUDE: 8 METRES
COURSE-WISE:an all-weather Polytrack, left-handed course with a circumference of 1m 2f. DRAW-WISE: there’s a definite bias towards low-drawn horses over seven furlongs. GOING-WISE:this is an all-weather,Polytrack course and it rarely steers away from Standard. HORSE-WISE:Aidan O’Brien does exceptionally well here with his horses ridden by Seamie Hefferman.