Ed­die Wood brings his ex­pert anal­y­sis to bear on the key char­ac­ter­is­tics of the coun­try’s Flat tracks

Racing Ahead - - CONTENTS -

Start­ing a com­pre­hen­sive guide to Bri­tish tracks

It is im­por­tant to ac­knowl­edge the dis­tinc­tive char­ac­ter­is­tics of race­courses. An un­der­stand­ing of their fea­tures has in­flu­enced not only my bet­ting but my re­search on al­ti­tude and its po­ten­tial ef­fects on race­horses. It is not sur­pris­ing that the al­ti­tude of our tracks varies from one me­tre above sea level atYar­mouth to a stag­ger­ing 237 me­tres above sea level at Bath. The same can be said for dif­fer­ent train­ing es­tab­lish­ments.This has led me to pose an im­por­tant ques­tion: does send­ing a race­horse to a sim­i­lar al­ti­tude level as their sta­bles have a pos­i­tive ef­fect on their per­for­mance?

Today, I have fo­cussed on Bri­tish Flat race­courses from As­cot to Hay­dock. The other cour­ses in­clud­ing All-weather and Na­tional Hunt cour­ses will be pre­sented in fu­ture ar­ti­cles.


Big hand­i­cap favourites at over 4/1 are usu­ally worth sup­port­ing when con­di­tions are in their favour.

COURSE-WISE: The round course is a tri­an­gu­lar right-han­der of 14 fur­longs, down­hill to Swin­ley Bot­tom but then up­hill un­til 150 yards. The Old Mile joins the track at Swin­ley Bot­tom. While there is also a straight, gen­tly un­du­lat­ing mile (Hunt Cup) course, it is mainly up­hill for the last fur­longs.There are easy turns and this is very much a gal­lop­ing track de­spite the short straight of two-and-a-half fur- longs. The round course is par­tic­u­larly test­ing when the ground is soft, and horses of sus­pect stamina will find it hard to win here.There is a short run-in of less than three fur­longs.

DRAW-WISE: Gen­er­ally of lit­tle con­se­quence but high num­bers are slightly favoured when the stalls are on the stands side,more so when the ground is soft.Low num­bers in large fields ap­pear to have an ad­van­tage. HORSE-WISE: Front-run­ners have a rea­son­able record and al­ways re­quire a sec­ond look.


Horses with a top speed fig­ure in non-hand­i­caps are worth a sec­ond look. COURSE-WISE: The round course is a left-handed oval mea­sur­ing about 12 fur­longs, with a half-mile run-in.There is also a wide and straight six-fur­long course with a pro­nounced down­wards slope and slight up­hill climb.The gen­tle un­du­la­tions and sweep­ing turns make this a very fair track.

DRAW-WISE: On the straight course,low num­bers have an ad­van­tage par­tic­u­larly when the ground is soft or heavy. Low num­bers have a dis­tinct ad­van­tage over seven fur­longs and a mile.

HORSE-WISE: Gal­lop­ing types are well favoured here. As are off the pace horses con­test­ing races of 12 fur­longs.


This course is the high­est above sea level on the Flat and form trans­fers well from other high-al­ti­tude cour­ses such as Ep­som,Good­wood and Sal­is­bury.

COURSE-WISE: The round course is an oval left-han­der of a mile-and-a-half,with a gen­tle up­hill run-in of half-a-mile,which bends to the left.There is an ex­ten­sion for races of five fur­longs and five fur­longs 167 yards,with a fur­ther dis­tinct bend a fur­long out.De­spite the con­stant turns,the bends are easy and the track suits gal­lop­ing types, while the longish run-in al­lows stamina to come into play. The old down land turf en­sures that there are sel­dom ex­tremes of go­ing.

DRAW-WISE: Low num­bers are favoured in races up to a mile, but slightly less so over five and six fur­longs. This is es­pe­cially so in hand­i­caps. Mid­dle to high-drawn horses are best in sprints.

HORSE-WISE: Gal­lop­ing types are favoured on this track.


Bev­er­ley favourites usu­ally av­er­age 40%. Keep a close eye on races that come close to this fig­ure,es­pe­cially in hand­i­caps.

COURSE-WISE: The course has a tight right-hand oval of 11 fur­longs,with a short up­hill run-in of two-and-a-half fur­longs. This is a pre­ceded by a marked dis­sent

on the down­hill turn into the straight.This, along with the short run-in,pro­vides a test for the gal­lop­ing type who is oth­er­wise in his el­e­ment here. The 5-fur­long course starts on a sep­a­rate ex­ten­sion, up­hill all the way and is very se­vere par­tic­u­larly on early 2-year-olds.

DRAW-WISE: low draws are best in sprints.


sup­port top weights that have an ex­cel­lent speed fig­ure in hand­i­caps.

COURSE-WISE: the track is a left-handed horse­shoe of ap­prox­i­mately 12 fur­longs with a three-and-a-half fur­long run-in.It is un­du­lat­ing,with a steep de­scent from half a mile out un­til the two-fur­long marker. This is fol­lowed by a sharp rise at the fi­nal 100 yards. The turns are easy, but the un­du­la­tions mit­i­gate against long-strid­ing an­i­mals and favour long front-run­ning types.This is a par­tic­u­larly sharp and idio­syn­cratic track which favours course spe­cial­ists, both horses and jock­eys.

DRAW-WISE: slightly favours low num­bers in sprints but speed from the gate is more im­por­tant. Although the ground drains well,it is rarely heavy.When it is,the jock­eys tend to tack across the stand side in search of bet­ter ground.

HORSE-WISE: com­pact well-bal­anced run­ners do well, par­tic­u­larly front-run­ners.


– AL­TI­TUDE 66 ME­TRES BET-WISE: gam­bled on two-year-olds is a reg­u­lar fea­ture.

COURSE-WISE: the track is a pear­shaped right-han­der of just over 13 fur­longs,with a run-in of nearly three-anda-half fur­longs.There is no straight course but in­stead a turn­ing chute for the five and six-fur­long cour­ses, and for the mile and twelve fur­longs starts. There are con­sid­er­able un­du­la­tions and from the four-fur­long marker to the dis­tance there is a steep rise. This puts a con­sid­er­able de­mand on stamina.

DRAW-WISE: favours high num­bers but more so in sprints when the stalls are on the far side. In soft ground, a low draw over five and six fur­longs is of­ten favourable. HORSE-WISE: the test­ing na­ture of the course ide­ally suites long-strid­ing stay­ers.


favourites in two-year-old non-hand­i­caps have a 50% plus strik­er­ate. Two-year-old hand­i­caps are well short of 30% as ex­pected but al­ways give them a sec­ond look.

COURSE-WISE: the track is an oval left­hander of only 9 fur­longs with pro­nounced un­du­la­tions. There are two chutes, one for the five-fur­long start and one for the seven-fur­long races.There is a straight run-in of three fur­longs.The five­fur­long track is down­hill through­out, sharply so at the start, and the turn into the straight is tight with a de­scend­ing gra­di­ent. The track is dis­tinctly sharp and suits handy, adapt­able types.

DRAW-WISE: low to mid­dle drawn horses are slightly favoured on the five­fur­long track, but speed from the gate is more im­por­tant in all sprints par­tic­u­larly with run­ners who can get an early prom­i­nent po­si­tion. HORSE-WISE: the course suits quick start­ing, well-bal­anced horses, and fron­trun­ners do well.


avoid top weights on form as they have a poor record here.

COURSE-WISE: the round course is a left-handed oval of nearly two miles.It has a long run-in of just un­der five fur­longs which ex­tends on a chute to make a straight mile.All races up to a mile are run on the lat­ter which is down­hill to the five­fur­long start, then rises for two and a half fur­longs be­fore lev­el­ling out to the win­ning post. Un­du­la­tions and rea­son­ably sharp bends are a ma­jor fea­ture of the track. DRAW-WISE: there is seem­ingly lit­tle ad­van­tage but when the go­ing is soft, low num­bers are favoured on the

straight. In fields of more than twelve run­ners, high num­bers ap­pear to have an ad­van­tage.


BET-WISE: in my opinion, no one rides this track bet­ter than Franny Nor­ton. But you must be very se­lec­tive with his mounts as they are gen­er­ally over-bet. Gra­ham Lee is the man to fol­low if you want to make a profit but, again, you must be highly se­lec­tive.

COURSE-WISE: this tight, al­most cir­cu­lar left-hand track is the small­est in the coun­try at just over a mile long. Per­fectly flat, and with a sharp bend lead­ing to a two-fur­long run-in, the track favours the quick-ac­tioned horse against the longstrid­ing type, ex­cept in stay­ing races, which can de­velop into ex­treme stamina tests on soft ground.

DRAW-WISE: low num­bers are favoured, but speed from the gate is more im­por­tant in sprints. It is al­most im­pos­si­ble to over­come a slow start and a high draw.

HORSE-WISE: favours the quick­ac­tioned horse in sprints.


in re­cent sea­sons, two jock­eys have topped my prof­itabil­ity ta­bles. They are An­drea Atzeni and Jeremy Spencer.Whist I be­lieve that Ryan Moore is one of the best riders in the world, he is over-bet at most cour­ses and this one is no ex­cep­tion. Be very se­lec­tive with his mounts.

COURSE-WISE: the round course is a pear-shaped left-han­der, and is the long­est in the coun­try at just un­der two miles. There is a mile straight and the run-in on the round course is a de­mand­ing four-and-a-half fur­longs. It’s al­most per­fectly flat sur­face and great width make this course one of the fairest in the coun­try. The sweep­ing turns and long run-in makes it gal­lop­ing in na­ture. DRAW-WISE: high num­bers have an ad­van­tage on the straight course when the stalls are on the stands’ side. HORSE-WISE: ideal for the long-strid­ing stayer.


BET-WISE: se­ri­ously con­sider Charles Bishop’s mounts as over the last cou­ple of years he has been very prof­itable.

COURSE-WISE: This is a left-handed Ushaped track of one-and-a-half miles. There are chang­ing gra­di­ents and ex­tra sur­face un­du­la­tions.The track is up­hill for the first half-mile, level for two fur­longs then sharply down­hill round the bend to Tat­ten­ham Cor­ner.This is un­til the fur­long pole where it rises quite sharply to the fin­ish.The five-fur­long track is straight and al­most all down­hill mak­ing it very sharp. The six and seven-fur­long races start on tan­gen­tial ex­ten­sions. The Derby course can only be a test of stamina if there is a strong early pace.

DRAW-WISE: high num­bers have an ad­van­tage in five-fur­long races and a slight ad­van­tage over six fur­longs. Avoid stalls 1 and 2 in fields of 14 run­ners or more.

HORSE-WISE: many horses are quite un­able to act on the course. Course spe­cial­ists and front-run­ners do well here, es­pe­cially in races up to a mile. Speed from the gate is para­mount for a good per­for­mance. Low num­bers have a marked ad­van­tage in races be­tween eight and ten fur­longs.


caution needs to be taken at this track as statis­tics have been avail­able for less than six years.Three jock­eys interest me from the prof­itabil­ity an­gle. They are Steve Drowne, Martin Har­ley and Martin Lane. Martin Har­ley’s strike-rate is over 30% but all three jockey’s mounts need scru­tiny. COURSE-WISE: a left-handed track with a gal­lop­ing na­ture this track. It is a one­mile four-fur­long oval with sweep­ing bends. Races over five and six fur­longs start on a chute.

DRAW-WISE: Low num­bers are favoured in races up to seven fur­longs.


Richard Han­non and Mark Johnston send the most horses to Good­wood. They have a sim­i­lar strike-rate in most sea­sons but from a bet­ting and prof­itabil­ity point of view,it is Mark Johnston who you need to scru­ti­nize to stay in the black.

COURSE-WISE: the track is straight for six fur­longs with a right-handed loop twice at­tached to the straight. Races of a mile en­joy a four-fur­long run-in while longer races re-join the straight five-fur­long run-in.The up­per turn is quite sharp and the var­i­ous gra­di­ents, both up and down­hill, this is a sharp track which does not place the ac­cent on stamina,ex­cept of course in the Cup races. The five-fur­long track is one of the fastest in the coun­try.

DRAW-WISE: high num­bers have an ad­van­tage over seven and eight fur­longs. Low num­bers are favoured in sprints.Low to mid­dle num­bers are also favoured in big field hand­i­caps over 7f-8f.

HORSE-WISE: Handy, good-ac­tioned horses per­form well here. Long-strid­ing types are at a dis­ad­van­tage.There may be an ad­van­tage on the sprint course in large fields but fur­ther re­search is re­quired.


from the prof­itabil­ity an­gle, Iain Jar­dine’s run­ners and Joey Haynes’s mounts are the ones to care­fully study.

COURSE-WISE: it is a straight six-fur­long course,with a pear-shaped,right-handed loop. The whole course mea­sures 13 fur­longs with a run-in of 5 fur­longs. The bends are sweep­ing and the track has sev­eral slight un­du­la­tions.

DRAW-WISE: High num­bers are slightly favoured at all dis­tances but are at a bet­ter ad­van­tage up to a mile.

HORSE-WISE: Just over 3 fur­longs out there are steep gra­di­ents into and out of a pro­nounced dip,and then an up­hill climb to the fin­ish.In what is oth­er­wise a gal­lop­ing track, the dip pro­vides an in­ter­est­ing test for the long-strid­ing horse.


this is an in­ter­est­ing course prof­itabil­ity wise. Three train­ers and two jock­eys stand head and shoul­ders above the rest.Tom Das­combe,John Gos­den and Wil­lie Hag­gas carry the trainer ba­ton and our jock­eys are Richard Kingscote and Daniel Tud­hope.

COURSE-WISE: This com­prises of a left­handed oval cir­cuit of about 13 fur­longs, with a run-in of four-and-a-half fur­longs. There is a straight six-fur­long course,and an al­ter­na­tive six-fur­long course that starts on a tan­gen­tial ex­ten­sion to the round course, like­wise for the 12-fur­long course. There are only mi­nor sur­face un­du­la­tions, and easy bends. The long run-in is slightly up­hill,when the ground is soft, it be­comes quite a test of stamina.

DRAW-WISE: With the stalls on the stand side, high num­bers have an ad­van­tage in sprints. Low num­bers tend to have an ad­van­tage in races over other dis­tances, although early speed to se­cure a handy po­si­tion is equally im­por­tant.

HORSE-WISE: The course suits the longstrid­ing gal­loper. This ar­ti­cle will be con­tin­ued next month. Un­til then,take care and good in­vest­ing.



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