Weight Doesn’t Matter! (diary post+free stuff)

The Chase Is On: Weight Doesn’t Matter! (Diary Post)

Hello there.

This will be a meandering post of sorts. In it I highlight a daily column that is part of my daily reading routine and is one of the few racing related emails I always open. There are also some links to some great free resources that could help your betting/profit levels. 

The main chunk of this post however will be dedicated to ‘going back to basics’ on the jumps front. Well mainly I am going to ‘plagiarise’ from a book called ‘The Inside Track – The Professional Approach’ – written by Alan Potts. This was published in 1998 and I have read through it before. I thought I would dust it off again as I try to retrain the brain to 3m+ handicap chases. (it needs it!) 

So, I will highlight some of the points that he made which stood out to me. I am sure you can still get this book somewhere and I think it is worth the read. There are chapters on all three codes, spread betting, ‘punters and other people’ and ‘odds and evens’. It is a fascinating read and I have only scratched the surface. 

 

Where to start…

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Weight Doesn’t Matter

I will touch on this when looking at the book above but this isn’t an analytical post as such. However, the Final Furlong Podcast gang, which you can access through the ATR website, were asking for questions to discuss on this week’s episode. I tweeted them with handicap chases…actual weight carried is irrelevant. Discuss’

The presenter got back in touch and said they would do just that. He also said an elite jockey, at a Festival preview evening last season, made that very same point.

So, I won’t go into detail about that topic now (I am not sure I will add any value to what Alan says below or what the podcast team may touch on)  but it will be interesting to hear all of their thoughts on the matter. It is clearly a complex topic.

Alan has a few thoughts of his own also..

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Daily Punt Blog

The Daily Punt blog, run by the good folk who I write my monthly magazine for (same chaps behind The Betting School/Insiders Club etc), is now a daily must read for me. Or, it is when David Massey is writing his column, which is most days.

‘Cutney Dave’, as he is more affectionately known apparently (i don’t know why), is one half of the Racing Consultants and knows his onions. He also has a rather entertaining and informative way of writing. I enjoy the read and know many of you will also. This isn’t a plug for any sort of paid service etc, (it isn’t an affiliate link) simply a recommendation for you to check out a free column that you may enjoy reading. I do.

You can flick through today’s post, and find older posts, HERE>>> (do read what follows before you head there though)

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The Chasing Game

Let’s get into the main reason for me scribbling today. I am just going to highlight some points made by Alan Potts in relation to handicap chasing. There is no analysis here as such, more just food for thought. These are Alan’s views and I should print of these points and keep them above my computer I think. I hope you find the following notes of some use… 

  • The only thing likely to happen at the start that might affect the way the race is run, is the fact that the inside positions on the rail are traditionally taken by the senior jockeys. If you back a horse ridden by an amateur, or a conditional, expect to be on the outside. It won’t often matter, but can do at a sharp track.
  • Shape of the race…at the front is the best place to be in any chase, providing a clear view of the fences and a guarantee that the horse can’t be brought down or hampered by other’s mistakes. The shape I look for is a chase with a single front runner. I don’t believe there are any other patterns that warrant consideration when looking for a bet
  • A quick touch on Novice Chases…those chasers who go on to reach the top level, almost always win one of their first two chase races
  • Handicap Chases… the general principles can be reduced to four statements
    • Weight Doesn’t Matter
    • Young Chasers are the best bets (noted!!, again)
    • Suited to track and trip
    • Good jumpers in form
  • Weight…Takes no account of the actual weight a horse is carrying in a handicap chase. (personally there is the odd exception for me- a Welsh National run on Heavy for example where clear weight trends. Also clearly some smaller horses simply cant carry a big weight) I (that’s Alan) takes the view that the issues of jumping, fitness, suitability to track and distance are far more significant in a handicap chase, than a difference of a few pounds on a horse’s back. Takes view that weight is most important when a horse is trying to change speed at deciding stage of the race. Important on the flat, but in Chases they tend to go a steady pace the whole way round with only slight changes of speed at any point.
  • In the great majority of races run at uniform pace the winner (dictated by the need to jump fences safely) will have been leading or sitting close to the pace throughout the race. It is quite unusual for a horse that is deliberately held up more than 10L behind the pace to win a handicap chase, although it does occur in longer distance chases.
  • The weight carried may not matter, but the BHA mark certainly does. The rating decides in which races the chaser can run in, and more importantly, at which course.
  • As a successful chaser climbs ratings he reaches a level at which he no longer qualifies for races on the lesser tracks. Better courses > better opposition > stiffer fences.
  • So, it’s the jump in class I watch out for, not the weight carried.
  • Age…
  • Of all the types of racing in this country the one that takes the greatest toll of the horses is steeplechasing.
  • The simple fact is that younger chasers win more often than older ones. They have more natural speed and if they can jump well, will inevitably outpace older horses. The shorter the race, the more certain this equation is to the rule. Exceptions are high class horses or those who have had one or more seasons off the track.
  • Loss of speed for older horses the problem…can only be compensated by improving jumping technique or to step up in trip so speed less of an issue.
  • So
    • Two Miles: 6 + 7 year olds
    • Two and a half miles: 7 + 8 year olds
    • Three miles: 7 +8 year olds
    • Three and half miles plus: 8 + 9 year olds
  • I add one year to those categories for the period Jan –April after the equine birthday.
  • Always exceptions – considering older horses if shown winning form that season, for example.
  • Be wary of French Breds – generally seem more mature than local rivals. Often can handle 3m+ age 5/6, but also seem to decline sooner also.
  • Had noticed that horses doing well at the top level had often started chasing careers very young, aged 5. Gives useful balance of jumping experience and speed by the time they reach maturity aged 7 + 8.
  • Many top chasers won’t have raced in handicap hurdles, and will have won one of first two chase starts. Or indeed won’t have had a prolonged period over hurdles at all.
  • Track and trip…
  • Horses, like humans, can have lead legs and this can dictate whether they prefer going left handed or right handed. Where a horse is trained may dictate whether they actually only ever race one way or the other in early part of career, so may not be there is actually a preference. A horse may just be a rotten jumper.
  • The nature of the track…simply splits tracks into flat or undulating. Can depend if the jumps are on a flat part of track. He would count Sandown as a flat track.
  • With few exceptions, the top grade tracks are stiff, the gaff tracks are sharp. Thus an apparent preference for sharp tracks is inevitable for a chaser who wins a few races around the gaffs, and vice versa.
  • Always prepared to give a chaser a chance when stepping up in trip, until it proves to be a mistake. As long as the horse adapts to the slower pace and doesn’t ruin his chance by pulling to hard, then good jumping can compensate for any lack of stamina in the pedigree.
  • Races over 3 and a half miles or further…. Find a chaser who is genuinely suited by that sort of trip. These long distance races often fall to a previous winner of a similar contest in the same season. (using minimum of energy in jumping can take you far)
  • Good jumpers in form…
  • Simple ideas can be the best…Alan writes up a quick analysis of 27 Class A/B chases run at the major tracks (Ascot/Cheltenham/Haydock/Kempton/Newbury/Sandown/Wetherby)… a last time out winner won 16 of the 27 races (this area is ripe for a bit of digging in my HRB account)
  • It is not a good idea to make excuses for a poor run LTO, with only two winners having failed to complete on their last start in that mini sample above. Failure isn’t often followed by success. The stats are for top class chases- pattern may not apply as much as you drop down the classes.

The end.

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Well, some food for thought there. I don’t think I will get away with repeating the whole book 🙂 In truth that is a small set of notes from one section on chases. It is a very good book for me and is still relevant. I should probably read the Flat chapters in time for next season!! But, there are definitely some good reminders in that list above for me. 

Some of it is simple but simple can be best and it is good to keep reminding ourselves of such things. 

If you google Alan Potts ‘books’ or ‘horses’ (or both) on Google, there is plenty to flick through. Having just done that there may be some other books I should buy! 

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FREE STUFF

I will be in selling mode again in the latter half of this week to promote my new stats pack. (Trainer Track Profiles: Jumps 2016/17)

However, I am quite aware most people don’t wish to pay for things etc, so I thought I would highlight a couple of great freebies that you may or may not be aware of…

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Full disclosure…both of those links above are affiliate links. That means if you do ever join anything that you have to pay for, I will make some commission. The free stuff is quality, I know that much. It will make your experience of this great game more enjoyable I think. 

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Right, I think that is it for this post. I hope you find something of interest in that little lot.

As always, any questions, comments etc do post away,

Josh

 

About This Author

Hi, I'm Josh and thanks for reading my blog, Racing To Profit. Hopefully you like what you find. This is a place for horse racing fans of all levels and ability, bettors and non bettors. Here I, and fellow readers, share our opinions on horses and information that may help you find your own winners. Do say hi, we are a friendly bunch... and if you could use the 'share buttons' above that would also be appreciated :)

8 Comments

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  • If weight doesn’t matter in chases, how much less does it matter in flat h’caps?
    We hear and read so much ‘analysis’ that focuses on ‘welter burdens’, ‘too high in the weights’, ‘mark too high’ ‘opening mark harsh’, (name your own cliches) etc.
    Is it nothing more than stale vacuity?

    Chris 12 months ago Reply


    • It may well do! My analytical mind has moved on a bit from the flat now TBH. It will be detailed in the flat chapter of Alan’s Book – I suspect he would say it is more important on the flat in terms of the change of speed- flat horses going quicker near the end etc , but, that is if the race is run at a crawl say where they quicken up.

      Certainly in handicap chases it has never been near the top of my list of factors. I would see whether the horse has proved they can’t carry a big weight say. A rise of 6-8lb say I can’t see making much difference in a 3m+ chase. One mistake say erodes any advantage you may get from that.

      Albeit, having said that – I do remember a V Williams interview where she said a rise in a few pounds etc can affect a horses jumping, and more weight could make them less fluent. I suppose they have to put in more effort to lug it over a fence and some may struggle with that. But, then again, the track/fence type then may become more important.

      A complex issues. Certainly before the flat swings around again next season one for me to have a look at in more depth.

      Josh 12 months ago Reply


  • Good informative stuff here Josh – many thanks
    Bob

    Bob Cottam 12 months ago Reply


    • no problem Bob, hopefully this kind of clear thinking from mr Potts can help us all in coming months!

      Josh 12 months ago Reply


  • I don;t really agree with such restrictive age restrictions. I know Alan states that if a horse has winning form from earlier in the season, you can discount the criteria but nevertheless.

    Many horses older than 8 pop up to win 2 mile handicap chases. We’ve had some fine 2 mile chasers older than eight over the years – recently there has been Sizing Europe, Spinter Sacre and Sire de Grugy to name just three.

    Aintree also definitely needs to be added to the list of Grade 1 jumps tracks.

    Matt 12 months ago Reply


    • yep agree on those points – I will do some digging in HRB on some of those various views. I think they could be a good guide and logically makes plenty of sense. There are always exceptions. I have probably backed too many ageing warriors in 3m+ chases in last 12 months and they are hard to find, albeit not impossible. One of biggest wins, points wise, was on Any Currency last year when he dotted up after the Festival – but then he proved he was in form and had a pace advantage. Al Co at Aintree over the summer would be another. What with Veteran’s chases now, and how much money you can win with those/final, that may change some of those dynamics also.

      Josh 12 months ago Reply


  • I should add that I have read the book the Inside Track.

    It is excellent when talking about the flat. However, I feel that the section on the jumps is somewhat of an afterthought. I do believe there are far fewer books out there about betting over jumps, compared to the flat. Maybe that’s because what you see with your eyes is more important in jumps racing?

    Matt 12 months ago Reply


    • Yep maybe – he starts by saying how his betting switched more to the flat, as a pro punter. But he still did pretty well from his jumps racing and while maybe an afterthought, or less focus than jumps, still plenty packed in. I need to read the flat bits again!

      Yep maybe- you can pick up a lot from going track side, esp pre race. Remember going to Aintree couple years back on fast ground. It was a chase and all bar one of them had bandaging of some sort on their legs. The one who didn’t also had some ok form, and won well. Watching the jumping may be more important- he talks about how you can pick up the speed of a jump through TV because cameras are moving with the action etc, or are in front of a fence. If you put plenty of emphasis on jumping I suppose that would be important!
      Tricky – still enough to go on to make chasing game pay even from your couch.

      Josh 12 months ago Reply


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