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No ratings today 19/01/13

A blank day on the racing front so I just thought I would share with you the response that came through from the BHA to my e-mail earlier this week, asking them if they could explain to me the differences in race times, two years apart, at Warwick. Before I tell you what I think of the response, have a read and come to your own conclusions first.

Thank you for your email. There is a lot to take in there so I will try and answer as much as I can.

The first point I would like to make, is that the going on the day, is validated by the stewards. If there is a groundswell of participant/officials’ opinion that the going has changed, the Stewards will change it.

In regards to the comparison between the meeting in 2013 and 2011, there are several points to be considered:

·         The first line of the Racing Post comments in running for 15/1/11 at Warwick say the ground was “Heavy, Soft in places and there was a strong tailwind in the straight”, this could account for some of the difference in time, if you take the opinion that the straight is where the pace is likely to be ratcheted up.

·         The first line of the RP comments in running for 12/1/13 says “the Going was Soft…and the jockeys reported that the ground matched the official description”.

·         It is very possible that the races may have been run at different paces, which will of course have an impact on the time.

·         Racecourse’s do not remain static in their layout and there could well have been rail movement changes that would have affected the actual distance slightly. These are announced daily on the Going page on the BHA website.

·         You are also using The Racing Post “standard times” which are based on a subjective formula by Racing Post’s Topspeed – could he have tweaked his formula in the last two years?

·         There is also perhaps only a small difference (depending on the individual racecourse) between whether testing ground was ‘Soft’ or ‘Heavy, Soft in places’. Of course there is a difference, but just how big it is, could be open to debate.

Finally, I cannot think what the CoC at Warick, or any other racecourse for that matter, would achieve by misleading the betting public and connections.

Ok, there we have it. My query has been passed to someone junior in their ranks. Again, before I tell you what I think of that above, you can have a read of my response:

Thank you very much for your response, it is much appreciated.
As to why anyone would wish to mislead the betting public. I’m absolutely sure it is not being done to mislead the betting public but, if the word soft, as opposed to heavy, is in a going description, it will presumably encourage connections of horses suited more to soft, to turn up to race? What happens after that is then entirely up to the connections of those horses.
We had a scenario at Plumpton this week, where the official going had the word soft in the description until after the first race had been run. I know for a fact that jockeys prior to riding in the first race were discussing just how bad that ground was and that “plenty of zig-zagging” would take place to try and find the “best ground”. If the going were simply soft around the majority of that track, would their be any need for such a conversation?
After the race Choc Thornton was interviewed by Mick Fitzgerald for ATR and, whilst wearing half the track on his face, was trying to tell everyone how bad it really was, without actually saying it. Five minutes after the race, they changed the going description to heavy all over, which seemed to have been accepted by the jockeys before they even went to the start for that first race.
I read the RP comments you refer to regarding the jockeys suggesting it was riding as indicated and I fully understand that races are run at different paces etc. Have their been any major changes made to the configuration of Warwick in the last two years? I will certainly make a point of contacting the Racing Post to pose the question regarding possible tweaking….but for a horse to carry a stone more than another in the same race two years apart, and produce a time seven seconds superior, on assumed slower ground, it will have had to be some serious tweak and a short cut removed by Warwick for this years race. Jockeys and trainers I have spoken to since Saturday have also been at a loss to explain such a difference.
This is not a matter peculiar to Warwick, I have been looking at another track two years apart and a recent meeting at Leicester has thrown up exactly the same anomalies.
As a punter first and foremost, and one who uses official going guides as a major factor in my decision making, I’m finding it very hard to take literally some of the descriptions being produced. I know and fully understand we have had a year of exceptional weather and that it is causing all manner of problems but, some meetings are going ahead that should not (in my humble opinion). Ffos Las a couple of days ago being one. As a lover of horse racing I find it very hard to accept I’m actually watching horse racing, when a race takes the best part of two minutes over standard, to complete. I watched a three horse race in which the only thing that mattered to those riding was getting round in one piece and the race, run over a trip in excess of three miles, only started after they jumped the last fence. Tom Scudamore, who has been riding for a fair few years now, described it as the worst he had ever raced on.
Wincanton two days ago. The going again described as soft, heavy in places but someone local, standing next to the second last fence advised me it was actually worse ground than when they last declared it heavy all over down there.
I do appreciate that it is not an exact science and that adults can make a decision to bet on it, or not bet on it but I guess until we see the sun shining again and can see the word good in the going description, it’s probably a good idea to do something other than bet on horse racing.
Thanks again for taking the time to respond. Once I hear back from both Warwick and the Racing Post I will avail you of their comments.

i think someone at the BHA has been tasked with putting down an idiot.

I have underlined certain words the responder has used in his reply. Words like “perhaps”, “could have”, “very possible”, indicate to me that the responder had no intention of finding these things out for himself, to enable him to say to me, “these are the facts and causes for those anomalies”….he didn’t say to me, “we have checked with Warwick to find out about course changes to configuration”, or “the Racing Post advises us that their Topspeed man has tweaked his formula”….which clearly means the BHA has no intention of doing anything about anything. If Joe Public e-mails them with a request for information, it really would appear it’s passed over to the “we have another idiot” department.

The guy who responded to me presumably works for the BHA, has access to their archived information and could surely have located any information stored regarding the changes to the configuration of the track….he tells me himself this is where I should look to find it….why did he not include this in his response, if it exists?

So, what I have done is contact both Warwick racecourse and Racing Post, asking the questions he should have asked, if he ever had any real intention of answering my questions properly.

If, as he suggests, the times carried by the Racing Post are not the “official” race times….where are they archived so I can check again? Why has he not included the “official” race times in his response to prove to me that the discrepancy I found is actually nothing like as bad in reality….which is what he is trying to say, no?

I can absolutely guarantee you that he is right in one thing he says. Races would indeed have been run at a different pace in 2011. They would have been run more slowly on heavy ground than soft, wouldn’t they? Isn’t that another indicator as to the going on any given race day? Do we not see, on RacingUK, them posting up the race time after each event, to provide us with the information we need to help us determine the true state of the ground?

His last bullet point regarding how potentially finite it is between soft and heavy and the potential for debate – what’s the going stick reading all about then? If it goes in more on heavy than it did on soft, then they know….don’t they?

In truth, this is not about you and me as punters. In truth, nobody really cares what we think about inaccurate going descriptions. This, I believe, is about making sure trainers send horses to racecourses. If, for example, the official going description at Plumpton this week had indicated how bad it really was, their races would have probably been less than half full. I’m not just picking on Plumpton, all tracks are guilty, from what I’ve seen since the rains came.

Why am I banging on about this so much?

You came to me in the first instance because you felt you would receive information, daily, to help you beat the layers. I can do this, it’s what I have been doing since 2004. Anyone who joined me in 2011 will tell you that some of the results achieved were as an obvious alliance with Beelzebub but then, those rains arrived. I use 11 criteria for working on a flat race and eight for working on an NH race but in both cases, the primary ingredient in both cakes is a wholly accurate going description. Only then can I ascertain whether or not the pace of a race will be true, which horses are best suited to all conditions relating to an individual race, etc etc etc….I even have details of horses I believe don’t face rain!

But if I work on the basis the ground is soft and it transpires it’s marshland, none of us will win. Those race times I provided from Ffos Las earlier this week were truly ridiculous and I have promised you I’ll be working with Ffos Las from the end of 2013. The data I have accumulated thus far isn’t worth a carrot to be honest. You could not translate the form achieved there to another track.

If I don’t find you winners then this house falls down. Those new to what I do, who possibly arrived by way of recommendation, or saw results achieved on a day when we did have the going “as described”, will probably be wondering what the heck they have bought into! I would be thinking the same thing myself. I don’t want to be adding text in my Newsletters that advises you that “here are my figures, I’m not betting because”…..”be it on your own head if you punt using them”…..that’s not what this is about at all. My newsletters should be filling you with confidence when it comes to punting a 20 runner handicap on a Saturday, not reading it thinking, “I’ve still no idea what I should be punting”….so I will keep badgering those that are responsible for not being 100% up front about the ground, because it is as important to me to have you here, as it is for those racecourses to have trainers pull up with full horse boxes.

The weather will, eventually, relent, we will get back to normal and we will hit the layers so hard their heads will spin….so keep the faith and I’ll keep on at those who tell porkies about the mud.

Have a great day, whatever you end up doing

Kindest regards


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