Having only just recovered from the festivities of Cheltenham I’m now just about to head off to Aintree this morning for their three day meeting including of course the Grand National. It’s on my best behavior for this trip though as the wife will be coming with me!
Thought I’d try something different for today and instead a telling stories of yesteryear I’d have a look at timings in racing. This idea came to me yesterday whilst reading an interesting article published by BBC sport on the differences between human athletes and racehorses. It was proven within the article that as humans we have improved massively in our speed as athletes but horses have stagnated.
Using timings comparing the Grand National with a marathon we saw the following differences.
1934 – Grand National – 9 mins 20 secs
1934 – Marathon – 2 hours 29 mins
2013 – Grand National – 9 mins 12 secs
2013 – Marathon – 2 hours 3 mins
As you can see the National has shaved just 8 secs off its time whereas the Marathon has seen a reduction in a time of a massive 27 minutes. That is a significant difference in timing comparatively and makes for interesting reading. There are many reasons for this and one theory was that horses have always been the ultimate athlete whilst humans are improving due to better health regimes, diets and understanding of the way the body works.
Anyway I’m sure you’re wondering what all this has to do with betting? Whilst reading the article it sprung to mind how this type of information isn’t readily available to the modest punter. If we watch other racing sports from swimming to motor car racing we always have a little clock in the corner of the screen showing us how many minutes/seconds have elapsed. Why not in racing?
Is it a conspiracy amongst the bookmaking fraternity? Some very successful gamblers have used sectional timings and some are still seen on the breeze ups with stop watches in their hands. What are they up to?
You place several people at furlong intervals and time each furlong independently so that over a certain distance one can calculate the sectional timings. It works and it works well. As punters we always focus on finding the winner, reading the form and looking for the capability of the horse on the going etc but what of speed figures?
We can gain access to this information and it is rather obscure within the results of the Racing Post website. It is worth looking into these times further and using them to help us find the likeliest fastest horse in the race. I won’t go into it now as I now have to get going to the festival but I will show you how I use times to find winners in next weeks column.
Until then have a cracking weekend and I hope you find the winner of the Grand National!