Stats and trends have become hugely popular in the past few years, especially for festival meetings. Maths was never my strong point – if I could work out a £2 double at 11/4 and 9/2 I was happy.
So when stats came to the fore in racing, I, like many, welcomed them. They were the S-Plan diet for form students – lose work, gain time painlessly.
The first time I was alerted to the cracks in the stats ceiling was in 2008 when I had a very strong fancy for Captain Cee Bee in the Supreme Novices Hurdle at Cheltenham.
But the stats boys said – “Ignore seven-year-olds, they have a very poor record”. The Supreme is a race for novice hurdlers aged four and older. I set about digging a bit deeper and found that in the previous ten years, only a handful of seven-year-olds had run in the Supreme. That blew the stat’s credence, making it a non-stat. It also helped Captain Cee Bee go off at a longer price so the ‘stat’ was helpful to me in the end.
Another, bound to pop up somewhere before next Friday, is “ignore six-year-olds (Long Run) who have a very poor record in the Gold Cup” But as the popular Paul Jones, the man who is to stats what Brian Epstein was to The Beatles, tells us in his annual Festival Guide , only three six-year-olds have run in the race since 1963.
My simplistic view is that, unless stats are published with a sample size, treat them with extreme caution. For a much more comprehensive and learned insight, you will find James Willoughby’s article, enlightening.
Another excellent article from Timeform’s studious stats guru, Simon Rowlands is here
Good luck with your betting.
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