If you have been following me on social media or LinkedIn in recent weeks you will have noticed a lot of references to standard times, speed figures and ratings. I have spent most of the last 3 years collecting an enormous amount of time data for Racing in France, Spain and elsewhere, all with the aim of answering a question that almost every Racing pundit has asked at some point. “What that International form is worth is anyone’s guess?”.
The assumption that Racing is wildly different from one country to another seems ludicrous to me. There may be some subtle differences, but ultimately, it’s a question of a group of horses running over a set distance and whichever horse crosses the winning line in front is the winner. Understand the form and have the right data and anyone can learn to study Racing in a particular jurisdiction. When it comes to comparing form between different countries it gets a lot more complicated. I have developed my own system, primarily by creating a time data set for each country and applying it under the same set of conditions. It has taken a lot of time and a large amount of trial and error, but it is coming together. There will be a video on this Blog in the next few weeks that will explain the basics of this system but below we have a brief example of the results it can produce.
These are the results from the 3 races run on the All-Weather track in Madrid last weekend (the first 5 home in each race), complete with their speed ratings and a comparison converting their efforts to the Kilogram based handicapping system used in France. Why France? Well primarily because there are several French tracks, most notably Dax and La Teste, where we get many Spanish based runners, and it has been hard to compare their form to those of the native runners. I am confident, having compared thousands of French races, that I have a fair handle on the French form and how it compares to the rest of the world, so if I can convert Spanish form on those terms, it gives me a fair idea.
I will go into more detail about how this conversion rate has been calculated but I can give a brief example from these ratings. The winner of the opening race, Anaz, did very well to make all the running in the opening race and recorded a fast time in the process (0.34s outside the standard). Although this was her first win for some time, she ran to form, and we know that she handles an artificial surface because she won on the Polytrack at Pau in 2021. That French win came on a mark of 34 when she carried 56.5-kilos, so it is fair to say that this performance in Madrid, run in a fast time with more weight on her back would be considered a better performance. I have put a link to the replay of the race below, which has been uploaded by the excellent masdehipodromos.com and you can make your own mind up from there. If just watching the video it might be tempting to think that the fast finishing second, Izamal, is the horse to take from this race, but the figures and the time suggest it is the winner who has put up the best performance.
Horse are not machines so just because Anaz ran a rating of 103.7 this time doesn’t mean she is guaranteed to do the same on her next start. However, if her next start was in France, I would at least be able to have a more accurate idea of the level of form that she has shown in comparison to the rest of the field. Equally the data can only be used as a part of the overall form study. In the case of the opening race, Lee Bay was never on terms and Cham's Pride tired badly despite looking like the most likely winner as they turned for home. Such information can only be gained by studying the replay of the race and not just by looking at the bare numbers on the spreadsheet.
It isn’t fool proof, and I am in no doubt that this system works better when sectional times are available (which they aren’t in Spain), but over the coming weeks I will publish the ratings I have, and I hope to have the video explanation recorded before the French recruit’s series starts next month. You will find all the published ratings on the Racing Tab on the homepage in future.