One of the great mysteries of racing has always been the subject of 'pace', or how a race will be run. Some races, mainly the shorter sprints, speak for themselves.

We know that a 1000m Lightning Stakes, or an 110Orn Oakleigh Plate, is going to be run at a hectic pace. The issue is not so clear once the races get longer.

In sprints, though, up to about 1400m, we can reasonably assume that a fast clip will be established. Our task as punters is to work out which of the runners will lead, which will settle off the pace, and which ones will drift back and attempt to run home strongly.

With races at 1400m and longer, the pace factor becomes more puzzling. We need to ask ourselves if there's a fast pacemaker, whether the race will be dominated by speed or whether the race will be controlled by a dawdler.

If you're serious about considering pace, then you will want to examine these areas very closely. They might prove the difference between picking a winner or falling into a loser.

Remember that a slow pace early means it's harder for the 'get back' runners to finish on and win. A fast pace means the backmarkers are often able to produce a fast filial 200m or 300m and overtake the pacesetters.

Use your formguide to pick out likely leaders. Formguides like Sportsman and Best Bets provide ample information. Sportsman actually picks out the likely leader in its Chartform section.

They are listed under the headings:




In a nutshell, then, you have a broad idea of where each runner is going to be positioned. You may recall the 'race maps' article we published some months ago which explained in detail how to pinpoint these factors and transpose them to a map of what is likely to happen in a race.

If you want to do things yourself you'll need to turn to the formguide. Best Bets lists only two race-running stats but they're enough to give a picture of where horse might be expected to race.

I usually add up the last 5 figures and divide them by the number of races. For example, let's look at Pins in the AAMI Classic on February 26.

His last 5 in-running positions listed in Best Bets were:

2-2,3-4, 2-1, 2-2,3-3.

It was pretty easy, then, to expect this well-fancied runner to be positioned 2nd or 3rd early and at the turn, which is more or less how it worked out.

In contrast, we could look at another runner in the race, Oval Office, and see that his last 5 inrunning figures were:

14-13, 12-14, 10-9, 9-10 and 8-7.

We call see clearly that it's most unlikely Oval Office will be racing anywhere near the front. His figures show a distinct pattern of getting back early and on the turn.

In the AAMI, the colt did exactly that, being 11th at the 800m and still back 7th on the turn. Pills raced 4th at the 800m and 3rd at the 400m. Both horses fitted their patterns.

The odd thing about the race, though, was that the eventual leader, Trousers, had no record of racing out in front. His in-running statistics were:

5-6, 11-11, 6-5, 10-8, 4-4.

So only from his last race cart we see much sign of him being an onthe-pace runner, and there is certainly no evidence of him being a leader.

It seems obvious that his connections decided to adopt a different approach and send him out in front. The tactic failed. Trousers was in front on the turn and then weakened under pressure to finish well back.

As you can see from this one sample race, predicting pace and where horses will be positioned in the running is far from an exact science. But do it carefully and you will be right more times than you are wrong.

Believe me, it'll be well worthwhile to work out the races on which you intend to bet. Picturing a race in this fashion will help you to decide on the likely winner and, perhaps just as important, which of the lesserfancied runners might fill the placings and provide you with a big exotics bet return.

Remember, if you don't have the time to work things out for yourself, then a copy of Sportsman's Chartform will go much of the way to giving you the information you require.

By Martin Dowling