By memory it was about six and a half years ago in 1997 that Practical Punting Monthly first published some of my statistics about where the winners come from in regard to positioning in the run.

At the time, the statistics were based on a relative handful of races, a mere 2,247, so it is about time to update those figures, making them more meaningful, while adding in a few additional pace based ones as well.

The updated tables in this month's article are now based on a far more substantial number of races, a total of 50,622, and in excess of 500,000. The conventions used are: Leaders; On-Pace: 1st to 4th (including leaders); Mid.-Field. 5th to 8th; and Backmarkers: 9th or worse.

Leaders (All-the-way)

  Position # of Wins % of Wins
Settling1st (13.2%)
(Note: 1997 figures in parentheses)
The above table discloses that "all-the-way" leaders won 7,677 races, a percentage of 15.2 per cent or just over one race in every six and a half, a 2 per cent improvement on the 1997 analysis.

On-Pace Winners
  Position # of Wins % of Wins
Settling1st to 4th  (50.3%)
400m1st to 4th26,018 51.4%
(Note: 1997 figures in parentheses)
Similar to the previous study, just over half of the winners come from horses taking a forward position in the run throughout the race, with the result showing a slight increase in the overall percentage for on pace winners.

Mid-Field Winners
  Position # of Wins % of Wins
Settling 5th to 8th  (19.0%)
400m5th to 8th 1 9,720 19.2%
(Note: 1997 figures in parentheses)
For horses racing mid-field throughout, again a result that shows little difference from the previous study.

Backmarker Winners
  Position # of Wins % of Wins
Settling9th plus   (6.6%)
400m9th plus3,46816.9%
(Note: 1997 figures in parentheses)
A small increase for the backmarkers but with a strike rate of only one win in every fourteen and a half races, an abysmal performance overall.

Handy (1) Winners
  Position # of Wins % of Wins
Settling5th to 8th (11.5%)
400m1st to 4th 11.1%
(Note: 1997 figures in parentheses)
Handy (2) Winners
  Position # of Wins % of Wins
Settling1st to 4th  (2.6%)
400m5th to 8th 1,844 3.6%
(Note: 1997 figures in parentheses)
The Handy (1) table indicates that horses settling mid-field but able to take a more forward position at the 400m have a respectable strike rate, but the opposite is true of those runners who actually lose ground in the run to the turn, with a miserable strike rate of one win in close to 28 races, as displayed in the Handy (2) table.

The final group to be analysed are those runners I've termed as "tactical", which basically only represent a small number of runners overall.

Tactical (1) Winners
  Position # of Wins % of Wins
Settling9th plus (1.9%)
400m1st to 4th6371.3%
(Note: 1997 figures in parentheses)
Tactical (2) Winners
  Position # of Wins % of Wins
Settling9th plus (6.9%)
400m 2,718  5.4%
(Note: 1997 figures in parentheses)
Tactical (3) Winners
  Position # of Wins % of Wins
Settling5th to 8th  (1.2%)
400m9th plus546 1.1%
(Note: 1997 figures in parentheses)
Tactical (4) Winners
  Position # of Wins % of Wins
Settling1st to 4th  (0%)
400m9th plus420.1%
(Note: 1997 figures in parentheses)
The main observations to be gleaned from the "tactical" runners are those that lose ground, similar to the Handy (2) runners, perform extremely badly, while those that get back but make steady ground throughout, Tactical (2), perform alright without doing so outstandingly.

Finally in this part, the summary table below presents the relative frequency (RF) of all the various types of runners.

Clearly, the all-the-way leader with a relevant frequency (RF) factor of 2.5 stands out from the crowd in winner-finding, while runners who are placed within the first four at the 400m account for a total of 63.6 percent (close to two thirds of all winners). In fact they are the only type of runners who show positive RF factors.

In the second part of this article, the issue of pace and its effect will be considered.

Tables One, Two and Three (as best I know) are unique, as they are presented dependent on the early pace - slow, median or fast.

To enable a consistent approach without distortions due to track conditions, the statistics contained in these tables are based on 12,783 races run on good tracks only.

LeadersRuns% Of RunsWins% Of WinsRF Factor
On-Pace Runners164,87131.0% 26,018 51.4% 1.7
Mid-Field Runners126,62323.8%9,72019.2% 0.8
Back Runners108,96120.5%3,4686.9% 0.3
Handy (1) Runners38,4687.2% 5,62911.1% 1.5
Handy (2) Runners33,8336.4%1,843.6% 0.6
Tactical (1) Runners3,711 0.7%637 1.3% 1.9
Tactical (2) Runners28,4085.3%2,71 5.4%1.0
Tactical (3) Runners23,7084.5%5461.1% 0.2
Tactical (4) Runners3,5140.7%420.1%0.2
Total Runners: 532,096
Table One
# of
# of
% of
1000Mid- Field558 56.4434.4711119.9%
1400Mid- Field63683.9435.4917227.0%
1600On-Pace57797.47 35.79380 65.9%
1600Mid- Field57797.4735.7916027.7%
2000Mid- Field192124.0235.675930.7%
Note 1: Besides being shown seperately, the leaders at the 400m are also included in the On-Pace statistics.
Note 2: RTime = Race Time; STime = Sectional Time.
They are also based on the position of the runners at the 400m, not taking the settling position into account.

Not surprisingly, in races where the early pace is slow then the leaders and other on-pace runners are greatly advantaged.

What's more the distance of the races, at least up to 1600m, appears to make little difference, with the backmarkers, in particular, being at a distinct disadvantage.

Even when races are run in an even pace, there is not much joy for runners who get back mid-field or worse in sprint races up to 1200m, with only the longer distances of 160Om or over where they come into play to any degree.

(Note: Median pace races are considered those where the sectional time is run three lengths either way (faster or slower) which equates to half a second than the median sectional time.)

Table Three is for races where there was fast early pace and once again in the shorter sprint races, the backmarkers were unable to take advantage of the speed battle amongst the front-runners, while the mid-fielders barely managed one win in four at 100OM, only doing slightly better over 1200m.

However, at distances of 1400m or longer, the combination of mid-field runners and backmarkers finally became competitive, winning dose to 50 per cent at 140Om and just over 50 per cent at 2000m.

So, in summary what conclusions can be drawn from all of the tables contained in this article?

Clearly, with the passing of time, not much has changed since 1997 in regard to the positioning in the run of those most likely to win leaders and front runners continue to win far more races than in proportion to their relevant frequency, while the majority of runners who get back mid-field or worse underperform.

When the "pace" factor is then considered, there is some hope for the get-back types in races where there is an even (median) or fast early pace at races 1400m or longer.

Importantly, however, at the shorter sprint races of 1200m or less front-running types dominate irrespective of the early pace, with fast early pace only having minimal effect within this distance range.

By EJ Minnis