Ep 037: Reader’s questions with Rick Williams

Our Senior Form Analyst is back on the podcast to answer some great questions from a very keen punter.

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[powerpress] Drewfus posted the following on our blog and Rick answers them all in this episode: 1) In assessing a runner’s chance, do you place most weight on current form, or historical ability and peak career runs? Does the betting public overrate current form versus proven ability? 2) You mention that you punt off a market. Do you convert your ratings for each runner into a price using a formula, or does judgement play a role in generating your prices? 3) Are your ratings convertible to relative lengths and vice-versa? If yes, assume a 2 horse race where you have rated one runner exactly 1 length stronger than the other. What price would you require in a 100% market to regard the weaker runner as good value? 4) How do you modify your ratings for horses early in a campaign who may or may not have reached peak racing fitness? 5) What rule do you use for the effect of handicapping weight on lengths gained/lost? Does the effect of weight depend on race distance or the horses body weight? 6) What is the most important consideration – absolute weight, or relative weight changes? Does the public and racing media get this right or wrong? 7) When assessing runners form, to what extent are you influenced or place weight on strong form-lines? By ‘strong form-line’, I mean a race in which several prior start winners met, and/or from which two or three and preferably more runners won or nearly won their subsequent race. 8) To what extent do different tracks influence a horse’s performance? Are strong/weak track stats; a) statistically significant? b) due to a preference for/against a particular track, or only for similar tracks in terms of things like tightness of turns and length of front and back straights? Do some horses race ungenerously at their home track (as though they treated their home track races as training runs)? 9) How would you summarize the benefits of sectional time data over the traditionally available total race time and last 600m time? 10) Do you use sectional data to calculate split times – the times for the 1st and 2nd halves of the race distance? If yes, what generalisations can be made? Of two winners running the same track/distance/going in equal time but in separate races, which winner if any would be regarded as the strongest – the negative split winner, or the even split winner? 11) In generating a market for a race, how do you deal with uncertainties such as a runner that has never been tried at the distance, or run on a slow or heavy track? In general, are you avoiding punting on races in which the uncertainty level of your shortest priced runners is relatively high, or do you simply require higher odds to compensate for the uncertainties? If the later, how much higher? 12) How much do jockeys affect your assessment of a runner’s chances? Can you express a better-than-average jockey’s superiority in numerical terms, such as lengths? Does the betting public under-or-overrate the better jockeys? Generalizing and from a punters point-of-view, are the weight claims for apprentices satisfactory compensation for their lesser ability? 13) How do you assess the quality of a run in which any one or more of the following have occurred? a) slowly away or jumped awkwardly b) blocked or disappointed for a run c) checked or bumped hard d) raced wide in parts or throughout e) pulled hard/did not settle f) pulled-up lame or mildly lame g) poor post-race recovery h) suffered from heat stress. 14) How would you compare the differences between professional versus semi-serious punters in terms of a) time available for form analysis b) form analysis ability c) access to sectional data, race videos and other resources d) money management e) self-discipline f) ability to pick the right and wrong races for betting g) knowledge of the maths and stats relevant to racing?