Along with speed maps, sectional times are somewhat of a ‘new’ form factor. They represent data that traditionally wasn’t captured properly, and thus went unused by most racing form analysts.
That’s all changed over the past decade or so. With a large and ever-growing amount of sectional times data now available, some have dived into the deep-end and base their entire form approach around them.
Are sectional times over-utilised or under-utilised? We asked a couple of the Champion Bets racing analysts.
“Sectional times are important in that they obviously give you the most accurate picture of how the race was run.
“Tempo is important as the closing sectionals don’t mean much unless you have a good idea of how it was run: you might have two races on the same day over the same distance, but if they go super hard in one and they crawl in the other, you need to take that into account when looking at the overall performances.
“I generally look at them in relation to the other runs on the same day, because all the other variables are relatively equal. They’re a piece of the puzzle and just another tool for putting it all together.”
“I use sectionals times to determine the pace of the race, and therefore to work out who was advantaged or disadvantaged by the pace. I use them in conjunction with the replays to either confirm or contradict what I see.
“Some people probably dig into sectionals in greater depth than I do – there’s some real devotees of them out there. I think they’re a tool and a part of the puzzle, but like a lot of other tools they have to be combined and fit into the overall picture of the race.
“I like using individual sectionals for trying to work out horses which will make more ground, etc., but again, it has to tie into what I see in the replay. You can go too far by concentrating solely on sectionals. I think maybe not enough people actually tie it in with what’s actually happened in the race.
“A lot of other things can impact sectional times, such as the ground, the wind and pace of the race. So they really have to be qualified… sectional times on their own are wild and untamed. They have to be analysed along with other factors and circumstances”
Sectional times: key learnings
- Like many ‘non-traditional’ form factors, the importance of sectional times can be over-stated
- Sectional times are an important piece of the puzzle: but still only one piece
- Sectional times should be used in conjunction with replays to ensure other factors are recognised
- Beware of the multitude of other factors that impact on sectional times; the best comparisons are usually made on the same day, when these other variables are minimised.