Sectional Times: Another Piece Of The Form Puzzle

With a large and ever-growing amount of sectional data now available, sectional times have become a valuable tool for racing form analysts

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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.

But with a large and ever-growing amount of sectional data now available, some have dived into the deep-end and base their entire form approach around them. So let’s take a look at secs appeal:

They’re 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 race sectionals 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.

I think 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. I think 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 sectionals, such as the ground, the wind and pace of the race. So they really have to be qualified… sectionals on their own are wild and untamed. They have to be analysed along with other factors and circumstances.

Sectionals are obviously an important form factor. I mainly use them to determine the pace-shape of a race, which assists me in my video watching & finding advantage going forward. But they are just one piece of the puzzle and get used in conjunction with a number of other things. I think it’s important keep them in perspective.

Key learnings

  • Like many ‘non-traditional’ form factors, the importance of sectionals can be over-stated
  • Sectionals are an important piece of the puzzle: but still only one piece
  • Sectionals 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.