How old is too old?

The saying “If you’re good enough, you’re old enough” rings true to me. Don’t worry too much about a sportsman’s age (like the 14 year-old who qualified for the US Masters Golf, or Peter Senior winning our national Open at 53) just worry about what they are able to achieve.

But for horse racing punters the question is how does profitability vary according to age? The research period is 2007 to date and covers metro tracks only.

Looking exclusively at favourites, there really is not much of a variance amongst different ages:

So we will broaden our analysis to include all horses under 10/1:

That table shows quite clearly that 6 year-olds and 7 year-olds both underperform relative to market expectations. This is even more pronounced at distances under 2000m:

Six, seven and eight year-olds as a group lost 14% on turnover which was basically twice the rate of 2-5 year-olds.

The performance of older horses early in their preparations was even worse. First uppers lost 19% on turnover and second uppers lost a whopping 30%.

Now let’s focus on races of 2000m+ and you will see that older horses perform much better:

The quick summary:

  • The market gets it about right for favourites regardless of age
  • Older horses over sprinting distances is a poor combination
  • Older horses over sprinting distances racing either 1st or 2nd up are very poor betting proposition

Each of those points really seem like common sense punting, so it’s a little surprising that the market doesn’t factor it in efficiently.

Good luck David Duffield