How to get the most out of race replays

How to get the most out of race replays By Todd Burmester A lot of work is often done by punters pre-race to determine selections, but post race analysis is often overlooked. As I provide the Sydney Racing Review each week, I wanted to provide some insight into the importance I see in reviewing race replays and how to do it effectively. On any given race day, you’ll hopefully set out with a plan of what you’re going to back, so at the end of the day, it makes sense to review how that plan went. Which of your selections were successful? Which weren’t? And why? Some of these answers can be found in the race replays, that you may not notice in the live running of the race. This applies not only to your selections but also to the other runners in the race. One thing I will say from the outset however, is that there can be a big trap in watching video replays and that is, there is always a tendency to concentrate on runners that are “flying home”. It’s natural, they are captured by your eye and often mentioned by the race caller. Purely sticking to these runners, is likely to have you come up with a horse that will start favourite next start and may let you down again and again. We all know there are horses that are professionals at running on. Of course, this doesn’t mean that you should ignore horses flashing home, in fact, I place a lot of emphasis on horses who are finishing their race off strongly but to quantify these sorts of runs, it’s imperative to consider the pace of the race. It is not always those horses who are “flashing home” that are the ones finishing their race off best. Firstly, what I will do when watching a video replay, is watch the race in its entirety at “full speed”. On this run through, I will get a feel for what the pace of the race was like and whether the field settled in basically the order I expected them to. ie. Did the horse lead that was expected to, did any horses miss the start etc. Also during this run through, I will note any horses that were trapped wide, and also where the eventual winner of the race was positioned in the run. By the time I watch the race for a second time, I now have an idea of the following.

  • Was there a strong pace, which meant the backmarkers may come into it, or was the pace slow meaning the leaders were likely to kick?
  • Which horses were wide and therefore I need to keep a closer eye on in the second run through to see how they coped with the wide run.
  • Did the winner have a cushy run (for example on the fence behind the pace) which may have flattered it?
  • Were any horses racing in a position that wasn’t predicted prior to the race (i.e. was a known leader ridden off the speed) and how did these runners cope with that run
  • Did any miss the start or seem to get interfered with that cost them badly and how were they ridden after that? Sometimes beaten margins can be exaggerated once the horse is out of winning contention.

The next step is to watch the race again, this time using the “pause” button to make more specific notes on what is going on based on the observations from the first run through. By the time I have watched the second run through, I now have some notes about horses that ran particularly well, and those that were seemingly disappointing. For example, if a short priced favourite had an easy run in front and is a known leader, but in this race stops in the straight, I will note down that it was either disappointing or perhaps injured. If another runner is three wide on the speed but keeps going to only be beaten a couple of lengths, I will likely note it down as a good run. And for those temping ones that are “flashing home” I will decide based on the pace, and the run they had in transit, whether that was a good effort or perhaps they were entitled to do so. Horses that are either keeping going in front off a strong pace, or running on off a slow pace are of particular interest, as they have potentially done what they are not entitled to do. I will then take a third run through of the race, this time concentrating on smaller sections of the race. For example, if a horse is seemingly interfered with, I will have a look at whether this truly did cost them ground, or I may go back and look at various distance markers in the race to take note of when horses started to make their runs. As an example of this, if a horse is asked to take off at the 600m, that is a long run for home, so if it is able to sustain that length of run (even if beaten a small distance), it’s a positive. On the other hand, if a horse takes off a fair way out, and then is beaten after 200m of making its run, it is a sign that it is either not fit, or needs to be ridden a bit differently. To wrap things up, I look to summarise the race in terms of what took place, and compare that against what perhaps should have taken place based on the circumstances of pace and “in running” positions. Often, the horse that is wide on the speed but kept going to the line is missed by many in favour of the one who flashed home from the back after an easy run. Identifying this sort of thing is the value in watching race replays.