Every punter has heard that ‘mares in form are worth following’, but is this just another often repeated saying that isn’t actually true?

A horse that won last start certainly qualifies as being in form, so let’s take a look at the profitability of last start winners for a 3 year period (2009-2011):
More than 11,000 qualifying runners is a good sample size and it’s clear that mares are merely mediocre. There was next to no difference (-9.5% profit on turnover vs. -9.3%) between the profitability of following last-start winning mares compared to all other horses.

Now we will broaden our analysis and look at horses that ran 2nd or 3rd last start:

You can see that mares who’d run a minor placing last time out actually performed worse than non-mares, so again we don’t have strong evidence in favour of the old punting saying we’re assessing today.

For the third and final stage of our analysis let’s consider horses that won last time out and are the starting favourite today:

Once again there is nothing in that table to suggest that mares in form are worth following any more than any other category. If anything you could use those results as the basis of an argument that geldings are a better bet.
2014 update: Looking at the the profit performance of mares from 2012 to date you’ll see that nothing much has changed:

  • Last start winners are 2% worse (in terms of profitability) than other runners
  • Last start minor placegetters were no more or less profitable than other runners
  • Last start winners who are the favourite today were 1% better than the norm
Now my usual disclaimer to finish up with. These articles are meant to help you question everything that you see, hear and read because there are many myths that have been around longer than most punters. But professional form analysts consider every horse and race on its merits and have to factor in a huge number of variables to find value selections. Don’t be narrow minded in your approach or think that one form factor is the path to riches, but just as importantly don’t accept as fact everything that you hear.Repetition does not establish reality.