Friday, January 27, 2012

Looking Back at the National Handicapping Challenge 2012

Looking for Longshots

Generally, my attempts at handicapping tournament play have been failures. My goal for 2012 is to become a competent tournament player and then perhaps start to pursue the NHC Tour.

My approach to handicapping is to try to find the most probable horses at a price. In some cases, the favourites are confirmed as most probable horses and perform as expected. There are upsets when less probable horses win and the post mortem is usually either expected performances didn't materialize or the winner improved to a new level that wasn't necessarily predictable based on past performances.

This is an area of handicapping that is very challenging to master. I have read or heard numerous predictions of bounces, or better performances  based on previous trips or form cycle. While sometimes valid, these "angles" are hard to predict and measure effectively to determine probability. For example, it has been suggested that 3 declining speed figures is a clear negative and these horses should not be played. My experience says that these horses win their share and other factors are more important screening tools. I will be looking for a more consistent way to identify horses that can be played for tournament wins


In the past year, an extensive analysis was completed of factors that could help profile horses that win races. I divided these profiles into 2 categories: Horses with strong profiles that could be called key horses and another set of factors that identified horses with a chance of winning at higher odds. These 2 profiles are highlighted in Red and Yellow respectively on the Horsewin Reports.

Key Horses (Red)

In the results below for the NHC Mandatory Races, only 4 Key horses won or about 27% with a total return of $57.50, or average win/place price of $14.36. In addition 2 placed for an average place only payoff of $4.50.  In total 20 horses were identified as key or about 1.33 per race and some of these would have been value plays at odds greater than 3-1.

Over the Friday and Saturday Contest Period, Horsewin Handicapped approximately 82 (non-mandatory) races run at 5 tracks.  This created 164 Win/Place and Place Results that could count in contest scores. Key Horses highlighted in Red produced 69 wins (1st or 2nd finish) or 84% in the money. The rate of success suggests that Key Horses are good place to start in the search for winners. The key issue remains of how to get winners at adequate prices to be tournament competitive. At an average 1.3 per race, the right Key Horse has to be played which adds additional challenge.

The top 10 Win/Place payoffs in this 95 Winner Sample totaled $198.70 or an average of $19.87. This type of return is reasonable for competitive tournament play unless a handicapper can win a high % of plays.  In the NHC Championship, a total of $238 was achieved by the winner from 29 races or an average return of $8.20 per race. I suspect that the lower total is the result of capped (maximum payoff winners) that pushed most of the leaders to the top. It is suspected that others had to play higher odds horses which resulted in fewer winners. But again, it is difficult to nail the best horse at the best price, even when choosing from 2 or 3 contenders. A number of years ago I played an online tournament where where a top pick and back-up horse had to be selected. My back-up horses won enough return to win the tournament while my top picks performed below average.

Key Longshots (Yellow)

In total, 15 Longshots ( in 11 of 15 mandatory races) were identified in the same sample or an average of about 1.5 per race. Of these, there were 3 winners and 4 places. On average a highlighted longshot placed (1st or 2nd) in 6 of the 15 races. The average win place payoff (uncapped) was $37.14. The average place only payoff was $5.20. This appears to be another source of possible plays for tournaments.

In another group of 82 non-mandatory races from 5 different tracks handicapped by Horsewin, Key Longshots placed (1st or 2nd) 24 times or 29%.  The Key Longshots were not as effective in the larger sample in comparison to mandatory race sample.

Mandatory Races and Results Analysis

Track Race Horsewin Rank Win Result(W/P payoff) Place Result(P payoff)
Friday, January 27, 2012
GP 3 2,3,9,5,4,7 7 ($84) 9 ($5)
TAM 6 1,11,7,3,4 7 ($17.40) 3 ($5.60)
GP 9 3,7,11,4,8 3 ($10.60) 10 ($21.20)
SA 3 3,5,7,1,8 5 ($9) 3 ($5)
FG 9 1,2,7,9, 2 ($19.60) 7 ($4)
OP 9 2,7,3,9,4 9 ($14.60) 1 ($11.80)
SA 7 10,5,6,8,2 2 ($12.80) 9 ($8.40)
Saturday January 28 2012
AQU 4 6,8,1,7 1 ($14.90) 7 ($6.80)
AQU 6 4,2,8,5,3 4 ($9.90 ) 8 ($5.00)
TAM 8 10,6,8,2,7,9 8 ($10.80 6 ($4.80)
GP 9 1,10,5,3 5 ($8.40) 1 ($4.20)
SA 6 3,,8,9,1 5 ($18.80) 8 ($8.00)
GP 11 11,10,9,6 2 ($20.60) 11($5.00)
SA 8 2,4,9,7,3 3 ($13.20 ) 4($5.80 )
Horsewin Key Picks(Red)Horsewin Key Longshots(Yellow)

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