Friday, 13 April 2012

Grand National Market Analysis

The Market Examiner Grand National Pre-Race Market Analysis

Recently we at The Market Examiner explored whether market moves in the last few minutes before race-time at the Cheltenham festival were useful pointers towards a horse’s chance. Our main conclusion was that, yes, those horses which shortened in price in the final few minutes did outperform those others which stayed the same price, or drifted in price.

In particular, we found it would have been profitable to support, even blindly at SP, those horses running in handicap chases near the front of the market, which had shortened in price.

So would this trend transfer to the most famous handicap chase of them all – the Grand National?

First of all, here are some overall findings:

Of the 399 horses which have gone to post in the last ten Grand Nationals, 240 stayed the same price from opening show (60.2% of total) (many “touched” other prices, but if they settled at the opening show price, we count as stayed the same). 111 shortened in price (27.8% of total), and 48 drifted in price (12%).

First of all, it is quite notable just how many horses shortened, with more than one in four contracting in price. At the Cheltenham Festival over the last ten years, that figure is just over one in five (20.15%). We can perhaps put this down to the bookmakers running for cover from large liabilities from the millions of “once a year” shop punters, with reports of more than £250million staked in recent years. The National market, while mature, is liable to very big moves on the day of the race, showing that plenty of punters wait until race-day before getting their bets on. The most obvious example of this in recent years was the huge plunge on Don’t Push It in 2010 for JP McManus and ridden of course by Tony McCoy, backed down from 20/1 to 10/1f by off-time before winning comfortably.

So do the 111 horses which shortened outperform the others?

In a word, yes. While overall 27.8% of horses shortened, four of the last ten nationals (40%) have been won by a horse whose price had shortened. To extend this, of the 12% which drifted, one has won (10%) and of those 60.2% who stayed the same price, five won (50%).

So, while our sample size isn’t huge, we can see that horses which have shortened in price do outperform all other categories in relation to their numbers.

What further supports this notion, is the number of placed efforts. We have considered the front four to be places, although of course many bookies pay out on the front five these days.
40 horses have placed in the last ten years, this is made up of:

14 which shortened in the betting pre-race (35%)
21 which stayed the same price (52.5%)
5 which drifted in price (12.5%)

So again, of the 27.8% of horses which shortened from opening show, they made the frame more than their fair share. In the six years where a horse which didn’t shorten won the race – in each of those years a backed horse came second. That’s a strong trend, and is certainly something which we should be able to take advantage of as punters. But how?

Let’s break down those 111 horses which shortened in price.

The average SPs of all 111 was 28.23/1 – but the average SP of the winners was just 9.5/1. So, like our Cheltenham analysis, it looks like we should be concentrating at the front of the market.
If we look at horses which have been backed and start 14/1 or shorter we have:

43 Selections
Wins: 4 (9.3% strike rate)
Placed: 14 (35% - including the four winners) – of which SIX came second
Average odds: 9.85/1
Average Win Odds: 9.5/1
Running total to SP: -1pt

While backing them all to win at SP returns a very small loss, backing them each-way would have returned a small profit.  However, the bigger secret could be to grab a horse’s price (at 14/1 or less) when it is on the way down, thereby locking in some of that value, safe in the knowledge that you’ve backed a horse which, based on ten-year-trends - has a 23.26% chance of coming either first or second. Of course, if backing at SP, these days we have BSP as an alternative and it’s safe to assume that if BSP would have been around for all ten years, then this line would have been profitable at win-only (Don’t Push It, for example, was 17.83/1 at BSP compared to 10/1 at SP).

If we look at all other horses which have started 14/1 or shorter – but drifted from opening show the stats are:

9 Selections
Wins: 0
Placed: 2 (22.2%)
Average Odds: 12/1
Running Total to SP:  -9pts

And these are the horses which have started 14/1 or shorter, but stayed the same price:

16 Selections
Wins: 1 (6.3%)
Placed: 4 (25% including the winner)
Average Odds: 11.5/1
Average Win Odds 11/1
Running Total to SP: -4pts

We can see that, not surprisingly, most of the horses which start at 14/1 or shorter are those that have been backed – and those that are in this odds-range but haven’t been supported, perform poorly in relation to what we might otherwise expect considering their position in the market.

We hope this has been interest, and potentially useful. Best of luck with your National bets this year!

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