PACE and SECTIONAL TIMES
This is an area of UK Horse Racing that was lamentably ignored until very recently. It is routinely utilised by the most successful bettors in countries where sectional times are recorded and available, such as America and Hong Kong.
That anyone doubts the merit of sectional timing to objectively analyse race results defies belief, but while it remains a tool used by the few, it grants us a substantial edge.
Any race can be re-assessed by examining the pace the race was run at. In simple terms, a slowly run race favours front-runners and very fast run races favour hold-up horses. Why is this?
Take the first scenario of a slowly run race. If an 8 furlong race is a crawl for 6 furlongs and becomes a 2 furlong sprint, then those at the front effectively have a head start in a 2 furlong sprint. Whatever the result, it does not reflect the difference in actual ability.
In the second scenario, if in the same 8 furlong race the front runners run at a sprint pace for the first 6 furlongs, they will eventually fade and be beaten by the hold-up horses who raced at a more efficient and even tempo. Again, the result will not reflect the differences in actual ability.
Both of these examples are extreme to prove a point. In reality, most races lie somewhere in the middle. With the knowledge of sectional timing we can calculate the pace of a race and therefore calculate the difference it would have made if each horse had run efficiently rather than at the pace at which they actually raced. Performances can be upgrade or downgraded to reflect the advantage or disadvantage the pace of the race conveyed. This is like “inside information”, if you know that the horse that finished 3rd beaten a length would actually have won by 3 lengths if he had run efficiently and not suffered what I term a “negative pace bias”. This is the term you will read in the messages and generally means a horse was disadvantaged by the pace in a previous race (went too fast on a strong pace, or, was held up too far behind in a slowly run race) and can be confidently rated higher.
Outstanding sectional times for a furlong or two furlongs are another use of sectionals and are almost always proof of a horse’s true ability. Certain trainers utilise sectionals in trials at home. In recent times, Kingman broke 10 seconds for furlong sectionals on the course and few can achieve that. He was, of course, top class.
Sectionals, like overall times, are of more use to us on a relative basis. If we know a horse’s current level of ability, but he produces a sectional above that level, we have a strong (though not infallible) indication that he is better than he is currently rated. Some very shrewd individuals painstakingly time races from recordings to produce pace and sectional analysis. They do it because it gives them an edge.