What Is Draw Bias?
In flat racing the horses start the race from metal starting stalls. The draw refers to a horse's placing / position in the starting stalls. Draw 1 is on the left, while the highest number is on the right. On left handed round courses the lowest draw is drawn next to the inside rail; on right handed courses the highest draw is drawn next to the inside rail.
The draw can be very important at certain courses over certain distances.
This is due to a number of factors - it could be that some horses have an advantage because they are drawn on the inside and are hence able to take the shortest route round the bend. Picture I guess the 400m in athletics and the advantage you would have on the inside track if starting positions were not staggered.
Another factor that can induce draw bias is the ground. It could be that the ground close to one of the rails is quicker than the rest of the course and hence those horse drawn in the right position can take best advantage of the better ground.
To give you an idea of how strong draw biases can be ponder Chester over 5 furlongs. 5f at Chester is a classic case of a draw bias resulting from track configuration.
Since 1997 horses drawn 1 (on the inside) have won 43 of 205 races which is better than winning 1 race in every five.
You would have made a profit backing all horses drawn 1 over that period. Compare this to horses drawn 10 or higher who have combined to win just 1 race from 276 runners!
Knowledge of where Draw Bias is likely to occur is very important to have.
Draw Bias stats can be used in a variety of ways.
Well drawn horses should be given much more consideration when analyzing a race for example. Conversely poorly drawn horses have a severe negative to overcome and you should be wary if you wish to back them. You may use the draw to eliminate all the weaker drawn horses in order to make the race easier.
Clearly occasionally these poorer drawn horses will win but overall the stats will be in your favour. At some courses backing the best drawn horse or best two drawn horses has made a long term profit - this is a rather simplistic way of using the draw but it can be profitable.
Indeed you may want to consider backing the best drawn horses in forecasts and tricasts. For example, looking at Thirsk over 5 furlongs - from 2005 to 2008 in 10+ runner handicaps (the best races to use draw bias) if you had permed the highest four draws in twenty four £1 straight tricasts in every race would have yielded a profit of £1265.24 (ROI +175.7%). If you had permed the highest four draws in twelve £1 straight forecasts in every race would have yielded a profit of £206.90 (ROI +57.5%). This bet would have been landed in 12 of the 30 races (40% of races). These types of forecast / tricast bet offer big returns for a relatively small outlay.
A further way to use Draw Bias information is to look for horses that run well despite being hampered by a very serious draw bias against it.
A horse that comes 4th for example when very badly drawn could do much better in a future race if on an equal draw or favourorable draw footing.
Dave Renham is a uk horse racing researcher who specialises in cold hard facts and figures that can be used to open your eyes to more informed betting propositions.
Draw Bias relative to each days racing is one area he covers in his excellent daily racing stats service over at RacingTrends.co.uk