Horseracing Pace Analysis


The key to understanding which horse is going to win a particular race is understanding how that race is going to be run. This may sound an obvious statement but it is often overlooked in favour which horse will like the ground, best draw, and in form trainers etc.

The Americans have a name for this which is "Pace Analysis" or "Pace Handicapping" and maybe because of the availability of sectional times in America it is a much more talked about facet of horseracing there than in the UK. Although we don't have decent sectional timing in the UK, it doesn't mean that Pace Analysis doesn't have a large part to play in our horseracing selection strategy.

If you fully understand pace analysis it will answer the two fundamental questions:

    1. How was a race run and therefore why did the winner win ?

    2. How will the next race be run and who will benefit from this ?

    Horses have a preferred method of running, and left to their own devices, will usually run in the style that is comfortable for them, if they are forced to run out of their comfort zone then they will not perform to their peak. Knowing how each horse in a race is likely to behave will give you valuable information about the nature of the race, which horses are at an advantage, and what the likely outcome will be.

    Generally you can split horses into three broad categories as to there preferred method of running.

    Front Runner

    Obviously they like to lead and often lose interest and drop away if they are unable to gain the lead. If there are several front runners in a race then they will often take each other on for the lead and use up valuable energy early in the race which they will pay for in the later stages. The perfect scenario is if there is only one front runner who gets the lead and is able to dominate at his own pace. If you can find a race with this shape the lone front runner is a very good bet even if he doesn't appear to be the best horse in the race.

    Mid-Pack Horses

    The majority of the horse population are mid-pack horses. The horse is a herd animal and as such is uncomfortable being in the lead which is probably the reason that the majority want some cover in the pack. As the front runners tire the mid-pack horse can use its reserves of stamina to challenge. The fact that they have used their energy more efficiently than the front runner if the race has been run to suit means that they have more energy left, and they tire less at the end giving the optical illusion of acceleration at the end of a race. A potential problem with the mid-pack horse is that, being close to the lead, he is still vulnerable to over extending himself and falling prey to the same problems as the frontrunners. Although this happens less often than with frontrunners, it is still a consideration in fast paced races.


    Closers are generally the horses at the back. Their jockeys normally try to switch them off to preserve their energy for the end of the race when the horses in front have used up all their energy. Generally closers can't win in a slow paced race as these type of races become sprints at the end and they have to much ground to make up. Although the converse is true that fast paced races where the leaders have perhaps gone off to quick suit the closers.

    So they are the preferred methods of running, you then need to understand how a race was our will be run to understand how it will suit each method of running.

    One school of thought is to split a race into three sections start, middle and end. The race can then be run in any of the four following styles:

    A: Fast:Fast:Slow

    B: Slow:Slow:Fast

    C: Slow:Fast:Slow

    D: Fast:Slow:Fast

    For obvious reasons you can't get races which are run fast:fast:fast or slow:slow:slow.

    Each race can then be given a rating A,B,C or D. You can assign this rating to a horses past performance and see which race shape suits it best, rather like you would do with the going. So you might see that a particular horse is suited by a race run in the style of A, (you would expect this type of horse to be a closer). The next step is to predict how you thing today's race will be run. So will it be a B race. In which case you should look to all of the horses in the race which would prefer a B run race based on their past.

    Sounds simple!! Obviously its not and requires quite an investment of time and effort, however this time and effort will hopefully give you that edge which makes you a profitable punter.