Archive for June, 2020

Tongue tie on the 1000 Guineas favourite – should we be worried?

Sunday, June 7th, 2020

Reviewing the 1000 Guineas today, I could not help but be drawn to the favourite, Quadrilateral, unbeaten daughter of Frankel, arguably the most impressive winner of the 2,000 Guineas, ever.

3/1 is on offer, a short enough price. But if she is anywhere near as good as Frankel, that’s a long price indeed!

But what is this in the declarations? First time tongue strap.

Should we be worried?

A little bit (ok quite a lot) of data manipulation in Smartform enables us to build a table of runner records with counts of when a tongue strap was applied, such that we can group records into all, tongue strap and first time tongue strap. A further grouping of these records by trainer reveals the following records for Roger Charlton, Quadrilateral’s own handler:

You’ll have to click on the image to see this properly, it’s a table View straight out of R, but long story short, rounding those figures to the nearest whole number, here’s the picture for Roger Charlton:

  • 17% overall win strike
  • 12% win strike when applying tongue strap
  • 9% win strike when applying first time tongue strap

So the answer to the question “Should we be worried?” has to be “Yes” (unless my rapid calculations have gone awry somewhere!). Does this mean the favourite can’t win? Of course not. But can’t be betting at such short odds, personally, with such doubts and no real explanation at hand.

The only references I can find from the trainer are his bullish sounding quote in today’s Post:

“We’re looking forward to it. She looks magnificent. She’s a big, strong filly and these are exciting times. I hope she can run as well as she did the last time she went to Newmarket.”

And the rather anodyne message from the trainer’s own blog:

“The fourth runner to head out is Quadrilateral at Newmarket in the ‘Qipco 1000 Guineas Stakes’ for her owner Prince Khalid Abdullah. The daughter of Frankel had three runs as a two year old last season in which she maintained an unbeaten record throughout. It included the Group 1 ‘bet365 Fillies Mile’ at Newmarket which landed her with an official rating of 114. The race holds 15 competitive runners as to be expected and we have a draw of 6. Jason Watson takes the ride. She has wintered very well and remains a filly with an impressive physique, who holds her condition well. There is a little bit more rain expected between now and the race which won’t bother her and we are excited to get her on the track.”

Nothing about the reasoning behind the statistically negative tongue tie, which I suppose is to be expected in the run up to a big race with so much at stake.

Fingers crossed she runs well, but will have to take a watching brief, and will be looking elsewhere for some each way value.

Betwise daily oddsline for UK and Irish horseracing

Tuesday, June 2nd, 2020

We’ve been experimenting with automatically generated oddslines for a while at Betwise, in fact that was the premise of the book Automatic Exchange Betting, published in 2007!

What is an oddsline? Simple, it’s a set of prices, the same as a bookmaker offers you, but with a set of chances for all contenders that is as close to the actual chance (or probability) each horse has of winning a race. The difference is that a fair oddsline adds up to 100% probability, whereas a bookmaker will build in a margin of profit across all the odds on offer (or overround). Moreover, a bookmaker will adjust prices based on weight of money for each contender. Exchange prices are simply a function of weight of money with the market determining back and lay prices, with the Exchange taking a commission. The more participants in the market, and the greater the weight of money, the more chance that the probabilities will add up to the magic 100% (except of course that the Exchange margin on winning bets will damage that “fair” book).

The art of bookmaking involves creating such prices from scratch based on knowledge of the market, the contenders, what prices others are offering, whatever risk the bookmaker wants to take, and then adjusting the prices according to weight of money, with possibly more attention being paid to “smart” money!

However, in the age of Artificial Intelligence, both bookmaker and punter can do better. Or can they?

To automate an oddsline, there is usually a combination of a machine learning algorithm to make predictions based on past data, some element of factoring in the probabilities from the market (to represent the element of weight of money), and last but not least, an algorithm to ensure that the predictions from the oddsline are relatable to the odds on offer. In other words, that the odds from the oddsline are realistic and sum to 100%. Machine learning and artificial intelligence is all the rage now, but it isn’t that new. Whether expert opinion or machine learning is used to form your view, Smartform was created off the back of Automatic Exchange Betting for bettors who value the ability to use a programmatic database and programming tools for gaining a personal edge of this nature.

The end use is the same for either an automated or “expert” oddsline – if a certain horse’s odds are higher than what the “fair” odds should be then that’s worth a bet, if the horse’s odds are lower, conversely, then the horse may be worth laying.

At least that is the theory. In practice, there are a million things that can go wrong!

While lockdown was in progress, we were busy creating an automated public oddsline, a free version of the one that we’ve been developing for a while, that you can find here every day before Noon:

Feel free to download, review and even use at your own risk.