Sunday 28 February 2021

Horse Racing: Using Data to Find Winners

One thing you will notice about successful punters - they often rely on data. 

You read about successful gambling syndicates or individuals such as Patrick Veitch and Starlizard run by Tony Bloom. 

Data is used with military precision. 

There's a good reason for this. It works. Even with exacting levels of information their return on investment may be minimal. However, betting with vast amounts of money, even a percent profit can return big money. Let alone if you can get to the dizzy heights of, perhaps 16%, as detailed by some. 

Data is king. 

It's the difference between knowing and not knowing, something.  

Without statistical significance we are in the realm of guessing. There's nothing wrong with guessing because to a point even the best of us do just that. 

I once had someone send me an email saying: ''You don't know anything about two-year-old horse racing, you're just guessing.''

The joys of having a mailing list. 

Even the best trainers guess. If they guess, what do you expect a mere mortal to do? 

What's the saying: ''Never bet on a tip from a jockey.''

Perhaps a variation of the word guessing is interpretation. 

The data I use is interpreted to bring understanding. 

Even with the best data we are at the mercy of anomalies. For instance, every favourite doesn't win. This assessment of the favourite is based on data. It is still a matter of opinion. Using the given data. When dealing with physical beings, we can only use skill to find and interpret the data. As they say, animals aren't machines. Even a machine can go wrong. However, if dealing with fixed odds, such as a roulette wheel, we can understand what, on average, we are dealing with. 

So when someone says: ''You're guessing!''

I think you're right because even Willie Mullins heading to the Cheltenham Festival is guessing. If he isn't guessing quite so much about his horses he is the opposition which he is unlikely to be privy. He is guessing with millions of variables. It may be something like a rogue, sleepy, winter wasp stinging a horse which goes unnoticed, but if the horse has an allergic reaction you may as well be betting on the rag.

Over the last few years, I have investigated just about every trainer. Without this data I would well and truly be guessing. Not to say that experience and all those other skills would leave me lacking. I don't believe I would be lacking. In fact, I know I would have enough ability to make my betting pay. 

But data helps us work within some area of structure, the realms of possibility. 

I don't care who you are or what you know or what you say, any horse can defy the odds. 

But should we be scared of such anomalies?

Without question, no. 

Data sets the boundaries. It tells you, on balance, what is possible and what is not. It is a friend who tips you a good few winners and helps you leave those losers alone. 

Data is key to your success. In fact, it is something that easily sets you apart because it is a truth of some kind. 

For example, data about a horse trainer can be a significant pointer, added to other aspects such as form, significant entries, jockey booking, course stats and all other parts of the jigsaw puzzle show the way. 

No one, unless some God-given force, knows the future. 

You can name anyone on planet Earth, and they will have misgivings, worries, concerns about a potential loss. 

But long term it is a different matter. 

You can use data to bring confidence, structure and a reference point to work from. 

This will help you look in the right direction. 

If you are looking in the wrong direction you have no hope. 

Data is king. But it is only part of understanding. It is the scaffolding to your success. 

When it comes to it, we are all guessing to a point. Even the greatest minds are guessing to point. 

That isn't a weakness, it's a fact, and one that really is the truth of an understanding that you should applaud.