All Weather Trip Droppers: A Profitable Angle?


A friend of mine swears blind that backing handicappers dropping in trip is like finding gold in the street, but it’s not something I’ve considered as a blanket strategy, for all I can see some merit to the practice, writes Rory Delargy. I quickly ran the numbers to determine how profitable AW handicappers were at certain trips if they had run at further than a mile in similar races last time out. I’ve used handicaps on the AW as a benchmark as we are essentially comparing like for like except for distance (if using turf vs AW, we’d have to consider stiffness of track and softness of the going as variables.

In the results below, Betfair profit/loss is to a £1 stake after 5% commission, and A/E is actual wins over expected wins based on market expectations. Figures show results for last ten years (2005-2015).



Horses Who Raced Over 1m+ On Last Start (AW Handicaps Only)

           RUNS   WINS    BETFAIR P/L   BETFAIR ROI       A/E

5f       224         23           131.32                   58.62                    1.28

6f       550         52           40.98                     7.45                      1.07

7f      4509       501         510.12          11.31                 1.09                                       

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1m     9612       1110       201.86                   2.10                      1.03

The results make interesting reading. Only fair strike rates for horses racing at 1m or shorter after a run over further, but there were profits to be had year in year out by backing those cutting back in trip. These figures improve when we ignore fillies and apply the figures to colts and geldings only, who tend to be more reliable.

It’s interesting what you find when you filter the results by finishing position on most recent start, with the strike rate generally higher in line with previous performance, but the P&L showing a loss for those who had won or been placed over further on their latest outing, presumably the result of being overbet due to conspicuously positive form figures. Backing those who were unplaced last time out (we can assume that for many the failure is due to a lack of stamina), and the figures look better – the table below is for colts and geldings who were unplaced on their most recent start at 1m+.


Colts & Geldings Who Were Unplaced Over 1m+ On Last Start (AW Handicaps Only)


5f            156         15           98.52                     63.15                     1.22

6f            3430       38           150.87                   43.99                     1.33

7f            2406       218         149.51                   6.21                        1.10       

1m          4491       405         277.73                   6.18                        1.08

What is striking is that while plenty of profit comes from those running at 7f and 1m, the ROI is much higher for sprint trips, and that suggests that this is where the value lies. Again, it should be noted that the strike rate in such races is not overly high, but the prices seem to be more generous. My thinking is that most punters betting in a 6f race would prefer to choose a runner who had run well over a similar trip, rather than one which had run moderately over further. That sounds like a logical approach, but the results suggest that such horses are underbet on a regular basis. It’s also worth pointing out that backing such horses makes a profit at SP as well as at Betfair prices, which is encouraging.

I’ve decided to concentrate on races over 5 and 6 furlongs therefore, and am looking for any other means of distilling the profits further. Race class is worth looking at, and while the results in class 2 races are impressive, they come from a small sample (2 wins from 21 runs), with the most robust figures coming from Class 5 and 6 events, which make up the majority of winter AW cards. It’s also best to concentrate on the UK courses, so I’ve removed stats for both Dundalk and Laytown, the latter of which could hardly be deemed an AW track in any real sense.


Colts & Geldings Over 5f/6f Who Were Unplaced Over 1m+ On Last Start (UK AW Handicaps Only)


C5           107         16           96.18                     89.89                     1.65

C6           229         27           147.15                   64.26                     1.56

The most telling figures on our distilled chart is the A/E figure, which shows that for the races shown, those horses we have identified are winning races better than one and a half times more often than the market expects, which is an excellent indicator of future profitability, as is strike rates at or above 12%.

The criteria outlined above show a profit at all UK AW tracks, although the best figures come from Lingfield. On a related note, there are a few trainers who enjoy more than their share of winners when cutting back in trip in this fashion, with Mick Appleby, Dean Ivory, David Elsworth and John Jenkins all having positive profiles, so following their runners who are reverting to sprinting is an angle you should certainly consider.


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