Drop Till You Stop: Is It Worth Betting on Horses Dropping in Trip?

If you hear that a horse is dropping back in trip, it means that horse is now racing over a shorter distance than in the last race. An example is a horse that competed over 7 furlongs last time out dropping back in trip to compete in a 6-furlong race.

Although it isn’t a regular occurrence, it isn’t unusual for trainers to send their horses out in longer races than they are bred for in a deliberate attempt to get a low handicap rating. A few races and a low OR later and the trainer sends the horse on its ideal trip. Lo and behold, it storms to victory!

There is a school of thought that suggests punters should avoid betting on horses dropping back in trip. Later in the article, I will find out if this is yet another piece of “conventional wisdom” worth ignoring.


Spoiler alert: This article finds instances in which it may actually be profitable to both back and lay horses dropping in trip, based on past results. The only mainstream betting site with extensive backing and laying options is Betfair.com. Check it out at:

www.betfair.com


How Important Is Analysis of the Last Race?

What punters should realize is that you can’t assume every horse loves a step up or down in trip. For some, a reduction or increase in distance is just what they need. Others perform badly, and for yet more horses, it makes no difference one way or the other.

It’s a mistake to assume that a horse finishing well in a race will automatically perform over a longer distance. Likewise, you can’t back a horse solely because it ran out of steam in the last furlong because it is dropping back in trip.

In general, it is more important to determine how a horse fares in the last 3-4 furlongs than in the final 1-2 furlongs. If you focus on that, you may find that a horse is simply outpaced and will benefit more from a drop in Class than a drop in trip.

How Do Horses Fare When Dropping Back in Trip?

No strategy analysis would be complete without a healthy dose of statistics so here goes! Let’s look at the overall performance for horses that drop back in trip since 2015. I am only looking at horses that have dropped 4 furlongs or less since their last race.

Distance DroppedWin %ROI (BF)
3.5 – 4 Furlongs10.11%-12.6%
2.5 – 3 Furlongs11.1%-4.59%
1.5 – 2 Furlongs11.09%-10.69%
0.5 -1 Furlong11.8%-6.73%

 

All of the groups perform very poorly although horses that dropped 2.5 – 3 furlongs appear to perform best. The win ratio is extremely low so let’s see what happens according to code.

  • National Hunt: -17.73%
  • Flat: 9.42%
  • All-Weather: 33.45%

While the drop does good things for horses on the Flat, it is remarkably good news for punters on All-Weather. The win percentage is very low (9.54%) but the ROI for 2016 was over 72%, and it is over 17% this year. It is no surprise to learn that a relatively short drop in distance doesn’t do much for National Hunt entries.

A quick analysis shows that a 2.5 – 3-furlong drop is the golden distance for Flat and AW horses because there was basically no profit using any of the other races in either code.

A Question of Distance

Clearly, focusing on a drop in the distance only is not the way to go. We also need to zoom in on race distance too. Obviously, a 2-furlong drop from 7 to 5 furlongs means a lot more than dropping from 2 miles 2 furlongs to 2 miles.

Again, statistics take into account races since 2015, and I am focusing on Flat and All-Weather races. The horse’s next race distance is in parentheses, and the percentage relates to ROI profit or loss.

Drop of 0.5 – 1 Furlong

Flat

  • (5 – 5.5 furlongs): – 1.51%
  • (6 – 6.5 furlongs): – 16.07%
  • (7 – 7.5 furlongs): + 7.55%
  • (1 mile – 1 mile ½ Furlong): – 8.76%

All-Weather

  • (5 – 5.5 furlongs): – 7.54%
  • (6 – 6.5 furlongs): – 9.51%
  • (7 – 7.5 furlongs): – 5.88%
  • (1 mile – 1 mile ½ Furlong): + 0.76%

Drop of 1.5 – 2 Furlongs

Flat

  • (5 – 5.5 furlongs): – 5.28%
  • (6 – 6.5 furlongs): – 4.86%
  • (7 – 7.5 furlongs): – 29.22%
  • (1 mile – 1 mile ½ Furlong): – 13.54%

All-Weather

  • (5 – 5.5 furlongs): – 13.71%
  • (6 – 6.5 furlongs): + 23.48%
  • (7 – 7.5 furlongs): + 13.85%
  • (1 mile – 1 mile ½ Furlong): + 2.28%

Drop of 2.5 – 3 Furlongs

Flat

  • (5 – 5.5 furlongs): – 57.97% (laying these horses nets you 50% profit as only 2 have won out of 102)
  • (6 – 6.5 furlongs): + 46.55% (only 11 wins from 120 races)
  • (7 – 7.5 furlongs): + 40.33%
  • (1 mile – 1 mile ½ Furlong): – 25.23% (laying these horses nets you a 17% profit)

All-Weather

  • (5 – 5.5 furlongs): Not enough qualifiers
  • (6 – 6.5 furlongs): Not enough qualifiers
  • (7 – 7.5 furlongs): + 295.04% (only 29 wins from 202 races)
  • (1 mile – 1 mile ½ Furlong): + 10.69%

Final Words

Hopefully, the statistics above are somewhat clear; while a drop in distance is not necessarily a good or bad thing all told, there is a few distance drops + race distance combinations that work extremely well both for backing and laying horses.

Most of the statistics above feature relatively few races, but if you combine the ones with major profit together into a system, you could make a significant profit. Remember, all of these statistics relate to races since January 2015, so the profit and losses are more than merely hot or cold streaks.

It does appear as if small drops have less of an impact than larger ones because drops of 2.5 -3 furlongs are far more profitable across the board than 0.5 – 1-furlong drops.