In thoroughbred racing, there are certain advantages and disadvantages for each runner based on the track on which they find themselves racing. In Melbourne, where the bulk of the Group 1 racing action takes place during the Spring Racing Carnival, the three key tracks are of course Flemington, Caulfield and The Valley. In Sydney, the two main tracks are Rosehill and Randwick.
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To racing people, understanding the quirks of each racetrack is better known as Track Bias.
Track bias can be a handy tool for SuperCoaches when selecting their stable of horses for each meeting. While the crux of track bias can get quite complicated, understanding the top level simplicities of track bias could help you gain an edge when it comes to selecting your horses.
There are four types of bias SuperCoaches need to be wary of:
On-pace bias: this type of bias will favour horses that prefer to settle on or near the speed up front or, at a minimum, at least in the first half of the field.
Run-on bias: this type of bias will favour horses who like to settle towards the rear of the field or in the second half of the field.
No bias: this means a track is racing fairly for all horses with no particular horse having a distinct advantage. In this type of race, the tempo will often determine where the winner comes from.
Backmarker: horses that like to race at the rear of the field and use other horses for protection from wind and other factors before swooping in the straight.
So what leads to track bias? This can get quite complicated to explain and tricky to understand, however bias can relate to the condition of the track, the weather, irrigation and rail position.
However, for the most part, there are two rules of thumb I like to live by:
The longer the straight (lets use Flemington for example), the greater the chance of backmarkers being able to reel in horses that likes to sit further up front (on-pacers).
The shorter the straight (let's use The Valley) the greater the chance of on-pacers being able to get up front earlier and dictate the speed.
> SuperCoach Racing: What to look for in Group 1 Races
At courses such as Flemington, where there is a long home straight after a wide sweeping turn, it is possible for runners to make up ground from behind the leaders, even on days when the rail is moved out.
However, at the tighter turning courses, such as Caulfield, Moonee Valley and Rosehill, it is difficult to make ground when the rail is out and this often results in a leaders track.
While Randwick has a long home straight similar to Flemington's, it is susceptible to rain and is often leader biased when rated Slow or Heavy.
KEY ELEMENTS OF TRACK BIAS
Weather: If a track has received a lot of rain, then the track will be subject to deterioration as the race meeting wears on throughout the day. This means as the track is subject to 'chop out' horses will get off the rail in an attempt to look for firmer ground.
Rail Position: Tracks will shift the position of the rail to allow for more even wear. Often, a rail is in its standard position, or better known as 'true' in racing terms. Should it require to be shifted due to uneven wear or weather, it will move either in or out by a matter of metres as determined by the track staff and communicated to punters prior to the meeting.
Tempo: If a race tempo is slow, it will likely favour on-pacers who will prefer to sit up front and dictate the speed of the race and have a gentler run before breaking into a sprint finish. If a race tempo is fast, it will favour the backmarkers who will enjoy getting coverage from the field, sitting back, and getting protection from the elements before moving wide nearing the home turn and swooping in over the top of the leaders.