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Why punters must embrace the speed ratings revolutionPosted on Thursday 7th April 2016 @ 07.18

Bobby Musson takes a look at the sophisticated approach to betting that has finally brought the game into the modern era.

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First published in 1996, Nick Mordin revealed an incredibly revolutionary method of picking the fastest horse in a race. It was called Mordin On Time.

Having proclaimed on the front cover the vast profit he has obtained from such a method, one would expect this book to look identical to the leather bound, grail diary in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. It pains me to say it unfortunately doesn't!

Mordin has, in fact, created what many pro-punters and avid followers of the game believe to be the best example of a priceless, modern-day artefact to date, as his work has created a formula with which a speed-rating can be collated for each individual horse.

The notion of punters requiring data to determine the 'quickest' horse in a race seems a fairly obvious assumption to make although, as you would expect, bookmakers are clearly of the opinion that they would rather that particularly helpful information remain under wraps for eternity, presumably guarded by a near 2000-year-old knight and a series of booby traps!

As Mordin's work trickled slower than expected into the industry, the vast majority of the racing public continued to remain in the dark, indeed hurling yet more money down the drain and greatly in need of a much overdue foothold. At this stage the much desired equitable relationship between punter and bookie was still pie in the sky.

It's only now, with the assistance of modern-day advocates of the speed-figure movement, that things are beginning to change with the sophisticated information much more noticeably craved by the betting public.

So what is a speed-rating and how is it calculated?

Mordin's approach (which is quite a good name for a horse, incidentally) sets out to tag each racehorse with a number, for example 76. This number is the end result of a series of calculations all explained in depth throughout the book, but suffice to say a race winning time, which currently seems the pinnacle of mainstream information, actually says nothing of those who finished in behind the winner and certainly cannot be used in comparison to races at different venues.

Admittedly the stopwatch will give us an indication of the level of performance but the betting fraternity will always desire more cross-comparable data in a simple double-digit format. Such a 'figure' symbolises a more concise conclusion regarding the horse's performance in spite of the ground conditions on the day, the idiosyncrasies of the track and, if we then get into sectional/split times, whether or not the pace-bias assisted the figure on the clock.

It's all well and good when trawling through a newspaper that's covered in coffee and flapping around in the wind to see that 'Horse A' finished second at Windsor on debut to a well-punted Godolphin two-year-old on good to firm ground, but how do you compare that animal priced at Even money with 'Horse B', who finished fifth on soft ground in a maiden at Leicester and is 11/2 in comparison? Here the speed-ratings very much come into their own and can be gold dust when using them regularly.

BTO Plus+ offers speed-ratings on a daily basis and it is hoped that they continue to give bookmakers a less than comfortable ride throughout the Spring Festivals and on into the Flat season. Nick Mordin's work should not only be applauded for ingenuity but also employed as a fundamental starting point for all budding racegoers and, with that foundation in place, there is certainly hope for us all.

[Bobby Musson]

Article Posted on Thursday 7th April 2016 @ 07.18

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