With Press Statement a short priced favourite ($2.30) for the Caulfield Guineas on Saturday, theories again have resurfaced about NSW - Sydney horses travelling to Melbourne for their first start at the Caulfield track. Many believe that the Caulfield track can be difficult for some horses to handle and that Sydney horses in particular are at a disadvantage with that lack of course and anti-clockwise direction race experience.
We thought we would analyse the data and put some facts around the theory. Are NSW based horses really at a disadvantage when they go to race at Caulfield for the first time?
Over the last 10 years (since 1st August 2005) there has been 347 horses trained out of NSW that went to Caulfield for their first start at the track, off a last start run in NSW.
- Runners = 347
- Winners = 39
- Strike rate = 11.2%
- POT% = +1.8%
The benchmark strike rate for all runners at Caulfield is 9.1% and profit on turnover (POT%) is -9.0%. From that we can clearly see that this group of NSW horses having their first start at Caulfield have overachieved both in terms of their win rate, but most notably their betting profitability. It's a sign that the market has possibly allowed too much in its price for the perceived disadvantage of "first start at Caulfield."
Black Type Races
If we restrict the analysis to Black Type races at Caulfield then the statistics are even more significant:
- Runners = 231
- Winners = 28
- Strike rate = 12.1%
- POT% = +11.9%
When you compare these figures to the benchmark strike rate and profitability mentioned above, it's clear that the 'first start at Caulfield' factor has had no bearing at all on the ability of NSW trained horses to win at the Black Type level. They have won more often than the average and been significantly more profitable for punters.
With all the focus right now on Press Statement and the Caulfield Guineas, it's worth remembering that Shooting To Win actually won the race last year as a Sydney trained horse having his first start at Caulfield and the Victorian way of going.
If we re-cut the analysis to a sample of horses that were strongly fancied in betting (top 2 in the market) across all Caulfield races, we see the following results:
- Runners = 78
- Winners = 19
- Strike rate = 24.4%
- POT% = +7.3%
The benchmark strike rate for all top 2 market ranked runners at Caulfield is 24.5% while the POT% is -4.5%. In this case the NSW horses have achieved an identical win rate against the comparison group and a significantly better profit on turnover.
We are dealing with small samples of just a few hundred runners and natural variance could see the next sample group produce an entirely different result. However on the evidence available there is no proof to support a theory that NSW horses are at a disadvantage when having their first start at Caulfield.
If anything, the facts support an opposing argument... that going to Caulfield for the first time has no negative influence on winning chance and is likely to see the market offer punters a marginally better price than they should.