Key tips for all-weather horse racing

Key Tips for All-weather Horse Racing

Author: Max Redd: www.ReddRacing.co.uk

There are currently four all-weather tracks in the UK, with a further course in development in Essex. This year there will be ?5million in prize money on offer for the all-weather season, so racing promises to be the most competitive and exciting yet. Max Redd takes you around the venues, and reveals his key tips and advice for making a killing when betting on horse racing on the sand.

All-weather racing often receives the same response from horse racing fans as Marmite gets from lovers of toast – you either love it, or you hate it!

Admittedly, the opportunity to watch low-grade horses running on the sand at a February meeting at Southwell may not have the same allure as the Gold Cup on Ladies Day at Ascot in the height of summer. But that is no reason for all-weather snobbery. In fact, the UK all-weather racing scene is going from strength to strength. And this is good news, hopefully, for punters who endeavour to grind out a profit betting on races run “on the beach”.

The four venues in the UK that currently stage all-weather flat racing are Lingfield Park in Surrey, Wolverhampton in the Midlands, Kempton Park near Heathrow, and Southwell in Nottinghamshire. However, this year that list will be boosted to five because a new track is opening at Great Leighs in Essex.

Forget the forecast

The all-weather horse racing championship kicks into gear just as the traditional flat racing turf season comes to a close in the autumn. The 2006-2007 all-weather season gets under way in November and culminates in a grand finale at Lingfield Park in March with the running of the Winter Derby. With around ?5 million in prize money, jockeys’ and trainers’ championships up for grabs, and opportunities for horses of varying levels of ability, this season should be the most competitive ever staged in the UK.

So which jockeys, horses and trainers should we be following on the all-weather, and how can racing at one artificial track differ compared with that at another? Hopefully, if you follow this abbreviated guide you will soon be on course to make some serious dosh from the sand!

It may boast a catch-all monicker, but all-weather racing actually differs slightly at each of the four venues which currently stage the sport in the UK. This is a factor well worth being aware of before you decide to have a bet at a particular track. With the exception of Kempton, the courses are left-handed. Racing at Wolverhampton and Southwell takes place around lozenge-shaped tracks, while Lingfield’s configuration is more triangular. I will expand upon the significance of this a bit further on.

One fundamental point you need to get to grips with early on is how the actual racing surface differs from one course to another. Two types of sand are currently used. All-weather races held at both Wolverhampton and Lingfield are now run on a material called Polytrack, which is a kind of rubberised sand which minimises the impact of ‘kickback’ – the effect the horses produce as they thunder over a loose-topped sandy surface. Polytrack’s consistent nature means that most races can be run at a good pace, so when having a bet at Lingfield or Wolverhampton it’s worth remembering the importance of backing a horse which will see out the trip.

With that in mind, it would be less of a concern for a horse with good form over 12 furlongs at these two courses to get stepped down to race, say, over 10 furlongs. But it may be more of a problem for a horse which has been doing well over, say, 6 furlongs if its next challenge was to run over a mile or further.

Horses for courses

However, a different racing material known as Fibresand is employed at Southwell. Generally speaking, this produces a more demanding surface compared with Polytrack. If all-weather racing at Wolverhampton and Lingfield is similar to running on the equivalent of fast going on turf, then Southwell’s Fibresand is closer to a turf equivalent of racing on soft or even heavy ground.

Take note of this factor when a horse which has performed well at Wolverhampton or Lingfield is then asked to contest a race at Southwell – even if the distance is the same. Before having a bet in this instance, you should be happy the horse will see out the trip on this different surface.

Lingfield’s sharp contours and relatively short finishing straight mean it tends to favour horses who can race up with the pace (or ‘handily’) rather than long-striding gallopers who need time to wind up their run. The layout of the track means that horses drawn in double figures tend to be at a disadvantage for races run up to a mile. Low-drawn horses who can race handily should enjoy a definite advantage when it comes to sprint races over the minimum trip of 5 furlongs.

It’s a similar story at Wolverhampton. Once again, horses drawn low in 5 and 6-furlong races usually have an advantage. It’s difficult for horses to swing wide into the straight without compromising their chances. But for race distances over a mile or more the impact of the draw diminishes rapidly.

We’ve already heard that the racing surface at Southwell is different to the other tracks and this means the kickback is far more pronounced here than elsewhere. The next time you go to the beach, get someone to throw handfuls of sand in your face and see how much you like it! For that reason, Southwell tends to benefit horses who can race ‘prominently’ or who are described as ‘strong travellers’ because they will avoid as much kickback as possible.

Sticking to these guidelines for all-weather betting should help you take a little more cash from the bookies’ satchels than the average punter. Happy punting!

About the author: Max Redd has been making a living betting on horse racing for over 10 years. He runs the Redd Racing betting advisory service which offers members a FREE trial and a 60-day money-back profit guarantee. Find out more at http://www.reddracing.co.uk

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