As we turn towards the new year much talk about pressure on the BHA to address the alleged cruelty to racehorses in the shape of the whip. Kevin Blake makes a case for rallying against this fresh tide of concern in his column today and in a previous column of his he refers to the possibility that a total whip ban would produce races which favour free going horses over those that need some persuasion to pull out that extra to win races. This set me thinking, does he have any evidence for this or is he just putting 2+2 together and getting 5, an incorrect answer but one nevertheless that no one will dispute. If whipless races do produce a very different flavour to winner finding then this could be a useful tool especially if we go down a total whip ban under a Labour government.
I decided to check this by taking a look first of all at horse between 2005 and 2010 that were running in hands and heel races and had pulled or been ‘keen’ in a previous race. The results for backing all these horse types was
Bets 471 PL to Bookie SP -119 ROI% -25.3%
Now looking at those that had not pulled before we have
Bets 484 PL -90 ROI% -18.6%
It would appear that non pullers were better bets in hands and heels races than keen types, but how does that 25.3% compare with all races for pullers/keen type. Ignoring the race type and backing previous keen types lost you -20.15%. It would appear that during this period keen types had a greater disadvantage in hands and heel races.
There was another interesting reversal in these races over the period covered. Those hold up horses, who one could interpret as members of the lazy, need lots of riding types fair a lot better than expected in hands and heel races. You would only have lost 18% on turnover compared to -32% on prominent runners. As usual when quoting these figures I am referring to pre race pace figures which are published daily on SmarterSig.
Where does this leave Kevin Blake ?. Well I have almost both feet in his camp but I seem to be finding some polished turds on my shoes and cannot help feeling that we will need other persuasive arguments if whips are to continue.